* Amy, Elementary School Teacher & Ami, High School Teacher *
My favorite college professor had the wedding of my dreams. She and her fiancé eloped to New Zealand for a wedding and honeymoon and cleverly planned the whole thing to pleasantly surprise the pants off of all of the friends and family. Before hopping on the airplane, my professor mailed off little elopement announcements and packages, containing the old who/what/when/why run-down of wedding information and a disposable camera. The note she wrote asked everyone to raise a glass to their new marriage and happiness and snap a picture of the toast. Later on, she collected all of these pictures back and had a sweet and easy-peasy photo album of loved ones raising their glasses to the newlyweds—in their own kitchens, backyards, and local playgrounds.
My college self thought this was a perfectly awesome and acceptable wedding idea. It’s a destination wedding without everyone having to pony up large amounts of cash for plane tickets! And talk about simple planning. Invitations, favors, and photography all fit into one, tidy package. It turns out, however, that weddings aren’t really for one person, or even two. Weddings are beautiful celebrations of love—love that communities have expressed for two people as they have helped raise them over the years, love that parents and families have poured into their kids, and especially love that two people have found, cultivated, and nurtured for each other. And it’s because of all this wonderful love that I learned how to step back from a certain idea of our wedding, welcome other ones in, and keep my focus on what’s most important.
It’s an interesting progression to start out dreaming of a minimalist wedding and arrive at something more maximalist. Conversations about a small wedding, with just immediate family in attendance, expanded to making guest lists of friends that of course we wanted to include. But, if friends are invited, then why not extend the invitation to more family? And before we knew it, my fiancé Ami and I had a Wedding Extravaganza on our hands.
After the whole thing was over and we were enjoying our roles as guests at a cousin’s wedding, we joked that we should have had Wedding World Tour tee shirts printed up. First, there was the ceremony in California—small, intimate, and outdoors in our favorite park, just the way we’d wanted. (Best wedding gift? Having our park ranger friend weed whack the ceremony site for us.) Later that afternoon, there was the reception in a beautifully restored local barn, just the size to fit a big party’s worth of friends and family. We ate delicious food, danced, played Corn Hole on the lawn, and ate wedding popsicles! A few days later, we’d hop a plane for my hometown in Maryland, where my family would throw a backyard party for hometown friends and family that couldn’t make the cross-country trip. Then, there was another plane ride to Boston that would take us to another party with my fiancé’s giant extended family in attendance. Finally, we sandwiched in a Vermont honeymoon and attendance at a wedding on Lake Champlain before starting a new school year.
In the end, it was probably the bicycles that reminded us take it all one step at a time and focus on love, which is the real reason for all of the fancy parties, of course. We love riding bikes. Ami’s the one who regularly suits up in Spandex and knocks out fifty or sixty miles at a time. I take the more leisurely approach and ride to the coffee shop and back. But sometimes, we hop on our tandem bike and ride around town together and practice that excellent couples’ communication that comes from the necessity of two people on one bike figuring out which way to go.
The old saying about bikes is true. When you fall off your bike, the best thing to do is to dust yourself off and hop back on. The day before our wedding, Ami was riding home from a few last minute wedding errands when his wheel got stuck and he flew over the handlebars. Thankfully, he was in good enough shape to make it home on his bike, but was pretty bloody and bruised. Our parents called, a bit worried. Were we still going to ride our tandem bike tomorrow to the reception? Of course. After all, I had a wedding helmet that needed rocking. The best thing that bikes and love have in common is that there’s always a chance to try again and enjoy the ride. We reminded each other of how much love was between us and surrounding us, slapped on some Band-Aids, took some Tylenol, and rustled up a fabulous Trader Joe’s bouquet (Thanks, APW!). And then, we launched into the Wedding Extravaganza, knowing that love was going to pave each step (or peddle) of the way.
The Info—Photographer: Jayantii Lawless / Venue: DeTurk Round Barn and Annadel State Park / Amy’s Dress: I purchased my wedding dress from Etsy and the seller happened to live in the next town over. How fortuitous! A very sweet friend let out the seams and hemmed the dress. / Most other decorations were either thrifted or borrowed from friends.