Getting married is probably the biggest decision that you will ever have to make in your life. The best part about making this choice is knowing that you have found you soul mate and life partner; I married my Nellie on 5.25.2013, the best day of my life!
With this posting I am hoping to disclose: 1) how we met each other, 2) the challenging journey that we have taken together to get here, 3) the wedding planning process, and 4) finally recap the day of our wedding.
How we met:
Most people have a cutesy type of story as to how they met their significant number, well let’s get this straight, my life does not resemble The Notebook. Nellie and I met at a Minneapolis club (Cream/Spin), I was actually working a night job there as a security bouncer and she was just out on the town to have a good time. Mind you when I saw her, my thoughts were less than ‘pure’, but she took my number and text me before she had left for the night. Most people will give it a couple of days and then hit up their ‘new interest’, not me, I was texting her before I even got home. We hit it off and their was a strong desire to get to know each other. It must have went reasonably well, cause here I am 5 years later and we are married!
For the first few years of our connection, Nellie and I had some real challenges that did stack the odds against us in the beginning. When we had first met, Nell was only just recently 19 at the time and I was 23 (there is almost a 5 year age gap – she still calls me old man). She was still in school at Mankato and I was living in Minneapolis and this gap kept us from really spending much time together besides the summer time and on weekends. Though this was inconvenient, it may have been a blessing in disguise because we both had some maturing to do and some life experiences to live through before we were really in a place to have the committment we share today.
So besides the distance gap and the fact that we essentially both still needed to party and date others, there was yet another challenge that needed to be overcome. Jake has a daughter; this fact alone can really crush the possibility of having a ‘perfect’ relationship. It took the duration of the next few years for Madison and Nellie to bond and build a relationship with each other. This hurdle was hard to get beyond for Nellie because she felt that there was some unique connection with my daughter’s mother. Anyone that has went through a failed relationship like this, would know that once you have mentally and emotionally laid the romantic relationship with that person to rest, there is nothing left accept the responsibility to co-parent your child together.
The good thing to announce is that Nellie and I were able to overcome these obstacles: yes – she graduated school and moved back to the cities, yes – we were able to get over the desires to date others and to be single, and yes – Nellie and Madison were able to build a loving relationship. The stars aligned and we decided to give our relationship a real shot and our committment to each other was born. On May 26, 2011 on a flight out to visit Nellie’s father and sisters, I asked her to marry me and with the assistance of the flight attendants and the pilot, it went off without a hitch. She was surprised and overwhelmed, she hesitated in shock and then said YES!
Most couples get engaged and have perhaps a year to do their planning and accomplish their wedding tasks checklist. Nellie and I gave ourself a couple of years, lol. We needed more time to become comfortable and confident in our decision to getting married. As of one year into our engagement we decided to get started on setting the actual date which we determined would be May 25, 2013. This date was selected to accommodate for many guests that we anticipated would be coming from out-of-town and since it was Memorial Day weekend, it allowed for an additional day of travel. Not to mention we thought it would be nice that every anniversary that we will have a 3-day weekend to enjoy!
Upon booking of the reception hall, Embassy Suites in Brooklyn Center, we quickly realized that the pressure was on to secure all the other necessary details to make a dream wedding happen. My main concern throughout this entire process was to 1) keep Nellie happy and give her what she desires, and 2) keep this wedding somewhat affordable. Thank goodness that between the two of us, we have a pair of amazing mothers that stepped up to help us with some of the costs and planning of our wedding. Going forward we needed to accomplish both preparing ourselves and also preparing the details.
For preparing ourselves, Nellie and I committed ourselves to completing a weekend marriage counseling course and also a Catholic Church sponsored couple to perform a compatibility assessment of us. Both exercises were very helpful and gave me a sense that I am getting to know my partner better we agreed on most of the major relationship items, such as church, children, finances, and friends and family. But, I will be first to admit that it was noted that marriage is a lifelong process and you work together to get better at it. I found it very valuable and would recommend attending marriage counseling to anyone serious about this level of commitment.
Preparing the Details
I would have never thought that there were so many minute tasks required to take care of prior to your big day. It is enough to drive you crazy. Shooting from the hip the following tasks were critical to the wedding:
- Selecting the wedding party (Lela, Yolanda, Ola, Olivia, Danny, Janeen, Justin, Russell, Joel, Ryan, Michael, Sharif). Looking back we went through many iterations of the group, but overall we are happy with the inner circle we selected!
- Determining the wedding colors (ivory, coral and mint green). I shook my head and said yes dear and didn’t fuss on this decision much. They really turned out great!
- Booking the photographer (Wally Agboola). We are awaiting the arrivals of the pictures, but should be meeting with him soon. He did a nice job shooting our engagement pictures.
- Taste testing to determine the entrée and beverage options for the receptions (we chose to offer the embassador chicken; which was slightly breaded and very delicious, additionally we offered a salmon entrée with a fresh lemon zest squeeze, both served with garlic mashed.
- Booking the videographer (Dan Moen). Nellie had known him from school and he worked very diligently and professionally to provide great work.
To be honest, I could continue to extend this list, but it was really to make a point. That being, substantial work went into the celebration of our union. Nellie and I love all of our friends and family that we decided to make a couple of things we thought majority of our guests would like, they included: signature drinks (the Whoa Nellie & the Buckaroo), specialty mini-cheescakes from MuddyPaws, and a photobooth to take individual and group pictures. We truly had hoped to wow our people and to have them all talking about our wedding for the following days and weeks, and they did.
The morning of getting could not have been better, I was for some reason really relaxed and in a great mood, nothing really mattered at that moment because in the back of my mind, I knew that I was going to marry her. I had all of my fellas around me that morning as we took to our feet and got us a little breakfast. Man my new-found brother Michael really knows how to throw down on some seasoned eggs! Meanwhile, my other brother Nolde (Ryan, aka Toke Dog) and I headed to the gas station to grab a 12-pack of Modelo’s. So upon our return the remaining posse had started cleaning up and getting ready to suit-up. Fortunately my Aunt Britney was there with her nice Nikon photo to take pictures for us and to capture these moments with my guys. Oh and my best friend Russ had his two sons there as well (Isaiah & Maurice), they were to be the ushers at the wedding.
As we got dressed and took photos we all knew that the next step was to get to the church, mind you, I was already missing Nellie and excited to see her in her dress. When we arrived at the church, I was greeted by a few family members which was nice. My Dad was able to get my Grandmother which was nice. Meanwhile, my best friend Russell hit the liquor store and obtained the spirits needed for the limo ride directly after the wedding ceremony. It just so happened that he got back in time for us to both take a couple and loosen up prior to our grand introduction.
The groomsmen all waited for the ladies to arrive. A little drama with the limousine service and so they had the hotel shuttle bring them over. Before I knew it, it was show time. One last visit to the bathroom and a little water splashed on my face. Walking out, I was struck with nervousness and anxiety. My gitters were out of excitement for what was about to happen. As time called, I entered the church (which was full of friends and family from both sides). I was escorted in by my mother on one side and my father on the other, I felt like the spotlight was on me. The bridal party pairs began coming down two by two until the front of the church was filled with a sharply dressed group of adults.
Next was Nellie’s grand entrance, just prior to coming down herself, our wonderful flower girls and ring bearer came down the aisle setting the stage. Our daughter Madison, stood out amongst them as a junior bride, dressed just slightly different, she looked absolutely adorable. Little Destina was the last of the flower girls to go down and she did a terrific job of shouting, “The bride is coming! The bride is coming!”. It was hard to predict how I was going to react when I saw Nellie round the corner just before she approached the aisle. I felt a complete loss of control over my emotions when she first came into sight. Immediately I began to get intensely emotional, meanwhile, while I am struggling to fight back my tears, I was at a loss at how beautiful everything about Nellie was at that exact moment.
Finally, her father Destin handed his daughter over to me and we took our place at the altar in front of the church and the priest, Father Steve. Mixed with some comic relief he greeted everyone and made me feel comfortable. Our wedding service was a full Catholic mass, which may have seemed long for some, but being in the front of the house, it flew by. When it came to our vows, it flowed naturally and before I knew it, I was leaning towards my best man for the exchanging of the rings. There was a lot of love and time into making our rings perfect for each other because we both knew that these are going to be a permanent fixture in our lives from this day forward. My bother Justin quickly placed the rings in Father Steve’s hands.
Before I knew it, Nellie and I were announcing our vows to one another and soon thereafter saying, “I Do!”. We gave our sign of commitment to each other with our wedding bands which we will wear for life. Next, we did the Unity Candle which signified the ‘coming of one’, Madison was included on this and our family worked together to all light our family’s candle. Though there was a couple of technical difficulties with the candle sticks, it was priceless!
Soon there after, Mr. & Mrs. Carroll were being ushered out of the church in loud applause and congratulatory banter. We shook hands and gave hugs in the atrium of St. Alphonsus following the ceremony; we were overwhelmed with love and support by our close family and friends. Luckily we had just enough time to take wedding photos in the church prior to leaving in the limousine. We did sets with our new families which was really nice. We have both grown to know each other’s families and love them. I have embraced my wife’s culture and traditions and continue to try new things that make me a better person, husband and father.
With the entire 14 person wedding party all fitting in the stretch hummer limo we booked it to the ‘Rose Gardens’ in South Minneapolis. Everyone toasted several cheers to Nellie and I throughout the ride to the photo spot. We were blessed with good weather that day. It was overcast and probably 70 degrees just cool enough to keep us guys from overheating in our suits and because the sun was hidden we didn’t have to squint too badly for the pictures.
During the course of each mini-event of our big day, the time kept slipping by and we began falling more and more behind schedule. By the time we arrived at the reception hall, we were approximately an hour and fifteen minutes late. Dinner was ready to be served upon arriving. It was so funny, we had drunk all the alcohol in the limo and Nellie had to use the bathroom so dang bad she was almost in tears! What ensued next was both infuriating to the bridal party but also quite humorous in a pathetic way. All of our guests had already been seated at their respective tables and were awaiting the grand march of the bridal party. The troublesome part was that our DJ, Uncle Dilano was working off of CDs (like what DJ still does that anyways?), so therefore, he was not prepared to play the correct entrance song for each of the paired couples. Thankfully, our very good friend and MC Lonnie made the best of a difficult situation. His comedic personality and gregarious presence made everyone take the delays lightheartedly. As a side note, when it was my best friend Russell and his partner Olivia’s turn to enter, their sweet moves to ‘Dirty Dancing’s – Time of My Life almost led to the knocking over of our wedding cake, dramatic and historical. Eventually it was Nell and my turn to enter, we marched to Chris Brown’s Forever and it drove the energy and excitement that we were looking for to celebrate our union.
The remainder of the night went better than I could have imagined (minus the hassle of the DJ not playing the music that Nellie specifically chose, sad). Our food was prepared perfectly and we had many great speeches and toasts from our loved ones. Then we opened up the dancing with Mother/Daughter and Mother/Son; finally we got down to business and it was time for OUR first dance, Luther Vandross and Mariah Carry’s Endless Love; which kinda got screwed up by our DJ once again, grrr!
The rest of the night became quite a blur of friends, music & dancing, and sharing the moment with my new wife. I made sure she was okay throughout the night and obviously she was the center of my attention. Ugh, my legs and knees were burning so much from all the dancing that by midnight I was happy to be shutting the place down so that the evening could slow. By the end, Nellie was wrapping up and saying goodbye to friends and family while her man snuck away for a second (after gaining permission of course, hahaha). My best friend Russ and my best man (my brother Justin) snuck away and rolled up our tux pant legs so we could stand in the man-made pond in front of our hotel as we smoked our cigars. It was the perfect way to enjoy the end of a night that I was looking forward to for months.
The final chapter of the night is best left for only the newlyweds, however, I can say that it was a very incredible experience and sharing each other is a memory now that will never fade. This concludes the best day of my life!