So! It’s the last week of the year for APW, and to reward you all for a year well lived (and well married) we wanted to leave you with a whole week of wedding graduates. But it turns out there were one or two things that had to be said before the holidays, things about fighting and hard stuff and reflecting on the year. So this week is a mix of wise graduates, and thoughtful words. And to kick it all of we have Estrella, a Bay Area APW Book Club-er, and a smart lady. Her wedding day was a bit of a mess… and it was ok. She found a way to make the crazy into magic, something I’m always in awe of, and something worth reminding yourself is possible. It’s not one perfect day, it’s two messy, wildly imperfect, joyful lives. And with that, I bring you Estrella:
Andy: “How many times am I allowed to use the word “epic” in my wedding vows?”
Surprising to everyone who knows us, Andy and I met on match.com. Probably the most amazing thing about our story is that we were so close to meeting and we just didn’t. We ran the same circles: same restaurants, same bars, same gym, same stores, and walked the same streets. Funny as it sounds, it took an online site to bring us together. We contacted each other (I made the first move!) and set up our first date. We met at Fellini’s in Berkeley and flirted over risotto and alfresco vegetables. We knew within minutes that our paths would be, in some way, together. Drinks at the Albatross were next and since it was a Sunday night we decided to cut it short (can you call a five hour date “short”?) and say goodnight. Plans were made for a second date and we’ve been together ever since.
Andy and I got engaged in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on a wintery night in a hot tub under the stars. After an emphatic yes, I am proud to say that the next words I uttered were, “Where did you hide the ring? Please tell me it wasn’t up your butt!” What followed was an eight month frenzy of crazy planning, crazy because we wanted to do everything ourselves. We were on a budget and being hardworking, self-sufficient people, we didn’t foresee this being a problem. What we didn’t take into account was that we both would be working all summer away from home, where we’d have no access to phones or computers. This was followed by the looked-over detail that come in August. Andy would be starting his first long awaited teaching job, which left the planning up to me.
Up until two days before the wedding, I couldn’t have been happier: We found the perfect site, a large estate we could rent for the weekend that was out in the countryside, about an hour from our home; I discovered crafting skills I never knew I possessed, as is witnessed by the bird-on-a-wire motif that I took on with abandon; I scoured craigslist for décor that I thought would fit our style, including 50+ mason jars that we wanted to use for the cocktail and lawn games hour; and I read countless wedding blogs for inspiration (that is, until I discovered APW and abandoned all the others).
And then the wedding weekend arrived. I was fine doing most things on my own, but when it came to coordinating myself as well as the massive numbers of people that kept rolling in and were looking to us, to me, for direction, I cracked. By the time the rehearsal dinner rolled around, everything was behind schedule and I was close to tears. But our families were together and the weather was glorious–85 degrees during the day, followed by a crisp fall evening, which was perfect for the pumpkin carving and hot tubbing we had planned. I took a deep breath, dragged my sister into the bedroom to help me find a clean shirt, pulled myself together and we had an amazing night.
The morning of the wedding, Andy and I woke up at the crack of dawn, overwhelmed by the daunting list of tasks we still had yet to accomplish. Yet before getting out of bed, we lay and watched the sunrise over the golden hills, taking in a moment of calm before the business of the day took us over completely.
What followed was an endless list of chores: putting up decorations (including the paper lanterns I worked so hard to find in our wedding colors), taking out and setting up the lawn games, arranging a dance area, setting up tables, chairs, and centerpieces, mixing the drinks, folding the Mad Libs Guest Book/ Wedding Programs, painting the tree for our guests to sign and “leaf” their print, writing out checks for all the vendors, and so much more. Andy’s big task was to build the chuppah and to keep himself from throwing up out of nervousness. My big task was to make sure everything else got done and to delegate wherever possible, which turned out to be harder than I’d thought.
While I so wanted to have a DIT wedding, my true self took hold and I finally came to terms with something I’ve been denying for a long time: I cannot delegate to save my life. Somehow, most of the important things got done and I was whisked away to shower and get ready just as the guests started arriving. Around that time, the glorious warm fall California day we had all been expecting took a turn. A cold front came in. Fast. By the time the ceremony started it had dropped at least ten degrees. And that was just the beginning to the seemingly never-ending list of things that went wrong.
But you know what? Even with all the mix-ups (the programs we painstakingly created never being passed out, dinner starting late, the dance mix it took us weeks to create abandoned accidentally, the arctic gale that overtook us–forcing everyone inside and away from the lawn games, the candles that wouldn’t light, the ten pounds I gained in the year leading up to the wedding, the LED lights we forgot to put in our paper lanterns, the cute parasols we bought that we never opened, the cases of wine that were opened and never drunk, the wait staff we underpaid, my bridesmaids walking up to the alter before Andy, his dudes, or our officiant), we’re MARRIED!
And while the rest of the day was a bit of a mess, the ceremony was absolutely perfect. Andy and I married each other exactly how we wanted. Amidst our families and friends, we declared our love for each other that day and for all of our tomorrows. The flowers I held had been carried down the aisle by our family and friends, and were wrapped in a ribbon made out of my grandmother’s train. He cried. I didn’t. And just as we were saying our vows, a group of horses came to stand in the hillside behind us. I never felt more surrounded by love than I did on that day. Andy, the man who DOES NOT DANCE, held me in his arms and together, we rocked the night away.
And you know, those ten pounds I cried over in the days before our wedding? Well, the dress fit better than ever before. Instead of lawn games, we had a bonfire. When the candles didn’t light and it was too cold to stay seated at our tables for the speeches, we piled inside.
Over a hundred of us crammed into the living room and what followed was such an intimate outpouring of love, I never wanted the night to end. Leaving late the next day after cleaning up, with the rain pouring down around us, blanketing the hills and washing away the last remnants of scattered cupcake, and pumpkin seeds, I turned to Andy, my new husband, and said, “Babe. You were right. That was totally epic. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Photos By: Friends & Family