About a week after the wedding, I shared iPhone pictures from John and Chelsy’s wedding, along with the story + timeline of the day.
Now, it’s time to share the real pictures! Laura did an excellent job, and her smiling, joyful presence was a huge blessing.
Enjoy a peek into the day.
Amazing the day had arrived for John to become a married man.
Anna and Chelsy
Mary and Chelsy
Chelsy and me
Lots of bridesmaids!
Love this one.
The entire wedding party.
Dad and Mom with the new couple
The time had arrived, and John walked Mom down the aisle.
If you’ll notice, Danny didn’t make it in the group. He ended up coming out with Christopher on stage.My favorite part of the ceremony might just have been when Mr. Bontrager asked my younger siblings to step forward. You see, if it hadn’t been for Dad and Mom’s change of heart regarding children, those lives wouldn’t be here. Including, no wedding for John and Chelsy. A very tender moment.
As you can see, there were so many people to fit into a relatively small space for the reception. But people managed!
I thought the coffee station clever and inviting.
Taco soup for dinner!
Some in the bridal party shared during the reception, and then they opened it up for others.
Those in the kitchen worked hard!
The new couple with Christopher and Anna Marie’s family.
Joseph, Jesse, and a few others braved the cold (as in 0 degrees!) to decorate John’s truck. They did a stunning job.
That inflatable was really grand.
After the send-off, John and Chelsy came back, they did a private family goodbye. Such a special time!
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)
The day dawned early for some and cold for all. We girls arrived at the church about 7:30 to get ready. The single and newlywed bridesmaids got ready first, and then the mommies showed up a little later.
The girls and Cathy Jo sang songs.
They also made sure to practice the whole-walking-down-the-aisle thing.
Coffee also arrived with a very kind brother of ours, so a peppermint mocha with the needed caffeine gave a delightful boost. Mom, Anna, Mary, and I helped with the little kiddos, and then, suddenly, things switched into high gear. All the children needed to be dressed, hair fixed, bridesmaids totally ready for pictures, etc, etc. If you haven’t experienced being IN a wedding, well, I hope you get the opportunity. It’s really such a special thing!
We are grateful for the Lord’s protection. On John’s way into the wedding, his truck hit ice on a bridge, and he slid sideways across it. The oncoming vehicle managed to pull off onto the shoulder, avoiding an accident. Wow! Praise the Lord for His mercy.
Anyway, back to the wedding morning. The photographer did a great job of working with such a huge bridal party. Most of the pictures finished about noon, and then we grabbed a quick lunch in the basement. Although I have to say, at this point, I didn’t have much of an appetite. The day’s excitement and reality of what’s happening hits about this point. At least for me!
John and Chelsy’s goal for the wedding was for the Lord Jesus to be honored and glorified. Another goal they had was for each guest to feel welcomed and loved. As their wedding party, we were their ambassadors, so we enjoyed mingling with the guests and talking. John was also greeting guests. People invested so much to come. They drove through bad weather and traversed many miles.
Ten minutes before 2, it was time for all the bridesmaids, flower girls, and bell ringers to gather in the back room. I figured we had awhile to wait–I knew John was giving a welcome. We talked, and prayed, and talked. And tried to relax.
But suddenly, it was time. The doors swung open, and we quickly became a jumble of trying to get in line. With 14 bridesmaids, and going in the opposite order, well, you have to think quick.
I quickly followed Anna, and stood in the back of the sanctuary. Everything blurred together: the music playing, the wedding coordinator giving instructions for when to begin walking, and realizing the time had come. John stood at the front beaming!
The flower girls and bell ringers made for an adorable group.
The ceremony began with two congregational songs, with Chelsy accompanying. How sweet to have a bride play the piano with her groom sitting next to her!
Mr. Bontrager shared a message, and the most powerful part was when he talked about the blessing of children and allowing the Lord to choose the number a family has. The Lord’s done a mighty work in our family, because I was supposed to be the last child. God changed my parents’ hearts, and they allowed the Lord to plan their family after a seven year gap. Mr. Bontrager said there wouldn’t have been a wedding if that hadn’t been the case. Joseph, Anna, Jesse, and Mary stepped forward, and tears sprang to my eyes at the amazing, beautiful picture of God’s mercy.
John and Chelsy exuded such joy as they became husband and wife. There were two slight issues, though. When it came time for Chelsy’s personalized vows, she said she didn’t have them. So, off she and John ran to go try to find them. They couldn’t locate them, so Chelsy read them on John’s phone. Well, she got part way through, and his phone popped up with a warning that the battery was about to die! Thankfully she did get to finish. She told us later she still doesn’t know where the vows went!
I knew one of the best men was up to something when I saw a pair of scissors in his back pocket. Sure enough, at the ring time, when asked for it, he couldn’t produce the ring. A drone came flying in from the back, with Chelsy’s ring attached! Much laughter followed, and Joseph cut the ring off when the drone flew to the front.
A special part of the ceremony came when John explained to Chelsy that as he’d thought of what he could give her to symbolize giving his earthly goods to her, he wanted to give her a key to his house. It was now their house. A very special moment as he presented her that key.
Some of us in the bridal party dismissed the guests by rows. Then, people headed for the reception site, about 20 minutes away.
When we arrived, the reception bustled with activity. But somehow, everyone fit! Dinner was taco soup and cheesecake for dessert. After eating, people shared memories of John and Chelsy, and then John thanked everyone for coming. Following that, the reception hall turned into a big fellowship event!
These are my amazing sisters: playing games with the little kids at the reception.
The send off!
The guys did an incredible job decorating. The best part was the inflatable.
We are grateful to the Lord for a beautiful day to celebrate John and Chelsy becoming husband and wife.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
Rehearsal day dawned snowy, and the snow continued most of the day. Dad, Mom, Anna, and Mary focused on the rehearsal dinner and decorating. Jesse also helped by cutting a lot of fresh evergreens, and then he drove the girls to a nearby Amish store before taking them to the church.
The extended family, Jesse and I spent time helping at the reception site (both the church and reception site were a little distance away). I loved seeing the teamwork of friends pitching in and getting a task done that would be impossible for just one family!
The rehearsal began late afternoon. When you factor a wedding party of over 30 people, well, details are important.
With ten little ones being bell ringers and flower girls, there was sure to be some drama. The drama came from an unexpected person: Danny. We really thought Benjamin would be the one, but no, Danny. With all of the activity and being separated from Daddy/Mommy, he fell apart in tears at the idea of walking down the aisle. They gently worked with him Friday evening and Saturday morning to see if he would acclimate to the idea, but on that timeline it was a bridge too far for this little 18-month old. He didn’t walk down the aisle with the group, instead, his daddy held him during the ceremony.
We ran through the order of events and practiced recessing and coming in, and things seemed to go well. This meant we were one step closer to the WEDDING!
After the rehearsal, we moved downstairs. We are so grateful to our friends who came all the way from the East Coast, West Virginia, and Idaho to help!
We served smoked meatballs over rice with brown gravy, salad, rolls, and brownies. When dinner was over, for those who were still around, we had a sweet time of prayer. Then, back to the hotel to try to get some sleep before the big day!
Dad and I grabbed coffee at the local coffee shop and met up with friends. The snow was picture perfect!
Great selfie! Anna, Cathy Jo, Faith, and Mary
John grinding coffee for the reception.
Tina and I placed many napkins and spoons down on tables for the reception.
These girls did a beautiful job of decorating.
Joanna making brownies.
Mary and Toria.
The moms were a great kitchen team.
What an awesome decorating + kitchen team!
Jesse and my view as we drove to the rehearsal!
Selfie going on here.
A full stage!
Lots of Maxwells and Bontragers!
I think Joshua and Drew made positively the cutest bell ringers ever!
Working on getting a system going here.
Guys, this was not my idea!
“And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)