Hello everyone! This is Intern Lauren subbing in for a very puke-y sick Meg to intro you into this Monday’s Graduate post. I think Crystal is one of the bravest brides I’ve witnessed and I think she overcame a lot of the issues we see while planning a wedding, except maybe we get them in ones and twos, and she got them in handfuls. She talks about the loneliness of planning a wedding, her disappointment in those who may not have supported her throughout the process, and the questioning of “is this wedding even worth it?!”. And she comes out of it saying, embrace your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you. I’ve been weepy all day, but Crystal and Ananth put me over the edge. Let’s cheer them on and maybe even have a good cry. :)
I was actually nervous sending in my wedding graduate post. I’ve read so many over the months and I really want it to be helpful to someone, to “pay it forward” as you say in the prompt. In any case, I want to mention that I’d love to connect with anyone who wants to know more about how we self-catered or were able to pull it off for $1,500. If anyone else finds themselves in a position of not being able to afford a lot, like we were, I’d like them to know it’s possible. I also wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for such a wonderful community. I really feel like every Wedding Graduate, plus the ladies in the comments, were there with me. When some of my friends and family didn’t support my decisions I knew this community would. I don’t really know how to put my intense appreciation into words, but thank you for reading this and if you decide to post my wedding please communicate that to all these wonderful, beautiful women.
Our wedding almost never was. There were such high highs and low lows that I spent the majority of the year it took to plan in a sort of planning hell. My husband and I weren’t so sure we even wanted this wedding thing and became more focused on the honeymoon than anything else. We’ve been together since I was fourteen (ten years this March!), money was tight, and my side of the family doesn’t “do” weddings while his parents were accustomed to traditional Indian weddings. At times it was hard to realize what value an actual wedding held or if it would be worth the time and stress that came in waves and left me feeling alone and hopeless. Standing on the other side I can now accept that incredibly hard and trying time as a learning experience: the negativity of some family members, the unresponsiveness of some friends, the feeling of being alone all allowed me to appreciate all the wonderful people and moments that would come. Our wedding shined so bright with beauty and meaning that it washed out the pain and disappointment that came before.
For months before the wedding I read APW, and you ladies really supported me and formed my idea of what a wedding should be. I tried not to focus on details but having the wedding in my best friend’s back yard (out of monetary and practical necessity) meant I had to get creative. It was a lot of fun imagine-ing up our wedding, and I had never been to a wedding and we aren’t religious, we really just made it up as we went along. Cutting out pages of the copy of “The Velveteen Rabbit” my husband gave me as a Christmas gift when I was 16, collecting jars and ribbon for decoration, and testing recipes for our BBQ reception were a amazing creative outlets that pulled me through the stress. I put my heart in to everything, which turned out also made me feel vulnerable. Would it be enough for me? Would people “get” why I wanted them to help me decorate and make the food? Why the h*ll was no one returning my phone calls or emails?
All these doubts, in spite of the energy they took to hold on to, vanished the day before the wedding. We spent the morning with the amazing brigade of loved ones that helped us cook and set up the tables, chairs, and decorations. I had a general plan and vision, but generally trusted those around me and gave them my input when they just needed direction. I let go of the doubts and negative things that people had said or did and began to enjoy the day. Those people didn’t matter as much as the people who had showed up to make our wedding happen. Once things got going, once people showed up to help cook and decorate, things started rolling out of my control, anyway, and I went with the flow. It brought intense peace.
The morning of our wedding I woke up calm, a feeling that continued until I put on my dress. Suddenly I was shaking- not with fear or nervousness or even joy but with just pure EMOTION. That is the only way I can describe it. I became engrossed in the moment and experienced everything and everyone around me in a way I never have before. I looked at my mother, my sisters, and my friends who were helping me get ready and felt such love and gratitude for them. The same with my dad as he walked me down the aisle, and my husband as we looked at each other and said the vows we wrote ourselves. I kept saying how funny it was that I was the only one crying until my best friends said, “Are you kidding? That’s because you can’t see straight. We’ve all been crying all day. We are so happy.” I was a hot mess; everywhere I looked I saw someone I loved, or something that someone I loved had helped me create just for that day. It was all more beautiful than I could have ever anticipated, and I could not stop hugging and kissing anyone that came in arm’s distance. Luckily my husband kept it together, gathering people around us and making us all laugh out our tears.
Our community and the people we cherish matter so much to us. Ananth and I formed the whole idea of our wedding around including them and making the day about our loved ones as much as us. Sure, our wedding was about us, we were the foci people kept circling back to and around, but at the same time every single person there was infused in to the celebration (just as we wanted!). In her speech, my best friend and maid of honor, thanked us for bringing such a great group of people together. Activities we had planned, like bocci ball and smore making, were ignored. By the end of the night those that stuck around talked and drank and sang by the bonfire. Some people left really early and didn’t “participate” as we would have liked, but I didn’t even care…anything potentially stressful just rolled off my back. I was so grateful for, and in love with, everyone around me that the rest of it just didn’t matter. I was the best version of myself that day, and I know everyone there felt our love and we felt theirs. It was a very real and authentic experience. Things weren’t perfect by any means, but as my friend kept reminding me, beauty comes from imperfection. She literally kept telling me this every time I momentarily worried about food being cold or people not having fun or even flags getting twisted. She was so right.
When I look back on my wedding day I remember exactly how I felt, the love and gratitude it brought, and how much fun we had. It’s similar to how I can remember the exact moment I first laid eyes on my now husband, and what I felt. And it’s gratifying to know that our instincts led us to the truest version of a wedding either of us could imagine. What we got was not only a beautiful day but a forever reminder that we are loved, blessed, and damn lucky. Many of the things we put so much time in to didn’t matter (like so many other APW ladies report). The play list we worked on perfecting for hours on end? We played four songs before people started picking up the guitar and singing themselves. The lights I spent so much time researching for the tent? Once night fell we huddled around the bonfire and only went in the tent to get leftover food and pie. As the fire died we threw our paper plates and wooden forks and decorations I’d spent so long cutting out with an Exacto knife (and others had spent time helping me set up) straight into the flames to keep us warm and together for just a little longer.
More than anything our wedding was a lesson in faith: we set an intention for how we wanted the day to feel and we acted from it. I’d advise everyone else to do the same. When the opportunity to let everything go presents itself, smile and kindly open the door. Find the people who are happy, willing, and eager and grab their hands and shoulders and tell them what they mean to you, for this is the day you will find the space to do that. Know that the majority of things come full circle and everything else doesn’t matter, because at the end of *that day* what you are left with are great relationships, an experience shared with those you love, and a marriage in which to experience even more.
Photos by: The budding photographer sister, Nicole Germond