In early December, Brian and I traveled to Texas for a fun-filled, whirlwind week of wedding planning, Mexican food, family Christmas, good friends, and a new addition to our family - Dave! We were home for 8 days, but they flew by WAY too fast.
We flew in on Saturday, and started the trip off with my Tex-Mex heaven, Taco Bueno. We also had some errands to run - dress alterations for the wedding, etc. It was so nice to be with my mom and sister and have some girl time.
While catching up with my mom and sister, I learned that Red Oven Bakery in Arlington had closed. Red Oven baked DELICIOUS red velvet cakes that have been a part of literally every celebration in my family for the past 25 years. Even when my sister went through a phase of not liking cake, we'd get her a cookie cake for her birthday party and a red velvet cake for her family party :) I can't believe I'll never again taste the perfectly moist cake and rich icing that made their cakes so wonderful. I'm still in shock - here are a couple of pictures to commemorate the joy Red Oven brought over the years. Thank you, Red Oven, for 25 years of treats!
Our Happy Engagement Red Velvet in 2005
2006 - I was in Virginia for a couple of birthdays, so my mom dutifully mailed me a red velvet cake. Even delicious in a mashed up pile.
Little did I know, this would be my last one!
Okay, enough lingering on cake :) Later on Saturday evening, our friends JohnMark and Holly came over to visit for a little bit. They had a Christmas party that night in Frisco, but they were so sweet to leave early and drive all the way to Arlington to hang out with us - and they even brought Christmas cookies! We had so much fun catching up with them. I don't know what it is about hanging out with old friends in my old house, but it just makes me so very happy! Unfortunately, I was so overjoyed about the situation that forgot to take a picture!
The next morning, we went to church at Christ Chapel in Forth Worth to see their Christmas Cantata, a beautifully done musical production of Christmas songs meant to prepare your heart for the Christmas season and Christ's birth. What a fun way to start the Christmas season and our time at home with my family! We went with our whole family and Dave's dad (his mom had volunteered to work the nursery), and we really enjoyed the production!
If only this picture had a sound track! The music was incredible
After church, we went to lunch with Dave's parents at Macaroni Grill. This was Brian's first chance to meet and get to know Dave's family, so we had a great time talking with them at lunch over some yummy Italian food!
Before we left the restaurant, my dear friend Catherine came to see me! She rode with Brian and me back to Arlington and stayed at our house for a couple of hours before she had to go to the airport to fly back to Little Rock. It had been almost 2 years since I had seen Cath, so I really enjoyed hearing about her new life as a lawyer in the JAG corps. I'm so proud of her! We drove her to the airport that evening - it was sad to say bye, but I'm looking forward to her and her husband, Eric, visiting us later this year! And again, I forgot to take a picture - darn!
That evening, my mom made some delicious soup, and we had our first full family dinner with Dave! It was a really special night - I loved having us all together at home. And afterwards, we fulfilled a Christmas tradition - we watched Christmas Vacation!
So fun to have everyone around one table!
The next day, Bri and I went to lunch with 3 of my best life-long friends, Kristen, Jen, and Mckenzie at my favorite sushi restaurant, Pirana. The four of us hadn't been together since my wedding in 2007, so we had a blast hanging out! I think there was way too much to talk about for one lunch, but I'm thankful that we had that time together!
We spent the afternoon doing things around the house and went to a fun dinner that night with my Aunt Debbie, Uncle Bruce, and cousins Lindsay, Taylor, and little Noah. We all met at our favorite happy hour spot, Pappasitos, for some quality margaritas and Mexican food. Noah is getting so big, and when you think he couldn't get any cuter, he proves you wrong!
The Galleria in Dallas was another one of our Christmas traditions - I learned to ice skate there and it was always a fun family outing. So when I found out one of my best friends, Lindsey, is now working there, I took her up on a lunch date :) Of course, I would have met Linds anywhere, but I was excited to hear that the Galleria was a convenient meeting spot. Lindsey and I enjoyed rink-side seats, some Corner Bakery goodness, and some great convo! I love that girl. After lunch, Brian and I walked around the mall and took in the pretty Christmas decor of the Galleria!
The Galleria definitely set the mood for Christmas with my family that night! Mom prepped a great dinner, and then we settled in for stockings and presents. Even though it wasn't Christmas morning, my family made it feel like it was. We had a great time exchanging presents - thanks, fam, for all of the Christmas gifts!
*Sidenote to the pic below: Brian was SO helpful with all kinds of things while we were home. One of the things he did was take an adorable picture of Kelly and Dave on a bus from one of their first date parties together and photoshop them into a more "costume-appropriate" scene in the woods. In the picture below, we're holding up his masterpiece. He did such a great job! This picture was hung in place of Kelly's bridal portrait for all guests to see at entrance to their reception.
The next day, I had my hair appointment with my favorite hairdresser in the entire world, Andrea. I loved catching up with her and enjoying some good hair pampering. Afterwards, Brian and I drove out to Grapevine to visit one of my best friends, Missy, her husband Cliff, and their little guy Brady at the Gaylord Texan. I love that hotel during the Christmas season because it's always COMPLETELY decked out in Christmas decor, so I was excited to hear that Missy was interested in seeing what all of the fuss is about :) And I was so thankful that Missy and her family drove up to Arlington to hang out with us. I don't know a lot about having babies, but I know they aren't always the easiest to road-trip with, so it was really sweet of her to come up to see us. I hadn't met Brady yet, so one of my major goals while I was back in Texas was to see Missy, and she made it super easy by bringing her family to us.
Anyway, Missy came down to the lobby to take us up to their room, and I was so thrilled to see her, I think I was probably talking my head off the whole way to their room. So when Cliff was hanging out with Brady in the hallway, I didn't notice until we were basically RIGHT next to them. I was so surprised to see little Brady, I screamed, "Oh my gosh, I love you!" in the middle of the fancy hotel hallway. Whoops. But he just draws it out of you - he's SUCH an adorable baby! Instead of being completely weirded out by me and my screaming, when I asked to hold him, he jumped right into my arms! What a great little guy!
So after talking for awhile in the room, we decided to explore the hotel. We came upon Santa and thought it would be fun to introduce Brady to Saint Nick! He was so good and took a great pic - unfortunately it was one of those places where we couldn't take our own pictures, so I don't have photo evidence of the moment. But believe me, he was adorable and great.
After Santa, we walked around some of the little exhibits set up throughout the hotel. It was so fun to experience a gorgeous Christmas set-up with one of my best friends, who, by the way, knows and appreciates my love for the holiday more than most of my friends because of our Christmas seasons together in college.
This gingerbread house was crazy because it was real gingerbread! And it was special because Missy and her family have a tradition of building gingerbread houses, so she loves collecting gingerbread Christmas stuff. There's a little elf standing to the right of us in this picture, and he's holding a sign that had some statistics on the house - thousands of pounds of gingerbread and sugar went into building this thing. It was pretty cool!
I love how the Gaylord has Texas-themed Christmas decorations. For example, this string of Christmas lights includes illuminated, multi-colored shotgun shells. Awesome.
There was so much territory to cover in the hotel, we put Brady to sleep with all of our walking.
Since Brady had fallen asleep, we decided to stop at this wine bar. It was nice and quiet and a great place to continue chatting. I loved the wine bottle Christmas tree!
After a fun time at the Gaylord, it was time to head to the next event. Mckenzie and Joe (newly engaged, by the way - YAY!!!) had planned a party for us at Joe's house in Grapevine. So Missy, Cliff, Brady, Brian, and I headed over to Joe's for dinner and drinks!
Joe's house is so cool - he had it built earlier in the year, so it's new and gorgeous. And it's perfect for throwing parties! They had catered some very tasty Tex-Mex, invited a ton of our friends, had a margarita machine, and really went all out for us. We are so incredibly thankful for the gesture and for the quality time we had with some people we hadn't seen in a really long time. Here are some highlights from the night.
Some of my best friends from high school, John, Amir with his fiance Anna, and Stuart
Missy, Cliff, and Brady - love this fam!
I LOVE this picture. Joe decided to give Brian a taste of his own...height.
Life-long friends - Congrats Joe and Mckenzie!!
The next day was dedicated to nails and the Bachelorette Party! I love going to my mom's nail salon in Arlington - they are so sweet, can do nails like no one else, and they have the pedicure down to a science (truly, it's incredible). So my mom, sister, and I spent the morning pampering ourselves with manis/pedis. Then after some last minute wedding work, we headed to Fort Worth for a final meeting with the reception coordinator at River Crest. While Kelly and my parents were ironing out final details, I kept Brian and my brother out of trouble :)
For example...reenact that painting, go!
Inside River Crest Country Club
Front entrance of River Crest
After the meeting, we had a little time to kill before the Bachelorette Party dinner reservations, so Kelly met with Dave to talk wedding plans, and I went to hang out with my family at Pappa's Burgers. I was a little jealous of the hamburgers that they were ordering for dinner, but I was really excited about Kelly's Bachelorette dinner!
For the Bachelorette Party, Kelly, me, and 5 of Kel's closest friends met at Ferre, a Tuscan restaurant across from Bass Hall in Downtown Fort Worth. We enjoyed a fun happy hour and dinner - the food and drinks were delicious, and I loved spending quality time with the women who have been such a big part of my sister's life the past few years. They are all so sweet, have fun personalities, and love my sister like crazy, which made me instantly love them!
After a fun dinner, we carpooled out to KTW Lake House in Granbury, Texas. Mckenzie's family is one of three families who own the house, so Mac's mom, Allison, was so gracious to set up the house and stay with us so that we could have the Bachelorette slumber party there.
As soon as we arrived, we all changed into our PJs and got ready for some heavenly (and kind of risqué) cupcakes.
Allison and the girls
As a little game, we made Kelly give out the cupcakes based on what piece of lingerie on the cupcakes she could see each of us wearing!
Michelle was happy with Kel's selection for her
Before Allison headed to bed, she gave Kelly the cutest gift - a bag full of all kinds of goodies for Kelly and Dave's new apartment. The cutest part of the gift was the personalized Christmas picture frame with Kel's new last name!
Cosmos, cupcakes, and champagne - oh my! And after two more girls were able to join us at the house, we were ready for gifts! No pictures or stories about this part, but I will say it was a TON of fun and Kelly got some awesome presents!
The next morning, my mom and grandma came over to cook us breakfast! I hadn't seen my grandma since her visit to Frankfurt, so I loved having her at Kelly's brunch.
Breakfast was so delicious, and it was fun to hang out in our PJ's and just enjoy everyone's company. That afternoon we headed back to Arlington to get ready for the rehearsal!
I couldn't believe it was already the night of Kel & Dave's rehearsal. Our week in Texas had flown by and it was almost time for the big event! Kelly and her ceremony coordinator, Rachel, were so organized - the rehearsal was quick and easy! Kelly looked beautiful in her red cocktail dress, and we all had a fun time practicing for the ceremony.
Papa with my dad and brother
After we were deemed well-rehearsed, we all drove to a really cool house near downtown Fort Worth for some delicious food. Dave and his family had actually cooked the entire dinner (amazing!), which consisted of a special dish that they have mastered, and it's killing me because I can't remember what it's called! But just believe me and everyone who was there - it was phenomenal.
During the dinner, Brian and I sat with Abby and Clayton, Dave's sister and brother-in-law. They're a really fun couple, and Brian and I enjoyed getting to know them!
The toasts that were said about Kelly and Dave were really wonderful. Everyone who was present obviously love them and know that they will have a blessed marriage. A few highlights from the speeches:
- Dave's best man, Malcolm, was an excellent speaker, and he was hilarious! He told a story about how Dave willingly lit himself on fire for a video scavenger hunt in high school.
- Dave's sister talked about how great of a guy he is by telling a story about his wish list to Santa. He asked Santa for things like peace on earth and joy when most kids were asking for trains and GI Joes. So cute.
- Brian and I gave Kelly and Dave tips on being married. I would give a serious recommendation, and then Brian would make a clever joke about it. He's so funny :)
The house had a really great back porch with two fires and a beautiful view of downtown. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the outdoors in the evening without freezing to death!
Saturday was the big day! Kelly was so calm and excited - I was so proud of her! We started the day with hair appointments. Kelly had done a great job picking out some pictures for her up-do, and it turned out soooo perfect! It was so Kelly.
Next was make-up! Mom had left before us to get hers done, so Kelly and I wrapped up a few final details for the wedding, and then hopped in the car to go to Fort Worth! I'll never forget that drive, because Kelly said, "I've done this drive a hundred times [Dave lives in Fort Worth], but this time I'm driving to my wedding!" She was so matter-of-fact but was glowing with excitement! It was as if she just knew everything would go perfectly. She was the perfect bride.
Then we headed to the church to get dressed! The day was really flying by!
Bridesmaids and house party in the bridal parlor at the church
The bridesmaids' flowers were so unique and pretty!
The finished product - WOW!!! I'm so glad my sister decided to wear my wedding dress. It was really beautiful on her! And, it made me feel even more connected to her special day.
My handsome date
Before we knew it, it was time for the ceremony to begin! Kelly remained calm and happy and everything a bride should be. I gave her a couple of last minute tips on how not to cry, said I love you, and left her with my dad. As I was walking down the aisle, I realized that I hadn't prepped MYSELF not to cry. Oh man, I had to do everything in my power to keep from starting to cry even as I was walking to the front of the church!
As Kelly and my dad came down the aisle, I lost it. I mean, not too bad, but I definitely started to cry. Everything was so perfect and I was just too happy! And Dave's expression KILLED me because he was SO excited and happy to see my sister coming toward him.
The ceremony was really perfect. The pastor did a great job - he spoke about the song "Trust and Obey", which was so appropriate on several levels. It was a great message to a couple getting married. But also, it was special because my mom sang that song to us all the time when we were little! It was definitely a moment where I felt God's presence and joy in Kelly and Dave's marriage.
And then, it felt like as soon as it started, it was over - they were married!! Pictures of course followed the ceremony, and these are a couple of my favorites:
And then it was time to party! As we entered the reception, I loved seeing the photo that Brian had made. I'm so proud to be married to such a talented guy!
When the bridal party walked into the main hall, the band announced the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and we stood around the dance floor to watch Kelly and Dave dance their first dance as a married couple to James Brown signing, "I Feel Good." They were so much fun to watch because they were having a blast, and they're really good dancers!
My dad and sister danced to "More" by Bobby Darin, which was cute because my parents had that song played at their wedding. Then Dave and Molly cha-cha'ed to James Taylor, and they were really good dancers as well!
After the dances, we were served a delicious dinner! Brian and I sat with Abby and Clayton again, so we were able to chat even more. The centerpieces on all of the tables were awesome - they were wintery and outdoorsy - totally Kelly and Dave. It was really neat how all aspects of the wedding really reflected who they are as individuals and as a couple!
Kelly's cake was really pretty, and more importantly, it was so yum.
Instead of having a grooms cake, one of Dave's friends baked hundreds of little pies!
As soon as we were finished with dinner, Dad made a really nice toast, and Joe followed with some nice words as well. I was up next - gulp! haha - I actually was really glad to have the opportunity to welcome Dave into our family and to say a few things about Kelly. Then the band started to play, and my parents were the first two out on the dance floor! I'm so proud of them :)
As the night went on, we danced, ate cake, and talked with so many friends and family we hadn't seen in a really long time. Brian really impressed me with his social skills! Everyone I spoke to had already talked to Brian (he made the rounds faster than me!!) and each person went on and on to me about how much they love him. Can't blame them!!
At one point during all the dancing, all the bridesmaids were called on stage to sing "Ride, Sally, Ride", and we took it upon ourselves to make a little change to the lyrics - we sang, "Ride, Kelly, Ride" :)
It was fun to see Joe and Mckenzie again!
Mckenzie's dad, Joe, is quite the dancer
Even after a full night of smiling, they were still beaming away!
Toward the end of the night, the DJ played the Aggie War Hymn. It's a pretty big tradition for Aggies to play this song at their reception, especially when it's two Aggies getting married! I've never seen a group of Aggies as big as the group at Kelly and Dave's wedding!
The entire night came to an end way too fast! I'm glad I was able to say a quick goodbye to Kel before they ran through rose petals and into the War Wagon as their get-away car. What a fun, special, memorable night!
The next day, I think we all slept in till 11 or 12 - we were pooped! That afternoon, my Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Debbie, Uncle Bruce, and cousins Jeff and Carla came over to hang out, snack, and talk about the wedding. I hadn't met Jeff's wife, Carla, until the night before, so I was excited to talk with them and hear about their new life together. They also brought the newest member of their family, their dog McEnroe. He's a super cute pup! The fam was only able to stay for a couple of hours because they all had to get on the road to head home, but it was fun to see them.
After everyone left, we had dinner with my mom, dad, and brother, and then Brian and I went to the Cowboy's game with Lindsey, her sister, and Andrew! They were so sweet to invite us. We hadn't been inside the new stadium since my dad had taken us on a tour of it while it was still under construction, so we were excited to see the finished product! The Cowboy's were playing the Eagles, and it was a really close game. Unfortunately, the Boys didn't win, but we still had fun with Lindsey and Andrew.
That was our last night in Texas! The next day, we spent our last afternoon hanging out with my parents and indulging on one last meal of Tex-Mex, followed by leftovers of Kelly's wedding cake for dessert :) Kev came home for lunch to say bye, and then it was time to head to the airport. It was really hard to leave, but we were so thankful for the fun times we had and for all of the good friends we were able to see! It was definitely a great trip home!