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What Do You Remember?


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

What Do You Remember? | A Practical WeddingWhen I posted Kate & Colemine’s relaxed wedding weekend last week, Mrs. In May made a comment that caught my attention. She said:

Everything looks beautiful and the bride just looks so at peace and happy. please keep posting weddings like this, it makes me realize that I am taking the whole wedding thing way to seriously. You can have no vendors and things will be absolutely great and the wedding will be about the union and the people sharing that moment with you, not about the monogrammed programs or the bustle of the dress, the things that I am obsessing over!

What Do You Remember? | A Practical WeddingThis got me thinking about how we all obsess about the little things in a wedding (programs, the bustle of the dress) and lose track of the stuff that really matters. I started reminiscing about one particularly happy wedding I attended, and what I remembered about it. Here’s what stuck with me:

  • The groom making faces at me from the wings as he waited to walk out into the church.
  • The way everyone in my row burst in to tears when the bride started walking down the aisle.
  • How happy the bride looked, and how peaceful. I remember thinking that it was perfect that she was wearing white, because she looked like she was glowing.
  • How the couple giggled and rolled their eyes up at the altar when their rings got a little stuck.
  • How the brides sister couldn’t stop happy crying long enough to do her bible reading, and then managed to sniff out “Sorry, I can’t stop crying. Fuck!” and everyone cracked up, and she looked horrified, and said “Oh shit, I’m sorry.”
  • Crying (again) while I watched the couples first dance, because they were so happy, and so right for each other.
  • Hugging the bride at the reception.

That’s it. That is what I remember. I don’t remember what the centerpieces looked like. Frankly, I don’t remember if they had centerpieces. I don’t remember what the brides dress looked like, just that it was white, she had a veil, and she was so happy she looked like she was shooting beams of light around the room. I don’t remember if they had programs, or much about what we ate. All I remember is the emotion, the funny stories, and the looks on peoples faces.
What do you remember about happy weddings that you’ve attended? This list might just make us all feel a little bit calmer about our choices of envelope liners. Because if no one will remember them that much, we can take a bit of the pressure off.

Photo: The moments we remember. From this amazing wedding by Our Labor Of Love

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10711488301976142214 brownbrown

    oh, thank you! with our wedding just a month away, it’s nice to be reminded of where our real priorities should be…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07800516366672737329 Alison

    I.love.this.blog.

    Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02562415667946656537 BEL

    thanks for reminding us what’s important. I remember my cousin’s great wedding. It was great because they seemed so happy, it seemed so right being there to celebrate them. I don’t remember the details of her hair and makeup or dress, but I remember she looked like herself – which was beautiful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06206689296805893265 east side bride

    A few of my favorite memories from my wedding are: finding my dad in the kitchen just before the ceremony and taking a swig of vodka with him, watching my husband-to-be walk down the aisle towards me, crying when our friends sang the Tom Waits song they chose for the ceremony. Looking over and seeing the bridesmaids crying too. The toasts. The dancing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12095127115348973647 Jessamyn Harris

    totally! That comment resonated with me too, and this post is amazing!

    in my “industry” (wedding photography), I am told the sales pitch should go something like: “what will you have at the end of the wedding? only your wedding rings, and photos.” I hate this idea, because (although I love my job, and certainly love taking and looking at TONS of photos!) I am wary of the photography replacing the memories of the moments and emotions themselves. I have a bad memory, and knew that after our wedding, the photos had the potential to replace my memory of subtle details, moments, and emotions. So a few weeks after the wedding,I wrote everything down in as much detail as I could, and I look forward to the day that I’ll look back over that (as well as the lovely photos) and remember the way things felt, sounded, were, as well as looked.

    That said, that’s also part of why I shoot so extensively at weddings – something to do with trying to capture the ephemeral, I can’t help it! I’m always curious to hear from people who didn’t have a photographer, and choose to rely on just their memories (though, hard to do at a “real” wedding where half the guests are taking photos, but at our city hall wedding it could’ve worked). Do they feel disappointment as the memories fade, or just a fuzzy romance at what remains?

    Case in point: in one of my favorite moments of our wedding, my now ex-step-mother-in-law is visible. If not for the photo, maybe I would’ve forgotten she was there; I certainly wouldn’t’ve associated her with that moment. However, I probably would’ve forgotten how I felt right then, and with the photo proof, I can see a big goofy grin on my and my husband’s faces. So, it’s good and bad,in a way.

    It’s late, I’m rambling, but thanks for this great post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13781314774264492284 blind irish pirate

    Even though I just got hitched, I like to think I’ll swing in occasionally to make sure there is some sanity left in this world.

    I remember getting upset about not being to afford real plates for the food – more for the eco-friendly factor – and how stinky I got about it. I had stumbled across the picture you posted of the bride and groom toasting with little plastic cups, and then saying, “Self, it’s OK, no one cares.”

    And no one did. Thank you, again.

  • Anne O.

    THANK YOU. This is exactly how I feel. I get almost defensive now because people left and right tell me crap like “you’ll be so stressed, you won’t even remember any of it.” Ugh. Really, that’s how you want to make me look forward to my wedding day? Why should this joyous day be so racked with anxiety that I can’t enjoy it? I won’t enjoy the day I have been saving money for, inviting my friends to, planning? Well, that sucks, right?

    I refuse to let this happen, at least to such an extreme extent. I’ve stopped caring about most details all together. People get irritated when I don’t know what centerpieces I’ll have. But like you said, will they even notice when they come?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08511117741320344532 Julia

    The best wedding I ever attended was my sister’s, where I was also a bridesmaid. Whenever I think about my wedding day I try to channel hers – on the morning our dad took her for a walk, and then she sat on the sofa doing a crossword! she never got caught up in the details, and was so happy all day – I don’t think I stopped crying once!!! I am naturally more of a planner than her, and have already (at this early stage) gotten much more into it all – so she has become my inspiration; never have I ever seen a more relaxed and happy couple, and never have I had such an enjoyable day. centrepieces? what centrpieces?!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11371172824707301749 Cate Subrosa

    Aw, goosebumps!

    I can’t believe she said fuck. That’s classic! :D

    I remember, from my sister’s wedding: her walking down the aisle, the flower girls’ cuteness, the hilarious sweepstake we had over the length of the speeches, my father’s amazing speech, and having fun playing giant Jenga. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

    God, I just can’t wait now!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06491156622067880805 Catherine

    I went to a wedding last Friday (just the ceremony) and I remember …

    That my friend looked like an angel or a fairy princess or both and yes, partly because of what she was wearing. Her dress was so pretty and uniquely her and later I found out she designed it herself (she is a creative type, actually my old dancing teacher).

    I remember that she had both parents walk her down the aisle, that she wore a veil but in her hair only (it didn’t cover her face) and that they walked out to the song “How Do You Know” from the movie Enchanged which was perfect for both of them!

    But the things that turned the wedding from a beautiful ceremony to the most beautiful wedding ever was the looks on their faces, she and her partner couldn’t stop grinning and smiling and laughing.

    To see his face as she walked towards him and the tears in his eyes and wow! Love! They couldn’t take their eyes off each other or the grins off their faces.

    Anyhow, I’m a new reader of your blog and I really enjoy it. I’m not a bride to be but my best friend is getting married next year and it will definitely be a practical wedding. Her cousin and I will stand with her as BMs but we will wear whatever we want (probably co-ordinating colours but it’s entirely up to us) and when I asked her about flowers her answer was, flowers, who cares about the flowers.

    Great post~

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13629379370439761715 Nina B.

    When one of my coworkers was planning her wedding, she showed me a sample program that she was absolutely thrilled with. I agreed that it was nice, but when she said, “No one’s gonna ever wanna throw these away!” I told myself NEVER to put that much thought and effort into something like the programs. (And I threw mine away.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10567306554165246459 Rebecca Green

    I'll admit that I didn't notice (or, at this point, don't remember) the details of the most beautiful wedding I've been to. Mostly because the couple's vows during the ceremony were so beautiful that everything after that was just going through the motions. They each took about 5 minutes, told stories, and shared some wonderful insight into marriage. I didn't need to witness their first dance, cake cutting, etc., because they were not the soul-filling, heart-stirring stuff of their vows. And I was more than happy with that, because my soul was already full! The most memorable part of that wedding was the sound I heard just before the minister pronounced them husband & wife: a chapel full of sniffling noises. There wasn't a dry eye in the house! That's all I want at my wedding … but is definitely difficult to achieve!

  • Anonymous

    I do happen to remember all the details at weddings, but that’s because I’ve either been in them (as a bride’s woman or reader), or, because in my daily job I plan events (including weddings). So that makes me a little more “eagle eyed” when it comes to noticing details.

    But still, the best weddings I can remember are the ones where the bride and groom are geniunely happy and how I always get choked up during the vows. How my heart feels ready to burst with happiness when the couple is presented to their community of frends. That kind of joy permeates the entire celebration, and you can’t help but feel good!

  • mella

    I’m getting married in June of next year, and I’ve been engaged since last October. So, I’ve had a lot of time to be excited and research and plan and look for inspiration. And you know what? I count that as part of the wedding, part of what I’ll remember. Looking at sites like this one and getting excited and adding my own touch, from my veil to hairpiece to bridesmaids’ jewelry and whatever else I try to make this winter…I think seeing those pieces in the pictures will always bring back how wonderful it has been to spent the 18 months prior to the wedding getting excited to marry my fiance. It may be only one day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have lots of fun before (and after of course!).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05650363231006892289 Mrs. in May

    Eeeek! Who knew my moment of breakdown and loving this wedding and realizing my obsession over little things didn’t matter in the grand scheme would resonate! I wasn;t kidding though, your post really did help me to take a deep breath and realize it wasn’t about getting the best vendor, but about me and my future husband and guests being happy – and that wasn’t going to come in the form of the perfectly plush peony!

    As for what I remember – I have to tell you Iremember the song of the couples first dance from almost every wedding i have ever been to. Mostly because the couples seem to be floating and always enjoying themselves and the song usually sets a tone for the rest of the party, its like the first thing I ask when someone comes back from a wedding – What was their song? I can also think back and remember the brides face as she walked down the aisle. Not her dress (although, I can remember that too but I love all dresses) but mostly her face and her expressions of happyness, excitement, and anxiousness. And no, even though I am obsessing, I do not remember a single bustle. Wait – I do – only for one dear friend, and the reason I remember it is because the bride was a virtual rockstar and didn’t care that she ripped the whole bustle off as she did the air guitar across the dance floor at her very chic Hamptons wedding!
    Keep up the great posts and beautiful pics! Practical is great!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16787392184686950891 Autumn

    I loved this post– when I first started looking at centerpieces and table linens, I tried to remember those at weddings I had attended (and I’ve been to almost 20 weddings over the past few years) and couldn’t remember a single one. In fact, I was floored when I pulled up pictures from a wedding I had been to just a few weeks earlier, the linens were green and I had no recollection of it.

    Here’s what I always remember: the way the groom looks at the bride when she’s walking down the aisle, any special touches (music or readings) in the ceremony that let me know the couple really thought about it, getting to actually talk to or dance with the bride and/or groom. I only remember the food and cake if there’s not enough or it’s particularly bad. Ditto with decorations.

    So don’t sweat the small stuff!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10044595180736126664 Melissa

    Reading this just made me really happy :) Our wedding was two weeks ago and I hope these are the kind of things our family and friends remember about our wedding! Some of my favorite memories from our wedding were getting ready to walk down the aisle with my mom, the toasts by brother and sister made, and our first dance :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09086142807086386230 Mrs. Andi

    Both of the weddings I've been involved in recently have been weddings at the courthouse. First my two best friends got married & it was stunning. She had a black & blue dress on, he wore a black suit with a matching blue tie! We had sooo much fun, a ton of pictures & then we just partied at their house (the whole 8 of us) with his parents.

    Then my mom remarried after many years with her new man & it was fun. Her sisters came down from Georgia & we drove out to the courthouse, which was beautiful. One of their friends was a judge to married them in between a case & lunch! I was able to record it on my camera & really surprised them later. They are so much in love & it wasn't hidden behind the dress & flowers & food.

  • Amy

    My aunt recently remarried after some horrible relationships. Her best friend’s (since they were in kindergarten… they have stayed close all those years)husband is a preacher and was their officiant. He cried the entire ceremony while he was trying to talk. It still makes me teary thinking about it.

    At the last wedding I’ve attended this year (all my friends are engaged/just got married.. I’ve been to 9 so far and I have 2 more on the 4th of October.) the officiant skipped the groom’s ring in the ring ceremony, had already had them kiss and they had to go back and do his ring and kiss again.

  • http://www.susanfussell.com/wedding/blog sfuss

    This post made me cry. At work. In a good way. Thanks for the reminders.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04151848025569897213 marnieleigh

    I LOVE THIS.
    While my best friend’s wedding was the most sentimental, it was my fiance’s friend’s wedding last year that really stays with me throughout the planning.
    Here’s what made me fall IN LOVE with them:
    -finding out that the bride and groom went surfing that morning. They are in diplomatic security -and they surf – on their wedding day. WOW.
    -the bride literally laughing the entire way down the aisle and talking to her guests as if we were sitting at a dinner table.
    -the way the groom looked the first time he saw her. I was sobbing.
    -The minister had a wicked sense of humor. I remember noting how cool that was and that religious need not be so serious.
    -When the DJ played “Fergilicious” I was asked to get the bride on the dance floor. She turned to me and said “Oh yeah, my DAD requested that song. He sings it with me and my sister all the time” Then watching her, her sister and Dad singing to Fergie and tearing up the dancefloor
    -The house where the reception was held was breathtaking. But no, I don’t remember the food, or the cake, or what the wedding favor was.
    -The maid of honor (bride’s younger sister’s) wedding speech repeatedly referring to her sister’s husband as an “older guy”. She didn’t know why everyone was laughing which made it even funnier.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02275051224010742584 littlewinterbride

    love this post. The things you remembered from that wedding is what makes it beautiful, real and human. I giggle at all the little things that went not so smoothly at our wedding…like putting my husbands ring on the wrong hand!or walking down the stairs to early before my husband was standing at the fireplace where we got married…(no one noticed)
    I think it wouldn’t be us if these things didn’t happen, we are like Mr.and Mrs. Amelia Bediala.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09086142807086386230 Mrs. Andi

    I saw this on Real Simple & it reminded me of this post, I thought they were far off!
    "THIS WEEK'S TIP
    How to Choose the Perfect Menu
    Sure, some guests will remember the looks on your faces as you say “I do.” But what most will remember is the meal. Whether you’re going for a casual backyard barbecue, a cocktail party, a sit-down dinner, or a buffet, it can be tough to figure out which entrées to pair with which side dishes, so Real Simple has created suggested menus for each of these four dining scenarios."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03021533905165085758 Nicole

    The following happened at the weddings I best remember (all are different ones):
    -groom cried during his vows at my cousin’s wedding
    -father of the groom said, ‘take a seat wherever, we don’t have programs. this is a casual wedding.’
    -one of my best friends bawling as soon as she saw all of her guests during the procession.
    -the amazing opera song that the uncle of a good friend sang at her wedding.
    -the bride, a family friend, hugged my mom and i and said, ‘i’m so hot my thighs are stuck together.’
    - my coworker, whom had been with her fiance for 12 years, gave him a huge hug after their vows. it was darling.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10267120839614636271 feministfinance

    That is a potty mouthed bible reader after my own heart.

    I recently blogged about something similar–my aunt and uncle looked through their wedding album and my aunt’s parents’ wedding album with me a couple weeks ago, and what do you know, all the stuff they reminisced about didn’t cost them a cent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02398009243052336777 Jen

    Thank you for this post, and for everyone that has commented! I am attempting to throw a fun, casual wedding in a few weeks and the one thing left to do is the vows. This post helped me re-focus on what’s really important (us! getting married!) and is going to be inspiration to write the best, most heart-felt vows we can!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07829467193486965326 Jess

    I know this is super late, but I still wanted to comment. This post completely inspires me for my own wedding planning, but at the same time it also made me a little sad because it reminds me of my memories from my best friend's wedding. My best friend and I are both only children so she is the closest thing I have to a sister. I was her MOH for her wedding back in May and I'm sorry to say my memories are full of emptiness. These are my memories from her wedding: not getting to share a heartfelt moment with her before her walk down the aisle (she was so nervous & uncomfortable in her gown that she didn't want anyone to bother her), watching her eyes wander during the ceremony and look at anything besides her groom's eyes, and listening to her bitch at the groom the morning of the wedding concerning his attire and then the rest of day for repeatedly stepping on her veil. When I was standing beside her at the altar, instead of feeling love and connection, all I could think was "why are they getting married?" Those memories inspire me to plan details into our day that will inspire love for our guests instead of just feeling like we're "going through the motions." Thanks for such a great post- it makes us all think about the truly important things!

  • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

    This weekend (364 days after our wedding) my partner’s sister got married and a lot of the same people attended. One of his aunts came up to me during the reception and said being at this wedding reminded her of ours, and that ours was “just so romantic”! A different aunt mentioned some months after our wedding that what she loved about our wedding was that we were so in love and it was all so romantic. I didn’t realize that a wedding could be anything but romantic, but that’s what two different people commented on unprompted. And I guess that’s a good thing to have people take away from the day!

    The things I remember about my SIL’s wedding THREE DAYS ago include:
    – how much fun the groom was having with his friends during the reception
    – how I was so happy to have been able to help the day before with a detail (and then even more so the day of to overhear the bride telling people about how I helped with it)
    – how happy the bride and groom looked together (which is not something they usually express in front of other people)
    – how perfect her dress was on her and how pretty she looked (talk of this same dress & how “big” it was had caused me no end of eye rolling in the weeks prior to the wedding)
    – how the bride ended up using a table runner to tie the back of her dress up when the bustle broke (and ripped off a few buttons, even!), and it didn’t look bad!
    – how much everyone (especially the bride and groom) cried happy tears

    When I try to recall them, I remember that the centerpieces had white flowers in them. But that’s all I remember, and it took a bit of effort (and this party was just 3 days ago). So, the details are only important if they make you happy; lots of times people don’t even remember them right after the event! But the emotions? People are still talking about how our wedding made them feel a year later, and that’s awesome. I can’t wait to be able to do the same for the sister- and brother-in-law a year from now.

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