Monday, November 11, 2013

The Usual Suspects

"Round up the usual suspects."

This famous line from the movie Casablanca is the No. 32 quote on the America Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.

Well, let me tell you. My Lou and I have some usual suspects that we want to round up right here. They're not only friends that just showed to help with our big event, but friends we really count on all the time to be, well, to be, friends. You've got them too. I know you do. People who love and encourage you on a daily basis. And people who show up at the big events too. Glory, these are some good friends we've got - that we've been unbelievably blessed with.

Lou and I just kept shaking our heads in amazement at the army of friends and family that surrounded us, loved us, worked alongside us, and pulled off our Hannah's wedding.

I'm not even kidding...or exaggerating. These folks thought for us when our heads were spinning so fast we weren't thinking straight. If you've ever married off a young'un, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you've got something good to look forward to. Your friends will blow you away with not only offers to help, but the follow through of help.

I'm praying I don't leave anybody out, but I am going to try to name names. I want to name names and say a little bloggy thank you to our usual suspects - our friends.

And, I might throw in a few pictures I like…just for fun.

Early on, in the "what are we going to sit on?" discussions, it was decided that the parents of the bride and groom would sit on church pews. We have one in our home, and it was the first object placed in the wedding grove.

Later, it was joined by one owned by Max and Rose Roweton. (Thanks, Max & Rose!)

It wasn't long till other chairs joined the fun. I'm here to testify that it takes a little time to move 300+ chairs from one place to another. And then to take them back. (Thanks Luke, Alex, Hannah, Faith, Elizabeth, Mary Grace, Isaak, Andy, Daniel, Leighton, Chandler, Preston, Keith)

The bride, Mary Grace, Jasmine, Me doing a little arranging

It also takes a little time to iron 325 cloth napkins.

How Marla Kemp found time to help with this, I'll never know. This dear friend was not only our wedding coordinator (a massive job in and of itself), but also tent light hanger, soup maker and soup divvy upper, and crock pot returner, and sparkler hander outer and stay til everything's done kind of girl. She is one of the main reasons this big event was so much fun. She carried a lot of the load so I didn't have to. (Thank you!)

My sister, Kathy
My sister was here for the week preceding the wedding to help. She was at my mom's beck and call since we were all a little distracted. (Thank you!)
Kacie Watson and Faith
Not only do these two lovelies look amazing, they sound amazing! Kacie ran sound for us at the wedding and we all let out a resounding "Yay!" for the great job she did. Our Faith was a bridesmaid and sang the song "In Christ Alone" that was played as Hannah came down the aisle. Talk about a moment to treasure.

And here's a picture to treasure.
At the rehearsal
Lifelong friends are also one of God's sweet gifts. I cannot count the nights these girls have spent together giggling, talking, crying, laughing. Breanna and Sara, you hold special places in our hearts.

We had quite a few travel great distances to help us celebrate. This family was one of them. They helped us celebrate and prepare to celebrate. We worked them! (Thanks, Louise and Heide and the Forrister clan!)

Shelley, Heide, Erik, Louise

I must include a special pic of Hannah Louise hugging Sonya Louise, who has loved her and prayed for her since the day we named Hannah after her. Much, much love.

This is an amazing picture of these two!
Luke and David need an honorable mention picture, also. These boys gladly and willingly did anything and everything anybody asked them to do. We needed their manly muscles:)

Does everybody do what we did and take that "last family photo before the first kid gets married" picture?

At Rehearsal Dinner

The wedding day dawned with a forecast that made us smile and thank God. NO RAIN! It was a bit cloudy in the morning, but by afternoon, the sun was shining and the temperature was perfect. Oh my mercy. What a great gift!

Lou and I hosted a "Bridesmaid's Breakfast" with omelets made to order. A very sweet addition to that was a surprise gift of homemade cinnamon rolls from Jane Bishop. (Thank you!) So thoughtful!
Elizabeth, Megan, Jasmine, Breanna, Faith, Caroline, Sara, Mary Grace, Megan, Hannah
Oh, how I enjoy a table full of young people! And see the young person named Jasmine in the above  photo? She was Hannah's right hand woman for the last 3 months. Lots of texts, lots of phone calls, lots of planning. Thanks, Jasmine!

After breakfast, all the bridesmaids and I headed to the salon for a little pre wedding pampering. I was caught in my usual position since all this wedding planning started - on the phone.

Faith, Elizabeth, Hannah, Me, Mary Grace
While we were gone, our home was still a beehive of activity. The three in this next picture love me well always, and carried much of my load on the big day. Allyson Bishop spent her morning heading up decorating the reception tent. She led the team that included my brother, Andy and his family. (Thank you Andy, Debbie, Abbie, Pat, Jeffre, Lauren, Daniel and Joe.) On Friday, before these decorators worked their magic on Saturday morning, Alex, his brother, Eric, Marla and I risked Eric's life (he was the designated ladder climber) and hung some lights in our tent. (Thank you!)

Allyson, Me, Marla, Sue
I was glad to find a picture that included Sue, whose work was featured in my last blog post. People on candid picture duty rarely make the candid pictures. (Many thanks!)

One of my favorites that Sue took was this one of Hannah and her girls up in her room before the wedding. I don't know if you can tell or not by looking at this, but Hannah was just a little bit excited.

As you might imagine, parking for 300+ was something we had to plan for. Thankfully, we live very close to Bolivar High School, which happens to have a very nice parking lot and they were kind enough to let us use it. (Thank you, Dr. Guerin!) It's a pleasant 10 minute walk from our house, but we knew not everyone would be able to make that little trek. We provided a couple of golf carts. Many thanks to our drivers, Jeff West and Kerrick Tweedy. Many thanks also to the impromptu suburban drivers, who helped bring guests to Springbrook as the line at the high school got long, and the time for the wedding drew short - Ron Evans, Tom Sneed and Keith Vaughan.

Jeff West and Alex's uncle's family

Kerrick Tweedy, Connie Tweedy, Susan Burleson

Kerrick is chauffeuring two sweet ladies right here. Let me tell you why.

First, Connie.  Here's the exact text I got from her on Wednesday, October 23 at 3:01 p.m. (3 days before the wedding)

"I have a couple hours of availability right now. Anything I can do to help?"

Do you know what I do if I have a couple of hours of availability - especially at 3 in the afternoon? I think, "Oh good. I have a couple of hours to myself. Me time!!"

I told Connie that those words will forever go down in my history as one of the kindest, most thoughtful, unselfish texts I've ever received. Thanks, Connie!

Secondly, Susan. Susan, amazing creator of beauty, Burleson.

We called Susan because we were at a loss as to how to do the curtain thing high up in the trees in the wedding grove. I don't remember her exact words, but it went something like this.

"Oh, I've been hoping you'd call! Can I help?? I have a special place in my heart for Hannah, and I'd love to help decorate!" 

Wow. I can't tell you the relief that those words produced. Susan brought Hannah's vision to life. It could not have pleased us more. Thank you, Susan! Susan brought a couple of helpers with her on Friday. Thanks also to Eric Jack, Grace vanHoornbeek, Allie, Cole and Samantha.

Now, a few pictures of some of the beauty Susan created for us.

On Instagram? Search their hashtag and enjoy some pics!
My brother and his wife greeted the wedding trams as they entered our subdivision. Thanks, Andy and Debbie!

Greeting our guests as they approached the wedding grove, was warm apple cider. Thanks to Linda, Tammy, Lene, Dona, and Jennie for keeping it full and overflowing!

Dona, Lene, Lou
Our friends, The Sneeds, are sitting down in this picture for good reason. They were resting before their real work ramped up at the reception. Thanks to Philip directing traffic out at Silo, and thanks to Tom for leaving the Men's Simulcast on Saturday morning to rescue Lou and fix a generator and for being Master of Ceremonies at the tent, and thanks to Polly for making a crock pot full of soup!

Polly, Tallie, Philip
Speaking of soup, we had it. And lots of it, too. Thanks to my souper friends who made crockpots full of it, and transported it to our tent. I wish I'd thought to get pictures of all of you! (Note to self for next wedding).

Cute sweaters for the crockpots
Thank you! Marla

The hour we'd been planning for finally arrived: 4:30 p.m. Here are a few moments I wanted to share.

Sara Scott, lifelong friend (and amazing OB nurse:)

All turned to watch Hannah

Love our Elizabeth's smile

We all love the looks on the faces of Wes and Marla
I need to stop and say a word about Marla's husband, Wes. He was to Lou what Marla was to me. His M.O. Friday and Saturday was "Stop, Drop, and Help." We couldn't have done it without him. Thanks, Wes.

Another blessing of the wedding was the young man who officiated. Chris Byington, who is going into the ministry, is a long time friend of Alex's. This was his first wedding ever and it was the perfect combination of sacred and personal. Thanks, Chris.

A couple of other people that worked tirelessly to make Hannah and Alex's day special…Mel Hughes and Lauren Hughes, Alex's dad and mom. They hosted an amazing BBQ rehearsal dinner and also managed to handle sound equipment, ring bearer pillows, boutonniere pinning and wedding cake coordination. Thank you, Mel and Lauren!

Mel, Hannah, Alex, Lauren
Lou, Me, our beautiful, happy Hannah, and her Alex

Our reception was held a few miles down the road in a clear top tent at Silo Ridge Country Club. A huge thank you to Brian, Ronnie and his crew at Silo. A big tent hanging out around a club house for a few days interrupts their normal flow, and I know, makes for extra work. I was assured more than once that it was "no problem!" (Thank you!)  The whole setting at Silo was quite magical. Here, the wedding party is lined up, waiting to be introduced.

To light such a structure was slightly complicated. Thankfully, Lou took the lead with this and lined up generators and electrician extraordinaire, Chris Warwick (so our reception wouldn't be ruined with an explosion). Thanks to Wes Kemp, Kelly Roweton, Tom Sneed, Ron and Lou Kemp, and Ron Kemp, Jr., for your help in this area. You light up our lives!!

To feed such a group, you need an expert running things. Mary Plunkett, of Morsels fame is calm, creative, and more than competent. She's a lovely soul, and a delight to work with. Thanks, Mary!

If you've made it this far, it means you've read the longest blog I've ever posted. You too, deserve my thanks!!

Thanks for caring enough about our family to share our joy here. I realize it's been a rather personal post, but I hope the thanking of our friends and family turns your heart and mind to your friends and family and the gift they are to you. We all have our cache of usual suspects - those that hold our hands and hearts on this big round ball. God has blessed us all.


  1. It all looks so beautiful, Shelley! Hannah and her new husband look extremely happy. Congratulations on a lovely day and on adding a new member to your family. Best wishes to the Newlyhughes!

  2. Enjoyed all the beautiful pictures of what looked like a perfect day. Also wanted to let you know I saw the instagram pic of a visit to Union University. Both of mine graduated from Union. Wonderful experience for both! Thanks for sharing your lives for us all to see. What a blessing

  3. Thanks, Carla! We had an amazing day! And Elizabeth really like Union! We'll see how God leads! Thanks for all your encouraging words to me! Blessings to you and yours.

  4. Oh my goodness! I just sat and bawled as I looked at the photos and read your words! For the names and faces of some of my favorite people in the world were seen and/or mentioned here. Oh how I miss my Bolivar peeps! Hannah was absolutely beautiful! I love you all! ~Jala

    1. Love you too, Jala. Before you know it, you'll be where I am! All good! God is good!