One week after Ashley & Gideon’s wedding, Gideon was deployed to Iraq. He will not be back until the fall.

I was moved by Ashley’s words.  They really highlight the true meaning of a wedding. So often the meaning gets buried beneath layers of veneer that we call details. But that veneer is stripped away pretty fast when your beloved is about to go to war.

My thoughts are with Ashley & Gideon. Wishing Gideon a safe return to his adoring bride.


Update: Ashley has started her own blog. Check it out over here.

real weddings military bride

Ashley, 25 & Gideon, 26

North Wales, PA

Wedding Date: December 26, 2008

Number of Guests: 30

Wedding Cost: $4,500

Wedding Ceremony Location: The Joseph Ambler Inn. The ceremony was in front of a HUGE fireplace in a historic farmhouse on the property that was built in 1734!

Wedding Reception Location: The Joseph Ambler Inn. The reception was in the same house in a room next to the room where the ceremony was held.

bride in front of joseph ambler inn

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We originally discussed a simple court house ceremony, but the more we thought about it, the more we wanted something more than that. We knew that Gideon would be deploying to Iraq and I really wanted to have some memories to hold onto during that time, which iswhy I made such a huge point to get a GREAT photographer. I know he thought that was silly, but is so wonderful to have all the pictures from the most amazing day of our lives. I hold them all very near and dear to my heart. We have huge gallery wall of wedding photos in our living room and I was able to send him a bunch which he loved. I can say it best by saying this: my in-laws and I joke around all the time that you can see “the look of love” reflected in our pictures. That is why we decided to have a small wedding. We wanted our very close friends and family to share in our love and see just how much we love each other. It would have been selfish to keep that between ourselves and a random judge at the courthouse.

Bride in front of Joseph Ambler Inn

What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Not making the guest list bigger! Thank goodness that we were limited by space. Again, originally it was just going to be us at the courthouse wedding. Then it turned into just us and our immediate families (parents, siblings and grandparents) and our maid of honor and best man. Then aunts and uncles got added, and Gideon and I realized we needed to add close friends. So, the list grew and it I think it would’ve kept growing had we allowed it to, but we really didn’t want it to be too big. Thirty was the perfect number of guests.

wedding at the joseph ambler inn

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

I guess we were worried that we would offend some people and felt like maybe we had to invite them, but in the end it was OUR wedding, so we quickly realized (or rather Gideon helped me to quickly realize) that what people think really doesn’t matter and a co-worker that I knew for six months really wasn’t going to be that offended in the end. Plus, I’ll tell you a secret: Having a small wedding really forces you to keep it that way because sometimes you simply run out of space and so it is great to be able to say “sorry we are keeping it really small” and that is just that. : )

wedding ceremony joseph ambler inn

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Yes. My mother in-law was a bit worried about offending some extended family members so it was great to be able to tell her not to worry about it and that she too could tell them “sorry they are keeping it small and the space won’t allow for more guests”.

now you may kiss the bride

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The KISS! That was the best kiss of my life! My foot popped but you couldn’t see it because of my dress, but you can see the smile on my face the instant before he kissed me. That is one of my favorite pictures! Oh, and the fact that when I started to cry, he wiped away the tear on my cheek with his hand. Many of the guests said later that when that happened it “just melted their hearts.” Keeping it so small and so focused on us and God was amazing. Our officiant put together a wonderful ceremony out of Ephesians 5 per our request and it just flowed from there. I think that everyone in the room enjoyed it because it wasn’t just your typical ceremony. It was very biblically based and very much about unconditional love.

wedding ceremony inn

What were the highlights of the reception?

The toast from Gideon’s best man Joe was really great. He gave me credit because he can see Gideon “melt” around me : ) My maid of honor, Shauna gave a really great toast too, so both of those were definite highlights.

I also love that we really made it ours. You know that silly tradition where people clink their glasses with their forks so that the bride and groom will kiss? Well, we refused and I thought it was so super when my husband said to the whole room. “Hey! No, we will not kiss on queue we will kiss when we WANT to kiss!” And then he kissed me very passionately (almost like a make-out session). It was funny and cute and so us! Another highlight was definitely our first dance. I don’t think too many people know this, but we danced to a song that Gideon sent me the lyrics to while we were apart not that long ago called “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard. Our first dance was AMAZING! I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what was going on in the room around us; I was just so focused on him. It was wonderful! And last but not least, I think the way we cut the cake was a highlight too.

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

One of the best things was that we pretty much had total control over the whole thing. We were able to do as much or as little as we wanted. Maybe some people thought it was rude of us, but we even disappeared a few times to just talk and we stuck really close to each other the whole time. Having it small really helped with this because I think most of our guests felt included and it wasn’t like we were forced to go around and say “hi” to everyone; everyone was right there and close by! I also think we really lucked out with such a great location. Having it all right there made it super easy. We even saw each other before for a little mini photo shoot/”first glance” ! I highly suggest this to anyone who likes to “buck against tradition”.

In the end it is YOUR DAY. You should do what works best for you and what makes you both happy. I think that is why I LOVED our wedding so much and I am so glad it was intimate. It allowed us to do so much more. It allowed us to stay completely focused on each other and not get caught up in the size and chaos of a much larger wedding. Let’s face it: weddings no matter how small or large are chaotic in many ways. I think an intimate wedding keeps the chaos at bay ; )

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Do it! Do it! Do it! In my opinion weddings should be about the TWO of you and the life you are about to begin. With large weddings it is too easy to get caught up in the “wedding” and all that goes with it. There is so much pressure to please and not offend people, to make it about the bride or the groom or the guests or how much money is spent etc. In the end, none of that really matters. When two people are really in love and  can’t wait to start their lives together , the beauty of that should overshadow everything else. An intimate wedding really allows for that. It lets the couple shine! : )

wedding guests at joseph ambler inn


Apparel: Alfred Angelo/custom (Bride), J.Crew (MOH/Bridesmaid), US Army (Groom/Groomsmen), Men’s Warehouse (Best Man)

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas

Flowers:Perkasie Florist (Perkasie, PA) Cake – Landis Super Markets (Telford, PA)

Photography: Isabel March Photography


Ceremony/Reception Site & Food: The Joseph Ambler Inn

Officiant: John T. Hank

Photos: Isabel March Photography