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Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy


Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

So today’s wedding graduate post is one that Clare (her new blog is here!) and I have been talking about for a full year. She took a while to think and write about it, and I’ve been waiting to post it for an embarrassingly long time. The thing is, this wedding, and everything Clare has to say about it, is so important that I wanted to wait for exactly the right moment to publish it, and here we are. Clare talks about two things that we’ve been discussing lately, and I wanted to explore more. She talks about finding your self-worth when planning your wedding and shaping you marriage. Clare says, “In all honesty, when I started reading A Practical Wedding, it didn’t really help! I thought ‘Well, that’s fine for those people, they are all gorgeous, creative and interesting. If I try to do something creative or wear a beautiful dress, people will laugh at me, and say I am not interesting and pretty enough to do so.’” Which is exactly IT, isn’t it? We’re all beautiful and interesting when we are fully ourselves, but it’s so hard to own that. And then, she says some of the wisest things about tradition that I’ve ever heard, “I consider tradition something that should provide nourishment and challenge to us on emotional and spiritual levels, it is a place where we can belong and can ask our questions.” And that’s it. That’s exactly what I think about tradition. So with that, I’m honored to bring you Clare and Sandy’s wedding, as shot by Lillian & Leonard. It makes me think, it makes me grin, and it makes me miss Edinburgh with a passion. Here we go.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

We had a stressful wedding planning process, and I wish we had been more honest with ourselves and just letting it be that way. As we were trying to have a stress-free planning process, we ended up getting frustrated and feeling guilty when it wasn’t stress free or when we disagreed about decisions. We tried to mask over or avoid these conflicts, because we thought it made us a bad couple. In truth,you cannot run away from conflict, and it is the avoidance of conflict rather than its presence that makes a relationship difficult. We have had to learn about how to disagree well, and how important it is in a marriage. Conflict can be an opportunity to discuss differences and to learn about the other person’s perspective, and to perhaps reach a more creative solution.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

Having said that, the planning process had its good moments too. We discussed the things that are most important to us, and how to represent them in the day. We talked about how to include our friends and family as much as possible, and in this process I learnt that Sandy is an incredibly loyal man.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

We mixed using professionals and making things ourselves. A friend used my basic idea to draw and design the invites. Sandy’s Mum made the cake. The best man composed music for the ceremony, and played it with a band of our friends. We hand wrote notes to all our guests on the invites, which, whilst time consuming, meant a lot to us. Rather than a completely handmade wedding, which I would have loved (but was more than we could handle), we tried to pick out the things that were important to us and our friends and family, and to make those things personal and handmade.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

On the day, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. I thought that the day would be meaningful, but not the kind of day that I would really enjoy because I’m just not ‘bridal material’; I’m goofy and nerdy, and the things I like best are laughing very hard, tea, silly dancing and good conversation with friends i.e. nothing beautiful or serene. So I feel slightly awkward saying this, but the12th September 2009 was the best day of my life.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

It was the best day because in the morning, I spent time drinking tea with my closest friends. I spent time with my mum laughing at my hair in rollers. I took a walk with my dad, and hearing him say how proud he was. I listened to music written and performed by our talented friends. I took part in a ceremony that was in equal parts joyful, meaningful, inclusive and downright hilarious. I sat in my family home drinking tea with my husband and best man. I saw my friends reading and talking about books that I love.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

I ate sausage and mash, and awesome banoffee pie. I saw my bridesmaid land a speech that she had been so nervous about. I danced in stupid and amusing ways with my friends. Any one of these things makes a day good for me. All in one day, well, was I a happy girl. And somewhere in the middle of that, I married my best friend.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

In our marriage, we are aiming at a recognition and a welcome of community; we carry with us and are carried by so many friends and family. So, we tried to have the kind of wedding that represented and communicated this to everyone there. Rather than me being ‘given away’ by my family, the whole community gave us to each other; and as a married couple we made promises to the community, and they to us. We tried to ensure that our ‘guests’ were participants rather than spectators, and that they felt welcomed and included.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

We were aware that whilst we wanted the ceremony to be representative of what we believe and value, friends and family would be there who hold different faiths, and some with none. We tried to make sure that the service was inclusive and participatory, without anyone feeling uncomfortable. We chose readings that reflected on the joyfulness of spirituality, and picked up on ideas of community, journey, and used inclusive language. Also, the minister marrying us was one of my lecturers and an old family friend, who did a brilliant job of making the ceremony relaxed, personal and welcoming.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

Some of the most meaningful compliments were from those who appreciated how much effort we had put into making them feel welcome and part of the day. It particularly meant a lot to have friends who were usually very uncomfortable in religious settings say that they really enjoyed the service and found it very meaningful. Some also commented on how much they appreciated that it made them feel like participants whilst not forcing our beliefs upon them.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

We also tried to speak to as many people on the day as possible, and make time for ‘real’ conversation, although I was skeptical about this actually working. In the end, I know how much it meant to me and to friends that we sat down and had a proper conversation with them that didn’t just go over how nice a day it was.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

Meg, I know you are dying to know about the books. (Editors note: Squeeeeeeeee!)

We really enjoy reading, and, for me, there is a lot of aesthetic pleasure in a well made, beautifully presented book. Plus, we proposed to each other with handmade books: Sandy made me a comic book, and I made him a pop-up book. The idea of using books at the wedding went from being a silly idea to a reality over dinner with my parents one night.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

The four of us made various suggestions that somehow produced something that we were all really excited about! We then decided on some of our favourite (and appropriate) titles and put some thought into what books people would appreciate being introduced to, or reminded of. It was really just a sneaky opportunity to introduce friends to some good reads and authors! We already knew our favourite quotes from the book by heart, so made bookmarks that said ‘read me’ so that guests could entertain each other. In the week before the wedding, I also made bookplate name places, with pictures and quotes from the books. Having no graphic design or art skills, it was stupid to do it that late, but it meant that I wasn’t stressing about anything else! Seeing people reading to each other, and getting talking about books made us geeks pretty happy! (Editors note, Part II: Swallows and Amazons, above, remains one of my favorite books from childhood. And when I start A Practical Family one day, you can expect the tag line to be, at least in spirit, the quote on the name plate above “Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown.” Which is something my Great Aunt still says with absolute firmness about her grandchildren, almost 70 years after she first read the book.)

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

I confess that I was guilty of trying to get your friends, family and partner on board with a particular idea, and then stressing out when they didn’t love it as much as I did. But not getting your own way is often a very good thing. Sandy wanting to cut the cake with a sword was not something I was keen on, but I learnt that this was his way of showing respect to a family tradition and making his Dad feel like part of the day. Also, there are certain images you get in your head of how you want the day to go, how you hope people will react and so on – hold these lightly and don’t try to force them to happen. If you get so caught up in a particular part of the wedding happening a certain way, you will be disappointed and often miss out on how brilliant and creative the reality is. And you know what – you can’t control your partner/family/friends in life, so why should you when planning a wedding? Life won’t always pan out like the ideas in your head, people won’t always do what you hoped they would. Often, the reality ends up being so much better.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

In all honesty, when I started reading A Practical Wedding, it didn’t really help! I thought ‘Well, that’s fine for those people, they are all gorgeous, creative and interesting. If I try to do something creative or wear a beautiful dress, people will laugh at me, and say I am not interesting and pretty enough to do so.’ I was also convinced that we didn’t deserve to have good photographers. It took me ages to ‘own’ the wedding; not in the sense of it being about me, but in the sense of being allowed to think and care about crafting a wedding and marriage in which you are yourself.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

This will sound very cheesy, but booking Peonies and the boy (Aka, our wedding photographers Lillian & Leonard) was a big step. I was convinced that their beautiful photography and wonderful lives were far too classy and creative for us, and that they would laugh at our small and insignificant wedding. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cara and Nye constantly sounded excited for us, which gave me a bit more personal confidence. I’m not the kind of girl to get excited about wedding dresses, but it was a big step for me to choose something that I liked, as I had the terrible syndrome of thinking that I shouldn’t bother making too much effort because I wasn’t worth it. Funnily enough, it took the wedding to make me appreciate that I can value aesthetics as well as ethics, my body as well as my mind and soul. Going with the book idea was another big step toward making the wedding ‘ours’. I sometimes beat myself up a bit about caring about these ‘unimportant’ things (like the dress), but I guess it is OK to care about your wedding.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

My advice to you: Choose to be relaxed and happy on the day. Yes, stuff went wrong. Yes, we noticed. However, as Peonies pointed out to us, if you are seen to be enjoying yourself, then that sets the tone for the guests, and they are likely to relax too, and not care about things going ‘wrong’.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

A quick note on tradition. We weren’t really aiming at either a traditional or non-traditional wedding, we thought about what was meaningful to us and our friends and family, and how to represent that on the day, as well as what was going to be best logistically. In actual fact, we started with our guest list and worked from there. So here’s the thing – whether you are planning a traditional or non- traditional, typical or atypical wedding. Ask yourself: whose ‘tradition’ is this anyway? I consider tradition something that should provide nourishment and challenge to us on emotional and spiritual levels, it is a place where we can belong and can ask our questions. (Geek time: the latin origin of tradition ‘traditio’ means not only to hand on but to hand over, the meanings of practices such as those within weddings are not rigid, but given on to us to value and interpret in our own contexts.)

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

I am a Christian, but there is much in the Christian tradition that is harmful and oppressive, particularly when it comes to women. However, I think it is possible to retain elements of the tradition that are good and beautiful and leave aside those that aren’t. I am also a feminist, and I struggled with the fact that my dad really wanted to walk me down the aisle; in the end I realized it was important to him not as a symbol of him ‘giving me away’, but of him continuing to walk through life with me.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

All in all, it is a struggle to work out how to work with tradition when it is good, and to fight against it when it is oppressive. Whether religious, humanist or secular, weddings are a good opportunity to consider why you believe (or don’t believe) in certain things, and how you can live these out in life and marriage. I would actually be interested in whether other people went through a similar process of thinking about the beliefs and values that they have chosen and/or inherited – particularly when it comes to religion. As I said, we thought quite a bit about the interplay between Christianity and feminism in marriage, and how to represent those two things simultaneously in a wedding ceremony. In the end, it was really good for growing constructive, liberating spirituality between us.

Wedding Graduates: Clare & Sandy | A Practical Wedding

Photos By: Lillian & Leonard (I feel sort of badly, because in shortening the post, I had to cut an absolute novel that Clare wrote about how great Cara & Nye are. She found them through APW, and as someone who’s met Cara & Nye in person, and palled around with Cara for years online, I have to second that. If you’re in the UK and planning a wedding for next summer… they are amazing, amazing people and clearly beyond talented. And, plus, soon they will be parents of twin baby girls, squeeeeee!)

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  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    My advice to you: Choose to be relaxed and happy on the day. Yes, stuff went wrong. Yes, we noticed. However, as Peonies pointed out to us, if you are seen to be enjoying yourself, then that sets the tone for the guests, and they are likely to relax too, and not care about things going ‘wrong’.

    This, exactly. I followed a similar philosophy on my wedding day. When planning a large event, of course things will go wrong … but, no one knows that it isn’t already supposed to be like that. (For example: my mother actually thought our cake was DESIGNED to be lopsided, that it was homage to something that went over her head! No, not exactly …)

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

    I haven’t even finished reading the post but I just wanted to say:

    “But not getting your own way is often a very good thing. Sandy wanting to cut the cake with a sword was not something I was keen on, but I learnt that this was his way of showing respect to a family tradition and making his Dad feel like part of the day. Also, there are certain images you get in your head of how you want the day to go, how you hope people will react and so on – hold these lightly and don’t try to force them to happen. If you get so caught up in a particular part of the wedding happening a certain way, you will be disappointed and often miss out on how brilliant and creative the reality is.”

    Yes. THIS.

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful post, beautiful couple. GORGEOUS!

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Dear Clare,

    Can I please be your friend one day? :) You wrote the post that I would hope to write one day, the post about feeling that you don’t deserve it, about struggling with the Christianity/feminist parts, about learning to own it. I loved the research into the meaning of tradition, I’ll hold on to that! The first photo melted and delighted me, and the books! The books…

    And you are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing, because this touched me to no end today. Every bit of it. (Goes off to re-read).

    Sincerely,

    Jo

    • Sarah

      This is basically an extended “Exactly!”.
      Clare, this post was absolutely fantastic – so vulnerable and wise and honest and beautiful (which, by the way, so are you!).
      I totally know the struggle of reconciling body/image concerns with being a geek or thinking about more important things like feminism and spirituality. (Thus, wishing we could be friends.) I actually made this transition when, as a performer, I had to embrace the idea that physical beauty wasn’t just a shallow facade, and I deserved to have nice dresses – that in fact, some people might find me more accessible/understandable if I looked pretty. And that being beautiful and geeky and respected is not a contradiction.
      And yes, I love everything you mentioned in this post – tea, books, learning about relationships & community & spirituality…So good!
      Thank you.

      • Jess

        I have to second your thought about being a performer and uncomfortable with the idea of presenting myself in a certain, seemingly contrived light. I’ve had the same fears about our upcoming wedding, but this beautiful post set my mind at ease… of course our family will have a wonderful time. It’s like a birthday, when you get to wear your favorite party dress, but you also get to eat exactly what you damn please, and even if your friends are late, or the cake doesn’t get made until 3am (ok, hopefully this will not be the case for the wedding, but if it is, whatareyougonnado!)
        it’s still going to be your birthday…. or wedding day. If you follow my metaphor.

        I was very touched to hear you speak about how it really was the best day of your life because there were so many lovely elements that meant truly enjoying the company of your loved ones. I really hope our day is like that too!
        Thank you for your honesty, nerdy beauty (that made me feel okay about our nerdiness) and insight!

    • http://apocalypsebakery.wordpress.com Clare

      Dear Jo,

      Yes please, I like being friends with people, and I very much like making new friends. Especially when they are so nice to me!

      Yours,

      Clare

  • Amanda

    The books were such a great idea ! We also love tea so we had a tea-party with lots of cake, muffins, scones…. (And some real food for the people that might not be so fond of sweet stuff and pastries ! )

  • Mallory

    You are wise beyond your years, Clare. So many great comments in that post I can’t even choose which one to quote. What a refreshing Monday morning post!

  • Michelle

    “it is the avoidance of conflict rather than its presence that makes a relationship difficult” AMEN! Beautiful pics & a very soulful description. Cheers to you!

  • Caitlin

    oh man, the worry about the expectations of your guests. that was nearly crippling to me during the planning process. yikes.

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    I really like this one:

    “We have had to learn about how to disagree well, and how important it is in a marriage. Conflict can be an opportunity to discuss differences and to learn about the other person’s perspective, and to perhaps reach a more creative solution.”

    So true!

  • http://i-doux.blogspot.com Hannah

    I lalala love what you say about tradition. I am a Roman Catholic and went through the mass cutting out anything I found offensive or less than feminist but I kept the rest, it was unbelievably nurturing. And Swallows and Amazons is the most lovely lovely lovely lovely book.

  • Abby C.

    “All in all, it is a struggle to work out how to work with tradition when it is good, and to fight against it when it is oppressive. Whether religious, humanist or secular, weddings are a good opportunity to consider why you believe (or don’t believe) in certain things, and how you can live these out in life and marriage. ”

    Yes, YES! Thank you for this! It’s something I’m struggling with alot. My FH and I both come from intensely Christian backgrounds (his Indian Catholic, mine conservative American Protestant) and this has been and will continue to be a major struggle for us in planning the wedding. I personally have alot of negative feelings surrounding the roots of the Christian church, but at the same time I don’t want my wedding to be a big negative denial of something that is important to my family. So, how do I reconcile my own antipathy towards the Church and its traditions with how important it is to my family and my roots?

    Neither of us currently identify as christian, but we do believe that there is a Divine. We just disagree with those elements of the church (particularly in America) that use the church as an excuse to isolate and exclude people from something wonderful, that we believe should be possible for everyone. I’ve made a little vow to myself that I will not get married inside a Christian church until gay marriage is legal in the US. However, I know that if I completely reject anything to do with Christianity, both our families will not be happy. My fear is that a completely secular ceremony will signal to them that we take our vows less seriously. (Not true!) However, the traditional christian wedding rituals have so much baggage attached to them, they make my skin crawl. If a preacher says to me at my wedding that I’m to obey and respect my husband, I may vomit, seriously.

    Clearly, this is an ongoing debate for us, and one that is very important to navigate through. Any advice, Practical Brides?

    • Beth

      @ Abby C. “However, I know that if I completely reject anything to do with Christianity, both our families will not be happy. My fear is that a completely secular ceremony will signal to them that we take our vows less seriously. (Not true!) However, the traditional christian wedding rituals have so much baggage attached to them, they make my skin crawl. If a preacher says to me at my wedding that I’m to obey and respect my husband, I may vomit, seriously.”

      I used to be Christian as well (though my family was not), and I was also somewhat concerned about guests who were Christian feeling offended/affronted by our lack of Christian elements (church, pastor, bible readings, traditional vows, being walked down the aisle, etc.). However, I figured it was our marriage, and that people would see the love and the joy in us and in our vows, and they would get it. If a bible verse does speak to you, you could include it (in the program or as a reading) but personally I wouldn’t want to include stuff if it DOESN’T speak to you. Honestly, I think deep down, most of our friends and family just want to be witnesses to love.

      Also, it might help if you keep the details of the ceremony somewhat secret, so people can’t give you a difficult time throughout the planning process. Just reassure them that “it will all turn out– we will get married.” Sometimes I joked that the food might not show up, it might rain, the sound might not work– but we would be married at the end of the day. They will be too happy the day of your wedding to focus on the “lack” of Christian elements, hopefully. That’s how my “adopted family” (from the church) were on the day.

    • Amandover

      Yes. We’ve learned so much about our different viewpoints on Christianity in planning our ceremony, and that was after deciding that we were basically the same “religiously” on the first date! For me, so many of my loved ones are Christian, and I really only decided I wasn’t a few years ago. So all the things I loved about my church are still there, and still important to me.
      I definitely second the “what they don’t know won’t offend them” idea. Keep the ceremony secret, and on the day, they’ll see how meaningful it is to you, making their own connections to their faith.
      Personally, I sort-of “translate” any religious language into something I can agree with. As such, I took the Catholic wedding mass, and paraphrased it into my Transcendentalist-Unitarian ethos with hints of pseudo-Pagan ritual.
      I think that you can mention God/the Divine/the Universe/Creator, etc. without talking about Jesus, and as long as there is a spirit of gratitude and humility to something greater, your relatives will respect and even enjoy your wedding. Maybe some will be too rigid and negative to see what they’d call the Holy Spirit at work, but that’s not your problem. Do what’s meaningful to you, and those that love you deeply will get it.

    • meg

      Hey my dear,
      It makes zero sense to me that you won’t get married in a *Christian* church till gay marriage is legal in the US. Seems to me you need to do one of two things: not get married in the US till gay marriage is legal as a CIVAL right and/or not get married in a church that does not allow gay marriage. Your current plan blindly punishes all churches, regardless of their stance on gay rights, which seems unfair. Their are plenty of American protestant churches that celebrate gay marriages, why would you boycott them?

      And finally, why one earth would you include honor and obey in your vows, just because you’re getting married in a church? Those vows are not at all mandatory (or even suggested) for most American protestants.

      As for your overall decision of if a religious wedding is right for you, that’s between you and your partner (and your families). It’s going to be a complicated decision, but an important one. Ironing these things out now is part of how you build a religious and ethical foundation for your baby family. Good luck! (I personally think these kinds of discussions are wonderful. David and I have been having them for the past six years, and I don’t think they’ll stop any time soon. So remember to have fun as you discuss the juicy stuff :)

      • Abby C.

        Thank you, Meg!

        I think I was too broad when I stated I wouldn’t get married in a Christian church until gay marriage was legal. Let me clarify: I will not get married in an institution that leverages its platform and social power towards inequality until the government takes that option away from them by legalizing gay marriage. I suspect that there will be a contingent in both my own family and that of my FH that strongly advocates for a “church wedding” hence this qualification.

        Regarding the content of the vows – every wedding among my nearest and dearest has hewn very closely to the traditional format of vows, scripture readings, and admonishments to the husband and wife. (I live in the Bible Belt, it’s what you get.) The last Methodist wedding I attended included a 30 minute sermon on why ‘respect and obey’ were still necessary in today’s weddings.

        One thing I’m very glad about is that my FH and I have already discussed our belief system among ourselves, and it’s something we agree on, and agreed on even before we met. Presenting a united front will help alot, I’m sure. Melding both of our large, inter-racial, inter-faith conservative families into a unit that can harmonize with our own liberal sensibilites is a big challenge we face, and will continue to face, I’m sure.

        • meg

          Yeah, time to look into your liturgical options when it comes to vows and readings (you have lots). I grew up in a very religious protestant (liberal) family, and I’ve never ONCE heard “honor and obey” in vows. Never. Ever. Ever. So that’s someone laying their own politics over the liturgy, big time. (And it’s shocking to be that the ever reasonable Methodists would allow that!)

  • Rachael

    Oh my goodness. I love what you say about the struggle between Christianity and feminism. Of course, similar things could be said about many belief systems, as you point out. Being true to these two (very important!) parts of myself was very, very difficult. I struggled with getting married at all- am I betraying the sisterhood?! But my husband was very supportive, even owning the fact that ours was a very feminist wedding/marriage. I think the way the our church thinks and talks about marriage was really helpful in bringing these two parts of myself together. In our Presbyterian tradition, marriage is a covenant (loaded word, I know). But for us, covenant means that our relationship is between equal partners, who make promises to each other and to God. Finding that idea of equality within my religious tradition made me feel so much better, because I discovered that I didn’t have to build marriage from scratch. There were other people who held a similar view of what I thought marriage should be, and that lifted a huge weight off our shoulders. As a feminist, I live most of my life in rebellion to the overwhelming patriarchy. To have this, my marriage, be an act of faith and equal partnership with my husband, makes the rest of it a little bit easier.

  • http://www.peoniesandpolaroids.com Peonies

    Never have I got to the end of a wedding graduate post with such a huge lump in my throat and so close to tears. I can’t explain how much I loved your wedding and how moved I felt to be a part of it, and Nye too, and it’s so beautiful to hear your thoughts on it all now, a year later. You and Sandy will always remain right up there among our *most* favourite couples and let me tell you, we didn’t just *sound* excited for you, we were and will continue to be excited for you and all that your future holds. You two are amazing!

    Also, thank you for making me laugh with the bit about our lives being too classy and creative! I laughed so much that I snorted indigestion medicine out of my nose. Super classy.

  • http://www.peoniesandpolaroids.com Peonies

    Oh and Meg, I expect that novel to be a separate post all of its own you know?

    ;)

  • Anna

    Hello there! I just had to comment on this post..I’m from Edinburgh and planning my wedding for next summer (Meg, I was so excited to read that you miss Edinburgh!) Not only was your post lovely Clare but also I am quite sure I recgonise one of the girls in your photos…so that was a nice surprise! Nice ceilidh pictures too.

    This is my first time commenting on APW but I’d been reading it long before I got engaged (once I found it, it was too good to save for later!) and I love love love it. I just do. The advice from so many honest wedding graduates really helped me start off planning ..and Clare, I love what you have to say about community. One of the most important things for me and the future husband is that we realise that our marriage isn’t just a joining between me and him, it’s joining our two families, and our communities.

    And, I also, I think I am at the start of a similar process of taking my beleifs/preconceptions and examining them..I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why I am actually getting married..i think in the build up to a wedding it is so important to examine your beliefs/values/faith, so that you’ll know where you heart is at when you stand in front of all those people.
    Anyway. Thank you for the post!

    • http://apocalypsebakery.wordpress.com Clare

      Ah, Edinburgh weddings…..clearly the best! Maybe we should advocate a Scottish APW meet up?!

      • meg

        Do. It. I might come…

        • http://apocalypsebakery.wordpress.com Clare

          Ok. You book the flights, I’ll make the tea! But seriously….

          • Anna

            Yes! This does sound quite lovely. I’m wondering if there are any more scottish readers out there?
            And Meg, yes, of course you should come..if Clare’s bringing the tea then I’ll make some cake…x

          • lorna

            I know this was all discussed a few months ago, but i’m in edinburgh, just got engaged and just found this site- would LOVE some help navigating how to plan a wedding here. my friends all went the cardboard cut-out wedding route i’m desperate to avoid, and i’m not sure how to tell them i don’t want the same thing without offending them…

            your pictures are gorgeous claire, you look so beautiful and your guests look so happy! and should they be back at work following the birth of their seriously cute babies, i am extremely interested in your photographers!!!

        • Amanda

          Heh Meg, Talking about APW meetups, are you aware of other readers in Holland ? Aside from Lana (wedding graduate? ) . I would love to meet other girls in this boat :) and I can’t wait for the 2nd Bookclub meeting. Guess if there are some of us we could organize one here….

          • Helen

            I’m way late to this, but I am in Newcastle and we are getting married in my parents church in Norham, an hour from Edinburgh- would be fab to have an APW meet up! I haven’t been keeping up with posts the past few months having been mega busy studying for my latest round of accountancy exams. I saw your v lovely wedding on the Lillian & Leonard blog when I was looking for a photographer- I so wanted Cara and Nye to do our wedding but unfortunately they were booked up a year in advance (I hadn’t realised the last weekend in June was so popular- we just picked it because it far enough away from exams and fitted my doctor h2b’s job rotations)

            Anyway loved the books, your writing and your glam wedding day look! Roll on an Edinburgh/northern England meetup!

  • Alyssa

    It really shows how awesome a grad post is when almost EVERYBODY quotes their favorite part, and they’re all different…

    Mine? “And somewhere in the middle of that, I married my best friend.”

    That seriously made my heart jump when I read that, because I know exactly how that feels.

    Clare, I’m thanking you in advance on behalf of my husband because he gets a big kiss and a cuddle when he gets home instead of me nagging him about the dishes. (Oh, he still has to do the dishes. There will just be cuddles beforehand….)

  • http://peachyringsaredead.blogspot.com Christine

    It is absolutely mind.boggling. to me that you don’t consider yourself gorgeous. Seriously? But you’re so lovely!

    • ElfPuddle

      I was going to write the same thing. She’s so gorgeous….how does she not know that?

      Hey, Clare! YOU ARE GORGEOUS!

  • Leona

    “Rather than me being ‘given away’ by my family, the whole community gave us to each other; and as a married couple we made promises to the community, and they to us.”

    Gasp! This is very much what I’m aiming for as well. I love the idea of a ceremony actively rallying support from a community of our friends and family and eliciting a commitment of some kind from them as well. It’s also why I narrowed down my guest list to people who are not only important for the moment or only important to my family, but included only those who have been there for us and will continue to be a large part of our lives. So good to see someone who put the plan into action.

  • http://hyperboleandacupoftea.blogspot.com/ Sarah Beth

    This post gave me hope….and warm fuzzies.

  • Jess

    Okay, I’m commenting twice today. Thank you meg, I haven’t said this before, although many have. Thank you for providing a place where so many intelligent, funny and interesting women can talk about the real substance behind weddings and marriage. Thanks for creating a space where religion and spirituality, relationships and sexuality, philosophy, poetry, and pretty details are all open to discussion, and are all discussed with such openness,
    I wait all weekend for the monday morning post.
    Thank you.

  • http://www.agirlandaboy.com/journal agirlandaboy

    What a great post at a perfect time for me. Thanks!

  • Rachel

    Holy. Cow. This was crazy awesome.

    I had the same worries about not stuffing my beliefs down my friends’ throats. I was somewhere between atheist and agnostic in college, and most of my friends are still very much the same. I felt like asking them to sing hymns would be somewhat cruel, 1- because they wouldn’t know the tunes, and that can be hard and embarrassing, and 2- because I didn’t want to make them lie or stand silent in a noticing crowd. We had a full sermon on marriage and prayed extensively, but I think my friends were able to just remove the “God” part and still hear the message of love, loyalty, compassion, and trust. Because if marriage is different from couple to couple, then what guests choose to hear can be individual also.

    Seriously, thank you for writing all of this. You’re so beautiful, and- DANG- that dress! Tres magnifique!

    • Rachel C.

      Oooh, Rachel. I have those exact worries, too. Did you come up with a solution to the hymns, or did you do without?

  • Kathryn

    Such a sweet post. Thank you Clare for sharing! That picture with the little girl watching in the aisle is SO precious!!

  • momozima

    “I sometimes beat myself up a bit about caring about these ‘unimportant’ things (like the dress), but I guess it is OK to care about your wedding.”

    Yes. Interesting to see what we all pick out from the different parts of the post. The conversation about spirituality and faith was not lost on me, nor was Meg’s advice to talk about it. But for me, as a newly engaged person, I really needed to hear that today!

    De-lurking for the first time to say I really, really, REALLY don’t know how I’d be coping if I hadn’t found APW. As my sister and I said to each other on the phone last night, “APW is like a warm blanket. I just want to be wrapped around in the goodness.”

  • http://www.kellyandellen.org/house Ellen

    I *love* Swallows & Amazons!!

    (Your wedding was so lovely… I don’t usually comment much here, but I just wanted to say how much I love that book series…)

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

    I am not familiar with Swallows & Amazons, but having just finished my last book, I am on the lookout for a new one. I think I will start there.

    Also, I can’t say enough how much I love that the favors were books. Best. Idea. Ever. Especially because the guests can trade around. What a great way to encourage mingling. Don’t like your book or already read it, ask around to see if anyone wants to trade.

  • http://sarahsurgeon.blogspot.com sarah

    love this post (and not only because my husband and i got married the same day).

    i think the advice “choose to be happy and relaxed on the day” is critical to remember. so many things can and do go wrong at weddings (my veil got burned by the candles where i got my hair done, i forgot to set up the photobooth like i wanted too, we didn’t get most of the pictures we wanted, we ran out of red wine!). its how you choose to let those things affect you that determines the course of the day. if you choose to roll with the punches, laugh and enjoy the day rain or shine you and your guests will be happier in the end.

    and also, “happy and relaxed” makes for much better pictures.

  • Moz

    Utterly fantastic grad post, definitely a favorite.

    Congrats on your marriage xx

  • http://elizjade.wordpress.com liz

    wow. simply amazing. i loved your description. sorry it was a stressful engagement but i wish you a lifetime of happiness!

  • Joselle

    I’m so glad I read this four days before my own wedding. I would normally post a couple of lines from a post that resonated with me but, in this case, I would have to copy and paste the entire entry into this comment form. I am choking up and feel comforted by your wisdom, thoughtfulness and eloquence, Clare. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your use of books and literature in your wedding. I’m so happy to hear you have a blog because your writing is wonderfully expressive and honest. Going there now.

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing this.

  • Meriel

    Gahhhh! This post touched so many emotions for me, I am in the very early stages of planning my wedding but am also wanting to make sure everyone feels included and a part of the ceremony. Hubby-to-be and I are planning a pretty low budget wedding, but the one thing I cannot budge on is the number of guests, because we both come from such strong communities of families and friends who have helped us grow and become the people we are today, and I just cannot imagine these loved ones not being there and being involved! I’m Jewish and Puerto Rican and he is Jewish and Scottish and while we plan on having a Jewish ceremony, I also really want our non-Jewish sides of the family to feel comfortable and included, and want to incorporate traditions from all aspects of our multi-cultural backgrounds. So I was inspired by Clare’s notion of being “given away” by the whole community, and involving her loved ones in that way.

    Also, MAJOR bookworm here! I have been obsessing over how to get my obsession with books and reading somehow woven in the a wedding favor or something, and what a great idea Clare had! I’m so glad I’m not alone in wanting to bring something seemingly non-weddingey like books and reading into the wedding! Awesome job Clare and Sandy, congrats!!!

  • Alexandra

    Totally heartwarming! I’m definitely one who thought, “How can Clare not know she’s beautiful?!” I think that there are a LOT of beautiful, geeky, feminist women in the world. (and count myself as one. *wink* Am a total bookworm, & especially was as a kid.)

    SO happy for you two, and many thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely have to check out the book!

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  • http://theweddingstylelist.wordpress.com Carly

    “I am a Christian, but there is much in the Christian tradition that is harmful and oppressive, particularly when it comes to women. However, I think it is possible to retain elements of the tradition that are good and beautiful and leave aside those that aren’t. I am also a feminist, and I struggled with the fact that my dad really wanted to walk me down the aisle; in the end I realized it was important to him not as a symbol of him ‘giving me away’, but of him continuing to walk through life with me.”

    I love this… thankyou so much! I too am struggling with combining my faith (I’m Christian, he’s not… although he believes in “something”) with equality in our marriage. I don’t believe it is hard to combine the two, as I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive. Our officiant is a woman (in the Anglican Church women can be ordained), which helps.

    It’s hard to put my beliefs into words sometimes, so I feel like I’m justifying myself when in fact I’m just explaining my personal stance. I love the words you used here!