My Top Ten Photos From Our Wedding Day

When we received our wedding pictures back, it was a little overwhelming. Hundreds of photos and hundreds of memories were suddenly under our noses. We took our time looking through them, taking a break, looking through them again, taking a break, etc.

I am now at the point where I am well-acquainted with the beautiful work that Nicholas Gore Weddings took on our special day. For today’s blog post, I thought I would highlight my top ten favorite photos from June 11, 2016. Please keep in mind that I didn’t pick out the top photos that a photographer probably would if he/she scanned the album. Rather, I just picked the ones that I enjoyed and that meant something to me. So, in my best attempt to go in chronological order, here are my ten favorites.

Behind the Scenes – Our photographer went to the house of my sister-in-law prior to the wedding to capture Sidney and her bridesmaids getting ready. This photo of Sidney with her robe still on but her hair and makeup done really shows the excitement of what is about to come. I love the behind the scenes aspect of it too.

Sidney getting ready for the big day to come (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sidney getting ready for the big day to come (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sid and Her Mom – This photo is cool just because it is the point of no return. Sid is getting in the car to go to the church. With her mom helping her, it is both a sweet and serious photo.

My mother-in-law, Brenda, helps her daughter into the car to go to the church (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

My mother-in-law, Brenda, helps her daughter into the car to go to the church (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

We Did It!! – The look of joy and relief on our faces as we walk up the aisle after our ceremony says a lot. This is one of my very favorite photos that Nick took.

Now that looks like one very happy couple! (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Now that looks like one very happy couple! (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Making It Legal – After the ceremony ended and we embraced our family, we went back to the altar where we signed our marriage certificate. This shot is meaningful because it shows Sidney and I with the man who married us, Father James LeBlanc.

Fr. James LeBlanc, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach, looks on as we sign our marriage certificate (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Fr. James LeBlanc, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Myrtle Beach, looks on as we sign our marriage certificate (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

The Wedding Party – How can’t the wedding party photo be one of my favorites? You might have seen it on my Facebook page yesterday but here it is again. Not a bad looking group, right?

This was our wedding party (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

This was our wedding party (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

A Picture Says a Thousand Words – In an earlier blog post I featured a photo showing the profiles of both Sid and I during our first dance. However, this one focused on Sidney just expresses so much more. All you need to do is look at Sid’s eyes to learn everything you need to about the photo. And even though the picture is of the back of my head, you can still see that I am smiling.

No caption needed for this one (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

No caption needed for this one (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Reaction Shot – This photo captures a special moment as it was when my brother was giving the best man’s toast. We loved it how Nick scanned down the whole head table and focused in on the reactions of Sidney and I.

When Glen delivered the best man toast, the camera focused on the reactions of Sidney and I (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

When Glen delivered the best man toast, the camera focused on the reactions of Sidney and I (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

It’s All About the Kids – The Coin Dance is an Italian tradition where reception attendees throw coins on the floor while the bride and groom dance. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also produces the best photos. I love this shot of Sidney and I laughing while the kids scramble to pick up coins. Coin Dance photos serve as the best historical record because they manage to capture most of the kids at the wedding. About 20 years from now this photo will be a lot of fun.

Kids get on hands and knees to pick up money during the Coin Dance (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Kids get on hands and knees to pick up money during the Coin Dance (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Cutting the Cake – I really enjoy this artistic, vivid photo. The way Sidney gently guides my hands as we cut the cake is captured perfectly.

Sid's hands guiding mine as we cut the cake (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sid’s hands guiding mine as we cut the cake (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

The Moment Before – This image was taken the second before Sidney threw the bouquet. You can really see the contemplation running through her head. The fact that she looks absolutely beautiful in it makes the photo even better.

Sidney getting ready to throw the bouquet (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Sidney getting ready to throw the bouquet (photo courtesy of Nicholas Gore Weddings Photography).

Additional Special Moments…

The Ceremony – Fr. LeBlanc officiated a great wedding. The images below are a couple of my favorite from the ceremony.

Some shots from the ceremony, including our glamour shot up at the altar.

Some shots from the ceremony, including our glamour shot up at the altar.

The Little People We Love – Nick made sure to get some awesome photos of our nieces and nephew. On the left is my sister’s little girl, Mikayla. On the right is Harrison, the son of my sister-in-law, Stephanie.

Great shots of Mikayla and Harrison.

Great shots of Mikayla and Harrison.

Embracing Russell – Not forgetting our other niece, Sidney and I each shared special hugs with Russell (Stephanie’s daughter) after the wedding.

Sharing a moment with our niece, Russell.

Sharing a moment with our niece, Russell.

Family Is Everything – After both of us said “I Do,” we officially became parts of new families. On the left I am with the Mathis Family and on the right Sidney is with the Reser Family.

Sidney and I with our new families.

Sidney and I with our new families.

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Thanks again to Nicholas Gore Weddings for doing such a great job. We will cherish these images forever. Don’t Blink.

The #SidAndBrent Wedding

Quick story. The sweetest part of our wedding day for me was when my brother, dad, and cousin came over that morning. Glen handed me a tiny gift bag. He told me it was from Sidney. Knowing it would be best to open in private, I went upstairs to see what it was. Sidney had written me a heartfelt note and knitted a handkerchief with a special message. It was a beautiful gesture and set the day off perfectly.

I will keep the note private but this was the handkerchief Sid gave to me the morning of the wedding.

I will keep the note private but this was the handkerchief Sid gave to me the morning of the wedding.

Now that I got that emotional moment off my chest, let me back up just a little bit. I woke up at our house at 7 a.m. Sidney had stayed the night at her parents. It was important to both of us that we didn’t see each other until she walked down the aisle a little after 1 p.m. that afternoon. I spent the next few hours packing for the honeymoon, writing in my journal, and just gathering myself.

I also spent time tweeting. I know this tweet is CORNY but it is how we felt. We were engaged for a year and really looked forward to this day. At the same time, most people look forward their whole lives to that day they finally get to tie the knot.

I also spent time tweeting. I know this tweet is CORNY but it is how we felt. We were engaged for a year and really looked forward to this day. At the same time, most people look forward their whole lives to that day they finally get to tie the knot.

It was at 10 a.m. when the guys came over. My brother was my best man, my cousin was a groomsman, and my dad also had a tux to match us. Kenny, another groomsman, was already with me as he stayed at our house. On the way over, my family had picked up breakfast from Bojangles. So before we started to jump into our tuxedos we all scarfed down chicken fillet biscuits. My west coast fellas couldn’t believe how good they were.

I was pretty dressed down that morning as you can see. This is me eating my chicken biscuit and Botato rounds from Bojangles.

I was pretty dressed down that morning as you can see. This is me eating my chicken biscuit and Botato rounds from Bojangles.

With breakfast completed, I hit the shower. I then got dressed with my dad helping every step of the way. He pulled my tie straight, helped me with my cuffs, and opened up the jacket for me to slip into. With my best man, my groomsmen, and myself ready to go, my dad jumped in the shower and then into his suit. There now wasn’t anything left to do except go to the site of the wedding. A little bit before noon, we piled into a rental car and made the drive to St. Andrew Catholic Church.

My dad giving me a hand with my tie.

My dad giving me a hand with my tie (photo credit to Glen).

Once inside the church we hung out for about 20 minutes. We took some photos, tested out the geofilter, and talked amongst ourselves. Guests started to show up. Our priest, Father James LeBlanc, appeared from the front of the church and walked to the back to greet me. Word spread that the bride and her bridesmaids had arrived. My groomsmen started to escort guest to their seats. We were now only about 20 minutes away from show time!

Right when I got in St. Andrew Catholic Church I tested out our own special geofilter. It worked!

Right when I got in St. Andrew Catholic Church I tested out our own special geofilter. It worked!

For the month leading up to the wedding, I fielded the “Are you nervous yet?” question over and over. Each time I said no. A couple minutes before the service started I felt the same way. Although I had to work hard to keep my emotions in check, I never had strong nerves.

This photo clearly shows I wasn't nervous, I was just focused (photo credit to Jay).

This photo clearly shows I wasn’t nervous, I was just focused (photo credit to Jay).

It was time. The organist played Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and I walked my mom down the aisle to her seat. My brother-in-law then walked my mother-in-law down the aisle to her seat. With my mom and Brenda in their pews, it was time for the procession.

This was my beautiful bride in the bridal area of the church just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle (photo credit to Stephanie).

This was my beautiful bride in the bridal area of the church just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle (photo credit to Stephanie).

I walked behind Father LeBlanc to the altar. When we arrived he shook my hand. I stood off to the side and watched as my groomsmen made it to the front of the church. Then came Russel and Harrison, our flower girl and ring bearer. Following them were four beautiful women, Sidney’s bridesmaids (my sister, both of Sidney’s sisters, and Sidney’s best friend). With everyone now in their places except for the most important person, the time had arrived for the best moment of any wedding.

Sidney appeared at the start of the aisle looking breathtakingly gorgeous. With her dad to her right they started to walk toward me. St. Andrew has a looooooong aisle so it took a minute for them to reach the point of no return. When they arrived at the fourth pew from the front, Fr. LeBlanc nudged me to go get her. I walked to Mr. Sid (Sidney is named after her dad) and gave him a handshake followed by a hug. He then took Sidney’s hand and placed it in mine. Sid and I then walked to the front of the altar where Fr. LeBlanc stood before us.

Hallelujah! We had made it this far!

Fr. LeBlanc started the service, greeted the congregation, and said the opening prayers. Sid and I then walked up onto the altar and sat in our two chairs right next to Fr. LeBlanc. Just like at a regular Catholic mass, two readings are said at a Catholic wedding service. A relative of Sidney’s, Ed Galloway, gave the first reading. Before he read from the book of Genesis he spoke a few eloquent words about the Mathis family. After Ed spoke and did the reading, the responsorial psalm was performed. Then one half of our sponsor couple, the same man who said the blessing at our rehearsal dinner, Tim McCormick, gave the second reading. Call us cliché, but Sidney and I went with the standard “Love is patient, love is kind…” passage from 1 Corinthians.

The proclamation of the gospel and the delivery of the homily was done by Fr. LeBlanc. Looking over at us as he talked, Father stressed that it wasn’t him administering the Holy Sacrament of Marriage. Rather, it was Sidney and I. It was such a powerful way of saying that the two of us, along with God, held the power for a long and successful marriage.

Suddenly Father LeBlanc switched the tone of his voice, looked at us again, and asked, “Are you ready to do this?!”

Before we knew it, Sid and I were once again up in front of the altar. Although this time our eyes were locked and we were standing directly across from each other so the congregation could see us 100% as opposed to our backs being to everyone. My brother was standing on my side and Sidney’s sisters were standing on her side. At this point, we went off script just a little…

Sidney and I just about to say our vows (photo credit to Bill Plate).

Sidney and I just about to say our vows (photo credit to Bill Plate).

As part of his best man duties, it was rehearsed that Glen would present the rings. However, Fr. LeBlanc had a better idea. He asked Harrison, our three-year-old ring bearer nephew, to do the honors. Now it would have been totally understandable if Harrison got scared or froze during this very unpredictable time; but he didn’t. Harrison took the plate that the rings rested on while Fr. LeBlanc sprinkled them with holy water. He then let Harrison bring the plate to us so we could take our rings and say our vows. The little guy did a masterful job. Word is still out on whether my brother has forgiven Harrison for stealing his most important job.

We spoke our vows with sincerity and conviction to each other. We could feel the Holy Spirit within us. Fr. LeBlanc talked about how we were now one. He then gave a blessing over us and that was it…WE WERE MARRIED!

Sidney and I right after we signed our marriage license.

Sidney and I right after we signed our marriage license.

Ode to Joy started to play and Sidney and I shared a kiss. We then walked back up the aisle. I had successfully held in my emotions for the entirety of the service but once we hit the vestibule of the church a few tears flowed. We were congratulated by family and friends but we couldn’t bask in that glory long. We had to go back down to the altar and sign our wedding papers. The photographer then took some photos of us and that sealed it. Our business at the church, very important business might I add, was finished. It was time for Mr. and Mrs. Reser to head to the reception. Don’t Blink.

* A blog post centering on the reception will come soon. Professional photos were taken at the wedding but not used for this post.

Reserving Seats

Believe it or not, the angry mother at Great Clips wasn’t the only awkward situation I observed last Saturday. For the other episode I take you to a place I have brought up before in this blog…my church.

St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach attracts large crowds. Because St. Andrew is one of the few Catholic parishes in the Grand Strand area and because Myrtle Beach is a magnet for tourists and snowbirds, our weekend masses fill up. Even with five services offered throughout the Saturday and Sunday, the church seems to get packed for each different mass.

As our pastor Fr. James LeBlanc says, “February is a busy time for us.” You see, this is the peak month where folks who call other northern states and northern countries (Canada) home migrate down south to spend the colder months in our little slice of paradise. The second month of the year is when you see this population truly balloon.

The mass that I prefer to attend lately is the 4:30 p.m. Saturday vigil mass. I have learned that during this time of the year if you don’t arrive at least 15 minutes early you will be hard pressed to find a spot. This past Saturday I walked in the church at around 4:11 p.m. and it seemed as if every seat was already taken! I kept walking down the outer aisle hoping a place would pop up. It was not until I reached the second row to the front that I saw some actual wood of the pew. In fact, there was enough space for at least two people. Not only would I have a seat but I might also have some wiggle room!

“Good evening ma’am, could I please squeeze in here,” I said in my sweetest voice to the woman at the end of the pew.

“I am sorry,” she said in an equally sweet voice. “These spots are saved.”

My heart sunk and I began the humiliating walk of turning around and strolling back up the aisle. I could feel the eyes of the hundreds of people who watched me walk all the way down the aisle (St. Andrew is a large church) only to see me reverse course and walk the other way. Thankfully, after I passed about ten rows, a couple of precious old ladies made room for me to sit at the very end of their pew.

As I got settled in, I watched people do the exact same thing I did. They walked all the way down to the pew only to be told that the seat was reserved. I witnessed this about three times. The final time the usher took a family of three down to the location, thinking just like all of us that the space was open. With the usher guiding the wide-eyed and helpless trio to the seemingly open spot, the woman who was reserving the pew surrendered. She stood up and made the long walk to the back of the church where I assume she waited for her guests while joining the legions of people enjoying the standing room only accomodations.

This story isn’t a knock on St. Andrew. Rather, it is a tribute. I am proud to say that I am part of a parish that hosts full houses frequently and employs the hardest working user team in the diocese. I am also not putting down the lady who was saving seats. You know why? Because we have all been there…

I will never forget my sister’s high school graduation. It took place in an arena where it was a first-come, first-served seating situation. I went with my dad and uncle right when the doors opened to save seats. We immediately claimed a row right in the center of the venue. My dad took out a long piece of thick paper ribbon that stretched across the entire row except for one seat at one end and two seats at the other. Across the ribbon he wrote RESER-ved.

My dad and uncle sat on the end with two seats and I sat on the end with one seat. I was on the end that was closer to the stage and thus had an aisle that was exposed to many more people using the stairs. While my two family members on the other side had a great time chatting it up for two hours, I was basically abused by angry attendees who thought it was the cheapest move in the book to block off a whole row. I mean, could I really blame them?

Saving seats sucks so much. You feel multiple negative emotions ranging from fear to embarrassment to anger. People usually save seats to help friends and loved ones so in theory it is a noble act. However, good intentions many times morph into a tough afternoon for the person doing the deed and frustration for the many folks who see open seats in a crowded place but are denied. In the end, is it worth it?

Unless you have pregnant, elderly, or handicapped individuals in your party, resist the urge to save seats. If we have the need for premium seating, I think we should make the effort to round everyone up and go to the venue together. It would make a smoother experience for all. Don’t Blink.

Not Needed in Church

In the past I have talked about etiquette issues in church. However, a situation occurred yesterday morning during mass that I felt was too good not to write about.

As I addressed in my Sunday blog post, our area has experienced severe flooding. Because of this state of emergency that South Carolina has found itself in, we have received a few alerts on our smart phones. By alerts, I mean emergency alerts. With iPhones, there is a whole different setting you need to activate to silence them. Just because you have no tone for your texts, social media notifications, and phone calls does not mean your emergency alerts will be silenced as well.

Sidney and I attended the 9:15 a.m. mass at St. Andrew Parish yesterday. The service started off just fine and after the gospel was read, Father James LeBlanc started to deliver his sermon. A little ways in, a tone filled the church. At first I thought it was a type of emergency alarm activated inside St. Andrew. However, as Fr. LeBlanc stopped to let the cacophony play out, I realized it wasn’t something that the church had installed. Rather, it was a sound I had heard before.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

It suddenly made sense to me that the tone was created by the simultaneous iPhone emergency alerts going off. As I could hear the rain fall on the roof of the building, I knew what it was about. After the disturbance, Fr. LeBlanc went back to his sermon. About five minutes later, the phones started going off again as yet another emergency alert had been delivered. This time it was even more annoying as phones seemed to receive the alerts at different times, creating quite the nuisance.

The first time it happened, Fr. LeBlanc responded with humor. He said the noise ushered in a good spot for him to stop talking and let a point settle. However, he wasn’t joking the second time the noise started. Fr. LeBlanc doesn’t get angry but you could tell he was a tad bit annoyed by the additional disturbance.

“What is that?” he questioned.

A woman in the front, who was an iPhone-in-church violator, spoke up. It was tough to hear exactly what she said word-for-word but she did get the point across that it was the emergency alerts going off. Without missing a beat, Fr. LeBlanc responded.

“But you are here. You are in a church. Why would you possibly need emergency alerts? There is no safer place you could be.”

And he was right on. There is absolutely no need for a person to have a phone on them in church. Emergency alerts are important but if you are attending a service you don’t need them. This is especially true at St. Andrew where there is a whole staff of people out in the vestibule and other non-worship space locations that would immediately notify all if a dangerous situation was near.

After his stern reasoning on the pointlessness of having a phone in church to receive emergency alerts, he complimented it with some of his trademark humor. He then ended his second detour from his homily by asking everyone to please completely turn off their phones.

Turning off your phones when entering a church is a good start but I recommend doing what Sidney and I do; just leave your electronic devices in the car. Open your glove compartment and throw them in there. I hope Fr. LeBlanc knows that he won’t have to worry about any phones going off when he marries Sidney and I on June 11. Don’t Blink.

Not Throwback Thursday but Rundown Thursday

Some call it Throwback Thursday but I call it Rundown Thursday. Here we go with five completely random topics.

Back to Work – Although sad that my vacation had ended, I wasn’t sad to return to work today. In fact, I expediated my reunion with Coastal Carolina University by stopping by the office for about an hour yesterday. Before plunging head first into a full day of work after two weeks off, I wanted to make sure the little things and housekeeping issues were in check. Today was a good day. When you are in a profession like mine, you never really have complete time off. While out west I was still working a little bit each day. When you are so far away and working from a lap top, it feels like you aren’t doing a good enough job. You long for the resources available at your home base. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I was still on vacation spending time with my family but it feels good to be back in the office devoting 100% to the job I love.

Water Challenge – Every now and then I like to share the wacky challenges I see on social media. A few weeks ago I wrote about the Brew Mile Challenge. I raised the white flag before I would even attempt such a thing. But the Water Challenge? Is this a joke? Who out there couldn’t drink a gallon of water over the course of a day? I know I could do that much more comfortably as opposed to drinking a liter of soda in a day. But after I saw about five people share it on Facebook I guess some are really considering it a task. I know the main purpose of this is to promote healthy habits but it seems like the “toughness” of it is being glorified as well. Is this harder than I think?

This is the Water Challenger. Am I underestimating the difficulty?

This is the Water Challenger. Am I underestimating the difficulty?

Big Brother 17 – I don’t usually watch sitcoms and reality shows unless I am watching them with my fiance. Well, she has reeled me in yet again. This time it is “Big Brother.” Unlike “The Mindy Project” or her favorites on Netflix, this one hasn’t grown on me yet. In fact, I find “Big Brother” incredibly stupid. When Kathy Griffin appeared on a recent episode I wanted to stop watching altogther. However, I am going to stick it out. Keep me in your prayers.

Wedding Update #1 – Speaking of prayers, Sidney and I met with a representative from St. Andrew Catholic Church yesterday to begin preparation for our big day next June. We are excited to start the journey that will help us grow as a couple and lead us to the altar in 11 months. In related news, by next week we will have a specific date selected.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

A Round Trip to Charleston – Remember when I told you about our nightmare with Delta Airlines? Tonight we clean up another part that resulted from that snafu. Sidney’s car is still in Charleston from when we had to drive there in the middle of the night to catch a flight to salvage our vacation. We flew into Myrtle Beach yesterday but were too tired and too busy to make the trip to pick it up. Now I need to stop writing so Sidney, her dad, and I can make the two-hour drive to Charleston to pick up her car from long term parking. It is going to be a late night!

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Best part of returning from vacation on a Wednesday is that you have a work week that is only two days long. I am looking forward to working Friday and then enjoying a relaxing weekend in Myrtle Beach. To all my readers, have a great weekend as well! Don’t Blink.