There's something so special about the friends you make in college that you manage to hold onto. They know you through the years of your biggest changes as you become the very first version of your adult self.
I don't remember the exact moment I met JJ but I'm guessing that it was the day we started our freshman year at Kansas State University, quite possibly during auditions for the theatre department's fall productions. A whirlwind of memorable years followed as our friendship grew, with parties and plays, classes, late night talks, karaoke and $1 beers.
Right after college JJ and I both moved to California to work at a theater. There we went whale watching, visited Disneyland, dyed each other's hair (I'll never stop feeling bad about the botched job I did), believed the equipment we bought off an informercial would change the way we worked out (spoiler: it didn't).
I was lucky to have JJ as a friend through all of this and all the years that followed. We went through relationships, changed careers, stumbled and soared. Maybe we weren't the best at keeping in touch all the time, but that never seemed to matter when we saw each other again.
When JJ and Ben started dating I knew it was something special. My heart grew every time I watched him (via social media due to the unfortunate distance between LA and NYC) shower her with love and affection. On the day of their intimate elopement in California I cried happy tears knowing my friend had found her partner in life. And when I finally met Ben in person hours before their Kansas backyard wedding reception I felt that I had known him for years.
Every detail of their reception felt full to the brim of JJ and Ben's creativity. It was a DIY wedding all around with family and friends pitching in at every turn, from a friend who made the wedding cakes to JJ's mom who created the flower arrangements (in addition to the most amazing bouquet I've ever seen, assembled from antique broaches). Photos of JJ and Ben were everywhere, taken by Ben (himself a photographer) and their friends. The family even built a dance floor onsite a few hours before the party after the rain had made the ground a soggy mess. The day was filled with warmth, love and generous spirits and I was overjoyed to be a part of it. Congratulations, my dear JJ and Ben. I can't wait for the adventures and memories that you (and we) have yet to create.
Location: Pecanderosa Grove (i.e. the bride's family's backyard), Fredonia, Kansas
Centerpieces, bouquet, and so many of the design elements: Heartstrings
Cake: Jackie Ong (friend of the family)