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Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella


So! It’s the last week of the year for APW, and to reward you all for a year well lived (and well married) we wanted to leave you with a whole week of wedding graduates. But it turns out there were one or two things that had to be said before the holidays, things about fighting and hard stuff and reflecting on the year. So this week is a mix of wise graduates, and thoughtful words. And to kick it all of we have Estrella, a Bay Area APW Book Club-er, and a smart lady. Her wedding day was a bit of a mess… and it was ok. She found a way to make the crazy into magic, something I’m always in awe of, and something worth reminding yourself is possible. It’s not one perfect day, it’s two messy, wildly imperfect, joyful lives. And with that, I bring you Estrella:

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

Andy: “How many times am I allowed to use the word “epic” in my wedding vows?”
Me: “Uh…none?”

Surprising to everyone who knows us, Andy and I met on match.com. Probably the most amazing thing about our story is that we were so close to meeting and we just didn’t. We ran the same circles: same restaurants, same bars, same gym, same stores, and walked the same streets. Funny as it sounds, it took an online site to bring us together. We contacted each other (I made the first move!) and set up our first date. We met at Fellini’s in Berkeley and flirted over risotto and alfresco vegetables. We knew within minutes that our paths would be, in some way, together. Drinks at the Albatross were next and since it was a Sunday night we decided to cut it short (can you call a five hour date “short”?) and say goodnight. Plans were made for a second date and we’ve been together ever since.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

Andy and I got engaged in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on a wintery night in a hot tub under the stars. After an emphatic yes, I am proud to say that the next words I uttered were, “Where did you hide the ring? Please tell me it wasn’t up your butt!” What followed was an eight month frenzy of crazy planning, crazy because we wanted to do everything ourselves. We were on a budget and being hardworking, self-sufficient people, we didn’t foresee this being a problem. What we didn’t take into account was that we both would be working all summer away from home, where we’d have no access to phones or computers. This was followed by the looked-over detail that come in August. Andy would be starting his first long awaited teaching job, which left the planning up to me.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

Up until two days before the wedding, I couldn’t have been happier: We found the perfect site, a large estate we could rent for the weekend that was out in the countryside, about an hour from our home; I discovered crafting skills I never knew I possessed, as is witnessed by the bird-on-a-wire motif that I took on with abandon; I scoured craigslist for décor that I thought would fit our style, including 50+ mason jars that we wanted to use for the cocktail and lawn games hour; and I read countless wedding blogs for inspiration (that is, until I discovered APW and abandoned all the others).

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

And then the wedding weekend arrived. I was fine doing most things on my own, but when it came to coordinating myself as well as the massive numbers of people that kept rolling in and were looking to us, to me, for direction, I cracked. By the time the rehearsal dinner rolled around, everything was behind schedule and I was close to tears. But our families were together and the weather was glorious–85 degrees during the day, followed by a crisp fall evening, which was perfect for the pumpkin carving and hot tubbing we had planned. I took a deep breath, dragged my sister into the bedroom to help me find a clean shirt, pulled myself together and we had an amazing night.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

The morning of the wedding, Andy and I woke up at the crack of dawn, overwhelmed by the daunting list of tasks we still had yet to accomplish. Yet before getting out of bed, we lay and watched the sunrise over the golden hills, taking in a moment of calm before the business of the day took us over completely.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

What followed was an endless list of chores: putting up decorations (including the paper lanterns I worked so hard to find in our wedding colors), taking out and setting up the lawn games, arranging a dance area, setting up tables, chairs, and centerpieces, mixing the drinks, folding the Mad Libs Guest Book/ Wedding Programs, painting the tree for our guests to sign and “leaf” their print, writing out checks for all the vendors, and so much more. Andy’s big task was to build the chuppah and to keep himself from throwing up out of nervousness. My big task was to make sure everything else got done and to delegate wherever possible, which turned out to be harder than I’d thought.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

While I so wanted to have a DIT wedding, my true self took hold and I finally came to terms with something I’ve been denying for a long time: I cannot delegate to save my life. Somehow, most of the important things got done and I was whisked away to shower and get ready just as the guests started arriving. Around that time, the glorious warm fall California day we had all been expecting took a turn. A cold front came in. Fast. By the time the ceremony started it had dropped at least ten degrees. And that was just the beginning to the seemingly never-ending list of things that went wrong.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

But you know what? Even with all the mix-ups (the programs we painstakingly created never being passed out, dinner starting late, the dance mix it took us weeks to create abandoned accidentally, the arctic gale that overtook us–forcing everyone inside and away from the lawn games, the candles that wouldn’t light, the ten pounds I gained in the year leading up to the wedding, the LED lights we forgot to put in our paper lanterns, the cute parasols we bought that we never opened, the cases of wine that were opened and never drunk, the wait staff we underpaid, my bridesmaids walking up to the alter before Andy, his dudes, or our officiant), we’re MARRIED!

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

And while the rest of the day was a bit of a mess, the ceremony was absolutely perfect. Andy and I married each other exactly how we wanted. Amidst our families and friends, we declared our love for each other that day and for all of our tomorrows. The flowers I held had been carried down the aisle by our family and friends, and were wrapped in a ribbon made out of my grandmother’s train. He cried. I didn’t. And just as we were saying our vows, a group of horses came to stand in the hillside behind us. I never felt more surrounded by love than I did on that day. Andy, the man who DOES NOT DANCE, held me in his arms and together, we rocked the night away.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

And you know, those ten pounds I cried over in the days before our wedding? Well, the dress fit better than ever before. Instead of lawn games, we had a bonfire. When the candles didn’t light and it was too cold to stay seated at our tables for the speeches, we piled inside.

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

Over a hundred of us crammed into the living room and what followed was such an intimate outpouring of love, I never wanted the night to end. Leaving late the next day after cleaning up, with the rain pouring down around us, blanketing the hills and washing away the last remnants of scattered cupcake, and pumpkin seeds, I turned to Andy, my new husband, and said, “Babe. You were right. That was totally epic. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

Wedding Graduates: Andy & Estrella | A Practical Wedding

Photos By: Friends & Family

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  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    This is a beautiful reminder about how even though things can go wrong, the most important part is that the two of you got married and somehow everything else fell into place even though it wasn’t exactly how it was planned. Thank you for sharing your day with us Estrella!

    Plus the birds on the wire are super, super cute!

    • Estrella

      Thanks! The birds were totally Andy’s idea. :)

  • Paranoid Libra

    You looked so happy and the scenery was beautiful. Amazing about the horses watching your vows. And everything going wrong just shows it’s what you make of it.

    And I see a dog…that I think is a pit and that just makes my day as a pit owner :)

    Congrats on a not according to plan, but still epic wedding and marriage.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Oh, gorgeous! The part with the horses behind you and the outpouring of love kind of melted me.

    I am my own biggest fear–that I will overstress and not be able to delegate. To combat this I’m stripping things to the bare minimum and planning on a good deal of wine. :)

  • shorty j

    I love this! So cute.

    Although I do hope you eventually paid the wait staff whatever you owed ‘em ;)

  • http://onabicyclebuiltfortwo.blogspot.com A Bicycle Built For Two

    I have never been more jealous of a wedding as I am now. It sounds perfectly flawed… in a wonderful way. It made you appreciate the marriage more than the wedding. And you had fun!

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

    I was surprised that my wedding also felt epic. I didn’t expect it to, but it did. Congratulations!

  • Amy

    I know this isn’t what the post is about, but the picture of the tables overlooking the view is breathtaking. And since I know you did so much of that yourself (as I did) I can bet you appreciate knowing that others are appreciating it! :-)

    • http://redheadreports.blogspot.com Ali

      Agreed, I stopped on that picture for about 5 minutes, just admiring how beautiful it all was.

    • Estrella

      Oh my god, YES! Thank you. Because for me, the details do matter. It wasn’t all color coordinated to a “T” but we wanted the overall feel to be thoughtful, playful, and homemade, and okay, I’ll admit it, also a little bit classy.

  • Kathleen

    That is one of the best first kiss photos I’ve ever seen. You two look so happy together. Best wishes!

  • http://forcause.wordpress.com Sandy

    I love that you wrote, specifically, about the things that went wrong. It’s helpful to wedding undergraduates who need your perspective (it’s okay that things went wrong) and to wedding graduates like me who still occasionally look back on the bits that went awry and groan. I know, I know, they didn’t matter, but it’s still nice to know that other people’s weddings aren’t perfect and that other brides are aware of what’s imperfect even in the face of all the transcendence (to borrow a term from Meg) and joy.

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      Isn’t it funny, when you know one thing in your head and feel another in your heart? Silly contradictory emotions.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      I agree, this is totally important. Only a few tiny things went wrong – scratch that, they went not according to plan – but they are so on the forefront of my mind when I think about our wedding. Really, no one else knew those things were deviations from the plan either.

      I’ve been very careful not to air those issues with others when I talk about the wedding, because not talking about it is helping me forget. However, I don’t want to create the impression that everything went off without a hitch and our wedding was flawless. It wasn’t and it’s unrealistic to expect that it would be.

      Maybe it just takes time. I want to be able to say “X, Y, and Z went wrong and my wedding was still so much more than I’d hoped for.” (And it was. So. Much. More.) But for now, mentioning X and Y seems petty and talking about Z hurts. I’m hoping that by our first anniversary I’ll be able to be really open about the things that were “wrong” and still able to express how good our wedding was. Because it really, really was.

      • Estrella

        I think that’s why I felt compelled to write this post; I often get stuck on what went “wrong.” And I know, that’s so not what APW is all about. But still, we can be really hard on ourselves, especially when we have been working to make something so meaningful for ourselves and our families. I have to say, writing it all out was totally cathartic. Plus, it makes it so much easier to laugh about it all. And without sounding like I’m trying to criticize anyone, I do feel like I read a lot of comments that say, yeah, such and such wasn’t perfect, but it was still the most important day of my life, or it was still SOOOooo beautiful, or I’ve never been happier. And I found that I needed to come to terms with the fact that that wasn’t my experience. I did not feel my most beautiful. It was not the happiest day of my life. Was it the most important? I don’t know yet. It was incredibly meaningful and special and hard and fun and everything in between.

        • abby_wan_kenobi

          Very late breaking response – Yes. Coming to terms. With not feeling perfect or perfectly flawed. With not feeling blissful or transcendant or even gritty. With not bitching but also not lying.

          When people ask me about the wedding I don’t want to say “It was amazing except the dj played the wrong music and the seating chart I agonized over got messed up and my one uncle didn’t show up at the last minute and my lifelong verybest friend left before dessert because of kidney stones.” But those things did happen and there was nothing perfectly imperfect about it. Those things kind of sucked. Those aren’t happiest day of my life things.

          But nonetheless, I was happy on our wedding day. Of all the things that went awry, none of them were about Husband and me. Honestly, him hugging me and saying it was okay to be sad on our wedding day might have been the best part. He squeezed my hand and we had fun anyway and I was happy we were together and happy we were married. That part of our wedding was *awesome*. I’m in awe of it.

          So I tell people our wedding was “kind of fabulous. I laughed, I cried… I also did the third thing.” Which people don’t understand, because that right there is a two-fer of an inside joke, but the right people understand it and I’m pretty sure that’s what matters. And I started telling engaged people the longer version, because it also matters to me that other women don’t feel like they have to live up to the fake, sanitized version of my experience.

  • Alyssa

    Estrella, I love, love, love the perspective that you have! And you have one of the best names ever. And I also love that Andy cried and you didn’! (Men in tears SLAY me.)

    But what I love most of all?

    “Where did you hide the ring? Please tell me it wasn’t up your butt!”

    I think we need to be friends.

    • http://www.stofnsara.com saartjie

      I know! I love this the most… So, did he hide it up his butt? ;-)

      Congratulations to both of you for being married so completely. I reckon the weddings I’ve been to where the most things go wrong (other than seriously deep stuff) are the ones where the focus is so wonderfully on all the right stuff. Like actually wedding your beloved.

      • Estrella

        Spoiler alert: he slipped it on his toe when I wasn’t looking. But it still makes me laugh that, of course, my “logical” mind went somewhere else entirely. :)

  • Olivia

    happy day!

    and i’m so excited for a week of wedding graduates. elopements or tiny weddings please–i need ideas!

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

    Despite all the problems (and the stress that creates), it obviously turned out beautifully. Good for you, and congratulations!

  • Danielle

    This wedding makes me happy. Even when things go wrong (it rained on our outdoor wedding, and it was remarkably humid so I was nonstop sweating) and items you worked hours and hours on don’t even get used (and oh dear Lord do I hear you on that one, there were definitely items totally forgotten for our wedding), it doesn’t matter in the end. And it is still the most beautiful day you’ve ever experienced in your whole life that you will never forget.

    You can tell you had that kind of wedding and I think that is totally awesome to have that attitude about everything. :)

  • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

    Oh also, I love that you met on match.com and I love the proposal story. You guys sound like you can totally laugh and be goofy with each other which is awesome.

    And I love that your wedding was “epic.” :)

  • Class of 1980

    I think your ring comment in the hot tub says something about how comfortable you are with each other. Oh, I laughed at that one. You sound and look like a fun couple!

    Loved that horses attended your ceremony and especially loved the halter picture.

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

    Aw. Yea for epic.

    I love that you took a moment to find calm and peace at the beginning of the day. I think we all need that every day, but especially on days as big as weddings.

  • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

    I love that Estrella admits to not being able to delegate. I find that difficult too. 1) I don’t want to burden people and 2) I don’t want to be disappointed. Disappointment is the WORST, but I think fear of disappointment might even more horrible, and obnoxious. I was really happy to see someone who was all “I suck at this and it effed me up for a minute”. Awe-some.

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      Oh lord, YES! and YES! to #1 and #2. For me (and the ppl that love me), the worst side effect of being a control freak, err, not being able to delegate effectively, is helpers being afraid to disappoint me/feeling guilty for disappointing me. I’m terrible at hiding my reaction to things, so as much as I try, if I’m disappointed ppl can tell and then they feel bad, and I feel bad they feel bad… and yea, this is why I love wedding grads like Estrella, who don’t sugarcoat the messy stuff (ok yes, that’s pretty much all of them and thus why I love APW), but make me feel like I will get past it.

      • Estrella

        Word on the delegation thing and being particular about the results. Good to know I’m not the only one! It’s so hard when you have a vision and can’t transfer that to other people’s brains! Also, the thing I don’t really get is that before the wedding, a lot of people asked if they could help, but even aside from the delegation issue, which really only came into play the day of as everything was being set up and coming together, was the fact that I really couldn’t think of anything to ask my friends to do. Seriously. I mean, I read all these posts about wedding elves, and the bridal brigade, and I’m baffled. Because for us, wedding planning was all about the decisions we needed to make together. Yeah, there were a few crafty things and invitations and all, but they honestly weren’t that big a deal. And I like doing that stuff. It’s the list that keeps growing the day of the wedding that quadruples every time you check one thing off. And that’s my one piece of advice, for all those people that offer to help, say yes please, and put them in charge of say, the flowers, or the caterers, or the photographer, or anyone else you hired that you don’t want to have to deal with, because that is what really was the most challenging.

    • http://fionalynne.wordpress.com fiona lynne

      Yes. The fear of disappointment is a biggie to overcome if you’re not normally a delegator-type. My husband and I decided to delegate all the church and reception delegations to my mother-in-law because 1) she’s good at decorations and 2) she lives far away and we wanted her to feel as part of the wedding as my family was.
      But giving up the control of all the details, just giving some vague guidelines and then letting her have free reign, was super hard for me at the time because the details were important to me. In the end though it was a blessing to have her in charge and when we walked in to our horrid-green-colour reception hall, I actually gasped at how beautiful she’d made it… so it all ended well :)

  • Jillian

    What an absolutely gorgeous wedding!! Those pictures are fantastic! Love the one of the kid on the rock with the horses in the background. Congratulations on your wedding and best wishes for your new marriage.
    And I totally hear you on not being able to delegate. I always fear that I’ll sound bossy or rude so I try to do things myself instead.

  • http://hopewanders.wordpress.com kate

    Love this wedding! Especially, as everyone has said, admitting that it wasn’t perfect. So powerful for wedding undergrads like me.

    And, um, Estrella…if you are looking for a new home for those 50+ mason jars………thatwouldbeawesome.

  • http://Averyhappyaccident.blogspot.com Alice

    I’ve literally become addicted to reading the comments here… They are really just as interesting as the initial posts! Also, I love that Estrella and her husband met on match.com… I keep encouraging my friends and family to consider online dating… it’s just so hard to connect these days even when you move in the same circles. Congrats!

  • Elizabeth

    Congrats Estrella! Loved meeting you at the book club. Seems like your ability to acknowledge your feelings and quickly gain perspective will be useful beyond your wedding day and throughout your marriage.. Wishing you and Andy many, many happy years together

  • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

    Amazing, EPIC, wedding.

    Reading this reminded me that the most memorable weddings (and vacations, etc.) really are the ones where things go awry. I mean, if everything went according to plan what would you all recap years later? “Hey, remember at the wedding when the decorations were perfect, and the food was awesome, and we danced and it was fun?” Lame. “Hey, remember at the wedding when the arctic gale forced us inside and we were all crammed on top of each other all nite and didn’t stop laughing for 4 hours?” sounds like a better story to me.

  • Kayakgirl73

    Great post. Something that many of us who obsessed over what went wrong need to read. It took me a while to love our wedding for the good stuff, but most importantly we got married and many of our loved ones were there even if a few special people were missing due to health or distance.

  • robin

    First, yay Bay Area brides!! So fun to see grad posts from people I’ve met in real life!

    Yes. Delegating is HARD. Especially when we are so good at doing things well/correctly ourselves, no? I am (I think) better and better as I get older at the delegating and the saying NO, which I always find to be tied together.

    Estrella, this was such a wonderful perspective on it went wrong BUT. Sometimes it’s too easy to get stuck on the first part, when in fact, the but is so much better and more important. But you got married anyway. But your dress fit better. But you were HAPPY.

    Congrats, lady!!

  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    Andy and I met on match.com. Probably the most amazing thing about our story is that we were so close to meeting and we just didn’t. We ran the same circles: same restaurants, same bars, same gym, same stores, and walked the same streets. Funny as it sounds, it took an online site to bring us together.

    Hi, are we couple-twins? Me and my husband, too. WE LIVED NEXT DOOR TO EACH OTHER. The week before we “met” online, we were shoveling our cars out from under 3 feet of snow a half a block from one another. Seriously, it was so bizarre that we hadn’t met before that.

    Among other odd connections, he played on a pickup soccer team with some of my former grad school classmates. After not going to one game for a year and a half, I finally decide to attend a game. A few nights later, there was a happy hour planned among my classmates, and C came with me. The captain of the team, when we walked in together, looked as if a light bulb had gone off over his head. It was priceless.

  • Sarah

    I love, love, LOVE your story. All the near misses before meeting, your hilarious answer to his proposal … and really, the way your wedding day unfolded … it just makes me smile. Which is weird to say, when there were so many “issues” … but the way you handled yourselves, and the absolute JOY on your faces …. ::grins::

    And on a purely superficial note … holy crap you guys are gorgeous. And talented. I feel like I should ask how to hire you for all my party-throwing/hanging-out-with-beautiful-people needs.

    <3 <3 <3

  • http://www.cuteanddelicious.com miss alix

    this story is really inspiring. your wedding looks lovely and mostly you look so so happy. in the end those details aren’t as important as the happiness you feel together.

    seriously though, i love the birds.

    i’m going to try to keep this post in mind, to just go with the flow if things go wrong.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    I love the bird on a wire theme. Tis gorgeous.

  • Erin

    So wait….where DID he hide the ring?!?

    And also, where is this venue? I am also in the Bay Area and looking for a place just like this…so beautiful!

    Thanks!

    • Estrella

      Erin, I’d gladly share it with you, but you should know, they still haven’t returned our deposit and it’s been more than 2 months. And girl, we worked like DOGS to get that place clean the day after. So, I don’t know, but drop me a note if you want more info.
      estrellant@yahoo.com

  • http://sarahsurgeon.blogspot.com sarah

    i love this post. your wedding sounds like it was very real. meaning, in real life, no matter how hard you plan, things don’t go perfectly, but its ok.

    i had my share of things i worked hard to create that somehow got missed on our wedding day. in fact, due to a mishap while having our hair done, my veil caught on fire. we were running WAY late and didn’t have time to do anything about it. and i won’t lie, i was bummed, i might have shed a couple tears about it right when it happened. but i still wore it, most people didn’t notice, and it became a funny story.

    i think “imperfections” define people better than pefections. no one likes someone who is too perfect anyway. congratulations to you and your husband on what sounds like a day full of love, laughter and joy.

  • Christina

    Thank you for sharing this tender, heartfelt story! I can see myself having the same control issues when our wedding day arrives next June. Your story is such a reminder that at the end of the day, love will bring it all together! And after all, love is what a wedding is all about. Best wishes for you and your new husband!

  • Trisha

    I just want to say that I love everything about this post.

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