Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic


Whew. Yesterday was… heavy. But at the same time it was overwhelming, to see the love and care and thoughtfulness and empathy that you all were able to show for each other. So. Today, I switched up my plans because I decided we needed some flat-out joy. Today’s wedding is from Emily Sterne who started out (and remains) a member of Team Practical, but as she launched her wedding photography business came on as a sponsor too, because she wants to photograph you guys, not you know… well, you know. Anyway, while I wanted full disclosure of what’s what, today’s post is in NO WAY a sponsored post, it’s an amazing amazing wedding graduate post that makes me beam and giggle and tear. And I think we need some of that right now. So Emily, who was in my ‘wedding graduate class’ (as she hilariously put it), take it away:
Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical WeddingLike many of the other graduate posts I’ve read, I’m writing through the wisdom-infused lens of some distance from the wedding. The sharp edges of my thoughts on the matter have softened a bit, although it appears they have not diminished in quantity! It seems I have a lot to say, so I’ll just get started.Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical Wedding

I started the planning of our wedding in the ‘traditional’ way. I looked at loads of magazines, mined the internet and even stalked The Knot a little. I had never been the little girl who fantasizes about her wedding day, so I really didn’t have a mental picture of how I wanted things to go down, and I think that all the looking did help me formulate some opinions.
As things went along, the hollow, artificial imagery of the mass-media stopped ringing my bell. I stopped looking at the magazines. As my own ideas began to take shape, I felt like I didn’t need the playbook anymore. It was great that around this time I found a whole community of people right here who were ALSO taking charge of their own wedding journeys. I started focusing on the things that I felt were important, and quite frankly, I didn’t feel I had time for much more than that! In the summer before our October wedding, we were in the process of buying a house, moving into said house, all while I was photographing my first full season of weddings as a pro. Having such a full plate was stressful, but I think one of the things that kept me from having a complete nervous breakdown was *NOT* spending my precious time worrying about things like party favors or late night candy buffets or bridesmaids’ shoes. If those things are important to a bride, then by all means she should focus on them – for me they just weren’t.
Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical Wedding
On the weekend of the wedding, my carefully planned event got hit with a few surprises. First of all, it rained (I mean it really came down) all day long in a place we had chosen for its beautiful fall foliage and scenery. What I couldn’t have expected was that our guests didn’t really seem to notice, and many ended up telling us that it was one of the most wonderful weddings they’d ever been to. I really think the rain bonded us all together in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Instead of the outdoor location we had intended for our ceremony, we were married in our reception tent, rain rolling down the tent, with the chairs arranged so that everyone was in a big circle around us.Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical Wedding Our florist brought in some last minute candles and tree stumps to adorn our dance floor for a ceremony (god bless her). Our self-written words were delivered by a long-time friend with a real gift for oration, theater-in-the-round style. It was nothing like how I planned it would be, and it turned out to be my favorite part of the whole day.Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical Wedding
Initially, I will admit I was disappointed by the weather. But in proportion to the amazingness and love and support that was all around me (us) that day, it was a detail that really just took a back seat. What’s more, the more distance I get from it, the more it has become a cherished part of my memories from the day. This is a true lesson for all us control freaks out there – some things you just do not get a say over, but how you choose to respond will set the tone for everyone else. What I will say, however, is that having vendors who are prepared to deliver their services glamorously no matter what the conditions are is important. Almost all of my vendors rose to the occasion beautifully.Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical Wedding My photographer was an absolute rock star and didn’t blink an eyelash before stepping out into the rain to do outdoor shots of the two of us.Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical Wedding
Another surprise I didn’t expect was the sheer impact of saying hello and saying goodbye. Our family and friends are flung all over the country (the world actually: my husband is from Austria). For me, it was really emotionally overpowering to greet and welcome all of our closest friends and family on Friday night, get married on Saturday, and then have to say goodbye to all of them again on Sunday morning. With all the other emotions running so high all weekend, that was a roller coaster I was not ready for. It was my intention to have what I would call an intimate wedding – and by that I don’t mean that it was small in size (we had 100 guests) – but rather that everyone who was there was someone important and meaningful to us, and we wanted to have important and meaningful interactions with everyone who came. I think we succeeded, although a full week would have still felt like too little time.

Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical WeddingAll in all, everyone agreed that it was an amazing weekend. There were things that did not go according to plan (I AM A PLANNER).Our dance floor was slanted and sloping; the parquet was sliding off the plywood underneath because of the incline it was all sitting on. As a result our first dance felt like we were dancing on the deck of the Titanic in its last moments. The ground turned to mud under our feet. Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical WeddingMy bouquet wasn’t exactly what I wanted (although all the other flowers were gorgeous – the ones where I said “I trust your judgment on this”). Dinner service took forever and the salmon was way overcooked. But there were many more things that turned out beautifully, And I did have a great time. I am a little saddened now to admit that I wish I had really, consciously noticed more of the beautiful things during the wedding. I also give myself a break and acknowledge that any woman who has spent months planning such an important event (and isn’t blitzed by then) will notice the things that are not as she intended. I wish that I could have let those things go so I could have fully, fully focused on breathing in the amazing, incredible love and support of the people who had gathered to celebrate the amazingness of the huge promise we were making to each other. Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical WeddingAND how lucky my husband and I are to have found each other in the first place, and that we were beginning an incredible journey together. In the end, no matter what the wedding, it’s the marriage that counts. And I’m so glad that it unfolds over time, so I get a new chance every day to breathe it in again and again. And for that I am grateful, every day.Emily Sterne & The Deck of The Titanic | A Practical WeddingPhotos by Sarah Bastille Photography

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    Thanks for the joy, Meg!

    Emily, I'm a planner too, so it helps to know that letting go of things results in joy rather than fiery disaster. When non-planners tell me this, I never believe them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02567097973987043341 Lauren

    Yes, yes, YES to the saying hello and saying goodbye. I also had 100 people (120 with the littles!) but my family is huge and sprawling and every single person was someone I was elated to see. And there just wasn't enough time. That was really hard emotionally for me too.

    Gorgeous wedding!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03935793403239182466 A.Mountain.Bride

    ooooooh. i needed the fresh air.

    my own blog focuses on the logistics of our wedding…primarily…but these "insider" perspectives from the graduates are my favorite things to read on the web.

    your posts always start my day of thinking about my upcoming marriage in the big picture…and i love that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06564564076837152958 Megan

    It was such a beautiful wedding, and I'm so glad I was a part of it. This story made me tear up!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11575834126606152875 miss fancy pants (the bride)

    What an amazing wedding! We've also been freaking out about what to do if the weather is crumby for our outdoor ceremony but this post gives me renewed hope that no matter what the weather, we'll have a great day.

    I also love the idea of saying hello and goodbye to everyone and the idea of having the guests formed into a circle for the ceremony. And their photos turned out great in spite of everything. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @mouse hello! I am the plannest of planners. And you have to totally totally let go, and put it in someone elses hands. Your job is to be present and get married, and that is one of the hugest jobs you'll ever have.

  • Emily Sterne

    @miss fancy pants: just to clarify, we didn't have an organized 'hello and goodbye' thing… just greeting everyone as we saw them arriving and saying goodbye when it was time for them to leave was quite enough!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01739533284860045738 Nicole

    So beautiful! I love the happiness that emulates from your photos! This post of joy was totally needed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06272654565469914998 sam

    This reminds me of our wedding so much the joy is almost overwhelming. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    The last joyous photos with all of the mud on the bottom of the dress just made me grim ear to ear. *le sigh*

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03367631935043016430 Mrs T

    "I wish that I could have let those things go so I could have fully, fully focused on breathing in the amazing, incredible love and support of the people who had gathered to celebrate the amazingness of the huge promise we were making to each other."

    EXACTLY how I feel about my wedding. What a great way to articulate it. Loved this post. And I love the image of everyone in a circle inside the tent. How wonderful

  • Amy

    Can I just say… this is EXACTLY the way I felt. The rain, the flowers, but as a month has went by I'm learning it's okay and I'm starting to love my wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18182268757502634911 sera

    I actually love the muddy antiqued hem on Emily's dress! the ceremony trumps weather every time!

  • Moz

    This is a beautiful wedding. Congrats on getting married! Like you say, the marriage is the real deal. Everything else is just details. In your job you see lots of weddings (I do too!) and I am sure you will think of your day with a lot of pride. So you should!