Remember the last day of my vacation, how I posted Kris’s overwhelmed with joy-ness, and you all clamored for a wedding graduate post? Well that girl is snappy, and you have it today. There are a million wonderful things about this post, the way the wedding is both traditional and non-traditional at once; the way Kris talks about really concreate things, like the things they spent their money on; the way she full on tackles that this was her second wedding and what that meant to her on a really personal level. And the wedding is beautiful, did I mention it was beautiful? But before we jump into the post, I’m going to leave you with something Kris said to me in an email, which I loved, “For our wedding we both wanted traditional things. I wanted a ceremony and he wanted dinner and dancing. He wanted a wedding party and a ring pillow. I wanted a bouquet, flowers on the tables, and wedding favors. I suspected that he wanted me to wear a white dress. I felt that we had a responsibility because he was the first in his family and his entire generation to be married.” Because sometimes you forget this in the midst of all this wedding hip-ness, simple is great, traditional is great, feeling like you owe something to your family? Sometimes that makes you lucky. And with that, I give you Kris:
The first thing I want to say about our wedding is this: as beautiful as it was to me, as great as the satisfaction I feel about it, the radiant details are less important to me than the fact that we got married.
Perhaps this is partially due to the fact that this wasn’t the first time I got married. The first time was at City Hall in NYC to my very dear ex, who I loved and love. We had a favorite book: the characters got married at City Hall, and we did too. We had a couple of different parties afterwards in our many cities that were very us, very loving, very meaningful. So why then did I feel sad and nervous getting ready to go to City Hall? Why did I feel like crying the night before one of these parties? I think we all know the answer. Sometime even a great person isn’t the right person for you.
My feeling about divorce is that, even at its most amicable, it is heartbreaking. That vows were said, not just to each other, but to friends and to family. You may know in your heart that your ex will find someone else, but what about his kind grandfather and grandmother who welcomed you with open arms into the family? Faith was broken somewhere, even with the best intentions. That is why, like it says, I have come to believe that marriage should be something you do reverently and advisedly. It is an act with weight. A covenant. It is a great and powerful thing.
When I met my now husband, I did not think we would get married. Aside from my own fears and concerns, the 13 year age difference made a long term relationship seem unlikely. I kept bracing myself for the worst, the moment he would find someone else and move on. That moment never came. We got engaged, now we are married. We embraced the future together.
When I think of our wedding, I think about how beautiful everything was: the gardens, the pool, the tables, the room I changed in, the patio outside, the chairs, the trees. I think about the Lion King song his brother sang us, about his best man’s moving toast. I think about my sister and law singing “Che il sogno di Doretta” as we walked to be married. Or my friend Ann singing “The Nearness of You” as our first dance. I think about coming in to our bedroom that night, the bride’s room I changed in, and seeing a million candles and orchids and artichokes that my bridesmaids had repurposed from the tables and used to decorate the room for us. Let me tell you, any decorated bedroom you have seen in a movie has nothing on these ladies and their men, who helped. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The thing I think about most often is holding the man I love’s hands under the pepper tree and looking at him. I think about how happy we were, how full we were of the astonishment and joy of getting married to each other. That is why we had a wedding.
Now the nitty gritty: I think the wedding planning process can be meaningful and transformative; I also think it can be mind-bogglingly stressful and hard. I thought a little about what I would have told myself at the beginning of it all (not so very long ago!) and here it is:
1) Embrace your own brand of crazy
Planning a wedding is—as we all know—super crazy pants. I obsessively clinked through every wedding location in LA online. I think that is over 1,000. When I found A Practical Wedding, thanks to a rec from my dear friend Liz, I read every post that Meg wrote in two days. At the height of my wedding-planning madness I was reading 40 blogs a day. Yes, I do have a fulltime job. I like to research and really get in to things.
So what if I bought hundreds of vintage salt and pepper shakers to give out as wedding gifts? Don’t judge yourself—do what you need to do.
2) Don’t lose sight of the bottom line—for too long
I know how difficult marriage can be, the hard way. I know that a marriage, like every relationship, needs to be protected, invested in, and prioritized. You probably know this too, but let me add that the wedding is a good place to practice this. After all, you are not marrying your florist (although it may feel that way at times). Yes, the photo booth needs attention—but maybe you should just go out and see a movie instead.
3) Think about the feeling
For me, the location was the most significant decision. I needed a beautiful place that we could afford. I also needed a place that was very Californian, because I couldn’t imagine dragging family from the East Coast and Midwest and having them spend their time in a banquet hall that they could have found in Ohio. The location we found was not just beautiful, a 1930s house lovingly restored within an inch of its life, complete with garden and old pool, it was tranquil. As we stepped out of the car to look at it, peace washed over me. I felt calm; I felt like I wanted to stay. I thought our friends and family would feel the same way.
4) Stress and relish
I wish I could say that having found the location, I embraced each wedding task with calm and ease, relishing the shit out of it and leaving frantic stress behind. But I’m a worrier. Loved the wine tasting and choosing. Then worried we hadn’t bought enough. Then worried about having bought too much. It’s a process—just make sure that there are some good parts in there.
5) Go with the accident
I and the man I love were planning to get married in September, which would have given us 9 months to put the wedding together and allowed me to work an extra job over the summer to help pay for it all. However, the owner of the house said, “How about June? The garden looks beautiful in June.” We shook our heads, then looked at each other. Better for his brothers, who are still in school, than September. Better for me, who would be done with the quarter. June it was! We didn’t need the extra planning time. And the garden was beautiful.
6) Don’t budget away the joy
Budgeting can become very consuming. We too had very small amounts we could spend in every area—especially small amounts for Los Angeles. But there were some line items that ultimately needed to go over budget. Did we need custom invitations? No. Do I understand no one else cares about the invitation? Yes. Did I look hard at every budget stationery option and try to picture sending it out instead? Yes. But the fact is have I always loved paper and stationery and I wanted to make something beautiful, something very personal. I loved the process of working with a talented designer. I loved how my husband and I would look at the proofs together and talk about our vision of us, of the day, of what we loved visually.
7) Let your husband-to-be handle it
We had been pretty collaborative, but the week before the wedding there were a number of minor/crucial things that still had to be taken care of and I felt I was carrying them all. I broke down to the man I love and told him that I was afraid I was going to forget something—that it was all on me—that I was the only one who knew what was supposed to happen when. He said, Tell me everything we’re supposed to do. I’ll make lists and we’ll take care of it together. Fellow control freaks, you are carrying more than you realize. Delegate and share.
8) Get married! It’s awesome!
Did I ever imagine that the 20 year-old engagement-ring-hating, traditional-marriage-avoidant, abandonment-terrified, relationship-misfit I was would turn in to the happily, so happily, married woman I am today? I did not. The wonder of it all.
Photos by Steve Steinhardt wedding photography, in LA (they loved him!)