Getting Ready on My Wedding Day

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As could probably be expected, the night before my wedding included very little sleep. Ironically, I had just been telling people that very evening at our Rehearsal Dinner that I hadn't had any wedding nightmares or insomnia yet. I was getting 8+ hours of deep, peaceful sleep... of course, that is, right up until the last night.

It took me a while to fall asleep, and then I woke up a few hours later. I figured I'd take a shot in the dark and text my mom to tell her I was having a hard time sleeping. As luck (or God) would have it, she was also having a hard time sleeping! She consoled me a bit and reminded me that all of my A+ sleeps leading up to the wedding would serve me well, and ultimately I would have all the energy I needed thanks to adrenaline and excitement.

I ended up waking up for good at 8 something. I rolled out of bed looking like a hot mess (mostly the mess part) and decided to assess the breakfast and coffee situation downstairs with two of my bridesmaids. One delicious iced coffee with whole milk later, life was good.

My bridesmaids set out their dresses for the day. Part of their gifts from the Rehearsal Dinner included those large baskets (seen above), a pair of nude pumps (not pictured), and personalized hangers (seen above). Each girl also had her own brown bag (seen above) filled with goodies like gum, Advil, Fiji water, and Smart Pop. We also delivered these bags to each of the rooms of our guests at the hotel.

Our hair stylist was already at the hotel, finishing up my mom's hair. They came up to our skyline suite, and she worked her magic on the rest of my ladies.

As far as getting your hair done goes, I think this was just about the best scenario ever. We had a panoramic city view to watch as she teased, curled, set, pinned, and sprayed...

Meanwhile, my makeup artist got to work on beatifying all of the ladies. It made me feel really happy to see these girls, who are so special to me, being pampered. Who doesn't enjoy a complete hair and makeup ritual?

I went last, so that my hair and makeup would be totally fresh. The hair artist curled my hair and clipped it up so that it could set in curls as it cooled. Then, she passed me off to my wonderful makeup artist so that he could start with my foundation and get the makeup basics out of the way.

My sister gave me a super cute tote bag from Dessy. Their web site is mostly dresses, but she somehow stumbled upon the cutest wedding day bag ever designed. Naturally, it was stuffed with goodies like a white tank top with "BRIDE" in rhinestones. 

My then-fiance was in the same hotel, in a different suite, on a different floor. He was getting ready with his groomsmen, my sister's boyfriend, and my dad. I knew he would be a little tense and nervous as he got ready for the wedding, so I wanted to send him a little something to lighten the mood and ease his nerves. After getting my nails done the day before, I had stopped for a nice bottle of Michigan Whiskey.

After my sister gifted me my bag, I sent her to his room with the bottle of whiskey and a card I had written him. I wasn't there to witness any of it, so it's really special to see in photos that she delivered it with a big hug!

It's also very sweet to see my almost-husband reading my card with a big old grin on his face. 

After reading the card, they opened the bottle of whiskey and drank it out of the various assortment of glasses the hotel suite had provided. My husband later told me that the whiskey was a great idea because it really did ease the tension in the room, and, despite being in full tux apparel, everyone loosened up.

The photographers did a wonderful job of capturing the gift giving, card reading, cheers, and aftermath: happy men who look classy as hell drinking whiskey in tuxes.

If you're familiar with the 5 Love Languages, you may be learning that one of my love languages is gift giving. I enjoy finding special items to make my favorite people feel special. So, while my husband and his groomsmen were sipping on his gift, I was busy giving my mother a gift in the ladies' suite.

I gave my mom a silver mesh infinity bracelet. We have sort of an inside joke about watching the T.V. show Revenge (jokes include: how horrible it is, how confusing it can be, why on earth we keep watching it despite those things...). On the show, the main character has a special relationship with one of her parents that is symbolized by the infinity sign. I wrote my mom a story that drew on other inside jokes (and mimicked a letter I wrote her as a first grader) and then talked about how our love goes on forever. 

I also gave her a small packet of blue tissues, "to dry her happy tears" during the ceremony.

As we continued getting ready, my bridesmaids started putting on their pearl necklaces that I had given them in their basket the night before. The necklaces were a collaboration between my aunt Betsy and me, and my aunt made them. I thought they were perfectly classy and simple.

Little did I know, my bridesmaids also had a gift for me. They had put together a book of "Letters To The Bride," each having written me a page. Some were more lyrical, some had inside jokes, and some were more picturesque (one was even 3D!).

It was really neat to read the letters from each of them and see how it not only reflected their unique personalities but also my unique relationships with them. As I read each letter, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have these ladies in my life! They are so supportive, creative, and unique. 

I may have had a few happy tears, but I somehow managed to not completely ruin my makeup. My mom helped me put my jewelry on. I actually had not chosen my jewelry until the day of the wedding. I knew I wanted a combination of pearls and sparkles, so I brought with me a number of pearl necklaces and earrings that were borrowed from my mom and aunt, and a few pairs of earrings. I ended up wearing a necklace that was borrowed from my mom along with a drop pendant from my aunt and pearl earrings from my aunt. Not just something borrowed... many things borrowed.

Next, my hair artist took my curls out of their rolls and pinned me into an up-do! As my makeup and hair started to come together, the mood in the room started to get more and more exciting. We chose more upbeat music (Girl Talk? Backstreet Boys? All of the above) and started to get pretty silly. 

What adds to an already excited room full of women? A bottle of champagne! My mom ordered us some champers and we eagerly toasted to love, marriage, and the wonderful day ahead.

As we clinked our glasses, I couldn't help looking around me at the amazing women that are in my life and be thankful. I am so blessed, and I am sure that, no matter how many words I write or how many times I express my gratitude, it will never suffice. Thank you, thank you, thank you... :)

With my hair finished and my makeup almost done, it was time to put on the dress! I had chosen a lace dress by Jim Hjelm (via Volle's Bridal) that layered antique looking, ivory lace on top of a champagne colored silk. It was very comfortable and I felt like it expressed my personality very well.

My shoes were light blue, extremely comfortable, and had a mid century feel to them. 

The dress is fairly easy to put on, because it lacks the puffiness or elaborate corseting of a lot of other wedding gowns. But, there was a clasp at the top of the back, and a bow to be tied using the ribbon part of my sparkly sash. My sister and maid of honor did the honors, and then it was time to step into my wedding shoes!

Stepping into these shoes just brought me one step closer to the wedding, itself. Despite the momentous occasion of the day, I was still completely calm at this point. In fact, my makeup artist even remarked that I seemed like one of the calmest brides he had ever worked with. I had a very deep feeling of peace, knowing that it would be the start of the rest of my life with the man I would love forever. Who could be nervous about that?, I thought.

In true Carly fashion, I had a gift I wanted to give to my dad. My mom had the idea of bringing him to our suite blindfolded, so that we could capture his reaction upon first seeing his little girl in her wedding dress. So, she headed over to the boys' suite and retrieved her husband, purple blindfold and all.

The photo above will probably always be one of my favorites. The surprise and joy in my dad's face is unmistakable, and my mom's grin as she watches his reaction is priceless. 

I wasn't sure which parts of the day would end up bringing me to tears, but I did know that the most likely culprit would be seeing my dad and giving him the gift I had for him. Sure enough, from the moment we hugged, we had tear-filled eyes. I gave him a handkerchief that was embroidered with a special message to him. 

My dad enjoys taking walks. There is a forest trail near my parents' home, and he frequently takes walks there with family or our family dog. But, it goes back much farther than that. I have a photo from when I was around 9 or 10 years old of my dad and I, standing at the edge of a pier, having taken a walk down to the beach together. We are standing next to each other, staring at the water. So, on my dad's handkerchief, I had a message embroidered that said, "Dad, Thanks for walking by my side today and always. Of all the walks we've ever taken, this one will be my favorite. A'voo, Sissy." (A'voo was the way I said "I love you" when I first learned to talk, and Sissy is one of his nicknames for me)

Once we released my dad from the torturous ladies' suite (apparently we just invite people there to cry their eyes out!), we took a few photos with the beautiful bouquets of flowers that had arrived. We worked with Ashland Addison Florists, and they did an impeccable job. I wanted bouquets that were very muted and light, with a vintage and romantic feel.

Soon after, it was time to put the finishing touches on. My makeup artist added mascara (which he'd left off so far, because I told him I would probably cry when my dad came to see me). Then, my hair artist secured my veil. I surveyed the final product and was absolutely stunned to see what they had done to me!

At this point, we took a few more pictures in the suite and then headed out to meet the boys for Justin and my "First Look!"

Vendor List:
Bride's Dress: Jim Hjelm via Volle's Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses: J. Crew
Tuxes: Formally Modern
Flowers: Ashland Addison Florists
First Look Location: Hyatt Regency McCormick Place


  1. So beautiful & describes the morning perfectly. I must say, some of my greatest memories of the day are of getting ready. Everything was so peaceful and happy. Love you, Car.

  2. Tearing up at work reading this.... especially the picture of Brian and you. Priceless.
    This really was such a beautiful day, I am so happy for you!!!

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