Back when I was planning my wedding, I read lots of blog posts about what people would do if they had to plan their wedding again. They all have faded into a nebulous blob, but the series I remember clearly ran a little bit after I got hitched: ESB’s If I Got Married Now… Unsurprisingly, the posts in this series were excellent, and fabulously stylish. I, however, didn’t get them, at the time. In most of these posts, women who were already hitched said that if they were going to do it all again they’d go with some combination of riskier and simpler. “I’d wear a short blue dress, and I’d elope.” These kinds of posts never felt helpful to me, because I’d think, “Well sure, it’s easy to say you’d wear a little gold dress and have a tiny ceremony, if you already had the long white dress and big party experience.” Turns out, I was sort of wrong.
First, let me be frank: if we were having another wedding, I’d still wear an awesome white dress and have a big party. Hell, the dress would be more dramatic and the party would be larger. But what I didn’t understand was that all those ladies were saying, “I’d take more risks.” And that’s where they were right (and I was wrong). If I got married now… I’d take more risks, because I know there is no such thing as a timeless wedding, so I’d stop playing it safe.
Did you catch that? There is no such thing as a timeless wedding.
This August will be our fourth wedding anniversary. Four years doesn’t seem that long to me (possibly since this year will also be our ninth anniversary of being a couple), but it’s long enough. Four years ago, when I was making my wedding style choices, I dialed everything down a few notches. I wanted our wedding photos to look classy for years after the fact. I wanted to look bridal and beautiful. I didn’t want to look back and think, “Oh my god, what was I thinking?” And I made good choices. My best choices were my risker ones (last minute vintage dress!) but all of them were solid. But if I had to do it over, I’d dial it up. Four years later, our wedding photos already look dated. Four years later I realize there is no such thing as timeless. There is just owning your particular moment in time, or trying to gloss over it.
We got married in 2009, and that date is etched all over our photos. I have the tea length dress, the big hair flower, the mismatched bridesmaid dresses, the vintage filter on our photos. There are the Polaroids, taken on some of the last Polaroid film (hurrah for embracing the moment with those Polaroids). There is no way to look at those wedding photos and think, “This wedding could have taken place yesterday.” No. That wedding took place in 2009. And thank God, because of that, we have four happy years of marriage under our belt.
Last week, I was looking back at a W Magazine retrospective on weddings. There was the early 70s boho wedding dress. The late 70s skirt and suit jacket at the courthouse. (I’m skipping the 80s, because it was grim in the wedding department.) The mid 90s simple sheath. The 00s strapless ball-gowns. They were all beautiful, but none of them were timeless. The best ones were brave in their of-the-time-ness.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d marry the same partner, please and thank you. I’d spend the money to rent part of San Francisco’s city hall for the ceremony. I’d have a backyard reception at our house, where we only spent on food and didn’t bother much with the details. (I know. How zeitgeist-y. But that’s the idea.)
I’d rock an enormous bun, an edgy skirt (probably still tea length, I know what looks good on my figure) and some feathers. I’d stop worrying about finding a timeless engagement ring, and buy an artisan ring I love already. (I don’t wear that timeless engagement ring much anymore anyway, and I’ll sure as shit ask for a new ring for our fifth/tenth anniversary next year.) I’d stick with high-as-hell shiny heels (because I still wear my wedding shoes all the time). I’d have a cat eye, and red lips. And I’d have a huge, bright bouquet. It’s all so 2013, and that’s the whole point.
There is no way to escape time. There is no endgame around mortality. We’re living in this particular moment, and no matter what we do, time will keep marching on, dating all of us. So forget about timeless. That simple white strapless dress is going to tie you to the moment just as much as a risker choice. Wear the simple strapless dress if you love the simple strapless dress. But if you were pondering, maybe, what it would be like to go all spangles (yup, that’s the dress Maddie would wear if she were doing it again), fuck it. Go for it.
The further you are from your wedding day, the prouder you’ll be of your long and happy marriage. I didn’t get married in 2013. I got married in 2009, and I want you to know that. So embrace the zeitgeist. Give yourself permission to go big or go home.
Though I just remembered. I wore hot pink ruffly boy short underwear on my wedding day. That, I’d do again in a heartbeat.
Credits on style board, clockwise from top left: Satomi Kawakita vertical bar ring ($390) / Kiara‘s amazing sock bun as photographed by Emma Case from this Wordless Wedding / Twigs & Honey, no longer in stock / Photo byThe Nichols, flowers by The Nouveau Romantics / Amazing red lipstick as shot by One Love Photo / BCBGMAXAZRIA ‘Peacock’ Pump from Nordstrom (50% off at $147) / Bridesmaids mixing patterns as shot by Max Wanger from 100 Layer Cake / Risky dress by Caroline Flach found at Bride in LA ($1500) shot by Rad + In Love (APW Sponsors) for East Side Bride / Way more from my 2013 style board on APW’s Pinterest Page