Last year, we did an invitation giveaway for Printable Press, and the winners were Jamie and Max. Jamie is a queer woman and Max is a trans man, and they were having a rough time of wedding planning that week, and they needed a lift. And because life sometimes works that way, Kimi swooped in out of the blue, and designed not one, not two, but THREE invitations, just for them to pick between (you can order your own here, fyi). And, because life sometimes works that way (times two), it turns out their wedding was being photographed by another member of the APW sponsor team, Leah and Mark Photography out of Atlanta. But beyond all that APW synergy, Jamie’s wedding graduate post hits the nail on the head. Her message that you need to get the people right is perhaps *the* important message in wedding planning, and one that is so often missed. So I’m squirming in my seat excited to finally bring you Jamie’s grad post, which is of course both beautiful, and chock full of wisdom.
Early in our relationship, Max and I did not know if we ever wanted to be married. After we decided to get married, we didn’t know if we wanted a wedding. When we decided to have a wedding, we wanted very different things. Max wanted to grab a few of our loved ones and head to Vegas while I wanted to have an intimate and non-traditional celebration in the woods. The wedding we had was nothing like either of our original visions, but it somehow became exactly the celebration we needed.
One of the reasons we were originally hesitant to planning a wedding is that I am a perfectionist. I am perfectionist who has extreme tendencies towards anxiety and hates nothing more than being wrong, and Max and I both knew that wedding planning was likely to push all of my anxious buttons.
And, it’s true that I did worry endlessly throughout our planning about everything from whether or not our ceremony would be too traditional for our friends or too non-traditional for our families, to whether or not the kitchen would be able to accommodate all of our loved ones’ dietary needs, to whether or not people would think we were cheap for only having a beer and wine bar.
As a sanity-saving measure, though, we decided that we would try very hard to put most of our worries and our money into the things that mattered most to us: the people, the pictures and the food. It was a good plan that we executed imperfectly, but when we remember our wedding these are definitely the three choices about which we are most happy, but the only one that really matters now is the people that were involved in our wedding.
Max and I both agree that our choice of officiants was the best decision we made in our wedding. We asked two friends – members of our chosen family – to marry us. They have known us and loved us from the beginning of our relationship, and it only seemed right to have them bless us as we move forward.
Having Sheila and AT marry us also served as a way to honor our queer and radical community. They are an amazing couple who, despite the fact that they cannot legally marry, model for us all of the qualities we’d like to see in our own marriage.
We also tried to keep people first in our wedding by trying to involve our families and the members of our wedding party in both meaningful and low-stress ways, like choosing their own outfits and helping us decide on the 12 different flavors of cake we served.
Of course, there were also great disappointments in wedding planning. Our search for a venue that was accessible for all of the people we wanted to invite and fit our budget was tough. The venue we eventually chose was beautiful, and while I have no regrets now, I struggled with it being so much more traditional than the venue that I originally imagined. I also had quite a debacle with my dress. I never wanted to wear a white or ivory dress, so I had a dress custom made by a designer highly recommended on the internet. The dress, however, arrived late, poorly made, and in unwearable condition. Five weeks before our wedding, I was left with no choice but to find an off-the-rack dress, and the only one I could find that fit my body and budget was a traditional ivory dress. It was definitely devastating for a few days.
But just as the greatest joys in our wedding were because of people, so were the greatest disappointments. About two months before our wedding, someone to whom I had been very close wrote a letter to me explaining all of his objections to our queer union and his disapproval of our marriage. It was the most hurtful thing I’ve ever read, and I cried for weeks over it. I was unsure until the day of the wedding about whether or not he would attend, and he chose not to. For a few moments on our wedding day, I felt the pain of that rejection, but it also compelled me to be even more grateful for those friends and family who have offered their support of us and our relationship and were there in either body or spirit.
I find it hard to offer wedding planning advice when I look back upon our wedding because it feels like so little of what we did during our 18 months of wedding planning mattered.
The dress I never wanted to wear and the tablecloths I hated don’t matter a bit to me now. The food, which was amazing, matters only because our loved ones enjoyed it, and Whatever else we got wrong or left undone while planning a wedding, we got the people right, and that is all that matters.
One of the more frustrating things about registry checklists is that they can be super presumptive about what married life looks like (goodbye adventure, hello home-cooked dinners). Which is why I’m a big fan of flexible registries like Zola Registry. With a sizeable internal inventory, the flexibility to add registry items from any online retailer (plus experiences and honeymoon fund options), Zola lets you create a registry that’s reflective of your actual life together with your partner, not some marketer’s prescription for marriage. If you’re going to go to the trouble of creating a registry, and if your guests are going to go to the trouble (and cost) of buying you things off of said registry, you might as well like the stuff you’re registering for.…