After triple-checking with God that the universe couldn’t possible explode into a 100 million infinitesimal pieces if I said yes to a date, I finally said…


Sure?” Shaun repeated, and all of a sudden he didn’t sound so sure.

“Yeah, sure,” I said (are you groaning yet? I am).

A couple of things to note about this momentous first date of ours:

1) I skipped my Thursday night care group (Bible study) to go to it (and the universe still didn’t explode), but despite the fact that it was comprised of 5 of my closest girlfriends, I didn’t tell anybody but our care group leader why I wouldn’t be there, and I swore her to silence. I’m weird like that. Normal girls call all their best friends and squeal, right? Right.

2) I showed up late…no good reason. Just had a sudden fit of, “I hate this outfit! My hips are HUGE! What was I thinking wearing this?” followed by a flurry of wardrobe changes, which eventually led me back to the original “huge hips” outfit I’d chosen—dark-rinse trouser jeans and a black peasant top with cream embroidery + the world’s most goodness-awful “platform clogs.” *shudder*

3) Shaun told me later he wasn’t even positive I knew we were going on a real date (I can’t imagine why he would be confused. After all, I only paused for 5 minutes before using quite possibly the world’s least romantic word for yes ever: “Sure.” I’m still smacking myself in the forehead).

4) Even though he wasn’t sure what I was expecting, he still brought flowers (two long stemmed crimson roses that were waiting for me, crisscrossed over my plate). Now that’s a confident man.

So, where did we go?

Olive Garden.

Not very original, right?

But as with most things that Shaun plans, even the most conventional-seeming choices usually have a twist.

You see, he’d been faithfully attending practically all of the Twenty-Somethings events I’d been planning, and he knew that, sometimes, because I coordinated them, I wasn’t able to fully participate.

Take, for example, the video scavenger hunt for which I wrote all of the clues.

It was a blast to experience vicariously. But I still missed out on the actual hunt part since I already knew all the answers.

Shaun noticed (and he liked my clues), so to make up for it, he made our first date a mini mystery-hunt.

Which means that he sent me clues, and I unraveled them to reveal our dinner location.

Please, tell me you love him as much as I do now (in a completely platonic and innocuous—remember, I do BODYCOMBAT and am hopped up on pregnancy hormones—kind of way, of course : )).

And since he wanted me to actually appear at this first date of ours, he wisely chose a well-known chain restaurant (even though, at heart, we are both hole-in-the-wall, non-chainers) so I could be sure to get the place right.

Thank goodness I did!

Otherwise, he might’ve assumed I was considerably dumber than he’d first thought, never asked for a second date, and then we would have never gotten to take this picture:


Or this one:


Or any of the rest of these, for that matter:


We got married at the private estate of some friends of ours. As a souvenir, they gave us a copy of American Dream Homes magazine…because their house was in it that year.

Yes, it was magical.


So magical, in fact, that they had polar bears (that the husband had hunted) in their entryway. For some reason, I love this shot—Shaun holding the water at the ready to relieve my “I’m wearing a 60 lb. beaded dress, it’s 85 degrees at 9 PM, and I’m about to spontaneously combust!” expression.


This one is a fave too. I look so incandescently happy. (Because I was!)


I still really love our cake, which I designed (but did not make!…hey, that rhymed).



Four of the five Bible study girls, whom I never told that I was dating Shaun, by the way. 

They just figured it out when they saw us holding hands 3 weeks later. Because they’re smart like that.


Me with my bro. I told you we’re tight! (My bouquet turned out almost nothing like I expected it to, but that was fine by me because it was about 10X better!).


This one just makes me giggle because a) I look like a goofy-poof, and b) I’m faking the throw (that’s my left hand).


When I actually threw it, it almost sailed all the way over the heads of all those girls you see about a 1/2 mile behind me (I always did have a strong softball arm). Bonus points if you can spot the bouquet!


Ready to run for it (I really loved the antique lace over the gold underlay of my dress…which I scored—including that gorgeous lace veil—for $300; yup, even then I was bargain-obsessed).


So, have I spoiled the ending with all the pictures?

Oh, wait. I guess not since you already know we’re married, huh?

But I’m not quite finished.

I’ll be back tomorrow for 5 Things Thursday with some fun tidbits about our courtship, and then Friday, I’ll tell you about the ring.

See you soon!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy.


  1. Hi Abbie! Your wedding pictures are beautiful – had me smiling to see you both so happy together 🙂 Guess what, I found your blog after a google search for “how to build a house from scratch”! Thank you so much for sharing your story and pictures with the world. Love your work, and tell your husband he’s one talented photographer! I am infinitely inspired and impressed (as I am sure everyone who comes across your blog will be). Were you born with such amazing artistic skills and sense of Thriftiness (is that a word?) By the way, I would love to hear your story about how you became an exercise instructor. Before I saw you I thought only celebrities could look that great after childbirth. Okay I promise I’m not a crazy stalker (how smart is Twitter for coming up wiith a less creepy word for that… stalking is creepy, so let’s follow someone instead!), but it scares me a little realizing now that I can list at least three things I know about you, and I just found your blog! What is your blog doing to me?
    And what in the world is BODYCOMBAT anyway?

  2. I love that he went to the trouble of making a mini-mystery hunt for you! That is totally cool. My asked me if I preferred the number 15 or 16 when he was asking me out on our first date (Except I didn’t know what he was getting at. The numbers were the ticket numbers for a John Farnham concert – we are both fans…). When I told him 15 and a half, he went and photocopied half of one ticket next to half of the next one and slipped it into my post box the next day(we were in dorms at Uni). And the whole experience was MAGICAL (only I don’t believe in magic… you know what I mean! lol).

  3. First of all – love, love, love your wedding dress and the price is in no way a reflection of how special it is. The flowers, the cake, the look of real happiness in both your eyes – just beautiful. I was 23 when I got married and although I look so young, I love that I look so happy. Its important in those times when your married life is not so perfect – we all face hills and valleys, that you take a look at your wedding photos and remember TRUE LOVE. Ok, I am ready for part 4. 🙂

  4. We have a very similar photo on the stairs of the inn we spent our honeymoon night in.

    Exhausted. Happy. Shiny.


    Savannah, Ga. Last week of August at 6pm. It was 97 degrees when i walked down the walk toward the fountain in a 60 pound beaded dress with sleeves and a train…. lol!

    It’s one of my favorite photos.

    Sweat and all…

  5. I have LOVED this little series! What fun to see all of your pics and read your story 🙂 What a beautiful wedding….and location…..just stunning! I could drool at that place all day. You both are adorable/handsome…..lovely couple!
    I love looking back at our wedding photos…..I always think…, we look young! haha! Cuz we were!! Looking forward to “The rest of the story” 🙂

  6. Oh my, these posts take me back. I love hearing your story. Derek and I joke that Shaun was the first guy in the twenty-somethings with the nerve to ask someone out…now I know the rest of the story! This makes me nostalgic for those days… thanks for taking me back! Derek and I were married June 3, 2006…one year after you guys!

  7. “Sure”…… Oh, my gosh, Abbie you are too hilarious. Thanks for sharing the wedding pics and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

I love hearing from you guys!