For some reason, Christa’s wedding graduate post this week made me think of one-of-my-best-ladies Cara‘s wedding graduate post. Cara was one of the original wedding graduates, back almost two years ago (Ah! That long?!) when I asked a few of my new blog friends to write about what they’d learned getting married, to help steer me, still on the other side. I’ve never re-run Cara’s post, and I’m not sure how that is. She summed up everything you need to know when figuring out your wedding and the details, in a world that tells you it’s all about the details. Because it’s a delicate balance for those of us that care about style… what will matter? What won’t? How will it matter?
So today, one of the *most* classic APW posts. Since it ran, I’ve drunk whisky in an bar in an old church with Cara and Nye in Scotland, toasted my 30th birthday with them in New York, and cried over their soon-to-be twins. It’s been a long and wonderful road, but Cara’s words are just as wise now as they were then. So with that, the lady herself:
What did I learn from getting married? Many things – if you’re Doing It Yourself ask for help, loads of it. You don’t need as many boxes of biscuits as you have guests. Spending your monthly food budget on fancy cheese is unnecessary and if you take medication that alters your mood taking it upon yourself to lower the dose a fortnight before your wedding is a bad idea. But which of these things to expand on, which that might offer some insight to other brides to be? I’ll go for the one that I wish I’d realised earlier….
It’s not about the details.
Hardly a novel idea, I know. Wise women like Meg and East Side have been telling us this since the very beginning but lovestruck fools like me (I’m assuming that I’m not the only one) have been ignoring them. Let me share what I have learnt, although I feel like an idiot for not listening in the first place…
I love the details, the details were my sustenance during the bitter moments of wedding planning, the he wants to elope so he doesn’t have to wear a suit moments, the my mother has told me 16 times in the last 12 months that she hates weddings moments. Making handmade prettinesses made me smile (and occasionally want to throw things out the window, but that’s par for the course right?) and I firmly believed that they would make our wedding…*better* somehow.
Well, they didn’t. It wasn’t the details that we managed to pull off that made me realise this, it was the huge number of projects that didn’t quite make it to the wedding day either because we just didn’t have time to finish them or because on the morning of the wedding we were too busy making sure our guests would have tables to eat at to worry about fripperies like decor. The aisle decorations never made it, but even better than admiring our beautiful silk ribbons our guests admired the love and joy that shone out of our ceremony… Escort cards? Well I spent days making them but again and I know not how or why, we ended up with a list of names written on a piece of card and no lives were lost as people found their seats without the help of handwritten notes hung on a washing line with bird shaped pegs. Finally, the one thing that really brought it home to me that the details matter less than the thought behind them – the photo line.
We fantasised about a string of photos hung outside and fluttering in the breeze. Photos of us at every stage in our lives, with our family members and friends hung where all could admire them. We spent hours choosing just the right photos and a fortune having them printed. We bought ribbon that coordinated with the rest, two bamboo sticks to string them between and a hundred wooden clothes pegs to hang them up with. On the morning of the wedding we got as far as putting the sticks in the ground before we were confronted with a worrying lack of dinner tables and ceremony chairs and the photos were abandoned in a sorry pile at the bottom of a cardboard box and swiftly forgotten about. Until much later in the day that is, when they were found by a bridesmaid slightly squashed and in a terribly unattractive yellow cardboard packet. She took them out, divvied them up into three piles and handed them round. People held a half eaten cupcake in one hand and a handful of photos in the other as they congregated in groups to laugh, reminisce, cringe and get tearful. The photos were a huge hit, with everyone.
People who had never met before shared giggles at my mum dressed (very convincingly) as a Mexican man; friends saw pictures of parties they had hosted and remembered what it was like back in the old days and girlfriends saw their boyfriends as little, fat naked babies and cooed delightedly. Nobody would have enjoyed them more if they had been hanging beautifully in a line, nobody cared that the yellow packet didn’t match the invitations or that the photos weren’t in chronological order. What they did care about was that they were given a chance to come together, to tell new friends old tales, to remember other occasions we had all been together. The details can be pretty, they can give your guests something to admire, remember and talk about. Spend time on them if you want to, spend time on them if you enjoy it. But know this one thing, your guests care about the thought not the execution. The things your guests really want to admire, talk about and remember? The love they share for you and each other. Think about the memories you will make, not the photos that your details will make. I won’t deny that the compliments I got on the little things made me smile – ‘Oh, you like the matchboxes? Why thank you, they took me hours to make’, but the self-satisfied glow that I get from remembering those moments is as insignificant as a sparkler to the sun when I think about the sight of our friends and families coming together and talking and laughing, really laughing, about the history and the future we were building and celebrating.
That is what matters, those are the memories that will fill you with love once it is over. Not the escort cards, not the aisle decorations and not the cursed invitations.
Photos by Elemental Weddings, with editing by Cara herself