*Rachelle, Grad Student & Stephen, Brewer*
I’m thrilled, delighted, super excited, dancing in my seat (all true) to give you Rachelle’s Wedding Graduate post. You’ll remember Rachelle from her Wedding Undergraduate post on planning with divorced parents, not to mention her bad-ass Royal Tenenbaums engagement shoot, where she learned that they could just plan their wedding and stop worrying about how it should be done. Which is funny because the wedding she ended up with is profoundly f*cking beautiful, just because it’s so pure and honest and theirs. So here is Rachelle & Stephen’s wedding as shot by APW Sponsor Elissa R. Photography in Austin. (Alert! Elissa’s first wedding grad post! And it’s her birthday! Congratulations lady!) What Rachelle has to say is so wise and thoughtful and so DEAD ON. I can’t wait for y’all to read it.
It was the quiet things, for me. The just-us things. Not the ceremony, though it was simple and lovely. Not the raucous dance-party reception, though it was the possibly the most fun I have ever had and the best party we will ever throw. It wasn’t the dress I loved to pieces or the flowers I arranged; it wasn’t the time with my closest friends or the overwhelming feeling of family and connection and togetherness. Those things were wonderful, and I’m so thankful for them and so glad that we spent the time and money and effort to plan them. Our wedding would not have been the same without all those things.
But for me, it was the quiet things.
It was the private words my husband wrote for me and read to me through watery eyes when we were alone together before the ceremony. The tears that streamed down my face as I listened to him and realized that this was it, this was my husband and this was our wedding day. Realizing that all the time we spent together had led us here, even when we didn’t know this was where we were headed. It was the poem I read to him that expressed what I wanted him to know better than I could ever say. It was the freedom I felt having that moment alone, without either of us having to care about saying private and personal things in front of an audience.
It was the meal we shared alone in the bridal cottage after the ceremony, while everyone else was eating in the reception hall. Being able to sit and breathe and just look at each other across the table.
It was our last dance of the night, alone on the dance floor while the crowd gathered outside for our exit. Not our first dance, which I barely noticed as it was happening because it’s strange to feel a hundred pairs of eyes staring at you as you sway in the center of the room. But our last dance, when we sang all the words and held each other so tightly. When it felt like we were the only people in the history of the world who ever loved each other that much.
It was holding hands in the backseat of the car as we rode to the hotel. Not saying much, because there was nothing important left to say. Waving to the cars that honked as they drove by us on the freeway, feeling so special that even strangers wanted to wish us well.
It was running around our fancy hotel room, taking pictures of each other sporting ridiculous grins that refused to leave our lips. Rushing out the door so we wouldn’t miss our dinner reservation. Walking through downtown in a wedding gown and a tuxedo, and then sitting at a booth in the middle of a completely empty steakhouse and enjoying the best meal we’ve ever had. Saying over and over how perfect our wedding day was, and how happy we were, and how much we loved each other.
It was getting ready for bed together. Realizing we forgot to pack the contact solution and trying to figure out an alternative. Taking a million hairpins out of my hair. Eating all the cake the venue sent home with us. It was waking up the next day and realizing we were actually married now. Wearing my husband’s t-shirt and boxer shorts to breakfast at the hotel restaurant because I forgot to pack any normal clothes and had nothing but my wedding dress. It was hearing him call me his wife.
Those are the things that mattered most to me in the end—the moments that felt like real life. Because my everyday life isn’t gowns and extended family and rose petals. My everyday life is this man standing beside me enjoying our happiness and working to solve problems together and feeling so damn lucky.
I wouldn’t change a thing about our wedding day, not even to elope (as I had always wanted) and have a wedding of only just-us moments. We needed the other things too—the family and the friends and the public ceremony and the dance party. But as I look back on our wedding day I find that our relationship, the private and personal one that exists only between us, the thing made up of heartfelt words and a close friendship and gentle embraces and a sense of adventure, that was the core of our wedding day and it was the moments we were alone together that felt the biggest, the most real.