* Lucy, Graphic Designer & Bryan, Software Developer *
It’s Martin Luther King Day here in the States, which means there’s a good chance most of you are reading this from your cozy spot on the couch (we hope), and APW is taking a half-day in observance of the holiday. But since today is a shortened day, we wanted to make sure to leave you with some wisdom that could do double duty. Well, lucky for us, the always-wise Lucy (who goes by youlovelucy in the comments) just so happened to submit her grad post last week and, no surprise here, it’s a good one. She’s managed to fit four years of APW lessons into one smart, funny, totally spot-on post. In fact, I’d argue that if there’s one grad post you’re going to read this year as you plan your own wedding, this is the one. So go, soak in Lucy’s smarts, and then enjoy spending the rest of your day watching the Inauguration coverage (I have a feeling that’s what most of the staff will be doing themselves).
Because I love lists to the point of saving some from those halcyon days of wedding planning, it seems only fitting to make a list of lessons learned from said wedding. So without further ado (and because I’m terrible at introductory paragraphs) I present a meandering list of lessons, in no particular order.
Let People Think You’re Crazy: Hiawassee is two hours from where Bryan and I lived while we were planning, and originally had little sentimental attraction. We picked it to be far enough away to serve as a destination, but close enough that folks had the option of not staying for the whole weekend. This first decision introduced me to the Are You Sure Side-Eye (TM). The Are You Sure Side-Eye (TM) is usually accompanied by a slightly wary If That’s What You Really Want Tone, and sometimes followed by the Nervously Begrudging Agreement. Now you know.
We did more than a few things that were given the Side-Eye at one point or another: having my maid of honor’s father (who is also a licensed Santa with the best beard ever) be our officiant, doing all the decorating ourselves, having a low country boil instead of a traditional rehearsal dinner. Confident that Bryan and I knew the kind of atmosphere we wanted, we held our ground. At the end, everyone understood every single choice we made, and that still thrills me to pieces.
Now, the Side-Eye isn’t always negative. Your family loves you after all, and they just want you to be happy. Sometimes when you’re waist deep in paper flags and programs and arguing that of course you can make all the bouquets yourself, it’s not that hard…you look up and find your future husband giving you the Side-Eye. Then you stop drinking the I Can Do Everything Kool-Aid and listen to the man. He has a point.
Can Doesn’t Mean Should: I could have made all the bouquets, set up a photo booth, made a wedding playlist. I had a list a mile long of things I knew I could handle, so why pay people? Answer: so your head won’t explode. Also so you have an easier time achieving wedding zen, but mainly to avoid head explosions. Take my word for it. Part of this means picking your battles. Yes I could do all these things, but my skill in some areas was just passable. Instead, I chose to design anything and everything paper oriented for the wedding because I knew I could do it better (and sometimes cheaper) than anything within my price range. I booked a florist my mother-in-law worked for and a DJ a friend recommended. At the last minute, while I lamented that I hadn’t had time (or energy or sanity) to plan the photo booth, my wedding planner offered to bring her camera and work the backdrop area during the reception. Awesome. It all turned out wonderful.
Go the F*ck to Sleep: No seriously. So many planning frustrations (and frustrations in general) can be solved by A) having a nap or B) just going the f*ck to sleep. However, this was a huge personal problem at eight o’clock the evening of my rehearsal dinner, with everyone happy and buzzed and having a grand time while I hit the wall of a lifetime. It felt like every single late night of crafting and planning caught up to me all at once, and I was tired in a way I had never known. For over an hour I struggled like an indignant toddler, fighting to stay awake and play with the big kids, lest I miss any amazing moments (you will miss them. Accept this and revel in your friends’ and families’ excited retellings of those moments) before Bryan walked me to my cabin and made me go to bed.
Zen is Unique: Oh wedding zen. What a nebulous and hard to pin down beast. The truth of the matter is, for all the wealth of adjectives and descriptions of wedding zen penned here on this site, I couldn’t fathom the feeling of zen. It reminded me of the end of yoga classes where everyone is lying on the floor being serene and quiet, except I’m at the back of the class with my head still in a hundred different places, trying not squeak my heel against the floor. I resolved that if I were going to measure this day in moments where I felt like that, then I was not going to have a good time. So I tossed it. Better to feel my own feelings than pine for one I don’t even like.
What I did feel that day was nerves mixed with more happiness than my tiny body could contain, and there was a moment before the ceremony where I found myself alone in the bridesmaids’ cabin. Fully dressed and not inclined to struggle off the couch I’d plopped myself on, I reached for a book I brought with me and read the first line: The view is fine from up here. I can look down over the world and see everything.
That’s when I knew how my zen felt. It’s standing on this literal and figurative mountain, feeling like I could see everywhere I’d been and everywhere I was about to go, and being so ridiculously overjoyed about it that I might explode. It’s similar to the first big drop on a roller coaster, only a thousand times better. There was nothing left to do but enjoy the ride, so I held on tightly to that first revelation and tried to take in as much as I could. What I love best are the tiniest details, not photographed, that stand out the clearest because of it: brushing aphids off Bryan’s suit after the ceremony, our entrance being “upstaged” by the discovery of a nest of baby birds, seeing the caterers bust dance moves when they thought no one could see.
Ducks are Always Wily: Our wedding was mostly perfect, and that was exactly what I wanted. Up close, even our best-laid plans reveal their imperfections, the places where things went a little wrong. We were no exception. Two days before the wedding, Bryan was laid off. On the day of the wedding, along with random bumps that come with any large event, our DJ nearly missed the ceremony. Not to mention the fifteen or more people that RSVP’d and didn’t show, something I’m still working on being okay with. Also, the day after the wedding, the transmission failed in one of our cars. On top of a mountain. Without cell phone service. Sometimes my life feels a little like a terribly depressing episode of Peanuts.
Even with these ducks going in all directions and not behaving properly, I still feel our wedding went more smoothly than I could have hoped. Better still, keeping plans in motion (come hell or high water) meant that I came off wedding planning with a huge burst of energy and momentum. Within two weeks, Bryan got another job. Within three months, we bought a house. So I keep my plans in motion now because even if they are a little banged up, they get me where I need to go eventually.
So there you have it. Except, in addition to points not seen here, I find I am still learning things from my wedding. Every time I revisit that little box of memories of the day, something new surfaces. Maybe it seemed less important before, or it just needed more time, but it’s nice to root through the cracks and pull out a new piece of magic. Eventually, these odds and ends and details will be smoothed over with time into something solid and lovely. I can’t be sad about it, because I’m busy learning about the next thing: my marriage.
The Info—Photographer: Angelina of Asterisk Photography / Venue: Hiawassee River Retreat / Planner: Wrennwood Event Design / Lucy’s Dress: David’s Bridal / Bryan’s Suit: Men’s Wearhouse / Flowers: Flowerama / Table Decorations: Thrifted and put together by the families / Stationary, Programs, Paper Flags: Designed by Lucy, paper stock from Cards & Pockets and Neenah Paper / Hippo Cake Toppers: The Air Castle via Etsy