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Anya & Csanad


This year has been one of great change for the APW staff. It’s funny, because the whole lot of us are notorious planners, and yet I think we’re always pleasantly surprised when what we’d planned for actually, you know, comes to fruition. Though really, when I think about it—doesn’t that sum up the very essence of marriage itself? You plan as much as you can, and then you let the universe (or what have you) pick up and do its magic, knowing that everything is a variable and the only constant you have is each other. If things turn out the way you planned, hooray! If not, the journey is the destination, right?

So this week, we’re digging deeper into the meaning behind the words, “No matter what the future holds,” and exploring the various ways that our marriages are tested by the wily nature of the universe. And what better way to start this particular week than with Anya and Csanad’s wedding that took place in the midst of Hurricane Sandy? The lessons learned here extend far beyond the difficulty of having to re-plan a wedding in four days, and in fact might even just be a perfect analogy for marriage itself.

—Maddie for Maternity Leave

Anya & Csanad | A Practical Wedding

I was taught, growing up, that all good adventures started with things going terribly wrong. Nothing worth telling a story about ever started with things being just fine. And things were fine in wedding planning land—uncannily so. Planning a wedding with my now-in-laws overseas and not speaking the same language? Fine. Not having a honeymoon and doing touristy stuff in cities I generally refuse to be a tourist in? Annoying, tiring, trying, but fine. Having to countenance how much money this was all going to cost? Shocking, but fine. And really, that was it for the turbulence. My wedding, which I was totally fine about, was on November 4, 2012. It was supposed to take place on the Jersey Shore.

I’m not a fatalist about storms, but I’m not stupid. Hurricane Sandy was coming on Tuesday, so we changed the in-laws’ Tuesday flight to Wednesday and found our flashlights. I watched the Weather Channel.

Work was cancelled on Monday. That night I finished up a collage of our families’ histories by the light of a police car that stood guard over a tangle of wires lying in the street. Blue and green flashes lit up the sky as power line after power line fell to the howling wind. The flares let me see the finer details of my work. By Tuesday morning, the roads around our house were a maze of oak and pine, our planned venue was flooded, and no communication worked except text message. We started to think that perhaps it was time to change our plans. By Wednesday night we had wrangled one of the ten flights of the day into Newark to deliver our family to us. We drove them to my parents’ cold and powerless house, and our families met by candlelight. The table was set as if for a Victorian drama. We pulled food from the frigid porch and heated the match-lit stove. By this time my mother and I were devoting every spare minute and text message to re-planning the wedding. The shore was, by all accounts, a wasteland of sand and broken buildings. There would be no wedding there for weeks, and we only had family in town for a short time.

Anya & Csanad | A Practical Wedding

My friends kept asking me how I was doing. Honestly, I wished they would just. Stop. Asking. There was no time for questions, or feelings, or anything, really. I have never been busier in my life than those days after Sandy. I had no time to worry. I had no time to be upset. Hangnails are worth getting upset about. The storm ripping apart easily laid wedding plans? That’s just something you plow through. That is how life gets done sometimes—just by the doing of it. Marriage is not a little thing. It is the thing of which our families’ stories are made. It needed doing till it was done.

I don’t remember what happened when. The days are a blur. We drove an hour so my husband could bake our cake in a friends’ kitchen while I walked down the George Washington Bridge with his family, answering texts, making calls, and trying to not make my in-laws feel ignored. We tried to find a venue, but in the end, we decided my parents’ house could fit ninety people. I waited for over an hour to get gas. Twice. We went to bed early and got up early, because when there are no lights and the cold begins to creep in, that’s what you do. We decorated my parents’ house, arranged the flow, had a rehearsal dinner of Chinese take-out in my parents’ dark and cold kitchen, rehearsed by candlelight and head lamp, and paused for translation after all of it. We bought plastic plates and cups and rented bar tables an hour away, where there was power and an open store. We called endless restaurants and caterers, only to hear there was no food, or gas, or power. I charged my phone in the car and counted every mile against long lines and gas rationing. My mother and I were in constant contact, but we discussed nothing but the business on hand. We were two women with work to do. And it was work. We re-planned a wedding in four days. If I cried, it was from exhaustion, not from worry, regret, or any sense of loss.

We left our apartment and moved into my parents’ house. There were ten of us staying there by the time the wedding took place. We had to kick my sister out to her boyfriends’ parents’ house. We just didn’t have the room. Thank God it was always going to be a daytime wedding. Thank God I had made the decorations, and all the bouquets and flower arrangements weeks before from dried flowers I had grown or picked off the side of the road. Thank God my sister and her boyfriend had power in Queens, so they could make us a last-minute wedding playlist. Everyone helped in countless ways, big and small. My best friend came over and just did what needed doing. She was there for hours and I only saw her while painting my nails, which I summarily smudged. There wasn’t time to let it dry properly. My mother and I had our hair done around the dining room table at one of the salon’s employee’s houses that had gotten power back my some miraculous turn of events.

Anya & Csanad | A Practical Wedding

To be honest, I remember little of the wedding. Everyone loved it. They all braved the gas rationing and light-less highways for us. It was sweet, and beautiful, and in my childhood home. What’s not to love? The food was delicious. A friend brought it down from a restaurant who cooked what they could with the supplies they had, but couldn’t deliver because of the gas shortage. There was no power. A friends’ generator kept the music playing, with occasional shut-downs for refueling, and gave us some light once the sun set. A friend brought gas from Virginia. We kept beer and food cold on the porch. Two women cleaned and cleaned and filled up buffet platters so we had time for the party. My sister’s boyfriend DJ-ed from his computer and some hastily-found speakers, and then took requests which he played using YouTube on his phone. My father decided, at the last minute that our father-daughter dance would be to the theme of Gone With the Wind.

In retrospect, I guess a sense of loss may have been an appropriate feeling, but I never, not even for a minute, felt it. On one hand, there was no time. On the other, there are more important things than venues and plans. Like family being there for our wedding. Like the tradition of the thing. Perhaps because I was deep in our family history pasting old photos onto a timeline when the power went out, it did not occur to me to feel sorry for myself. When your family comes through the hell and high water of history, a wedding being shaken up by a storm is small potatoes. The marrying part—that’s what matters. That’s the soul of the thing. And it has been done through war and poverty, through mourning and persecution. To do it at all is noteworthy. To do it with an ease that allows us to worry about matching cake cutting sets risks enabling us to forget the very weight of this event which has passed between our ancestors for generations —the story-worthiness of it all—the fact that our grandchildren will not care if our linens matched, only if we did.

There is nothing any of us can do in the face of storms and life changing our plans. My only advice is to remember that no story worth telling began with things going right. Life is an adventure, and the true wonder of marriage is that it is the moment when a family is created. It is an echo of your own family’s past—a past that was not easy, that was full of stories worth hearing. Spend time with those stories as you get ready for your own. That way, you’ll be ready if and when it turns into an adventure.

Anya & Csanad | A Practical Wedding

Photos by: Bea Bolla

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  • One More Sara

    omg. Hands down one of the most powerful Wedding Grad posts I’ve ever read. I’m in tears!!! So glad everything turned out for you two. And if rain on your wedding day is good luck, you guys must be set to have one of the best lives ever. Congrats!!!!!!

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    “To do it with an ease that allows us to worry about matching cake cutting sets risks enabling us to forget the very weight of this event which has passed between our ancestors for generations —the story-worthiness of it all—the fact that our grandchildren will not care if our linens matched, only if we did.”

    One of the best sentences on this website.

    • http://havearrived.wordpress.com Becca

      SERIOUSLY. in tears at my desk at work.

  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    I really loved this post! Such a beautiful piece of writing and a wonderful story with realization for both the writer and the reader. I loved so many parts of it, but will come back to this one:

    “It is the thing of which our families’ stories are made. It needed doing till it was done.”

    I will tweak it a bit and make it an affirmation: “It is one of the things of which this family’s story will be made. It needs doing till it is done.” Thank you for this unexpected gift today.

    • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

      Um, yeah, and this part too: “Hangnails are worth getting upset about. The storm ripping apart easily laid wedding plans? That’s just something you plow through. That is how life gets done sometimes—just by the doing of it.”

  • http://www.nobiteleftbehind.com Gillian

    I never, ever comment here.

    This story was beautiful, powerful, and strong. And it brought me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing.

    “The marrying part—that’s what matters. That’s the soul of the thing. And it has been done through war and poverty, through mourning and persecution. To do it at all is noteworthy. To do it with an ease that allows us to worry about matching cake cutting sets risks enabling us to forget the very weight of this event which has passed between our ancestors for generations —the story-worthiness of it all—the fact that our grandchildren will not care if our linens matched, only if we did.”

    • KB

      Amen.

    • Anya

      Thank you!

  • http://byjacki.com Jacki

    This is so lovely and moving, one of my favorite things ever posted on this website. I was in tears throughout. These lines, in particular, touched me:

    “The marrying part—that’s what matters. That’s the soul of the thing. And it has been done through war and poverty, through mourning and persecution. To do it at all is noteworthy. To do it with an ease that allows us to worry about matching cake cutting sets risks enabling us to forget the very weight of this event which has passed between our ancestors for generations —the story-worthiness of it all—the fact that our grandchildren will not care if our linens matched, only if we did.”

    I’ve had fleeting selfish thoughts of how disappointing it is that I won’t be able to afford A Big Gorgeous Wedding when I marry my “keeper husband.” Your story is such a beautifully stated reality check on unnecessary thoughts like that. Saving this to be read again :)

    • Anya

      It’s all worth it when you remember that you will be able to tell your grandchildren/whoever that you were so in love and poor, and nothing mattered at all because you knew you wanted to spend eternity together. “And then we had a perfect wedding which you now think is tacky and totally out of style” just doesn’t ring as true.

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    Congratulations and wow.

  • KB

    I would just like to say that, even though it didn’t look the way you thought it was going to, I think this wedding looks like it was SO MUCH FUN! And so moving – you can always throw a glitzy, quirky, beachy, glamorous, whatever party. Something like this, something meaningful and spontaneous and home-grown and heartfelt, you just can’t plan for.

    • Anya

      Yep, and in the end, that’s what I’m so grateful for. No joke – my parents said they were grateful for Sandy at Thanksgiving, because if we’re honest with ourselves, we all really wanted a down-home, no frills wedding, not the big restaurant blah blah thing everyone always has. It is so meaningful this way, and cozy, and crazy.

  • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

    You are powerful, Anya. Your story is too.

    I’m writing this from my office building in lower Manhattan, which is still running on generator power, and phone service has yet to be restored. It’s really creepy (and human, and real) how we’re all just one storm away from living in a disaster zone.

    I’m glad you and your family and your husband’s family are safe. That’s the most important thing.

    And if anyone is interested, I recommend donating to or volunteering with the group Occupy Sandy http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    Oh wow, just wow. I needed to be reminded of this today:

    “There is nothing any of us can do in the face of storms and life changing our plans… remember that no story worth telling began with things going right. Life is an adventure, and the true wonder of marriage is that it is the moment when a family is created.” and “…all good adventures started with things going terribly wrong. Nothing worth telling a story about ever started with things being just fine. ”

    Or like the super wise Verhext said the other day:” you can´t be magic if there are no monsters“”.

    You could say we’re in the middle of a storm… but you go through it by doing. Taking it one day at a time. Hoping. Working at it. Doing our best.

    May your marriage be full of joy and love. Thanks so much for writing this.

  • Granola

    Congratulations! This will be a great story in your family Odyssey. It was a beautiful, joyous wedding. Also, that last photo of you two is breathtaking.

    You also hit on something I tried many times to explain to my now-husband during wedding planning when I was frustrated with making decisions. Frivolous things, like hangnails or bridesmaid dress colors – those you get upset about precisely because they’re minor. Big things – like the venue chef quitting, or the florist getting breast cancer – those you just deal with. I’m good in a crisis, it’s the mundane decisions that trip me up.

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

    Wow, just wow. Yours and your family’s strength in the face of adversity there is beautiful.

    Although I didn’t face nearly so many roadblocks in getting my wedding to happen, so much of what you’ve said about the meaning of a wedding and the process of getting there resonates so deeply with me.

  • Alexis C.

    Anya, I think I need your last name, since I will be quoting you often in the coming years, I believe.

    What an awesome story, awesome resilience, awesome beauty, AWESOME JOY.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • http://www.sarahhoppes.com SarahHoppes

    Oh, wow.

    I, too, had a post-Sandy wedding that had to be re-planned in a hurry, so I was nodding along through this whole post. (Although our particular area of Manhattan was sheltered from the much, much worse damage that other people experienced)

    I made it to “The marrying part—that’s what matters. That’s the soul of the thing. And it has been done through war and poverty, through mourning and persecution.” before the tears were just unstoppable. What a beautiful post. Congratulations on your wedding, and it’s good to know you and your family weathered the storm safely.

    For anyone who is interested in helping those impacted by the storm, you can check out occupy Sandyhttp://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/. They are in need of volunteers in the area, and they have an amazon registry (http://www.amazon.com/registry/wedding/32TAA123PJR42) set up to accept donations of much-needed items from donors out of state.

    • Anya

      Oh! I want to hear everyone’s story. What did you do with your wedding? And definitely, thanks for the link. Our area still needs a lot of help!

      • http://www.sarahhoppes.com SarahHoppes

        We’re still working on writing a wedding grad post, but we wanted to wait to submit it until we finished our rounds of “hey! We got married” parties at thanksgiving and Christmas. But, we will definitely be sending something about our experience to APW!

        • http://www.sarahhoppes.com SarahHoppes

          I was just ‘re reading this post and everyone’s comments and realized half the comment I copied an pasted never made it in here! anya, in answer to your question: we had our wedding 10/31, and ended up moving it from central park into the restaurant we were using for the post ceremony dinner, with many less guests than expected because they werent able to get in. So we had a big party in his hometown for thanksgiving and are having another the weekend after Christmas in my hometown so that everyone who wants to celebrate with us can.

  • Helen

    “My only advice is to remember that no story worth telling began with things going right.”

    Although certainly nothing as giant as a superstorm, we also had lots and lots of things go wrong for our wedding, but I came to the same conclusion as you. Things went wrong, but everything was still undeniably right, and even with things not as planned, it was perfect.

    This is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • Jess

    As another Jersey girl, I recognize so much of those days. The sound of generators and chainsaws, the cold nights sleeping by the fireplace listening to the battery-operated radio, the travel to friends and family that had power, while trying to conserve gas.

    Things look more normal now – we got power back after 13 days, our house is now (mostly) fixed, and I got a new car last week (a huge tree fell on my old one). We have spent time helping friends and acquaintances gut their homes and pick up the pieces. We’re ok and rebuilding, but I still feel like something shifted during those days.

    All of this is to say – the fact that you were able to celebrate your wedding that weekend is something precious to me (and I don’t even know you!) The love and warmth of family (despite the chill in the air!) is so clear in your beautiful pictures. Congratulations!

  • http://www.bsinthemidwest.com Brianne

    “I was taught, growing up, that all good adventures started with things going terribly wrong.”

    Love. Love. Love. A beautiful attitude and a meaningful memory.

  • http://elissarphotography.com Elissa

    This is an amazing story and I love it. Also, imagine the awesomeness that will prevail when you tell this story to your grandkids or grand-nieces or grand-nephews or grand-cousins!

    • Anya

      Getting to retell this story is the best part.

  • Class of 1980

    Any family with a father who would request the theme from “Gone With The Wind” as a father-daughter dance after a hurricane, is quite a family!

    Anya, in spite of everything, you were a gorgeous bride. The smiles on everyone’s faces are beautiful. What a story to pass down.

  • http://www.whataboutsara.com SJG

    Such a beautiful, powerful story. I never wanted this post to end.

  • Vera

    Hurricane wedding… sounds like a movie title!

    • One More Sara

      or a very strong drink ;)

  • http://mamarunsmiles.wordpress.com Anna

    This is one of my favorite wedding graduate posts I’ve read on APW, and I have been reading since the beginning! Mazel tov to the couple. A truly inspiring and beautiful ceremony, despite the hurricane!

  • One More Sara

    Also, I’ve come back to that picture of the guy with the gas can about 5 or 6 times today, and it brings a smile to my face every. time.

    • Anya

      That man is my dad! He’s awesome, as you can tell.

      • One More Sara

        seriously, best wedding photo evar.

  • mimi

    Thanks for sharing your story, and for sharing it so quickly! This kind of post definitely puts things in perspective. My takeaway:

    “There is nothing any of us can do in the face of storms and life changing our plans. My only advice is to remember that no story worth telling began with things going right. Life is an adventure, and the true wonder of marriage is that it is the moment when a family is created. It is an echo of your own family’s past—a past that was not easy, that was full of stories worth hearing. Spend time with those stories as you get ready for your own. That way, you’ll be ready if and when it turns into an adventure.”

  • Tina Infuso

    Anya, your story brought me to tears, but, it is a story, nonetheless, that will be passed on from
    generation to generation, not only by you, but, by everyone in attendance. You have a beautiful and strong family and you were a spectacular bride. This hurricane turned, what would have been a wonderful wedding, into an unforgettable experience for all. You taught everyone that what we think is important, sometimes just isn’t.

  • RachelC

    First of all, I agree with everyone – what an amazing perspective piece. Thank you for writing this!! Also, that last photo of you two is beyond breathtaking. I would print that on an enormous canvas and hang it over your mantel forever lol.

  • LifeSheWrote

    Beautiful post. I felt like I was going through it with you. And I especially love this pearl of wisdom:
    “….the fact that our grandchildren will not care if our linens matched, only if we did.”

    You rock. Congratulations!

  • Jessica

    Pretty sure when I move from pre-engaged to engaged and buy my copy of A Practical Wedding, I am going to print this out and paste it to the back inside cover, just to remind myself that it could always be better, and it could always be worse. Thank you for your beautiful post!

    Also, I’m very impressed with your willpower to get it all done. Bravo.

  • http://Brokensaucer.blogspot.com Sera

    Thank you for this beautiful post! You have definitely put into words more than just “it could be better, it could be worse”, you have distilled the power of a wedding filled with love for us. Thank you thank you. And congratulations!

  • Sam

    Such an awesome, awesome post. Life is, indeed an adventure…
    Sometimes even a stormy one.
    :)

  • Amy

    This is one of my favourite posts!

    I felt myself nodding along and feeling calm right along with you, even though my mouth should be agape and I should be gasping at all the distress… you told your story so precisely and pragmatically that I almost feel stronger and more capable after reading it. Thank you!

  • Jess

    This is one of my favorite grad posts EVER.

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