Jul 18, 2016

Overcoming Adversity

I’m no stranger to adversity, just as we all aren’t. In fact, we all have adversity we face at one time or another. President Henry B. Eyring said, “With all the differences in our lives, we have at least one challenge in common. We all must deal with adversity. There may be periods, sometimes long ones, when our lives seem to flow with little difficulty. But it is in the nature of our being human that comfort gives way to distress, periods of good health come to an end, and misfortunes arrive. Particularly when the comfortable times have gone on for a while, the arrival of suffering or the loss of material security can bring fear and sometimes even anger.” (Adversity)

That being said, I want to focus my talk on overcoming adversity. After all, isn’t that our goal when we go through challenges—to overcome them? To do that, I want to share some of the adversities I have faced and currently do face in the hopes that you will learn through my experiences. 

My daughter tracing the words on my mother's headstone.
I suffer from health problems that have almost killed me—three times! I was bullied at school and at church to the point where I doubted my own self worth. I endured a period of emotional, spiritual, and mental abuse in a past relationship that nearly broke me as a person. I grieved deeply during the unexpected death of my mother. Most of all, I suffered through the darkest period of my life, when many of the aforementioned adversities were happening, when I fell away from the church and turned away from the light and peace of the gospel. Most of these adversities have left me with scars and consequences that I will continue to endure throughout the rest of my mortal life. But as I look back on these trials, I see all that I have learned, all the strength I’ve gained, and the magnitude of blessings I received as I overcame them.

Elder James B. Martino said, “It is much easier to look back when a trial is over and see what we have learned from our experience, but the challenge is to gain that eternal perspective while we are going through our tests. To some, our trials may not seem great, but to each of us who are passing through these experiences, the trials are real and require us to humble ourselves before God and learn from Him.”(All Things Work Together For Good)

During those times of adversity though, I wasn’t always looking toward that eternal perspective, or even to my God. Physically, my health was deteriorating. I was plagued with constant migraines and constant nausea. I couldn’t keep down any food. I continued to lose strength until I couldn’t sit up since my muscles couldn’t support my own weight. I was in pain, I couldn’t sleep, I lost so much weight that I was only 98 pounds. My heart was on the verge of giving out, and my kidneys and liver were shutting down. This happened over a period of six months, and in the 16 ER visits and 25 doctor appointments I went to, they just told me it was all in my head and to drink more water. As I was so weak that my coworker had to literally carry me to the clinic, a new doctor took me seriously and realized that I was dying from a highly, off-the-charts overactive thyroid. I was rushed to Albuquerque to receive emergency treatment. When that specialist saw me, he told me that if I hadn’t received treatment right then, I would’ve died within the week. It’s been about five years since then, and I am still recovering from all the damage of going untreated as long as I did. 

Concurrent with the physical trials, I was experiencing many internal ones due to bullying, abuse, and guilt. I withdrew into myself to the point where I felt unloved, hated, and despised. I was unhappy, but I didn’t necessarily recognize that I was unhappy. I felt shrouded in darkness and despair, wallowing in the pits of depression and self deprivation. I felt unworthy of the gospel, unworthy of peace, unworthy of joy, unworthy of love. I was filled with a poisonous guilt that was affecting every aspect of my life. This rancid guilt had me feeling like it was too late for me; that I had ruined my not only my temporal life, but my eternal one as well. I felt like I deserved all the horrible things I was going through, and that were being inflicted upon me. In my mind, this was my penance for my poor choices and my self-felt unworthiness. I even blamed myself, albeit completely illogical, for my mother’s death, and relived every not-perfect thing I said to her. It got to the point where I believed all the horrible, cruel, and belittling things the person who was supposed to love me most was constantly telling me.

I don’t want to get into to much detail of all the things I went through, felt, and experienced. We all have trials, and you all know how bad things can get. I want to impress upon you though, the anguish of mind, body, and soul I felt. I suffered incredibly through all these different forms of trauma, and these weren’t light, easy trials. They were traumatic events in my life. I felt that the weight of all these trials was going to destroy me.

It was during that time of utmost darkness to the point of destruction that light came into my life. Events transpired to where my ex was deployed to a location where he was unable to harass me daily, and my health was improved to the point where I could function with minimal pain. Looking back, I see the Lord’s hand in arranging these events so perfectly. All these trials had humbled me to the point where I was ready to accept help, and ready to be directed to turning to my Lord.

My family was always there for me, offering their love and support throughout these hard circumstances. What really helped me the most was their unconditional love and lack of judgment. They didn’t criticize my actions or choices. They just loved me and they were always there for me. I think it was realizing this that started softening my heart to the Lord.

Also during this time, I had the world’s best visiting teacher who faithfully visited and contacted me for years. At first, I avoided her. I wouldn’t answer my phone when she called, or respond to her texts, and when she stopped by I pretended not to be home. I know, not the most mature thing to do. But what touched me was that she was consistent. She never gave up on me. I think it took about a year for me to finally respond to her, and that was just to ask her why she kept trying. She told me that it was because she wanted me to know that someone cared about me. That was it. Not that she wanted me to come to church, and not that she wanted to be able to check off visiting teaching from her to do list. She genuinely cared about me and wanted me to know that.

From then on out, I started visiting with her. She never pushed attending church on me, although she did invite me to come to church and to attend church activities. She wanted me to know that I was always invited and that there were many people in the ward who would love to see me. This sweet and devoted sister’s love—genuine love, softened my heart further to the point where, when the missionaries stopped by, I also met with them.

I loved having the missionaries over, and not just because they were always eager to mow my yard, take out my trash, or get rid of my gopher problem. Just like my family and my visiting teacher, they had a light about them that I desired to attain myself. After a few visits, one of the elders felt inspired to share a scripture that, quite literally, changed my life. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10: 37-39)

In this scripture, the Savior is outlining what our priorities should be.  He should come first, above family to include spouse, parents, and children.  Once the missionaries shared this scripture with me, I knew I had to correct my priorities and put the Savior first.  And once I did that, everything started to fall into place, or fall out.
Photo credit: Mormons.ph

 I knew there were many things I needed to change in my life--things I needed to start doing again, things I needed to stop doing, and things I needed to truly repent of.  I met with my bishop and he helped me figure out what I needed to do to get my life in sync with what my Father in Heaven would have me do.  It wasn’t easy, and it required so much work and faith on my part, but it was worth it.

In D&C 121:7-9 it says, Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.” I had my friends, my family, and my ward family standing beside me, helping through these adversities now. I learned so quickly that I wasn’t alone, and that I didn’t need to be alone. My Father in Heaven guided these wonderful people to help me when I needed it most.

I had undergone a true change of heart.  I so utterly changed that prior temptations weren't effective on me anymore.  I had and still have no desire to participate in activities that had led me and trapped me in spiritual darkness.  Instead, I filled my life with heartfelt prayer, personal and family scripture study, family home evenings, consistent church and temple attendance, and sincere repentance.  Additionally, I’ve put forth a great deal of time—and still do—in studying the diseases I’ve been diagnosed with so that I can better understand what I can do to be healthier and feel better. 

Some of the adversities I’ve gone through required even more help however. My autoimmune and thyroid diseases nearly killed me, and I desperately needed medical treatment to get to the point where I could function somewhat normally again.  I had to constantly visit the doctor, and I will always have to visit a doctor for treatment for these illnesses. My recovery, although I’ll probably never be fully recovered, is a miracle in and of itself. Every doctor I see to this day are shocked by how well I’m doing, how much strength I’ve regained, and the yet again miraculous repair of my kidney and liver. I know that this is because of the Lord and His healing light through the power of the priesthood and my faith.

Just the same as seeking treatment for my physical ailments, if it weren’t for the addiction recovery program in teaching me how to apply the Atonement in my life to overcome the effects of abuse, and counseling to learn how to get past my grief and guilt, I wouldn’t be as healed as I am today. I can’t stress enough how amazing these programs are. I suffered through traumatic things, and little by little I’ve been healing from them. We need to make sure that we are seeking every avenue of help as we seek to overcome our adversities.

Photo credit: The Idea Door Files
Elder Martino went on to say, “When we face our challenges, we must seek greater help from God. Even the Savior of us all found a need to pray “more earnestly” as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. We can learn to gain great faith if we do this. We must remember that often the answers from our Heavenly Father do not remove the trial from us, but instead He helps strengthen us as we pass through the experience.”

I finally learned that lesson. As I continue to go through adversities now, I make sure that I never stop praying, never stop studying my scriptures, never stop attending church, and never stop turning toward my Savior. I still have a long way to go, and there are things I probably won’t overcome fully in this life, but I know that as long as I’m actively moving forward toward my Savior and Heavenly Father, and doing what I can to keep the commandments and my covenants, then I will not move toward the darkness again. All will be made right.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength… He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek.”

Through my trials, I have also received so many blessings, blessings that have made everything I’ve gone through completely worth it. The friendships I’ve made through this time will continue into the eternities. I’ve learned to trust in others again. I’ve learned so much about my own body and how I can better take care of it. I pushed through illness to find joy in running, which is now a big part of my life and helps me build my self confidence. I’ve grown closer to my family. I’ve built such a solid testimony of the gospel and this Church that I know I will never waver again. Most of all, overcoming these adversities made me the woman I am today, and made me worthy to be sealed to my most amazing husband in the temple for time and all eternity. This blessing alone is worth all the experiences I’ve been through.

Elder Holland goes on to say, “Now, with that majestic devotion [of God’s unwavering love for us] ringing from heaven as the great constant in our lives, manifested most purely and perfectly in the life, death, and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can escape the consequences of both sin and stupidity—our own or that of others—in whatever form they may come to us in the course of daily living. If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.” So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.” (Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You)

I want each and every one of you know that it is never too late, and you have never done too much, to not qualify for exaltation. You can always repent, you can always change, and you can always improve. The Atonement is there for all of us to use to find true purpose, true happiness, and true love. As we seek to keep improving, the Lord will help us. He loves us more than we can comprehend and He wants us to find joy. As President Gordon B. Hinkley said, “Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” And I know from experience that we can find joy, even during the hardest of trials.

photo credit: Empressive Designs from Etsy

Jun 29, 2016

I was bullied at church

I was bullied at church when I was a young adult. I’m sure the girls that did the bullying would disagree with me, but I now know that they were bullies. Pure and simple. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t recognize it and instead blamed myself.

I’m not going to go into detail on what exactly was done and said. Many people have been bullied at one time or another, and we’ve all heard stories about bullying. I will say that they spread untrue rumors about me. They called me names. They constantly talked about me behind my back. They made mean, hurtful comments toward me. They attempted to turn anyone they could against me. They ostracized me and attempted to get my friends to ostracize me.
Worst of all, their actions towards me made me question my self-worth. Their words stung to the point where I hated myself. I felt unworthy, even though I was. I felt hated, even though there were so many who loved and supported me—especially within that congregation. My mind was questioning everything about myself and turning an unhealthy direction as I thought, “What am I doing wrong?”, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why am I such a worthless person?” I’m sure these girls were going through issues of their own to act in such a horrible, cruel manner. But that doesn’t justify their actions or their words. There is no reason to treat someone the way these girls treated me.
Slide made by Emerald Gray
I’ve been bullied many times in many places: school, work, church, even social groups. But I feel that bullying should not be happening in the Lord’s church. Granted, no one is perfect. We go to church to try and perfect ourselves a little at a time and to constantly try to become closer to God. Especially when we are young, most of us haven’t learned true compassion, charity, and love yet. And I’m not an exception. So now, with years of perspective, I feel I have a better understanding of this issue. But at the time I did not. I was too young and inexperienced in life to understand the importance of attending church no matter what. My testimony was too young to survive the attacks on my person to keep attending for myself.

So, I stopped going to church and instead threw myself into other activities to escape the pain I felt. I thought that by removing myself from the situation and by not attending church, the pain would go away and I would feel better. But I was only fooling myself. I lost a powerful source of spiritual light and strength. Each day I fell deeper into darkness. I was in more pain than ever before, but I just numbed the pain by escaping into activities that distracted me from real life and my real problems. They call that addiction, and it can be anything from binge-watching TV or playing video games, to chemical dependence or participating in unsavory practices.

I wish I had a stronger testimony at that time of the importance of regularly attending church for my own well-being instead of for the social interaction. Moreover, I wish I had a stronger testimony of the importance of the sacrament. But, I was young and still learning and weak even, and the bullying from these girls was stronger than my testimony of attending church.

It wasn’t until recently, about 10 years later, that I realized I was bullied. It wasn’t my fault, but the way I reacted to it was my fault, and I reaped the consequences. That period of my life, where I allowed the behavior (no matter how justified!) of others to keep me from attending church was the darkest, most miserable time of my life. The worst part was that I didn’t realize how bad it was in the thick of things. It wasn’t until I came back to the fold and started attending church for the right reasons that I realized the light, love, and comfort I was missing. Only on the covenant path did I find true love, pure light, and lasting happiness. I won’t let anything take me away from the light of the gospel again. Ever. I deserve this. I deserve eternal joy. And although some people may make thoughtless or even hostile remarks, it no longer keeps me from partaking of the sacrament or enjoying the fellowship of the saints.

I felt that I should share this experience with bullying at church to hopefully help others who have been or are currently being bullied. I hope that you can find strength through my experience. I hope you can learn from my experience and do better than me. Please, don’t let another person's sin against you keep you from the light and hope of the gospel. You deserve to have the gospel strength and truth in your life. You not only deserve the sacrament, but you need it, regularly. You need the companionship of the saints. Just as those very people, the ones that are so hurtful and cruel, also need the redeeming power of the gospel and Christ’s atonement in their lives. God loves you, and He loves them. He wants them to repent and to return to Him. He wants you to feel of His light and be happy, and He wants you to forgive them, even if they are unrepentant. You can be happy in this trial if you allow yourself to feel His love for you, and to allow yourself to be filled with charity. It took me far too long to learn this lesson and to find true happiness in my life.

I also hope that my experience can open the eyes of those who are bullying, spreading rumors, gossiping, etc. May you allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to sanctify your life and soften your heart so that you can stop this behavior and truly repent. Only by doing so can you draw closer to your Savior, who loves you. Only by doing so can you find true peace and happiness. I, too, have had to learn this difficult lesson. It is a hard thing to approach someone you’ve hurt and to apologize, but it is worth it. Recompense is not always attainable, but make the effort to rectify the wrongs you have done against them. By doing so, you can feel God’s love for your and feel the cleansing power of the Atonement.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed the topic of bullying in a General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in his talk “The Merciful Obtain Mercy.” It is a wonderful address and I highly recommend studying it. In this inspired talk, he says,

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?

Image from the blog Today's the Best Day
This was a hard post for me to write, but I felt strongly that I needed to do this. That time of my life, although not the hardest, was difficult. I don't like to think back on those events, let alone relive them as I pondered over what to write. I just hope, as I said before, that my experience can help someone else. I faced a lot of adversity at that time and due to that adversity and my inexperience, I made a lot of choices I regret. However, as I overcame this adversity and the consequences of my poor choices, I grew stronger. I still face adversity, but I have so much more faith, strength, and knowledge which help me find joy and peace in my trials. I now have a solid testimony of Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and His church, and I'd like to share part of that testimony now.

I know this church is true, and that regularly attending church is critical to our eternal happiness. I know that it is Jesus Christ’s church restored to the earth again by His prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we have a prophet on the earth today, and that he is Thomas S. Monson. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it is truly another testament of Jesus Christ to help us grow closer to Him. Most of all, I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that They love us perfectly. They will never leave us alone. They will never forget us. They are always there for us and They will help us as long as we will let Them.

Jun 8, 2016

My Stargazing Themed Wedding

All photos on this post (unless otherwise noted) are by Jamie Tervort Photography.
Two weeks ago, I married the man of my dreams. I honestly didn’t think he existed. I figured all the good guys had been taken and that I was going to have to settle. And that’s what I believed until I started dating my Alex. He is far better than any man I could’ve ever imagined, and now we are sealed together as husband and wife for time and all eternity. To say that I feel blessed is an understatement.

Alex proposed to me while star gazing. We often go star gazing together, since I am such an astronomy nerd. Alex threw some pillows and blankets in the back of his truck, and we spent a few moments cuddling and gazing up into the cloud-filled sky with a few pockets of stars visible. As we gazed up into the eternity of the sky, Alex spoke of the perspective that star gazing offered him. Gazing into the stars gives a glimpse into the endless nature of God and the great multitude of his creations. Alex took off his CTR ring and held it up to the sky, talking about how even such a small space in the sky contains countless numbers of God's creations. He continued to talk as he put his arm down, switching out his CTR ring for the diamond ring that he bought for me. He held up his hand again to look through the ring once again, explaining that at first glance, the space might appear blank and meaningless because it is dark and incomprehensible. As one looks closer (like through a telescope), the significance gradually becomes apparent and one can see the eternal stretch before them. As he spoke, he drew the ring closer to me and, when finished speaking, turned the ring so that I could plainly see the diamonds in front of me. I was shocked since I wasn’t expecting him to propose that night. He asked me to be his wife and I said, “Yes!” This is why we decided to have a star gazing themed wedding, with the colors royal blue, black, and indigo. In our wedding, I tried to incorporate this theme into just about every aspect.
The lovely Payson Temple is my favorite!
We were sealed for time and all eternity in the Payson Utah temple. Although we’re from Texas, Payson was a central location for quite a bit of our family and friends, as well as allowed us to have a destination mountain wedding. We both love the outdoors, especially mountains and forests. And, Payson holds a special place of importance for my own family as my pioneer ancestors helped to settle the town, and since many of my relatives are buried there to include my mother.
I was going to write an awesome blog post on the whole story of my wedding, but once I started writing reviews on all my vendors, I actually think I’m going to post those instead. What I wanted to share most about my wedding were all the ideas I utilized in making it such an amazing, fun, and memorable event so that others can possibly use some of them in their event planning. So here it is, a compilation on all of the vendors I worked with, all of the Pinterest ideas I put into action, and also some of my own creations in carrying out my star gazing themed wedding reception. But really, how did people plan weddings before Pinterest?

Planning Suggestions and Website
The Knot
Our wedding website from the Knot.

I used theknot.com for all my checklists, wedding planning, and even my wedding website. It was so convenient to refer guests to the site for reception information and details. I was even able to share our story and pictures, along with recommendations on places to stay and things to do in the area. The wedding countdown was also pretty nice.

Jamie Tervort Photography
All the pictures from this blog were done by Jamie Tervort Photography.
My Maid of Honor recommended Jamie as my wedding and engagements photographer and I'm glad she did! After a week of researching photographers online (I'm from Texas, but we got married in Utah), I contacted Jamie. I'm very picky about my services when I'm paying more than a hundred dollars on them, so I put in a great deal of research to get just what I want. And after talking with her and checking out her portfolio, I knew that she was exactly the photographer I was looking for. I love her style! She was such a pleasure to work with as well. I'm not the most patient at having my picture taken, and neither is my husband, but she made the experience fun and easy. She utilized all of my pose ideas (from pinterest), captured every shot I wanted, and even suggested some shots I didn't think of that have turned out to be some of my favorite. I love all the pictures from both my engagements and my wedding session. I even filled a guest book photo album with my engagement pictures because I couldn't decide on just one for my invitations. Jamie is professional, incredibly talented, a delight to be around, and quick on getting our pictures to us. She worked well with our wedding videographer, venue, and DJ. I highly, highly recommend Jamie Tervort Photography as your photographer for any occasion. I drove all the way from Texas to use her.

Emily Goodman
Emily Heap was our videographer.

My photographer actually recommended Emily to me as a videographer. I wasn’t sure I was going to even have one, but after I saved so much money on my dress, I could afford to hire one, and I decided I would regret it if I didn’t get a video. I did a lot of research into videographers. I didn’t want just a couple  of montages. I wanted my whole reception captured, I wanted to hear dialogue and voices, I wanted interviews with my guests. Essentially, I wanted a journal-like capturing of my wedding. Emily’s prices fit right in my budget, and on top of all the wedding shoots, she even threw in a love story shoot. That’s where Alex and I shared the story of how we met and fell in love. She even guaranteed our wedding video to be done and to us by the end of June, and I'm very excited to see it.

The Dress
Fantasy Bridal

I found my dress at Fantasy Bridal in Murray Utah.

I had just about given up hope of finding a wedding dress that I was not only happy with, but was also within my budget when a friend referred me to Fantasy Bridal. The girl that helped me was so wonderful and so helpful. She made me feel special, and was a delight to talk to. After trying on about ten dresses, I was giving up hope of finding a dress I was happy with, until I saw another girl trying on a gorgeous gown. After getting her permission to try on that same dress, I knew I had found it. The dress I would wear on my wedding day. The bet part was that it was right within my budget to the point where I could afford to also get a sparkling belt and hair clip. The saleswomen at Fantasy Bridal are absolutely wonderful! My only negative experience involved the seamstress, who was very rude and downright mean to me. She almost ruined my entire view of the dress and it took a wonderful Maid of Honor to help me get past her mean remarks. I still had an overall good experience shopping at Fantasy Bridal, and I do recommend them, just beware of the seamstress and make sure you have thick skin or bring emotional support when she is around.

Bridal Jewelry
USA Bride
Necklace and earrings from USA Bride

I ended up loving a simple wedding dress, so I knew I would need some sparkle to really make me feel like a princess and this dynasty jewelry set from USA Brides was exactly what I was looking for! My dress had a sweetheart neckline and the necklace fit beautifully with it. I received many compliments on my earrings and necklace, and I continue to wear them for more formal events. This was the perfect finishing touch to my bridal look.

Hair and Make-Up
Signature Brides

Signature Brides did my hair and make-up.
Signature Brides did the most wonderful job on my bridal hair and make-up! Even though I had unfortunately broken out in hive all over my face just 4 days before my wedding, they were able to make me beautiful. In fact, I have never felt so beautiful before in my life!  I received so many compliments on my hair and make-up, and I feel I look amazing in my wedding pictures because of it. The women at Signature Bridal were also so personable. They were fun to talk to, and very sweet. Now that I'm moving to the Provo area, I don't need to search for a new stylist. I'm just going to keep going to them. They are amazing, and I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to feel gorgeous.

Manicure and Pedicure
Erika’s Nail Room
Erika's Nail Room did the exact mani/pedi that I wanted.
I'm from Texas, but I was getting married in Utah, so I asked around for mani/pedi recommendations and my Maid of Honor sent me to Erika. I'm so glad she did, because Erika did an incredible job on my bridal nails! I sent her pictures from Pinterest of what I wanted and she did exactly that. She also made some suggestions of her own to ensure that my nails would last well through the honeymoon. I highly recommend Erika, and now that I'm moving to the Provo area, I don't have to worry about finding a nail salon because I've already found her. 

Star Bridal Garters
Star Bridal Garters made garters that matched my theme. (garter picture from Etsy site)

These garters match my wedding theme exactly to include a little star on the bow. And I even got two of them! One for the garter toss, and one for the wedding night. Okay, it’s really just a keepsake garter.

Venue/Wedding Planner/Caterer/Cake/Florist
5th East Hall
5th East Hall, American Fork
I live in Texas, but my fiancé and I wanted a destination mountain wedding, so we decided to get married in the Payson Utah LDS temple. Being a destination wedding, wedding planning was much more difficult as I had to do everything from a distance. I'm so glad that I found 5th East Hall on a wedding website search. Their venue packages included everything I needed except for the DJ and photographer. They even had an on-sight wedding planner who was supremely helpful in every aspect of my wedding planning and wedding day. 5th East Hall did my decorations to match my theme (stargazing) and my colors (royal blue, black, and indigo). The food was delicious. They hand-served the chicken piccata we wanted, and made a kid's option of macaroni and cheese. I couldn't be happier with the job they did making my wedding a success.

Their ceiling even matched my theme with a black background filled with tiny white lights that looked like stars. There was even an indoor waterfall, which I had my head table set up by. The whole layout of the venue was gorgeous with an entrance foyer, reception hall, and separate bridal room. They did the exact centerpieces I wanted. They even did my decoration flowers and my cake--which was delicious. Their wedding package even included the catering, and I was able to have my hand-served dinner complete with kid meal options. Additionally, they set up all my seating place cards. I'm very impressed with their service as they were easy to get a hold of either by phone or email. They were very accommodating with all my requests and even last-minute changes. I highly recommend 5th East Hall as an excellent venue for events and event planning.
5th East Hall did a wonderful job on my dream wedding cake and table decor!
Invitations and Save-The-Dates

Invitations by VistaPrint.
After searching through what seemed like dozens of online invitation vendors, I finally checked out Vista Print. Not only did they have the best deal and the best prices (to include an additional 20$ off at checkout!), but they were the only vendor that truly had the exact design I was looking for for my stargazing themed wedding. They even include envelope, save the dates (I was able to get magnetic ones!), RSVP cards, and reception inserts! I didn't settle with Vista Print. I found exactly what I wanted with Vista Print at a price far below my invitation budget. I highly recommend Vista Print if you're looking for a great product at a great price.

Return Address Stamp
Paper Peach Shop
Paper Peach Shop made me this exact stamp design for our return address. (Picture from Esty site)
I hate having to address hundreds of envelopes, let along return address them, so this stamp and ink set was such a lifesaver! I love how it, too, matched my wedding theme with its stars around our names. And I can even use it for normal correspondence once my thank you cards are sent out.

DJ and MC
One Above Entertainment
DJ Cooper Brown from One Above Entertainment
DJ Cooper Brown made my wedding reception a success! My guests told me that my wedding was the most fun reception they have ever attended and mostly because of the DJ. He got the guests engaged and kept everyone informed about the big events (cake cutting, first dance, bouquet toss, exit). Not only did he keep them informed, but he got them excited for everything that was scheduled. I did a lot of research for each of my vendors, and One Above Entertainment won me over with their easy to navigate website, the fact that he lists his prices online, and with his quick responses to my questions and schedule updates. I highly recommend One Above Entertainment for any event you want to be fun and successful.

Bride and Groom Flowers
Kelli DuBois

Kelli did a spectacular job on our flowers!
Now, for mine and my husband’s flowers, I wanted something a little nicer and more customized. I still opted for silk flowers, and my bridesmaid Kelli loves arranging flowers, so she and my bridesmaid Linzy went to Hobby Lobby with me to pick out my bouquet and Alex’s boutonnière. We went with white roses, a single red rose to commemorate my mother (her favorite flower), some green and purple accents, and blue ribbon. Kelli also got rhinestones and added them to my bouquet for some bling and sparkle. She did such an amazing job! I don’t think anyone else could’ve done better for me.
Bridesmaid and Groomsmen Flowers
The Bride’s Bouquet
Bridesmaid and Groomsmen flowers were from the Bride's Bouquet.

I’m not a big flower person, and flowers weren’t that important to me. I just wanted my bridal party to have some sort of bouquet or boutonnière, but I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of my budget on it. Luckily, I found the Bride’s Bouquet online. Their silk flower arrangements are quite pretty, and they are very affordable! They were just what I was looking for and I’m very happy with them.

Memorial Candles
Sweet Memory Flame
Sweet Memory Flame made our memorial candle wraps.
I have been trying to think of a way to honor my mother is my fiance's father at our wedding, and these memorial candles are perfect. I had them made up with pictures of our parents, and had the ribbon colors match our wedding color scheme. Sweet memory flame made the wraps and provided the glass candle vase. I bought flameless LED candles from Hobby Lobby to go inside. They were the finishing touch for our memorial table.

Bridesmaid Constellation Earrings
Karla’s Design
Karla's Designs constellation ear cuffs
I love these earrings. They  were perfect for my bridesmaids to wear since they matched the stargazing theme. They also made great bridesmaid gifts as I ordered them in each of my ladies' birthday zodiac constellation.

Flower Girl Constellation Necklace
See Flower
Capricorn constellation necklace from See Flower
For my beautiful flower girl who doesn’t have pierced ears, I got her this constellation necklace in her birthday zodiac constellation. She loved it, since she too is an astronomy nerd. I got it in silver, and it matched the rhinestones on her dress.

Seating Chart and Table Labels
Thomas Taylor Designs
My brother designed my star chart seating chart
Continuing with my stargazing theme, I wanted a star chart seating chart. My brother is a graphic designer and he went ahead and designed the whole thing for me complete with table label cards. Each table was named after a constellation, and each guest’s place card had that constellation on it. Since I’m a sci-fi nerd, he even snuck in a tiny starship onto my seating chart. I loved it even more.

Temple Cake Topper
Naag Tag
Naag Tag Cake Topper
I wanted something more personal for my cake topper than the usual bride and groom figures. As I was scrolling through pinterest (I seriously don’t know how people can wedding plan without it!), I found a laser cut temple topper. I contacted the company and they made me a time and all eternity cake topper with a bride and groom standing in front of the Payson Temple. It was perfect.


I’m not very crafty, but I do love making photo books on Shutterfly to the point of near-obsession. I’m so particular about my photo books that I decided I wanted to make my own Guestbook using our favorite engagement pictures (taken by Jamie Tervort). And that’s exactly what I did. It was perfect—exactly what I wanted! As this was a special book for a special occasion, I even got all the upgrades: matte cover and lay-flat thick pages.

Card Box
I got everything I needed for the card box at Amazon.
Since we were doing a destination wedding, just about all of our guests were travelling to get there. In anticipation of receiving mostly cards, I wanted a cute way to collect them, and I found this nice wire card box on Amazon. I also purchased a small string of white led lights to string throughout the box, giving it a more starry appearance. I think it turned out pretty cute.

Flower Girl Dress
Girls Dress Line
Girl's Dress Line royal blue flower girl dress
Since my daughter was our only flower girl, I let her pick out her dress. She wanted a blue one so that she could match the bridesmaids, and after scrolling through pinterest for a while, she found the exact royal blue dress she wanted. It was even complete with her own “stars” or the rhinestones on the top, a cute ruffle in the front, and a flower on the side. She wore a tiara from my Mother in her hair, and she looked like an absolute princess.

Bridesmaid Dress
Diviine Modestee
Diviine Modestee Alexandra dress in Cobalt Blue
Most of my bridesmaids were traveling quite a distance to come to my wedding, from both coasts even, so I wanted to find a nice, but under $100 bridesmaid dress. It needed to be modest, LDS church appropriate with sleeves and at knee-length. This was probably the most stressful search for me. I spent months looking for a dress that wasn’t frumpy modest, or cute immodest. And it had to be in the exact right shade of blue—royal blue—because I don’t like navy blue at all. All the dresses I found that I liked were either too expensive or the wrong color. I even searched all through Utah, thinking I could find a dress there, but to no avail. I about gave up and was just going to have them wear a long skirt with a shirt (not as fancy as I wanted), when I came across Diviine Modestee’s dress line. There, I found it! Finally. A dress that was the right shade of blue, that was long enough, that had sleeves, and that looked cute! And, they were only $50. As far as they’ve told me, they really like their dresses, and they looked so good in them! The pictures look fantastic, and I am so glad I found that site!

Men’s Wearhouse
Groom's and Best Man's tuxes from Men's Wearhouse
The guys were easy. I just wanted them in black suits (which they all had already), black dress shirts, and with a royal blue tie and pocket square that we provided. The best man really wanted to wear a tux, so we put him in an all black tux with an indigo tie and pocket square. My handsome husband also wore a tux, but his was black with everything else white. The tuxes were from Men’s Wearhouse, which was very easy to work with. The guys got measured at our Texas location, and were able to pick up and return their tuxes to the Utah location.

Bridal Shoes
Giani Bini from Dillards
I love these Giani Bini shoes! They added a nice pop of color.
With shoes, I wanted tall pumps so that my 5’4” frame would look good in my pictures alongside my 6’3” tall husband. And I wanted them to be royal blue. And, I wanted them to be as comfortable as high heels of that magnitude could be. I found those very shoes in the very first store I looked, Dillards. Not only did I find them, but they were on sale. Score! I love the contrast of the bright blue next to my wedding dress, and it tied in my bridal look with my bridesmaids. I love these shoes so much that I wear them regularly when I dress up.

I am so unbelievably happy with how my wedding turned out! It was everything I wanted it to be and more! All the planning and hard work came together in exactly the way I hoped. It was lovely, elegant, and a lot of fun.  And now I have all these memories, pictures, and videos to view and remember the significance and joy of my wedding day.