Rachel & Jeff

Last week, the wedding blogging world was thrown into a bit of an uproar when Jonas Peterson, one of the world’s most respected wedding photographers, wrote his Mason Jar Manifesto. It’s about how the wedding world is focused on the wrong thing: stuff instead of love. Or, in other words, he wrote a kick-ass APW mission statement. This kicked off a debate all over the wedding-blog-o-sphere about whether or not the details matter, when to me the answer seemed obvious. We’re human beings. We perceive life in the particular. So yes, details matter on your wedding day. But the details that really matter are the emotional details (like the seagull in this story), not Buying All The Things. So I’m honored to be the blogger that gets to share Rachel & Jeff’s wedding, as shot by Jonas Peterson, with an essay on Trust & Surrender by Rachel herself. This is the wedding that started it all.

garden wedding

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candlelight wedding

Trust. Surrender.

If I could give a gift to anyone planning their wedding it would be this; first to hug them, and then tell them to take a deep breath. Now trust and surrender. Because really this day is bigger than us. It is bigger than our control; it is much the way love is.

You see, Jeff and I met each other three years ago standing in line at the airport. We were beginning a journey that would change us forever. We traveled through Asia for one year together. I knew I would marry Jeff after a week. We had found an abandoned newborn kitten together and held it between us all night. Jeff fed her at 3 a.m. with a little bottle. There was no turning back, he was it for me.

Jeff and I are passionate about social justice, poverty and human rights. Coming from this it was hard for us to imagine what our wedding would look like. We had just spent time with children who literally lived in dumps, in homes built out of trash. How could we balance this reality with the expense that a wedding tends to carry?

We listed our priorities, we saved our money, we embraced the generosity and talents of those around us and we requested pot luck pie for dessert. We found ways to honor the issues and people we cared about in our ceremony and we made a donation to a women’s cooperative in lieu of favors.

Continuing in this spirit, it makes perfect sense why we chose the place we did. I come from a long line of people whose hearts belong to the sea. During the Great Depression my great grandparents used to meet friends and family at Rye Beach. Everyone was dirt poor, so one family would bring onions, one family brought potatoes and another family would catch the fish. They would build a fire on the rocks, hang a soup pot and make a meal to share together, one that no one could have created on their own. This is where we had our wedding, our portraits were taken on those rocks. The old family photographs of their happiest days on that beach hung in the trees. You could feel them there.

The most important decision to us was finding the right photographer. When we found Jonas Peterson‘s work we knew we needed to take a leap, no matter what continent he lived on, and tell him what his images meant to us, what it would mean to us to have him there. Beyond his technical skills it was obvious he worked from his heart and his gut. I trusted in the way he saw people. I knew that if we could surrender ourselves in vulnerability in front of him, we would create something honest and incredible together. He also brought Nirav Patel who is the most compassionate soul. They let us just be. They made us feel seen, let us know we were enough, our love was enough.

The photographs are beyond anything I could have imagined. A higher power had an influence on one image in particular. There is one of Jeff and me standing between two trees, and when Jonas showed it to me I couldn’t hold back my tears. If you look you will see a seagull floating above us. I knew immediately who that really was. My grandfather passed away when I was five. He loved the sea, and for this reason he told me he would come back to me as a seagull. It was ever comforting to picture him with wings wide gliding over me. I have never seen a photograph capture a soul like that. He is there.

Wedding planning was a real test of my faith. Just about everything that could have gone wrong did. Just picture the groom being stuck in Korea the day before the rehearsal—it is a small taste of what we faced. There were moments I doubted the wedding. Never the marriage, but the wedding. Yet, I knew deep inside that what would be would be. I trusted that no matter what happened I would look back and say it never could have been different.

At the end of the wedding night when the guests had gone home and the fire was burning out on the beach, I walked down to the edge of the ocean where generations of my family’s toes have been lapped by the waves. I looked up at the moon and I quietly whispered “thank you.”

Let this process humble you. That’s what’s beautiful about it.

Photography: Jonas Peterson

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  • This wedding made me weep over on Jonas’ blog (complete with Bon Iver soundtrack), especially when I read the part about the seagull. I grew up near Rye Beach, and it continues to be the place that calls my soul home- I can’t think of a more beautiful place to be married. Thank you for sharing this one!!

  • When I saw the Mason Jar Manifesto last week, I thought “yes, yes, yes! This is just what we’re talking about on APW.” Then when this graduate post popped up, I knew it would be perfect (as fraught as that term is). A needed message and beautiful images.

  • I look forward to seeing this debate go further. I wonder what other opinions will show up.

    In the mean time, I really appreciate this grad post. Trust and surrendering are very important things (and they’re definitly not my strong points :)).

    Thanks Rachel and Jeff! This post has been a good thing to read. The co-operation between you and Jason and Nirav has a magical glow to it.

  • charmcityvixen

    This is beautiful. Thank god for this manifesto — I think I’ve been lingering over the details recently. Thank god for Rachel’s graduate post — reminding me to trust in the powers of the world to help with my wedding, as my higher power guides me through my life.

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful people.

  • Ceebee

    When I went on a study break in Hawaii, a butterfly came for days and wouldn’t go. I dreamt of myself as a child at home. And knew it was my grandmother. She was there.
    When my sisters moved across town, the butterfly was there too.

  • Wow , congratulations. You really describe well how weddings are bigger than us, how you are just “carried” by the love around you. And that seagul, your grandpa, is magical. Also, from a fellow girl who met her husband at the airport (we were technically inside the airplane already, but when we started talking we were definitely still on land). Thanks for this post. Will have to read that manifesto later…

  • Esme

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The photos, the words – wow. Congratulations to you two – you obviously have one heck of a basis for an amazing marriage. And you are one lucky family to own these images!

  • How beautiful. The seagull? Damn.

  • saveroomforpi

    Beautiful photographs and words, congratulations :)

  • “Let this process humble you. That’s what’s beautiful about it.”
    that. definitely. it was for that reason that the details – the physical little pretty things – mattered; because some of them i *still* don’t know where they came from – other than that they were put in place by friends and family like wedding elves. i keep finding out new tidbits, like love embodied in balloons and mason jars.

  • and I’m crying. Mere moments after completing my eye makeup application! This is so beautiful. I just got engaged. Though I have been an APW reader for months and months, maybe over a year? Anyways- my Squeeze and I we’re aesthetic people- so I’ve made countless promises to myself not to get obsessed by the details. Thank you Jonas Peterson- if you didn’t live in Australia I hug you. Thank you Rachel and Jeff. Your photos and words are amazing and gorgeous. Your love is palpable. But mostly this: “Now trust and surrender. Because really this day is bigger than us. It is bigger than our control; it is much the way love is.” so amazing. When we had our first post-engaged fight last weekend, we both concurred that we’re not scared of being married: but we are a little scared of having a wedding. This wedding here, the things that Jonas wrote: this is what it’s ALL about.

  • this is exactly what i needed.

    i am getting married on saturday. my fiance and i are eloping. no photographer, no ceremony, just us.

    sometimes i wonder if i’m going to regret this decision.

    this post helped assure me … i won’t.

    • Edelweiss

      That’s so exciting! Best wishes for you and your fiance!

    • Congratulations!!

  • These are the best wedding photographs I have ever seen.

    (I have seen a whole heap of wedding photographs, see: the Internet.)

  • Janna

    This is simply beautiful. The pictures are beyond words. “There was no turning back, he was it for me.” That’s how I felt about my husband after a week. Thank you for expressing that so well.

  • Over on Offbeat Bride, a tribe member who had invested a great deal in getting Jonas Peterson to photograph her wedding was dismayed when he posted his manifesto a week after he shot her union. She’s worried that her wedding is in part what kicked off his post.

    While I don’t disagree with what Jonas Peterson said, I hate to think of that bride worrying that her wedding wasn’t “authentic” or “good enough” in some way. For me, that Mason Jar Manifesto was another good reminder that a wedding is a wedding is a wedding, no matter what the details, and people are way too quick to criticize without any knowledge of the thousands of tiny decisions or the thousands of tiny pressures that led that couple to have the wedding they did.

    • Rachel

      I am not sure if you have any contact with that bride, but if you do I would encourage her to reach out and talk to Jonas because I believe he would be really upset to know one of his clients was hurt, and if they were they misunderstood his intention. He cares about his couples a lot and expressing their stories, he loves to see the details they have chosen for their day. His criticism was always directed towards the wedding industry and not the couples.

    • meg

      I think that’s a backwards way to think about it. Despite the negative responses to the manifesto, what he wrote is super positive and affirmative. It’s what we all SHOULD be hearing. He’s saying ‘You’re enough, your wedding is enough, your love is enough. You don’t need stuff to make you whole.’ The people that want you to Buy All The Things are trying to tell you that he’s judging you. And whoa, is he not. He’s telling you that you’re awesome, just the way you are. (I’ve been through the wringer on this. APW has the same message, and it’s scary to the establishment, so they will try to twist your words around to be something terrible.) So, if I were that bride, I’d be telling people, “Hot damn. My wedding inspired Jonas Peterson to write about why authentic weddings are the win.”

      And also, she should clearly email him for a virtual hug.

      Viva the revolution, by which I mean, telling the damn truth and not giving into people twisting our words. Baby steps.

      • Rhubarb

        You know, I *also* totally agree with Jonas’s basic point, but I still think the way he put it made a lot of people feel sad. His beef is mostly with wedding media, but he phrased it as a beef with weddings. And he picked on specific details, which actual people have in their actual weddings, and that hurt some of those people’s feelings. That’s not twisting his words. That’s being honest about a negative unintended consequence of the way he put it.

        Plus, I just can’t get behind hating on mason jars. They’re cheap, they’re reusable, and they’re widely available. Most practical thing ever.

        • Maddie

          You know…I wonder if that isn’t sort of the whole point of this? That somehow the wedding industry is so twisted that we can be made to feel bad about *stuff*?

          Jonas’ post shouldn’t have made anyone feel bad, but unfortunately the industry has gotten so warped that an attack on the *stuff* present at your wedding can seem like an attack on your love or your wedding as a whole.

          Weddings are about so much more than just the things that make it pretty, but so very seldom do we see photos in blogs or magazines of the stuff that really matters.

          • meg

            Ooooooo! THIS. Maddie nailed it.

            I mean, I don’t think it was an attack in the first place. I think it was a call to focus on what matters (and not get rid of the other stuff, but just to stop acting like the other stuff is the most important). But regardless, someone saying something about your wedding stuff is not someone saying stuff about you or your wedding. He’s very specifically saying that YOU and YOUR WEDDING is what’s so goddamn awesome. So when we skate past that, and are like, “You don’t like my MASON JARS?” then maybe we need to refocus. He loves you and your partner more than your mason jars. That’s the whole point.

            Which I countersign.

          • Rhubarb

            So I went back and reread what he wrote, to make sure I was being fair. Is he complaining about wedding media? Because that — well, as far as I can tell most wedding blogs are design blogs. They’re not about people’s relationships. They’re about pretty things arranged stylishly. And I am totally with Jonas that moving the wedding industry away from selling the pretty and the design and towards celebrating relationships would be seriously awesome.

            As far as I can tell the first part of his manifesto seems clearly focused on the wedding industry.

            But at the end, where he talks about looking within, I don’t know. I love what y’all at APW are saying that he’s saying, but I can’t make myself see the love there. Not in the part addressed to actual people getting actually married, most of whom (I think) are just doing their best to figure out how to make things feel real and solid and meaningful and lovely. There’s a way in which it still feels judgmental and unkind and about couples and how they’re effing things up.

            After reading how you and Meg and everyone else here interpret it, I’m willing to believe that’s not how he meant it. But I still think the last quarter comes off that way.

        • The focus on mason jars is rubbing me the wrong way. I had mason jars at my wedding (as flower vases, not drinking glasses). They were pretty, did their job, got a few compliments here and there. But I think the point is that my wedding would not have been any worse if the mason jars hadn’t been there. The important things – the love, the joy, the community, the laughing, the hugs, the dancing – would have gone on just fine whether those jars were vases instead, or gone altogether. I think that’s Jonas’s point.

          • meg

            Yes. He’s talking about Mason Jars in particular, because they became sort of fetishezed by the wedding industry, and are an example of the issue… not because they are not awesome.

    • Gah, it would be so terrible if she felt that way! I actually think I saw Jonas explain somewhere that the manifesto was kicked off by a post he saw on a different blog that featured a beautiful wedding, but was just stuff, stuff, stuff. There were like…2 pictures of the couple? And it made him think that maybe we’re focusing on the wrong thing.

      • meg

        Agreeing with Maddie. I was thinking about this over breakfast, and thinking about how it’s a critique of the *wedding industry* not of *couples.* The wedding industry is focusing on stuff, like it’s all that matters, which sends such a backwards message.

        • I totally agree that it’s a critique of the industry and how nuts it is (because it is completely nuts). I just think it’s easy to read something like this and feel bad if you’re in the middle of planning a wedding or happened to have one with mason jars and hay bales and lavender on the plates. There’s so much pressure about weddings to be genuine. I know Jonas Peterson’s sentiments are genuine (and God, his photographs are fantastic); I guess I just feel like, if it is totally about the bride and groom and peeling away the layers and boy-falling-in-love-with-girl, it’s not a good idea to open up more room to criticize that couple’s choices.

          That being said, I might have read it that way because I’m in the middle of figuring out a lot of the details of my wedding and trying not to go nuts over it all.

          • Alyssa

            Maybe anyone who feels like you did should go back and replace all his examples of details with the most ridiculous things you can think of, like Swarovski encrusted puppies and persimmons with glitter glue and feathers… Stepping back from the examples used and focusing on the basis of the message might help you feel a little bogged down in the details of his details manifesto?

            And you WILL get through it all, darlin’. Don’t let the wedding get you down! :-)

    • I don’t get this “attack” everyone is speaking of. Jonas says:

      “I am a detail person, so it’s not that I don’t like details. I love details. Details, details, details. Love them. I honestly do. I’ve worked with some of the best planners in the business and they’ve styled weddings to perfection, made details stand out and it’s always been great, because they’ve built on the couples, starting with who they are. And I actually like shooting details. A lot.”

      So he is definitely NOT criticizing anyone for caring about the details, he’s not saying the details (or Mason Jars) don’t matter, but he’s reminding everyone what the wedding is about: the couple. Honestly, I think people may be taking his post a tad too personally; to me, it read just like someone’s APW Grad post would…saying it’s okay to care about details, but they aren’t everything. It’s a message I’ve read on APW time and time again, and an important one.

  • Marina

    I am not a wedding picture person. Most of the time I just want to see a picture of the couple smiling at each other, and maybe one of people dancing, and then I skip the rest. But these pictures really truly made me cry. The sheer simplicity and beauty is just incredible. The picture with the trees and seagull especially hit me in the heart, even before hearing Rachel’s story about the seagull.

  • Leagh

    Captivating pictures! The picture of the couple in the forest is breathtaking,the best picture ever! Photographer made really amazing job! Thank you for sharing! And congratulations !

  • Lissa

    You know, I’m planning my wedding now and plan to drink from mason jars. I understand the intent of what Jonas was trying to say, and I do agree with it. But the way it was said made me feel shamed. I don’t feel like I am Buying All The Things at all, quite the opposite in fact. I just came out of reading that post with a sense of guilt, and that sucks.

    • I think the mason jar is just a symbol of the current state of the wedding industry because it’s such a big trend. In fact, this wedding, which sparked his post, features mason jars as drinking glasses. Though I disagreed with the tone of Abby’s response, I thought this comment she made stood out: “We’re talking about mason jars and hay bales but those really are simply a symbol for any staged component of a wedding . . .The frustration is over the “staged wedding” and the mason jar referenced in my note above has just become a symbol of sorts.”

      If you love the mason jars, buy the mason jars. Just don’t buy them because the blogs told you to.

    • meg

      The whole point is you shouldn’t feel ashamed. The message of his post is the message of APW. You’re enough, just on your own. And whatever you add to that is just *additional* not *necessary.*

      If you notice, Rachel and Jeff are drinking from mason jars, and have bunting. Their wedding isn’t awesome because they DON’T have mason jars. The point is, what really makes their wedding awesome is love and emotion. We allll have wedding stuff. Wedding stuff is fun, wedding stuff is pretty (and hell, you have to drink from something, so you might as well like it). But at the end of it all, the mason jars are not what will be most important about your wedding, emotion will be. (Though the mason jars might remind you of that emotion one day). So keep that in mind while planning.

      And for goodness sake, let yourself off the hook and stop guilting yourself.

      • Lissa

        After letting his manifesto (also, awesome that it is an Official Manifesto) settle, I understand more about where he is coming from, and am able to not get distracted by the anecdote (mason jar) used, and focus more broadly on the fact that he’s actually sending out an ENCOURAGING message, not a dismissive and judgmental one.
        Thanks to Molly, Rachel, and Meg for responding and being so gentle, direct, and reassuring.

        • meg

          We love your mason jars. We just love you more is all ;)

      • When I first saw this beautiful wedding on Jonas’ blog, I was really amused that the couple had so many of the specific details that seem popular right now – mason jars, perfectly mismatched antique plates, striped paper straws, vintage photos hung from twine, bunting, handcrafted herb boutonnieres that might actually include lavender. Those are a lot of details, and pretty on-trend in a certain way. But the beauty of how Jonas photographs weddings is that those aren’t the main focus by any means. Those photos are so small in number compared to all the beautiful shots of people, the ceremony, the portrait, the reception, the moments. There’s no way you could look at this wedding and not see that it is all about the couple. And the decorations or small touches are captured, and there to show the bigger picture, but they are so far down the list of highlights compared to all the emotion and joy and sweetness that is being shown.

        Congrats to Rachel and Jeff on your wedding and the start of your marriage. Congrats to Jonas for such meaningful and lovely images. Congrats to Meg and APW for reminding all of us that the details are pretty and fun, but the people come first.

    • Rachel

      Hi Lissa,

      We drank from Mason Jars too! there is nothing wrong with that. The manifesto was picking on people who use mason jars but I think he choose them to high light a point about how when you look at many wedding blogs/magazines etc these days you will see more mason jars than first kisses. You drink from those mason jars and surround yourself on that day with everything that has meaning to you. It will be beautiful.

  • Just last week, I reached my boiling point when Style Me Pretty posted a gorgeous pair of Jimmy Choo flats as “must haves.” Then I went to a bridal expo and I boiled over. Then Kim Kardashian announced her divorce, which made me think of her ostentatious wedding again, which made me sit down at my computer and write a blog post about the WIC. It seems the whole wedding world has been placed on notice in the last week or so, and that makes me smile. I like to think APW played a role in that. Keep fighting the good fight, Meg.

    • meg

      BAM. :)

    • Hils

      I have such rage at SMP. They manage to make every god damn wedding look the same — headless brides, weird sun flare shots with couples in places nowhere near where they got married, awkward kissing shots and general overexposed pictures that make it look like everyone’s actually in heaven.

      If anything, I guess SMP helped me figure out what I didn’t want in a photographer or a wedding.

      • carrie

        Holy hell, THIS. The overexposed thing drives me crazy.

    • Emily

      I am actually really disappointed about Kim Kardashian’s divorce filing :( Everything about her wedding might have been ridiculous, but I wanted LOVE to win out! It’s only been three months! Was it a sham? Did they just wait for the Wedding Special to come out before giving up on it? Or was it really such a tragic mistake that they are already heartbroken, in which case what if that happens to us?! When someone with a totally over the top “fairy tale wedding” only last 3 months in marriage, it really does make you think something kind of deeply wrong about the way we talk about weddings and marriage in this culture. Which, I know, is exactly what your’e saying. But still. I wanted those crazy kids to make it.

      • Jo

        Re: Kim K. She has basically said (today? yesterday?) that the emphasis on the big big big wedding made it hard for her to be honest (presumably as the wedding date approached) about problems in their relationship… which I have heard more than once before from divorced women. This is my fear for future brides/grooms – that if you zero in on your wedding and make it the be all end all, it can be very scary if you get through a (somewhat common) rearranging of priorities during your engagement and discover the person you picked is not, in fact, it. Because suddenly beaucoup de dollars and invitations are out there and can’t be gotten back, and someone has to wear this dress, so maybe you just go ahead and keep moving forward… even if you know it’s wrong. And this is why we are here sharing what we are all doing at APW – to make it clear that it’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage! I think this is important advice/cautionary tale to all pre-engaged and engaged people – keep the eye on the prize: the marriage.

        And, may I add, I am always devastated when celebrities divorce because I always want love to win out. We all do, right?? SO sad!

  • This is absolutely amazing and stunning and so well put both in words (Rachel and Jonas’) and images. Congratulations and a thousand thank you’s for sharing!

  • Anon

    It’s not clear to me when not giving in to buying All The Things begins and ends. It is clear from this post and others on this site that a meaningful, beautiful wedding that brings tears to one’s eyes is more than signing a piece of paper at the courthouse. But how can you reasonably tell people not to give in to mason jars and centerpieces when you also shamelessly blow $5000 on wedding photography, an amount multiple times more than the details people are so angry about?

    Bottom line: don’t buy the mason jars if a blog tells you to and most importantly, don’t NOT buy the mason jars if a blog (i.e. this one) tells you to.

    • meg

      I’m not telling you not to buy the mason jars (note: this wedding has mason jars). I’m pretty clear to never tell you what choice is right for you. What I am telling you is that you don’t NEED mason jars, or photography, or any particular thing. All you need is love, the rest is extra.

    • I think this is misinterpreting Jonas’s words. He actually bends over backwards to say that he loves details and he gets why people want to have them. His point isn’t, “Don’t have details.” His point is more that your wedding isn’t the details, it’s about love. And community. And all that other good stuff.

      It’s not about shame for spending money on details or shame for spending money on photographers or about shame for not being able to afford either. It’s about how, in the end those details, as wonderful as they can be, are gravy. In reality, all you need is the man, the preacher, and the dress (as Alyssa says.)

      • meg

        Or the lady, the pants suit, and the justice of the peace.

      • Alyssa

        Did you just quote me like I said something important? I love you so much right now….

        • meg

          You DID say something important.

    • I wouldn’t say this blog is telling you (general you) not to buy mason jars. This blog is about having the best wedding for you, and not the wedding that the WIC wants you to think you have. I think the difference is that for so long, the WIC was promoting outrageous things, and it’s more conventional to stand up against that because that’s obviously ridiculous and not authentic for 99% of couples. But when the WIC promotes vintage aesthetics and handcrafted details and… mason jars, that is authentic to a lot of people. And it’s affordable. So it’s easier to get swept up in it because it doesn’t trigger the “outrageous” flag onthe bank account. The goal here is to do what’s meaningful and practical for you. If that’s mason jars, go for it! If you want and can afford a $10k dress, go for it! It’s not about not giving in the The Establishment. It’s about deciding for yourself what YOU want.

      • meg


      • NEWTIE

        I think sometimes mason jars/bales of hay, etc. are marketed as the “authentic,” “affordable” option to crystal/fine linen, etc. But for a lot of us, mason jars are still completely unaffordable (and quite possibly inauthentic). I see this blog as speaking to that fact — that just like it doesn’t matter if you can’t afford or don’t want crystal, it also doesn’t matter if you can’t afford or don’t want mason jars. And if you desperately want crystal and/or mason jars and can’t afford them or don’t have time/energy/resources to make whatever other detail you do genuinely want, it’s ok to let go of that idea if you have to because in the end these are not the things that really matter.

        • Yes, mason jars would have been inauthentic to our wedding. Which is not to say I didn’t think about it when I found a stash on Craigslist.

    • Emily

      You have a point, and I think it’s an issue of what different people value, and that we need to not make each other feel bad about valuing different things! Photography is actually a good example, since I’ve noticed that a lot of small, cost-conscious, very DIY budget weddings involve expensive photography, it’s something a lot of people won’t compromise on because they want artistically recorded memories. I’m the opposite – photography literally makes up 3% of our budget, I just want to see people’s faces – but I’m not going to guilt people who hired photographers like Jonas Peterson for spending lots money on what they value, if they don’t guilt me for hiring a caterer and not getting married somewhere outdoors and practically free. I think buying All The Things just begins when you start buying things you, personally, do not value, and ends when you make decisions you care about.

      • meg

        Well exactly. But no one is guilting you for anything. The point is WEDDING MEDIA (that’s me, not you) need to stop focusing on materialism, and start focusing on the damn point of it all.

        • Emily

          Absolutely. I think sometimes personal comments are also, unintentionally, guilting – whether it’s another bride saying, “I would NEVER do that, it would ruin X,” without realizing who might be listening, or a family member saying, “but of course you’re doing Y?” Those comments accidentally imply there’s a RIGHT way to have a wedding, and thus many possible WRONG ways, and of course, they happen to everyone for some reason or another! There’s not much we can do about that but try not to be too sensitive on the receiving end, try to be supportive to others, and indeed, remember the damn point of it all, though.

  • carrie

    Oh my. How beautiful this is and the story and the seagull…just, oh my. The manifesto was so interesting to me, and it put into words most of the reasons why I unsubscribed from some other wedding blogs/sites because I got tired of seeing only beautiful things and people. I love the photos posted on APW because it shows the JOY. The love. The beauty in a community coming together. The “things” are beautiful and I agonized over the details. But when I got my pictures back, those weren’t the pictures I loved. They help tell the story of the day, but at the end, I want to see two people who have committed their lives to each other and see the love all over their faces.


    Awww. This is a beautiful & amazing post.

    And Rachel & Jeff got married in the very same place I’m getting married in seven months, so seeing the pictures made my little heart oh so very glad. I spend pretty much every weekend standing on those stone walls & walking through that orchard, and thinking of other people finding so much joy and meaning in a place that means so much to me makes me feel so happy. I love the family story, too.

    (In fact, come to think of it, my fiance & I probably glimpsed this wedding from the nearby jetty, since we’ve taken to admiring other peoples’ weddings whenever we see one happening in “our” future place).

    And what lovely pictures!

  • Those photos are so powerful that this may have well been a wordless wedding. I picked up on everything that Rachel wrote about before I read it, based on those images alone. They are so lucky to have such gorgeous images to capture the emotion of that day.

  • KateM

    I first want to say, amazing wedding, amazing photographs.
    I was unaware about the debate but I did just go and read all the posts. I thought Jonas’s post was well written and basically asking the industry to promote authenticity and reflection among couples and it was a chastisement well deserved. Even for those of us are regularly stepping back and making sure the focus is on the marriage and what that means, we are still having to step back. It is easy to get caught up because you do need to drink out of something and be it mason jars, crystal glasses or solo cups, the decision has to be made. It reminds me of the bible story with Mary and Martha.
    In a world with a divorce rate of 50% and people not feeling they can’t back out of a wedding they know is wrong because the have spent too much or are feeling too pressured, we do all need to “step away from the hay bales”. It is not a personal attack on your aesthetic, your budget, or anything else. It is a plea to understand the enormity of what is happening and let yourself be overwhelmed by that and love, not by the details.

    • Maddie

      Yup. Seriously, seriously well said.

  • Beautiful pictures, and beautiful words. Thank you.

  • Reading this post and the Mason Jar Manifesto has left me feeling affirmed. Sometimes I wonder if I should have done more for my wedding. (It was two years ago, so it’s a silly thing to consider.) Yes, I could have tricked it out a little bit more, but my wedding was so *me* that a more tricked out wedding would have been wrong. And would my marriage be any different if I had made a headpiece or had flower centerpieces? Not one iota! I’m taking away from this that I need to be me, not just in my wedding, but everyday, unapologetically me.*

    • Glad to know it’s not just me. Even though I made the conscious decision to have minimal centerpieces, which were very simple and not ooh-aah worthy in the pictures (but perfectly fine), I wonder if it wouldn’t have been nicer to have paid more attention to them. But as you say, what difference does that make to the marriage? Nothing! And also, were they reflective of us (and our stress, and our priorities) at that time? Yes, and that is the goal, always.

      • Emily

        Thanks. I’ve been questioning this kind of thing for my upcoming wedding, it’s so nice to hear from the other side that it doesn’t really matter (even though intellectually I KNOW it).

  • First, Rachel and Jeff: Congratulations! You two had such a beautiful wedding to start your marriage. I was so touched to hear your story of reaching out to Jonas because you wanted him to shoot your wedding; something really was working for you. You guys seemed to have a good grasp on what was really important and it shows in the pictures.

    Next, the manifesto debate. First, let’s stop calling it the Mason Jar Manifesto. I think the name is a bit unfairly polarizing because it’s not about Mason jars or the lackthereof. Mostly, I took a lot of comfort from Jonas’ manifesto. We’d been consciously trying to strip our wedding down to the essentials, the pieces that we care about so Jonas’ manifesto really spoke to me in the simplest sense. It was such a relief to me to hear someone say, “Weddings are about people, it’s about commitment and celebrating love. It’s about you. Build on that and everything else will follow.”

    But in a wider sense it’s really saying: Mason jars? Okay! Basic rental glasses, okay! Homemade dress, David’s Bridal, vintage pant suit, Hoya de la Poopy dress? Whatever works for you is okay. Seriously: it’s okay. Just “look within” to make sure what you’ve found on the blogs is right for you. If it makes you unhappy, crazy, insane, don’t do it, those are the things to back away from.

    • meg

      Correct. (I think Mason Jar Manifesto is a hilarious name, but hilarity does not always play well in emotional web settings. I’ve found. Achem.)

      • haha. Meg, I love your hillarity. I just hate how the conversation about this topic is getting bogged down on Mason jars. I’m partial to referencing Hoya de la Poopy myself.

    • Marina

      I also really want to stop calling it the Mason Jar Manifesto. Because it’s about NOT focusing on the mason jars–it’s a love manifesto, and calling it a mason jar manifesto is doing exactly what it says not to.

      There are pictures of this wedding with mason jars in them. But they’re not pictures of the mason jars. They’re pictures of the wedding. They’re pictures of love.

  • This post speaks to me in such a special way. Thank you for the words of wisdom and advice. With my own day coming up this Saturday, I needed to read, one more time, that it’s beyond my control and to just enjoy the day.

  • Ang

    My take is that it’s all about priorities. No one is saying “DON’T have mason jars” (poor little put upon mason jars), they’re just saying that the mason jars, and the bunting, and the other assorted details pale in comparison to sheer brilliance of two people who love each other so much they’re publicly committing their lives to each other.

    That you could have nothing, and it is OK, you don’t have to feel bad about it, because you have someone who loves you and that alone will make you beautiful, and your wedding memorable. That all the mason jars in the world won’t make up for a couple who doesn’t love each other. No one says “I can’t believe they split up, their wedding was so beautiful!” or “I can’t believe they’re still together, since their wedding was so plain.” Yet, every day weddings are planned on the concept that there’s a direct relation to the amount of effort put into details and the level of that couple’s love for each other.

    I HATE HATE HATE when couples are fighting with each other over stupid inane details that don’t matter when it comes to building a marriage. A friend of mine who got divorced a year after her wedding would constantly cry to me how her fiance was being difficult. His crime was seeing how much stress finding perfectly imperfect mismatched plates was causing, and suggesting they just rent white ones. She basically said her choice of dishes was more important than her marriage. That’s F’d up. And that whole mentality is what needs to change.

    I think the problem with so many wedding blogs is twofold.

    1) The emphasis on photos, and little to nothing said about the actual couples. And no, a paragraph including their vendors and that bride’s family owns an orchard does not count. As beautiful as this wedding was, and as exquisite as the photographs were, it wouldn’t have brought me to tears if not for the seagull story.


    • A-freaking-MEN on the so-called “inspiration shoots.” I hate those.

      • Rhubarb



    • meg

      Fake weddings. Amen.

    • ANDREA

      No one says “I can’t believe they split up, their wedding was so beautiful!” or “I can’t believe they’re still together, since their wedding was so plain.”

      Love that.

    • Alyssa

      Disclaimer: Ang has no strong opinions about this subject whatsoever. So siree, Bob, no opinions AT ALL.

  • anon for this

    i’m sorry but i have to jump in with a different viewpoint here, and i hope it’s not misinterpreted to be a critical one. this is the first i’m hearing of this details debate. that being said, if this is “the wedding that started it all” it appears to be that this wedding is being presented in the context of being the “right way” to do it. and i know apw doesn’t do shit like that, which is why i’m mentioning that’s how it appears to me. just in case there’s any one else out there who is currently also feeling like they “did it wrong” because they don’t have epic-ly beautiful gallery-worthy wedding photos, or because they didn’t have their wedding at a location with three generations of memories, or because their deceased relations didn’t come back to them in animal form. my grandfather, in particular, didn’t come back to me at all on my wedding. i still walked down the aisle alone, and well, that sucked. i’m not trying to discredit this wedding’s awesomeness (in the traditional sense), merely to say, Stuff or No Stuff, Epic Emotion or Ordinary Day Emotion, it’s just a wedding. there is no doing it right or wrong. (within reason of course. if you’re a horribly inconsiderate host, or are just getting married for the gifts, then yes, you may be doing it wrong. and you’re also probably not reading this blog.)

    • meg

      Dude. This wedding isn’t the *only* right way to do it. It’s *a* right way to to do it. This particular wedding is one that he referenced in his (kick-ass) manifesto, and it’s lovely and emotional and very APW. Since the details debate is so up my alley, I’m delighted to get to post the wedding that helped kick it off. Full stop.

      This is not the only way to have a wedding. It’s ONE amazing wedding. Not more amazing then yours. The whole point of this whole conversation is your wedding is amazing BECAUSE it’s yours, not because it has the right stuff, or looks the right way, or looks like another wedding.

      And frankly, we post a ton of weddings with awesome pictures. Some taken by well known photographers, some taken by photographers just getting started, some taken by family and friends. There are a ton of ways to do things, and no one way is more right than another, photography most definitely included.

      • anon for this

        right. but, and i hate myself for using this phrase, i’m starting to get the feeling that “emotions are the new details”. for me, blogs like moment junkie are a ten times as dangerous as smp and others, because “emotions” and “moments”, unlike “details” and “stuff”, are wildly unpredictable and out of one’s control. saturate oneself with too much emotion-centric wedding journalism and the detail-guilt cycle begins anew with a different twist. that’s what i’m trying to say — even if you’re wedding isn’t an epic emotional journey or your photographer was off his game and you don’t have any physical proof that it was one, it’s still OK.

        • meg

          I was joking about this the other day. “Realness is the new… whatever.” But I was mostly saying that if we get to the place where we’re focusing on realness, that’s an awesome trend. Because, EMOTIONS ARE EMOTIONS. They are important. They are omnipresent. And you’re going to have them on your wedding day, even if they are crazy complicated and not all positive. It’s a rare wedding that’s easy. It’s joyful, it’s hard, it’s confusing, it’s a lot of things.

          But if what APW has done is make you focus on love and joy and the hard stuff *too much* I think that might be a legacy I can live with ;) I’verun lots of posts on hating your wedding (which is also emotion, just a different kind). I’ve run posts on not having pro-photographers. We’ve run weddings where the photos are not that strong. So it’s all there, you just have to find what speaks to you.

          And shame blasting. The whole point is to embrace what you are and what you’ve got, and let the guilt go.

          (That said, if the emotion pictures are making you feel badly, for gods sake, get off APW for awhile!)

          • Michelle

            Totally agree with your last point Meg. If the pictures and blogs are making you feel bad, get off the internet!! Take a break! Live your life and make your decisions without purposefully exposing yourself to a constant barrage of trends and impossibly beautiful images of moments that shouldn’t ultimately matter to you.

            The internet can be an amazing and valuable tool, but it’s amazing how fast it can make you feel like you don’t measure up.

          • Got to love a blogger who tells you you should stop reading her blog for a while, for your own sanity. Ah, Meg.

          • Jo

            If you’re uncomfortable with the pictures being too emphasized around here, do consider this: since we are all communicating via the interwebs where pictures and words are some of the only tools we have, the emphasis on pictures that show emotion might be because it’s hard to communicate the emotion being felt at a wedding if you’re not there in it. So we try to find ways to share it across the interwebs, because it’s a glorious thing if and when it happens. There needn’t be (or be interpreted to be) any shoulds about it – the emotion or the pictures. Just joy in sharing and in receiving. And as Meg says, if the joy is lost for you, then look away.

        • Z

          Dude, if you’re feeling bad about how your wedding didn’t have enough feelings, then you need to step back from wedding blogs! Sorry, that’s unsolicited advice which I know is usually annoying, but I jumped in because when I read your comment I knew exactly what you were talking about. And as somebody who has worried before about not having/displaying the correct feelings, I gotta tell you: let it go. Block Moment Junkie. It’s fine to be untranscendent.

          • meg

            May I point out that untranscendent is still totally an emotion? And we’ve talked about that fact that wedding pictures LOOK different than the wedding FEELS. Wedding pictures are nothing more than an artistic rendering of a moment, to help you remember it, in all it’s super imperfect glory.

            It’s gonna be imperfect, ladies. That is, in fact, weddings whole deal.

        • Anna

          “or because their deceased relations didn’t come back to them in animal form”

          I agree and feel where you are coming from, Anon. Sometimes when I read APW alot I feel the same. That weddings should be of more emotional significance to me. And I think they’re nice and all but not overly important in my life. Like- at all.

          But then some other grad posts come to mind. I remember one in particular where the bride wrote about not loving her wedding. She said she was happy to be married in the end but the wedding for her was not great and not horrible. Just over with.

          So that’s cool too.

          • Rhubarb

            The posts about not loving the wedding make me TERRIFIED. I’ll go to all this trouble and spend all this money and in the end I might not even like it? Yeesh.

            I’m still glad they exist, though.

  • Granola

    I’ve read many comments along the lines of “I so needed to read this today” and I’m happy to finally have a turn with the feeling. I’ve been so stressed lately over bridesmaids dresses. Which is not really about the dress at all but about how i don’t feel like I’m going to do this right and everyone will be upset because I’m asking to much of them, etc. and I just spiral into way too much self judgment and recrimination. Much like we’ve talked about how the wedding brings “How things are” into conflict with “how we’d like things to be” I think I’m more sad that I don’t seem to fit the mold of this magical circle of girlfriends I’m *supposed* to have. But instead, what I have is a bunch of kick-ass women who love me, a sister who’s happy to help logistically, a soon to be sister-in-law that I’m happy to be able to include in our wedding, just like I’ll be included in her family, and an 11-year-old cousin whose head is exploding with the thought of getting to be a junior bridesmaid. What I need to do is look at what is, instead of worrying about what could be and ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

    So, to all those who have felt comforted by the admonishment to step away from the hay bales because you’re good enough as you are, without them, might I offer another word of encouragement.

    Me: “It really doesn’t matter what dresses my friends wear to the wedding and whether they match, does it?”
    Friend&Bridesmaid: “Nope. I mean, shit, we can buy those like the day before and it would be great.”

  • I think another important note to add somewhere is the importance of being forgiving towards yourself. Months before the wedding, it’s sometimes difficult to know which details are important and which aren’t. For one, you are probably being brainwashed by blogs telling you to Buy All The Things (and that message is powerful). But at the same time, there are probably details coming from good, authentic desires. And some might be all mixed up. Before our wedding, I read many graduates on this site refer to how few of the details they actually noticed on the day of. But a few weeks out, tying twine on boxes, that’s hard to really internalize. There is a good emotional process involved with the planning and preparing of such an important celebration, and sometimes that process happens via details, which can be quite good.

    So let’s not all start feeling ashamed of our mason jars or wondering if our weddings are being done “right.” Maybe you’ll regret the mason jars. Maybe you’ll love them. There’s no way to tell, but what we can do is cut ourselves a little slack. What Jonas and APW seem to be reminding us is to turn back toward authenticity – no matter what that specifically looks like.

    • meg


      The end.

      • HELL YES! Please! (And, while you’re at it….get past the wedding and on with the marriage!!!!!!!)

  • Kate

    First of all absolutely stunning wedding.

    I think that some of this speaks to the wider aspect of the pervasive media culture in our lives and the shift from glossy print media to blogs. Since blogs seem more casual and are written by people we can identify with and on a DAILY basis, I think it becomes easier to get wrapped up in thinking that your life should look a particular way because these ‘perfect’ images are EVERYWHERE. Think about a time when you only looked at new perfect glossy media on a monthly basis and knew for a fact that the photo shoots were styled etc, I for one think it was easier to keep perspective on things then.

    And while I read a number of home, lifestyle and wedding blogs too, it is so easy to lose perspective and think that your home should be perfectly styled and decorated all the time, we should all have perfectly put together trendy outfits with the perfect messy bun and also the perfect wedding with ‘all the things’. I think that the buying of all the things actually extends into every facet of life as a result of all media, not just wedding media. Which is obviously a larger conversation to be had but is something I think that we should all think about when we make any choice in our lives, and should stop beating ourselves up over. I admit weddings are far more emotionally charged and public, but we need to lose the shame for everything, not just weddings.

    Life isn’t perfect, it is messy, and sometimes that is where the beauty lies, not in the perfection.

  • Lauren

    What a beautiful wedding. You can not only see the love but really feel it. Congratulations Rachael and Jeff!!!!

    In response to the MJ manifesto

    I feel like there are two crazy trends in weddings going on right now. One is the highly, stylized professionally coordinated from the top to the bottom wedding with the Vera Wang gown, Monique Lhuiller reception dress and Zac Posen after-party number (what is that like 20K in bridal attire?), $900 bridesmaids dresses, French Champagne drinking 1%’rs (occupy wall street reference) getting down on the dance floor to the $5000 an hour string quartet. The other one is the bride’s a graphic designer/craft maven with a chef friend that moonlights as an award-winning photographer, a beer-brewing, J-Crew model, bow-tie wearing Groom with a hipster-DJ, cupcake-in-a-jar with-bunting-making sister (slightly jealous of this one).

    It is hard to plan a wedding and not feel crappy about yourself/your lack of funds/your non-crafty accountant friends when all you see are the weddings that fall into those two camps. I know what the important stuff is, but sometimes it is a challenge not to fall in line with the norm/get caught up in the details. I also feel like there is not enough information out there for the recently engaged on how to not plan a crazy WIC wedding. The internet is probably one of the first places brides go to for wedding planning and 98% of what they see now is the aforementioned. It actually reminds me of the How to be a Woman chapter on the state of the current porn industry, but I wont go into that.

    • meg

      I mean, all I will say, is YOU ARE ON APW RIGHT NOW. We kind of specialize in normal looking weddings. And even when it a wedding is full of hipster details, guess what? I don’t pick those photos to run, because A) I’m not that compelled by pictures of stuff, and B) I don’t want you guys to feel like you have to compete. I pick pictures of emotions instead, because that is the point (imperfect emotions, hard emotions, real emotions, but emotions).

      But you (the general you, the reader) have to do some of the heavy lifting with me. You have to stop trying to compete. You have to not read blogs that make you feel like crap (APW included, if we somehow are making you feel like crap despite how hard we work to make you feel awesome). You have to not give into the shame. You have to love yourself and your wedding hard, and then work to change the world a little bit at a time. That part, you have to do yourself.

      But yes. The wedding/ porn analogy is apt.

    • k

      I think that’s partly (mostly?), though, because those tend to be the two camps that are interested in publicizing their weddings either in magazines or blogs. Those of us that never wanted to plan a wedding in the first place and were grateful to let anyone who felt like it do any decorating they wanted are far less likely to even have kept track of details, much less write them up with photos. I seriously had to ask my friend who was dealing with the food what our menu was the week before the wedding. I knew we’d picked some stuff that sounded good, and then I forgot all about it, because someone else was in charge of making that happen.

      What amuses me about this whole manifesto thing, though, is that I did use Mason jars for the flowers and crayons that went on the tables, because I owned them already, because I can fruit and make jam. I never thought I was being trendy, I just thought I was being cheap.

      • meg

        Cheap is the new trendy ;)

        And I don’t know. PLENTY of APW readers who never wanted to plan a wedding want to pay it forward and share their story. And thank the good lord for that awesome.

        I’ll also point out this wedding falls in neither of the two camps, which is why it’s on APW, not somewhere else.

        • k

          True dat, Meg. This is the only wedding-related media I consumed during my 4.5 months of engagement, because of that very thing. When I first looked at APW there was a venn diagram on the front page with “massive diamond,” “exotic honeymoon,” and “350 guests” in the circles, with “happy couple retires at age 90” in the middle, and I thought, ooh, these are my people.

    • For people who are at that point, get off the internet. Stop looking at pictures of other people’s weddings and trying to fill in your own faces. Sit back with your intended and a glass of wine and close your eyes and try to imagine YOUR wedding as YOU see it, internet be damned. It will probably be way more inspiring than an “inspiration shoot” or other images on a monitor.

  • emily rose

    I almost forgot to mention, that is an AWESOME TATTOO on that lady.

    • meg

      I think it might be MY FAVORITE TATOO EVER, I like it that much. I’m glad someone caught it.

    • YES. I was going to comment and I’m glad someone else was having body ornamentation envy.

  • Oh wow, that picture with the two trees and the gull looked like a fairy tale (the old-school, epic quest kind) before I even read the story & learned why the gull was significant. Amazing wedding/post.

  • Incredible. So moving and so true. AND so inspiring. With a day so full of emotional significance it’s amazing how often it get’s represented by photograph’s that look like a catalogue. I mean, I love me my vintage typewriters on picnic blankets (okay, not really… but I do love the little design details) but in the end, when looking back on their day, the photos that matter are going to be the one that speak emotionally to the couple. For myself, the seagull makes me want to bust out the tissue. Seriously. What an amazing story. The images. And Rachels words. Just so true. So beautiful.

  • Shannon

    Wow, this wedding, and everything Rachel had to say really really touched me. Rachel, you eloquently spoke about finding your own authentic way to have a wedding, and what that felt like when you experienced it. I know it isn’t easy to find the words to describe this type of wedding, because I am constantly struggling to find those words when talking about my wedding plans with people. Thank you for helping to crystallize some things in my own mind, and for sharing your poignant words and incredible photos!

    I have one thing to say about the debate around Jonas Peterson’s post… I’ll preface by saying that APW is the ONLY wedding blog I read. In fact, it’s the only wedding-related thing I ever look at, period. So, I had no idea who Jonas Peterson is until I read this post today, and I have not actually read his post that y’all are talking about. But, I’ve been doing all this work on shame lately (Thank You Brene Brown!), and what struck me about some of the dialogue about this mason jar manifesto thing is that it’s all about shame. Jonas Peterson’s post is controversial because it stirs up shame and forces us to examine our own choices in uncomfortable ways. People who are planning weddings with a conscious desire to de-emphasize The Stuff of Weddings will feel validated by such a post, and those who aren’t sure about their choices might feel shame. I think this is a good thing! Humanity grows because of conversations like this one, and all the conversations that take place on APW.

    Actually, a lot of the conversations in this blog have a lot to do with shame, and I think it’s good to name that once in awhile. It’s easy for us to feel ashamed about weddings, and indeed marriage. There’s so much baggage around weddings, and the debate around emphasizing the details or “things” of a wedding vs. not emphasizing those things is just one example. I have a lot to say about shame and weddings, and one day I hope to have a coherent blog post about that.

    But I guess I just wanted to mention it here because I think that it’s important for everyone to pay attention to how shame is manifesting as we make our way through the complex labyrinth of planning a wedding, and I think it’s particularly important to pay attention to that when engaging in discussions about weddings. There’s going to be shame along the way, and blaming others for those bad feelings (or blaming/judging people for having those feelings) doesn’t really get us very far. It’s important to identify our sources of shame, but being angry at those sources does nothing except compound and emphasize our shame. I myself have found that at times reading APW actually does trigger my shame, and at those times it is best for me to step away from reading the blog or getting involved in the discussion for a little while. My first impulse was to blame APW and put various labels on “the kinds of women” who are part of this community. Fortunately this impulse didn’t last very long, and I soon came to realize that because of the nature of the discussions we have here at APW, those discussions are invariably going to trigger our shame sometimes. And posts/discussions like the one Jonas Peterson started are also going to trigger shame, because these sorts of discussions are about things we (the collective, society “we”) don’t voice very often, or possibly ever.

    Feeling shame around weddings is normal. I feel a ton of it. There are ways through it though, and dealing with shame constructively is the most powerful way I’ve ever connected with other people. It’s also the most powerful way I’ve ever connected to my partner, the person I’m marrying. I’m naming it here because I think it’s important to name and speak our shame. And when a person is speaking their shame here, it is very important for all of us to give empathy to that person, because empathy is the most powerful antidote to shame. That means asking ourselves why they might be feeling the pain they are feeling, and tapping into a part of ourselves that understands what it’s like to feel that sort of pain. It’s not enough to just tell people to “overcome their shame” or some such sentiment. We need to support each other in owning shame as something we all experience, and make this space an okay place to experience and move through shame. There is plenty of empathy here on APW, and for that I am grateful. But I do notice that sometimes the discussion gets into the “oh, just get over it” sort of territory, and I think we should all be careful about that, especially when responding to someone who is clearly feeling pain, whether it is being named as shame or not. There are also times when discussions here go a little too far into an “us and them” mentality, which is an easy mentality to adopt when you’re living a life that goes against the grain of society’s norms. Celebrating all the ways we are similar is great, but we just need to be careful about labeling those who are different as an “other.” “Those people” might not be as different from “us” as we think “they” are, and some of “them” might actually be here reading the discussions and looking for a way to fit in.

    So I’m just putting this out there in the context of this discussion, in the hopes that it touches some of you! I think I first came across a mention of Brene Brown’s work here on this blog, and doing the actual work on shame is turning out to be the most rewarding (and challenging!) emotional work I’ve ever done (and I’ve done quite a bit…).

    And just so y’all know, I’m not making any underhanded criticisms here about anyone specific or any one specific part of this particular discussion… This discussion is much like many other discussions I’ve read here at APW in terms of its “mood” – it was more or less coincidence that today I noticed all the stuff about shame and decided to express my thoughts. I’m happy and proud to be a part of these discussions!!

    • “Jonas Peterson’s post is controversial because it stirs up shame and forces us to examine our own choices in uncomfortable ways. People who are planning weddings with a conscious desire to de-emphasize The Stuff of Weddings will feel validated by such a post, and those who aren’t sure about their choices might feel shame.”

      YES. And I think the whole point of the thing is do what you feel is right within you and your celebration. No more no less. No shame!

    • meg

      “It’s important to identify our sources of shame, but being angry at those sources does nothing except compound and emphasize our shame. I myself have found that at times reading APW actually does trigger my shame, and at those times it is best for me to step away from reading the blog or getting involved in the discussion for a little while. My first impulse was to blame APW and put various labels on “the kinds of women” who are part of this community. Fortunately this impulse didn’t last very long, and I soon came to realize that because of the nature of the discussions we have here at APW, those discussions are invariably going to trigger our shame sometimes. And posts/discussions like the one Jonas Peterson started are also going to trigger shame, because these sorts of discussions are about things we (the collective, society “we”) don’t voice very often, or possibly ever.”

      This is BRILLANT. And it also explains really nicely why my job is often really hard. Because often I’m the point that people direct anger at, because they are working through some issue, and a post triggered something in them. The key thing to remember (from my perspective) is that I, and the APW staff are real people. So when people deal with shame by lashing out at us, that actually hurts a real person. Walking away and thinking about it, and then maybe even writing a response is WAY better, in my book ;)

      Anyway, this whole comment is excellent stuff.

      • Shannon

        Yes, Meg, this definitely occurred to me while I was writing my really long “comment.” A lot of shame-related lashing out is going to get directed at you, and I would encourage anyone with bad feelings about an APW post to really think about their feelings before commenting, criticizing, or replying.

        I also think that you (Meg) and all the APW staff are in unique positions for being able to provide empathy to APW readers, writers, and commenters. All of you have a vast and comprehensive understanding of weddings in our culture – many or most of us really only understand little pieces of things. A huge part of dealing with shame is putting our beliefs into context culturally, which helps everyone understand that they are not alone in their experiences and feelings of shame. So yeah, you might get the lashing out here and there, but you can ameliorate that a little with the giving of empathy (really, it works – empathy is amazing!). In fact, empathizing with the people who lash out at you is probably the most powerful way to diminish the shame involved in such a situation. People lash out because they feel bad, and I can tell you from my own recent experiences with empathy and shame that empathy in that sort of situation works A LOT better than being defensive.

        That being said, the whole lashing out thing hurts, especially in the internet world where we can’t see each other and read that all important body language. If at all possible, we should avoid lashing out in this discussion forum.

        I’m glad you guys are into hearing about this sort of thing… I’m really thick in the midst of doing my own shame work right now, but I foresee a post about weddings and shame in my future.

  • Great post by APW and by Jonas. We featured Jonas also today on letthekids.com, but with his very simple Vegas wedding. Again, lots of love shown, miles of creativity, and very little in the way of costly details. His photographs of course do show details.. the details that matter to the couple. The ring, the clothes, the family, the seagull here. In the Vegas wedding, its the setting, the couple, the simple things. And in the Vegas wedding a healthy sense of humor.

  • “They let us just be. They made us feel seen, let us know we were enough, our love was enough.”

    Beautiful. Beautiful words, beautiful photos & obviously a beautiful love.

    I love the Mason Jar Manifesto; I wish I could give a copy to every Bride. I suppose I could do the wedding world a small favor & give it to my Brides, along with a strong suggestion they read APW.

    But here’s the thing (& please forgive me here): I enjoy SMP too. I mostly like the NY section to see local weddings. Sometimes I just have fun getting lost in the pretty. & I feel awful & somewhat guilty about it lately. I don’t believe the stuff matters, never ever. SMP could never make me lose sight of the fact of what truly matters: the couple & their love.

    I don’t know, it feels confusing & conflicting to like & support both but I do.

    • meg

      I think we all have to let ourselves on the hook on liking mind-candy (in whatever form) too. I mean, put your money where your heart is. But reading People Magazine, or whatever, isn’t going to kill anyone. You know? Give the guilt a rest, ladies.

  • Lovely wedding. Lovely words.

    As for the stuff…A little story…

    The other day, I was talking with the future husband and future in-laws. I watched them head down this road of, “We need more stuff for our guests because they are coming ALL THIS WAY. We need to provide more drinks! more food! more breakfast! more dinners! People are coming, we OWE them something.”

    Admittedly, my first response was to agree and then promptly felt bad that we would not be able to Buy All The Things.

    And then, I stopped. Lucky for me (and all the whole fam for that matter), I have internalized APW and the idea that there are all kinds of right ways to do a wedding (which Meg, so kindly reminded us of above). The right way for ME is to forego the sense of reluctant obligation to do things. I kindly, but firmly educated them on why we get married. It’s about the community, it’s about the shared love, and it’s the promise to us and others. It is not to provide them with so much stuff, because ohmygod, you showed up and I owe you for that!

    In order to stop this madness of the stuff and the things, it’s multi-faceted process. First, we educate ourselves (by reading APW!) and then our loved ones by KINDLY (but maybe firmly if necessary) saying something along the lines of, “Yeah, I think that my friends and family will feel honored to be there no matter what we do, serve, give them, show them etc.”

    Secondly, we have to not be so sensitive all the time! I’m taking a firm stance on my wedding and what I’d like to do. This means, I think, that I have to be able to reject others’ notions about a wedding when they don’t fit with mine, and not be so offended. Because guess what? I’m having freaking mason jars. I love those damn things. But to get caught up in that detail about a great post would be missing the forest for the trees.

    Thirdly, when our loved ones are getting married, we lend an ear and also remind them that they don’t have to have All The Things, but if they want All The Things, then that’s OK, too!!

    There are probably more steps and facets, but that’s all I got left in me!

  • april

    *Le sigh* What a gorgeous wedding and grad post. I love it. Both in words and pictures. Love how it looks and how it made me get a lump in my throat. Amazed by how the pictures tell their story so loudly, each one is practically roaring off the screen. And the pictures… Comforting was the first word that leapt into my mind. Each image feels cozy and warm. All the smiles, the smooches, the hugs… and you can practically hear them clinking their darling mason jars together! :-)

    As for Jonas’ manifesto – I found it spot-on…just brilliant, and not at all a jab against couples who *DO* choose to have details, vintage glass vessels, and other wedding “things”. And how fantastic, really, to have a photographer – someone whose sole responsibility is to capture all the “details” – to remind us that a wedding is actually NOT always about details.

    I remember when I was wedding planning, wracking my brain, trying to choose items for me and my husband’s wedding, and gave myself headaches trying to be creative, and make our wedding pretty – convinced that I just HAD to make our wedding unique and different. I got wrapped up thinking our wedding had to wow people at every turn, and became fixated on decor that would magically show and tell everyone in attendance who and what we were and how we felt. Silly, silly me. Those items never got purchased… they couldn’t be. Because ultimately, what defined our day – that “thing” I wanted everyone to see and feel and appreciate? Turns out, it was just us. Everyone was happy enough to just see and be with US. And the realization and impact of that was FAR greater than any vintage trinkets. Just sayin’.

  • Rachel! Lovely wedding. The bit about your Grampa and the wedding location totally made me cry. What a fortunate and beautiful thing to have your wedding in place of such history to your family. Wow. The pictures are ethereal….We, too, very much wanted the perfect photographer. To be able to capture the emotional moments of our day was the most important thing to me. You two did a stand up job of creating a wedding that clearly suited your personalities and values- KUDOS!

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  • Jonas is shooting our wedding in… eek! 5 weeks. And when he wrote his manifesto I jumped up and down with excitement. Because when J and I started planning this shindig, we said, “we want a photographer who just takes pictures of everyone enjoying themselves and of people having fun.” With him, we are getting so much more than that. We will get the whole gamut of emotions.

    I did have a very short-lived freak out that he would look at our decorations and details and think we were superficial. But I quickly realised that the point of his manifesto was to remind brides that details come second to the love, and why are you getting married in the first place? Because you love the guy/girl, not because you need an occasion to pull out the mason jars.

    • meg

      He is NOT! Are you doing a grad post? Or something?

  • Brittany

    I’ve been reading daily for about a year now and have never commented, but oh my goodness do I love this wedding and this discussion! Rachel, your story and wedding are stunning and your love for each other is so evident as I look through the photos. And, Rye Beach!! I live on the NH seacoast so its exciting to see a local spot that I love so much featured on APW.

    I don’t know how many disagreements I’ve had about stuff since announcing my engagement. FI and I both want to elope (and every elopement featured on APW makes me want to even more) but our mothers have expressed how crushed they would be at not being present, so we’re proceeding with a larger wedding. The problem is that my family is so caught up in the things. I don’t even want the wedding, so its frustrating to argue over things that I really can’t afford and do not care about. But it seems my loved ones have bought into the lie that the weddings they see in the media are the only way that weddings can be done. And that’s where the problem lies. If you want the stuff (and can afford it), then by all means, have it and don’t feel guilty about it. But when people (or their families) feel pressured into making their weddings look a certain way, we have a problem. Whatever side you fall on, its time to stop feeling guilty about our choices. And its time to recognize that weddings can be as different as the people and relationships that they are celebrating. If love is there, than I can promise that it will be beautiful.

  • I think the Manifesto is spot on, and I’m also a photographer who freaking loves shooting details. If we look at pure photojournalism as the antithesis to detail-oriented/staged/”inspiration” photography then it’s clear why detail images are sweeping the wedding blogosphere — details sell. Details (most of the time anyway) are what people have to buy. Emotions come free to all. No one is profiting from your beautiful smiling face when you see your partner for the first time on your wedding day. No one makes a dime from the way your best friend tears up during your vows. And no, I don’t get paid per laugh during the reception toasts. (Which is too bad because I would totally be a bajillionaire by now.) What the WIC can’t afford to let the world know is that the stuff isn’t going to make your day any better or happier than if you just surrounded yourself with the people who matter most to you, stuff-free. The WIC has found a way to commodify weddings, but they still don’t seem to have been able to commodify love itself. And as is so often the message here at APW, do what makes YOU happy. Get as far away from words like “shame” & “guilt” as you possibly can when you think about your wedding. As long as you are being authentic to yourself, you’re doing it right. (And if that means incorporating your passionate love of pretty upcycled Mason jars, then for heaven’s sake, include them already and don’t agonize over who’s going to judge you for it.)

  • Tears!!! My mother always said that good tears are ok. I can not tell you how many tears I just left on the table… but they were all good ones.

  • First off, the photos are beautiful, poetic, and everything I hope my photography to be. I think what Jonas is trying to say is that you and your partner and your bond is what matters. He is saying that it’s ok to be without. Jonas says nothing about the detail doers. Reading into it is a logical fallacy.

    My own wedding was featured on SMP. My wedding photographer was very excited about it. I hope it brought her lots and lots of business. My wedding included mason jars, the same ones I use to make jam. I wasn’t so concerned about what they said about me, or whether or not they were stylish enough. Mason jars were an utilitarian choice. And if you knew me, you’d know that is my style.

    Everyone under the sun is trying to monetize something. It is only natural for businesses to try to make the most money they can. Wedding blogs are no different, APW included. I suppose my point is that there seems to be so much ill will. Sure, the wedding industry is materialistic, but that same materialism drives sales. Revenue keeps the economy going. If you buy into details, good for you. If you don’t buy into details, good for you.

  • Jo

    I’m so happy for you, Rachel and Jeff, that you had such a meaningful wedding and such a beautiful documentation of it. I hope this lays you a strong foundation for a lifetime of love.

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