Category Archives: Wedding

First Anniversary & Sharing Our Wedding Vows

Woohoo!  As of today, Ryan and I have officially survived one year of marriage!  It’s unfortunate that it falls in a week when I’m on business travel, but we were fortunate to be able to spend two weeks together nonstop in Italy, so we consider that our celebration.

Jane Ryan Wedding Portrait | The Borrowed Abode

Our wedding weekend was the most wonderful few days of my life, and we are still so grateful to everyone who came to celebrate with us and make it so special for us.

The first year has flown by and has been totally fabulous. I don’t know how we got so lucky, but 4 years in, Ryan and I continue to have a really fun and problem-free relationship.

In honor of our first anniversary, I have decided to share our wedding ceremony text & vows here on the blog.  We were honored to have a very special officiant, my former boss and executive at the company where Ryan and I work, who had become a good friend & mentor to us.  As if his agreeing to travel to the wedding and officiate in the blazing heat wasn’t enough, he actually wrote a unique and wonderful opening to our wedding ceremony.

I know the ceremony we did isn’t for everybody, but it was perfect for us.   Enjoy – but be warned, it’s  a bit lengthy, no hard feelings if you don’t read it. :)  You can find all the other wedding posts here.

The Borrowed Abode Wedding Vows

Introductory Statements

Every year 2 million herbivores (wildebeest, zebras, gazelles) participate in an awesome spectacle…the great migration of the Serengeti. They travel over 300 miles in an elliptical clockwise pattern thru SW Kenya and N Tanzania following seasonal weather patterns in their quest for fresh, sweet, grazing grass. They are a breathtaking sight and stretch as far as the eye can see.

In a similar, albeit slower, rite of passage the giant female tortoise of the Galapagos [ who weigh almost 1000 lbs. and live twice as long as humans, who sleep 16 hours a day and can survive without food or water for up to a year] find their way at 0.2 mph over several kilometers to sandy beaches to bury their eggs in their rite of renewal. The clutch hatches in 4-8 months and the babies take weeks to dig to the surface…40 years later they will reach maturity…

Not to be left out, the Arctic Wooly Bear Moth spends up to 14 years of its life as a caterpillar and 90% of that frozen… withstanding temperatures of up to -60 degrees Centigrade. In the last short summer of their life they pupate into a beautiful moth, mate and lay eggs…and die.

Those same complex, mysterious, inexplicable, wonderful forces of nature have brought together the two beautiful people we are here to see joined in the bond of matrimony today.

And so, nature perpetuates its wonder and majesty as we bear witness, this day, to the beginning of Ryan and Jane’s journey through the time and space continuum….and so it goes…

Presentation / Recognition of family & friends

Marriage is founded on an intimate promise, one of a lifetime of love and support, of laughter and forgiveness, of fidelity and understanding. It is a commitment that begins with a public proclamation but does not end there.  Your marriage will unfold to thousands of discoveries and compromises, unexpected joys and adjustments.  As Jane and Ryan pledge their vows here today, they acknowledge that they will grow together, and indeed, will grow old together.  

Marriage creates a family as well.  With the beginning of this new family will come the responsibility of raising children, which will be equally shared and embraced, and beyond this the embrace of each other’s extended families and cherished friends.  Ryan and Jane will be committed to each other first, but they will not be alone.

It is appropriate then that you, the families and dear friends, are here to participate in this celebration.  Your presence shows that they take with them into this marriage, not only their own commitment to each other, but also your commitment and encouragement to them.

And so I ask all who are gathered here, do you promise to support Ryan and Jane in their new shared life?

Reading:  from Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet”

Reader: When love beckons to you follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;For love is sufficient unto love.  And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself. But if you love and must have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

And what of Marriage? You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.  But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.  Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.  Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


Unlike your usual officiant, I’ve had the benefit and pleasure of knowing both Jane and Ryan for some time and in a very small way may have helped fate in bringing them together. I know, on a first hand basis, their commitment to what is right, their enthusiasm for the joy every day brings, their compassion and understanding toward those less fortunate and most importantly their love for each other. They share abundantly in laughter and joy move effortlessly back and forth across the nominal border between man and woman and husband and wife…they support and love each other and I wish for them a lifetime of happiness together.


Will you, Ryan, take Jane, to be your wedded wife? Will you love her, cherish her, honor her, give her understanding, write her blog posts, And remain faithful unto her,  In sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, In hardship and in ease, and whatever the future may bring, So long as you both shall live?

Will you, Jane, take Ryan, to be your wedded husband? Will you love him, cherish him, honor him, obey him occasionally, give him understanding and comfort, laugh at his bad jokes, And remain faithful unto him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, In hardship and in ease, and whatever the future may bring, So long as you both shall live?

(Ryan) I take you, Jane, to be my wife,  To share the joys and sorrows of life together, To honor your integrity, and in trust and understanding, to love you.

(Jane) I take you, Ryan, to be my husband, To share the joys and sorrows of life together, To honor your integrity, and in trust and understanding, to love you.

Blessing & Exchange of Rings

Rings are an ancient symbol, blessed and simple.  The circle is the symbol of the sun and the earth and the universe.  In these rings it is the symbol of unity, in which your two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle, and wherever you go, you will always return unto one another.  

I give you this ring to wear upon your hand as a symbol of our unity.

I do now, by the power vested in me by the State of Maryland, and the presence of this company, pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride.


And so, may you live faithfully and peacefully together, ever mindful of the vows and covenant you have made here today, and may your hearts be rich in the joys of life, may your life together be filled with laughter, and your days good and long upon the earth.

Wedding Reception Fireworks | The Borrowed Abode



Our Wedding Table Decor & Flowers

As part of my Jan/Feb goals to “finish abandoned tasks,” I’m sharing this long-procrastinated wedding post. :)

I briefly summarized a lot of the decor aspects in my Big ‘Ole Wedding Recap post, but I wanted to do a separate post to go into a little more detail about a few things; mainly the table decor which we did on a nice and tiny budget.

I also noticed afterwards that some of my ideas looked awesome, but others did not. I want to share my thoughts on the good and the bad in the hopes that it may help others down the road.

FYI on the theme: I attempted to blend tropical with rustic, because a part of me would have loved a typical barn wedding.  :) If I had all the money in the world I would have paid a designer to do really fabulously styled tables, because I am crazy about well styled parties, but we’re not millionaires and we wanted to splurge on other things, like the fireworks.

Caribbean Wedding Tent Decor Herrington on the Bay  | The Borrowed Abode

Wedding Flowers – Or Not

Estimates for tropical floral arrangements for the reception were around $2,000.  Regular flower arrangements? Still high at $1500.  Holy cow was that expensive, and not a cost I could justify.  I shopped around and found that we could use live orchids on the tables for about $400 total, and the orchids could be given to guests afterwards. We didn’t need bouquets, either, because my bridesmaids were each carrying a floral clutch.

When my attempts to source the orchids from local nurseries failed – either from lack of their communication or poor quality flowers when we visited – Ryan and I picked up 2 dozen Virginia-grown orchids from our local Whole Foods Market, and I negotiated a 10% discount on the purchase.

Orchids for Wedding Decor  | The Borrowed Abode

In addition, I ordered 200 fresh orchids (to scatter on the tables) from Hawaii Flower Lei.  At $40 after shipping, I thought that was a pretty frugal way to add more fresh orchids to the decor. The only problem?  I ordered them in white, but they were out of white so they had to send purple instead.  The purple didn’t look quite as elegant, it was a little more random on the tables.

Wedding Sweetheart Table | The Borrowed Abode

Dining Table Decor

In addition to orchids, I wanted to have burlap runners on the tables (you know, for that “rustic” element.)  I love how the bridal party tables turned out:

Burlap Runners Caribbean Colors Wedding Tables  | The Borrowed Abode

The long burlap runners worked well, and were so cheap and easy to make.  I bought burlap yardage with a 50% off coupon at JoAnns, so it was around $2 a yard, then I cut it into lengths that would fit the long, rectangular tables.

The little chalkboard place cards were made by my friend for the bridal shower, so I re-used them and made a few more for the guys’ seats.

Burlap Orchid Wedding Tables  | The Borrowed Abode

Each round table was decorated with a round burlap circle, a live orchid plant, votive candles, and  fresh orchid blossoms.  I used tea lights because, after cleaning wax out of over 100 of the rounded candle holders that my friend had bought for her wedding, I was not in the mood to fill them with wax again.  The white tea lights from Partylite came in clear plastic shells and burned clear, so they were the prettiest simple solution.   And they were Made in the USA!

Back to those round burlap circles.  Those fall into the “mistake” category.

I did the circles because I don’t like the asymmetry of having a rectangular runner across a round table, but I thought I needed burlap on every table.  Looking at the photo below, I see that the tables would have looked more elegant without the burlap, or with a much wider burlap circle:

Burlap Orchid Caribbean Wedding Tables  | The Borrowed Abode

The colorful napkins (provided by the venue) helped incorporate the Caribbean colors.

Accessory Tables

For the rectangular accessory tables – gifts, wedding favors, escort cards, guest book, etc – I made burlap runners and burlap pennant banners.  To incorporate the lace element from my bridesmaid’s dresses, I hand-stitched some of my grandmother’s old hand-embroidered doilies and linens onto the burlap.  It looked awesome, even if it wasn’t very noticeable under the favors and/or gifts.

Burlap and Lace Wedding Table Runners | The Borrowed Abode

Lawn Decor

Because there was a lush green lawn between the reception tent and the bay, I knew early on that I wanted some “living room” type furniture out there so people could really enjoy their surroundings.  The sofas I wanted were so I went with simple white benches, the cheapest “lounge” furniture offered by the rental company.   In the end they were the perfect choice, because they were so versatile and offered such an open feeling.  They were used constantly by guests through the whole reception.

Table Numbers

Traced the outline of the number using a stencil and a pencil, then painted it with my water colors left over from tweaking the invite sets.

The plan was to put a clear stick in each orchid – you know, the ones that you stick in a plan to display a small card?  But I totally forgot to do that, so there was no simple way for the numbers to be on display.  Whoops.

Watercolor Painted Wedding Table Numbers | The Borrowed Abode

What I’d Do Differently:

Like I said earlier, when I look through the photos I see some aspects that I wish I’d done differently.  I’m not losing any sleep over it, but I do like learning from my mistakes.  So here’s what I’d change:

I’d skip the burlap pennant buntings that were swagged around the accessory tables (favors, gifts, etc).  They were unnecessary and did not look as elegant as I’d pictured in my head.  However, I would keep the J&R pennant that I made for our sweetheart table. :)

I’d skip the burlap circles on the round tables.  Totally unnecessary.  I kept thinking that the tables needed to be decorated because we weren’t going with large floral displays, but the fact is that – as always – less is more (elegant). There is nothing wrong with a simple white tablecloth and a few votive candles.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks Wedding Favor

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels: Edible Wedding Favors

Early on in the planning process Ryan and I nixed the idea of wedding favors.  So many weddings include them, and brides are now spending upwards of $4 a person on a trinket that is supposed to provide a lasting memory to the guest who attended.

And let’s be honest – not many favors appeal to all people, or they end up adding clutter to their homes. And most of the affordable options out there are not biodegradable and are most definitely Made in China.

But at the last minute we decided to offer our guests something sensible and something sinful:  bottles of water and chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks Wedding Favor

The chocolate-dipped pretzel rods were a pretty easy project that was accomplished in one evening with the help of a friend.

Did you know you shouldn’t use chocolate chips for coating pretzels?  I learned that the hard way!

After dipping the pretzels, we had some issues getting the chocolate to harden.  It turns out that chocolate chips have additives that help the chips say soft after the cookies are baked.  You don’t want that quality when you’re making chocolate-coated pretzel rods.  Baking chocolate, on the other hand, will harden nicely.  Another option is to use the candy disks that they sell at the craft stores, but I’m not a fan of them because I don’t think they’re great quality and I’m a chocolate snob!

Total cost of wedding favors for 85 people? Less than $100 !


  • Pretzel rods
  • Ghirardelli dark semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • Sprinkles

Here’s how we did it:

  1. Line your counter top with wax paper, if you’re making a ton.  In my case, we had to make 140.  If you’re making a smaller amounts, you can set the pretzels on a baking sheet or across the top of a bowl to dry.
  2. Break the baking chocolate into a tall container.   We used a tall, wide-mouthed mason jar.  You need to be able to dip a good part of the pretzel!Melt Chocolate In Tall Containers
  3. Microwave it, checking every 30-45 seconds to stir the mixture and prevent burning.  You’ll need a pot holder so you don’t burn your hands on the container.
  4. After a few minutes your chocolate should be smooth and melty.   Dip each pretzel stick in, then pull it out and let the excess drip off.
  5. Set it on the wax paper, and then shake the sprinkles onto it before it hardens.Drying Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
  6. Continue the process, re-microwaving the chocolate and adding more chunks whenever it starts to harden.
  7. Let dry overnight to ensure they harden fully before you package them.

It’s so easy!

Packaging the Pretzel Rods

To ensure our treats weren’t wasteful, I ordered skinny biodegradable plastic pouches from Nashville Wraps, my go-to packaging source for Janery.  They were the perfect size to hold two pretzel sticks.

I tied the pouches with ribbon and added fun little tags.  Cute packaging makes all the difference!!   I created the tags using a “thank you” stamp and the same lace stamps used on our escort cards.  The tags were cut with a die cutter from the craft store.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels Wedding Favors

Easy Personalized Water Bottles

To dress up the water bottles for the occasion, I created some labels with our initials, in our wedding colors.  We then printed them, cut them out, and wrapped them around the bottles, securing them with a small piece of tape. If you’re really particular you can use double-sided tape.

Free Printable Water Bottle Labels

I created the labels in  PowerPoint, and I’m sharing it as a free, customizable printable where you can change the initials, colors, or even the image background if you want to.  At least this way you have a guide to work off of.  It fits most standard small water bottles.

Get Your Free Printable Labels!

Click here to access the water bottle labels. 

At the wedding the favors were on a table, with a framed sign in the middle that read “something sensible and something sinful”, with arrows pointing to each.  Unfortunately the table didn’t look as amazing as I’d hoped, because I totally forgot to pack containers for the pretzels.  As a result they were just piled on the table.

I suppose the poor display won’t make or break our marriage, though. 😉

Wedding Favor Table

 PS: If you’re new to the blog, click here for more wedding project posts!

Rustic Window Frame Escort Card Display

My favorite DIY project for our entire wedding was our window frame escort card display, and doesn’t it just figure that I have Ryan to thank for it.

Rustic Window Frame Escort Card Display

Early on in the wedding planning process, I knew that I wanted an awesome escort card display. (FYI, escort cards are the little items or cards that tell you, the guest, what number table you’re sitting at.)

I had inspiration photos torn out of old wooden ladders or rustic boards used as card displays.  But at our wedding planning meeting Ryan suddenly suggested we “repurpose” the other old window frame we had on hand. I was so proud. :)

Back in the beginning of our relationship, he was there when I completed my first successful trash haul: two weather beaten old window frames which had clearly seen better decades. Despite Ryan’s skepticism, one turned into my popular jewelry display frame, and the other languished in our shed, despite Ryan’s begging me to “just get rid of it.”

But not anymore! Here’s how I turned that languishing window frame into a rustic-but-not-splintery escort card display.

I sanded down the frame to remove splinters and rubbed a small bit of white paint on – very unevenly – to keep it rustic.

Sand the Window Frame

I cut thin plywood boards to fit each window opening, wrapped the boards in burlap, and glued and stapled them into place.

Boards for Window Frame

I lightly glued lace trim around all the outer edges, because I love lace on burlap.

Window Frame Escort Card Burlap Lace

Finally, I measured out how many cards I had to hang, then hammered in tiny nails for the cards to hang on. Needle nose pliers came in handy so that I didn’t hammer my fingers.

Tiny Nails in Window Frame Escort Card

I received a lot of help from the cat.

(Maybe he wanted to get hammered?)

Cat Assistance Window Frame

When all the little nails were in (a rather tedious process!), I made tags that spelled out “Find Your Seat”.  It was easy to get perfect letters – I mocked up the phrase in black and white on my computer, then printed it out in exactly the size I wanted.

Window Frame Escort Card Display 3

Then I placed each card over the printed letter and traced the outline, then colored it in with marker.  (Does this make any sense?) As a final touch, I added some watercolor to the bottoms.

Escort Cards

Using a craft punch (found at any crafting store), I cut more decorative tags from white card stock.  I carefully wrote the names of each guest on the front, and stamped the table number on the back.  Then I stamped the edges with mini lace stamps that I found on Etsy.  I told myself that I was cleverly combining the lace part of the theme with the Caribbean aspect by doing the lace stamps in fuchsia, lime, and orange.

They looked awesome, but I didn’t photograph them well ahead of time.

Window Frame Escort Cards

Names have been blurred so that no one has to admit they’re associated with this crazy blogger. :)

After all this work, I didn’t even get to see the finished product displayed at the wedding reception.  In fact I didn’t see much of my decor at all.  The whole night went by in a blur.  But either way, I love how it turned out!

Escort Card Display using Rustic Window Frame