Wedding at Inspiring Body of Christ Church (IBOC): Colleen + William

Bride & Groom: Colleen and William

Wedding Date: 7-1-2017

Wedding Location: Inspiring Body of Christ Church (IBOC) Dallas, TX

Tell about your love story!

William and I met at an early childhood education conference in New Orleans. (Side note: The same hotel where scenes from the Girls Trip were filmed)

Although he was presenting at the conference and was mainly there for professional reasons, there was no doubt he was planning to mingle with one of the many women looking for a good time in NOLA. To his surprise he met me. After meeting in the line for the conference's opening session, he slyly wrote his number in my program. I had no idea. My colleague was the one who noticed and encouraged me to call him. I reluctantly texted him and he asked to meet up for drinks. I politely shut him down, informing him that I did not drink. He composed himself and asked me to accompany him to the French Quarter. We hung out all night, and for the next two evenings as well. After the conference, he returned to St Louis and I to Dallas, but our friendship grew into love.

William is my perfect match because he lets me get my way. All joking aside, we are perfect for each other because we have similar values and goals. He is a strong Christian man and is eager to continue learning and growing in the Lord. He is just what I needed in my life, and I believe I am that for him.

William and I are both planners, so we both knew the engagement was coming. In December 2015, after a long business trip, William came for a visit. Knowing I collect eccentric shot glasses, he said he had one from his trip to surprise me with. As I struggled to get through the layers of tissue paper to open my gift, I turned around and William was down on one knee. The rest is history.

Describe your wedding planning process.

When William proposed, he still lived in St. Louis, so we anticipated having a long engagement and selected a wedding date that was over 18 months away.

I was very fortunate that my mom, close friends and our church administrators were very eager to help with the planning and coordination of the entire event. I also relied heavily on the many spreadsheets I created as well as The Knot website services to help keep me organized. In addition to marrying an amazing partner and selecting an awesome photographer, the best decision I made surrounding my big day was to have the wedding and the reception at my church, the Inspiring Body of Christ Church (IBOC). The location was truly a one-stop shop and included all decorations, a full-service on site restaurant, and wonderful servants of God with whom I regularly worship. Everything at my church is done in the spirit of excellence, giving all honor and glory to our Father.

Recap your big day for us.

My wedding was a tremendous success. Our children made up our wedding party and my mother and father walked me down the aisle. My pastor, who is personally familiar with us, lead the ceremony. We opted to use a Unity Cross instead of a Unity Candle and that was a great addition to our ceremony. My two older brothers were our MC's and they made sure to maintain the flow of the wedding and kept everybody laughing. There is nothing like having someone who truly knows you to lead your day.

I'm a sensitive soul, but I promised myself I wouldn't cry.

Combined, William and I have 7 beautiful children, six of whom were able to attend the wedding, and they were our wedding party. Since our pastor knows us well, during the ceremony without being prompted, he gathered our children close to us to pray and explained that we are a family unit and will continue to grow in love. The love William and I share is not meant to replace either of their biological parents love, but only to expand the love they receive from all of us. My new daughter lovingly looked at me and her eyes began to tear up, and so did mine.

I also cried toward the end of the reception. I typically serve with the volunteers who served at our reception. Toward the end, I went over to thank them and became overwhelmed with emotion at the thought of how much work they had put in to make my day perfect. I am truly blessed to be able to serve and worship with such a thoughtful and caring team.

One of my most memorable moments was the mother and bride dance. I knew traditionally there is only supposed to be a father and daughter dance and a mother and son dance, but knowing the unconditional and unwavering love my mother has always shown me, I could not leave her out. We dance to "Mama's Song" by Carrie Underwood as I quietly sang the lyrics to her. I will never forget that moment.

What about the details?

After volunteering to serve at several events hosted by my church, my vision and theme was Southern Excellence. I don't know exactly what I meant at the time, or even if I had a name for it then, but everything was done in a spirit of excellence. My mom, along with the church's wedding coordinator made dreams come true that I was not even able to verbalize to them. The personal touches were more than I could have ever imagined or planned on my own. With William being from the mid-West, I wanted his family experience a taste of the South. We served southern food (fried chicken, baked chicken, fried catfish and southern sides) and personalized miniature bottles of Tabasco sauce for some extra kick. I wore my favorite cowboy boots, and my mom's boots matched the decor.

What's the best advice you can give a bride and groom planning their wedding?

Don't try to take on everything yourself. Be open to things not going perfectly and you will save yourself a great deal of stress. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you marry your true love. Spend the extra money on the things that matter, like a top-notch professional wedding photographer. The wedding day will go by so fast, and at the end, all you will have to memorialize your day are your photos. You will be grateful that you invested money on great pictures!

What do you look forward to most as Mr. & Mrs.?

Now that almost all of our children are grown, we look forward to learning more about each other and creating new adventures.

What has surprised you most during the first few weeks of marriage?

The first few weeks of marriage have surprised me by how much we have grown and learned about each other. You think you know just about all you can after living with a person for over a year, but I now see that we have just barely scratched the surface. It's exciting that we can accompany each other on this new journey

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