*Christy, Art Director, Advertising & Duncan, VP of Customer Service, Software Company*
Today’s wedding is about an unexpected adventure, a hardship, and really a bit of magic. It’s about the magic of deciding to accept what life throws at us, to still celebrate, and to love the hell out of each other. I’d say more, because I love this wedding so much, but I really don’t want to spoil the story. So I’m going to let Christy tell it.
When it came to planning my wedding, I wasn’t intimidated by the details. I know some people get overwhelmed thinking about flowers and tablecloths and programs and don’t care, for example, to spend a great deal of time worrying whether or not chartreuse and lime are close enough approximations of the same color green. As an art director, I worry about details for a living. I revel in them, actually. I really do care about the (admittedly subtle, but important-to-me) difference between chartreuse and lime. Still, I dreamed not about the perfect designer WIC wedding, but a wedding filled with not-so-perfect DIY details. I wanted our celebration to be unique, fun, and expressive of who we are as people. Which is to say, not too stuffy, not too fancy, yet thoughtful and good looking.
When I tried to explain this to people, it stressed everyone out way more than I anticipated. My mom and aunt (both crafty ladies in their own rights) had major reservations about getting everything done in my relatively short timeline. They looked at our six-month engagement as an obstacle and a source of stress, but we just looked at it as a reason to make quicker decisions. The venue we loved had a date open just over five months away from the day we visited and we booked it. Everything else had to happen in that time span, or it wasn’t going to happen. I kept saying that if we didn’t get X or Y done in time, what did it really matter? “Mom, what is the worst that could happen? There won’t be a centerpiece. So what? We’ll still be married. Isn’t that the most important thing? Isn’t that the reason we’re doing this in the first place!?”
Those kinds of conversations dominated our weekend DIY sessions, and I’m still not sure everyone really believed that I was taking a rational approach to things. My stepmom worried that I might regret not having some detail that I’d wanted because I couldn’t get it done in time, that my wedding day would fall flat because I tried to take on too much. My mom worried that my perfectionist (though I prefer “perseverant”) nature would cause more problems when something didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it. I could see everyone thinking, “Really? You only get one shot to make this everything you want it to be. Don’t you want it to be perfect?”
Of course I wanted it to be perfect. But I stood my ground. Armed with APW wisdom garnered from hundreds of posts, I responded with things like, “You just have to be flexible in your idea about what makes the day perfect.” All that mattered was that I was going stand up and declare my love for this person in front of everyone else who mattered to us. And if I managed to build a beautiful mobile of paper flowers for us to stand under while we did it, well, all the better.
Looking back on those conversations now, I can’t help but think that my confidence in my ability to shrug off the relative importance of those details I’d labored over was somehow tempting fate. Because while I was prepared to deal with things going awry on the wedding day, I still envisioned the best possible version of myself, greeting whatever the day threw at us with a decent amount of grace while, naturally, looking as stunning as possible. What happened next knocked the wind right out of me, and I feared I would fail on both fronts.
What happened next required a precisely executed and freakishly timed sequence of events to occur. First, it required that I decide play in a soccer game six days before my wedding day.* It then required that, during the last possible moment of the game, I come into contact with the ball at the exact same second as a player on the other team. Next, it required that I be positioned in such a way after contact for that same foot to land on top of the ball and roll off, reaching the ground with great force. When I looked down my right foot was sticking out, perpendicular to my leg. Details.
One hysterical ambulance ride to the ER and many doses of morphine later, I was told I had dislocated my ankle. I wish I could say that some of the details were foggy due to the pain medication, but every moment of shock and disbelief has stuck with me. Calling my fiancé (sobbing) and telling him that I had ruined everything. Subsequently begging him to call both of my parents to break the news to them (no pun intended). Repeatedly hoping that I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare. How could this have happened!? SIX DAYS before our WEDDING!
Unfortunately, the emotional rollercoaster continued in the days following. I saw an orthopedic surgeon, who broke my heart when he told me that the force it took to dislocate my ankle had, in fact, caused a bone (the fibula) in my leg to break. The ER had missed it because the break was higher in my leg and they’d only x-rayed my ankle. Which meant walking down the aisle was out of the question. Details.
But what he told me next was worse. The damage I’d done to the ligaments in my ankle was extensive, and I’d need surgery to repair everything or risk it healing incorrectly (and probably never walking again). The operation was scheduled for Wednesday, three days before the wedding. They’d be putting in two screws to hold everything together while my leg healed. Three months later, I’d have another surgery to remove the screws. Details.
After that, I cried for two days. I’m no stranger to sports injuries—I’ve had previous operations on each of my knees due to soccer. I wasn’t fearful of the surgery or even the recovery. I was mad at myself for playing that day; it suddenly felt like the most selfish thing I could’ve possibly done. I’d let my fiancé down not only for the wedding day, but for our honeymoon. The doctor wouldn’t let me fly so soon after surgery, so we had to postpone the vacation we were so looking forward to (and one he especially deserved, frankly). I’d let my father down; now he wasn’t going to be able to escort me down the aisle. I’d let myself down because, for all my big talk about dealing with imperfection on our wedding day, here I was crying my eyes out, angry that I was going to have to stuff my beautiful gown into a wheelchair and sit through my wedding day. Suddenly, standing became the only detail that mattered.
But then came Wednesday, the day of my surgery, and I knew I had to pull it together. I’d read about couples overcoming tougher challenges right here on this very blog, and I wasn’t about to make the situation worse for everyone. This day wasn’t just about me, it was about us, and I owed my fiancé a great attitude going into it. That part of me that knew standing—errrr sitting—in front of everyone else who mattered to us and declaring my love for this person was the most important thing? That part of me slowly gained back its voice. I put on the bravest face I could muster, asked for a blue cast at the hospital, and tried to brace myself for a wedding day full of imperfection. But I was still worried about the looks of pity from my friends and family, and the unspoken disappointment of a day that was supposed to be a celebration falling flat on its face.
But then something wonderful happened. Everyone else put on their brave faces, too. My maid of honor bought flats to replace my 2.5-inch heels and procured an additional set of crutches so the attendees could “crutch” down the aisle, bringing some levity to the entire ceremony. My brother picked up my dress and delivered it to the hotel. My officiant (and best friend) sat down with us and helped us tweak our vows to include “rolling” through life together. My father simply said he’d push me down the aisle, no big deal. My mom alternated green tea bags and baking soda compresses on my eyes to help take the puffiness from all the crying out.
And my fiancé—the most wonderful, kind, generous human being on the planet—was my rock. He was adamant that the day would still be the happiest one of our lives, and ran around completing all of the pre-wedding errands I was scheduled to accomplish the Thursday and Friday before the wedding, never once getting frustrated or angry at the situation (or me).
In the end, I was right about the details. Though most of the DIY elements I’d set out to make got done before the accident happened, they weren’t what ended up defining our celebration or expressing who we are as a couple. Instead, it was our determination to deal with the situation in the most positive way we could that really told people about the love we share and the support we’ll give each other for the rest of our lives. And I even got to stand before them (on one leg) to declare it.
*Admittedly, I still haven’t forgiven myself for this decision. But after twenty years of playing competitively, it didn’t seem like a risk in the slightest. It was just what I did on Sundays, and I craved the endorphins from the exercise to carry me through the undoubtedly stressful week ahead.
The Info—Photography: Mike Colletta / Venue: The Foundry at Puritan Mill / Flowers: Our family friend, Nancy Healan / Christy’s Dress: Tara Keely for Lazaro / Clutches: ModDotTextiles / Paper for Mobile and Other Paper Flowers: JoAnn fabrics and Binders Art Supplies