One of the things I learned from Joy Thigpen at her styling workshop was the importance of values and the importance of maintaining them throughout the wedding. She taught us a quick exercise that I ended up doing with Kit. We basically wrote down a huge list of values that we hold onto and some that best reflected us as a couple, and then we trimmed it down to a final list of ten. These are the ten we hope to maintain throughout the wedding planning process and the values we hope our wedding guests will feel on our wedding day.
[my point of view]
It was a Saturday afternoon; two days before my 26th birthday. Saturdays are usually reserved for dates with Kit because we never see each other on weekdays due to our busy schedules. When he first told me to dress comfortably because we were doing an outdoor activity, there were things that crossed my mind like rock climbing, ziplining, or skydiving, all of which I have done in the past. But never did I expect it was going to be the beginning of an adventure that would surpass them all.
Up until this afternoon, I knew Kit was the one I was going to marry. It was actually something that crossed my mind very early on in our relationship. We would say “hello forever” to each other while we were long distance, which would probably scare away most people because I mean…forever IS a long time. But it didn’t scare me the least bit. I was more excited than anything else when I had the realization. I daydreamed about our future family, our future home, our future forever. We openly talked about marriage here and there, but I would always try to keep it light and playful so that I wouldn’t scare him away. Thankfully, he had the same heart that I did and all the while, God was behind the scenes – making sure the timing was just perfect.
After more than 3.5 years of dating, we found a steady rhythm and delicate balance for our relationship. Granted, it’s a continuous discovery being in a relationship and I truly learn new things about myself, him, and us all the time. But we have reached a point where we have learned how to fight better, trust more, and understand deeper. We have God’s grace to thank for everything aforementioned and we truly wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today without His love and guidance.
Hopping back to the Saturday afternoon. We had just finished lunch and dessert. I was actually feeling a little under the weather that day, so when Kit blindfolded me in the car, I was relieved that I could rest my eyes for a little bit. In my head, I was thinking we were going to a surprise birthday party and that I would just play along with it so that I wouldn’t ruin his hard work. When he parked the car and opened the door, I knew we were in a nature-y setting. It sounded peaceful and smelled lush. He kept the blindfold on me and led me to a bridge. Having lost my sense of sight, I was getting impatient and a little nervous, but I tried to stay calm. When he finally let me open my eyes, I saw him riding a longboard towards me with roses in his hand. I started smiling because I had been wanting a longboard for the longest time. After he said “happy birthday,” he got down on his knee and turned the longboard around so that I could read the custom design that said “Allison, will you marry me?” I immediately started crying and gasped when he then proceeded to take out a ring from his pocket. He later told me he gave me this amazing speech he had been preparing, but all I remember him saying was “Allison … (speech) … will you marry me?” It felt like I was floating (no joke) and that it was all a wonderful, blurry dream.
After I said “yes,” we spent a few minutes just soaking the moment in together. I called my parents right away and when Kit pulled out his phone, I thought he was doing the same, but he told me to look at his Facebook instead. It was strange to me at the moment, but when he started showing me the messages between him and our dearest friends about the proposal, it was the unveiling of another sweet surprise. I loved that he included our best friends in the process and knowing that they were anticipating the moment as much as he was.
Ever since that beautiful, life-changing day, we have been planning bits and pieces for our next chapter and the huge celebration that comes with it. I’l be sharing more on those details next. But for now, here’s the proposal video…
Today’s Spotlight feature is on the talented calligrapher, Julia Sirb of Ink and Honey. I had the pleasure of working with Julia for the last bridal shoot I styled, and was amazed with her craft! Check out her beautiful calligraphy and interview below!
Where do you find inspiration?
I am most inspired by my Romanian heritage combined with being raised in the South. Growing up, so much emphasis was placed on hospitality and honoring others. My first job, at a southern company, played an important role in me learning to be hospitable to others and make sure that they feel welcome. It seems that everywhere you go in Georgia, whether a store, restaurant or other facility, you are greeted and made to feel welcome. Growing up Romanian, my parents taught me to hold guests in high esteem, especially reflected in entertaining with food and drink. I will never forget the first time my calligraphy teacher wrote my name on a place card on my first day of class. It’s undeniable that hand-lettering and calligraphy is very personal and special. It is a wonderful way to make guests feel important and welcome.
What is the best part about being a calligrapher?
The most rewarding part about being a calligrapher is giving a finished project to a client. It’s so nice seeing hours worth of work in one stack and seeing the reaction from my client. I love it when they tell me that their guests enjoyed their hand-lettered envelopes because it makes me feel like I am successful in helping my clients make a good first impression of their event.
What are your favorite types of projects to work on as a calligrapher?
I love to work on projects that include many paper products for one event, because there is usually a strong theme and inspiration. This allows for much creativity and elaboration and fun for me. Other kinds of projects I enjoy, believe it or not, are tedious ones where it’s just addressing envelopes or writing out escort cards. Once in a while it’s relaxing to do the same thing over and over for a prolonged period of time.
Who are some calligraphers you look up to?
Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls and Betsy Dunlap for their very beautiful organic hands, and Molly Jacques for combining hand-lettering with calligraphy to make a bold and stunning final piece of art.
What is beauty to you?
My Faith inspires me to believe that everyone is made in God’s image, therefore, having value. It’s something beautiful. I believe that there is much beauty in love, specifically in serving others.
[photo credits: Buffy Dekmar]
[ my fiancé's point of view]
It seems incredible that this journey has been about twelve years in the making, but looking back on it now, it couldn’t have gone any better. The playground flirting that started when we were fourteen years old was all but obvious to ourselves, and I have been a devout believer of the notion that she was way out of my league–yes, even when we were fourteen. She thinks it’s just her being shy and didn’t like that about herself, but her bashfulness coupled with her beauty told us that this was a radiance untainted. If guys could swoon, then she left countless pubescent boys in her wake as she passed them by in the hallways, wonderfully oblivious to her own charm.
It worked out perfectly that it took another eight to nine years for us to end up together because I had a lot to learn about relationships before finally being worthy of stewarding her. Surely, we could’ve dated, but I’m more than certain that it would’ve ended badly for both of us. We took our separate journeys to open our minds; she had to see the world and know that she could thrive in it; I had to feel the stinging weight of breaking hearts to move away from my egocentricity; and, also, we both had to know what love looked like when we saw it.
Knowing that we were going to get married was the easy part. Deciding when to do it was much more difficult. I felt a stress level and a pressure that I’ve never felt in my life before. I wanted to be financially stable, a bit more accomplished and respectable, and, mostly, I was waiting for some external sign. But then a slow dawning slowly unfolded inside me like a paper lantern would inflate as the fire warms it from inside, complete with a satisfying crinkling and an abashed glow. She was struggling; I was struggling; why don’t we just struggle together? Was I a performer, some entertainer, waiting for the stage to be set so that I could act for her? Or was this real life–real minutes and hours and days passing us by speedily, with their effable nights gone forever if we don’t catch them now?
And she was more than mine–I knew this. Her soul was bigger than her body, and an entire community needed to be committed to this. So I messaged some of our closest friends, about twenty of them, and all together, we prayed for two months. I kept them updated on the preparations; they were the first to approve of the ring. And when the moment came closer, they were the ones to advise me.
You see–as soon as the messages went out, replies slowly began to come with suggestions for rings. Each person had their own unique perspective of Allison and so each recommendation was completely different from one to the other. Some were very conservative; others were completely unique. I took some notes on each, and I recognized Allison in each of them. But I bought the ring on my own; there was a little characteristic of each in this ring, but it was completely of my own for her. It was simple yet elegant.
Finally, the day was ready. It was also her birthday weekend, the perfect surprise, as she would think I would be hoodwinking her for a party rather than a proposal. I spent a week perfecting her present: a longboard with the question “Will You Marry Me?” neatly spray painted on the bottom in black and white. The letters were fitted into a depiction of a vase, with a white rose to top it off: her name in Korean. On the day of, I glided to her near a bridge outside on her gift, presented the bottom, revealed the ring–the rest is a rush and a blur.
All I remember is a perfect kaleidoscope of leaves, tears, sighs–and: “Yes.”
[photos by Johnny Cheng]
Here’s a pretty board of braided tresses for you <3
[photo credits, clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 ]