The Stenning Wedding Reception | a reflection of our intimate backyard wedding

Did you think I was only recapping the ceremony part of the wedding on this blog? Heck no! I did not put all my blood, sweat, and tears into my wedding only to share half of it with you. My reception deserves just as much love as my ceremony, especially since it contained just as many fails to laugh at.

So, without further ado, the memorable moments and favorite details of Dave’s and I’s intimate backyard wedding reception.

Dio pooped during my wedding reception.

Haha, before we get to the normal stuff, let me first start with this: during the intermission between ceremony and reception while we were all taking photos with the photographer, Dio decided to relieve himself. Because, you know, the wedding is in the backyard and that’s where he normally poos.

And while most brides would probably get someone else to take care of that poo problem, I had no issue grabbing the pooper scooper and cleaning up that mess in my wedding dress. He’s my dog, why wouldn’t I pick it up?

If that doesn’t give you an idea of how laid-back and silly my wedding was, I don’t know what will.

As with the ceremony, I pretty much DIYed the entire reception.

The wedding took place in my parent’s backyard so apart from the built-in nature surrounding us, everything was left to our devices. (And really, even the built-in nature got a huge overhaul thanks to my parents. They spent all summer fixing up the backyard and planting flowers.)

I cut streamers to hang down from the tent, grew succulents to use as my centerpieces, created a hanging flower wall as a photo backdrop, recycled an old fence panel as a Polaroid display, wrote all my signs using chalkboard pens, transformed wooden people into Dave and I for the cake topper – I could go on, and on, and on with all the DIY I did for this wedding reception.

And while it all was a tremendous amount of work, I’d have to say it was worth it. Not only was it a lot of fun seeing it all come together on the big day, it also made me feel a bit… proud. Like this wedding was even more mine because I put so much of me into it and every compliment I got felt like a direct thumbs up to my work.

Yes, I let them have cake.

Anyone who has known me for a while knows that I don’t like cake. I think the texture is gross, the flavors are nasty, I’m just not a fan. And the nice thing about having a non-traditional wedding is that you can pretty much serve the people whatever you want. Doughnuts, cookies, pies, candy  – it’s your party so you can do what you want.

But I still gave the people their cake.

Now, I didn’t actually have any of the cake that day but I did still have it made based on my personal preferences. This meant it was a semi-naked cake because I really don’t like frosting and it was chocolate with chocolate drizzle because chocolate is bae.

We attempted those sparkler exit photos… and almost started a fire.

Wow, if you ever want your wedding to get real interesting, hand everyone a sparkler while they’re drinking and ask them to light them all at the same time and pose. If your family is as uncoordinated as mine, it will lead to quite the madness.

Not only were our sparklers super small dollar store ones, we also only had two lighters to work with. This meant that everyone had to huddle around the people with the lighters, get theirs lit, and try to pose without burning their fingers off so we could walk under their sparklers all-romantic like.

In this process, not only did my dad burn his shirt by holding his sparkler to close to it while helping light everyone else’s sparklers, my brother actually caught the aisle runner on fire. That’s right, with a beer in one hand he dropped his sparkler onto the aisle runner and instead of hurrying to grab it he just sort of watched it as flames started appearing on the burlap. Luckily his girlfriend had a bit more common sense and stomped it out right away before it could become an actual problem. But yeah, that was a thing.

Don’t trust your family with fire.

There were games instead of dances.

I actually love dancing. Give me a couple of drinks and some thumping beats and I have no problem getting down on the dance floor. Dave though? Not so much. He has absolutely zero confidence when it comes to dancing and is too self-conscious to even try. So, since I love him so much (darn it), I decided that there’d be games instead of dancing at our reception.

People had a choice of playing cornhole, badminton, croquet, tic tac toe, Yahtzee, or Jenga (the latter three all giant-sized). I thought the sit-down giant games would get the most love, but I’d say cornhole and badminton were the go-to games at the wedding. They were nice because multiple people could get involved and it allowed for some friendly rivalry.

And, in case you were curious, Dave and I as a team beat everyone else at cornhole. If that’s not a sign we’re meant to be, I’m not sure what is. (Though everyone at the wedding was pretty mediocre at the game.)

We bought a Polaroid for everyone to take pictures with, which eventually turned into my drunken mission.

We bought a Polaroid camera specifically for the wedding (though I’m not going to lie, I’ve always wanted one so really was using the wedding as an excuse to get Dave to buy me one, haha). And while people used the Polaroid camera at the wedding, I found a lot of people were keeping their Polaroid and weren’t leaving any photos for us! As the Polaroid were our alternative to a guest book, that was no good.

We probably should have had someone guiding people to take doubles of their photos so that we could have a copy, but that would’ve been too easy. Instead, after a couple of drinks, I decided to solve the problem by going around with the Polaroid camera demanding everyone take a picture with me.

I loved the photos I ended up with afterwards, especially because some people who were a bit shy around the photographer (ahem Chantelle ahem) were more willing to be silly and have fun with the Polaroids.

A chill ending to the wedding: good company and s’mores.

The wedding ended with mostly everyone sitting around the fire pit, relaxing and eating some s’mores – and it was absolutely perfect. I have to say, my family doesn’t really socialize with others that much. Apart from the holidays, my parents and I mostly just stick to ourselves. The week of the wedding though we had people at the house almost every day and, somewhat surprisingly, we ended up really enjoying it.

The people who came to my wedding – our immediate families and my few closest friends –  all knew about the journey Dave and I took to get to the point we were at that day. Though I originally wanted to run off and elope, I think having them there at the wedding was the best way to say thank you for all the love and support they’ve provided us over the years. It definitely hasn’t been easy and they’ve had to deal with a whirlwind of emotions as a result, but in one way or another they’ve always been there for us and we were happy that they could be a part of our special day.

But wait, let’s not forget the surprise honeymoon room!

Oh yes, the surprise honeymoon room that Dave’s brother set up with the help of his girlfriend. Now, since we were having a backyard wedding, Dave and I assumed we would just sleep at home. But, as it was our special day, Dave’s brother decided to book a honeymoon room for us as a wedding gift. Pete and his girlfriend decorated our room with flower petals and chocolate (they even brought my favorite kind from London, mmmm) and it was a super cute ending to our special day.

The best part? Our room was located right next to everyone else’s! That’s right, Kelley and Dave’s family all booked the same hotel for the wedding and each room was located in the same hallway. Unfortunately for Kelley, that night her room was situated with Pete and his girlfriend on one side and Dave and I on the other. If we all wanted to get real loud and funky she would’ve had no escape! haha. Fortunately for her though, that didn’t happen. (Well, at least on our end. I can’t say what happened with Pete and his girlfriend.)

And that’s it! My memorable moments and favorite details from the Stenning wedding reception. What do you think? Anything that surprised you or made you laugh? Any similarities with your wedding (even if it’s just one of your dreams)? Don’t forget, if you head over to my Twitter you can see actual wedding photos of the things mentioned above so you’re not limited to my sad attempts at illustrating them I did a couple of months ago. 

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December’s Diary Doodles: A month of dogs, my family, and Christmas

Nope, there will be no 2017 reflection or 2018 resolution posts here. I feel like they’re sort of unnecessary, really. Most of my main moments in 2017 are in my catch-up post last month and my resolutions? They’re always the same each year and almost always a fail.

I know what I need to do to lead a happier, healthier life. I just don’t know when I’ll actually do any of it for longer than a week.

That being said, I would like to start a new monthly series here on the blog: diary doodles. Each month I’ll pull together the doodles I’ve made about my life and discuss the thoughts/experiences behind each. I think it’ll be a fun way to see what moments in the month I felt justified an illustration and give you guys a chance to see what I’ve been up to throughout the month.

Plus, as I said in my Instagram Inspirations post, diary doodles are one of my favorite types of illustrated content. If one should create content they would like to consume, well, it only makes that I write blog posts featuring illustrations about my life.

So here are my diary doodles from December featuring dogs, my family, and Christmas. Enjoy!

12.8 Master Tree Fluffer.

Honestly, I don’t really care for putting up Christmas trees.

That’s not to say I don’t think they’re worth the effort. Not at all. I don’t think Christmas would feel like Christmas without at least one decked out tree to stash the presents under.

But to put up four Christmas trees in one year? That’s just madness I tell you, madness. Especially when you factor in the knowledge when three of those trees belong in one house (my parent’s) and one of those three live in the basement where not a single person apart from our family gets to see it.

That being said, I am pretty damn good at fluffing up the branches of artificial trees to make them look real. My friend was amazed by how much better her tree looked after I got my hands on her branches.

12.9 Snowball fights with Dio.

The one thing I looked forward to this December was seeing Dio’s reaction to snow for the first time and, well, it was a bit anti-climatic? I mean he was a little curious when he went outside after our first big dump of snow, but there was no running around excitedly like you see from videos of other dogs having their first snow experience.

We did end up having a lot of fun during our snowball fights though. He would enthusiastically chase the snowballs I threw to where ever they landed on the ground and hopelessly attempt to pick them up. I don’t think he was as thrilled when I would aim the snowballs at him, but luckily my aim is pretty bad so he didn’t have to worry about that too much.

12.10 The Christmas Cookies Tradition.

As if choosing to start a diet before Christmas wasn’t a bad idea on its own, my family decided we would make it worse by still participating in the annual tradition of baking and decorating christmas cookies with my mom’s side of the family. Because, you know, having a house full of cookies and frosting is totally okay when you have no self-control and are attempting a no-sugar diet.

I have to say, we did well enough the day of the cookie baking. Informing every one of the diet in advance helped hold us accountable and apart from one or two licks of frosting without thinking, we stuck it out. But the following week when there were loads of cookies just lying around the house with no one to eat them? Yeah, not so much. Whoops.

12.15 Names at the dog park.

I drew this illustration on the 15th of December but honestly, this is pretty much what happens every day I’m at the dog park. I could tell you the names of almost all the dogs at the dog park (I made a list, there’s 35+ dogs that I know by name), but none of the names of the people who go with said dogs. To me, they’re just “so-and-so’s mom/dad”. (Okay, that’s a lie, I know the names of TWO humans: EJ and Pebbles. And that’s mostly because they’re unique.)

I don’t think this is a problem though. I don’t go to the dog park to make friends with people. I go to make Dio happy and to love on some dogs.

(Also, yes, all the dogs drawn above are based off real dogs we see at the dog park. Alf and Duff are older dogs who don’t like to play with others, Sophie is deaf, Wrigley won’t let me pet him, Penny and Rosie like to play with Dio, and Rogue sometimes humps him.)

12.16 The Christmas Lights and Pizza Tradition.

A week after failing our diets because of the lack of self-control with cookies in the house, my parents and I decided to give in to our tradition eating pizza while driving around looking at Christmas lights. (I say this is a tradition, but we’ve only done it two years in a row and I likely won’t be here next Christmas to partake in it so I’m not sure it totally counts. It’s just more of an excuse to order some pizza.)

I have to say, I didn’t enjoy this year as much as last because traffic was bad and the lights weren’t as impressive, but it was an okay time. I sufficiently annoyed my parents with my attempts to sing along with the Christmas music on the radio and enjoyed my pizza so can’t really complain. I think I’ll miss it next year.

atypicalnarrative illustration | My week with my Christmas presents: drawing, eating chocolate, skying my husband, dancing, and taking bubble baths

12.26 My Post-Christmas agenda.

If you were to ask me what my favorite things in life are, I’d say Dave without a beard, chocolate, bubble baths, drawing, and dancing. Compare those to what I got for Christmas this year and ding ding ding – I hit the jackpot! Every day after Christmas I pretty much revolved my days around my presents and I have to say, it filled me with lots of happiness.

And yes, I did ask Dave to shave as one of my Christmas presents. I love Dave but I am not a fan of the scruff. He wasn’t allowed to Skype me until it was removed.

atypicalnarrative illustration | game night with padre ft battleship

12.30 Board games and banter.

Every once in a while my parents and I decide to challenge each other in some board games and while it can often lead to a fun time it usually involves a lot of cruel banter. We don’t hold a lot back.

I mean, my own father told me to go to hell during a game of Battleship – what is up with that?! But hey, I don’t blame him. It may not be clear above, but I definitely was rubbing my lead in his face when it happened so probably deserved it. Somehow he was always one spot off each boat he was trying to hit where I was finding his without too much difficulty. I was enjoying it way too much.

Don’t feel too bad for him though, he got his revenge when we played Sorry. That sorry is just too lucky when it comes to cards.

12.31 New Year’s.

Ah yes, New Year’s resolutions. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I didn’t really set any this year – this illustration above is one of the main reasons why.

I used to run a personal blog called Oh, Asti and while that blog is no longer public I do still have access to its archives. I decided it’d be interesting to see what my resolutions were for earlier years in preparation for 2018 and lo and behold – the ones I set in 2016 are all things that I’m still struggling to do to this day. I could just copy and paste that post here and pass it as my current day resolutions if I were bothered. But I’m not. Honestly, it just made me disillusioned with the idea of new year’s resolutions.

But hey, that’s not to say I don’t have goals for this year or won’t continue to work on any of those things. I just don’t feel the need to announce it. I’m a continual work in progress and that’s okay. I’ll get there someday. (Maybe. Hopefully.)

That’s it for my diary doodles of December. What do you think? Any similarities with the things that happened in your December? Did you do anything fun for Christmas? Participate in any traditions? Have you ever been shocked by the things your parents have said? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you want to see these doodles as they go live instead of waiting until the end of the month, be sure to follow me on Instagram.

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The Stenning Wedding Ceremony | A reflection of our intimate backyard wedding

As mentioned in my latest recap, part of the reason I took a couple of months off the blog this summer was so that I could focus on getting married. That’s right – after five-and-a-half years of navigating a long-distance relationship and questioning if we could ever make this relationship work, Dave and I finally took the plunge and tied the knot. Yay!

Since I put so much time and effort into the planning of this wedding and it is undoubtedly one of the best days of my life, I thought it would be nice to highlight some of my favorite details and memorable moments.

Starting with the ceremony, here is a reflection of Dave and I’s intimate backyard wedding:

Being the control freak I am, I wrote plaigarised the entire ceremony. 

One of the best things about the officiant we hired was that he was pretty much open to anything and everything. He provided us with an outline of how ceremonies tend to go along with sample wordings we could pull from, but ultimately it was up to us to decide what was said and what order things happened in.

Now, I don’t know if most people realize this prior to planning their weddings, but ceremonies can be complicated things. I didn’t want to just use the generic samples provided for us but also didn’t want to create it from scratch so ended up spending hours googling and stealing all the things I liked from others. (I would’ve failed so bad if this were a paper for university.)

But hey, I did tailor everything to our specific relationship! I added elements here and there that made me smile (such as continuing to go on adventures together – both real and virtual) and created a theme that I feel is important to the future success of our marriage (not getting complacent just because we’re finally together).

We got married in my parent’s backyard under their beautiful giant tree.

Originally I wanted Dave and I to run off somewhere by ourselves to get married, but financially we decided it’d be better to have it at home so that’s what we did (which is a bit funny because I still managed to spend a lot of money on our wedding, I’m not sure it was that much cheaper).

We had the entire wedding in my parent’s backyard and it was actually pretty perfect. Their backyard is huge so we had plenty of space for everything we needed and the sole tree in the backyard ended up being a beautiful backdrop for our ceremony. All I did was add some ribbon streamers and an aisle runner and it was pretty much good to go. (Well, I did add like eight hundred other things too, but really, the streamers were my favorite. So colorful and fun!)

Our dads played “Concerning Hobbits” on acoustic guitars as I walked down the aisle.

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this was one of the things I was most excited for during our wedding ceremony (after marrying Dave, of course). As we were having an intimate wedding, there was no need for a huge wedding party; we decided it’d just be me walking down the aisle. And while I could’ve played some sweet song on my iPhone and had my dad accompany me like most brides do, I decided to go with something a bit different.

I had my dad and Dave’s dad learn “Concerning Hobbits” on their acoustic guitars and play it as a duet while I walked down the aisle. (And “Concerning Hobbits”, for those who might not know, is a song from Lord of the Rings which is a series that Dave and I both love, being the nerds we are.) For only being able to practice it once together before the big day (since, you know, they live in different countries), they played it beautifully on the big day and I absolutely loved it.

(Seriously, if you’re ever planning your wedding, don’t be afraid to make changes to reflect your relationship or what makes you happy. It’s so worth it.)

Dave was nervous about messing up the ceremony, but it was everyone else who failed.

One of the funniest things to me was the amount of pre-wedding stress Dave put upon himself out of fear that he’d mess everything up when he was the only one who did everything right!

The officiant made the biggest mistake and it’s one that anyone who knows me would facepalm at – he said my name wrong. That’s right. I always make a big deal about the proper way to pronounce my name, our officiant was no different, and yet our wedding started with him calling me “Ass-tea.” Of course I was quick to correct him. I didn’t care if everyone else knew the right way to say my name or if it created an awkward moment in the ceremony, there was no way I was going to continue letting him say my name wrong on my special day. So yeah, that was fun!

And yes, I made a slight fumble as well. Even though I put together the script and read it 800 times over before the big day, when it came to the “repeat after me” bit I ended up mixing up some words. But unlike Dave, I wasn’t bothered by the mistake. I’m not perfect and that’s okay.

Our moms acted as ring bearers and handed us the rings during the ceremony.

Since I involved our dads in the wedding ceremony by having them play their acoustic guitars, I wanted to find a way to incorporate our mothers as well. Since we didn’t have a wedding party, I decided to have the mothers responsible for the rings and to pass them off to us during the ceremony. It was slightly nerve-wracking as if there was anyone who would be likely to drop our rings in the rocks and lose them, it’d be one of our moms, but they passed them off with no worries. (I also had them sign our wedding license as our witnesses.)

For our unity ceremony, we decided to burn our ships.

Prior to meeting our wedding officiant, I had no idea what a “burning our ships” unity ceremony was. And, according to Google, it looks like barely anyone else knows of it either. But after hearing our officiant describe it and noticing the connections to our relationship, we decided it was the perfect unity ceremony for us.

According to our wedding officiant, the burning of the ships relates to Cortes. In 1519, he and his men arrived in Veracruz and he ordered them to burn their ships so they would continue their quest without any means of retreat. In the sense of our relationship then, the burning of our boats symbolized the everlasting commitment we were making to each other. We were, in a sense, burning any opportunities for leaving each other and assuring one another that we would fight together past whatever obstacles our relationship faced until the every end.

We also liked this unity ceremony because we felt it reflected our relationship in a couple of other ways. For one, Dave and I met on an online game where our characters were pirates. Burning our boats felt like a perfect tribute to our virtual beginnings (and yes, I even printed pictures of our pirates from the game and placed in them in boats to burn). Being able to set fire to our ships also helped symbolize the end of our long-distance journey. Though we never traveled by boats to visit one another as planes are much more convenient, the necessity of travel as played a huge part in our relationship up until now and with this wedding we are finally moving into a place where we will no longer need to rely on it.


Of course, burning our ships was a lot easier said than done.

Dave and I actually practiced lighting our ships the day before and had no problem, but of course things don’t always work out on the big day. The first big issue with burning our boats during the ceremony was that we forgot our lighters.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we had like six lighters purchased solely for that reason – we just forgot to set them up for the ceremony. So while our pastor was sharing the significance of our unity ceremony, I had to signal for my mom to run inside and grab the lighters. (Sorry for making you miss part of the ceremony, mom.)

Then, once we got the lighters and started attempting to light our boats, they would not catch on fire! The wind was a bit stronger the day of our ceremony and Dave and I probably spent five minutes awkwardly trying to light our fire while everyone watched. I mean, really, what does it mean when you create a unity ceremony which such significance and then your boats don’t burn? Haha.

But don’t worry, we got it mostly going before we continued on with our vows and by the end of the ceremony our boats were mostly burnt away.

And for some reason I decided to wave like royalty while exiting down the aisle.

One of the last things I want to mention, which is also one of the things I didn’t notice until we received our pictures back from our photographer, was that I decided to do some sort of princess wave while walking back down the aisle with Dave at the end of our ceremony. Seriously, if you had any doubt that I’m an awkward fool…

I think that’s it! Those are my favorite details and most memorable moments from the ceremony. What do you think? Are there any parts of our ceremony that took you by surprise or made you laugh? Please share in the comments below! And if you want to see some photographs from our wedding instead of my little illustrations, follow me on Twitter. I’ll share some from our photographer throughout the week. 🙂

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