We started this week with Manya’s story about how crazy waiting to get engaged can make you and how you can be redeemed with your actions. So it only seemed right to follow that up with Brittany & Nick’s story about how planning a wedding was making them crazy… and how they chose to let go of it all, and have a teeny tiny wedding where they followed their hearts and were surrounded by love.
Planning a wedding is like eating pancakes. Initially you’re super stoked—it’s gonna be so great, I love pancakes! There’ll be all these adornments—pecans and bananas and syrup and butter. Glorious! But a few pancakes in you’re sick and f’ing tired of pancakes… but you’ve already committed. So you feel like you have to finish the pancakes you’ve already started, and if you do, by the end you’re like EFF—I never liked pancakes in the first place! I’m never eating pancakes again! I don’t want to see another pancake recipe as long as I live. I might vomit. But what happens if you scrap the pancakes halfway in and decide to have an omelet instead?
Before I knew it, I was knee deep in pancake batter and there was no eating my way out. Nick and I, in a failed attempt to appease the masses, staked our claim on a moderately sized and well-antiqued bed and breakfast in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We hired string musicians, debated hors d’oeuvres, researched flowers, types of paper and invitations (embossed or just plain print? Will I be judged for cutting that God-Forsaken corner?), and all sorts of other sh*t that neither of us had ever cared about before. We were swept away in a monsoon of half-a*sed concessions and sacrifices we swore we’d never make.
And then one lovely December afternoon, a request for a deposit came. Our venue wanted their cash to reserve the date, as it was merely five months away. It was timely, yet for some guttural reason unexpected. And with that brief three-lined email, my wedding-world-façade came crashing down. It was met with panic and hesitation. This would be the commitment to a wedding event that we didn’t want. I had been so sure, so committed to this pancake extravaganza we were cooking up. When in reality, we were egg people all along.
So I called my family. I told them we were eloping but they were most certainly invited. It would be in Savannah, Georgia over my Spring Break. Why Savannah? Why not. Why Spring Break? Because what else do you do Spring Break your senior year of college? And Nick did the same. They applauded our honesty and stood by our decision.
As for the rest of our wedding planning—it was cake (ha!). It consisted of picking flower colors, cake flavors, type of champagne and time of ceremony—all left up to my most wonderful partner Nick. There was one thing from the original plans we didn’t scrap—the photographers. We needed someone who would capture the day as we experienced it, and seeing as there would be few witnesses, this became even more of a priority. And we were so not disappointed by that decision! The photographers were two lovely ladies we found on APW who were equally as excited about the prospect of our elopement and were quickly onboard with the new plan.
Some people might have an aversion to a pre-packaged elopement, but it fit us just right. We didn’t want a courthouse elopement, but a full-fledged wedding wasn’t our style either. This allowed us to find our place in the wedding-spectrum that felt to be the most candid, unadulterated representation of who we are and what our unity represents. Oh, and when we told people we were eloping and our closest family would be there, the puzzled looks were promptly followed with, “Isn’t the point of eloping to have no one know? It isn’t an elopement if people are there and it’s planned!” We called it an elopement because that was the name of the package. We could have called it a small wedding, or an intimate commitment ceremony or a union gala. It wouldn’t have made a difference. All that mattered was Nick and I were there, it was exactly what we wanted, our family was joyous and we were surrounded by love on the most important, defining day of our lives.
And the day itself went seamlessly. We casually ate breakfast in the dining room with our family, which wasn’t planned, but ended up a very sweet beginning to such an emotional day.
Nick and I got ready together the morning of the wedding, mostly for solidarity and a sense of normalcy. We spent some of the last few hours of singlehood strolling hand in hand through one of the most beautiful parks in the South, with our photographers trailing behind. It was a precious memory that enveloped us with good feelings and unabated love—and the moments were captured forever. As we neared the Gastonian, I was ambushed by one of the most wonderful surprises—my best friend of a lifelong bond stepped out of a cab in front of us. She caught a last minute red-eye from NYC to make the wedding. And make it she did, with barely an hour to spare!
There were many traditions that we scrapped. They didn’t mean anything to us and seemed more like burdens than fond-memory-producing mechanisms. But a handful of traditions meant so much to us and/or our families that we kept them. We decided that Nick wouldn’t see me in my dress before the ceremony, so that time would be reserved for our parents. This was something that going into the day didn’t really matter to me, but our parents were adamant. In hindsight, the 45 minutes spent with our families apart became very symbolic of the entire event. It was a special time that we will never forget. The pre-ceremony hour was so impregnated with emotion that words can’t fully capture the nature of it. I sat with my mom as my dad gingerly spread flower petals in the garden so his “little girl” would have an aisle to walk down. My mom helped me don a single strand of pearls, as her late mother did for her on this same special occasion. I slipped into the ruby red children’s slippers hastily purchased the day before, and managed to feel that the universe had properly disposed of the original shoes that were left behind.
My dad walked me down the nonexistent, petal-lined aisle. It was a short walk, but it felt like an eternity. I realized every step I took forward was an act of choice. It was a committal walk that lead me to the man I love. And my dad made that journey with me. It felt like the ultimate act of approval, trust, and belief to have him willingly and lovingly hand me to Nick. All of our loved ones stood at the far end of the courtyard, cheering us on with their smiles, tears and occasional sniffles. The ceremony itself lasted no more than five minutes and I remember very little of what was said. It is more a memory of yellowy light, beautifully simple, filled with shuffling feet, nervous giggles, handwritten vows and a few too many “post Mr. & Mrs. announcement” kisses.
When we turned to walk back up the aisle, I was overwhelmed with the desire to hug Nick’s mom. And then his Dad. And then my mom. And my Dad. And before I knew it, we both had hugged every single person who witnessed our union. We had an impromptu post-union hug fest and it is one of my most favorite memories of the day. It felt necessary and right to hug and thank everyone for being there in full support; because we needed it in that moment and we will need it in the future, and those are the people we can and will turn to. They are the ones who believe in us and all that we are. They are the loved ones who raised us and will continue to nurture us, allowing us to better nurture each other and the baby family we have created. It is overwhelming to know that all the watery eyes at our wedding were looking at us in love—seeing our love and reverberating love back. It was a ceremony of tangible love that is only captured in a few moments of a lifetime.
Our union was not surrounded by flowers and music and chairs with bows. We didn’t even send out invitations. And the ceremony wasn’t followed by a tiered cake, catered buffet and meticulously planned iTunes list—though I did do a “little kicks” dance in PJs over coffee and scones later that afternoon. The road to our wedding day was filled with lots of introspection and hard questions. And the day itself had its own mishaps. But it was exactly what we wanted. It represented who we are in such a genuine, unmistakable way that every witness walked away knowing us a little more fully than when they day had begun. Undoubtedly, it will forever be marked in our lives as the most perfect day to have ever existed.