Our Seaside Rehearsal Dinner: A Photo Journey

And so continues Our DIY Wedding series!
If you’re just joining us, click here to start at the beginning.

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

The night of our rehearsal dinner, I remember it all feeling suddenly very, very real.  Our friends and family had arrived in Ocean Grove, NJ from out of town, we had actually gone through the motions of our wedding ceremony at the rehearsed hours earlier, the planning phase was over, and the actual wedding was nearly upon us.  It started to sink in:

This day that I’ve waited for so long is almost here.  Tomorrow I’m gettin’ hitched!  Eeeeek!

And in between moments of panic about whether or not I had remembered to drop off the table numbers or pack my honeymoon suitcase, I felt a deep and prevailing peace.  The wedding weekend wheels had been set in motion, and all I needed to do now was slow down enough to breathe and take it all in.

And our rehearsal dinner proved to be an event worthy of soaking up to the last drop!

My gracious in-laws, Darryl and Rachael, hosted the occasion.  Finding the venue had been a little tricky, especially considering this was a destination wedding in many ways, and planning had to be done from afar.  Also, Mark had a few special requests when it came to our rehearsal dinner:

  1. That the event be in the open air.
  2. That the event be on the beach if not nearby.
  3. That there be barbecue.  Lots and lots of finger-lickin’-good barbecue.

With the help of my parents doing some of the leg-work in researching venues, we found the perfect place to fit the bill!  It was somewhat of an unconventional location for a rehearsal dinner: the cozy second-story porch of a Bed & Breakfast called The Ocean Plaza, just one block from the beach!

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

Since we hadn’t been able to do an engagement photo shoot with our wedding photographer, Emily, who was based in Chicago at the time, she offered to photograph the rehearsal dinner instead; and boy, am I glad she did.  Though I kick myself that we didn’t record the heartfelt speeches shared by our loved ones that night, Emily managed to capture the magic of those moments so artfully through the lens of her camera.

She also followed us down onto the beach afterward where Mark and I presented each other with handmade gifts before our friends–and where we gave my bridesmaids their parasols and his groomsmen their ties.  {Remember that?}

This evening goes down in history as one of the most memorable in my life.  Looking through these photos again takes me right back.  Today, dear reader, I hope you’ll take this photo-journey back with me to Our Seaside Rehearsal Dinner, July 17th, 2009.

Aside: The layout for these photos are taken directly from the pages of the Rehearsal Dinner album I created using Blurb.com.  I intentionally left the white space from those album pages because sometimes, photos need to breathe.

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears. via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears. via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears. via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

A Seaside Rehearsal Dinner - - the photo journey of a magical evening of laughter, BBQ, dear friends and family, and happy tears.  via thinkingcloset.com

All photos by EJA Photo

I hope that perhaps for a moment, you were transported to Ocean Grove, NJ, on a balmy July evening, back in 2009.  After all, if I’m bringing teleporting into my posts now, why not time-travel?

Up Next…

For those of you who have been patiently awaiting photos and stories from the actual wedding day itself, the next post in this series takes place the morning of the wedding!  And I share with you my favorite photo of all photos.  Ever.  Period.  Amen.  To check it out, click HERE.

{Linking up here.}

Be well,

signature

Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    I bet it was a beautiful moment. Beautiful pictures, awesome memories. I fell so nostalgic of those days. I didn’t have a rehearsal or anything but those 2 couple of days before the wedding were special, we almost couldn’t believe we were actually getting married. It was kind of weird but a good weird LOL. I love remembering those moments!!! I miss him so much right now =)

    XOXO
    Cami

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Sounds like we went through a lot of the same emotions; it was so surreal, wasn’t it? And oh so memorable. Aw, and I’m sorry to hear you’re really missing your hubby right now; though I suppose that’s a good thing. I’d be worried if you didn’t! I can tell you and your hubby have a special love for each other (and you’re sweet daughter); I hope you’re reunited soon, Camila!

  2. says

    Lauren,

    Thanks for sharing your special moments with us. Beautiful photography and fabulous venue! I wish I could have been there to capture your engagement dinner through the lens. Good thing I wasn’t because I would have been so teary eyed, I wouldn’t have been able to find the buttons on the camera :) You truly had a magical time during all of your wedding festivities and I’ve enjoyed reading about the whole planning process right down to the day. Our family had a destination wedding in St. Augustine this March. We didn’t have a large crowd (about 25) but it was magical too. Now I’m off to check out some of the links in your story.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Sandy, it would be a dream come true to get to spend an evening with you and to have it documented through your lens, teary eyes and all. Especially after seeing the creativity wrought in your Woodsy Halloween photo shoot! I just know we’d have a blast. (We’ll put it on the bucket list, then?)

      And an intimate group of 25 at a wedding in St. Augustine sounds just lovely! (Can you believe I haven’t been to St. Augustine yet? We had plans to go this past spring that changed last minute. Hopefully this winter!)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      You’re too sweet, Wendi. Thank you! I’m going to pass your comment onto Mark; I know it will make him smile. (And I have to agree with you on the MFEO part!) Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, friend.

  3. says

    Sounds like you had a great serendipity-no engagement photo in exchange for journalizing your rehearsal dinner? Sharing your night with us was like opening a gift. Thanks, and best wishes. Your ‘Black-eyed-P-partner seems like your perfect match!’

    La Verne@hope&salvage

    • thethinkingcloset says

      La Verne, you’re right! It was serendipity! And I now can’t imagine not having that evening documented so artfully. Aw, and LaVerne, reading your comment was a gift! Especially your line about my “Black-Eyed-P-partner.” Wow, feeling so seen and loved right now. I’m so thankful for readers like you!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thank YOU, Glenna, for taking the precious time to journey back to my Rehearsal Dinner with me! It was such a special occasion and to now have the opportunity to share it with my dear readers and bloggy buddies…well, it just makes it even more meaningful to me. So, yes, thank YOU!

  4. says

    Truly beautiful. The love and joy of everyone there comes through the pictures as if I were among them. And the delight on yours and Mark’s faces…. I think this was much better than engagement photos could have been. I actually got choked up looking at them, no kidding. Thank you for sharing these, Lauren (and Mark). :)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw, Raven…that warms my heart to know our photos evoked an emotional reaction from you. And if anything, I think that’s a testament to you and your open heart. You’re a gem!

      And I agree; I think I treasure these more than I could any engagement session because the photos capture us among our beloved family and friends. It’s not a “staged” shoot either, but candid moments of one of the most precious evenings of my life! (Thanks for helping me to put my finger on that!)

  5. Tracy says

    Just love looking back at your pictures! It brings me right back there again and it was such a beautiful experience. The children just loved being a part of the whole event :) You are so creative and really an inspiration to me :)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Tracy, thanks for your continued love and support over the years! It means more than you know. Also, it was so special to have you and the kids be such a significant part of our wedding weekend; I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

      (The photo of Sid staring out onto Ocean Pathway and the one of you two embracing are some of my faves from this collection. Real framers!)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw, thanks, Ingrid! Emily did a fantastic job, didn’t she? And I can’t wait for you to see the photos from our actual wedding day. It’s been so hard for me to be patient and wait to share them until now. But next week…watch out! ;-)

  6. Mom L says

    This captures it in an amazing way … but ya just had ta be there!
    It was sure fun to walk down this sentimental journey with you. What a blessed day it was … and still is!! Just keeps gettin better and better! Love You!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      It’s true! I think of the photos as a vehicle for whisking me right back to that blessed evening. I can almost smell the BBQ on the grill. Hear the lull of enthusiastic conversation all around. Feel the flood of gratitude for the people God placed in our lives. Like YOU and Dad! Love you both sooo much.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks, Thalita! Yes, so many precious moments and facial expressions frozen in time. Sifting through these images again transports me right back to that special night; thanks for being my travel buddy!

  7. says

    Wow that is the most beautiful rehearsal I’ve ever seen!!

    I’m actually currently doing a series on my blog called Wedding Wednesday and this would be perfect for a guest post (if you’re interested). My blog is http://happilyevercrafterz.blogspot.com/
    and my e-mail address is CatherinePageWood@gmail.com
    Again, if you’re interested I’d love to have you guest post but no pressure ;)

    Happy over 4 years of marriage to you both, you’re a beautiful couple! We’re barely past a year and a half! Love every moment though!

    Found my way here through the Pinworthy Projects link up! :)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Catherine, wow! Thanks for that sweet compliment about our rehearsal dinner! I’m so touched.

      And your invitation is so sweet; emailed you about it.

      And congrats on 1.5 years of marriage! I know we’re not too much farther ahead of you guys, but I can say that it just gets better and better. Cheers!

  8. says

    As the song goes, a Picture paints a thousand words so does your wedding photos!. Beautiful and thank you for sharing. :) makes me feel like I was there too.
    Congratulations, Lauren. I’m excited for your BİG day. You are a beaming radiant already. :)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Your comment warms my heart! I’m delighted to know these photos helped transport you. Thanks for being a willing traveler on this journey. It’s so much more fun with new bloggy friends! Especially ones as sweet as you.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thank you, Sharon! It was such a joy to revisit that evening with this photo journey; thanks for coming along for the ride!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks, Rebecca! I really can’t imagine having our rehearsal dinner at any other place than second-story porch of The Ocean Plaza; it was such a gorgeous evening, too…with sweet, sweet memories to boot!

  9. says

    What a beautiful place and such a beautiful rehearsal dinner! It looked absolutely magical. The pictures are gorgeous and just radiate how much love was at the dinner.

    How funny while you were getting hitched my B was being born;) B was born the exact date of your rehearsal dinner!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Wow! I love that our B’s birthday was on the night of our rehearsal dinner. Clearly, it was a magical night in more places than one!

      And thanks for your kind, kind words. It has been such a joy reliving the events of our wedding weekend with some of my dear bloggy friends like you!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Why thank you, friend! I so appreciate you taking the time to look back at our rehearsal dinner with me! It’s almost like we were chatting over coffee and I pulled out our Rehearsal Dinner album to share it with you as we sat side-by-side on the couch! (Wouldn’t that be fun I.R.L?)

  10. Marmie/Lauren's mom says

    Such a lovely evening during a very special weekend! You and Mark were so relaxed (or so you seemed) and took such good care of all of us, sharing your hearts and your love with us!

    Rachael and Darryl know how to throw a par-tay! xxoo

  11. says

    It was so fun to remember that night just now. I had a smile plastered across my face the whole time I read your post. I’m sitting next to Mom, and couldn’t help but show her pictures every few seconds saying, “Aw, look at this one!” and “Do you remember that?” She’s a good sport. :) It was such a beautiful foggy night, and it whizzed by for me in a bit of a blur. I had forgotten all the tears, as evidenced by the pix…I too, wish I could remember the sweet words shared. But mainly I remember the feeling of the night for me, which was warmth and elation.

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