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Nora & Luis



Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

I’m not even sure how to describe today’s wedding graduate post other than saying it’s one of those weddings where I feel sure that I should have been there (and maybe was in spirit). It took place in Wales, had serious food (Nora is a food blogger), and was photographed by APW sponsor Lauren McGlynn with photos so lovely and evocative you almost feel like you’re there. Plus it’s funny.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

When Luis and I sat down with a nice meal and a glass of bubbly a few weeks before the wedding to write our vows, we were both surprised by how easy we found it.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

The words came remarkably naturally to both of us and we found that we both knew what we wanted to promise each other. Thinking about it, I am putting this down to the wedding being just one in a long line of commitments we’d already made to each other.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

First of all Luis left behind everything he knew in Costa Rica and moved to the UK to be with me. We have been through all the expense and stress of getting three visas (so far!), not to mention a separation of five long months while the first one was processed. We have gradually come to realise that by staying together we are committing ourselves to a lifetime of at least one of us being thousands of miles from our closest friends and family—and the other one heartbreakingly aware of being the cause of that separation. So just the act of staying together felt like a pretty huge commitment to both of us. Oh, and we got legally married in February 2009 in a rush to get him a visa. This wedding was our party to celebrate in style.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

So it follows that our wedding wasn’t a transformative, magical experience that signified a huge leap forward in our relationship. It was just a really great party that we got to invite our family and friends to. And what more can you ask for, really? However this didn’t mean we got to escape the full on wedding planning stress.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

So, in the spirit of passing it on, there are two things I wish I’d known—though they seem kind of contradictory.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

First, expect trouble! Our wedding was not legally binding, and it took place at my parents’ house. My parents are not traditional about anything, ever. Luis’ parents weren’t even in the country until the week before, so we didn’t have to deal with their expectations. So I had rather expected to escape the traditional conflicts. But before I knew it my mum was talking about the people she was going to invite, my great aunt was phoning me up to find out whether we’d ordered the portaloos (and uttering the immortal words, “It will NOT be alright, Nora, something has GOT to be done!” about the toilet situation)…

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

…and my grandmother was phoning me at the crack of dawn to discuss wedding cake decorations. An argument that I thought had been long forgotten reared its ugly head. And my mother ended up doing a 240 mile round trip four days before to pick up the cake from my grandmother, who refused to take it on the train because it was “the size of an armchair” (which of course it wasn’t).

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

But second, don’t expect trouble too much. I found that I was so convinced that my parents were going to try to take over that when they showed the slightest inclination to do so, I freaked out completely. I really didn’t need to get that stressed, and if I hadn’t been building up in my head a scenario in which my parents took over, I don’t think I would have done.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

So, the wedding day! It was nerve-wracking (I think perhaps especially so because we’d written our own ceremony, and we weren’t exactly sure how it was going to go). It was like hosting any party, in that I felt that I had to make sure everyone was OK. I had an argument with my parents about cake. And even though it lasted for about 12 hours, I still didn’t get to talk to everyone nearly enough.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

But there were so many fantastic moments. During the ceremony I managed to ask Luis if he would take me as his ‘husband’. And the amusement from that stopped me from blubbing like an idiot during the ceremony. We ended up doing a full five and a half minutes of our first dance because the person in charge of stopping the track after two minutes didn’t want to look like he was ruining the fun. Mum gave a slice of wedding cake to Luis’ parents to take back to the family, at which point they had to explain that it wasn’t remotely enough for everyone (he has more than 50 first cousins, let alone uncles, aunts, etc).  A game of giant Jenga had the entire tent full of people utterly engrossed—and was a fantastic way to cross linguistic barriers. Even just seeing so many people try out their Spanish on Luis’ family to keep them included was really touching.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

So even though planning the wedding was stressful and actually made me unhappy at times, it’s those great moments that I will remember. And the bad stuff that happened beforehand is already making great stories. It’s so easy to laugh about it now—even though it was only a couple of months ago (and felt like the end of the world at the time).

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

I was also really blown away by the contributions of my friends and family. I don’t feel like one of those people who moves only in talented, artistic circles. But between them, my friends and family did all the catering, the invitations, the decorations, the ceremony, the live music, the DJing, the fireworks… I could go on and on. And as it happens my parents’ friends (those people on Mum’s guest list) worked their socks off in the kitchen. And they did all such an amazing job—I literally could not have asked for any better.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

And it turns out that you can have a great wedding with no favours, no complicated table centrepieces, no bridesmaids, no best man, no bouquet toss, no long speeches, no table plan—and no one will even notice. You can leave your bouquet to a friend to sort out on the morning of the wedding. You can buy your dress in a sale in a high street shop.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

You can just invent a ceremony (as long as it doesn’t have to be legally binding) and get your oldest friend to officiate. Just get the right photographer—and they will make your wedding look so completely how you remember it, but also really cool.

Nora & Luis | A Practical Wedding

The Info—Photography: Lauren McGlynn Photography (*APW Sponsor) / Dress: from Monsoon / Green Dress: from Dig For Victory / Earings: Lazy Giraffe / Wedding Rings: tinahdee / Embroidered Indian Slippers: Kadam Shoes

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  • http://www.laurababb.co.uk Laura Babb

    This wedding looks wonderful. I love a wedding that reminds me what’s important: love, fun and fun and love (and food and dancing). Congratulations. x

  • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com Pluis

    I see so much happiness :)

    It must be so fulfilling to add the party and the ceremony to the legal part of the marriage, too. The commitments that come with international relationships are really rather unique, I think, and can lead to doing things you had never really expected.

    Congratulations, your words of wisdom were very welcome with me!

  • http://laurenmcglynnphotography.blogspot.com Lauren

    I was so excited about Nora & Louis’ wedding that I started getting anxious weeks ahead of time that something bad would happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to photograph it. But my- it was lovely and so much fun and quite literally delicious. Congratulations again you guys! x

    • http://www.rorygordon.tumblr.com argo9418

      Those flowing curtains are so beautiful! You knocked it out of the park.

  • Vmed

    Love this.

  • Esme

    What is it with relatives and hiring toilets?! I had the SAME arguement about a million times in the run-up to my wedding. My response was just to smile and let them stress that I would forget to arrange this one vital thing.

    I love that Lauren described it as ‘delicious’ xxx

  • http://sparrowgrey.blogspot.com/ sparrowgrey

    “And it turns out that you can have a great wedding with no favours, no complicated table centrepieces, no bridesmaids, no best man, no bouquet toss, no long speeches, no table plan—and no one will even notice.” :

    This is true, oh so very true and more couples should realize it well in advance of their weddings. For all of these expectations of others and of the wedding world in general, it’s still a wedding, even if you’re not legally married at the end. At the end of the day, it’s a great celebration regardless of what elements are included and which aren’t. Awesome post. Congrats!

  • http://www.actsofbeauty.co.uk/wordpress ActsofBeauty

    Yay wedding in Wales!!! I see you’re in Cambridge – if you’re ever coming west again I’d say let’s meet up! I love your little Tipi. What kind of dancing are you doing? Looks good.

  • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

    As a fellow Latin American who got married twice (to a UK citizen!) for visa reasons, I feel you on the special issues of double weddings.

    Like for example, this part:

    “Mum gave a slice of wedding cake to Luis’ parents to take back to the family, at which point they had to explain that it wasn’t remotely enough for everyone (he has more than 50 first cousins, let alone uncles, aunts, etc).”

    I had a hearty chuckle with that one. The ratio of my”side” to his “side” was something like 1:25!

    Of course, there are issues that transcend culture, like *my* Mom saying, “something HAS to be done!” about the port-a-potties.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      I know! We always thought we had a large American family. And then my cousin married Shel who’s family is Mexican. I didn’t think it was possible but they outnumbered us about 3:1!

      • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

        Thou shalt not be on the internet prior to coffee. D’oh! That comment should read that my side, the Mexican side, outnumbered his 25:1 not the other way around. But yeah, we go big :)

  • Jen M

    Really needed to hear the part about not expecting too much trouble…I don’t even have a ring yet and my mom is already starting arguments with me about flowers…hopefully she’ll settle down.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com meghan

    Gorgeously rich photos of a stunning wedding. Love the whole damn thing.

  • http://teaandwhimsy.blogspot.com Rosalie

    Aww lovely to see my best friend on APW. And my little daughter. It was the most wonderful wedding.

  • Samantha

    I love your post. So many people nowadays forget about the “marriage” and worry too much about the “wedding”. I love that your story is about being toghether, and the interaction of family and friends, coming together and not harping so much on the superficial-ness of decorations, flowers, etc. Thank you for your post and congratulations!

  • http://norathekitchensplorer.blogspot.com/ Nora

    Thanks so much for the comments everyone! I’m so thrilled to be on APW and it’s so lovely to hear that you like it – and to hear the things that other people experienced too. Large Latin families I would have expected, but who knew toilets were such a universal source of worry!? (In the end, it was fine, of course, though strangely none of the men took up the offer of the compost heap…!)
    Oh, and the dancing was salsa. We’d been going to classes, so were told we had to show what we’d learnt!

  • Ris

    Pictures PLEASE of that giant Jenga game. Oh my gosh pretty please!

  • http://www.fresh-spinach.com Lisa

    “And it turns out that you can have a great wedding with no favours, no complicated table centrepieces, no bridesmaids, no best man, no bouquet toss, no long speeches, no table plan—and no one will even notice.”

    I can not tell you how glad I was to read that, because that’s exactly what I plan to do! Thank you Nora, your wedding was beautiful and congratulations!

    • http://www.suncentered.com Jenny

      I was just going to quote this myself. It’s exactly the kind of wedding I want someday! It’s great to have reinforcement that no one will notice!

  • http://www.myhonestanswer.com my honest answer

    Ha ha, when you talked about toilet facilities, and then next photo was of you hitching up your wedding dress whilst walking long grass, my first thought was that you had to do it in the bushes!! Of course, that was obviously not the case, it was just a funny positioning of text and photos. But it sure gave me a laugh this morning.

    Congrats!

  • http://txtingmrdarcy.wordpress.com Txtingmrdarcy

    “And the bad stuff that happened beforehand is already making great stories. It’s so easy to laugh about it now—even though it was only a couple of months ago (and felt like the end of the world at the time).”

    That!! We’re a month out, and the bad stuff has come to a head so dramatically that… ugh. It has culminated in teary talks and “Are you ok with marrying me if I REALLY don’t like your mean aunt?!” (He is. Because she really is a mean aunt.) I’m so ready for the light at the end of the tunnel.

    I love your gorgeous pictures and your even more gorgeous setting in Wales- we’re making our first trip to the UK this year and I couldn’t be more excited. If it were at all possible for us to just stay on, we probably would. :)

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