You know when you see a wedding on a blog, and it’s just so beautiful and perfect and you think, well how can I live up? That’s the fascinating thing about today. You’ve seen Nancy & Sean’s wedding before, when I did a sponsored post for Leah and Mark Photography out of Atlanta (and just so you know, this post is in no way paid or edited. In fact, Leah and Mark don’t know it’s going up – Surprise!). And like me, you probably thought: perfect. Well. This is the power of reclaiming our own voices about our own weddings. Nancy sent me her wedding graduate post, and their wedding was so wildly imperfect… that it was exactly right. But not quite how you’d think. So! Tissues out, because you’re going to need them:
We pretty much planned our wedding in two weeks, and it was great. Such a short time, but so much to tell!
Here’s the short of it. We got engaged in August and I immediately bought into the WIC (how could Martha Stewart be so wrong?). I was crushed when our budget, and logic, caught up with me. Then disaster: my parents’ house was wrecked by flooding in September. Then a bigger disaster: in November, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So we put things on hold. My medical history became even more complicated and I spent six weeks out of work for various surgeries. After all that settled, they set a date for chemotherapy to start – in three weeks. So we decided to get married.
We’re both [poor, public-interest] lawyers, so our first thought was courthouse. But my mother wouldn’t hear of it. So Sean asked his childhood pastor. Then we needed a venue. Sean’s sister found out that we could use the Atlanta Botanical Gardens’ small Japanese garden for $300 (a good tip – to rent the garden for a reception was thousands, but they also offer the garden for picture-taking, at a significantly reduced price!). Then I decided I wanted a long dress. So I ordered three from J.Crew (I eventually sent two back).
Then I found APW. Hooray!
APW-guided, I then decided we needed a photographer.* So my sister asked her friend Leah (who I found the day before on APW, coincidence?). Leah and her husband Mark agreed to do it and threw in a friend-of discount! On Monday, my dresses arrived. On Tuesday, I decided I wanted a veil. On Wednesday, I picked a dress and a veil (I was known at the bridal shop as “Thursday girl”). On Thursday, we got married and took our family out to a fabulous dinner. It all came together in about two weeks. Total cost: $3000, more or less.
The whole wedding day was rush, stress (my friend, who did my hair and makeup, got lost and was an hour late), then emotion, emotion, emotion. I cried, a lot. I get emotional now, three weeks later, thinking about it. I can’t believe it came together. And so well! It worked. Miracles!
My lessons-learned are typical: you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a wedding. I don’t think you should either, but that’s not my call for others. It was hard to cut out everyone but family, but our friends understood. We’ve promised them a house party on our year anniversary.
In the end, THE thing that mattered to me was one thing: I was marrying Sean. He is such an amazing man, and we’re going to spend our lives together. It’s awesome.
After the things we’ve been through over the past months, things that are hard for even for long-married couples, wedding details seem ridiculous in their insignificance. Honestly, I’m putting forced-me-to-have-a-practical-wedding even above plastic-surgery-coverage-for-life on my breast-cancer silver-linings list. Good stuff.
My two practical tips are these: 1) take a honeymoon that is longer than a weekend (trust me, you will need it); and 2) have someone take photos of you getting ready, because the presence of the camera will prompt your mother (and maybe you too) to act like a sane person.
Of course, APW already loves Leah and Mark, but I cannot express how thrilled I am with our photos! I am no shill, I promise, but I will gush about Leah and Mark until the end of time. We were going to have family take the photos, and I’m so happy we didn’t. The whole day was a blur, and Mark and Leah did a great job of capturing the moments I want to remember (and, of course, the 10 times I cried).
My two favorite pics are: 1) when I’m freaking out and my dad is holding my hand before we walk to the garden – I remember that moment and thinking, “Breathe.” And 2) Sean kissing my forehead while I cry trying to make a toast to the people that couldn’t be there. It showed the emotion and love I feel even now just thinking about that day. Can I go on about other pictures? I love my sisters in their bright colors (self-proclaimed “Skittles”). My dad’s smile and Sean’s hands in his pockets when I come into the garden. Us kissing. My sister toasting us with words from Fabolous, which I’ve been humming since the 1st:
I’m a movement by myself.
But I’m a force when we’re together.
I’m good all by myself.
But baby you, you make me better.
And, now, I’m married. To Sean. And I love him. And chemo is even going okay. I predict: happy ending.
*You totally don’t need a photographer. But you might like one. It really depends… but I am grateful to ours.
Pictures by, hello, Leah And Mark! Go, go, Atlanta!