I have my wedding ring again!

It’s here! It’s finally here! A completely new ring direct from the jeweler where I initially bought it! Thanks a million Wheat Jewelers for taking care of me and my ring from 500 miles away 17 years post-purchase!! :heart: 💍

(That said, I did have to pay for it but they made it super easy! And really, the local jeweler here who screwed it up paid for it!)

Hopefully this is the end of my resizing saga!

Vicariously visiting our brick!

We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it to Traverse a City to see our wedding brick, so when my dad and stepmom were there, they stopped by to take some pictures for us! It has really grown up in 15 years! :) 





There’s now a waterfall.

And a wooden train (the dinner train is no longer running):

And our brick then:

And now:



That’s fate, folks.

So, as you know, our wedding rings no longer fit. The rings seen here are my mom and dad’s wedding rings from 1970. I’ve had them since (mom, do you remember?) college, maybe? She thought I’d like to have them and she was right…I love them.

Of course I tried hers on over the years but there was never a chance of it fitting. For years now, I’ve actually worn them both on a chain because they fit perfectly inside one another. 

But tonight I looked at them and thought “Maybe I should try it on. It’s been awhile.” And it fit perfectly. So I gave Tom my dad’s ring…and it, too, fit perfectly.

That’s fate, folks.❤️

I’m sure we’ll both get our rings resized eventually, but for now, this works. And makes me all smiley. :) :) :)

Quick wedding photo reenactment

Since we didn’t really get a good selfie before or during the event, we tried a quick one at home.

Tom noticed our wedding photo in the background and suggested we take another and duplicate the wedding photo. It took a bit longer the second to actually get ourselves positioned where we could see the pic between us…and then I suggested I try to also duplicate the position of my hands…except it came out more like I was trying to claw his throat. :)

Then I thought “Hey! Wait! We have the flowers from the centerpiece!” Except they were too big.

The last attempt was the winner!

Lt. & Mrs. Thomas & Jennifer Hudson

You can find all of the wedding pictures at Shutterfly — why duplicate the effort here?

The short story…

THOMAS AND JENNIFER TIED THE KNOT on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning in the Northern Michigan town where they met. The ceremony went off without a hitch (okay, maybe one—but you’ll have to read further to see what it was) and everyone loved the couple’s personalized vows. Then the couple and their guests enjoyed a three-hour gourmet lunch reception aboard the local Grand Traverse Dinner Train. The couple left the reception on a horse-drawn carriage.

The long story…

August 18, 2001
Grand Traverse Children’s Gardens
Traverse City, Michigan


The girls arrived at the library at 10:15…in plenty of time for the wedding (10:30!), but much later than anticipated. (We originally planned to get dressed at the library, but it just didn’t happen.) I had also totally forgotten that we had lots of wedding stuff in the van that had really needed to be at the site earlier (the CD player and prelude music, the guest-signing picture frame/matte, and the programs) so that stressed me out even more, although I do have to give my attendants (and brother!) credit for getting things taken care of. A stream of people came in to see me, and while it was nice, my mind was elsewhere—I was still very nervous and hoping that everything went okay. I was elated to see that after all my worrying and back-and-forth with the florist, my flowers were absolutely gorgeous (sidenote: they were MUCH heavier than I anticipated). Then before I knew it, it was time! (I also learned that the guys had arrived at the library much earlier, and were actually starting to get worried because we weren’t there yet!)


I had to wait with my dad around the corner while the mothers were seated, because Tom was doing it and he couldn’t take the chance of seeing me. My dad started to say something that sounded sentimental and I bluntly told him to be quiet. Then he started again and I “shhh”ed him again. This went on for a good minute. I kept telling him he couldn’t say anything that would make me cry since that would ruin my makeup and give me red eyes!! He ended up getting out one sentence which wasn’t TOO bad! Then we got our cue, so as we walked toward the garden, I looked over and saw Tom standing there in his uniform. WOW!!!!! He looked absolutely amazing! So we stopped at the back of the garden and waited for the trumpeter to start. It was VERY surreal looking around and seeing everyone who was there, all looking at me—and Tom waiting for me! Then the trumpeter started and we walked up the aisle.

I alternated between looking at all the guests, looking up at Tom, and looking at the ground (for dips and bumps) to make sure I didn’t trip and fall. The aisle wasn’t very long, so that part was over quickly. Tom came down to us, my dad handed me off to Tom and shook his hand, then I gave him a kiss and Tom and I walked up to our places. Julie welcomed everyone and started the ceremony. This was the weirdest part, because we were both just standing there looking at everyone. I wanted to at least hold hands (wondering if brides and grooms normally did that—I couldn’t remember!) but I had my bouquet and he was being Mr. Strict Military Man (as he was technically supposed to be) with his arms at his sides, his hands in little fists. This part seemed to go on FOREVER. However, it was neat to have time to be able to see everyone who was there!


Clicking any of the four wedding program thumbnails below will popup a full-size version.


Various Classical Selections


Variations on a Theme by Paganini (Rachmaninoff)

Seating of the mothers (Grandma, Marsha, Linda, Jean) by Tom

That’s How You Know It’s Love (Deana Carter)

Groom’s Attendants (Kate, Don, Morgan)

Best Man (Rob)

Groom (Tom)

Bride’s Attendants (Marie, Kathryn, Beth)

Maid of Honor (Angi)

Flower Girl (Jessica)

Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke)

Bride & Father (Jen and Mike)


Who presents this bride for marriage? Her parents. (Dad hands Jen off to Tom. Tom shakes Dad’s hand. Jen kisses Dad on cheek. Jen and Tom walk together to front and face the guests.)


Good morning. I’m Reverend Julie Chai and I have the honor of officiating this marriage ceremony which Jennifer, Tom, and I have co-created. On behalf of Tom and Jennifer, I would like to welcome all of you to this ceremony celebrating the love they have for each other. We would also like to welcome those who have passed on and are celebrating with us in spirit today—especially Tom’s father, Robert.

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the parents of the couple. Would the parents please stand? On your left is Tom’s mother, Marsha, and Jennifer’s mother Jean and stepfather David. On your right, her father Michael and stepmother Linda.


As the parents of Thomas and Jennifer, do you affirm your continuing support and love to them as they grow in their marriage? Yes.

Do you celebrate with them in their decision to choose each other? Yes.

Do you offer them the best of your care and counsel in times of struggle, and will you celebrate with them in times of joy? Yes.


As the much loved friends and family of the couple, you are very important to them and your role in their marriage is a very important one as well. Today you will be witnesses to the vows they will be making uniting them as a couple. As witnesses, they ask that during times of stress, you offer them a quiet listening ear, advice when requested, and encouragement to uphold their vows, honoring the love they have found in each other. It is our hope that as we celebrate the love of Jennifer and Tom here today, that you will also cherish and hold more dear your own loving relationships. And as they take their vows, that you, too, will find renewed commitment in the relationships you have made in the sacredness of your own lives.


I asked Tom and Jennifer why they want to get married and what is drawing them to each other. Tom noted that he was first attracted to Jennifer’s eyes and smile. He said, “I love her personality and sense of humor. We are so much alike that it’s comforting. She’s easy to be around.” To this Jennifer quickly added, “It feels like we’ve been together forever.” Tom agreed, noting that they often know what each other is thinking and he said, “Jennifer is my best friend and I couldn’t think of being with anyone else.”

Jennifer remembered the first time they met, saying, “When we saw each other across the smoky bar and met [big laugh from the guests!], we knew that night we would get married.” She said that she loves the fact that Tom loves her unconditionally, no matter what. And she appreciates how easygoing Tom is and how he gets along with everyone in her family. Finally, she noted, “Tom does his best to make me happy, including the cute little animal noises I love.” [Everyone laughed. Then, still laughing, Julie asked if anyone had ever heard these noises—because she kept hearing about them but had never actually heard them. Everyone laughed again.]


And now Jennifer’s Aunt Marge will offer some thoughts on love:

Love is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your spouse as about your own. It makes burdens lighter because you divide them and joys more intense because you share them. Love is a promise that is always kept, a fortune that can never be spent, and love is a seed that can flourish even in the most unlikely places.

And now Jennifer’s brother-in-law, Jim Coe, will read an excerpt from The Art of Marriage:

A good marriage must be created. Remember that it is the little things that are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands…remembering to say I love you at least once a day…never going to bed angry…and at no time taking the other for granted. In a good marriage you have a mutual sense of values and common objectives. And you stand together facing the world. In a good marriage you do things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. You speak words of gratitude and demonstrate it in thoughtful ways. In a good marriage, the husband is not expected to wear a halo, or the wife the wings of an angel. You do not look for perfection in the other, but cultivate flexibility, patience, understanding, and a sense of humor. You forgive and forget. A good marriage is not only about marrying the right partner, but being the right partner.


As a symbol of their unity, Jennifer and Tom have chosen a bell. During times of conflict and pain they will ring this bell. In ringing the bell, they will be reminded of the love that unites them and surrounds them here today. The ringing of the bell by the couple.


[Note: At this point, we finally get to turn towards each other.]

Jennifer, hold Tom’s hands, palm up.

Jennifer, these are the hands of your best friend—young, strong, and vibrant as he promises to love you all the days of his life.

These hands will work alongside yours as you build your future together, laugh and cry, and share your innermost secrets and dreams.

Though large and strong, these are the hands that will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time.

These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.

And these hands will love and cherish you throughout the years in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy.

Jennifer, bless these hands you hold before you this day.

Thomas, hold Jennifer’s hands, palm up.

Tom, these are the hands of your best friend—smooth, young, and carefree as she promises to love you all the days of her life.

These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.

These hands will hold you with joy and excitement and hope each time she tells you that you are to have another child, that together you have created a new life.

These hands will console and comfort you.

And these hands will love and cherish you throughout the years in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy.

Tom, bless these hands you hold before you this day.

Please join in the unison prayer for the blessing of the vows by repeating after me:

Jennifer and Tom, we your friends and family celebrate your love and with our love bless the vows you are about to make. Receive the patience, courage, wisdom, and humor you need to grow together, and fulfilling your vows now and forever.


Jennifer’s vows:

Thomas, I love you.

  • I promise to affirm my love for you by giving you a quick wink and a smile to let you know everything is okay.
  • I promise to hold you and comfort you to make you feel safe.
  • I promise to try to appreciate the good in everything.
  • I promise I will give you time to work things out when you feel overwhelmed.
  • I promise to do my best to accept the time it takes you to analyze and make a purchase.
  • I promise to accept your quirkiness and unique sense of humor.
  • I’ll do my best to understand your need to have the TV on all the time.
  • I promise to do my best to understand and accept your future military responsibilities and not make you feel guilty about having to put studying first.
  • I’ll do my best to try not to watch QVC as much.
  • I promise to never put another sugarprincess sticker on my car, just in case you ever have to drive it.
  • I look forward to making our relationship even stronger and spending the rest of my life with you.
  • Thomas, I give you this ring as a symbol of our vows—and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.

Thomas’ Vows:

Jennifer, I love you.

  • I promise to be faithful, trustworthy, and honest with you.
  • I promise to listen to you and only fix the things you ask me to.
  • I’ll do my best to communicate more, even when the topic might be uncomfortable for me.
  • I’ll do my best to compromise, even with my TV habits, such as endless channel flipping.
  • I’ll do my best to support your decisions, even if I might not agree with them.
  • I promise not to become addicted to any more computer games.
  • And I look forward to making our relationship even stronger and spending the rest of my life with you.
  • Jennifer, I give you this ring as a symbol of our vows—and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.


Please join me in pronouncing the couple husband and wife:

Tom and Jennifer, we now pronounce you husband and wife.



Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now you will feel no loneliness, for each of you will be companionship for the other.

Now you are two persons, but there is only one life between you.

Go now to your dwelling place, to enter into the days of your life together.


Please join in the Unison Blessing of the Couple by repeating after me:

Jennifer and Tom, may your lives be blessed with health, love, and happiness, and may your home be filled with laughter now and forever.


As you have blessed, so may you also be blessed. And may your lives also be filled with health, love, and happiness—and may your homes be filled with laughter now and forever.


Friends, it is my honor and pleasure to introduce to you Lieutenant and Mrs. Thomas and Jennifer Hudson.


These Are Days (10,000 Maniacs)



After the recessional, we came back and greeted the guests at their rows and everyone said they loved the ceremony—and some people even asked for copies of it and suggested I post it online. It took awhile to get the pictures started (especially getting the extended families together for each family picture), but once they did, they went pretty well. By this time, too, it was quite warm (although not terribly hot and humid) so I was really warm with all the layers of the dress. I really needed a fresh application of powder to take away the shine I had developed, but I had forgotten to prepare a little makeup bag, and at that point, I had NO idea where my makeup bag was. So, I was more than a little anxious about what I would look like in pictures (as it turned out, some are great and some are way too shiny!).

Bridal Party


We made it to the train with a few minutes to spare before the 1pm departure. I made sure to tell Chandra (the photographer) to get on the train first, so she could get a picture of Tom’s reaction when he saw the personalized cake topper. So we got on the train and the server announced us and everyone clapped and it was really neat—and I almost missed Tom’s reaction to the topper because in the few minutes since I had talked to the photographer, I had forgotten about it! I actually looked down and saw the photographer and wondered what she was doing down there…and then remembered just as she was snapping the picture! He was SO surprised! He just looked at me, laughed and smiled, and said, “You stinker—you told me you weren’t doing this!” I asked if he liked it and he said he did! Then we just sat down, relaxed for a bit (and gave my feet a chance to rest—I had kicked off my shoes as soon as we sat down), and drank a lot of water! Once the train got moving, we got up and started visiting with all of the tables. Everyone LOVED everything—especially the CDs. (I was worried about having lots of extras—since I made one for everyone—and the only leftovers were for the people who didn’t show.)


The carriage ride was very cool. We got a few honks as we rode along the main road (on our way to the side streets) and Tom even got a few salutes! Most of our ride was along the side streets, past all of these old Victorian houses. It was a nice, relaxing way to end the hectic day. One bizarre thing happened, though. As we’re clip-clopping down this one street, I see this woman step out onto her porch holding a baby—and it was my hairdresser who had done all our hair that morning (and who had been doing my hair for the past six months)!! She was like, “Jen!!!!” and I was like, “Hey Heidi!!!!” I had no idea where she lived, and we just happened to go by her house. Strange.