Laurence and I were married June 9, 2011 on a Thursday sometime around 4PM. We were married amongst close friends and family in the lovely rolling countryside of Pennsylvania. St Malachi, the little white chapel, stood on top a hill overlooking fields and woods. Everything was lush and green. It was also 100 degrees outside, and I've been told it thunder stormed later in the evening when everyone was safe indoors dancing away. But as far as I know my hairdo was the only casualty of the weather, no real damage was done.
The day was unforgettable, and absolutely wonderful. My sister Rose was the beautiful maid of honor. I was surrounded by four lovely flower girls, my cousins from Holland: Michelle and Charlotte, Anna and Sofie. Rosie and I were flower girls for their mothers, Tante Tanja and Tante Hanne, when we were little.
The day began at my parents' house with all the girls: Sarah, my best friend from high school who spent the last night with me as a single girl, Rose, aunts, and the flower girls, Oma, and, of course, my Mom. The atmosphere was a mix of excitement, nerves, and memories.
Placing the veil so that its stays in and still looks nice isn't easy with short hair.
Anna, Charlotte, Sofie, and Michelle. They picked out their outfits in Holland and I LOVED them, they were so chic!
Playing the piano under my painting of Archimedes.
I love that our photographer found this. It represents my attempts to stay grounded in those hours. Note the large check boxes, and how I crossed out "jobs" for "checklist." I had huge butterflies, but I needed my wits about me because, in typical van Schaijik fashion, we had left too much to the last day. We still needed to pick up the table cards and set up the tent, I still had to ask my roommates Cate and Clare if they'd take up the gifts at Mass, and Dad still didn't know if he'd have a tux (though really that was our flaky tuxedo man's fault).
The chapel was a good thirty minutes away, so I decided to put my dress on there to avoid wrinkles.
But I stepped into it at the house for pictures and so the girls could have a look first.
This painting is my favorite of the ones I've done for my parents.
On the windy, beautiful drive to the chapel, the gravity of what Laurence and I were about to do was hitting my like it never had in the months of preparation. I arrived at St. Malachi (late after getting stuck behind an Amish driver), wearing a plastic bag on my head to keep the veil clean, and already fighting the tears.
Opposite St Malachi there stood a small white tent with white linen curtains flapping horizontally in the wind. That’s where I was to don my dress, receive my bouquet, and wait. Those moments are some of the ones I cherish the most. Cars were still arriving as my flower girls scrambled to keep the curtains from flapping away. Sofie, the littlest, was running to and fro pulling wild curtains closed only to have them pulled loose, while Michelle stood by adjusting the folds in my dress and eyeing Rose as she buttoned up the back. Charlotte calmly made sure no one stepped on my veil, and brave Anna was preparing what she would say in English once it was time to fetch Laurence from the chapel where he was waiting. The girls were so diligent. I felt surrounded by little guardians. It was perfect.
The two ring bearers: Benedict, peeking out the window of the chapel doors, and you can just see Blaise standing next to him.
Trying to direct the girls in Dutch took a lot of concentration. I'm so out of practice, but it was rewarding. I'm also the type to stumble on a language because I'm worried I'll mess up. I felt so comfortable with my cousins and of course we urgently needed to communicate. I think my Dutch improved dramatically in a few short hours.
Once I saw Laurence, the tears started to come again.
I love this one of Rosie. I can't imagine what was so funny.
Off we go!
What a surreal moment, meeting before those chapel doors! There was so little time to say anything. Just a: "How are you?"
"I'm happy, and you look beautiful"
And then the procession began. Everyone turned to face us, I felt myself shaking on Laurence's arm, and I could no longer hold back the tears.
Kevin Mooney and Rose van Schaijik, Best Man and Maid of Honor.
Laurence and I processed to the alter together. This is really not as huge a breach of tradition as some may think. It's common in many Catholic cultures, since it's the bride and groom after all who are about to administer the sacrament. We chose this way because it was symbolic of our journey together; it has been entirely hand in hand from day one, and we wanted that to be true up to the alter. I also love that both parents can process together this way. It speaks to the beauty and fruitfulness of marriage and to its continuity through generations.
The Mass, celebrated by Fr. Forlano, was beautiful. Many people have told me since that they've never heard a more profound homily at a wedding. It was one Laurence and I will never forget. We had wonderfully skilled musicians, thank you Sean McElwee, Stephanie Scogna, Carey Shunskis, and John Monaco! Your beautiful harmonies were so fitting for the intimacy of the little chapel, and Stephanie, your voice was so beautiful and pure! This is them singing Sicut Cervus (the banging at the beginning is max bringing water up to the choir) for the Offertory and Stephanie singing Ave Maria after Communion. The music was such an unexpected gift for Laurence and me and our guests.
Hillary and Joella, Laurence's sisters, read the readings for us.
Genesis 1:26-28, 31
1 John 4: 7-12
So much effort put into my hair, and it didn't stand a chance.
One of the things I love about Laurence is his soft-spokeness coupled with self-confidence and wit. I also love his big blue eyes. They've never looked as big and blue, nor has his voice ever been so penetrating and his words so firm as when he said his vows. I remember thinking so at the time, and I'll never forget that moment.
My best friend Sarah read the petitions
My roommates Cate and Clare, who graciously agreed to bring up the gifts with no forewarning.
The wonderful woman who raised Laurence. My new Mom!
One great aspect of a small wedding is getting the chance to speak with everyone and thank them. I really lost it at this point. I had tears gushing down my cheeks as I hugged everyone. All I could say was "thank you," and "yes, wasn't it beautiful!"
Joe Swope: the truest of friends.
All the Dutch Cousins and Benedict (Dries is in the upper left corner talking to max so that's all of them). I didn't even notice the awesome suits those boys were wearing till I saw the photos.
We arrived about forty minutes late to the reception. The guests went inside to enjoy a short cocktail hour, while we took family photos.
Brandon, the photographer, convinced the wedding party to make the treck out into a nearby field. We almost lost the rambunctious ring bearers to that field. And everyone had to just kinda dance around me since I could barely move in that tall grass. There were a lot of bugs in my veil at this point. (It had never occurred to me that that might be an issue). At this point the heat was starting to get to us.
So handsome! I love this one of him. It's going in my wallet.
I have a vague memory of Laurence trying to be helpful and carry me here. That was not gonna happen.
Chardonnay has never tasted so yummy and so refreshing! I'm usually a red wine girl, but Laurence and I are notorious for spilling wine, so it was either a bib or chardonnay, and the latter was very nice in the heat.
The wedding favors were homeade maple serup from Littlemore, my family's home in New Hampshire. We didn't put that on the label though, and I heard later that there was some confusion over what the little bottles held... I know the twelve boys at the all-boys table figured it out: they got crazier and crazier as the night progressed.
The tables were named after romantic cities Laurence and I have been to together. I drew little sketches that morning to go with the Cards.
Irving. That is, the University of Dallas
Vienna. Possibly my favorite city in Europe, but I was a little tired when I got to this card.
We had an absolutely fabulous band and DJ that day. The band was Bon Musique and they made the night! They are based out of NYC but they play into Pennsylvania, so if anyone is getting married in the area check them out! For the cocktail hour the guitarist and the bassist played, then they moved into the main hall where the lead singer joined them for dinner and a little dancing before the cake cutting.
Sisters. Just before the introduction and the first dance.
Grandpa and Grandma Schiffbauer, my mother-in-law's parents.
While we were waiting for the introductions, a waiter brought over a platter of hors devours. I didn’t get taste much of the food we had spent so much time choosing, but the stuffed mushrooms (the wedding venue was in Kennet Square mushroom capital of the world) and the scallops wrapped in bacon topped with… I can’t remember, were absolutely delicious.
Oma and Opa van Schaijik
Mom and Dad Butler
The hosts: Mom and Dad van Schaijik.
Fabulous! Love this one.
Kevin Moony and Rose van Schaijik
Mr. and Mrs. Butler! About to dance our first dance... Laurence seems confident.
Our song was Bie Mir Bist Du Shon, originally sung by the Andrew Sisters, and performed beautifully by Bon Musique. We had so much fun dancing to it (it was a swing dance). We took a few lessons in Dallas and practiced a couple times in West Chester, but I can't believe how splendidly it went, that is if I do say so myself. We had a blast, and Laurence deserves all the credit for thinking up moves on the spot! Based on the feedback the guests enjoyed the first dance almost as much as we did.
I'm cursed with a crippling fear of failure and the silly assumption that everyone else suffers from the same stigma. This trait has hampered many a performance for me since I'm usually too busy suffering for the performers, praying for their sakes that they don't mess up, to enjoy their talent. This is probably why I've always worried about the speeches that would be delivered on my wedding day. Well that was silly. My father gave a witty and poignant welcome address enjoyed by all, before Fr. Forlano said the grace. He spoke about the worries of being young parents: about watching a daughter growing into independence, about meeting Laurence for the first time, growing to love him and seeing that Laurence loved, understood, and cared for me. And he said that perhaps "happy" was truly the best word to describe his feelings on this day, when all the worries had proved unnecessary.
Some of the Butler side of the family. Aunt Laurie, Aunt Mary Anne, Sophie, Emily, Annie, Aunt Danna, and Samantha.
The toast, given by Kevin Moony, Laurence's roommate at UD, was so far beyond my expectations. Again I don't know why I was so surprised. Kevin is a very successful English major at UD, which is a very prestigious department at the university. So he is smart and can write very well; he also knows Laurence well, and he has always had a great sense of humor. The toast was just great! He spoke perfectly to Laurence's character, told stories of their friendship, and of who we had been as a couple in the years that he knew us. And he had just the perfect amount of versatile humor to get absolutely everyone laughing.
This picture really doesn't do the food justice. We decided to serve crab cakes. Now I know that sounds like a crazy move, but it was the restaurant's speciality and I'm telling you they were delicious! People raved about them! Laurence, who was adamant that crab cakes were not good, is still sad he only had time to eat one before getting up to greet the guests. The snow peas were clearly the fresh pick of the day and the potatoes were cooked and seasoned perfectly: crunchy on the outside but soft and warm on the inside.
Nick and Max, younger brothers, were the ushers.
As we greeted the guests, all I felt I could do was my best to express how truly happy I was that they were here. Laurence and I really felt like we were being lifted up that night by every single person's presence that day.
Here I am showing the ring to Ome Harry, my dad's brother, and his wife Tante Tanje. Ome Harry is a very classy guy.
Dad and I danced a fox trot to Bon Musique's rendition of "You're Lovely," to kick off the dancing portion of the evening. We planned this part meticulously: Dad and I would start, then Laurence and his mom would join in followed by Nick and my mom, then Rose and Thomas, and hopefully people would follow suit. We were fearful that our group might not be the dancing type. Boy were we wrong about that!
I designed the cake with some inspirational help from a matha stewart magazine, which was then beautifully executed by Maryellen from Cakes and Candies by Maryellen
After the father daughter dance came the cake cutting, while the DJ replaced the band for dancing. It might not look like it, but the layer we tasted (lemon) was very yummy, I think we were just shocked that we were supposed to use our fingers. We were quickly surrounded by kids who wanted to get a taste from the silver platter too.
And then the dancing began, and boy was our DJ great! Everyone was dancing and having a blast in no time! And the great part about it was that everybody mingled. We brought such different groups of people together, and everyone danced and laughed and talked with everyone.
Jim and Ester DeMayo, very close friends with my mother from her childhood in Westport, CT.
Mr. and Mrs. Yoder, our wonderful neighbors and former mayor of West Chester
And we were progressive, girls danced with girls...
Probably because the boys danced with the boys.
Check out cousin Olivier giving Aunt Mary Anne a spin!
Grandma and Grandpa were out there too.
Laurence's cousin Emily's lovely daughter, Samantha.
Olivier came and asked me for a dance. I was so flattered!
Ome Harry giving his son Maxime a lesson in suavness no doubt.
And with great success I'd say!
Katrina Hanko, another lovely cousin on the Butler side.
Janene Crisman, and Liam, one of the seven lovely Crisman children. The Crismans live in New Hampshire and have been close friends with our family for years. Ted Crisman is my mother's cousin.
The elegant Tante Hanne, wife to my Dad's other brother Mark.
Never saw these, but they look good!
Kevin with Cierra Nugent, one of the dearest friends, really to both Laurence and me.
I think these ladies might have been wedding crashers. I don't recognize them. I'm glad they were having fun though.
New sister Joella and her boyfriend Isaac.
Aunt MaryAnne and Sophie
Ome Mark and Tante Hanne
Mr and Mrs. Amrein, more close friends from New Hampshire
The awesome awesome cocktail room/ desert and coffee/ peaceful getaway.
This was a couple who wanted to talk to us. They were celebrating their anniversary. They had been married on the same day June 9th 65 years previous, and they came over to congratulate us.
I remember well how Opa used to hold my arm like that! I can almost feel that firm but loving grip now.
It felt like the party had just begun when Rosie found me and told me that it was time to put on my exit dress. Then I went in search of Laurence to get one more dance in with him. When we finally made it to the dance floor the DJ was just turning on one of are absolute favorite songs to dance to: "I wanna be like you." It was unexpected and perfect timing.
And then it was time for the bouquet toss. It turned out to be more of a launch. Fortunately the lucky girl who caught it was unharmed.
And then it was time for goodbyes.
Maybe one more dance.
Love this one of Hillary who looks so graceful and composed while Joella is in the background looking a little crazy.
Now Hillary is the crazy one
Off to a fabulous Northern California Honeymoon!
Thanks to our florist Kati Mac, to Barbara Barnes at Loch Nairn Golf Club and Restaurant who helped everything run smoothly, and to our awesome photographer Brandon Lata, from Fellici Studio. Here's a slide show Brandon put together of his favorites.
That day Laurence and I felt overwhelmed by the support and presence of loving friends and family stretching across several generations. The whole thing was planned while away in Texas. It was so much fun to plan and I experienced close to no stress, which I understand is unusual. When the day finally arrived, I realized that the wedding was a success thanks to the excellence of the professionals we worked with, but also because of all the friends that stepped in even up to the last minute to help us. Like Clare and Cate, my old roommates who I texted the day of to ask if they wouldn’t mind taking up the gifts during the Mass, and Sarah P agreeing to read the prayers of the faithful, and Mike Wallacavage, who led a parade of people from their hotels to the church. Nick and Thomas (Rose's boyfriend) hung the curtains on the tent and took care of parking. Plus all the prayers and thoughts of our friends. Thank you all! I’ll never forget how I felt that day, like your support was lifting Laurence and me to the top of the world. And finally we owe all gratitude to the generosity of both the van Schaijik Parents and Butler Parents.