dear Hansie

My dear darling Hansie–

Since there’s no time to add any other photos to this week’s letter, I’ll share with the you a few of photos I’ve been printing and framing.

Aren’t they adorable?

Everything around here sings “wedding, wedding, wedding” this week. We can scarcely clear a spot to eat on the kitchen table amongst frames and decorations, my sewing machine, tape, scissors, matchboxes; shower gifts hide behind the piano bench and the window seat boasts glasses and napkins and tiny salt and pepper shakers. The mantel groans under plates and candles, borrowed pitchers and lanterns for the wedding dinner at our house on Thursday night.

We’ve made little matchbox favors, tested all the recipes, ordered cakes from the Dodo (I wish we could send you a piece) and keep hazarding guesses at how many people we need to seat. Mormons are infamous for their failure to RSVP, but I am determined, ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED not to get stressed out this week. It’s OK if twenty extra people show up, we can find extra plates and folding chairs and worst case scenario, throw a blanket on the grass and let everyone under twenty have a picnic. Of course, if it rains, we’ll have a cozy picnic dinner for everyone inside.

Photography has given me an inside view on many, many weddings, and while I won’t pretend to be an expert until I’m on the bride’s side of the responsibilities, I will say this — things go wrong: cakes get smashed, frames get forgotten, babies cry, people forget their shoes and shirts and ties and hairbows. Every wedding suffers at least ten tiny disasters, but as long as you marry the right person, nothing else really matters.

And Ben is marrying Sammie!!! Can you believe it? Can you honestly, truly believe it? You’re gaining a sister; and a kinder, sweeter, more talented and lovely sister could not be found.

Ben and Sam just arrived home from the last of their four pre-wedding interviews. As you know, marrying in the temple is a very big deal, and in preparation they’ve spoken to Sammie’s bishop (her dad), Sam’s stake president, our bishop and our stake president. It might sound like a lot during such a busy time, but they’ve loved the interviews and say they feel like they’ve been walking on air all weekend long. I think the church requires so many interviews just so no problems slip through the cracks (remember the story of the bride who didn’t know her hubby-to-be had been married before?) and to impress the solemnity of forever. ‘Til death do you part’ holds no place in the temple, we talk about eternity.

Some of the best advice they’ve received: “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Just in time for the wedding, I finished the heart quilt for Ben and Sammie. More than four years ago, when Ben was still on his mission, I bought the pattern with Lisa and started cutting out the hearts, but it wasn’t until Sammie came along that it really took shape. The pattern was merely for a throw, but Ben wanted a HUGE quilt, so I added squares and sashing and made lots of mistakes and I think it’s gorgeous.

I wouldn’t have finished without every member of my family and Liz and Emilea, Annie and Meg who came over one day and spent an entire afternoon helping me. Maybe that’s why I adore this quilt so much– it’s filled with love.

EI3C1979 copy

In truth, one of the great benefits of a wedding are the many expressions of love from so many friends and neighbors. We’ve had beautiful wedding showers, kind notes, thoughtful gifts. I have a long list of people to call this week who’ve offered to do errands, help with food, set up tables, arrange flowers. I’m not sure how weddings work in the rest of the world, but in Utah they tend to be a little bit homegrown– much like the celebrations of the past. And even though the Drysdale’s have ordered food and rented tables and lights, there are countless little kindnesses offered by friends– wreaths, easels, vases, baking, a gorgeous yard for the reception…And as your darling cousin Zoey says, “It’s important to let your friends help with weddings; it’s how they show their love to you.”

As much love has been shown to us, I’m afraid of offending someone or not acknowledging a kindness. We sent out hundreds of invitations a few weeks ago, but we keep remembering people we should have invited. And often the forgotten people are the most obvious to invite. If someone doesn’t invite you to their wedding– don’t be offended– just know they are probably a bit distracted at the moment. I hope we can thank and acknowledge everyone who has helped and gifted; sent kind regrets and attends the reception. I’ve been thinking about the wedding day– I don’t want to worry about my hair, my dress, myself– I want to encourage and uplift everyone I meet and share the joy of a glorious day.

Maybe I’ll just watch Cinderella again for inspiration? The DVD arrived this week and we couldn’t help but think of you while watching it. The way you came home from the movie and said, “That’s the first movie I’ve seen in a long time that makes me want to be a better person.” You are such a Prince Charming, my darling Hans. Your Cinderella will be a very lucky girl. Stefan loved the movie just as much as you did and even sat through the bonus features with us. “Have courage and be kind.” Such a good motto for life, for missions, for love.

And though we were working on wedding prep while watching the movie, we’ve been doing all the ordinary stuff of living: music lessons, dance lessons, cross-country and ultimate frisbee, orchestra and mutual, baking bread every other day, homework around the counter, making lunches, family prayers at 8:30 pm so Xander can wake up at 5:30 am. I’ve even made dinner (almost) every night. Though I’ll admit we’ve had the chicken parmesan I’m experimenting of for the wedding four out of the last seven nights.

Weddings are filled with emotions. Mostly happy, but kind of all over the place. Whenever the whirl of emotions gets too high Mary turns on this song:

Between Cinderella and the Barenaked Ladies I think we’re ready for this week: Have courage and be kind. Odds are it will be all right.







September 13, 2015
September 27, 2015



  1. jen

    September 20, 2015

    My husband is a pastor and is doing secular weddings to pay the bills while he is between churches. He requires couples to meet with him in person or by Skype for pre-marital counseling and this keeps there from being surprises such as someone not telling their beloved that they’ve been married before.

    I also remember my (Episcopal) priest telling me that she is required to get the bishop’s permission to marry someone who has been married before and that’s partially to ensure that she has done her job and counseled people properly beforehand. If someone who has been married before wants to marry again, there is a specific waiting period before they can and that is to give them a chance to address what went wrong in the first marriage.


      September 21, 2015

      Hi Jen– I remember well your wise comments about the waiting period when there is a second marriage. I’d love to learn more about the work of a pastor– I think it would be fascinating! One of these days we need to meet and talk for hours.

      • jen

        September 27, 2015

        If I ever find myself in SLC again or you’re wherever we happen to be living at the time, I’ll take you up on that!

  2. Claudia Hill

    September 21, 2015

    It will be beautiful! Just look at them. Amazing! Having been the mother of the bride twice in one summer I can tell you things will be forgotten. (We had no water or beverages at Analisa’s very hot August outdoor reception) Opps. It all worked out anyway! She was surrounded by love and that’s that part that is truly worth celebrating. Such a glorious time to watch your family and your heart grow. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help. I’ll drop off a small token of our love this week. Thinking of you all! Much love, Claudia

  3. Emily B

    September 22, 2015

    So, so, SO HAPPY for your family. Thank you for letting us read these things, this post has already brought me a lot of joy and I suspect I will be thinking and praying for you all this week.

  4. Lisa

    September 23, 2015

    This just may be my all-time favorite blog post you’ve ever written. May I just say thank you for taking the time during your crazy busy life before the big wedding…to share your thoughts and photos. We can’t wait to be part of the big day!

  5. Vicki P.

    September 23, 2015

    Hi! I have been reading your blog for a couple years now, and I just LOVE it. This post, especially. I can feel your spirit radiating through your words and just the goodness that your family possesses. Thank you for inspiring me to be my best for my future family! Also, thank you to Mary for that great song! I love it! Good luck to you for the upcoming wedding. I was married almost 2 years ago and while it was a whirlwind, all I remember was the Temple, and I’m okay with that because that was what really mattered. Congratulations to the soon-to-be newlyweds!

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