Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Wedding Video!

Here is a short video our awesome photographer, Pat Murphy-Racey of PMR Photo, put together for us combining some still shots and video. It is awesome! We absolutely love it!

More pictures and video coming soon!

Stephanie Kramer and Tyson Patrick Wedding from patrick murphy-racey on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Well, I guess the honeymoon's over...

Literally, I mean. Not figuratively.

Tyson and I spent a wonderful week in beautiful St. Lucia at Sandals Regency La Toc Resort & Spa for our honeymoon. The island is truly one of the prettiest places I've ever been.

We took a very long five hour flight from Atlanta to the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. From there, it was about an hour's bus ride north to the city of Castries where our resort was. As beautiful as the vegetation of the island is, I have to say, the bus ride to the hotel was humbling. Right in the middle of paradise was poverty at some of its worst. It was shocking to me to see the condition that some of the citizens there lived in. Flimsy aluminum panel and tarped-up shacks that were about the same size as my walk-in closet in my apartment (that I am constantly complaining is too small) were all that some people had to call home. The thin, ill-postured bodies of people who did not eat regularly like they should. People who walked up steep, mountainous roads in blazing heat and humidity to get to wherever they were going because they didn't have cars to take them there. All of it was so hard to watch from the comfort of my air-conditioned seat in the clean 15-passenger van that was taking us to such a luxurious resort. It's no wonder the world has such a negative view of Americans. Even the people we consider the poorest in our nation have infinitely more (in both possessions and opportunities) than some St. Lucians do. Before we had left to go to St. Lucia, I was selfishly wondering when our wedding pictures might be posted, since our photographer was leaving for a mission trip in Haiti the same week we would be on our honeymoon. I knew that trip would probably set the expected time back a little, and me and my spoiled American attitude were disappointed that the wait might be longer. But after seeing the conditions of that island, I had to chastise myself pretty severely. While I was enjoying myself on vacation, our photographer was building homes and helping people in a country just as impoverished as this one. He was helping people and making a difference, rather than just witnessing them as I was that day. I felt ashamed.

Sorry to go off on that tangent, but the impact that revelation had on me was pretty great. I have so much respect for people like Pat, our photographer, that take time out of their own lives to care about other people...complete strangers in most cases. Tyson and I would really like to get involved in some charity work after having that experience.

Once we arrived at the resort and got all checked in and saw all that there was to do, we immediately.....took a nap. We were exhausted. The past few weeks of our life have been so hectic that we were worn out. We did finally pull ourselves up to have dinner and do some site-seeing around the resort before calling it a night though.

The view from our room

We had a great week there. We swam in the pools, laid out in the sun, took an aqua bike out onto the ocean, played golf, got a couple's massage, shopped downtown in the local market, and ate and ate and ate...and drank and drank and drank. And we slept A LOT. There really is no excuse for us to be tired for like, the next month.

We got back Sunday night (much later than expected because the Atlanta airport is and always will be the most incompetent airport in the world, in my book anyway) and spent Monday putting our life back in order. Kind of. We did laundry, put luggage away, went grocery shopping, and started on our massive pile of thank you notes. (Sidenote, if you are expecting a thank you note from us, bear with us - Tyson is a slow writer and I stress over exactly the right thing to say, and that doesn't make for a very quick process.... I promise you'll get them in the next month...or two... just kidding. I think.)

So now things are finally starting to quiet down and we can get back to things like, I don't know, normality. We are talking about going on dates again (haven't been able to nail out a time/day just yet, but I feel confident we can come to an agreement in this lifetime), and starting to look for a house (grown-up stuff!!). The honeymoon is, most definitely, over, but our life together has finally just begun! :)

Wedding Re-Cap

Wow, so much has happened since my last entry. Bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding week in all its glory, rehearsal dinner, the ceremony itself, the FABULOUS reception, "wind-down" week (not really), and of course, our honeymoon. I have to say, after spending a week away from it all on a beautiful island, being back in the real world kinda sucks. But all in all, I think we're both glad to be back, armed with the knowledge that the majority of the chaos is behind us and we can begin to resume our lives as they were, pre-wedding.

I'm just going to be blunt, and not at all modest: our wedding was glorious. If you missed it, you missed out. Big time. I mean, I realize I'm biased and all, but it was hands down the best wedding I've ever been to. And I don't know if people are just buttering me up and telling me what I want to hear because I was the bride, but based on what I've heard since, I think there are a lot of people out there who agree with me. I think what made our wedding so great was that it really had the best of both of the moods that Tyson and I really wanted to convey: it was a good combination between elegant and fun.

Everyone told me to be prepared for the day to fly by, with me not remembering a single detail and not processing anything until much later, after all the festivities were over, and while I have to agree that the day was chaotic and busy, I think I can honestly say that I remember everything about that day, or at least everything that matters to me, and I will for a long time. Maybe it's because I was so geared up to be a stressed out nervous wreck that I was on my game more than usual, but I don't think any of it was a blur for me. I didn't want to miss a single thing, and I made damn sure I didn't.

The morning started out bright and early with all the bridesmaids and co. meeting at the Tennessee School of Beauty for hair and makeup applications. I had the most AMAZING and talented hairstylist, Christina, who managed to take my normally unruly hair and turn it into what I can only call a work of art. Seriously, there was nothing I did not love about this hairstyle. I wish I had a picture that would do it justice, but for now this will have to suffice:

My makeup was done by Alicia, who also did a fantastic job and who earns props for introducing me to fake eyelashes that made my eyes pop all night. Slap on the wrist for me though, who spent too much time trying to glue them back on in the bathroom when all the tears I'd cried that day (happy tears) finally dissolved the glue and they started coming off.

I think after we left there and got to the church and I saw the bouquets for the first time, that's when it really hit me. The flowers were so beautiful. Walta Patt at Powell Florist did a wonderful job. Everything was so beautiful and unique and seeing it all come together in those bouquets really made that day a reality for me. Below is one of the bridesmaids bouquets.

Ahh, even now I can't get over how pretty they are! Anyway, once we all had a little something to eat, courtesy of McAlister's, (Who by the way, does an awesome party tray in either sandwich or wrap style and will deliver, along with gallons of sweet tea, for a very reasonable price. Kudos to Mom for that good idea!) we all got dressed and played the waiting game for what seemed like an eternity to me. My photographer, Pat Murphy-Racey, who I've known since I was 11 years old and who has been a close friend of the family and my youth group leader, and now a deacon in my church, shot some "getting ready" pictures and then took me into the church for some pre-ceremony shots of just me in my dress. Being in the church, so close to where Tyson was, but not able to see him, was so exasperating! I just wanted to get married already!

As I walked out of the church and back to the rectory where we all got ready to wait for the ceremony to start, I saw my late grandfather's wife coming in to the church. I immediately became emotional. My grandfather, who is actually my dad's uncle, but who raised him from the time he was two years old, just passed away in April, the day before my birthday. I believe grandparents should die of old age, peacefully and in their sleep, after a long, happy life. My grandfather was sadly deprived of that. Grandpa Clete was in great shape and good health for a man his age, and spent his life working that farm and his land. But on this day he decided to burn a brush pile out in a corn field. Somehow the fire got out of control, and he got caught up in it. By the time the fire trucks and paramedics got to the scene, it was too late. The news was devastating to my entire family, and so unexpected. Of course, my grandfather's wife, Delores, was heartbroken. This was the second husband she had to bury. When I saw her walking up to the church that day, I thought my heart would literally burst. Her presence there meant so much to me, and her being there was inspirational, encouraging, and almost as good as my grandpa himself being there. And though I know he couldn't be there in person, I know he was there with all of us in spirit on that day.

Finally, finally, it was time for the ceremony to begin. It took place at my church, St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Powell. I was so hyped up I couldn't stand still. The bridesmaids weren't walking fast enough! My flower girl and ring bearers couldn't have gone slower if they had crawled backwards down the aisle! When would it be my turn? My dad tried to keep me occupied with jokes about skipping out on everyone and making a fast getaway, but nothing could have kept me from Tyson at that moment. When we walked through the doors, I didn't even see anyone else. I didn't look to either side the whole way down, or if I did, none of it registered. I had eyes only for him, and the big smile he wore that I was sure matched mine. I had always thought I would cry coming down that aisle, but all I could do was smile. We got to the end and my dad put my hand in Tyson's, and it was like finally everything was normal again. I wasn't antsy anymore, I wasn't impatient. I was just standing there with him, and I could have stood there all day. We had a full Mass that lasted about an hour.

Afterwords, we took a trolley to our reception site, The Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farm. The trolley was so much fun! The entire bridal party and their dates, and all of our parents were on board. The ride lasted about 45 minutes, and in just that short amount of time, we polished off an entire case of champagne! It was hilarious.

Some of us in front of the trolley, post-champagne...
The "damage."

The reception was epic. No, really. Our parents, the entire bridal party, and Tyson and I made our grand entrance "arena-style" complete with amusing tidbits about each person as they came in and finishing off the whole charade with Rocky Top. We had secured about 200 shakers from my old boss at the UT Athletics Marketing Department (thanks, Jimmy!), and as Tyson and I walked in, all of our guests were waving orange and white shakers and going crazy. So fun! We went right into our first dance from there, and then my dad surprised me with his song selection for the father/daughter dance, which he had kept a secret from me. It was Heartland's "I Loved Her First" which brought me to tears (one of the many guilty culprits in the fake eyelash fiasco). Then Tyson and his mom dance to "The Perfect Fan" by the Backstreet Boys.

Dinner, although late (another story in and of itself) was amazing, and the festivities of the night were just so much fun. We played the Shoelywed Game, which if you have not ever seen done, you are missing out. It is hilarious! The bride and groom sit back to back and each have a shoe of their own and a one of the other person's shoes. They are then asked questions about the marriage (i.e., who will manage the money, who is the better driver, who wears the pants in the relationship) and each one has to raise the shoe of the person they think best fits each question. Hands down the funniest part of that game for us was when our DJ asked us who had the craziest family, and without hesitation, both of us threw my shoes up into the air! The bridal party also played a rather dangerous hybrid game of musical chairs and a scavenger hunt. They had to find items from the audience and race back to their chairs before everyone else. A few bruises were had because of this game, but it was definitely worth the laughs. Of course, there was much dancing and fun to follow too!

Tyson and I accredit the success of that night primarily to our AMAZING DJs, Corey and Tara of Music in Motion. They really knew how to get the party started and kept people out on the dance floor all night. When Tyson and I left that night, I don't think either one of us could have been happier. The day was completely perfect for both of us and we were thrilled.

We really want to thank everyone who came to the wedding. We know it was a long trip for some, and we know the cost and time and sacrifice it took to be there. Everyone's presence there was what really made it such an incredible and memorable event for us. We are so happy to have gotten to share the best day of our lives with so many of our family and friends!