Warning: sappy post ahead.
So my family built our beautiful house in my beloved hometown. I was just 5 years old when we moved from California. We rented a house while my parents built the home we eventually moved into. I have pictures of me wearing my white cowboy boots sitting on the foundation of the home, with my beautiful mountain in the background. When we finally moved in, I have memories of unloading the packing truck and having a bath in the kitchen sink because everything was still in transition.
The yard came later. It took years of landscaping plans, planting, and manicuring. The house sits on a half acre, so there's a lot of plants an opportunity for growth. We did a lot of yard work as a family, but then as we got older, it became more of a chore. We had to do our chores on Saturday morning before we could play with our friends. So thus I spent a lot of time weeding and hanging out by the garden.
We had some big rocks brought in that were much larger than me. There was one in particular that was really flat on top. It had some grooves on top that always filled with water when it rained or when the sprinkler was turned towards it. For some reason, it was a happy spot to me. I would go out there and sit on the rock with a long piece of bark and I would paint the rock with my little water reserve. I would sing to myself or pretend I was having a conversation with someone. In hindsight, I think it was the closest I ever got to meditation as a little girl. I loved my alone time just painting on that rock in my backyard.
In junior high, my interest in the yard changed. My older brother moved out of our house and so that left an opening for more manly work in the yard to help my dad. The lawn needed to be mowed, the bushes needed to be trimmed with bigger tools. The tree sprouts needed to be trimmed and poisoned, the dry spots in the grass needed to be monitored and watered. I helped out a lot more and slowly and surely, it didn't seem so bad. I actually started looking forward to planting the garden and checking on the carrots. My Aunt Kathy came and cooked a pasta dish with basil from our garden and I was amazed that something so delicious could come from our backyard. From then on, I went with my mom to the nursery and would pick which variety of tomato plants we were going to grow. When we put in 3 huge trees for shade in our backyard, I panicked and panicked. I thought about it all the time and whether it was the best decision for the yard: were they going to be too close together? Would they produce too many leaves? Would they be difficult to mow around? Could we still have room for the trampoline?
In 9th grade, I knew I had hit an all time love for my yard. My mom bought 100 tulip bulbs that she wanted to plant. As it got colder in the fall, we hadn't made time to plant them. So I convinced my friend, Griffin, to come over after school and plant all of them with me. We had to wear coats and our hands were at risk for frost bite, but I knew it would be worth it. And it was! The next year we had tulips all throughout the backyard and they come up every spring.
When I got to high school, I would invite friends to my backyard all the time. We could jump on the trampoline and there was enough room to play a semi-real game of soccer. I talked to my crushes on the swing in the trees, we played bocce, and there were many many a games of what Chase Hansen calls "sweaty badminton matches" on the sport court.
In all those times when I was taking care of the grounds in the hot sun with sunscreen stinging my eyes and wishing it could just be done so I could go have a popsicle, I always, always said to myself, "It's going to be worth it. Someday you'll have a beautiful wedding reception back here. There won't be any weeds in the yard and it will all be worth the effort." Seriously. I would repeat this to myself over and over.
So when things were getting more serious with Greg last summer, I panicked. I knew I loved him and that I was going to marry him, but I so wanted my reception in my yard! It sounds so silly, but I just love my house, my yard and everything about it. So I told him that even though we were really excited about each other and the possibility of our future, I wanted to have my wedding in my backyard, so we really ought to just take it slow and then next year we could get married. But the more we talked about it and prayed about it, I just couldn't imagine waiting any longer to marry Greg. So I said "Ok, let's get married in the fall and just make sure we have lots of plants at our wedding so it feels nature-ish."
Obviously, marrying Greg was the best decision ever. And I'm really glad we didn't wait to make this important step in our life just for the ambiance of an after-party. But. Luckily, my sweet neighbor had HER wedding in our backyard this past weekend. The weather was perfect and my yard looked wonderful. Greg and I came down for the reception because I really wanted to just be in that lovely space with wedding festivities and share it with my family and my husband. Not quite the same thing, but still magical all the same.
Julie's wedding was fabulous! They hung up string lights in between the deck and the trees and hung tons of paper lanterns overhead. They had the most amazing band perform the whole night! They sung all the best songs. There were 3 different times that Greg and I were walking away to head home and I would say, "Oh, I love this song. Just one more dance, please!" He always obliged.
From the moment the reception started, people were dancing! The whole time there was dancing- amazing! The fountains from the pool were on. There were chairs gathered throughout the yard and lots of little pockets of people chatting. They had a delicious spread of tons of different cookies. They had milk and water and the cutest little glass bottles with striped paper straws. The bride looked stunning. She carried her bouquet the whole night, and by the end, her dress was brown on the bottom from dancing barefoot for so long! It was pretty adorable. You could tell there was a lot of love in that little yard.
There is a picture of Greg and I under the trellis that leads to the garden. In my day dreams, I planned that my husband and I would stand under the trellis to greet our guests and they would continue down near the pool to get their refreshments. So I had my little sister take a picture of Greg and I under the trellis. I wasn't wearing white and it wasn't my wedding day, but I felt so much happiness and gratitude that I knew I had to capture the moment.