Elizabeth and Jon had a beautiful union at St. Ignatius followed by the reception at Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland. With the help of their families they incorporated a lot of unique DIY touches to make it extra special. It was such an honor to be apart of their day, and we asked them a few questions to tell the story of their wedding.
What was your favorite moment of your wedding?
We were most excited to share our faith and what God has done in bringing us together; a real miracle. Each of our respective families have said over and over what a “miracle” and “answer to prayer” we each are for each other and our families.
Jon’s Uncle Fr. Rick Ganz, SJ, Jon’s cousin Fr. Brad Hagelin, and Elizabeth’s Auntie Anne Buck presided over the ceremony; Elizabeth’s pastor from Portland Dr. A.J. Swoboda and her college pastor from Corvallis Rev. Matt Mills did the Prayers of the Faithful. Bishop Peter Smith was also present at the altar. We are still overwhelmed and honored that these 6 people, whom we have personal relationships with, married us. It was truly remarkable, and such a blessing!
Can you share a memorable story about an important person at the wedding?
Elizabeth’s maternal grandfather Forbes Williams arrived early. He is nearly 96, and one of the best men in the world (WW2 Vet, Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Portland State, and most importantly, an outstanding husband, father, and man of faith).
When he arrived, we were at a “pause” with photos, and Elizabeth and her Mom were able to put his boutonniere on, and Jon and Elizabeth got pictures with him. Elizabeth and her Papa then sat in the front pews, and Elizabeth showed him her ‘mientras’ tattoo (she got this tattoo a few years ago on her wrist, in her Papa’s handwriting; mientras means “meanwhile” in Spanish). When she first showed it to him after she got it, he said “now I’m always with you.” Jennifer got pictures of Elizabeth’s tattoo over his hand, the two of them holding hands, and Elizabeth showing him her grandmother’s name in the program (including the details about her veil). Fritz and Jennifer got some absolutely amazing photos of each and every one of these moments of Elizabeth and her grandfather. These photos are truly priceless, and she will treasure them forever.
Fun Fact: Right after we got engaged at the Rose Garden, we went to her Papa’s house! He was the first one we got to see in person and celebrate with! (Fritz also took our engagement pictures at the Rose Garden. Elizabeth was the 2007 Rose Festival Queen, and for the proposal, Jon convinced her to go to the Rose Garden so he could “see her plaque.” Once in front of her plaque, he proposed!)
Jon also had a bracelet made that said “siempre” (meaning “always”) to go with her “mientras” tattoo. He gave it to her at their first look, and she hasn’t taken it off since.
Was there something that made you cry at your wedding?
Several things did! Walking down the aisle with my parents, seeing Jon for the first time, dancing with my Dad…My Auntie Anne came to the girl’s dressing room before the ceremony, and all of the girls, my Mom, and my Auntie laid their hands on me, and prayed for Jon and I.
Was there something that made you laugh?
We had Jon’s 7 nieces and nephews (the children of 2 of the bridesmaids) and Elizabeth’s Goddaughter and her 2 sisters (the children of another bridesmaid) as our little attendants. They were SO darling in their outfits, and we laughed throughout the day every time we saw them. They were SO excited to dress up and be in the wedding; and they danced their feet off!
What were your favorite wedding decoration details?
I (Elizabeth) made little pendants of a photo with each bridesmaid, to hang from each bridesmaid’s bouquet. I also made pendants of photos of my grandparent’s wedding, my parent’s wedding, and a picture of Jon and I to hang from my bouquet, I gave the best man one of Jon and I to give to him that morning, I gave one to my Mom, one to my Auntie Anne, and one to my Dad.
We also had Elizabeth’s cousin Stephanie make the beautiful wedding cake. The tablecloth was her great Aunt Mary’s, and the cake was surrounded by 4 photos of each of the weddings of Elizabeth’s parents, Jon’s parents, Elizabeth’s maternal grandparents, and Jon’s maternal grandparents. The wedding topper said “Mr. and Mrs. At Last” and our wedding song was “At Last.”
We had coloring pictures made of us, and the kids got to decorate them at the kid’s activity table.
We had large wooden J & E letters made as our “guestbook,” Elizabeth’s Dad stained them, and then the guests signed them. They are now hanging in the entryway of our home!
We wrote love letters to each other before the wedding day, and gave them to Elizabeth’s Mom. She then put them in frames, and they were put at our dinner table. We each saw each other’s letter for the first time at the reception! It was so fun to read them in the moment! (Fritz, of course, captured that moment, too).
Elizabeth and her Mom sewed all of the napkins for the reception, and guests took them home as party favors.
Elizabeth’s family has a tradition of doing all of the flowers for the grandchildrens’ weddings a few days before the wedding. Her paternal grandmother Joyce Arntson is an excellent florist, and one of her gifts is paying for the flowers. We had friends and family come over the Thursday before the wedding, and make 30+ centerpieces, almost 30 boutonnieres, more than 20 corsages, 10 bridesmaids bouquets, and 6 nosegays for the flower girls. Elizabeth made her own bouquet and Jon’s boutonniere. Jon and Elizabeth took the centerpieces to Good Samaritan Hospital the next morning and donated them.
We had a sign that said, “Welcome to our Wedding – Elizabeth & Jon” at the church, and had someone take it to the reception and write “French” on the bottom once we were married. It was then on display at the Sentinel.
Elizabeth’s sister-in-law Hannah gifted a name board to her and Jon (Hannah and Elizabeth went to a business and got them to design a board, which she then made with Hannah; Elizabeth chose it to have a monogram F, followed with “The French Family, established 10-06-2018.”) We displayed this at the reception, as well as the words to one of the hymns we sang at the wedding (How Great Thou Art), the words to another hymn sung at our wedding (Amazing Grace), and the words to the one of the Bible verses read at the wedding (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
We had 3 double-sided frames at each table; one side had a photo of Elizabeth and Jon, and the other side had our dinner menu.
The basket we used for cards from guests was given to us by Elizabeth’s Aunt Beth, who always gives a picnic basket filled with picnic items to each bride in the family.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
We had the biggest dance party of all time.
Where did you find your wedding attire?
Dress: David’s Bridal (“something new”)
Groom and Groomsmen: Men’s Wearhouse
Bridesmaid dresses: Etsy
Veil: Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother made the veil for her mother’s wedding (“something borrowed”)
Handkerchief Elizabeth held with her during the wedding: A napkin from Elizabeth’s paternal grandmother (“something old”)
Shoes: Tom’s shoes (Bridesmaids signed one shoe in blue, groomsmen signed other shoe in blue) (“something blue”)
Bride’s Hair: Claire Ryan (Matron of Honor)
Bride’s Makeup: Bride
Earrings+bracelets (bride+bridesmaids): Amazon!
Church: St Ignatius