LaLaLiving | Weeks 26–29

Last half of July. First half of August.

I had drafts of stories for the July weeks written, but never felt like finishing them. Now I am currently in Nashville for the weekend and feel like I just want to jump into present time instead of drag through my itineraries of past weeks. Makes me bored and antsy. Probably would make you the same. The present is always more fun. So let’s start here.

TENNESSEE. My family’s home. My roots. My American homebase.

Until high school, Father was rasied on a farm in Ohio. Then the family moved to Nashville, TN so his father could get his Masters, PhD, and teach at Lipscomb University. He was a professor of mathematics for 29 years.

Mother grew up in McMinnville, TN along with three sisters. Her mother was a stay-at-home; her father worked in insurance and was the County Historian. They also lived on a farm.

Mother & Father Nikolaus

I grew up spending my Thanksgivings on the farm in Ohio — playing tag on riding lawn mowers, picking raspberries for breakfast, learning how to shoot a gun and collect arrow heads, hide and seek in the haystacks in the barn. Christmases and summers at Dillondown (mother’s family farm) — cousins packed in the living room for sleepovers, building forts, helping shuck beans from the garden. Also at Singing Waters (father’s Nashville home) — kids table in the kitchen, swinging in the front yard, catching water bugs down by the creek.

Tennessee holds more memories for me than most places. If not all at once, then spread over all my years of existence. It holds more of my people than most places, too.

But I wasn’t going to talk about the past.

Here we are, in the present, in Nashville. To plan our future.

Father & me with the bees | Favorite reading nook | Mother at Dillondown

So we have been planning a wedding. Frederick Patrick Gonzalez popped the question to me, Caroline Adele Nikolaus, on May 3rd and we had a few crazy weeks of frantic phone calls, screams from friends and family, questions galore, and adjusting to our new roles as “fiancé this” and “fiancé that.” Then came my trip to Texas for grad school which led us into June — a month split three ways: grad school, songwriting, and wedding research. This was the worriesome month where I did not know if I had a job anymore or not…fun. July hit and work picked up again while my grad assignments were culminating, unending, and I was determined to keep songwriting. Basically, a hectic month of deadlines but also hosting guests from abroad in our flat for weeks on end — crowded refrigerator shelves, roommate tension, less introverted time, and lots of grace. Planning a wedding on top of living life is like juggling an absurd amount of ping pong balls that just slip out of your hands and fall sporadically down around you. There’s a good chance I’d step on some or trip over them and fall. Ha!

But, what I love most about this wedding season is the community it brings to me in a new way. Frederick and I have had help from the most likely to the most unlikely of people. People show their true colors in how they want to love on us, serve us, provide their talents, contribute as they can, encourage…another reason these months have been filled with grace and humility!

It is beyond daunting to realize WE NEED A TEAM TO PULL OFF THIS WEDDING.

It is beyond humbling to realize WE HAVE A COMMUNITY WILLING (and eager) to help us pull off this wedding. Look below at what our team has helped us with already.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Win. Wedding. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Wedding Accomplishments So Far

— Location—

Tricky choice for a while. Fred’s family in CA. My family in TN. Elope to UK?

— Venue —

Friend of a friend.

— Wedding Dress—

The Dress Theory. Discovered in Nashville. Bought on location in San Diego.

— Guest List —

First round was 500+…First cut 200…Second cut 100…etc.

— Themes & Colors —

Just picked our favorites.

— Officiant —

My college scholarship interviewer, to college professor, to colleague.

— Photographer —


— Registry —

Crate&Barrel, Target, Zola.

— Hair & Makeup —


— Flower Girl —


— Invitations —


— Bridesmaids Dresses —

Ordered online on sale.

— Florist —


— Day-of Coordinator —

Friend of a friend.

— Ceremony Musician —


— Cocktail Hour Musician —


— Food —

Connection through Mother.

P.S. 18 states. 7 countries. 4 continents.

Our invitations are being sent to 18 states, 7 countries, and 4 continents. Our community is not just in Tennessee or California. Our community is around the world.

According to The Knot, we are 63% done with planning our wedding. Cannot wait for the rest of it. 88 days until we say, “I do!”