Last week, Marian kicked off this year’s discussion of marriage by broaching a subject not often discussed on the wedding blogs – being an unwed mother. But it gets even better than that, because today she’s back as a wedding grad. Marian discusses something really near and dear to my heart here – marriage and timing. I’ve had a number of friends who felt pressure, for one reason or another, to rush down the aisle. And even if they were marring someone really good for them, if they got married when they were not ready to make the leap… they didn’t do themselves any favors. It takes a brave woman to wait till she’s good and ready (especially with a kid in tow). So today we have Marian, talking about how she did just that. And, um, if her pictures don’t make the case for getting married when your kid is tiny and adorable, I don’t know what does.
Our wedding was a long time coming, and by standard convention we did things backward. We’ve been together for six years, we had a child unexpectedly early on, and we were engaged for three years. Well, I say to h*ll with standard convention. In an effort to do what was right for us we stuck to our guns and waited until we were ready to get married. Marriage is a big, huge, and often scary commitment that should not be taken lightly, even if you are absolutely sure you want to marry the person you’re with.
(I had panic attacks about getting married because I’m incredibly indecisive and terrified of making the wrong choice!) So we spent three years, with several false starts, deciding when was the right time for us and what we wanted our wedding to be.
I think the years long off and on planning helped give me the perspective to make the choices to have the kind of wedding that was meaningful for us, rather than what convention said we should do. By the time it came around to actually plan the wedding I realized that the things I envisioned and wanted had changed from my original image.
With the helpful and sage advice of blogs like APW, I realized the most important thing to me, now, was to express the kind of people we are and to create a whole weekend where our friends and family could come together and celebrate. Not just us and our wedding, but also love and each other. I think that’s exactly what happened. Our wedding lasted at least the weekend, though it felt like the whole week leading up to it was also part of it. We had guests arriving from all over the country and my brother and his family even flew in from Japan! As people arrived the feeling of community grew and I could feel the love these people had for us.
One of the key parts to the feeling and vision I had was having the whole thing at my parents’ farm. Not only is it a gorgeous location, but having it there really brought people together. Everyone helped, and no one stopped putting the finishing touches on everything until minutes before the ceremony. Saturday morning my dad even ran out and got fresh gravel for the pond, and I was filling in gopher holes.
Almost everything for the rehearsal/welcome dinner, ceremony, reception, and Sunday picnic was done by people we knew. The pastor was a long time family friend whose children we grew up with. The violinist was a good friend of ours. The catering was done by people we knew. My older brother played the keyboard, a friend of ours dj’d, my uncle (who used to do professional wedding cakes) made the cake, and my younger brother’s friend was the bartender. It was the most amazing feeling of community as everyone who stopped by the house during the week was put to work in some way, or simply invited to sit and talk with us awhile.
When I looked around that day it was amazing to see everyone there. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. All I saw were smiles and laughter, and that was all I could ask for.
People often talk about the details and their importance, or unimportance. For me they were only as important as the people who helped create them. The centerpieces were a collaborative effort between nearly ten different people. My mom and sister came up with some ideas and I chose the one I liked best. The final touches were beautifully hand drawn, colored, and lettered tags of indigenous wild flowers for table names. My dad sketched them, my brother’s sister-in-law colored them, and my younger brother lettered them. My best friend and I assembled them with my sister-in-law. Had so much effort and love not been put into them by so many people I cared about, the centerpieces would not have mattered at all. As it was, they were stunning in a simple way and helped bring a lot of people together and make them part of the whole event. They told me later they were glad to have been able to help.
In the end the weekend was exactly what I had envisioned, thanks to the help of all our friends and family, especially my parents and sister. It was a country-chic ho-down that brought everyone together. I can’t count how many times people came up to me and said that it was the most beautiful wedding they had been to.
My advice to all the other brides out there is to be unafraid to wait. Don’t be afraid to have as long or short an engagement as is right for you. Be unafraid of convention and don’t be afraid to defy it. Don’t let convention dictate your actions or timing. Don’t worry about what other people will think, if they truly care about you they will simply be happy that you are marrying the person you love.
Photos By: Eric Smyklo