Olivia and her sister Jenny are long time APW readers and write Lovely At Your Side, which is about, well, growing up. I met Jenny at Yay New York, where she officiated for us, and fell in love with the sisters Lovely. So I’m delighted to bring you Olivia’s wise Wedding Graduate post, talking about how hard the engagement process can be, getting hitched with divorced parents, how we make things more complicated for ourselves, and how the tide of love does eventually sweep us home. All this, plus photos by APW Sponsor Hart + Sol Photo, open mouth laughter, and a banjo jam session? I’m in!
Let me say this, I did not, in any way, understand what a big deal getting married was. I knew I loved Eric more than words could explain; I knew he loved my family, and I loved his; I knew I wanted to build a life with him. But, what I didn’t know was how our marriage and wedding would actually affect us and our community.
The day after we got engaged, I felt like a huge wave had swept me into its swell…and to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how I was going to swim ashore. I laid in bed for three days after the engagement. Don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon about marrying Eric, but the thought of having to plan, deal with, and organize an event involving so many emotions and people made me want to cry all day long.
First of all, being a child of multiple divorces (hello, parents and all grandparents have been divorced and married multiple times), I began to feel like planning a wedding with divorced parents was like managing a hostage crisis. But the thing is, my parents get along great, and they didn’t even cause me any issues; I was the issue. I took on too many other people’s emotions, feelings, opinions, and ideas. I was constantly on the phone with people double checking that everyone’s emotions were okay and they were happy with my decisions, when in reality they were all happy just because I was happy, and I was only stressed out about trying not to offend anyone. I was overly concerned with honoring the traditions of the family I was marrying into, all the while trying to stay loyal to my family.
For me, the engagement time was a weird limbo time, where I felt like I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know what I wanted, and no one was ever happy with me. However, I did know that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the day would be beautiful, and as my sister reminded me, “At the end of the day, you’re going to be married to Eric, and we love him!” As the wedding grew closer, the tide seemed to calm, and my feet finally seemed to reach the shore.
Once I realized that everyone was just so honored to be involved with our special day, and no one was actually judging me, and no one was offended by my decisions, it seemed as though my head came above water, my arms could swim again, and I could enjoy playing in the ocean. I didn’t know the engagement period would be so hard. I didn’t know how much I would learn about my relationship with Eric, or about myself, but in my gut I did know that the day would be full of love, family, and all of that planning finally becoming a reality.
By the time the wedding weekend arrived, I was clear-headed, and I was able to feel confident in my decisions. We knew we wanted my sister, Jenny, to marry us. I didn’t know or realize how important the ceremony would be until we had finished writing it, and I couldn’t even read through it without giggling/crying.
It took me a long time to realize that the words we were writing would be the “script” in the movie of my life where I would actually get to marry Eric. Jenny guided us in the ceremony writing process with such grace, humor, ease, and constructive ideas. I wanted to laugh and cry during the ceremony, and I certainly did! Jenny did such an amazing job that she’s now a real live wedding officiant, and we are so proud to be her first couple that she married.
My one totally shallow want for the wedding was to get my hair done. For some reason that was the one thing I thought would make me feel like a bride. My mother, a woman who bought her shoes a half hour before her own wedding and did her own wedding makeup and hair, couldn’t comprehend my hair-obsession. However, when I went to get my hair trial, and they put the veil in my hair, my mother started weeping. It was the first moment she saw her daughter as a “bride.” I didn’t have a clue that that would happen. It was a poignant moment which we actually didn’t discuss much after, but I knew it solidified those “my daughter is growing up” feelings in my mother.
My hair-obsession also led to a beautiful moment on the wedding day. My Maid of Honor sister (Jenny) came to get me at 6:00am and we hunkered down in the bridal suite to wait for my hair stylist. Our younger sister (and bridesmaid), Tess, came to join us. Because we have different mothers, we often spent periods of time away from Tess, but that morning, the three of us laughed, ate a ton of Pop-Tarts, and had the most relaxing, spiritually-energizing, and perfect morning. It was calm, the room was full of love, and I was so proud to be watching my two little sisters get dressed up and pumped up to stand next to me at the end of the aisle.
One thing we absolutely knew we wanted was for that weekend to be full of family. We picked our venue because it’s an inn everyone could stay at. We wanted to be surrounded by family, and surrounded we certainly were!
Eric is a guitar and banjo player, so from the outset, as a gift to him, we planned a huge music jam in the bride and groom suite (really, the reason we got the bride and groom suite) the night before and the night of the wedding. My uncles and aunt are musicians, as well, so we thought we’d have a few people in the room playing music…little did we know the room would be jam packed, chairs taken from everyone’s rooms, people scrunched against the walls, listening to music!
I handed out pizza, sang along, and danced around the room. As I greeted everyone, they would look at my quizzically and ask, “Don’t you mind everyone in here the night before your wedding?!” But, I didn’t. Not one iota. The families were blending, mixing, and loving all through music. We all sang “The Tennessee Waltz” (albeit, not the most “wedding-like” song) so loud that you could hear us from outside the cottage. People came in to listen to one song, or two, and some people stayed all night. The next day, immediately after the wedding (I was still in my dress!), people gathered in the cottage and started playing again.
My groom, still in his wedding clothes, sat playing bluegrass banjo while my uncle played dobro, my other uncle the guitar, and my aunt sang. Though their notes and lyrics, they welcomed him into the family—as a musician now in their “family-band” and their circle. Through the music jam that weekend, our two families sang in one harmony, became one big orchestra, and one huge, happy, sing-songy family, sharing in all of our new joint traditions, and neuroses.