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My long-time buddy and former roommate, Zach Hilty, found his equal and married her last month. I remember when he called me to let me know he’d be marrying Jessica; in true Hilty fashion he said: “Welp… would you rather be in my wedding, or photograph it?” That sounds like about the amount of surface enthusiasm one would expect from a man who is content watching chickens roam through his yard all day, and considers a fantastic week one where his grass looks healthy and nobody he cares about does anything particularly stupid.

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See, Zach and I go way back, and over the years he has subtly taught me quite a lot about the art of zen. It’s notsomuch about how you do things, just that you do them… and you keep doing them… and in doing them, you remain present. You might be tempted to slap a label of “Simple Man” on him if you judge that book by its very handsome cover, but you’d be incredibly wrong. Zach is kind of like an astronaut in a lot of ways, except that instead of going up and up and up, he has a tendency to explore inward… to journey within the internal universe… and if you get a ticket into that universe, you’re in for a very enlightening ride. There’s a reason I call him “The Starchild.”

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Well, Jessica decided to buy a one-way pass… and I think she made the right choice. She’s a vibrant person… someone that grabs your attention just by being her beautiful self. Someone that can handle a tricky situation before it even gets to that point. She’s a planner, a thinker, a reader, a crafter, a hunter, a fisher, a partier, a friend… basically she’s awesome… and I think she knew Zachary (as she calls him), for as strong as he is, needed a partner in life.

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Getting to know her over the past few months has been awesome for Mariah and I, because it adds a great new chapter to Zach’s life, a book we’ve been reading for many years now, and it starts the whole new story of Jessica for us. We’ve been trying to catch up as quickly as possible. It starts with family… and that’s a book all by itself.

In the relatively short amount of time we’ve known her, she’s made us white chicken chili, lasagna, breakfast casseroles, and so on… So… basically, she won. M and I are really the simple ones… if you feed us, we will fall in love with you. Seriously. Anyway, Jessica is an amazing woman, and as someone who looks out for my friends, from the moment I met her, I knew Zach would be in great hands. I’m sure she also feels pretty thrilled Zachary will be there by her side… whether it’s to help rear a kitten into a fierce clawed beast, to keep her company while she’s cooking more food for her amazing friends (hint hint), or to share in a rousing game of charades until the wee hours of the morning.

Oh yeah… their wedding. It was gorgeous. It started in a beautiful Catholic church in Clinton, Missouri:

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They shared a quiet moment (one of very few) just before the ceremony, and Jessica found a loophole in the “We can’t see each other before the ceremony on our wedding day” tradition:

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The ceremony was perfect. I think every building should be lit by candles and hundreds of hanging lights:

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Two very happy families came together:

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Then… we hopped to the bar real quick to grab a drink before the chaos of the reception. Seemed like the Clinton thing to do. Thanks, Mallards!

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Then it was off to Urich, MO to the Red Fox Winery… which was incredible. We took this next picture as a joke… and I’m sure Zach and I both were thinking “F**k Pinterest” during this shot.  Of course, it actually turned out pretty hilarious… especially if you know how much Zach hated every moment of it, and as a part of a sort of ongoing series of playful jabs at one another, I’m now posting this on the internet so everyone can see it in all its ridiculous glory. Point – Justin.

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It’s silly how attractive they are.

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The reception was great… they may or may not have completely forgotten to plan their first dance, and so improvised by saying “Justin, what should our first dance song be?” I decided to wing it. Under My Skin felt appropriate, so I gave it my best Ol’ Blue Eyes, then we all danced.

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Zach and Jessica, we love you both. You are true friends, and we hope to share many more experiences with you all. Cheers! Oh… and happy hunting. 😉

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