My Kind of Timeless

That day we got married on a cliff by the sea. Photo credit: Clayton Austin

When you look forward to one specific day your whole life, it’s an understatement to say you build up a residue of misconceptions. When this day involves a wedding, the misconceptions only multiply. There were the gauzy delusions I clung to as a child of Cinderella dresses, candlelight, and peony garlands; the teenage fantasies of eloping barefoot in jeans; and then there were even the adult ideals I clung to up until my wedding day. Although my sweet and I ended up meticulously planning a seaside ceremony somewhere in between a princess fête and a bohemian elopement in which almost every detail met our expectations, there was one thing I simply couldn’t foresee: the fact that I would actually be living out that mythical day. This is to say: I not only thought my wedding would loom on the horizon indefinitely, but I also thought that whenever the day did arrive I would magically become someone else.

Brides are elegant ladies who do not curse, make sarcastic remarks, or communicate via goofy facial expressions after all, so I anticipated that when it finally came time to say my vows I would be more like this elegant, timeless creature and less like me. A sense of timelessness did envelop the day, but sarcastic statements certainly flowed freely from my lips and I’m surprised even now as I find myself about to tell you the story of this silly gal marrying the love of her life on a cliff…

Tearing up during our vows. Photo credit: Clayton Austin

After meeting up with each other for first-look photos on a wooden bridge, my groom and I drove to a bike path less than a mile down the coast from our hotel. We had scoped out this location back in March, so when we arrived in Half Moon Bay this August we were delighted to see that the cliff-side nature preserve was covered in purplish-pink flowers and even more beautiful than we remembered. As if there had ever been any doubt in our minds, the wildflowers sealed the deal that this was the spot where we would commit to each other forever. Nine members of our immediate family arrived at the cliff just moments before us, but the place was practically vacant aside from them. Every girl in our family helped situate me and my dress in exactly the right spot amidst the cilff’s tall grasses and flowers, and then our family lined up in a little crescent shape to witness my betrothed and I take the vows that had always seemed so far off in the distance…

Tall grasses on the way to our ceremony spot. Photo credit: Clayton Austin

My groom’s youngest brother got ordained so he could marry us, which meant not only having our wedding officiated by someone who’d known us throughout our relationship, but also the benefit of writing our own vows and structuring our own ceremony. My soon-to-be brother-in-law kicked off the wedding by making the sweetest speech I’ve ever heard, which got the tears rolling fast, and my love and I went on to share a few personal sentiments with each other. We then recited the vows we had written together during our road trip from Texas to California; we took turns saying one vow at a time each, ranging from the promise to keep a well-stocked supply of Nutella in the kitchen at all times (his vow) to the promise of sharing all my secrets and crazy side (my vow). After lots of laughs and even more tears, we exchanged the traditional wedding vows of “To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part.” Throughout the ceremony, we could hear the occasional dog or hiker exploring the grassy paths around us, and the sound of a howl or yelp every now and then only made the day seem more perfectly us. There wasn’t a dry eye on that cliff by the time we exchanged rings and shared our first kiss as husband and wife. And, as we shared a second and third kiss, we also indulged in a sampling of sweets and bubbly…

Our rev’s pin. Photo credit: Clayton Austin

We ate carrot-cake cup cakes off the hood of a vintage Porsche Spyder and toasted our marriage with single-serving bottles of Champagne. My youngest sister surprised us by sewing red-and-white-striped linens for this most-unusual picnic table, and she even embroidered “just married” into some of the napkins. Just as I had felt as though each member of our family had helped get us to our wedding, I felt like our family had been an integral part of making this sweet meal happen. I could not help smiling about this fact as we all stood around the car sipping Champagne bubbles through straws and managing not to get any cream-cheese frosting on our faces. My blissful expression then magnified when an Australian man stopped in the middle of the jogging path and shouted to us that we had just given him the happiest memory he would take home with him from the states.

Somewhere between the ceremony and dessert, my sisters helped me trade out my veil for a smaller hairpiece, and they bustled the train of my dress. Everyone joked together and posed for pictures in the car while my husband (yeah, husband!!!) and I had a quick portrait session with our photographer. It was so nice sneaking these moments of privacy together, and it was almost as if we were off in our own world in which I proceeded to giggle uncontrollably…

Cupcakes and bubbly on the Porsche turned picnic table. Photo credit: Clayton Austin

Even though I did not anticipate all these giggles, I did anticipate the tears. In fact, I was so sure the emotions of the day would overcome me and cause me to disintegrate into makeup-smudging sobs that I’d insisted my hubby and I practice saying our vows aloud to each other before the wedding. Between craft projects and family reunions, however, time escaped us and we didn’t have a chance to practice until the eve of our special day. Fittingly, this also coincided with a 12-hour blackout at our hotel, so my husband-to-be and I found ourselves snuggling in bed around the light of one flashlight and repeating our vows to each other into the wee hours of the morning. This rehearsal didn’t do much to abate our sobbing (especially not mine), but the experience of reading these meaningful words through tears and a weakly flickering light is one I wouldn’t change for the world…

Few images better capture the happy blur of that day. Photo credit: Clayton Austin

Be they sarcastic smiles, dog yelps, or blackouts, the things we least expect often end up creating the best memories. And, I’m so glad I got to experience my wedding day as myself – the goofy, sobbing girl that I am – instead of magically turning into Grace Kelly or Cinderella. I may have cursed and laughed so hard that I sneezed, and I may even be frozen in time forever as “that girl who makes silly faces in photographs,” but those silly faces are so classically mine and this day was my kind of timeless. It was nothing I could have anticipated, yet everything I’ve ever wanted, which is pretty much how I would describe my husband.

Psst: All images in this post are by the amazingly talented Clayton Austin, whose boundless creativity I cannot say enough kind things about. You can read about the sentimental reasons we got married in Half Moon Bay, my dress-fitting saga, the morning of our wedding, or my husband’s and my first look at each other as bride and groom. Are there any other relationship/wedding stories you would like me to share? I’ve been thinking about writing our proposal story, so what say you? Leave a comment.


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  • Reply ellie September 24, 2011 at 8:27 am

    These photos are incredible! It makes me tear a bit(I’m lame, I know). Love it!!


    • Reply Jennifer R. Coté September 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      Aw, thank you, Ellie! Photos of this day make me tear up every time, too. There’s just something about weddings that gets the water works going. 😉

  • Reply Anna September 25, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I feel like I could happily devour a whole book if you wrote it just about your wedding day – you seem to capture your day so perfectly with words and then the photos tell a story that we can share part of but they seem to hold so many secrets and excitement of their own. I still remember the photo of seeing a man cry in one of your previous posts from your special day and it makes me teary every time I think of it. You seemed to plan the most perfectly perfect day that was soaked in both of your own style in every which way. You have inspired me to ensure that when my own day comes, make it about us as much as possible with the people that matter the most there. Simply Gorgeous Jennifer xx

    • Reply Jennifer R. Coté September 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      Aw, thank you so much, Anna! I love knowing that these stories of my wedding day have touched you, and it makes me so happy thinking that I’ve inspired you in any way to make your own wedding uniquely yours. Thank you so much for reading and gushing alongside me about one of the most meaningful days of my life, which I’ll get teary-eyed about forever. Have a lovely start to the week, my dear. 🙂

  • Reply kristina@beancakes ★ September 26, 2011 at 10:40 am

    aww ~ these photos are simply beautiful! thanks so much for sharing ~ you two look like you’re really in love ~ your dress is gorgeous and so cool that you got to drive a porsche, my all-time favorite automobile!!! happy monday to you 😉 😉
    xoxo ~ ks

    • Reply Jennifer R. Coté September 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      Thank you so much for the wedding love, Kristina! It was such a love-filled, unforgettable day. Happy day/evening to you to, m’lady! 🙂

  • Reply Lindsey October 3, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    These pictures are gorgeous… looks like such a great place to have a wedding! My husband and I have been married 1 1/2 years and I haven’t even started to plan yet.. I’m dreading it, honestly.. PS- you’re the cutest couple!

    By the way, I’m having a giveaway on my blog! It’s a gorgeous ruffled scarf of your choosing from Nikkisic.

    • Reply Jennifer R. Coté October 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you so much for the wedding love, Lindsey! It was such a special time, and the location just made it feel even more like a fairy tale. I hope you and your husband still feel like you’re living a fairy tale as well whether it’s 1 1/2 years after your wedding or beyond. 🙂 Thanks for reading, my dear!

  • Reply Two Days/Years/Lifetimes | coté writes August 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    […] You can relive my wedding day right along with me here, here, here, here, and here…Do you feel like relationships have phases, or do you feel like time plays tricks […]

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