Christy & Duncan

*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

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  • Oh my god. This photo layout – you sneaky sneakersons! There she is all standing up looking beautiful, then BOOM! Leg in a cast! You guys crack me up. (No pun intended.)

    Christy, I can’t tell you how much I admire you. I came very close to breaking my arm about three weeks before our wedding and I don’t know if I would have had a fraction of your grace about it. This was beautiful. (And that cast with your intials on, and those crutches, might be my favourite wedding details ever ever ever.)

    • meg

      Ha-HA! Maddie had the photos laid out so it gave the game away, but I don’t roll like that! That’s for appreciating all my sneaky work :)

  • Victwa

    Loved this. Way to go you, your new husband, your family, your friends– I appreciated the reminder that even if you have cultivated an attitude of grace around stuff that you have decided “doesn’t matter,” it’s always possible the universe will throw something at you to be very sure that you are grounded in what DOES matter. Loved the pictures– speedy healing to you, and may you be back out on the soccer field soon!

  • Erin

    Oh, man. I know the two days crying your eyes out. On my way out the door to my practice hair appointment – 29 days before my wedding – I slipped on some ice and fell hard on my wrist.

    My hair dresser fluttered and worried and made me sit with ice on it through the whole appointment. I went to Urgent Care straight after and burst into tears in front of three nurses and a not-terribly-sympathetic doctor when they told me it was broken.

    All my DIY details went down the drain. It’s pretty hard to make gorgeously perfect pew bows when you can only hold things in one hand. I popped vicodin for shopping trips to craft stores and bridal boutiques (it was a very short engagement – three months – so even 29 days out there was lots left to do).

    On the plus side, I discovered a lot of talent in my family members, and a lot of willingness to give. I’m pretty sure the bows my aunt made were better than mine would’ve been, anyway!

    But oh, I know the ache. Even when you know that it’s not really /that important/ that you be able to stand, or hold a bouquet, it’s hard to let go of it.

    I was lucky – I talked a doctor into removing my cast two days before the wedding (against the wishes of another doctor, in fact). We just had to spend a lot of time adjusting pictures to account for my inability to bend my wrist in certain ways or hold up my bouquet, which I handed off as soon as humanly possible.

  • This was absolutely beautiful – the pictures and the writing.

  • Yay! I am so excited to see this post, and I promise it’s not just because I’m the bridesmaid on crutches in the photo above (though I do remember turning to Christy at one point during that crazy week and saying “you know you have to write about this for APW, right?”). But seriously, I have never seen a better example of grace under fire.

    • KB

      I just had to share that when I got to that exact photo where the bridesmaids are coming down the aisle in crutches, I laughed and cried at the same time. So sweet!

      • Jessica

        Me too! All teared up over such a happy photo. What incredible bridesmaids!!!

  • Lauren

    I think “Adventure Week” should be re-named “Tear Up At Every Post Week.” This was wonderful!!

    • meg

      Oh, you caught me. We were going to call it “Sobbing Week” but that just seemed like a downer ;)

      • Another Meg

        For reals. Who knew a photo of bridesmaids using crutches to get down the aisle would have me in tears? Wonder of wonders.

  • Heather

    I loved this post, I felt honored to see your pics and witness such a great wedding, thank you for sharing.

  • Lauren

    Lovely photos. Your husband sounds wonderful. Looks like it was great day to get married. ;)

    In April, three weeks before my wedding, I fractured both elbows when I fell off my bike. I knew it could have been so much worse.

    As for not forgiving yourself for playing soccer 6 days before the event… I didn’t even think twice about trying out clip in pedals with my bike for the FIRST TIME just 3 weeks before my wedding. Wasn’t even a blip on my radar. Oh well.

    • irene

      OT: I think it is pretty much required that your first time in clip-in pedals you will fall, painfully, with blood.

  • Christy

    Wow – thank you all so much for your lovely comments! It’s taken me awhile to gain more perspective about just how beautiful the day actually was, but your encouragement and stories are amazing to read.

    I couldn’t have done it without all the support from my friends and family, and I’m so lucky and thankful to have people like Adrienne in my life. Her own wonderful husband actually whipped up some programs for the ceremony after the accident and I’d written them off as one of those details that just couldn’t get done. And of course, she is completely responsible for both my reading of APW and also for encouraging me to submit this post (thanks, Dri!).

    And my husband IS wonderful, but I’m glad that even more of the world agrees with me now. :) As it so happens, our story was posted exactly on his parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. Either the crew at APW is even more talented than I thought, or it’s just one of those happy coincidences. Either way, it makes me smile.

    • meg

      (We have secret talents!) Happy Anniversary Christy’s parents!!!!!

  • I’m so glad you were able to come to terms with your injury–and that you were able to write so eloquently about your journey for all of us. Besides, what would we all be like if we pretended we were china dolls in the days (weeks? months?) leading up to our weddings? (Probably giant balls of stress like you alluded to.)

  • This is inspiring. I am a person who beats herself up for all the little things. I’d like to find it in me to compose myself the way you did when things go wrong: big or small.

  • Gah, APW, twice with the crying in one day? Because I got to the bridesmaid on crutches going down the aisle and choked up. What a wonderful way to celebrate the two of you, broken leg and all! I hope you had an easy and uneventful recovery!

    • Vmed

      “I got to the bridesmaid on crutches going down the aisle and choked up.”

      This. Totally lost it.

  • I would have played soccer too, and though it’s awful that this ugly accident happened, I think it’s better that you are the type of person who was out there playing a week before your wedding. I feel like, in the months leading up to the wedding I am constantly tempted to put off life. I tell people about big dreams and career aspirations and life plans and they say something to the effect of “but of course you have a wedding to get through first.” I know that planning a wedding can be a lot of work, but I refuse to put my life on hold until after this big day (a day that, ironically, is supposed to be all about moving forward and making big plans and dreams on many levels).

    • MDBethann

      I can’t say that I put my life on hold leading up to my wedding (heck, I felt like I was encountering every bad/blind/ignorant driver in the area on a daily basis) but unlike Christy, I was too worried about “Murphy’s Law” to play in my office softball league before the wedding and the honeymoon. I had a co-worker take a ball to the face a few years ago and she needed lots of surgery, I did NOT need a big shiner or, like Christy, a broken leg on my wedding. I did go through the planning process with a “whatever happens, happens” attitude but I don’t know if I would have been as calm with a broken leg. Kudos to you Christy for pushing through everything regardless of surgery & cast. I hope your leg is completely healed!

  • Whoa. Mad props girl, you set a good example for everyone!! Rise in the face of adversity!!!

  • You SO need to forgive yourself for playing soccer a week before the wedding. I would have done exactly the same thing. Playing soccer twice a week is one of the ways I keep myself sane and healthy and happy. And when do you need that MORE than right before your wedding, with all the stress and busy-ness!?! There’s no way you could know that after years of no issues, this is the time that something would go wrong.

    Your wedding looks like it turned out to be completely lovely, broken leg or not, and now you have a great story to tell when you’re a little old lady :-)

    • meg

      That is so true. My grandmother had a series of horrible mishaps around her wedding, and she really enjoys the stories to this day.

  • Practical and resilient bride! More than anything this post made me smile from the joy that clearly comes in your photos and your story. Happy marriage!

  • Moz

    I’m sorry you had your accident, but incredible post. So great your people rallied for you.

    And yeah, with time, do let yourself off the hook for that one. It wasn’t like you were doing something incredibly dodgy, it was just soccer for crying out loud.

    Hope you’re doing better now and your leg recovers well.

  • angela

    ohmygosh, what a beautiful wedding, regardless of the injury! how strong of you both to get through such a stressful week, and it looks like it was perfect :]

    give yourself a break (sorry, puns, i know) – i still regret being talked out of running “my last single 5k” the week before our wedding, by pretty much all of my family, because i’m a very injury-prone runner. you know what happened? on the way out the door to the limo the morning of the wedding, i tripped down about 4 of my entryway stairs and broke a toe anyway! it throbbed through the entire ceremony (and obviously, that doesn’t even compare to your injury), but my point is — precautions, schmacautions.

    congratulations and speedy healing!

  • Luisa

    I love this post and not just because I was involved in the beautiful wedding (I was the officiant). Christy and Duncan were such champs through the whole thing. Not only did they take it in stride but they did it with love (and yes, some wine and a few tears). They’re so perfect for each other, I’m glad everyone at APW knows how kickass this amazing couple is. :)

  • Michelle

    Girl, you are awesome! It wasn’t quite the same as a wedding, but I broke both legs after being hit by a car on campus in October of my senior year of college and was in a wheelchair for 2 months and crutches for 6…so I know the feeling of having “RUINED EVERYTHING.” But as people like you and me know, there’s no joy in life if you don’t just keep rolling on through, especially if you have people in your life wonderful enough to support you (both literally and figuratively!). Your photos are beautiful, you all look so happy, and this particular detail, while not a piece of cake, will always make it just a little more memorable, right? Also, I may have “awww”-ed out loud at the bridesmaid in crutches. Y’all are the best.

  • Wow, this is stunning– the photos, the writing and the story. Thank you for sharing. :)

  • Shelby

    I pinned your mobile on Piniterest. I bet it gets repinned 1000 times. It’s so beautiful. How on earth did you make it?

    • Christy

      Aw, thanks! I appreciate that, Shelby! I was actually inspired by this project from Patricia Zapata:

      She does amazing work and her book has some great crafty ideas. I also altered her sunburst wreath tutorial to create centerpieces. But since I don’t own a silhouette machine (and happen to love paper projects in general), I just cut out my shapes freehand and strung them onto fishing wire along with some clear plastic beads I picked up from an art store. I tied them to a frame I built out of wooden dowels (you can find them at any hardware store), eyeballing the lengths of the strands and attaching some directly to the frame with florist wire to help them stand above the top. I glued some simple rosette shapes directly to the frame as well. Voila – paper flower mobile.

  • Jenny

    Christy – my husband was playing on the opposing team in that soccer game (though he was not the player who collided with you, ha). He came home and told me what happened and that he had tried to use his first aid training to help as much as he could (which wasn’t much given the circumstances), but – not knowing you – we didn’t expect to ever hear the resolution to this story. APW FTW! I’m so glad you were able to handle the situation with positivity and even a bit of humor. You both look so happy in the photos!

    • Christy

      Amazing! This is why I love the internet. There were so many people on the field that helped me that day, and everyone on the opposing team was so kind. I got emails for days afterwards from people who’d tracked me down, and one woman even happened to be a physical therapist. She stayed with me until the ambulance came, and I’ll never forget her kindness. Please apologize to your husband if I scared him or snapped at him; I remember being (ridiculously) hysterical.

      The other amazing thing that happened that day was that the accident reunited me with an old teammate and friend. She actually came to watch friend of hers on the other team play that evening. Being the awesome person that she is, she came over after my injury to see if she could help. When I looked up, I couldn’t believe she was there. We hadn’t seen each other in over a decade, but it was almost like no time had passed at all. She stayed with me and held my hand until the paramedics came, then followed the ambulance to the hospital. She even found time the following weekend to come to the wedding. It’s amazing how life can sometimes operate on a give-and-take basis like that, but I’m so grateful that that was the moment she and I somehow managed to enter back into each others’ lives.

  • michelle

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. It was very uplifting and comforting to read.
    I just fractured my kneecap less three months to the date of our wedding day (also participating in sport that I’ve been doing for over twenty years). I am in a cast for six weeks and unsure if any additional time or surgery will be required to heal the injury at this point. Right now, the only detail that matters is walking.

  • Laura

    Bridesmaids on crutches = bawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwl!

    Thanks for this great post.