Jenn & Brandon

*Jenn, Architect/Stationer & Brandon, Data Technician*

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Today’s wedding graduate post encompasses a single, and hard to accept fact about our weddings: we can’t control how we’re going to feel, either during them, or after them. Maybe we’ll show up and be swept away by radiant joy, maybe things will feel gritty and raw, maybe it will just be a fun party. But today Jenn, she of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress (who now has hot new stationery shop), talks about coming to terms with not adoring (but liking) her wedding after the fact. (And yeah, you know it, this afternoon she’s talking about the dress.)Carnegie Institution for Science Wedding (13)

There have been a number of wedding graduates who have spoken before about not loving their weddings. This post is only half like that—I loved my wedding, and yet, here I am five months out, in post-wedding limbo. I’m somewhere between remembering my wedding with joy and fondness, and still caught up in planning and what might-have-been. I imagine there are a tons of recent brides out there like me, not certain how to feel about the day of the wedding.

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When I was planning, I was planning. A little intense, yes, but doing otherwise wouldn’t have been very me. This is one thing I am at peace with about myself—making things, and then making them complicated appears to be a central tenet of my personality. I threw myself into wedding planning and DIY/DITing with intensity.

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I collected blue and white china vases at thrift stores so I could do my own flowers. When I couldn’t find enough one weekend, I decided I would buy some porcelain paint and create my own. The vases were totally worth it—my relatives loved that they got a tangible, useful item to take home with them, and they love that I made a bunch of them myself.

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You may have read my post about making your own letterpress. I went on to make the rest of the paper goods for the wedding, and a guestbook/scrapbook collection of our old photos.

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I became obsessed with the idea of a photobooth wall that people could stick their faces through, and then I became even more obsessed with the problem of transporting it to and from my venue.

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My biggest DIY failure (notice I didn’t say only failure) were these huge urns I had bought to be an altar backdrop. I painstakingly spray painted branches to stick into them like trees, then made little hanging votives for them and bought LED candles. I thought they would be so cool… except once inside the niches of my venue, they were so small as to be laughable. On any other day I think this would have really bothered me—on the day of the wedding, I giggled to myself, and moved on.

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I felt amazing on the day of the wedding. There was no one thunderbolt moment, but I was happy, and Brandon and I got married with as many of our nearest and dearest who could make it in attendance.

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Things progressed smoothly, if not flawlessly. Even though I had guests dropping out at the last minute and stage manager/sisterhood-member extraordinaire Rachel had to dash around changing place cards, no one got confused finding their seats. Even though the Reverend had messed something up every time we rehearsed the ceremony, on the day of when it mattered, he got it perfect.**

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Despite the fact that my caterer had been duped into buying some bad seafood and had to swap it out last minute for other things to put in the pasta, all the guests enjoyed the food. People were having trouble using the remote and camera I had set up for the photo-wall, but were taking it into their own hands and we got some great photos anyway. The dance floor wasn’t packed, but that gave the rest of us more room to move.

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So when people asked me how the wedding was after I got back from the honeymoon, it was really upsetting to me to find that my typical response was, “I think it was ok.” I had a great time, and I got married. To a man I love. Nothing went wrong. I spent the better part of a year and a half crafting every meticulous detail I could think of. And it all seemed to go beautifully. Why didn’t I feel more positively about the wedding?

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A big part of my confusion and uncertainty about my wedding feelings seemed to center around the fact that I wanted to experience every moment with everyone, and I didn’t get to do that. I know this is not physically possible, but I wanted to know what everyone felt about our day and share that with them. I have moments when I wonder: Was the wedding actually any good? What were the cocktails like? Did people have a good time at all the tables? Did everyone enjoy the Mario Kart groom’s cake theme like I hoped they would?

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When you pour so much of yourself into something, sometimes you sit on the other side wondering if anyone noticed/appreciated/enjoyed your hard work. And sometimes I forget that all of that stuff wasn’t really the point.

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One of the reasons APW was so valuable to me while I was planning, and continues to be valuable to me now that I am married, is the mantra that doing it your way is more than OK—doing it your way is the way you should be doing it. Of course there are caveats about common courtesy, and choosing your battles, but overall, it’s about being true to you and your partner. And since I know that, I should also be willing to be move past with the possibility that even though I worked my tail off, my wedding was not the best thing ever to everyone there.

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I know I need to let go, and focus on what matters now—my family, my tiny business, my goals. The wedding was a part of my daily life for a long time, and it went well. Grief for what might have been (the little deaths) will pass. Wondering about whether table eight thought the decor was the most amazing ever? It’s time to move on. I need to remember what was amazing about the wedding:

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  • Our family and friends helping with flowers and hauling the day before, and having the whole house smell of basil
  • My relatives traveling from Canada and the UK to be with us, and each other
  • Looking at Brandon as he said his vows and feeling so loved
  • My sister’s incredible groom’s cake
  • My friend from London making our wedding cake
  • Partying with family and friends
  • My grandparents getting to experience having all their grandchildren in one room for the first time ever
  • Watching our parents dance

The list goes on.

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The thing is, our wedding was beautiful, and someday very soon when someone asks me how it was, I will respond, “It was just perfect for us.”

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** The (80ish-year-old) Reverend also broke his leg two weeks before the wedding and had major surgery on it the week of the wedding. He officiated the ceremony with one leg on a little scooter, to help him stand and move around. This man was a CHAMP.

The Info—PhotographyJenn Link Photography / Venue: Carnegie Institution of Washington / Jenn’s Rings: Turtle Love Co. / Jenn’s Earrings: Lottie-Da Designs / Brandon’s Cufflinks: Sara Lagace / Brandon’s Ring: Raven’s Refuge / Bridesmaid Dresses: Banana Republic

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