Jill & Hugh met in College at Texas A&M, both in the Corps of Cadets. Being a year younger, Hugh seemed intimidating to Jill and it wasn’t until after he graduated and mutual friends got married that something sparked between them – starting off with conversations & a promise of going on a date someday….only issue was, Hugh had
by then moved to Oklahoma whilst Jill was still in Texas.
Their first date was in was a weekend in Dallas – and it was the last first date both of them ever went on!
After six months of long distance dating, Jill and Hugh moved to San Deigo, where she was to be stationed as part of the Navy. Six months after that – they were married in a small ceremony on the Naval Base by the ship’s chaplain. “Our total number of guests were about 25 and I wore a $60 dress from Macys – it was close to perfection though” Jill recalled. “We have so many friends and family all over the United States and couldn’t possibly hope to get them all together in the time frame we wanted…the Navy was putting strain on our lives living together as girlfriend and boyfriend so we figured why wait?”
Jill & Hugh then set the reception date for one year after the date they were legally married.
Read on to follow Jill through her journey of selecting her wedding dress, her reception and her advice to future brides!
THE DRESS – HOW DID YOU CHOOSE AND WHAT MADE IT “YOU”?
Since Hugh and I paid for our own reception, we set a budget from my dress. And I have expensive taste... I didn't want to settle. I began scouring the internet. I liked the idea of getting a separate skirt and top.
When I began searching, I looked at Etsy and found Lace and Liberty. Their pieces were gorgeous! But the idea of ordering a dress online frightened me. I told my wedding planner about the shop and showed her the pictures of the pieces. We saw that the business was in San Francisco. It was the most unreal coincidence, because I was going to San Francisco Fleet Week on my ship in a few weeks. I contacted Danielle about possibly trying on dresses in person. Danielle told me they just opened up a home studio and would love to have me try on pieces.
Once we hit port, I brought as many women officers I could find on the ship to gather their opinions. Everything was beautiful. There was nothing I didn't like. But when I put on the Big Celebration skirt and Paris corset...I cried. It was the dress I always wanted, but never got until now.
The fabric on the skirt was so soft and laid perfectly. Every time I moved, the skirt changed form. And the top wasn't the typical bright-white wedding dress top. It fit my not-so-traditional situation. Danielle also found a small strip of beaded fabric that we tied around the waist and made a perfect belt. I loved it. I felt like on of the girls on "Say Yes to the Dress"!
THE WEDDING DAY
My family and Hugh's family have never all been in the same place at one time. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and Hugh was raised between Missouri and Shanghai. My parents had met his mother just before we were married in 2014, but our extended families had never met. Talk about nerve racking... your parents meeting your mother-in-law a few days before you're married.
I don't think I was nervous for the reception... but I was basically a pro at getting married. As soon as I arrived, friends and family began pouring in. After that, it was a blur of family, friends and happiness. I don't remember at all keeping track of what time it was or really paying attention to anything about reality. It was just perfect.
I had friends from high school fly in from Pennsylvania, college friends fly in from Texas, Spain and all over! I had family from Pennsylvania and New York and Hugh had family come from all over Missouri and even Taiwan. This was the only time I would ever see all these people together and it was just wonderful.
I don't think there was a favorite moment. If there was, it would be when I realized that this was the time in our lives when the most support and love would be surrounding us.
CHALLENGES & ADVICE FOR FUTURE BRIDES
The most challenging part of wedding planning, for me, was determining what to splurge on and what to cut costs on. Luckily, I had hired a wedding planner to do most of this, since my schedule with the Navy was so crazy and unpredictable.
We originally wanted a small gathering, something very San Diego and fun. We knew we wanted BBQ and a fun DJ. We didn't feel the need to have a wedding photographer... just someone to take pictures of our families all together and a few couple portraits.
When the day got closer, I told my planner we had a little more wiggle room with the budget and wanted to do hair and makeup and a limo ride to the venue. She made some suggestions about upgrading centerpieces and mentioned the photographer bit. She told me if there was one thing to consider, it would be to consider hiring the photographer to cover the whole event.
Hugh and I figured you only get married once... or twice. So why not. That was the best decision we made. Our wedding was a total blur. A blast for sure! And a day I will never forget. But it was a total blur. Spending more money on a photographer ensures you will have those memories forever. How many times will you wear a beautiful AMAZING wedding dress? How many times will all your friends and family be in one place? Probably only once. I definitely recommend hiring a photographer to cover the whole event and meet with them beforehand to give them a little background, identify some friends and family so he/she can get to know who to snap pictures of and get a feel for what your vision is for them to capture.