Prev Next

Nicole & The Big Things That Matter


Nicole and her husband Andy got married they day before we did, and something about that must have cosmically bound us together. When she sent me her wedding graduate post, I read it with increasing awe. Here is the post I really meant to write after the wedding but never did. Here is what you really need to know, in a nuts-and-bolts way (my somewhat more conceptual post is back here). These are the big things that shaped our wedding day, just like they shaped Nicole’s (well, these things and the guests). My vote would be that you focus on this big stuff, and let the little stuff go. Which seems exactly the right thing to tell you now, at the beginning of The Season. Take it, Nicole:

It’s been almost 5 months since our wedding, which I think makes this just the right time to write about it. It’s only now, after gathering all the random comments from guests and having had the time to talk together so many times, that I think I can get my head around it enough to write this.Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingThere were a million little decisions we made that hardly anyone remembers. There are things that went wrong, or that I wish we’d done differently. But it’s the big things that color a wedding — the few choices that people remember for years, and that in some way come to define you as a couple. On those counts, our wedding was pitch perfect. Here are the 3 things that truly made it what it was:Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingThe location:
We had a destination wedding, of sorts, because we got married in Traverse City, Michigan, a place where not a single one of our 100 guests actually lived. It’s a resort town, with beaches and vineyards and lush orchards and golf. But it wasn’t entirely out of left field — my husband is from Michigan, and spent summers as a kid in the northern part of the state, so in some ways it was continuing a long thread. We felt like we were introducing all of our family and friends (most of whom are decidedly city folk) to a beautiful, unique, chill place they would never have thought of going otherwise, and that they will forever associate with us. And getting married there really established it as “our” town, where we now know we’ll bring our own children regularly someday. Once we chose the location, the tone of the event started to come into focus: something polished but still laid back, and that emphasized family while highlighting the ways we were charting new territory as a couple.Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingThe food:
The very first big decision we made was to have a pig roast at the reception. I mean, the whole hog, carved on site. The rest of the party flowed from that. If you have a pig roast, it makes sense to have the whole shebang in a refurbished barn on a flower farm. If you have a pig roast, you can have corn on the cob and tomato salad and serve everything on paper plates. And — my favorite — if you have a pig roast, you can do away with a fancy wedding cake entirely, and hire a local woman to bake 15 beautiful cherry pies (also connected to our location, since Traverse City is famous for its cherries). And there we had the bones of the celebration: fun, bright, warm. And very, very delicious.
Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingThe ceremony:
Since religion isn’t meaningful in our lives, we wanted our wedding to be about family. We had two officiants, Andy’s uncle and my cousin, both of whom got ordained online. They wrote everything but our vows (which Andy and I wrote together), and it was unusual, lovely, and intensely personal.Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingThe character of the ceremony, again, easily led to other choices. Such a casual, brief affair is perfectly suited for the open air, and ours happened in front of a gazebo in the gardens. Our wedding party consisted only of our siblings (my brother was my bridesmaid), and both of my parents walked me down the aisle. In such a setting, green of all shades seemed like the natural color theme (which led to one of my most favorite frivolous bits, my emerald green peep-toe heels). It was such a perfect ceremony that even the rain gods miraculously decided to hold their fire.Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingTo someone planning a wedding, what I would say is this: you’re going to have to make a million little decisions, regardless of whether you actually care or not. But the focus should be on choosing big things that will shape the spirit of it all, things that get you wildly, deeply excited. If you do that then a lot of those little things that seemed obnoxious will fall into place, and even seem fun and energizing. (And one of the most liberating parts of the process can be hacking away at the things that don’t contribute to that story.) Choose a color and soul that you want to have linger for years, and then LIVE there.Nicole & The Big Things That Matter | A Practical WeddingPhotos: All candid shots. Awww…

More in Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04342337286981773291 Amy Jo

    I'm from Michigan and just love the Traverse City area. Nicole and Andy made a great choice!! And what a special way to incorporate traditions they will pass along to their children one day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06008386302876377978 Lyssachelle

    "Choose a color and soul that you want to have linger for years, and then LIVE there."
    How beautifully put! (Does it make me shallow that even as I read through this lovely post, I kept thinking, "OMG, what a gorgeous dress!!" I'm okay with that, just wondering….)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02189637917666578405 Allison

    The groom, the food and the guests. That is all I really care about.
    Now I am fully admitting that I become obsessive about how I will wear my hair or what kind of flowers I'm going to carry and I convinced myself that I needed these $100 shoes because they were "on sale" (from $250, mind you) and even though I'm not having a bridal party I am still picking out cute dresses for my sister and future-sister-in-laws to wear because they will be our witnesses…I told you I get obsessed…

    But what you said is so perfect, you will HAVE to make a million little decisions but as long as you have the things that REALLY matter then you'll have "your perfect day".

    Also, you look smokin' in that dress!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12345884163796255351 VISION Photography | www.mytruevision.com | This is my true vision

    Congratulations!

    I found you today from the Bride Tide Top 100 List. Great Blog.

    Greetings from two photographers in Atlanta, GA.

    all the best.

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

    YES! Live there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04548048547277286450 Bria

    thank you! I was really feeling the gritty underbelly of budget wedding planning today and this helps…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06985820953743653787 Ms. Bunny

    Um bandage-style dress! Seriously sexy. Traverse City and cherry pies! Want now.

    Besides those details, I totally agree. Selecting what your top big priorities are and picking the location/elements that are right for you as a couple will give your wedding day the most serious impact.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01052982896933521768 Stephanie

    Not only do I love what she has to say, this wedding is just warm. And cozy.

    Also, saw this interview today and thought of you. Plus, her comments on the WIC are so lovely:

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/01/05/elizabeth.gilbert.marriage.book/index.html

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

    Love, love, love the plethora of pies! Looks tasty.

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

    @Lyssachelle
    It might be shallow. But I thought it too. A great dress is a great dress is a great dress. Period.

  • Jessica

    Where is that dress from? I kind of love it. I couldn't see it in the description on the post :(

  • April

    At Lyssachelle:

    Nope, not shallow at all… I totally had a "oooh, preeety!" moment when I saw her dress too. :)

    And it's so lovely that they chose a destination that they and others can return to in years to come. We did that as well and it was so hugely meaningful for us and our guests, many were asking about a 2010 "Reunion" before the wedding weekend was even over!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08707058933520837139 Emily

    Crazy! I was just looking at that dress on BCBG.com. Literally, the tab is still open! Anyway, it is gorgeous and I am considering it for my Michigan wedding next Sept. Mazel Tov to the beautiful couple.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11616073645092245799 Rachel

    Thank you SO much for this post. This is the exact wedding I want to have.

    I love your wedding graduates, they make me so happy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06648909402880706542 Mandy

    Ah!! I'm so glad to hear that someone else out there in the world decided to have a pig pickin' (which is what we call them down South) for their wedding. I mentioned the idea sort of half-seriously to my fiance's mother MONTHS before we were engaged, and…it's not that she disapproves, it's that she's kind of in disbelief. I think we're leaning more towards picnic now, but…I seriously have many fond memories of pig pickins from my childhood, and it's still on the list of ideas. Kudos!

  • Anonymous

    Love the dress! I made a trip to Michigan years ago and fell in love in upper Michigan. I so wanted to visit Traverse City, but didn't make it that far. I hope I do some day.

    Agree with all your advice. It's the "big picture" that guests notice and remember.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15432063224473350164 Kira

    "Choose a color and soul that you want to have linger for years, and then LIVE there." This is beautiful and immediately calms the frenzied voices at the back of my mind telling me that I should be focusing more attention on the table linens.

  • Nicole

    The bride here! Thanks for all the sweet comments — and if it makes you all shallow for noticing the dress, then it makes me even shallower for getting gleefully happy that you all noticed it :-) I initially thought I wanted something soft and flowy, but I walked into BCBG one day, by myself, and tried on all their white-ish evening gowns on a whim. Totally fell in love with the way that one fit me, and bought it on the spot. (It was on sale for $200.)

    Full disclosure: the "straps" are actually the bits you use to hang the dress up! I was going to get a tailor to add straps, but when my mom and I were testing to see what it would look like, we tied the hanger straps with little bows and totally fell in love with it. No one had any idea :-)

  • K

    The one thing we always knew we’d do for our wedding was a pig roast! It’s fun to see someone else also had that idea! We’re also doing a sort-of destination wedding, “Up North” at a resort we always visit when we camp. Now we’ll have an excuse to go up every year and stay for our anniversary!

  • Kelly

    So glad someone else has done a pig roast! Everyone we’ve told about this idea has thought we were crazy! I’ve lived in the traverse city area since I was 4 and now I’m getting married there. We are wanting to have a pig roast, but we cannot find anyone who will do it! Who did yours?

  • John G

    Excellent read!
    I am getting ready to get married as well, and found this site looking for a place to rent a pig roaster in traverse city :-). Did you have access to something already, or did you rent? I can’t find anyone (locally) that has a pig roaster/smoker for rent.
    Thank you for posting this, it looks like you all had a wonderful time!