2.2.18 — It was the most beautiful 40 degree and sunny weekend, tucked between a snowstorm and an ice storm. We risked the notoriously bad February weather in order to get married on my family cattle ranch in central Nebraska and it ended up being the most perfect weekend, both weather and otherwise. In true Ingo and Whitney fashion, we flew halfway across the world from Berlin on Thursday, drove to Nebraska Friday morning, got married Friday evening and were on a plane back to Berlin Monday morning. While everything was a bit of a whirlwind, we wouldn’t have changed anything.
I’ve taken this time to reflect on the weekend and have listed my top 10 favorite moments/things about our wedding that I think you will enjoy.
1. Having a small wedding with only our immediate family members and two best friends there. Anyone who knows Ingo and/or me knows that we love a good party. This is why it might be surprising to some that we had such a small intimate wedding. I think this might have even surprised us and, of course, our friends would never let us get away with only a small wedding which is why we plan to do a wedding continuation party in 2019 after Ingo finishes his MBA. BUT, what I think Ingo and I found is that having only 20 people at the actual ceremony allowed our two families to get to know each other in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to do if we would have had a huge wedding. Because of where we live and where our family members live, we won’t always have the chance to get together in one place. It was really special for us to see our families together and for us to have the time to spend with everyone individually instead of racing around from person to person.
2. The vows. It was always going to be important to us to have very personalized vows. We wanted our marriage to represent our commitment as two people to each other as partners for life. I didn’t want to repeat after anyone and I didn’t want anyone else setting the parameters for our commitment to each other. So while we definitely got a raised eyebrow from the judge when we asked her to pronounce us “Adventure partners for life”, I am so glad that we did it this way. Here are the vows we wrote in my travel journal and said to each other during the ceremony:
My vows to Ingo: I love you because you are every choice. You are the passionate choice, the adventurous choice, the rational choice. You are the partner who matches both my heart and my head without leaving either behind. I know that in you I have found my life adventure partner, my number one cheerleader, my best friend, and my most compassionate critic: You make me the best version of myself. Because of you, I want to be kinder, more compassionate, and more thoughtful. I know the partnership and love that we have is something extraordinary: It is a love that I wasn’t sure existed and am grateful every day that it does. I feel lucky to find myself at the center of your incredibly wise love, a love that I hope to learn from for the rest of our lives. Your spirit is like none other I have ever met and I am constantly in awe of the light you bring to all who know you. Above all, I am ecstatic to share life with you.
In our life as partners, I promise to love you and choose you every day. I promise to support you and include you in all life decisions. I promise to be vulnerable and honest with you and to work together in open communication. I promise to help you become a better person, just as you do for me. I promise to work through challenges and be your strength when you need it the most. I promise to respect you and consider you equally to myself. I promise to be patient with your ADD and your scullyrat tendencies, just as you promise to be patient with my less-laid back temperament. I promise to never give up on adventure and to be by your side for anything and everything life throws our way.
These are the promises I make to you, Ingo Bret Albrecht, today and every day as we commit ourselves to each other in front of friends and family and continue this partnership in love and life.
Ingo’s vows to me: I remember the day we met. You had just had mouth surgery, but still you could barely contain your smile and excitement in starting something new, which I now know is virtually impossible for you. You enchanted the room then with your wit, easy-going nature, and humor. Little did I know that first enchantment was only the beginning of something far greater. Although life pulled us apart before we could get to know each other more, somehow the universe managed to bring two wanderers back together some years later. It was then, when we started writing every day and finally when I go to spend theme with and know you, that I knew I have found my adventure person for life. I fell in love with all of you: your zest for life, your soft goofy side, and the voice you use when you speak to animals, your love for poetry and art, your demand for integrity, your passion to make the world a better place, and your constant search for the adventure that life holds.
Today I am the luckiest man in the world to know that I get to journey alongside of you. I promise always to be on that search for adventure together, to always be willing to grow, to communicate, to speak when it is necessary and to be silent when words are not needed. I promise to be patient with your faults, just as you promise to be patient with mine. I promise to support you in the hardest times of life and to celebrate our mutual and individual victories when life is at its best. I promise to respect you and consider you equally to myself. I promise to love you and to always use our love as a compass.
These are the promises I make to you, Whitney Frances Jenkins, today and every day as we commit ourselves to each other in front of friends and family and continue this partnership in love and life.
3. The venue. In all the world, the ranch I grew up on is still the place that holds the number one spot in my heart. The ranch has been in my family for nearly 150 years and is where I feel most at peace. It is the setting of a childhood which would set the foundation for the rest of my life: I was able to run wild, build forts, and run a Pygmy goat herd. While getting 200 people out to the ranch would have been a logistical nightmare, it was much easier to have only 20. I was so grateful to start my own family here and to have my new family see me in a place that explains much of who I am. As Ingo knows, the ranch sheds light on a very important piece of my soul and I’m so happy it was able to shine on such an important day.
4. Narrowing it down to the important stuff. Having the small wedding allowed us to really narrow down what it was that was important to us. There were no flowers or music or even any rings. While even a small wedding has it’s stresses, I felt so fully present in everything that happened that weekend. On Saturday morning, the sun was shining down on all of the dusty snowy hills. Ingo and I were outside in the driveway taking a quiet moment to ourselves and we knew that even if we tried, we couldn’t have done it more perfectly. I will be forever grateful for that feeling.
5. My parents. Many parents might feel stressed out about hosting a wedding, no matter what size, at their house. And not only at their house, but at their very remote ranch house, where there are hardly any other options for entertainment besides the wedding guests (see #7). This didn’t intimidate my parents at all. They went above and beyond to make this our perfect wedding. My mom went out of her comfort zone and decorated the tables beautifully. She baked my favorite childhood cake as the wedding cake. She and my dad scrubbed the entire house down and worked together like clockwork the entire weekend to make sure the party went smoothly. I feel so grateful that I have parents who I can count on during my most important life moments and also parents I can look to as an example of what amazing life partnership looks like.
6. My horse (and other ranch stuff). Ingo knows that if he ever would have to take a backseat to anyone, it might be my horse, Ginger, who I’ve had since I was 13. He’s cool with it. The beautiful weather made it possible for Ingo’s family to go down and meet her at the barn. It was not only being able to see Ginger, but to show them the other parts of growing up on a ranch that I love so much. They went to see Dad feeding the cattle and were able to shoot at some skeet. My three new nieces spent some time learning the basics of riding and took the horses around the corral bareback. These are all small things that make the weekend stick out to me.
7. The remoteness of the ranch. Like I mentioned, I felt a little nervous about sticking a bunch of people who had never met in a house for an entire weekend. Unlike the city, we don’t have many places to escape to if things go south.
This very isolation though is what set the perfect backdrop for a romantic and peaceful wedding weekend. It helped people to come in with the mindset that they were there to be together, which is exactly what we did.
8. The dress. Lots of brides stress about the dress. Not me! Shout out to my friend Kimberly Ideus on this one– she gave me the head’s up about a site called Rent the Runway. They ship beautiful dresses straight to your door in 2 different sizes, with a back-up style. I was able to get an absolutely stunning dress for a fraction of the cost and then send it back three days later. I would totally do it again and recommend it to anyone else who has fancy events they need a dress for.
9. The drinks. I would be remiss not to mention that the entire weekend we had the most perfect wine and champagne. Ingo’s father Helmut went above and beyond to make sure that we had an abundance of both, which he had carefully shipped in from his home in Miami. Always a most charming host, he never let a glass go empty and everywhere you looked, happy wedding guests were sipping wine and chatting for most of the night.
10. The groom. The most important number in the list of things that were absolutely perfect about our wedding. I wasn’t always sure I wanted to get married. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if finding one person forever was an actual thing. People are fun and some relationships are great, but I imagined there would always be a new adventure to move on to… by myself. How could one person be IT for the rest of life? Ingo changed my mind and it was surprisingly easy to do. He doesn’t ask me to stop adventuring or even slow down. He flies right alongside me. Now every adventure I would have gone on solo is made so much better because he will be there to share it with. Although I believe myself to be ever-evolving as a person, Ingo is the kind of person who gives me an insight to myself that not even my best friends can give me. I know I have the best chance of being my best possible version because he is my husband.
We say it so many times to each other, How did we get so lucky? Two marriage skeptics, two wanderers, two amateur philosophers, two of a kind in so many ways– we have found the perfect match in each other. And I truly do feel like we have found an extraordinary love. As you can probably imagine, I could go on for much longer, but I won’t. I’ll try and at least save it for another blog…