emily ann nelson

We celebrated Emily in Grand Rapids, then Fenton, then Traverse City, then Petoskey. She wore white each time, and we got more and more excited as the countdown to June 7 got closer and closer.

To describe Emily’s bachelorette weekend in a few words– wine, sun, flower crowns, dancing, joy. The wineries made us feel like we were in Europe; we tasted whites, reds, sweets, drys. We stayed up until 4 am, dancing and walking around downtown TC in flower crowns and ringing our tiny wedding bells saying “web. no mo. web. no. mo”. Our weekend ended back at my lake, laying on the dock, before we all parted ways, with lots of “see you in 2 weeks for the wedding”.

I knew the bachelorette weekend would be fun, but it was better than expected, the type of fun you cannot even plan for. My mom initially asked me if she could handle the dinner, and I gratefully said of course. Then, as planning and grad school got harder, she also took over planning the wine tasting. She organized a van to drive us to three wineries on the peninsula with views of west bay and east bay. Her dinner was above and beyond; she decorated the country club with pictures and flowers and wedding bells and cupcakes and napkins, everything was grey and coral; everything was more than perfect. We left that weekend with full hearts and thankful souls, especially thankful that my mom made everything possible and special for all of us.

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Emily’s wedding weekend came just a couple weeks later, just a little north of TC. Bay Harbor, Michigan is a combination of many of my favorite things: blue water everywhere you look, nautical-themed buildings, a harbor of boats, a running path that overlooks it all. The big picture of the weekend was that my best friend Emily got married to her adventurous love, Austin. As lovely as that is, this up-north weekend was full of joy, bliss, and magic, because of all the in-between moments.

The weekend began with rolling our suitcases, carrying our blush-pink dresses, and lugging our full-length mirrors to the end of Main Street and up to the third floor, to our blue and white condo overlooking the harbor. We all gathered at Emily’s aunt and uncles house on the beach for rehearsal; grandparents meeting grandparents, bridesmaids meeting groomsmen. We practiced walking, standing, dress-fixing, bouquet-holding, and vows. Then it was time for rehearsal dinner in downtown Petoskey, overlooking Lake Michigan. We laughed throughout dinner and Grace and I shared our desserts with each other. Emily gave us gold Kate Spade bangles and diamond studs; the guys got ties and orange and blue polka dot socks.

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That night we pranked the boys and had a condo dance party and laughed so hard. Grace and I slept in the king size bed with clean, white sheets and a cozy down comforter. We talked about our parallel-ish lives of living in cool, new cities but still having so much of heart longing for Hope College and Michigan and our families. We fell asleep praying for Emily and woke up with a desire to explore Bay Harbor in our nikes and lulu. After our run we stretched and sat outside on the patio and listened (well, blared) worship music. We went straight to the salon and got blow-outs and fake eyelashes as we drank coffee and sat with Em.

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The ceremony was right on the beach on Lake Michigan. Perfect weather, perfect wedding. Emily was absolutely beautiful. We all cried as she and Larry walked down. Austin cried the most, which was so sweet and endearing. We sang 10,000 reasons and Come Thou Font of Every Blessing. I wore Austin’s wedding band on my thumb until it was time to give it to Emily, and I held her all-white bouquet of peonies and fixed her train. Pastor Kyle talked to Em and Aus on Jeremiah 17:8, how Austin is the adventure-seeking, idea-forming, energetic branches, and Emily is the organized, centered, practical roots. But that sometimes the most adventurous thing Austin can do is to be still with Emily, and that Emily cannot always stay on the ground, that she needs to let Austin take her on adventures.

I was so nervous to give my toast. But it was perfect, because it was my opportunity to tell Emily and Austin some of my most personal thoughts. It was just me and them. I cried during, but that is okay, because it shows the trueness and deepness of my love for them. I told them they were both on my hometeam and that hometeams stay close wherever they are. And then we danced. For 3 hours. Being Emily’s maid of honor was the most special thing I have ever done.

So grateful for my dear friend Emily, for her blissful wedding weekend, for a fullness that comes from communion with others in a city on the water.

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