not just a little courthouse wedding

One week ago, my best friend got married.

Betsy was the first friend I made in Air Force ROTC at Penn State, my maid of honor when I got married and remains the ultimate voice of reason.  We may not talk every day (or even every week or month), but she will always be one of my most treasured friends.

Due to life circumstances (i.e. military assignments and timing), Bets and her now-husband, Josh, decided to have a simple courthouse wedding in her hometown just six weeks after he proposed (see photos here).  The wedding was set for Oct. 25, a Friday afternoon.

(Her hometown, Doylestown, PA, is kinda like my hometown as well; my sister still lives in our parents’ house there, Betsy’s family still lives there, and Abigail’s future husband–Marvin–lives just a few streets away from Betsy’s parents.  And they go to the same church as Betsy’s sister.  Small world.)  Not to mention that my two other girlfriends from college, Leslie and Wendy (also my bridesmaids EIGHT years ago) still live in PA.

So, I made a trip of it, as I always do, starting in Philly and winding my way back through PA, stopping to see friends along the way.

After skipping my last class last Thursday, I sped to Betsy’s parents house in time for the ‘rehearsal’ dinner.  There may not have been a rehearsal, but there was wine and cheese, amazing pasta with vodka sauce and fantastic company.  It was a chance for me to really talk to Josh-I’d met him briefly at Bets’ weapons school graduation a couple years ago in Las Vegas-and visit with people who are like family to me.

Coincidentally, Abigail and Marvin were headed to his parents’ house (again, just a few streets away) to spend the weekend there enjoying the fall foliage, and–unbeknownst to Abigail–to get engaged.  (More on that later.)  I was able to spend the night at Marvin’s house that night and get to meet his parents, all while being conveniently close to Bets and all the action this wedding weekend.  We spent an hour or two sipping wine at the Johnson’s kitchen table that night chatting before we all headed to bed around midnight.

The next morning, I spent a relaxing half-hour with Mrs. Johnson chatting over coffee before I headed out to the salon to meet Bets and the rest of the female family and friends.  It may have been a courthouse wedding, but that doesn’t mean a girl can’t get her hair done!  I got a polish change and enjoyed visiting with Betsy’s family and new in-laws while everyone finished up.

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After the salon, we headed to Betsy’s parent’s house for a pizza lunch before we all got ready for the big event.

Betsy chose a simple, yet elegant (so Betsy) white fall dress from White House Black Market, and a pair of bright blue (‘something blue’) heels.  The rest of us (not planned) ended up being in dresses that coordinated so well–teals, blues and black and white.  A couple family members were in solid purple and red dresses, which really rounded out to be a beautiful wedding photo!

There may have been a few tears…

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And a few more tears…

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Sarah, Betsy’s sister who is also a professional photographer, took some quick photos out front before we all headed to the courthouse.

A dear friend of Betsy’s family gave a beautiful message about God’s plan for marriage that he read to the soon-to-be-joined couple.  I loved that Bets and Josh stood next to each other the whole time, instead of traditionally facing each other.

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After they exchanged rings, they were husband and wife!

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With just 23 people in attendance, that courtroom ceremony–with its deeply personal message and combined love of all the guests–was perhaps one of the most intimate and meaningful weddings I’ve ever experienced.  Josh was joined solely by his immediate family–mom, dad, brother and sister, while Bets had a set of grandparents and an aunt, uncle and cousin as well.  AND her three best girlfriends.  I can’t tell you how honored I was to be that courtroom in that very moment.

Sarah had us meet at a local park to take some photos.  See them here.

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The reception was held at a local restaurant where we had appetizers and cocktails, followed by dinner and wedding cake.  There may have been a few fatherly speeches, but there was no dancing, which is probably just as Betsy would have wanted it.  I spent that night with Leslie (who is expecting and due in February!) in Pottstown.  Leslie and Christian’s house is always on my itinerary when I pass through PA.

The next morning, we all headed BACK to Betsy’s house for the last of the wedding weekend festivities: a brunch with more of Betsy’s extended family.  We had quiche, biscuits and gravy (Josh is from the South) and fruit.  And mimosas.  And more wedding cake.

More excitement was happening just a few miles away; while we were celebrating Betsy and Josh’s marriage, Marvin was asking Abigail to be his wife!  At a local pumpkin patch (one I used to pass each time I drove from my house to Betsy’s house all those years ago in college), he popped the question on a hayride with a bright pink banner and stealthy friends taking photographs.  I popped in afterward to see the future bride and her ring before I left town.

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I drove that afternoon to Hershey, PA, where my friend Wendy lives with her hubby and now THREE kiddos.  We went to a local park for a Fall-fest for kids, where Natalie was able to run through a maze and try to find candy in a pile of hay.  It was so nice to see them all–I even got to see Gary, a surgical resident, when he came home for dinner–and I marvel each time at how motherhood suits her.

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I spent the night and enjoyed pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes the next morning before waving goodbye and heading back to NY.

Until next time, PA!

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