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Well, we’re back from our whirlwind European vacation and I’ve finally gotten a minute (or two) to relax and peruse through our pictures…which got me thinking – why not share some of our lovely photos and experiences with you?! 🙂

So here I am, sitting and waiting for our reception to creep up on us – just as our wedding did – and while I know I want it to come, I also don’t want it to be over!  So, instead, I’ll reminisce about our honeymoon and entertain you all as well!!

As you may (or may not) know, we started out in Edinburgh, Scotland – made a jump to St. Andrews to say our “I Do’s”, then headed south to London and Paris. 

We. Enjoyed. Every. Minute.

There was truly not a time where we did not have fun…enjoy ourselves…laugh…smile…

Being in a totally foreign location with the love of your life does things to you!  Neil and I have been together for seven years.  Surely, you’d think that in seven years we would know nearly everything about each other.  But when you’re running around in a place where you know no one, where everyone knows you’re a tourist, where – at times – you don’t know the language, you learn new things.  You learn to figure out things when you’re under insurmountable stress.  You learn that maybe you should have spent the extra $100 a night for a hotel room.  You learn that if you just take a minute to talk to the locals, they could cause you to almost lose your head in laughter.  You learn that hole-in-the-wall restaurants are usually the best restaurants…and worth a second visit!  But the coolest part about visiting a totally foreign location for the first time together is that you learn that just as much as you love each other, you also love new places.  And that’s what Neil and I found.  Between all the locations, St. Andrews – and Scotland in general – was our absolute favorite.  Sure, we’re biased…we did exchange our vows in that location…but I’m sure we’re not the only ones to agree that Scotland was utterly ::amazing::

We spent the first night of our excursion to Europe on a plane…a plane not much bigger than one you would take to Florida.  And it wouldn’t have been a complete trip without Neil first getting in a fight with the lady sitting next to him.  Okay, let me back up and set the scene for you.  We board our plane in Newark bound for Edinburgh.  Mind you, we’re boarding the plane a whopping 90 minutes late…but that’s neither here nor there.  We get on board and we’re in a row of three: me next to the window, Neil in the middle, and a nice young gentleman in the aisle.  As they are closing the doors, the nice young gentleman realizes that the row next to us is nearly empty.  Only one person is seated there and oddly enough – it’s his friend!  So he scoots on over and Neil and I are thrilled!  We have an extra seat and now we can really sprawl out and relax.  Oh, but wait, what is this?!  Big Bertha?!  Coming to sit by us?!  Yes. Yes, it is.  A large woman – no far from the size of an old opera singer – comes and sits in that seat.  Which prompts this conversation:

Neil: “Are you going to sit there…the whole trip?”

Lady: “Yes.  The flight attendant said we could sit wherever.”

Neil (as ol’ opera lady is talking with someone she “knows” a couple rows up): “Looks like there’s a seat up there with your friend, why don’t you sit with her?”

Lady: “Oh, I don’t know anyone on this flight.”

Neil: “Um…you’re talking to that lady, clearly you know her.”

Lady: “Nope, I don’t know anyone.”

Neil: “So you’re sitting there the whole time.”

Lady: “Yup.”

Neil: “Okay, well, I have bladder problems so you’ll have to get up a lot.”

Lady: “Oh, grow up!”

Neil: “Oh, no, it’s fine.  I don’t mind getting up every five minutes.”

Okay…yes, my husband (fiance at the time!) likes to argue with middle-aged women – who have nothing better to do than argue with 20-something year old guys.  Cool, opera lady, cool!  So in the end, no, Neil didn’t get up every  five minutes, but we did switch seats – and since I’m such an amazing fiance (now wife!!) – Neil got the window and was able to relax!

Upon arriving in Edinburgh (pronounced: Edin-brah), we were absolute ecstatic!  The weather was far surpassing our expectations and the people were friendly and helpful.  We boarded our double-decker bus…

…headed straight to the top and found a seat.  And, as you can imagine, we took a bajillion pictures in the first 5 minutes simply because we were just so totally amazed!

You can’t tell from the picture…but I’m wearing my super cool Bride-Suit!! 🙂

Cute homes…with cute little yards lined the streets of Edinburgh…

…castle like homes on every corner…

…and upon our arrival to the city center, we were greeted by Scott Monument – in honor of Sir Walter Scott.

It was such a beautiful and majestic medieval structure.  So intricate and gorgeous.   Despite the fact we were absolutely exhausted, Neil and I decided to head out on the town and do some walking around.  We got into Edinburgh around 10am and our parents weren’t going to be in until about noon or 1pm, so we knew we had time to kill.  Plus, our rooms weren’t ready yet, so why not?!  We walked and walked until we stumbled upon a quaint little church on the corner…St. John’s.  We took a peek inside and it was just beautiful…

With stained glass on every window, it was absolutely breathtaking!  It was built in the 1800s (so it’s a modern building – by Scottish standards!) and each of the pews had a different hand-engraved cross at the entrance.  It was amazing. 

After an exhausting day of shopping around the shops and seeing sights, we decided to take a rest in the park…which was just the cutest little park ever!  And they had ice cream – so I took full advantage of that!!

Oddly enough, as we were walking back to the hotel to see if the rest of the family had arrived, we ran into Dave and Troy!  They took us up to the rooms where we took (much needed) showers and got ready for the night. 

We really knew nothing about Edinburgh, so we decided for dinner…we’d just walk around until we found something that looked good!  Little did we know that as we were walking around, we were going to stumble onto a whole new area of Edinburgh that we had no idea existed!!!  The area we had been in was very modern and consisted mainly of high-end mall-type shops.  This new part – on the other hand – was just our calling!!  Tourist shop after tourist shop after tourist shop!!!  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

So remember that amazing Scottish weather I was talking about?!  Well, the “Scottish weather” part was true.  Like Wendy told me, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it’ll change.”  Well, in the hour and a half we were eating dinner, our beautiful weather changed…to tsunami like weather!  Which caused us to be quite the tourists in our Scotland flag umbrellas and Scotland flag ponchos!!

Neil and I took a break from the rain for a quick little photo op!  Right behind us is an adorable little courtyard – they were everywhere!

Needless to say, after a big day of travelling and sightseeing – Neil and I were pooped!  We laid down to watch TV at about 8pm, I woke up at 11pm and headed back to my parent’s room where I crashed until the morning.  Mom and Dad woke up early to head to church while Dave, Ellen, Troy, Neil and I went out on the town to see what we could see!  And boy did we see a lot!!

We saw Edinburgh from the top of Scott Monument…

…and I stole a kiss in the process…

…we squeezed our way back down the monument…and were glad we worked hard to take off those extra five pounds…

…we took a peek around our first (of many) castles…and felt like true royalty!…

The massive-ness of these structures in Scotland were amazing.  To think – all of this was built in a time where there were no cranes…they were no bulldozers…there was NOTHING of modern science available to assist the workers!!  And wow…what a drop off!!!  Talk about intimidating!

The intricate work in the Great Hall Dining Room just took your breath away!

Lots and LOTS of swords!!!  All which lined several rooms of the Castle.

Yes!!  I used a REAL British telephone booth – and I really had to use it, too!!

After Edinburgh Castle, it was off to dinner and then finally St. Andrews!!!!  More to come on that special topic! 🙂

Just thought it was worth an update to let you know that when I drove past tonight at 4:30, the five Mallards were still sitting by their loved one.  And when I drove by again about an hour later, one Mallard – I assume the life-mate of the Mama Mallard – was just simply sitting next to her…waiting.  It broke my heart to pieces…and still does.

That, my friends, is true love.

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Now, this isn’t wedding related, but it’s an amazing story about love seen in God’s creatures that I was able to witness firsthand.

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Yesterday, as I was leaving the neighborhood to head to my dad’s store, I saw a terrible sight.  It was a Mama Mallard, but she had evidently been hit by a car.  I absolutely hate to see animals in the road – it tears my heart to pieces – and even just writing this, it brings tears to my eyes.  I said a prayer for the little Mallard and went on my way knowing that now God was in control and He would take care of her.

Then today, as I was enjoying my morning run, I saw the most amazing sight.  Apparently someone had moved the Mama Mallard from the street to avoid further damage and she was now laid to rest in the grass.  But around her were five Papa Mallards.  FIVE.  Two of them were using their beaks to try to wake Mama Mallard and the other three were just pacing – much like you would see a family doing in a hospital while awaiting test results of family member.  It put the biggest smile on my face – and I let them be and continued on my run.

When I was on my way back after hitting the halfway point, I noticed all five Papa Mallards were still there – one was now just sitting next to Mama Mallard, enjoying the morning sunshine.  The other four were still pacing – just waiting for Mama Mallard to wake up.  It was very obvious that every one of those Mallards was grieving – in the same way that we do.  Grieving the loss of a loved one.  Isn’t that amazing?  To see God’s love at work in everyday activities?  I didn’t think it would affect me as much as it has…

…but then I began thinking.  People always talk about how hard their life is.  How they don’t have enough money.  They don’t have a job.  Their car isn’t as nice as they want it to be.  Their house is too small.  But what about the things that matter?  What about the things that God gives us?  We are all capable of loving – we are even capable of loving as much as the Mallards do.  How hard is it to love all the time?  Take time out for your family and friends all the time?  Now just when something tragic has happened or when you have nothing better to do.  I made a promise to myself a few months back that if I were to ever drive by my parents store and either of their cars were there, I was going to stop in and say hi.  There is nothing else going on in my life that is so urgent that I can’t take ten minutes to stop in.  Nothing.  That is one way that I hope to show God’s love work through me.  What will you do?

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Wow – we’re really starting to creep up on this big thing they call a wedding!  Phew…I was starting to think it was  never going to come…

…but alas, it is, and now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty details.  Which puts us in a bit of a hairy situation.

Lovely sister – aka Grande Dame of Honour – informed me several  months ago that she would be wearing her hair down…whether that meant half-up/half-down or completely down, I have no idea.  Either way, I have attempted to compile some photographs of hair that I personally enjoy.

I want her to feel beautiful – and I want her to love her hair just as much as she loves me!! 🙂  I don’t want to be the crabby bride that says, “Here.  This is how your hair will look for my wedding.  Deal with it.”  I let her choose her dress style (of course, color was kind of a given) and I let her choose her shoes.  I *kind of* let her chose her jewelry – or I at least asked her input.  Since I only have one bridesmaid, it’s easy to kind of let those decisions become hers!  Heck, if nothing else, it’s less stress on me!!

Anyway, I’m secretly devising a plan that has to do with hair and therefore, I need an idea of what her hair is going to look like!  Just an idea…not a definite decision.  I want my sister to be happy.  After all, it is my wedding day and if someone isn’t happy on my wedding day, well, it won’t make for much of a happy event!  And I definitely want it to be a happy event!!!

So here’s my plan…cleverly and nonchalantly place these photos on this journal for her perusal.  She can give  me her opinion and perhaps create a collaboration of my ideas and hers and we can come to a conclusion!!!  Then, we’ll  have a winner and my *secret* can be completed!!! 🙂

So, let’s vote…

***Let me update this to say that Sister has decided she’s wearing her hair like she did for her own wedding – only problem…she can’t find any pictures of the back of her hair because of her veil.  This is what my gorgeous sister looked like on her wedding day…

I really could not tell you who to give credit to on these photos!!!  My apologies!

So, there – my sister was gorgeous and so was her hair!  Well, that got me to thinking…if we can’t find any picture of the back of her hair, what happens if her hair doesn’t turn out perfect come June 10th?!  So here’s my attempt to be of any assistance at all…

all photos courtesy of WeddingChannel.com

The unfortunate thing is that I have looked high and low – I have looked at photographers blogs – I have searched WeddingBee – and I just can’t seem to find any pictures that would be much help!!  I do really adore #1, though, I think it’s very simple and perfect!! 🙂  If nothing else, I hope this at least helps a bit!!

Just a quick one for the day, but know that I’ll be back full-force with an update on my most amazing of all amazing-ness bridal shower!!!  My girls truly outdid themselves and I feel like the luckiest bride in the world!!!  Thank you to all who came out and joined us – I hope you had as much fun as I did!!! 🙂

Pictures (hopefully) tomorrow!!!!!