Friday, September 27, 2013

The best day of my life

I had the joy of marrying my best friend on September 13, 2013. There were many times when it seemed that day would never come, but it was worth the wait. That day turned out to be the most beautiful wedding day I could ever have imagined!  I loved everything about it: marrying the most wonderful husband while being surrounded by the most amazing friends and family, the most BEAUTIFUL weather for an outdoor ceremony (sunny, 75, slightest breeze), my dress…I loved it all!  I am still trying to wrap my head around all of the wonderful memories that I gained in one day.

The week before the wedding was a little busy, but I still had a lot of fun spending time with my family.  On Tuesday before the wedding, all the girls from my family went for manicures and pedicures.  It was so much fun!  Even my niece Emma came along and got her toes painted :)

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Can you tell who all of these hands belong to? :)


On Wednesday, my cousin and aunt came from Oklahoma to join in the fun.  They were also wonderful help as we set up the event center on Thursday.

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After setting up, we had the rehearsal followed by dinner Thursday night. 

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The flower girls were instant friends at the rehearsal :)


The day I had been waiting so long for was finally here!  Friday morning started off with hair appointments for myself and the girls in my wedding party at Fine Design, complete with mimosas and Casey’s Bakery for breakfast (my special request: almond patties:).  Big thanks to Kari & Marla- they did such a great job!

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After we were all looking extra beautiful, it was go time!  We headed to Orange City, and not long after I had to get in my dress so I was ready for first look pictures with Ahmed.

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Obviously, this day wouldn’t have happened without the groom :).  Thanks to my aunt Gina for capturing some pictures of him (as well as the pictures of me getting ready)!

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I went out to the puddle jumper trail to take some pictures first, and then Ahmed came and we saw each other for the first time on our wedding day.

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Our friend Mandi did the most wonderful job capturing some candid pictures!! :)

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Our first look session was followed by some wedding party fun in downtown Orange City!

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After wedding party and family pictures, and a little break, it was time for the real deal.  :)

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We did it! I seriously can’t get over how wonderful everything was.  After our beautiful ceremony, we had some delicious food and fun entertainment at the reception, and then it was time to dance!!

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Saying thank you to everyone who helped out with our wedding day doesn’t begin to cover my gratitude.  We had so much support and love from so many family and friends. It was ALL appreciated! Thank you to everyone who shared are big day with us- whether in person or in spirit!

I have a LOT more pictures and will be sure to post more on Facebook soon :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Carry on, summer

My blog has continued to be neglected...with good reason! Between wedding planning and summer activities I have been pretty busy.  Hopefully after the wedding, things will slow down and I can get caught up on documenting my summer. (I haven't even gone through my pictures from our Fourth of July vacation!)

Quick recap of summer highlights:  

I had a solid chunk of time off at the beginning of July.  Perk of being nanny: when they go on vacation so do I :)  Since Ahmed was finished up at IBM, we spent Fourth of July weekend at a cabin in Yankton, SD with my family, followed by a week at my parents' house which included THREE wedding showers, and a quick weekend trip to Kansas City to see family. Busy busy!

The first weekend in August, we attended my cousins' beautiful wedding in Sioux Falls, which was the last wedding Ahmed and I will attend before our own.

Last weekend, my sister and sister-in-law came up to Rochester so we could celebrate at my bachelorette party with some friends.  It was so much fun!

Tomorrow, we are heading to Yankton, SD with some of my high school friends for our Weekend o' fun tradition.  Next weekend I need to move out of my apartment, and then there will be less than two weeks before our wedding.  Hopefully I'll be able to breathe around September 14 ;)

I have done a few photography sessions over the summer, which has ended up being a lot to take on with wedding planning and a full time job, but I really enjoy it :)  Ahmed has stayed busy with job searching and his web design/marketing business.

Hopefully I can eventually get to editing all of the pictures from summer. For now, enjoy the new header :)  The picture is courtesy of Rachel Ebel Photography. Feel free to check out more of our awesome engagement pictures on her Facebook page.  I am so excited to have her shooting our wedding, which is in 22 days!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer activities, wedding planning, and job searching

How is tomorrow July 1st already?  This happens every year, but every time it still seems like a surprise.  Summer is my favorite time of year, so it usually makes me a little sad that it slips by so quickly, but this year I'm a little excited.  Every day that passes is one day closer to our wedding, and I can't wait!

Yesterday, we attended our first wedding of the summer.  It was a beautiful wedding and a fun day spent with great friends- congrats to Mandy & Kyle!  Last summer at this time we were at our FIFTH wedding of the season (with several more to go).  It was an honor to celebrate with so many of our friends and family, but this year it's a little relief that don't have so many.  

Last summer was full of uncertainty with not knowing where I was going to live or work after August.  This summer, unfortunately, is a very similar situation.  Ahmed was on the receiving end of a resource action at IBM (fancy way of telling him he was being laid off), and is now in full gear with his job search.  This is not what we had in mind in the months before our wedding, but we are trusting that God has a plan, and have hope that there is a great opportunity somewhere out there for Ahmed.  I am so proud of Ahmed and his positive attitude in such a tough situation. He is pretty amazing :). Since "out there" could be just about anywhere, we have to wait to look for a place to live for after we get married until we know where we will be.  Turns out I'm not done working on patience. :)

Since we haven't spent all of our weekends out of town or at weddings, we have enjoyed some time hiking, biking, grilling, sitting around a fire, bowling, watching movies, cooking new food, and folding wedding invitations (I'm pretty sure folding invitations was Ahmed's favorite activity.  He was so excited, he folded about five of them ;). 

We are very much looking forward to some vacation time with my family over the Fourth this coming week!  Bring on the rest of summer!


Enjoying some ice cream from Flapdoodles, sitting in the same spot where Ahmed proposed :)





Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Proposal

I will never ever forget the day the love of my life asked me to marry him.  On what really was a perfect day (sunny and 75 degrees :), Ahmed asked me go out for dinner at the Redwood Room.

After dinner, Ahmed suggested that we go to Flapdoodles (our favorite ice cream place in Rochester). Normally I would jump at the chance of Ahmed offering to take me out for dessert, because I have a huge sweet tooth and he usually does not. But I was feeling very full from dinner and suggested we skip dessert. To my surprise, Ahmed insisted he was craving something sweet and persuaded me by saying we could just have kid sized cones :). Since it was so nice out, we decided to sit outside even though it was getting dark. I tried rushing Ahmed to take me home, because the ice cream was making me cold, but he said he wasn't ready. 

After we both finished our ice cream (and I gave half of mine to Ahmed because I really was full), Ahmed got down on one knee and took my hand. He said some very beautiful things about our relationship and everything we have been through, how much he loves me, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He then asked me to marry him, and I said yes!

I really wish I could remember every word he said, but it all seemed to happen so fast that I mostly just remember him squeezing my hand as he was talking, and that I was feeling nothing but peer joy. :)  I love you, Ahmed, and can't wait to be your wife!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wait for it...

I am SO SO excited to share the wonderful news that Ahmed and I are engaged!!  The date is set for September 13th, as in we will be married four months from now! A lot of things are already in place, so we aren't TOTALLY crazy, but there is a lot of work to be done! Did I mention we're excited?!! :)

I am so SO happy, but I also have a lot of thoughts and feelings about things I have learned that I don't want to forget.  This has not been an easy journey and is still ongoing, but I can say everything has been completely worth it. Looking back at the last six and a half years of our relationship, Ahmed and I have been through so much together and are now two totally different (for the better) people than we were when we met.  When we started dating, if I would have known it would take this long to get to this point, I'm pretty sure I would have given up right way, thinking it would be too hard.  It's a scary thought, because I would have missed out on everything.  I don't think you can know what you are capable of until you live through something and look back.  

Coming from two loving families with different backgrounds from very different cultures has given us a lot to figure out.  Figuring out how our future could work together is what made things challenging, but waiting on God's timing for everything has by far been the hardest part for me. Ahmed is so easy for me to love, and it was so hard spending so much time not knowing if we would ever be married and then waiting for the right time to make things happen. Ahmed is an amazing man with love for God and his family.  He is caring and loving and brings out the best in me.  We always have something to talk about and can have fun traveling the world or just hanging out at home.  And he's a REALLY big dork.  What's not to love? :)  

Obviously, our lives were not on hold for the last six plus years.  While I was waiting, I sometimes had to remind myself to not miss out on everything around me.  I have countless awesome memories from this period of time, but some things were hard, like watching so many friends get engaged and married. Sometimes I felt alone, because there was no one else in my shoes that could totally understand what I was going through. I am fortunate to have the most amazing and supportive friends and family in the world, so even when I felt like someone didn't quite get it, I still knew they cared.

Marrying Ahmed is a dream come true, and I know without a doubt that being married to him will make all of the tears, sadness, anxiety, and loss of sleep worth it. BUT, God has done a lot of amazing things in this beyond bringing us together. I have learned so much about trust and faith and patience through this experience. (I would like to hope God is done teaching me about patience. Ha. ;) I have been pushed and encouraged to dig deeper in my relationship with God and to work really hard on being content. During all of this, I have always had so much to be thankful for, even on my worst days. 

Ahmed, I thank God every day for putting you in my life. I love you so much and am so excited to be married to you! I know that this is only the beginning of our journey. While I have no idea what our future holds, I hope and pray that God continues to stay at the center of our relationship and that we don't lose sight of what is important as we prepare to join our lives together.  Only 120 days to go!!  

Engagement story coming soon :)

If you stuck with me for this entire post, here's a little reward: a pic of my ring!  







Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lenae Beth Photography

A little over three years ago I bought my very first DSLR camera.  A few thousand James and Emma pictures and one camera/lens upgrade later, my hobby has expanded from family to friends and beyond.  I have no idea where this adventure will go, but for now it is something that I love doing and am fitting into my spare time.
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With a little help from Ahmed, I have my own logo :)

I have started a photography page on Facebook, so check it out if you haven’t already.  If you already ‘like’ the page, thanks for the love! I have decided to offer limited time introductory pricing, so contact me for more info if you are interested.  I am also hoping to have a website in the near future!

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First clients this year.  What a fun and cute couple!

On another note, I feel like I have neglected my blog lately.  Hopefully that will change soon :)  Have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Expectations

Expectations are one of my biggest weaknesses.  What starts out as a nice thought turns into a dream. Sometimes dreams turn into expectations, but they often aren’t realistic.  I am quick to make high expectations for many situations, and when they aren’t met I am left disappointed and sometimes upset.  This is a lesson I’ve learned repeatedly (and continuously).  I know that I don’t have total control over my life.  I know that God does.  I also know that it’s better that way, but in some ways I just cant seem to let go of my illusory control.  The ongoing part of this lesson is in my relationship with Ahmed.  We have been dating for over six years, and there is a long story that I would like to write down some day, but I’m not ready to be that vulnerable :).

When I moved to Rochester four years ago, I had expected I wouldn't be here that long.  Rochester has grown on me a little, and I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be right now, but I still have dreams of moving on (maybe somewhere warmer :).  This is my least favorite time of year.  I am craving sunshine and warmer temperatures.  Since a vacation isn’t in the plans this winter, I am glad we had some time with my family to cheer me up.  

My dad turned 50 on January 30, so we spent a night in Sioux Falls to celebrate.  It was short and sweet,and thankfully we had better driving weather than the previous weekend.

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Who wins for best slide picture?  

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Kisses for Papa

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Is this kid seriously old enough to be losing teeth?

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I hope spring is coming soon!  Until then, I will just picture Emma telling James they aren't going to church "cuz Ahmed is getting bitchtized."  True story. Still makes me laugh out loud :)