* Carolyn, Grad Student & Johnny, Energy Engineer *
There was a moment three days before our wedding when I finally just completely lost it. I had committed for months to not letting the stress get to me, and to keeping our wedding a low-key but awesome affair that would feel like us. But all of a sudden I found myself at my parents’ house, sitting in a pile of failed bottle cap magnets that I was trying to glue together, which were supposed to hold our escort cards up, reading the weather report that confirmed that it was definitely going to pour rain and be fifty degrees for our May wedding in New England. I just started ugly-crying and wallowing in how completely unfair it was that it wasn’t all coming together like I planned it.
And then, sounding like a total disaster, I called my maid of honor, who was still back in California where we lived. She gave me about one sentence of sympathy before telling me to screw the magnets, go relax, and that she would take care of it. That day the bridesmaids started an email chain and came up with a plan for decorating the inside space at our venue for an indoor ceremony. Then they arrived in Boston the next day and just made it all happen.
Even though we obviously didn’t plan for rain, the fact that our wedding party and their significant others swooped in and made our venue unbelievably beautiful and cozy on a very crappy, rainy day was perfectly in line with how we envisioned our celebration. My husband and I had one central tenet in planning our wedding: to avoid making it feel like a production for the guests. We carefully chose what to include (homebrew made by my husband, pies instead of cake) and what to throw out (bouquet tosses, garter belts) based on what felt like us. But even after paring it down and choosing a theme that felt like us—biergarten—we realized we would still need help to put on a 120-person event. In that sense, there was no avoiding it being a production.
So, we went about casting all the wedding roles with the people we knew and who would make it feel fundamentally like a gathering of friends and family. Our minister, Roger, had been a friend of my family and had performed my brother’s wedding ceremony a year before. We chose two friends to be photographers, so that when I was getting ready there wasn’t some random stranger taking pictures of me in my bra and so that when we were doing portraits they really knew how to make us laugh and relax. A non-bridesmaid best friend stepped in as last-minute day-of coordinator when I realized I needed someone Type A to be in charge so I didn’t have to stress (thanks for that advice, APW!). Everyone—from our stationery designer to our chamber group—had a personal connection to us.
So when the wedding week finally rolled around, no one was a stranger. I had so much confidence in our vendors and helpers because I knew they wouldn’t let us down—and some of the best moments for me were when we saw those people spring into action for us. I realized the day before the wedding that we didn’t have table numbers, and one of my bridesmaids grabbed some old envelopes and pulled up a calligraphy app on her phone, and then made these gorgeous and perfect table numbers seemingly out of thin air. During the open participation part of our ceremony, where guests could share stories, toasts, or incriminating stories from our past, our zany photographer-friend jumped out from behind us and read us a poem he had written. And I should not let it go unstated that my bridesmaids came over the night before the wedding and re-glued those 120 freaking bottle cap magnets for the place cards and made sure my one attempted DIY project was not a total failure.
At the brunch after the wedding, everyone kept coming up to us and saying how “us” the wedding felt, and I realized—”us” was not just me and Johnny, but our whole gaggle of friends and family who came together to create this amazing and intimate celebration. Looking back, I’m so grateful it rained—the wedding was perfect, and I can’t imagine it any other way than exactly how it came together.
The Info — Photographer: Alex Greenburg and Kate Erickson (who are friends, but we hired them!) / Location: Lincoln, Massachusetts / Venue: Codman Estate / Carolyn’s Dress: Theia Gown from Nordstrom / Carolyn’s Sash: Out of the Box / Carolyn’s Knit Bolero: KarinSF / Johnny’s Suit: Macy’s / Groomsmen Ties: Tux and Tulle / Wedding Poster: Peachwik / Flowers: Nancy Henderson / Band: Chicken Slacks