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Ceri & Nate


So, as things quiet down over here for Thanksgiving week, I’m thrilled to bring you Ceri’s wedding graduate post, which has the perfect amount of gratitude and simplicity, and just plain awesomeness. I was struck by Ceri’s description of their ceremony, at how she suddenly realized, “Wow, this is actually happening, right here, right now.” It’s hard to put into words how I felt during our ceremony, but she gets pretty d*mn close. And what she says about details mattering and not mattering all at once? I’d like to sign on that line, and re-emphasize that you need to do what causes you the least stress and the most happiness and let the rest of it go. So with that I give you Ceri’s oddly perfect, totally blissful wedding:

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

I admit it. I was wrapped up in the planning. I enjoyed scrounging second-hand shops for owl and cat figurines to fit our “The Owl and the Pussy-cat” theme. I was obsessed with last minute DIY nervous-energy projects. I was absorbed in my own head space of pretty. And, as I waited on an earthen balcony overlooking the river at our wedding site, I thought, wow, this is actually happening, right here, right now. All the hours spent fussing over minor and major details dissolved into the flowing water. I peeked through the brush at my family and friends gathering around our ceremony site, and it hit me, they are here for us, this is all real. I was filled with bliss, love, and nervous excitement. I was here to marry my best friend.

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

Before I met my husband, I wasn’t into marriage. I thought it was a nice idea for some people, but definitely wasn’t in the stars for me. My husband felt the same. Obviously that feeling changed, because he proposed, I said yes without hesitation, and four months later I was standing along a river waiting to be married. Weird. Yet, weird in a very good way. The best kind of weird. What was even stranger was that as I held his hands when we met under our chuppah, I knew that he felt exactly the same way I did, and I hadn’t even considered that this was a possibility. In fact, I hadn’t considered at all what he felt about me. It was a given, I suppose. But then suddenly, as I listened to him pronounce his vows, I thought, huh, he really loves me. I mean he really, really loves me. The kind of love that’s willing to forgo a family history of disappointment and divorce to marry me. The kind of love that overcomes a fear of public display of love and affection to say our vows when it was his preference to go to the courthouse. The kind of love that promises to be here with me…forever. So strange. I hadn’t actually considered that a real possibility until that moment. I mean for me it was indeed a possibility. I had already struggled with my fears of divorce stemming from my own childhood and struggled with what marriage really means, blah, blah, blah, but I hadn’t really figured out that he meant this whole marriage thing. I’m still kind of reeling over that one.

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

This may sound pretty mushy, and admittedly, it is, but our wedding was perfect. I can’t think of a better adjective. Everything and everyone glowed. Ok, so yes, it was sunny, but it was more than that. I had had this crazy idea that a wedding should be this community thing in which all my family members and closest friends should be personally involved… and miraculously, that’s what happened. Our mutual best friend and incidentally the one who set my husband and I up made our silver wedding bands. My aunt made our wedding cake and cupcakes. My other aunt did all the floral arrangements and made my crazily specific pomander bouquet. All my aunts helped prepare food and set up and grill. Another aunt convinced a man named (literally) Barnacle Bill that local salmon must be caught fresh for dinner. My cousin extraordinaire commanded my wedding army without a single complaint. Family friends built a huppah, took pictures, chopped vegetables, and set up the wedding site. Everyone pitched in. And my mother, my beautiful, insane, wonderful mother who sewed my lovely dress, who foot the bill and loved me all the way through despite a heated argument over cilantro in a parking garage near the farmer’s market where I insisted all our produce come from (in addition to our vegetable gardens).

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

I felt so blessed that everyone was willing to help…and so guilty. I think I may never get over the guilt, but that’s a deeply ingrained family thing. Each exhausted and broken down family member and friend told me the next day that they were happy to do it, and I would have been too in their situation, but still, I felt my “thank yous” weren’t enough for those that had single-handedly produced the wedding that I had conceptualized and who effortlessly managed to put a blissful glow over the whole event.

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

But here’s what I learned… I loved all my little details and yes, I would still be married without them, but they made the day “us.” I think it is all good and fine to tell planning brides to not sweat the small stuff, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “sweat it.” Sweat all that small stuff and sweat all the big stuff. Do whatever the h*ll you want. Go nuts. Go crazy. Yeah, sure it doesn’t matter in the end. What matters is that you married your best friend, but I think someone telling you to not stress is the last thing you need to hear. It certainly didn’t make me stress any less. In fact, it made me stress more, because something must have been wrong with me if I was stressing so much about it, right? Stress happens no matter what. I thought this stress would carry over into the day of. I thought it would be difficult to let go and let all these wonderful people take over and put my ideas into reality, but in the end, I shed all of my perfectionist controlling qualities…because…because I really valued and trusted each and every loved one who took over for me. I knew they would make it beautiful, and I knew they loved me and didn’t want to disappoint my vision. And, boy, they sure didn’t disappoint. But honestly, “my vision” didn’t matter in the least the day of…I mean it was cool and everything, but their execution was only icing on the cake…and really things weren’t always “quite” right – but so what! It was still awesomely beautiful.

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

I just hope that you have a moment like I did by the river where everything is quiet and leaves are gently floating by just as they would do whether or not a wedding was going on, and you can just breathe and think, wow, today I’m doing something special…I’m marrying my best friend.

P.S. I was addicted to APW. As my wedding day approached, I poured over wedding graduate posts anxious to experience my own celebration. It was a serious problem, because what I really wanted to pour over were my own wedding memories. And, now that I have them, I am on constant rewind, because despite the serious mush-factor, it was total bliss, total perfection, total happiness, and it just keeps on going.

Ceri & Nate | A Practical Wedding

P.P.S. I can say with 100% confidence that the music list we stressed over wasn’t worth stressing over. The iPod player died prematurely, and we were left with the more pleasing music of conversation, a crackling fire, and a friend playing solo on his guitar. Much better.

Photos by: Family and Friends (Yay!) but especially Lars Gustafson  and Steve Lange.

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  • Amanda

    “I can say with 100% confidence that the music list we stressed over wasn’t worth stressing over. The iPod player died prematurely, and we were left with the more pleasing music of conversation, a crackling fire, and a friend playing solo on his guitar. Much better.”

    Yeaaah !! We spent lots of time on selecting every. single. song. in our list, and in the end… we had 2 lists, one for “background” music and one for “dancing” . Well we did not even gave time to dance other than the first dance.
    But everyone was happy and talking together and it just went so fast.
    I agree that pretty details make the day yours, and they are important in their own way ( We still put flowers in the glass jars we collected and then gave away to guests, except for a few that we kept for our baby home) but thinking back, what I really remember is the joy, and the love of having all the friends and family there together wishing you all in the start of our new lives together and also feeling so close and loved to my now husband.

    • http://roughit.wordpress.com roughit

      This was so hard for me to realize while we were doing it. I WANTED everything we stressed over to be worth stressing over; in the end, the things we stressed over that worked out well (like our favors) got a huge and awesome response, and the things we stressed over that didn’t work out quite right (my dress being terribly uncomfortable) actually really didn’t matter.

      Thanks Ceri (and Nate!) for sharing your story. I love your figurines and all the little details! I’m sure this post will inspire and reassure lots of other people who are also addicted to APW :)

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    This is beautiful! Your details are lovely, and wonderful. The picture that grabbed me though was the one of your hands at the very beginning. The sentiment that spoke to me was the reminder to be present. Beautifully written. And thanks for the guilt bit too–I know I’m going to feel horribly guilty but I hope I can move past that.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Yes, thank you, Ceri, for mentioning the guilt!
      I felt pretty guilty that so many people were doing SO much, just for us, until my mom said, “You know, they’re all old enough to say ‘No’ if they don’t want to do something, so if they’re here helping you and saying ‘Sure, no problem!’ you should really just believe them.” This was excellent advice, and I hope it works for you, too, Jolynn!

  • ddayporter

    “What matters is that you married your best friend, but I think someone telling you to not stress is the last thing you need to hear.” so true! it’s a lovely sentiment (the whole “at the end of the day, you’ll be married, and nothing else matters”) but just never actually helpful. it’s kind of another version of “it’s your wedding love, do what you think is best.” I would never get upset when someone said that to me, because it’s very kind, but just.. yeah, not helpful!

    also, I would like to see more pomanders. especially if they look like yours, holy cow. I kind of wanted one but my florist mom did not like that idea – if I could have shown her that picture of yours I might have convinced her!

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      I have to say, the line “Its ok, because at the end of the day you’ll be married” was the one the p*ssed me off the most. Especially when it came from a person who was adding a LOT of stress to our preparations the week before the wedding.
      At the end of the day – we wanted our family and friends to celebrate with us because that was important to us, reminding people that we are community. Thats why we asked for everyone at the ceremony to stand and join together in upholding our wedding – we wanted to remind us and them that weddings are about a joining.
      Yes, the wedding was emotional and fantastic, but that wasnt what we were all about “at the end of the day”. If being married was all that mattered, we would have gone to the courthouse the weekend we got engaged and come home to tell everyone about it.

      • meg

        Yeah, that’s always bullshit advice, unless a bride is freaking out and standing there about to walk down the asile. Then, tell her she’s going to end up married, and she needs to breathe. In any other situation say, “What can I do to help?”

      • C

        I completely agree! As someone that had a somewhat disasterous wedding, due to a huge fight among my family members at the reception, being married at the end of the day did not make it all OK. “Oh well at least you’re married!” Yeah…. that really doesn’t make me feel better.

  • Jen M

    “a heated argument over cilantro…” if that doesn’t describe the dynamics of my mother/daughter relationship I don’t know what does…lol…

  • http://www.midwestlantern.typepad.com Mel

    Um, can I please just live forever in the colors and textures of your amazing pomander bouquet? What a picture!

  • Alyssa

    I want to dive into those cupcakes. Hands off, that german chocolate one is MINE.

    This is such a great post to get us back into APW-land! Happy faces, gorgeous dress, words on what the true meaning of a wedding is..AHH!! I love it!!

    And I also love Barnacle Bill. How could you not love someone named that?

  • http://www.soyoureengayged.com Cynthia

    Your wedding is very simple but immensely beautiful. I love how water played a role and the cupcakes are divine! I think I’m leaning more towards having a cupcake tier, cake thingy when I get hitched.

  • http://saraeileen.com Sara Eileen

    “I think it is all good and fine to tell planning brides to not sweat the small stuff, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “sweat it.” Sweat all that small stuff and sweat all the big stuff. Do whatever the h*ll you want. Go nuts. Go crazy. Yeah, sure it doesn’t matter in the end. What matters is that you married your best friend, but I think someone telling you to not stress is the last thing you need to hear. It certainly didn’t make me stress any less.”

    This. Thank you. I am still a *way* early wedding undergraduate, but in my professional life I plan events that range from 100 to 1,500 people. I can foresee a time in the future when I dive into wedding planning, and I know I’m going to stress over small stuff; this is how I operate.

    One of my best friends was also my assistant on my last big event, and she kept saying to me over and over “Don’t stress so much.” And to be honest, it never helped, and even led to some moments of anger and strain between us. I couldn’t quite find a way to explain that my stress was a useful part of getting the job done, that it drove me and motivated me and helped me to focus on getting the details right.

    I’m definitely not one to advocate stressing the hell out of every small detail if that’s not the way you roll, but it is *great* to see a graduate post that gives a little room to those of us who do own our stress, and don’t like being told it’s not helpful. It’s all in the balance; I stress up until the minute my events open, and then I kick back and let all of the hard work of the last few months pay off.

    Congratulations, Ceri & Nate!! I’m so glad it paid off for you in such a gorgeous day. And that bouquet…wow. Wow.

  • Hoppy Bunny

    Woo! Congrats!

    What a sweet post. I love your little details–I’ve been torn between the idea of a pomandor and a succulent bouquet, and you made such a compelling argument for a pomandor with just one photograph. But can I say that your description of getting married by a river to your best friend and talking by a fire with your friends and family who orchestrated a love fest for you just took my breath away completely? Because yeah. I hope my wedding is like that. It felt like the words you wrote were a big hug from my future wedding, and it was comforting to think my own wedding could give me such a nice hug when it’s still so far off. And thank you in advance for letting me feel guilty, because I know it’s inevitable for me. Great, great post.

  • RKELZ

    Beautiful, and wise… and can I be superficial and just saw AWESOME DRESS! Want want want! I love the vintage lace look.

    Seriously though, my wedding is <2 months away and I still don't know what I am wearing. I don't know how big my then-5-months-pregnant belly will be, and I want to be able to dance, and I want it be pretty, and I want to be able to /pee without assistance. It is amazing how difficult it is to find a dress that fits my criteria and also my style.

  • Class of 1980

    Pomander bouquet! Heated arguments about Cilantro! Beautiful dress! Two Thumbs Up! ;)

  • Carla

    Lots of comments around this topic already, but I wanna delurk to exactly this:
    “Someone telling you to not stress is the last thing you need to hear. It certainly didn’t make me stress any less. In fact, it made me stress more, because something must have been wrong with me if I was stressing so much about it, right?”

    As someone not yet two weeks into “wife”, I’d also like to reflect that stress doesn’t necessarily magically all dissipate upon the instant of your walking up the aisle to your wonderful to-be-spouse. Nor that night, nor even on the day on the honeymoon when you’re suddenly bawling (as discussed in a previous comment thread that I can’t find).

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      Thank you for delurking, because yes! I’ve ruined many a big day or vacation for myself by telling myself I was wrong to feel the way I was feeling and trying to make it magically dissipate. But learning to *own* stress and my emotions is seriously liberating. For me, it’s amazing how much quicker and completely I can move on if I give myself a few minutes to just feel how I feel and be OK with that. The stress and emotion does not respond well to external or internal pressure to just “go away.”

      • Carla

        Exactly. Stressing yourself out *because* you’re stressed out? And then that particular miserable spiral of guilt?

        *goes back and rereads the shame-blaster posts*

  • http://www.graciousbridal.com Carolina

    Thanks for the post! It is so important for brides to remember the true meaning of their wedding day, and the things that brides stress so much over, are really not that important in the long run… What a great entry!

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

    Thank you thank you, Ceri, for telling me to sweat the small stuff. Because quite frankly, I wouldn’t be being “me” if I didn’t. And isn’t that the whole point, to have a day that you reflects the two of you?

    And my god do I love that pomander.

  • Katie

    Thank you for permission to stress! I am extremely frustrated with people acting like I’m crazy because I’m having nightmares about the dress I have yet to purchase. I know it’s not entirely logical, and yet I still find myself obsessively worrying about which one to choose and then feeling terrible about spending all that energy worrying about such a “silly” thing. Five months to get a dress is ages anywhere but weddingland.
    I’m not sure if anyone else has had this experience, but I had to compromise a lot in the plan for our wedding, twice. I made the choice to do this because I wanted the support of my future in-laws, and I’m finding a way to make this new and simple plan mine too. I feel like there have been a couple things (my photographer, who is now booked, and my dress) that I have needed to be perfect, to be exactly how I envision, to make up for the feeling that everything else is not going to be what I had dreamed of (no dance party!!).
    OK, I guess I needed to come out of the woodwork to vent today. Thanks APW.

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    “But then suddenly, as I listened to him pronounce his vows, I thought, huh, he really loves me. I mean he really, really loves me. The kind of love that’s willing to forgo a family history of disappointment and divorce to marry me…. I’m still kind of reeling over that one. ”

    Me too, girlfriend, me too.

    • Aiyana

      “But then suddenly, as I listened to him pronounce his vows, I thought, huh, he really loves me. I mean he really, really loves me. The kind of love that’s willing to forgo a family history of disappointment and divorce to marry me…. I’m still kind of reeling over that one. ”

      Me too. I had to read this to my husband…mainly to tell him that, yes, I knew he loved me before our ceremony. But during the ceremony, as he stood there holding my hands, and especially as he said his vows, it hit me. Really hit me. And I just felt, WHOA. Immense gratitude and love and awe…and, geez, I guess I’m still feeling that way.

      • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

        Yup. Exactly again.

    • pixie_moxie

      Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom. I come from a family where my parents are still happily married and I have this vision of their relationship as a positive one that I bring with me to mine. My fiance on the other hand comes from a twice divorced home and I have moments of “does he really want to marry me after his childhood” but then he hugs me in the morning and gives me a cup of coffee with this look in his eyes that reminds me. Yes. Perhaps his family life makes his more willing to talk issues out and work on the relationship that we will be saying “for the rest of our lives” to this summer.

      • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

        And Pixie, you should know that he probably draws great strength from the fact that you DO come from a functional marriage. I do from my husband’s; yet another reason we’re stronger as a team. What you bring to the marriage is more than just that, of course, but it’s probably a huge piece for him. And the fact that he is willing to commit to something he’s seen fail, well that’s a huge step for him, I’m guessing. :)

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    I love this. I’m with you on people telling me to stop stressing and relax. They can just shove it. And I love that you admit that the details did matter (and didn’t). We could’ve gotten married without a lot of our details, but it wouldn’t have been our wedding without them.

    Also, a heated argument over cilantro? I think I’ve seriously under-appreciated my herbs and spices because I’ve never been that passionate about them. Love them yes, but I think I’m going to have to reconsider. That your mom did that for you makes me smile.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      Unless she was arguing with you about cilantro. And then that probably didn’t need to happen. But in my head she’s arguing with the cilantro seller person.

  • Kaitlyn

    I am, by nature, a very highly strung person. I called my mother in a panic when I suddenly realized I need to have a bilingual ceremony, and she told me not to stress such a minor (!) detail. I had to remind her that they put me on anti-stress meds when I was 12!

    Also, I am absolutely in love with your dress. And cilantro does tend to cause heated arguments. There are whole blogs dedicated to hating cilantro quite passionately.

    • Melissa

      Ha! I hate cilantro! I will have to google these blogs. (Except Afghan rice comes with this cilantro sauce that is to die for, so bizarre that this one thing cilantro-based can be so good.)

  • http://www.weddingjewelrygifts.com bridal girl

    Congratulations! With all those plannings and having such great result with the overall of the wedding, it is really perfect! Hope you and your groom will live happily ever after!

  • http://ladyoftheforest.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    The guilt is what fuels my darkness, it would seem. I was crippled with embarrassment and guilt almost 1 1/2 years after the wedding when I remembered something I had said/done to one of my best friends.

    And I’m seeing connections with the guilt, the stress and the DIT weddings. On a bigger, wedding-does-not-equal-life scale, I’d say that this is very true for life. You are stressed because Situation 1 has consumed your very physical and mental being. You either act in a way that you regret (immediately or later) or someone close to you helps out in such a big way.

    With the first situation, their is guilt for being a jerk or being needy or being a whiner. So you apologize, and said person lets it slide because they care about you. They said, “No worries, don’t stress.” And you don’t think like that’s a good enough acceptance of your apology, because MAN, did you really regret saying/doing that! What do you do? Stress some more.

    Or in the second situation, your somebody spends their time and energy helping you with a task that you clearly need help with – which dumbfounds you, because why should they want to help such a stressball? You are a lowly stressball, strong powerful women though we may be. And superhero pride may peek and you apologize profusely, incredibly grateful but terribly embarrassed. Your friend/family assures you that it’s no big deal (even though maybe it’s become a burden to them, too) and tells you not to stress. What do you do? Stress some more.

    Is it just me? Okay, then.

  • Alexandra

    Woooo, Congrats!!!
    So much awesome. ;D

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