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Wendy & Darin


Wedding graduate! Wedding graduate! It feels like it’s been too long. I’m thrilled to get to share Wendy’s story with you guys. She says a million smart wonderful things, but I want to sign my name on the line really big for a few of them… like the fact that wedding guests really only want a full fledged invitation to celebrate with you two (which also means they want you relaxed and present and letting go… so they can celebrate WITH you, not AT you). They will, of course, gossip a little afterwards, but that’s within the wedding guest bill of rights. Mostly though, they’ll just want to cry and grin and cry and grin some more and then eat cake and grin. And also: I want to echo the fact that you will be overwhelmed with just how much everyone cares, and then there will be a few people you never expected who will maybe not care as much as they should. That’s NORMAL. It’s not you, it’s them. So just grin your head off with everyone else. And with that, I give you Wendy. You’re going to love her.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
Let me preface this with some pertinent background: in an effort to be together all the time as soon as possible (and to avoid having a big fuss made over us), we decided to push through the paperwork as soon as the engagement cook-out was done, and got legally hitched on 09.09.09.  Although I had bought a fancy dress (impulse buy at a boutique in Atlanta while visiting my best friend), we had no idea if and when we could fund a ceremony and reception to our liking.  Since Darin and I had only dated a few months when we got engaged, our sets of parents weren’t really expecting to fund a wedding (not only that, but I was laid off the day after we got engaged).  Thankfully, a few checks rolled in (and I got another job) and we started to piece together a plan.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
Throughout the course of planning a wedding, the most important thing I learned was that Darin was, and was always going to be, someone looking out for my best interest and happiness.  We only dated a few months before deciding to get married; my father, not knowing Darin very well, said only that he wished for me someone who would think about me first upon waking, someone who placed my wellbeing at the top of the list.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
As we made decisions for our wedding that fit our budget (tiny), our look (Depression Era, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, with milk glass!), and our beliefs, I saw that he not only fits all of my criteria,* but is the ideal partner according to my father’s words of wisdom, as well.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
What I learned about getting married is something Meg mentioned in a post shortly after our ceremony, that we would be adults in the eyes of our community.  Every once in awhile, we look at one another and cheer that we were allowed to do this: get married, have a house, live together, etc.  Part of that is having (publicly) made the decision to start a family together,** and committing to caring for one another for life.  Being responsible for and to one another- being adults- allows us to enjoy married life.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
While I was planning, I wish I’d known how little of the drama would matter.  I was pretty laidback about most things, but when a couple of major snafus with the invitations meant that significant others without matching last names were left off (like my uncle’s partner of nearly twenty years and the fiancé of a dear friend), the wedding website we’d created to save paper and share our story was omitted, and extra paper was used for unnecessary envelopes and directions from a location where only two guests lived…I blew up.  Over the weekend, we called the significant others to make clear they were also included on the invitations, email-bombed our friends with the website info, and took a few deep breaths.  I spent a lot of energy being (justifiably) upset that my specifications hadn’t been followed and worried that people would think we were excluding them, but since damage control was so easy and quick, I could have let it roll off my back.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
Here’s the thing:  people were looking for ways to celebrate with us, and were overjoyed to receive the information that helped them; people WEREN’T looking for reasons to be offended or to judge.  This was true of everything.  No one cared about the sparse decorations or standing room only seating for the ceremony.  Nobody complained about the lack of dancing, bouquet toss, or speeches.  Everyone congratulated us, raved about the food and cake, and grinned like mad.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
What mattered to us was a ceremony that embodied how we felt about our marriage. We took some structure from Judith Johnson’s The Wedding Ceremony Planner and added bits we liked. Having done the traditional vows already in our legal ceremony, we wanted to be more specific and more personal. I chose a passage by Madeleine L’Engle and asked my uncle to read it at the ceremony.  We asked our friend (at whose house we had met!) to officiate, and he spoke beautifully and kindly about us and the gravity of the event.  Overall, our ceremony was short and sweet, and said everything we needed it to say.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
For me specifically, the pictures really mattered.  Once I had bought the dress, I knew I wanted some lovely photographs wearing it.  For better or worse (ha!), I’m an arts professional and had a pretty specific idea of how I wanted our photographs to look. Herb Ascherman is a local photographer whom I begged to come out of retirement for our wedding (he generously agreed, and did our engagement portraits as a gift). Not only do Herb and I see eye to eye aesthetically, which made the whole process much more relaxed and fun, but he works with vintage cameras using large format black and white film (though the color digital are pretty fantastic, too!).  I love his work in black and white (I have a small collection), and asked him to do some of our portraits on film, resulting in lovely vintage-y images.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
What didn’t matter was everything else.  We didn’t do place cards or assigned seating.  We didn’t do much in terms of flowers (they’re just going to die, right?).  We didn’t have any speeches or dancing (though Darin and I did a little slow dance to some Sinatra at the bar afterward).  We wanted to welcome our friends and family to celebrate with us; anything that didn’t contribute directly to that was out of the budget.
What surprised me was the willingness with which our friends and family (and their friends and family) came to be with us, particularly on a snowy weekend in February!  We had guests come in from all over (Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta).  We were cheered to see how much we mattered to those we love.  On the flip side, I was also surprised by who DIDN’T come.  We had some friends and relatives who seemed excited for us, then blew off the wedding.  We had people ignore invitations and follow-up phone calls and emails.  I wondered if it was the fact that our ceremony in February wasn’t a “real” ceremony, so it didn’t seem that important (we told everyone again and again that we planned to marry legally beforehand- I suppose I was also surprised by how many thought we were joking).
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
My family were a source of stress and drama, some of the hardest and worst I went through while planning.  I have some (very) troubled relationships with a few relatives and debated long and hard about inviting people I actually didn’t want to see at all.  It felt like any decision we made would be used as ammunition by someone- either they would hold it against me that I didn’t invite them, or that I would levy the charge later that they had spurned my invitation.  In the long run, I did ask; they did not come.
Wendy & Darin | A Practical Wedding
In parting, my advice, though unlikely to go over well, is to elope.  I liked our non-wedding, I liked some of the fuss, and it’s certainly nice getting gifts and seeing friends.  But that day in September when Darin and I stood alone in front of the mayor and said “I do” to a lifetime together was one of the most joyful of my life.  That moment, just about us and just for us, was all I needed or wanted.

Pictures: Herb Ascherman
*That he make me laugh, that he be kind, and that he not be racist/sexist/xenophobic.  Bonus points for loving books.
** Editors note: Just so everyone is on the same page: when phrases like ‘baby family’ or ‘start a family’ are used on APW, that doesn’t mean I’m assuming that we’re all going to have kids. What I mean is that the couple just created a brand new family, and that family will continue to grow – that might mean to grow-up in age, or to grow in humans, or both.
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  • http://eyesopenfeetfirst.blogspot.com Suzanne

    That dress is stunning – and Wendy, you wear it so well! And just fits the feel of the wedding and those black and white vintagey lovely photos – all very breathtaking.

    It’s so great to start my day hearing cold hard evidence how the people in your life don’t ultimately care about the little lights and chalkboard photobooth signs, but just want to celebrate with you and celebrate the commitment. Makes me that much more excited for our day!

    • http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com Angie

      Gonna agree with Suzanne on this one. Wendy, you wear that dress so well and you look damn hot!

      And p.s. You really struck a chord with me in that last bit. A good chord, though. Thanks :)

    • Wendy

      Part of was economy (we simply couldn’t afford all the details), part was environmental (we knew programs and cards and invitations and paper plates, etc. would all end up in the trash), part was couldn’t-be-bothered (I’m just not that into details). We wanted to keep our guests happy, and knew that delicious food and cake were where we wanted to spend that money.

  • Wench

    “What didn’t matter was everything else”
    Thank you – as someone in the midst of wedding stress this phrase has greatly helped. Because all that matters is me and him and lots of love.

  • Rachel

    I agree – this post calms my considerable freaking-outs of the past couple days. Thank you, thank you. I started to worry about inviting this person, and would so-and-so be upset if we didn’t invite this person, and it’s so nice to be reminded of what’s important. I try to remind myself all the time but this was even better! There probably will be people that complain about some decisions we make, that is inevitable. But – I can rest assured knowing that on the day of, the folks who are there will be honored to be a part of the day, regardless of whether or not we do something fancy with escort cards. *pshee*

    Thank you!

  • http://www.joshandeliina.us Eliina

    “Here’s the thing: people were looking for ways to celebrate with us, and were overjoyed to receive the information that helped them; people WEREN’T looking for reasons to be offended or to judge. This was true of everything.”

    Hearing this makes me me breathe a sigh of relief when I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath. We aren’t inviting young kids to our wedding, and we aren’t giving single people plus-ones (although we are inviting known significant others), and I guess I’ve just been waiting for the offense and judgment to roll in. Here’s to hoping that everyone just wants to celebrate with us too!

    Also, wow wow wow on that dress. Gorgeous.

    • Mary

      I don’t think I could “Exactly!” this comment enough.

      Every time I get stressed about people being offended (or my future mother-in-law calls me to tell me that we need to have xyz because don’tyouknowpeoplewillexpectit), I look over the guest list and remind myself that if there were anyone shallow enough to ACTUALLY think poorly of us as people for not having xyz, I would have refused to put them on the list in the first place.

      Also Wendy, you look AMAZING in that dress. Made my jaw drop at work.

    • Michele

      Unfortunately, I actually do think there are some people out there who look for reasons to be offended, or to judge – it’s just in their nature. All one needs to do is read the message boards at theknot.com to know that these people exist, and are vocal about it to varying degrees.

      However, I think the likelihood of having these kinds of guests increases only as the sphere of invites expands to include people who are not near and dear to the bride and groom. Because in the most general sense – the people who know you best and love you most will be way too busy loving you and reveling in the joy of the occasion to be offended or judge, even if it IS a part of their nature to do so.

      The more people you include out of a sense of obligation rather than a genuine desire to share the experience with them, the more likely it is that you will wind up with a rotten apple or two.

      • meg

        I think part of the point is those guests just don’t matter to you very much in the end. Most people are there to cheer you on, and that’s what matters.

        And we firmly deserved that our guests deserved to do a *lettle* gossiping about us, because really, isn’t that half the fun?

  • Michele

    “…Overwhelmed with just how much everyone cares.”

    So, so true. “Overwhelmed” is an understatement, in fact. There were a lot of things about being engaged, planning a wedding and getting married that I felt totally prepared for (and A LOT a lot of things I wasn’t), but the thing that took me most by surprise is just how much people care!

    Invariably, there are always a few guests who are in it primarily for the party (and I’ve BEEN one of them on more than one occasion), but it’s true: the vast majority of your friends and family are just so overjoyed for you, and want to celebrate and share in the experience.

    It really took me off guard (in a good way).

    • Morgan

      Me too. It was one of my favourite parts of the day. Especially as Dave has such a huge family and they were all so happy for us. Even though I’d only met a handful of them previously, I was welcomed with joy as family.

  • Aimee

    Thank you Wendy and APW for making everyone’s different idea of a wedding completely acceptable! I’m surprised by the amount of people out there who have done/are doing it the same way that I am. I truly appreciate the validation and support I receive through this community.

    I kept thinking that if we had a private ceremony/elopement first and then had a reception at a much (8 months) later date, guests would judge or family would be disappointed or somehow it wouldn’t feel magical. But for the most part, we are receiving so much enthusiasm and excitement for our party/reception (although a few people have shown their true colors). In 6 short weeks, I get part 2…the other overwhelming part where we are surrounded with love and support by our family and friends!

    Congratulations Wendy, for your true love and happiness, and for doing it your way!
    ps-I am also wearing gold satin, so thanks for that validation too!!!

    • Wendy

      I wonder still about the enthusiasm waning after a few months. But I know we made the best decision for us (and the health insurance I finally got saved my life a few weeks later). Honestly, it helped my stress levels immensely. I think the anticipation would have killed me if I’d had to worry about all the paperwork and nerves in one go!

      One thing that might have made things easier for us is that another woman in my family married in just the same way (except she and her husband had two children together already), so my family got it.

  • http://www.katiejaneparker.com Katie Jane Parker

    “What didn’t matter was everything else.” – I needed that this morning. I’m knee deep in everything right now, since we’re only three months out from ours, and it’s been a difficult couple of weeks. But this was a good reminder about what’s important. Thank you.

    I loved this wedding graduate; maybe one of my favorites.

  • http://laorencha.blogspot.com channamasala

    I LOVE that gold dress…

  • http://katydid972.wordpress.com Kathryn

    Fantastic wedding on all counts, and a great read first thing this morning. Congratulations, Wendy and Darin!

  • Virginia

    Wendy – Thank you so much for addressing the ‘troubled relationships’ with relatives in your post. As someone who is not inviting any extended family from my mother’s side, I have been worrying about how it will go over. Most people in my life simply think that my grandparents are deceased on both sides of the family (instead of just the one), and its easier to let them assume than to delve into the real reason. Despite that, I still have a little fear of receiving judgment from those who do know, and who feel that family trumps everything. Thank you for reminding me that people will not be looking for a reason to be offended. I’m thinking now that I can just let that fear go. =)

    • Wendy

      This issue plagues me to this day! I feel guilty for the brokenness that there, and guilty for not wanting certain relatives there, and then righteously angry for the hurt done to me. It’s a comfort to know others go through this, too, and I’m not the lone horrible person who wishes things were simpler.

      This family issue for me was one of the biggest reasons (the other being funds) I wanted to stay eloped.

      • Tina

        But at the same time, the fact that you still had this gathering of friends and family who DO care is very inspiring. As someone else in a boat load of family drama with one side of my family, it is inspiring to me that you could still celebrate, be happy, and enjoy those people who chose to spend time with you. Those are the ones that truly matter. And I say this knowing completely that it still pisses me off deep down that the other ones can’t put aside petty reasons when they choose not to attend. I guess at some point people just have to let go. Thanks again for the post!

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    Wendy speaks the truth.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Wow! This is exactly what I needed this morning. My significant other and I are in some serious talks about eloping and having a party later vs waiting a few years to “properly” marry so that everyone can afford to be there. I have been dying to talk to someone who did the first and still had friends come celebrate later. I was worried that the celebration would be stunted because the newlywed glow might’ve worn off….thank you so much, Wendy, for showing that this doesn’t have to be the case.

    And yes, that dress is slammin’ and you wear it oh so well. Congratulations, and I admire you so much for being so brave and awesome!

    Also: LOVE the tulips.

  • Karen

    Thank you for this post, Wendy! I really needed to hear your words about guests and their totally varied, often surprising responses being invited to a wedding. We’re two weeks out right now and we were also really surprised by A) how many people were willing to travel across the country, and sometimes across the world, to be there and celebrate with us; and B) how many people just seemed to blow the whole thing off. We’ve tried to focus on the former rather than the latter, but I have to admit that it’s been difficult sometimes when people we thought of as good friends seemed to make no effort to be there with us. Your post has reminded me that this has more to do with them than with us, and that what matters is the love between me and my soon-to-be-husband and all of the wonderful friends and family who will be there to share our joy on our wedding day. What an invaluable perspective to hear as we enter the final stretch!

    Also, to echo the other comments: AWESOME dress:)

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

    DRESS.

    and now i’ll go read.

  • ddayporter

    Wendy, aahhh have to say first, what a gorgeous dress – and I love the headpiece! very classy, and the vintagey photo is awesome. I was a bit sad I forgot to break out my holga OR my polaroid the whole day of our wedding.

    hope you got a couple pictures from that day in September?

    • Wendy

      We got a couple of scaredy cat shots taken by the secretary at the mayor’s office the day off. On my dying digital camera. Not the best, but treasured!

  • Jessie

    This wedding is exactly what we’re looking to make ours like. Beautiful, simple, full of joy. Congratulations.

  • april

    I apologize in advance that such a shallow comment should follow after reading Wendy’s honest, eloquent grad post, but:

    Oh ma-gawwwdddd – THE DRESS THE DRESS THE DRESSSSS!!! WOW!

    Wendy – you rocked the hell outta that frock, lady. You are beautiful and your groom is so handsome. What a pair you make! Just lovely. And the photos you shared are magic; y’all look so happy and lovey! Congratulations on your wedding and marriage.

  • http://www.tbonelee.blogspot.com Jess (or T-Bone)

    “I was also surprised by who DIDN’T come. We had some friends and relatives who seemed excited for us, then blew off the wedding. We had people ignore invitations and follow-up phone calls and emails. ”

    This really hits home for me. I have a large family (whom i consider myself to be close to)…..half of whom have declined the invitation to come to our wedding and even a few friends who have said things to the effect of “i’ll roll through” or are treating our wedding like a party they received an evite to and are waiting to see if anything better comes up. I’m trying to consciously let it roll off me like water off a duck’s back……but it’s been tough. I have, however, come to the realization that the people that matter will not only show up, but be THRILLED to be there….and that makes me happy.

    • A-L

      Um, yeah. I’ve just been dealing with this mess too. About 90% of our list is from out-of-town, and when I say OOT, I mean they’ll need to be flying in. So I expect lots of declines. But though our immediate family is quite spread out, I’ve always had the feeling that when it mattered, we were there for one another. Which is why I’ve been really upset that one of my sisters (for whom I was her maid of honor) is not coming to the wedding. Though she’s well-off financially, she claimed the expense of the trip was the reason for her decline. I offered to help pay. She said thanks for the offer, but she wasn’t going to come and didn’t give any other reason. So part of me is trying to rationalize it that this could be an inconvenience for folks and understanding (which I pretty much feel for nearly everyone but my immediate family). But at the same time I’m dealing with the hurt that I don’t mean enough to my sister for her be a part of our wedding celebration, though she knows it’s pretty significant for me. But then I think I’m being pretty darn self-centered. But then I still feel hurt. And round and round I go.

      Gaah, sorry for blabbering on. Basically was just trying to say that I completely understand.

      • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com/ Lauren

        Um, being really hurt when your SISTER won’t come to your wedding is not self-centered at all- it’s normal, and a completely appropriate reaction. Don’t feel self-centered.

        Wishing you huge amounts of love and happiness from the people who are thrilled to be at your wedding. xo

      • meg

        Jesus, lady, you’re not being self centered. You are NOT the one out of line here. Let yourself grieve it. You’re probably doing 1000X better than I would be (I would be screaming and crying and throwing things at the wall…)

        People can be assholes, and weddings can bring out the worst (though they also bring out the best). We had some friends who lived *in town* that blew off the wedding. I mean, WHAT?

      • A-L

        Thanks, Lauren, Meg, and the exactlys. It is nice to get some perspective, and support. Still going through it, but as today’s post commented, it’s nice to know that my feelings are normal.

    • http://made-of-sun.tumblr.com/ Trisha

      The same thing happened to me. I had to chase down probably about 85% of the people invited, and still there were a few who said they would be there, but never showed. I was a bit hurt, but it was far outweighed by the people who I didn’t expect to be thee who were.

  • Mary

    Beeeee-u-ti-ful dress! Beeeeeee-u-ti-ful celebration! I smiled when I saw your dress and grinned when I read your story. Let it gooooooooo…..breathe.

    I can’t WAIT for my wedding. The things I am working on are truly fun. The things that don’t get done…oh well. Our marriage ceremony and our guests are the two top priorities….with a sprinkling of US in there…..and I think it’s going to be a blast.

    Thanks for re-affirming what this is about….the people that want to share this event with you were present….completely and utterly present.

    I’m still smiling.

  • http://knitsmcgee.blogspot.com Shayna

    As for the surprise at people’s reaction, I had that too, until I remembered that most of the people involved in your wedding don’t read APW, much as they should.

  • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

    “that day in September when Darin and I stood alone in front of the mayor and said “I do” to a lifetime together was one of the most joyful of my life. That moment, just about us and just for us, was all I needed or wanted.”

    This is exactly how I feel about eloping, and I dearly wish it was in the cards for us. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    Wendy, your post and your graduate thoughts were the perfect antidote for the wedding stress that has been waking me up at 2am in cold sweats this past week. (Why is it that everything seems so bleak at 2am??) Also, you look so freaking HOT in that dress!

  • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com/ Lauren

    I also wanted to say that Wendy, you are gorgeous, a total Kate Walsh look-alike, but with 1000% more joy. I love it, I love this post, and I love that your advice is to elope. That rocks.

    • Wendy

      I would have been fine if we’d stayed eloped (except for that dress hanging over my head)! It made sense to mark the occasion with more ceremony, though as a rite of passage may have been more important to our families than to us. All in all, I’m kind of “meh” on the wedding day, but overjoyed to be married to Darin.

  • Wendy

    Wow! Thanks, everyone! I figured I would add a few dress details, since everyone seems excited by it (that redhead of a maid of honor called is “classic, but not traditional”).

    I bought the dress at Kelly’s Closet in Atlanta (sample sale, 60% off). It’s a Collette Dinnigan design, an Australian designer and CFDA winner. It was handmade (and hand jeweled). I didn’t have any alterations done other than adjusting the length (the extra material became the rosettes in my headpiece, which was handmade by a friend). The jewelry is antique and collected from local shops (as was the milk glass) except for a vintage blue topaz bar pin from my grandmother (who passed years ago), which was woven into the ribbon of my bouquet.

  • http://closetnarcissist.wordpress.com abi

    I just discovered this website, and I think I’m in love – it makes me wish I could redo our big day and do away with so many of the stressful aspects (like worrying what my husband’s grandmother, whom he doesn’t like anyway, was going to think of the centerpieces). But I’m commenting to say – Wendy, this is the same Lions Park Lodge where my husband and I had our reception, 9 years ago! Seeing your pictures made me get our wedding album off the shelf and spend the afternoon reminiscing. Congratulations to you and Darin – your day looks lovely!

  • Sarah Beth

    I read post this just before class this morning, and I’ve been thinking about it all day. A lot of things Wendy had to say brought up particularly sticky issues for me. And this post really made me realize what a horrible wedding guest I am.

    Now, I have only been to four weddings, which seems like an appallingly small number to judge by, but even so, I have learned that I don’t really like attending weddings. But I’m willing to blame that on particular circumstances. Like, it’s your mom’s third wedding and you don’t know your new step dad, or you have to spend your birthday weekend driving nine hours one way to be in a wedding and being separated from your fiance the whole time because you have to be with ‘the girls’ who are too cliquish to talk to you. Achem.

    Or maybe it’s just the sort of wedding that is the norm in my paradigm: no alcohol, no dancing, pageant to patriarchy, etc. Add to that the fact that you hardly know any one, and weddings just become a whole lot of awkward.

    And I’m encouraged to here that people just want to celebrate with you and don’t care about decor and details so much. But at the last wedding I went to, I remember having a sort of automatic response of “OMG, I can’t believe they spent money to personalize crappy paper napkins!” Which, in hind sight, is pretty judgmental, and probably the antithesis of the attention you want your details to get, but I digress.

    I just worry that with all the people we “have” to invite (mostly the guy’s huge extended family) that the majority of the people there will be there because it’s a family event (i.e. expected) and not because they are excited to see us get married. :\

    • meg

      Sarah Beth – a little of this is NORMAL. We really hoped our guests would have something to gossip about (I am totally serious here), and I’m not sure they DID. Which they think is great, and I think is kind of sad. I do love gossip. So as long as you are really there to celebrate, I personally say you can gossip about the napkins afterwards if it doesn’t get back to anyone. I know that doesn’t qualify me for sainthood, but, yeah, I’m not a saint.

      • Shelly

        Meg, I’m curious to hear more about what you mean about the “gossip-factor” at your wedding.

        I think you’re alluding to a distinction between people who love you and have just so happen to also have strong opinions about your choices, versus negative nancies who just like to hear themselves talk. In my experience, the wedding gossip has always been laced with a sense of condescension, vs. “well *that* was interesting… ” The latter of which can feel fun because you’ve managed to give them something to talk about, so to speak.

        • meg

          Yes, I think you’re generally right. I don’t mean nasty gossip. But I’m totally a gossip, and I have a lot of gossipy friends, who I adore just the way they are. So I was consciously cool with them getting to do an eyebrow raise here or there… I knew they were happy as hell to see us get married, so I was fully fine with them being like, “Did you see the…?” “I knoooowwwwww….” since for me (and many of them) that’s totally part of the fun of weddings, “I love the dress, but did you see the bridesmaids dresses?” “I knowwwwww…..” And I wanted my ladies to have their fun and be themselves.

          Funny enough they mostly ended up crying and saying over and over again, ‘Best ceremony ever. Ever ever ever ever ever.” And I couldn’t get them to talk a lick of trash, poor things. Sigh. No one hooked up either. But it was fantastically f*cking fun, gossip or no gossip.

          • http://2500milewedding.blogspot.com Tamar

            @Sarah Beth – We faced some of that guestlist issue. Jon has a huge family and they all live in the city where we’re having our wedding. So we figured that 1/2 of our guests would be coming from his family only (we’re talking first cousins here). On the other hand, I thought that my side would be really under-represented because they all have to travel long distances to get there, even though I’m close with them. As it turns out, our relatives have similar thoughts of our closeness. The cousins who Jon isn’t particularly close declined, while I have some family making transatlantic flights to attend the wedding. In looking at our yeses and nos, it seems like although we had to invite some people beyond our “nearest and dearest” it is our closest friends & family who chose themselves to attend, regardless of distance.

  • Moz

    Great post, Wendy. Your dress is gorgeous, I totally agree. Congrats to you and your man on your marriage x

  • peanut

    can I ask: why couldn’t you wear the awesome diva dress to the courthouse? I went through a “F it we’re eloping” phase, and I fully intended to wear my entire bridal ensemble :) Thanks for the great post.

    • Wendy

      The dress wasn’t done with alterations. Mostly, though, I think the dress really deserved Herb’s touch (not my dying five-year-old digital camera in the secretary’s hand). We had talked with Herb about doing a studio session in wedding garb, just to have pictures, actually.

  • http://www.ukuleleinrouen.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

    Oh Wendy, what a glorious celebration — you were radiantly glowing in every single one of your pictures, and from your post, I can see why. And that dress!! (I’m sure it’s getting old now, hearing every single one of us tell you how wonderful it is, but I guess it’s your own fault for finding such a treasure and rocking it so hard…) I went to work yesterday and told EVERYONE about it. “So, I read this wedding blog, but it’s not really a wedding blog, it’s more like a relationship blog but it has pretty pictures and anyways, there was a GORGEOUS dress today.” So thanks for that little bit of extra joy in my day.

  • Already Wed…!

    I’m so happy to hear from someone who also got the legal stuff out of the way in advance because that is what we are doing (for financial/insurance reasons), and we are planning a “real” wedding for next year to include all our friends and family. I know and have read of others getting legally married ahead of time, and just throwing a big party/reception after the fact, but we are planning on still having the ceremony and all because I sincerely want to get up in front of all our family and friends and dedicate our lives to one another, simple as that. Its really nice to hear of this scenario working out and how the ceremony was modified and more personal since the traditional vows were already taken care of. I would love to hear more on the structure/content of your ceremony as we’re trying to figure out ours but I understand that might be a bit more personal.

    Also, if you don’t mind me asking, I would really like to know which passage of Madeleine L’Engle’s you chose – I love her books! :)

    Anyone else out there with a similar story? Just as other minorities can be under-represented in the wedding world, the “bride who already technically got married but is still excitedly planning a wedding” is not a perspective you often hear from….

    • Wendy

      We took some structure and ideas from Judith Johnson’s book, The Wedding Ceremony Planner, which offers a variety of plans, religious and non-, and many examples of readings, vows, traditions, etc.

      The L’Engle passage was about the bravery that is marriage. It’s from the Irrational Season (a Google search should bring it up).

      Good luck!

  • Ash

    I was thinking about your advice to elope today, wondering your reasons?

    • Ash

      I’m wondering if they are the same reasons I could have in the future (like the family relations? Etc).. So.. If you are comfortable with explaining, it would be helpful and I would appreciate it.

      • Wendy

        It wasn’t so much a command, but a suggestion based on what worked for us. Our goal was to be married and start our lives. The partying and the party planning wasn’t as interesting for us and I’ve wondered over the past year or so if it was worth the stress. Our marriage is totally worth it, but I don’t know that we needed the ceremony and reception later. By only eloping, we might have saved ourselves some money and stress (hello, guest list!), and we wouldn’t be any LESS married.

        Another wedding graduate said something about the ceremony mattering to her community and family as a rite of passage, especially since they had only dated a few months before marrying. So maybe it made it more real for others?