June 24, 2016 – The day that Derek & I, along with many others, have prepared for is HERE! Oh, what excitement filled our hearts as we got ready for this blessed occasion! I was blessed to have my 5 sisters and 1 sister-by-love (Native from Oregon) as my bridesmaids. Derek had his 1 brother along with 2 of my brothers and 3 friends, as his groomsmen. My other 4 brothers were ushers and my 7 nieces and nephews all had part in the wedding as well. It was quite an exciting wedding party!

Rich/Martin Wedding party

In planning for this special day, Derek & I chose to customize each aspect of the wedding to be specially unique to us. Our primary desire was to bring Glory to God. He is the One that put us together, and it will always be His love that keeps our love and commitment to each other strong. One very unique thing we did was that we quoted the passage of 1 Corinthians 13 together. As many of you know, my parents made memorization a daily part of our lives growing up. It was amazing when Derek and I met to find out that he had given himself to memorization throughout his school years and beyond as well. We both have a passion for the truth of God’s Word, therefore we felt it most fitting to include that in our wedding ceremony.

Derek & Joanna quoting

We both sang to each other: Derek sang, “…Only God could love you more for he gave me this love that I have for you. What a blessing to know He’s your Lord, for only God could love you more than I do…” I sang a song my sister, Joy, had written for me on the day Derek & I were engaged – “…You are my wish come true, You’re all I’ve ever prayed for, God only knew that I needed you to make me complete. You’re the best, the best thing that’s happened to me…” It was a precious time of communicating our love through song.

Both of our dads along with Pastor Gerald Hood performed the ceremony. They performed their various parts with a depth of meaning and challenge. Instead of the customary Unity Candle, we decided to do the Unity Cross symbolizing the strength of the man united with the beauty and intricate design of the woman which is held together with 3 pegs symbolizing the Unity of Father, Son & Holy Ghost. It a special piece that sits on our dresser reminding us of the unity that should be in our marriage. After we exchanged our vows, our 3 Grandfather ministers joined our dads and Bro Hood to pray over us. It was a very special time in God’s presence.


Derek and I chose to compose our own vows to read/quote to each other. It was our desire to have vows concise enough to memorize and keep before us on a daily basis. We cherish the words with which we committed our life, love, and loyalty to each other and seek to make those words a reality each day.

The ending of the ceremony was with much significance. After we were pronounced husband and wife, Derek and I shared our first kiss. We had chose from the beginning of our relationship to save this special act of love for our wedding day. With God’s help, our commitment remained strong even during times of deep emotion. We have been so thankful that we waited.


There was right around 350 that attended our wedding. We were thrilled for all the family and friends who put forth the effort to come and share in our joy.

The Martin/Noland family

The Rich/Hoge family

Thank you for your interest in this milestone in mine and Derek’s lives. Psalms 18:30 says, “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.”  There is peace trusting God’s perfect will for your life.

The Unity Cross


Blessings, Joanna Rich