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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Loving a dog, boogers and all | A celebration of Mad

As I mentioned in my catch up post, over the summer I had to unexpectedly say goodbye to my thirteen-year-old dog, Mad. (Because, you know, losing one dog this year wasn’t hard enough, I had to lose two.) In honor of his memory, today I wanted to share a bit about the dog Mad was. Not because it’s interesting content that you’ll want to read, but because I don’t want to forget all the things that made him special – and believe me, there were many things.

Mad wasn’t afraid to tell you when he was mad. Okay, yes, let’s first talk about this name. If I remember correctly (it’s been over a decade), Mad received his name after adopted because he never held back his grumbles when we were trying to get him to do something he didn’t want to do.

I was actually somewhat terrified he was going to bite me or something when I first heard his low, grumpy growl, but I quickly learned he was all talk and no walk. He would tell you he was mad, but then he’d just deal with it. (And honestly, thanks Mad for that. I’m glad you never bit my face off.)

What were some of the things he got mad about? Well…

Mad hated non-carpeted floors. You know that game you play as a kid where you pretend the ground is lava and hop from one piece of furniture to the next? That was life for Mad. He wouldn’t go into a room unless there was some piece of carpet to run on to, and even then it took him a lot of courage. It was so bad that one time the vet even had to rearrange all the carpets in the lobby in a row to create a path for him to the examination room because he refused to walk on the tile.

He also really disliked car rides. That whole image of the dog happily sticking its head out the window with the wind blowing through its hair? Definitely not Mad. Any time we had to take him somewhere, he would lay down in the backseat with his head hanging towards the ground and just cry. It was absolutely pathetic. I would do my best to comfort him but the silence would never last more than a minute. He hated it.

That being said, he did pass away in the car while we were rushing him to the vet so maybe he spoke to a fortune-teller dog and knew a trip in the car would lead to his goodbye. Either way, his tragicness in the car always broke my heart (and drove me a little crazy).

But when he wasn’t being mad, Mad loved everyone. I think between the name and his size people were automatically hesitant around Mad, but they had absolutely nothing to worry about. Mad loved anyone and everyone. He let the grandkids walk all over him, he enjoyed when we had company around, and we always joked he would have no problem just getting up and joining a new family because he didn’t care who loved him he just wanted to be loved.

He especially wanted your attention if you were loving Tasha. Really, Mad wanted anything Tasha had. If I gave them both bones, he would stare at Tasha until she gave up her bone instead of eating his. And if someone was petting her? He would use his larger size to push her aside and burrow under your arm instead. It’s no wonder Tasha didn’t always love having him around.

(Oh, and that burrowing thing? I’m pretty sure he was part ostrich. He really shoved his face into whatever crevice he could… couch cushions, armpits, etc. Sometimes you had to save yourself from the inappropriateness.)

As far as I’m concerned, Mad was one of the most handsome dogs around. I never necessarily set out for a husky-type dog, but whatever Alaskan-Malamute mix Mad was absolutely gorgeous. I loved that he was like a giant stuffed animal and that his markings framed his face. He was just so handsome!

Well, he was mostly handsome… apart from the boogers. You see, when we adopted Mad he was mostly fine. But at some point in the first couple of years I took him for a walk, he shoved his head into a bush, and he became broken. I don’t know if he got a stick lodged into his head or suddenly developed allergies (we spent SO much money trying to sort it out before we finally just accepted it as part of our lives), but after that walk Mad became a booger dog. If the weather would drastically change or he’d get too excited, out would appear a booger.

And you know the best part about a dog with boogers hanging out of his nose? Those boogers would have to end up somewhere. I would try to get them with a napkin when I could, of course, but that didn’t always work out. Sometimes he would sneeze them on to walls, trail them across clothes, or, especially in the end, would lick them out of his nostril. They say you love your kids no matter what and I guess that’s true because I saw that dog eat so many boogers in his life but still somehow loved him unconditionally.

Oh, and let’s not talk about his other struggles. Poor Mad. There was always something. Not only did he have boogers, but his arthritis bothered him a bit the last few years (watching/hearing him struggle to lay down was absolutely heartbreaking) and he also went through a toe cancer scare. (We actually sent him into get his toe decapitated as that was recommended but they then decided it was a false alarm. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.)

He also wasn’t the brightest dog ever. Honestly, sometimes you couldn’t help but look at him and wonder if there was absolutely anything going on in that doofy head of his. Compared to the sneakiness of his sister, he was always just so… aimless. When we’d go on walks, he would plow straight ahead without actually taking in the environment, like his brain power was consumed entirely by walking forward. When he’d have to poop on his walks, he would choose to do it in the middle of the road because doing so in the grass would just be too logical. And when he’d get caught having an accident in the house, he would continue to relieve himself while walking towards the door, leaving a lovely trail of pee, instead of stopping and continuing outside.

But hey, he had his moments of intelligence! Honestly, one of my proudest moments as a mom was teaching him to shake his paw in the last few years of his life. I am pretty sure I had tried teaching him to do it when he was younger but gave up on him because he seemed so hopeless at times. It took a while to get there in his senior years, but we eventually got it and I was so proud. You can teach an old dog new trick! Even doofy ones like my Mad boy!

And let’s not forget, he was also a beautiful singer. Mad loved to sing to one song in particular: The Two and a Half Men theme song. I don’t know what it was about the song, but every time he’d hear it his ears would perk up and he’d start howling along with the tune. (It probably didn’t help we’d sing “Mad, Mad, Mad” instead of “men, men, men”.) To this day, every time I hear that song of TV I automatically start singing the Mad version in my head which both makes me smile and breaks my heart at the same time.

Honestly, Mad was pretty much the opposite of Tasha in every way. He wasn’t super loyal, he wasn’t sneaky, he didn’t want to eat anyone… but I think all those differences in personality made me love him even more. He wasn’t the perfect dog, but he was my dog, and I came to love every little thing about him.

I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to him, but I’m glad I was able to hold him in my arms and tell him how much I loved him as he passed away. I’m glad he won’t have to struggle anymore with all the issues he had in life and I’m happy for his sake that he gets to be reunited with Tasha (though I’m not convinced she’d be quite as thrilled about their quick reunion).

To some people dogs are just dogs, but to me they’re so much more than that. They’re family members with unique personalities, a huge capacity for love, and a great source of happiness and comfort. My life would’ve been much less without them.

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