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Danielle & Matt’s Rainy Alki Beach Wedding



Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

One of assistant editor Lauren’s jobs on APW is to act as the wedding graduates editor, and she is more excited about Danielle’s wedding than I’ve seen her in a long time. And clearly, the woman is on to something. There are two profoundly beautiful messages to Danielle’s story – one, the reminder that the wedding planning journey is as important as the destination. Danielle says, “Wedding planning reminded us of how much fun we have together, even with the most mundane things, and why we were marrying one another in the first place.” Which can be super important to remember in the trenches of planning. Two, her story about finding her way to feeling beautiful on her wedding day, is compelling and powerful. So with that, enjoy!

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Matt and I have been together for over seven years. After a fluke chance of connecting on Match.com, we decided to meet in person after a week of talking on the phone. The moment we met was totally one of the moments out of a movie – I saw him from behind, tapped him on the shoulder, and said “BOO!” (Call me a dork, I was totally nervous and didn’t know how else to get his attention!) He turned around, smiled, and – I’m not making this part up – said to me, “You’re BEAUTIFUL.” I knew at that moment he would one day be my husband.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

As we started to plan our wedding, the first thing we knew was that this was going to be OUR wedding, not MY wedding. It has always bothered me that so many brides think it’s their day and their day only, when it’s just as big of a day for their soon-to-be husband. Matt and I knew we wanted our wedding to show who we are and really display the amount of love we have not only between us, but also for our closest friends and family.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

We bought our house in June, three months prior to the wedding, so planning for the wedding had been pretty much shoved aside from March-June. We suddenly realized we hadn’t done anything except for book our venue, photographer, and caterer. We went into superhero-mode at that point, both making lists and delegating responsibilities to one another. We knew if we wanted to pull off the wedding that we envisioned, we both needed to be very involved, even in those moments where we found ourselves sitting up until 3am working on favors and wanting to quit.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

We were each other’s cheerleader and it showed how much we totally rocked as a team. That’s not to say we didn’t butt heads from time to time (like when we totally couldn’t agree on the food, BBQ vs. Italian. His choice of BBQ won and I have to admit, it was totally awesome). I definitely learned how to compromise through this process and how to communicate with Matt in a non-destructive manner. This is one of the most important lessons I learned from planning the wedding and I’m thankful we were able to do that together. It gave us another reason to sit next to each other while talking about life and watching a movie. We spent one night filling up bottles of BBQ spice rub as favors. We ended up laughing for days at how much we smelled like BBQ. Wedding planning reminded us of how much fun we have together, even with the most mundane things (trust me, filling up bottles is not that amusing), and why we were marrying one another in the first place.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Let me back up for a moment and talk about something that was a huge issue for me during planning. I am a plus-size girl, and always have been my entire life. I’ve never really loved shopping for dresses for any fancy occasion; going back to my days of homecoming dances and prom. I couldn’t ever go shopping with my own friends because they didn’t carry my size at normal stores, nor did I want to have to deal with the embarrassment of being too fat in front of my own friends. This totally spilled over into my own wedding, and I remember feeling dread at knowing I had to find a dress and thinking about how I would look. I didn’t want to go to a bridal store and have to deal with some woman asking me how much weight I was planning to lose for my wedding day, or pinching me, or squeezing me into dresses ten times too small. It also didn’t help that I found myself to be a lonely bride at times, since most of my bridesmaids lived in Boston, as does my mother. So, that being said, I decided I’d find a dress I liked online and have it sent to me. I thought it was perfect, I was “saying yes to the dress” (someone should have banned me from watching that damn show while I was planning my wedding/trying to find a dress, ugh.) I would look perfect, and I couldn’t wait to get it.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

14 weeks later, it showed up, and I tried it on. You know how most brides try on a dress and cry out of happiness because that is IT and they look remarkably perfect in it? Yeah, I was crying by myself in my tiny apartment bathroom because my DREAM dress looked HORRIBLE and I absolutely hated it. It was probably the lowest point I had during planning and I started to get angry at how much pressure was put on brides to look absolutely perfect for their wedding day. I also began to freak out because hello! I now had no wedding dress! Panic set in, and as soon as Matt walked in the door that day, I ran into his arms and basically bawled my eyes out. “What am I going to do?! I HAVE NO DRESS. I’M SUPPOSED TO LOOK PERFECT.” He told me we would find something, that he promised I would look perfect and beautiful and that it would be okay. We would figure it out. I wanted to believe him but at the same time, I knew that I was in trouble because if it’d taken me that long to find the “dream dress” already, how the h*ll was I supposed to find dream-dress-take-two?

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

I started to look for dresses that were a bit less casual and wedding-y because I realized, “The hell with these perfect fancy wedding dresses that everyone fawns over, I’m going to find a dress that I feel comfortable and beautiful in, even if that means it’s not as fancy or what everyone else pictures.” I came across one that looked perfect for our wedding; it was flowy in the front, tea-length (so I could show off my Chucks), had short flutter sleeves (because hey, I do not love my arms), and it was on super sale. I ordered and literally prayed that it would fit perfectly. It came in the mail, I tried it on, looked in the mirror and started to cry. This time though, I was crying because it was THE dress. I was crying for the right reason. I FELT BEAUTIFUL. That is a moment I will never forget; the moment I realized that I would be beautiful on my wedding day, because I finally felt it myself. There was so much pain, anxiety and stress up to this point that I can’t even put into words, and it was gone in that one moment. I said I would be beautiful on my wedding day, and you know what? I was.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

On the day of our wedding, When I finally got to see Matt, I walked up to him from behind, tapped him on the shoulder, and said: “BOO!” (I guess that’s my thing), and as he spun around, the look on his face was priceless. “Dani, you’re BEAUTIFUL!” he exclaimed and every bit of nervousness melted away. I felt like a beautiful bride, and I felt so happy it was like my heart could explode right then and there. That is a moment I will never ever forget and whenever I feel down on myself, I think about that day and remind myself that I am beautiful.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

The other thing I remember over and over again is the times I looked out at our family and friends and all I could see were faces of pure joy and happiness. I’ve never experienced anything so powerful in my life. I just had no idea how much people cared! That was what surprised me most, which I’m sure seems odd. I think it’s one of those things that you just have to experience yourself, as I’m sure many wedding graduates have before. And if you’re still planning? It’s one of the best feelings in the world, I promise.

Danielle & Matts Rainy Alki Beach Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Photos by: Danny B Photography

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  • http://www.ohdeerio.com smallwonder

    Beautiful post! I’m not plus size, but I also worry about being “pretty enough” on my wedding day. I’m scared I won’t like how I look but after so many wedding graduates saying, dude, chill, you will feel beautiful! I’m starting to feel like its true. It helps to know that almost everyone feels this way.

    Also, I need to know more about that poster on the table with the banjo!

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

      I’m scared I won’t like how I look but after so many wedding graduates saying, dude, chill, you will feel beautiful! I’m starting to feel like its true.

      IT IS. IT IS, IT IS, IT IS. Anyone else out there questioning, scared, wondering?? IT IS TRUE. You will be beautiful. You will FEEL beautiful. Just be YOU, let your love shine (cheesy or not, let it f*cking shine), and you will be absolutely glorious.

      So stop worrying. We, Team Practical, promise that you’ll be gorgeous, and we can’t wait to see the pictures. <3

      • A-L

        Yeah, you’ll totally feel beautiful. My weight has yo-yoed, but for nearly all of my life I have been overweight. My only attendant was my sister who people have mistaken for a model. And I feared that on my wedding day, I would be overshadowed by her beauty. And that when I got the photos back from the photographer, that I would just be unhappy with how my weight appeared. Thankfully though, that totally wasn’t the case. First of all, I felt beautiful. And I don’t know if it was the photographer or the dress, or just the all-brides-are-beautiful thing, but I looked good in the photos too. So have no worries on that front. You are beautiful and you will look beautiful on your wedding day too.

        And, um, our first dance was to “Let Your Love Flow.” Rock on.

    • http://elissarphotography.com Elissa

      I read this comment the first time I read the post, but on my second read I see who it is! Darlin’, you do not need to worry one bit. Inner glows show up in photos. :)

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      Okay I somehow failed to reply to this one, even though it was the first one I read and wanted to respond to.

      First, I promise you will feel beautiful. You are going to have moments where you doubt it, and really the only way to know is when you’re sitting there on your wedding day, looking in the mirror and realizing, “Holy crap, I really do look beautiful!” Or maybe it won’t hit until your soon-to-be husband sees you and you get that look from him… That says it all. :)

      Second, the poster! So, we were trying to think of alternatives to the usual guestbook. Main reason was because I wanted to be able to display all of the love our guests showed for us at the wedding somewhere in our house, versus in a book that chances are, I wouldn’t open very often. Matt and I brainstormed back and forth, and he suddenly came up with the idea. It was perfect because our house is full of lithographs from concerts/shows we’ve been to, so it only made sense to literally do a lithograph of our own wedding. This also went along with our invitations, which were mini lithographs.

      Our friend Erin (who also kind of became my amazing wedding planner because she totally GOT our vision) designed everything. We wanted to have something that represented each of us in the invitations and poster, and we came up with the idea of a pair of Chucks (for me) and a banjo for Matt (he plays the banjo, especially in the summer when we’re hanging outside on our deck). Another friend designed the Chucks/banjo picture, our friend Erin put the whole thing together and bam, we had our lithograph!

      So now the lithograph, signed by all of our guests, is framed in our living room. We also have an unsigned version up in our bedroom. :)

  • http://fowliters.blogspot.com/ Ashlyn

    Love it! You guys are awesome! I laughed so hard at that picture with the bear-man. Was the bear a friend, or did he just happen to be around?

    You two look so happy, and I love how much of both of your personalities I can see in your wedding. I absolutely loved this post.

    • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com/ Kinzie Kangaroo

      Haha I didn’t even notice the bear at first when I was looking at that first picture; I just stared at your dress, Danielle, and your flowers, and how HAPPY and GLOWING you looked. What a beautiful picture! And then I see this comment and I’m like, “What bear?” So I scrolled up and burst out laughing because … it’s not like he’s hiding or something. There is definitely a bear in that picture.

      Congratulations on a stunning wedding, Danielle. It seems like your husband it extraordinary and you two are an awesome team. I think we all struggle with this idea of being beautiful on our wedding day, plus size or not, and it takes a strong, brave woman to admit it.

      PS Love the sunflowers. I’m trying to figure out how to have sunflowers at our May wedding, because they’re my favorite.

      • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

        Omg, hahaha, I just had to scroll up and look at the bear. Was totally distracted by the glowing happy beauty!!!

        Danielle, I would like to steal both your poster guest-book (already sent it to poster artist husband-to-be), and your overall outlook on planning.

        “Wedding planning reminded us of how much fun we have together, even with the most mundane things (trust me, filling up bottles is not that amusing), and why we were marrying one another in the first place.”

        Exactly!! I can’t wait to get to the filling up bottles part, because the researching, contacting, booking vendors part has NOT been fun. And lastly, shout out to 9/17 weddings – I hope ours is half as fun as yours looks!

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      Wow, so I’m the bride, Danielle. Totally overwhelmed by the responses and this couldn’t have come at a better time (I’ve had a few days of feeling a little bummed out). Anyway, I thought I’d respond to your question about our friendly bear, haha.

      So we were doing photos outside and out of nowhere, this huge bear comes up behind us and we turn around and I wasn’t sure how to feel. I think the thoughts that raced through my mind were, “What the hell is going on and who is this?!” Turns out Matt’s sister, Sarah (who officiated our wedding) and brother-in-law Adrian thought of this amazing idea to have Adrian dress up as a bear to show us that they “saved the date”. Story behind that is we had our Save the Date photos taken at the Woodland Park Zoo with the bears in the background (since they’re out favorite exhibit), and we each were holding a sign that said Save the Date, September 17th, 2010.

      So yeah, long story short, a bear showed up at our wedding and it was totally awesome and unexpected. :)

      • http://fowliters.blogspot.com/ Ashlyn

        That is epic.

      • Danielle

        I love that yall got married on Alki! :) Thanks for sharing your lovely moment!

        Danielle, would you consider sharing the website you got your dress off of with me? (cooke dot jenny at gmail dot com).

  • Steph

    I could so relate to the dress shopping part. Your wedding looks amazing and so uniquely the two of you. Bravo!

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      Thank you. :) I’m glad someone else could relate to it. I wanted other brides out to to know that they’re not alone in this. Not everyone has an amazing dress-shopping experience like they make it look on TV. It’s really hard to be a plus-size bride, and even harder to talk about it when well, you feel like you don’t have anyone around you who would truly understand.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    This post just made me GRIN.

    Sunflowers and the bear and the dress journey and the AWWW.

  • http://thinkingwedding.blogspot.com Rhiannon

    Your happiness really glows out of your photos! :-)

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    Great post and I totally agree with this bit, “The other thing I remember over and over again is the times I looked out at our family and friends and all I could see were faces of pure joy and happiness. I’ve never experienced anything so powerful in my life. I just had no idea how much people cared!”

    One of my main memories from our wedding is feeling totally overwhelmed by the love and joy of our friends and family. People who I haven’t spent much time with since I moved east 7 years ago were teary-eyed and hugging us so tightly I thought my ribs would crack. That really really sticks with me – knowing that even when I’m feeling lonely and wretched, I am truly loved in this world.

    Beautiful pictures of a beautiful day. Congrats Dani & Matt!!

  • http://townhousetohome.blogspot.com adria

    I’m crying very happy tears over here!

    And I’m in love with this…

    “That is a moment I will never forget; the moment I realized that I would be beautiful on my wedding day, because I finally felt it myself…. I said I would be beautiful on my wedding day, and you know what? I was.”

    Yes, yes, yes!!

  • clampers

    “I’m going to find a dress that I feel comfortable and beautiful in, even if that means it’s not as fancy or what everyone else pictures.”

    Yeahhhh! Love that. You’re my hero right now.

  • m

    I have seen a lot of weddings where the guys wear converse sneakers, but never the bride and bridesmaids! You rocked them. And love the sunflower in your hair.

    Thanks for sharing, this post has left me relaxed after a nighttime of wedding nightmares.

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

      Girls in Chucks are hot!!

      I had heels for the ceremony, but then changed into custom All Stars for the reception (red with black laces, high top, zebra lining, and my new last name embroidered up the back seam). They were comfortable, adorable, and the best part– I get to keep wearing them. They have my new name on them (n’awww!), and they remind me of a pretty amazing day in my life.

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      Man, Chucks are all I wear (when I’m not at work) so it only seemed appropriate that we all wear them. :) What was even cooler is Matt’s mother custom-painted special Where the Wild Things Are Chucks for both of us to wear, with our wedding date, as we both love the book and the movie. They’re absolutely beautiful and we wore them for the ceremony (it was raining and I didn’t want to ruin them at all since they’re really a piece of artwork). Also, if you couldn’t tell, sunflowers are my absolute favorite so, yeah, totally had to go with them!

      I’m so so so happy my post is helping some other brides with any anxiety or stress that they’re feeling. Just an FYI to anyone who reads this comment, if you have any questions or want to vent to someone because you’re stressed and feel like you have no one to talk to, I’m totally okay with e-mails or whatever. I know I would’ve loved to have another gal who had been through what I was going through to talk to, who really understood. Or we can just talk about fun ideas, too! Just throwing it out there…

      • m

        You are too sweet. Now that I think of it, I don’t have my wedding shoes yet, but I do have a cute pair of chucks that would go quite well with the bridesmaids dresses…….

  • http://carmarblogs.blogspot.com CarMar

    What amazing advice! And yay, Alki Beach! I lusted after that venue for a long time. :)

    • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

      I totally squeed when I recognized the venue. I’ve been planning our 10th anniversary party at Alki in my head *forever*. (Which, um, means I should probably go see if I can actually book it, since that time is coming nigh.) And sunflowers and superhero t-shirt? Perfect!

    • http://domestocrat.wordpress.com Kim K.

      As a guest at this wedding I have to tell you the beach house was PERFECT for this wedding. The feel and look were spot on. Totally Matt & Dani.

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      It was totally affordable which was nice, but so much work. I was blessed to have family/friends who were willing to show up early and stay late to set up and take down everything. The original plan was to have the ceremony outside near the beach but it POURED on our wedding day. It was okay though; the ceremony was beautiful inside and it allowed everyone to have a seat (if it was outside there would only be a certain amount of seats) and also hear our actual ceremony.

      So yeah, hooray for Alki Beach!

  • Rose

    These never make me cry, but this made me tear up at work right now: “On the day of our wedding, When I finally got to see Matt, I walked up to him from behind, tapped him on the shoulder, and said: “BOO!” (I guess that’s my thing), and as he spun around, the look on his face was priceless. “Dani, you’re BEAUTIFUL!” he exclaimed and every bit of nervousness melted away. I felt like a beautiful bride, and I felt so happy it was like my heart could explode right then and there. That is a moment I will never ever forget and whenever I feel down on myself, I think about that day and remind myself that I am beautiful.”

  • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

    Gosh, love this post. Your last paragraph about how much people CARE is so, so true. It completely overwhelmed me in the last week leading up to the wedding. With people POURING into town, trekking from across the country, finding out Wes’ brother drove from Florida (ouch)… it was amazing. And the day of? Blew me away. My friends, my family, all the people who loved us, POURING their love right back at us. It’s really an amazing moment.

    Dani, you were totally beautiful. From one Chucks bride to another (I wore red custom high-tops for the reception, f*ck yeahhhhh), you ROCKED it.

  • http://orifitweresublime.wordpress.com/ Kelly

    What an awesome story; congrats Danielle! I love the Chucks and the sunflowers. You and your wedding were beautiful.

  • Amy

    I absolutely teared up at the second “BOO!”, “You’re beautiful!” D’awwwww. I loved this post so much. Congratulations!

  • Ann

    I love what you said about seeing all the joy and love from your friends and family, and what a wonderful and unexpected thing that can be on your wedding day. I just got married a bit over a week ago, and this resonated so strongly with my own experience.

    Growing up, I was never especially popular. When I tried to have parties at my house, I’d have maybe half a dozen people show up if I was lucky. I have grown and become more confident in the woman I am over the years, but as I planned my wedding I found I had some underlying dread that not that many people would really want to come, they wouldn’t care that much or be that excited, I just wasn’t that glowing bride you see or read about. But what I found was that almost every person we invited RSVPed “yes” and pretty much every single one of them showed up. Happily. Even though it was freezing rain/sleet/snow/disgusting that day. And I have never felt so supported or loved in my life. I expected people to be thinking about how we were a bit young to be getting married (I’m 23) or how our wedding was missing a lot of little extras that they expected, because we couldn’t afford them. Instead, I got hugs from EVERYONE. People I don’t even know very well or haven’t seen in a long while seemed so genuinely happy for us, and it was amazing and blissful. I think this is a big part of what Meg has said about how weddings matter. I had gotten so tired of making decisions about details for my wedding that I stopped caring a bit near the end of the process, and thought “None of this matters as long as we end up married.” Which is totally true. However the experience I had at my wedding, not only with my now husband, but especially with my dear friends and family, has changed the way I look at those people and how I feel they accept me as part of the community, and it is AWESOME!

    I sincerely hope all of you who are not yet married get to experience this kind of love in your wedding, because I think it means that more changes in your life than you expected when you go from single to married.

    And because I haven’t commented before, I want to say thanks to Meg and everyone on this site for helping me stay sane and positive over the last several months. This place is awesome, and I will be sticking around!

    • http://domestocrat.wordpress.com Kim K.

      Ann, I’m tearing up right now. You nailed a lot of my own thoughts recently – “I found I had some underlying dread that not that many people would really want to come, they wouldn’t care that much or be that excited, I just wasn’t that glowing bride you see or read about.” I’m still irrationally terrified about this, to the point where I was considering throwing a huge super expensive and complicated bachelorette party and footing the bill myself just to entice people to show up. My fiance made me realize how silly that would have been to do. I’m never the center of attention, don’t want to be, and am admittedly insecure about the whole wedding day. Thank you for calming me down with your comment!

      • http://agaishanlife.blogspot.com Revanche

        “I found I had some underlying dread that not that many people would really want to come, they wouldn’t care that much or be that excited, I just wasn’t that glowing bride you see or read about.”

        This hit the spot for me too. I’m ambivalent about even wanting to have a wedding at all because I’m not convinced, outside of a handful of really close family and friends, that anyone else really cares.

        And yet conversely, if they did show up … well, I still haven’t admitted this to anyone but PiC yet (my fiance’s called PiC for Partner in Crime, he insists that I mention that *I* made up that affectionate nickname and he’s totally legit), but I’m conflicted about the idea of having anyone at the wedding because I have serious stage fright and start hyperventilating thinking about more than justa couple people staring at me while I’m busy getting married.

        Mental dialogue: I’m Busy! Look Away! I’m pretty sure I’m an Avoiding Bride so as not to be a Crazy Bride, right now.

  • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

    Your wedding was beautiful. And so were you.

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

    What a moving story about learning to feel beautiful. Danielle, you beam in these pictures. I also love the inside joke from your first look.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    There should be more people in animal costumes at weddings.
    Seriously though, so so beautiful.

    • Alyssa

      YES. To both comments. And the addition of superheroes. (Who is on Matt’s shirt? Anyone know?)

      And I’m sad I wasn’t invited to this wedding, because if I had gone to a wedding with an awesome favor like spice rub, I might have knocked someone down and taken theirs too.

      • V

        Blue Lantern/Flash symbol maybe?

        This wedding is among the awesomest I’ve seen. Superheros for the win!

        • Matt

          That’s it! I’ll let Danielle respond to most of these, since she wrote everything up, but yeah, I went super nerd and did a Blue Lantern/Flash combo symbol :) Nice Catch!

          • Alyssa

            As a comic book dork, I am mightly ashamed I did not know this. (I was like, “Green Lantern? But it’s blue! And has a Flash symbol! Is is Elseworlds??”)
            My only redemption is that I jumped ship around One Year Later…

          • http://agaishanlife.blogspot.com Revanche

            To Alyssa since I can’t reply: Newsarama or keep a more in-the-know friend around to keep you updated. That’s how I kept up with all the new Johns/Color Spectrum craziness when it rolled out. :)

  • Morgan

    Beautiful. All of it. You. Your story. The sunflowers. The dress. Everything. Just beautiful.

  • Class of 1980

    There was a BEAR and superheros at your wedding! What could go wrong?

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

    Sunflowers!!!!

    And pretty dresses!

    And super hero shirts!

    And random internet meetings!! (That’s how we met too)

    Wonderful story. Beautiful pictures. Beautiful couple.

    And sunflowers! (have I mentioned that already?)

  • Tonia

    Love the bear! Love the sunflowers! and the little foldy-triangle thing escort cards!

    I was also a “lonely bride” with family scattered everywhere but here, so I can relate to that.

    The best thing about your post is how you talk about the time spent with your fiance while planning. I think that is a fabulous message for wedding undergrads. What is a wedding without an evolving, caring, and supportive relationship? You two are a great example to follow.

  • jenna

    Thank you thank you thank you. I went wedding dress shopping this past weekend which ended in me crying for the rest of the weekend. Its such an awful feeling going into those bridal salons and not being able to fit into anything. What really hit me here is how you said when your got your dress you felt beautiful because you finally found the dress that was right for YOU. I have been putting so much pressure on myself to try to make myself fit into one of those dresses when really i just need to find a dress thats fits ME. You looked absolutely beautiful on your wedding day, and more importantly you looked beyond happy! Congratulations to you and your husband!

  • Sarah

    Wonderful! You look stunning and most importantly, SO very happy. Love this post.

    I am also a plus-size bride, going shopping for the dress soon with my mom and sister, who are both thin (only relevant because I feel like they can’t relate to my hatred of shopping). I am terrified of the whole experience, so it’s really nice to hear your perspective!

    And on a broader note, I gasped with joy at seeing a plus size bride on this blog. I subscribe to so many wedding blogs and read them daily for inspiration, and virtually all of the weddings featured have thin, pretty brides. It’s really, REALLY nice to see someone who looks a lot more like me on APW, I hope to submit my own wedding this fall so future plus size brides can continue to feel the love! ;-)

    • meg

      We try so hard to put up plus sized brides and brides of color, but you ladies have to send your weddings IN. We can’t post what we don’t get… but we really really want the site to reflect all of you.

      • Sarah

        I appreciate that–not so much a criticism of APW as wedding blogs in general. There’s another one I won’t name that really seems to only feature weddings where the bride and groom look like J. Crew models, haha.

        I promise to submit my wedding so there can be more plus size wonderfulness. ;-)

  • pixie_moxie

    You look beautiful and happy! Congratulations to the both of you! What an amazing guy you have. That is honestly one of my biggest hangups, that my fiance will not think I am/tell me I look beautiful on our day. You are so lucky to have a man that reminds you of this when your spirit needs it most.

    • http://linseykitchens.wordpress.com Linsey

      Yes, indeed! A man who whips around and says “You’re beautiful” upon meeting is a definite keeper!

      Danielle, thanks for reminding me that none of us–for dress size or want or need or whatever the reason may be–have to conform to what other people think the day should be like. And who cares what we end up wearing or eating, really? So long as we look as smittenly happy as you do (I especially love of the one of you coming down the aisle) then I will be ecstatic!

      • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

        Haha, he is a keeper. :) And no, just remember that you’ll never be able to make EVERYONE happy. Someone is always going to have a different opinion of how things shuold be done. In the end, it’s up to you and your husband or wife-to-be. The whole point, at least to us, was to showcase who we are as a couple, to showcase the love between us, and to make our guests feel like they were a part of that…

        It’s really simple; do things that’ll make you happy… Things will go wrong (did I mention I had burst a blood vessel in my eye 2 days prior to my wedding, so my eye looked like that of a monster?), but it REALLY doesn’t matter in the end. The day will be beautiful, you will be happy and so will your husband.

  • Shotgun Shirley

    Danielle, the first thing I thought was “is that the ring bear?!?” (we had a ring bear, but not in costume), and I forgot all about the bear by the end, because of the powerful message of your story.

    What a beautiful wedding, and wonderful planning journey. Thank you for sharing. Many blessed years to you and Matt!

  • Christen

    Oh my goodness. Congratulations. On your wedding, on being strong, on finding such a wonderful partner, on being true to yourself. I sat here and read this with my hand clutched over my heart and a silly grin on my face. You looked wonderful, radiant. I wish you all the happiness in the world.

  • http://domestocrat.wordpress.com Kim K.

    Danielle, thank you for sharing this post. I’m lucky enough to have shared the day with you and Matt but the post was wonderfully written, inspiring, and calming to someone like me still in the planning phases and terrified of not feeling perfect and beautiful and all that jazz on my wedding day. I’m so happy for your love and happiness with Matt, and happy to call you my friend.

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      Thanks Kim. :) I was so glad you and John were able to make it out for the wedding and the fact that you guys helped with everything that got thrown your way just so our day could be what we envisioned it meant so much. So thank you for being there for me (especially in my LJ venting posts!) and for being a good friend. I know your wedding will be amazing and everything you envisioned. And I guarantee you will look and FEEL beautiful. :)

  • N

    I must know the story behind the bear!!

    I also love your story about filling the BBQ spice jars together–how this mundane task became a great memory for the two of you.

  • Ian

    If more people had Matt and Dani’s attitude to planning and executing a wedding the entire planning industry would go under. This wedding was so beautiful because it displayed without question who the bride and groom are and why they are together. They celebrated the way they wanted and invited everyone along for the party.

    Has no one mentioned the food? Killer barbecue and fantastic wine and beer! Does it get better than that?!?

    It was a perfect wedding. Everyone left feeling as if they had become a part of a large family. Thanks again for making us a part of the experience!

    • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

      Awww!!! Wedding Guest love is the BEST.

  • Laura McKee

    What a beautifully written script, Danielle. Your wedding was amazing as were you and Matt. I was honored to be there and am so glad you shared your “behind-the-scenes” story because it makes it that much more special to me. I know you have inspired others with this story!

  • hoppy bunny

    This totally made me cry. I am so glad that you had your dress worked out for you, that you felt as beautiful as you are, and that you bonded as your communication skills grew through planning. What an upper of a post!!!

  • http://moreofthisandlessofthat.blogspot.com Ms. Loaf

    Yay! We need many more images of plus size brides, because it is hard to feel like there are no images of people who look like you. People are assholes to plus size people anyway, but especially when it comes to the wedding. When I did my dress fitting, the woman kept insisting on taking the dress in a little bit, sure that I could lose a little bit more weight before the wedding. Grr.

    I bought and returned so many dresses online. It is really maddening.

    But you look soooo beautiful and what a fun wedding! Love the superhero t-shirts and the sneakers!!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      I agree; it was beyond difficult to find resources for plus-size brides online. I literally didn’t want to do a dress fitting for that very reason that you stated; I already felt crappy about myself as it was and that I needed to look perfect and felt far from it, I don’t need some skinny bridal dress lady telling me to lose weight and all this garbage.

      So I said the heck with it and did things my own way. I still had a pretty crappy experience, but in the end it all worked out and I really did feel beautiful. I just wanted to share it so other soon-to-be brides who are in the spot I was don’t feel alone. It was pretty difficult to write, as I told Lauren I’d never shared these feelings or story about my dress journey with anyone else but Matt, but I’m glad I did. :)

      • http://moreofthisandlessofthat.blogspot.com Ms. Loaf

        I’m so glad you shared, too! We need to hear more of these stories so we don’t feel alone and so we have representation for all the diversity in the wedding world, which Meg does a good job of trying to cultivate here.

        Thanks so much for sharing and yes, you did look beautiful!!

  • Harriet

    The look of radiant joy on your face is the main reason I read wedding graduate posts. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • http://bluesuedeidos.com Beth

    One of my first thoughts after seeing the first few pictures and long before you mentioned the stress of looking for a dress, I thought to myself, ‘That dress is awesome! And I love how it shoes off her chucks!’

    You are gorgeous, and I love your attitude toward wedding planning and your wedding.

  • Caitlin

    I love this post!! I remember when I bought my dress the lady asked, do you plan on gaining any weight before the wedding? I was like um well I am not going to try. Then she asked if I planned on losing any weight, I again said well not thats not really the plan anyways. So now when I go to bridal fairs or girls three times smaller than me want to go on diets I say, sorry if I lose weight I wont fit into my dress ;) Now hand me that cookie you arent going to eat.

  • http://libudgetbride.wordpress.com Ariella

    Danielle, this was a beautiful story and you were beautiful on your wedding day. No matter what size we are, I think all women worry about looking beautiful on their big day. I know I worry about it all the time. I have already mentally convinced myself that I will hate every photo of me, which is so, so horrible. But then I remember what my grandmother used to say, “I’ve never seen an ugly bride.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I wish you much happiness in your life and in your marriage.

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  • http://www.emlovesben.com emilyrose

    I always read posts in the morning and then let them ruminate in my head all day, which is a good strategy except that I miss out on comment-conversations. Oops.

    Anyway! This was great. It helped me realize that I have internalized the WIC pressure to successfully fulfill my role as “bride” by looking my absolute best on my wedding day; I’ve caught myself having thoughts like, “of course I can get super skinny for my *wedding*!” and “if I can’t get myself to lose weight for my wedding then I probably just never will” and “how do I choose a dress and headband that perfectly epitomizes my style?!” and “if I haev flabby arms on my wedding day, guests will notice and judge me for not working hard enough to fix them”- as if my physical appearance on this one particular day is an exact reflection of my value, strength, and succsesfulness as a bride/wife/human being.

    Thanks, Danielle, for the reality-check.

  • http://www.emlovesben.com emilyrose

    I always read posts in the morning and then let them ruminate in my head all day, which is a good strategy except that I miss out on comment-conversations. Oops.

    Anyway! This was great. It helped me realize that I have internalized the WIC pressure to successfully fulfill my role as “bride” by looking my absolute best on my wedding day; I’ve caught myself having thoughts like, “of course I can get super skinny for my *wedding*!” and “if I can’t get myself to lose weight for my wedding then nothing could ever motivate me!” and “how do I choose a dress/headband/necklace that totally epitomizes my style?!” and “if I have flabby arms on my wedding day, guests will notice as I dance/wave and judge me for not having worked hard enough to fix them” and so on and so forth – as if my physical appearance on this one particular day is an exact reflection of my value, strength, and successfulness as a bride/wife/human being.

    Thanks, Danielle, for the reality check.

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    Oh the JOY in these pictures! Proof (once again!) that joy begets beauty and not the other way around.

    Congrats, Danielle and Matt!

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    Aw, I love this post! You look gorgeous. Size NEVER matters- it’s the amount of joy & love that make you beautiful. I adore the sunflower bouquet & single bloom in your hair- those flowers are as bright & happy as you & your husband!!

  • Ceebee

    When I was dating this great guy, he started on this wedding frenzy really early. He’d tell me he’d like the dress this way or that, and shoes like that; in spite of me swooning over the in-dresses then.
    5 years on I saw why, the reason was that all those were ALL ME

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    One of my favorite aspects of a wedding is when you can touch back on those amazing early moments of your couple. Like the “BOO” sequence, which you repeated on your wedding day and totally just made me cry. So sweet. So you guys. So perfect!

    We also reflected some of our really special early moments in our wedding, and it just added yet another layer of magic to the day. Sigh.

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      YES! It made me so happy. Just literally to have that moment with him, to have it be full circle. It was like I suddenly found myself in 2003, back at the Park Street stop in Boston, approaching him, nervously, to find out what he thought of how I looked, of me. I was just as nervous approaching him on our wedding day, wondering what he would think, what his reaction would be. And to see the same exact look on his face that I saw when we first met.. I will never ever forget that, ever. It made the day that more special and perfect.

  • Caitlyn

    “nor did I want to have to deal with the embarrassment of being too fat in front of my own friends. This totally spilled over into my own wedding, and I remember feeling dread at knowing I had to find a dress and thinking about how I would look.

    You know how most brides try on a dress and cry out of happiness because that is IT and they look remarkably perfect in it? Yeah, I was crying by myself in my tiny apartment bathroom because my DREAM dress looked HORRIBLE and I absolutely hated it”

    It is SO nice to hear someone else say it! For me it crept into how I felt about my wedding, handled the planning, and felt the entire day. And what done-up bride can say “but I don’t feel beautiful… REALLY.” and get anything but a “aww.. you look great!” back? Really, I just wanted some to acknowledge that it SUCKS. I didn’t look or even feel beautiful. I felt like a failure in the “sweet blushing bride” department even though I was getting married and wedding was fun and beautiful!

    Its okay to not feel radiant, pretty, or like your dress defines your style. Even if you cringe at your photos after, Danielle was right that the love of the day carries you so you don’t *care*.

  • Amy Harmegnies

    Danielle,
    You had a beauitful FUN wedding! And you were beautiful and ARE beautiful! We had such a great time at your wedding! I was crying reading your article. Such an honest and very touching story. Totally understand the stuggles of being plus sized and buying THE DRESS only amplifies that stress. But your dress totally fit your wedding and you were beautiful in it! You could also definitely tell how much you and Matthew love each other at your wedding; and Bruce and I were SO honored to be there to see you get married! Love you!

  • http://www.resourcefulcrafter.com Erin Schiedler

    Danielle,

    I’m so happy that you wrote this post. It is so touching and honest.

    I was totally honored to be involved, I was so excited to help!! It was beyond beautiful and you had so many great ideas. And, like Amy and everyone else said, you were beautiful in every way (despite your eye issue ;)).

    I can’t imagine a more perfect wedding for two people who couldn’t be more perfect for one another.

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  • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

    I’m relatively new to APW – are all of these weddings going to make me cry?!

    I have so much respect for you for being so frank. And more importantly, that you were so eloquent in ensuring we all understood: you are beautiful. and your husband never once thought otherwise.

    Since I can’t seem to stop gaining weight before the wedding (stress eating = fail) & have become the heaviest I’ve ever been, it has been NON STOP STRESS. But two nights ago, he swore I was the most beautiful girl he’d ever laid eyes on. And you are right: I felt beautiful, too <3

    • http://twitter.com/dspensah Danielle

      I always sneak back here every so often to see if anyone else has commented just because I like to respond and ya know, be reminded of what an awesome day it was (especially on crappy days like today when work is never-ending).

      Anyway, can I just state that I love this comment? And thank you! I think sometimes you just need to be honest and I wanted to say things that I was afraid to say to anyone outside of my husband. It was difficult to write, to be so honest and frank in public, is a huge step for me. But the responses to what I wrote were overwhelmingly nice and beautiful and ugh… I’m just so happy I did it.

      We are lucky to have such wonderful men who love us through and through. I’ve gained a lot of weight over the years of us being together but he’s never once looked at me differently than he did that day we met. It’s an amazing feeling and I’m so happy to see that other wonderful ladies here (like you!) have the same thing. :)

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  • Alexandra

    Hurrah, so much awesomeness. Thank you for sharing your wonderful day, and your journey to beauty! So helpful to so many. ;D

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