Saturday, April 30, 2016

the wedding day // march 25th 2016

At 6am Paige and I rolled out of bed. She dashed off to campus to get ready and then go pick up bagels and Stone Creek coffee. Luke and I had invited the employees at Stone Creek -- as well as dozens of others we met in restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, shops at the mall, and on the streets around Milwaukee -- to the wedding. The baristas working that day made sure to tell Paige how much they wished they could make it. Meanwhile I had showered and started assembling yogurt parfaits. The other girls slowly woke up as Ryan, Josh and Morgan, and Josey and Beth all arrived to begin capturing the day.

Momma and my sisters arrived with my bouquet. Gabi, my little sister, had customized Littlest Pet Shops to look like Luke and I -- complete with bow-tie, wedding dress, and rings. Her YouTube channel is widely viewed and faithfully followed by tens of thousands.

"I wanted so much more for you for this day," Momma said through the tears. She and my Dad had just gotten divorced a few weeks prior. It had been a long and heart-wrenching season of splitting our always so tight-knit family ever since he moved out last summer.

Luke and I were intentional about supporting only handmade or fair trade with our wedding purchases. I spent eighteen years of my life envisioning -- and even designing -- the dress I would want to be married in. I only looked at two when I shopped online. I knew this was it as soon as I saw it. I might add that it fit perfectly and Id never tried it on before purchasing it.

The Michelle dress by Truvelle.

Years ago I had a roommate remark to me, "When I get married I want to look the most beautiful I ever have." I responded, "When I get married I want to look the most myself that I ever have." In that spirit I didnt do my hair and I didnt wear any makeup.
Designing my bouquet with Eau Claire Floral was a dream. I had always wanted to carry peonies and hydrangeas. I added ranunculus and spray roses just because I could. My family and I owned ECF before the current owners and had dreams of one day using them for my wedding. They were fabulous, getting the flowers I wanted in half the time it usually takes and having them ready for pickup the day before so that my Mom could bring them with when she drove over to Milwaukee.

Kels read pieces of the Song of Solomon over me and shared what she heard Daddy God speaking over me for the day. I recorded it in a voice memo on my phone.
Kelsey and I have been friends since we met at a discipleship training school in 2010. I had the joy and privilege of being by her side all through the unfolding love story between her and the man who became like a big brother to me, James. I took their engagement pictures -- at the same Farm that Kelsey took my and Luke's engagement photos at -- stood up in the wedding, went to Nashville to stay with Kels the first time that James left the country, and have spent countless hours in the lives of their two sons, Judah and Noah. Kelsey said to me, all those years ago when we met, "I want to introduce you to your future husband." I believe it was Daddy God being a good Father so I call it divine, not ironic, that, in spite of my misgivings, Kelsey had been the one to note Luke at her and James' church in Eau Claire and introduce me to him one Sunday when I was in town.

While Luke was getting ready I was scraping ice and snow off of my vehicle, single-handedly, and wrestling Barley into the back seat. We drove up to the park ahead of Luke and the camera crew and got to watch through the rearview mirror as he arrived and adjusted his tie. My heart raced at the sight of him.

Neither of us were nervous for our first look. We were only excited, expectant, and full of peace. So much so that I waited behind him for an entire song.

Luke likes his stretchy pants. He likes to show me what he can do when he's wearing them. I like to be sincerely impressed. He's a funny man. I like him.
I'd always intended to be a barefoot bride. I took my chance while we were at the beach. It was about forty-five degrees out. Hilarious, as weeks before it had been seventy degrees out.

We're children of the Living God and we live rejoicing. We had celebrated His faithfulness through our single-and-not-searching years, His healing from past relationships, His bringing us together in the perfect timing, the extreme favor we had with Him and men in the whole season of our budding relationship, and His making the plans for our wedding and carrying them out. We had to worship. So we danced. In Lake Michigan.

We got wet. Our feet froze. My dress began to collect sand and pine needles and dirt. It was worth it.

Thanks, TOMS.

Arriving late for our own wedding, not having any change to pay the parking meter, and looking ahead to see that the park was full of our loved ones -- I'll always remember Evangeline Sperti's voice echoing out through the streets of downtown Milwaukee, over the river, as she and Rob (Pastor at Garden City Church) sang praises to our King Jesus.

As Luke and I walked into the park our family flocked to us. Lots of hugs and the chaos of an unrehearsed processional. We pulled it together well. Katie went up to give Rob and Vange the que to change the song. I quickly gave Josie and Axl directions for carrying the sign. Then we were all lined up, "Seek First" (by Jason Upton) began, and my Dad took several selfies with me.

Lani, Tim, and Lana Osicka

Dan, Debbie, and Travis Norwood

Lane Mills and Olivia Sjogren

Gabi and Aidan Mills

Paul and Heidi Wildes

We had asked our families and several mentor-figures or couples to stand up with us. Most were unable to make it. Some were unprepared to walk with us when we arrived at the park and so just stood from behind the crowd of guests. Paul and Heidi Wildes were the exception. The children that I nanny for walked in our processional -- a huge honor for me. For anyone who has thought they had to give up their big dreams: my friend Caitlin's childhood dream of being a flower girl was fulfilled in escorting our dog Barley down the aisle.

Josie and Axl Woods

Caitlin Milbauer and Barley

Looking across the park, over the crowd, to Luke worshipping Jesus I burst into an absurd smile. "Is that what you were hoping to see?" my Dad asked. I said yes. To be assured in full that I was marrying a man as in love with Jesus as I am was exactly what I had been waiting for all my life.

The crowd erupted with cheers and applause as I entered with my Dad and I yelled praises along with them to our God who is faithful.

My Dad and I have always been close. In past years that changed. Nevertheless, this moment was one we had shared tears over countless times as I was growing up. His giving me to be married to a man he'd only just met was, in Luke's words, "the greatest risk and blessing of [my Dad's] life." He ended up pulling together the finances needed to put on this grand party. He even secured the park for us, something that is supposed to take over a month to do and he did in less than two weeks. With Daddy God all things are possible.

Luke cried at the sight of me not because I was beautiful, not because I was his, but because I was truly a pure bride and that gave such glory to our God.
Our friend Nick Herringshaw preached the marvelous Good News. Heaven smiled, the earth rejoiced, and hearts received with gladness.

Our friend Andrew Hess, associate pastor at Cornerstone Church in Milwaukee, commissioned Luke and I.

Luke and I gave ourselves to each other -- he with the words from his heart in the moment, I with a few lines I'd recorded in an iPhone note a week before.

It was a testimony in itself that we had marriage bands. All were humored that they hadnt yet been taken out of the ziploc bags theyd been shipped to us in. 

Upon being pronounced husband and wife, we kissed each other for the very first time. Cheering ensued. Luke cried.

Exiting to our friend Dan Rosenbush playing his original song, "Dancing Feet", we had just began to dance in the melting snow when a precious homeless woman approached us with blessings. We stopped immediately to love on her and as we did the whole crowd began to mull around us, anticipating a moment to hug and congratulate.

[see Dan's music in the sidebar]

group hug from my brother Lane and very soon to be sister-in-law, Olivia

my baby brother, Aidan

Luke's Uncle Don

my little sister, Gabi, who burst into tears upon hugging me

Luke's older sister, Lana, and Gabi

Everyone brought food. Our friend Blake brought homemade kombucha. The group of us that ate at Buca di Beppo the night before had taken leftovers home and it looks like those were brought as well. In place of a wedding cake we had Holey Moley cater donuts. Luke's little sister, Lani, made the cake stands for serving them. Luke and I actually never made it over to the potluck -- we were kept so busy with greetings and then ushered straight to the front row for speeches -- but Poppa Tim brought us plates of food.

Our friend Jessica painted this incredible world map for everyone to sign. Our friends and family contributed so much of their time and talents and resources to make the park lovely and hospitable -- banners and garlands, the huge set of white curtains in the pavilion, chairs and tables, blankets, chalkboard signs, etc. I dont even know what all happened on the day-of, but I do know that anything to be done was met with many willing hands and happy hearts jumping to serve. The outpouring we received of cards and gifts was unbelievable. 

Dan continued to serenade us all until he literally couldnt feel his fingers anymore from the chill in the shade.

As a surprise, Pop had gathered several family members and our friend Heidi together to sing Luke and I a song.

We didnt have anyone planned to give speeches. We had simply communicated to the guys and gals who had celebrated the night before, as well as to the family and mentor figures we invited to stand up with us, that there would be an open mic for them should they be compelled to toast us. They were.

Lana Osicka

Blake Olsen

Lane Mills

I dont think I cried at the wedding until Lane's toast. I dont think he did either until then.

Jason Towery

David Holmbeck

Pastor Craig

We were so delighted to see homeless friends at the celebration. Above is our mate, Keith, who I had met and invited to the wedding one day as I walked through the park. Below is our pal, Tim, who is great friends with the Marquette crew and didnt realize it was my wedding until he saw me.

Justin Dietche

YWAM Northwoods DTS 2016 showed their undying support for Luke, and I suppose really for me as well, in all traveling to Milwaukee for this day. They had shared a lot together in the past months. Ive been in a school like that as well. The bonds are for life. Still, Ive never seen a student body turn out in full before for one of their brothers. It was beautiful.

Everyone saw that the dress became more beautiful the dirtier it got in transit. Someone told me it was very Elizabeth Bennet-esque. An honor of a comparison.

We are sincerely blessed with Kingdom people in our lives.

Keep an eye open for Josh and Morgan Chitwood's video production of the day. Its gorgeous and transformational.

Hand-hammered Sterling Silver Wedding Bands - by Tina
view the etsy listing here

These girls. We've done a lot of life together. Some I grew up with, some Ive just recently been growing up with. They are humble, honest, kind, generous, hilarious, pure, brave, creative, beautiful souls. Forever thankful for each one of them. Ask them for the testimonies of how they were able to attend the wedding. Theyre incredible.

Gabi, Lydia, Hannah, Paige, Jessica, Jade, Kelsey, Olivia, Blake, Jason, Nate
We asked everyone to wear white with me because we all are the Bride of Christ. Our wedding day was merely a glimmer of the glorious Wedding Day of the Lamb we're all being made ready for.

Its not a stretch to say that Luke and I wouldnt be married today if it werent for the guys in his life. Because of the example and love and support and wisdom of these soul brothers Luke learned what it was to know Jesus and to live an abundant life in Him. The Body being the Body is a glorious thing to behold. Its a forever-changing thing to encounter.

Osicka/Norwood clan

Mills clan

Lana Grace, Luke Borek, Lani Joy

Aidan, Gabi, Lane and Olivia

this is just the beginning.


  1. What a profoundly moving and gorgeous collection of photos from such a glorious day. Praise God for all this wonder! ^_^
    The post about your momma hit my heart. :( Went through something similar on my wedding day/first married year.

    Blessings to you and Luke! <3

  2. Absolutely glorious...I can see The Abba Father smiling, delighting over the union. Love in Jesus our Glorious King.
    sister tammy