Josh + Rachel’s Wedding at Mercy Oaks in Redding, California

My sister, Rachel, just married the man of her dreams, and you’ll find out why I mean that literally in just a few. Right now I’ll tell you their story is truly dreamy, wonderful, fun, sweet(Pun intended as Josh is a Chef!), hilarious at times, and their paths were God-purposed to cross, leading all the way up to Josh + Rachel’s wedding at Mercy Oaks in Redding, CA. A bond that forever will tie these two loving individuals together has been made and set in stone. This is love. This is their journey. This is their dreams come true.

I don’t get to see my sister in person much because California is a LOOOONG way from Texas. I say this because we make the 30 hour trek almost Annually, and with 4 kids in the back, strapped in for three days (sometimes two) of travel… I’ll let you use your imagination. haha. However, we make the journey because we LOVE LOVE our California family and have just the BEST time when we are in Redding with them. Because I miss my sister so dearly, I call her on occasion and sometimes she calls me. One particular conversation I will forever remember because she said, “Hannah, I met someone.” I needed all the details from that day and moving forward, and she was so helpful with including me in each play-by-play, so I felt like I was there, almost.

When I learned that Josh introduced Rachel as Rebecca a few times to people by accident and then Crashed Hard on their first date by showing up late then passing the restaurant, making them walk a while from the parked car in the rain only to find out the restaurant was closed, making that long walk back in the rain only to drive to a different location while being teased by my sister the rest of the night….. When I heard all of this, all I could think was – this HAS to be the one! Hahaha. This must be it. From then on, I started saving images from their dating that Rachel sent me and I would ask her for more if she hadn’t sent a photo in a while. I was collecting for a wedding present – a book with their dating history inside. Imagine the excitement when getting to gift this to them after Josh proposed!!!! Feel free to read their full story HERE.

Every time I visited Redding between then and now, it’s so strange because I have had a Déjà vu which literally translates: “Already Seen”. This gets me so emotional even to say because I feel as though I have dreamt them together for a long time. The first time I met Josh, I felt like I already KNEW him! I felt like I had been around him a lot already and like he was already a family member. I felt a love for him as a family member instantly and time and time again, going back to Redding, I would be around him and our family and experience another and another Déjà vu. God was speaking to me: “This is the man I have been showing you who will become your sister’s soul mate. He’s the man I have prepared for her and protected for her. He’s going to be your brother in law love. It is meant to be.

The perfect day finally arrived. January 4th, 2020. Many people asked, “How are you going to be both Matron of Honor AND Photographer?” With the help of Tracey Hedge, of course! She was my awesome second and really helped with the bridal party, family photos and ceremony. She’s a rockstar! It worked out and was a truly incredible day.

Rachel planned everything about her day and did an incredible DIY job! She used Ferns our dad trimmed from under the redwood trees in the backyard as center runners for the tables, Josh put together the napkins and plates to go with the theme of blue and taught us how to fold the napkins just right, they used tree trunk rounds from our parents’ backyard to put the mason jars on which were twinkling with lights and glowing all day at the wedding. Rachel is a teacher, and one of her students made her WEDDING CAKE! They also hand made caramel apples as gifts for everyone!!!! In addition, being the quality time person she is, Rachel planned a beautiful rehearsal dinner and then they decided to go out after for dessert and drinks at CR Gibbs! Then the morning of the wedding, we all met for breakfast to hang out and enjoy the morning together before the big day. AND in the midst of all that crazy, all that planning and all the go-go-go, Rachel was beaming.

The day of the wedding, her hair and makeup was done to perfection with a beautiful hair piece, a necklace from our dad, a borrowed bracelet, GORGEOUS florals from the Floranthropist, “I do” “I did” socks, a blue French manicure and the most incredible winter dress to finish the look. You’ll see below… She was STUNNING!! Josh didn’t seem nervous… he was just happy to be living out the best day of his life – I mean, cmon, he was marrying my sister! Tracey hung out with the guys for photos while I captured the first look with our dad and the girls getting ready as well as our mom helping her into her dress. The day was peaceful, joyful, and felt like Christmas morning.

At one point during Josh and Rachel’s first look portraits, there was a frozen moment in time. Rachel stopped me while she stood on the path and I held my camera while standing on the other side of the trimmed rose bushes. She said in a whisper, “Hannah, I just had a Déjà vu.” She had dreamt this moment without knowing it. God had confirmed what she already knew: This is a day the Lord had made. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)

The rest of the day went fast and furious after we captured the first look and some portraits. We were able to capture all the family photos, all the bridal party and 2 sets of portraits for Josh and Rachel before the ceremony began. The music was themed by their favorite movie together: The Greatest Showman. We all walked down to “Never Enough” and as I walked down the aisle with Daniel, the Best Man, I watched Josh’s face, filled with anticipation and a sense of excitement & readiness… also a touch of temptation because we all know he wanted to sing along with the song as loud as he could, haha. With the stage dripping with beautiful yellow and blue drapes and graced with a large, circle arch, hand built by our dad, covered in impeccable florals, everyone was ready for Rachel and our dad to saunter down the aisle. With Josh fighting with his tear ducts, and after my 3 year old daughter tried to steal the show by taking the tiniest baby steps down the long aisle, there they were. Rachel looked perfect and I watched my daddy in all confidence and assurance kindly give her away with a heart overflowing.

The ceremony went smoothly as our Youth Pastor, Banning Liebscher from Jesus Culture spoke of love, commitment and why a marriage covenant is important. Both sets of parents came up to pray over them while our brother, Elijah Runyan, Pastor and worship leader at Vertical Call in Santa Rosa, CA sang with is guitar. Josh and Rachel took communion and braided 3 strands of rope together representing God being intertwined in their lives, and then they shared a kiss in front of the Circle Arch as the celebratory cheers, whoops and hollers resounded for the world to hear.

I hope you enjoy scrolling through their day and celebrating with me as they are coming up on two weeks of marriage this Saturday!!!!!!!! Congratulations, Josh and Rachel!🥂💕

Incredible Vendors to be Recognized:

•Makeup by Karleen McConnell
•Hair by Michelle Gallagher
•Venue Mercy Oaks Wedding Venue
•Dress from Simply Elegant Bridal Boutique
•Florals by the Floranthropist
•Wedding Coordinator: Hailley Holcombe out of Sacramento
•DJ: Hector Guerrero of Norcal Reality Entertainment
•Cake by Maia Crummett
•Catering by Josh Carey (Groom) from his company, Vanuccis, as well as Odell Craft Barbecue
•Bridesmaid Dresses from Lulus
•Groomsmen and Groom attire from Mens Wearhouse + Calvin Klein