Alix & Shawn

*Alix & Shawn*

To build on yesterday’s conversation about Why A Wedding, we have Alix, whose wedding in LA’s Natural History Museum makes me want to hug the world. But what I find particularly fascinating about Alix‘s Wedding Graduate post is how she talks about figuring out what a marriage is when your parent have been divorced for as long as you can remember. And, taxidermied animals aside, the part of this post that makes me gasp with delight is this line, “The thing is that the experience of getting married is in some ways indescribable. It is as if you walk through this invisible door and something happens, but you can only see it by looking back through the door at where you were before.” Because that’s how it was for me, too.

From the beginning planning our wedding was strange for me in that the whole idea of marriage had been so foreign my whole life. My parents were divorced before I was one, so I had no memories of them together. While I always believed in commitment, I was not raised with the concept of marriage and for most of my life I did not imagine I would get married.

It wasn’t until the past few years when Shawn and I started attending our friends’ weddings did I begin to see the significance of marriage and actual weddings themselves. When Shawn asked me to marry him it was as if this weight I had been carrying around my whole life without realizing it was lifted from my shoulders. I had found the one person I wanted and he had found me.

So we embarked on planning this event, this huge party tied down to tradition and loaded with emotional significance. Despite my excitement, it was difficult for me at first. While there were the usual stresses of choosing venues and wardrobe and staying within our budget, the hardest part was feeling like I was alone.

I didn’t feel like I had that core group of friends or a close family to help me through the process. It wasn’t that the people close to me were absent, I just didn’t know how to ask them to be a part of the experience with me. Then I found APW and all the intelligent, thoughtful ladies who inspired me and helped me through the process with their own stories. I was no longer alone.

When I started to imagine our wedding I imagined an intimate outdoor affair where we would be surrounded by those closest to us in the midst of nature. This was my dream. Shawn on the other hand was adamant about having an indoor wedding. He warned me about what happens when it rains on outdoor weddings. I proclaimed that it never rains in sunny Los Angeles.

Ultimately, we agreed to have the wedding indoors, in the Natural History Museum. If we weren’t going to be married outside, we were at least going to be married surrounded by taxidermied animals. Needless to say, it poured on the day of our wedding. The skies opened up and let down a flood of water, and in a way it was one of my favorite parts of the day as we still had the fury of nature in the middle of the city.

Before our wedding I felt like a sponge, absorbing everyone’s thoughts and advice about weddings, as I tried to understand the scope of what I was heading into. The thing is that the experience of getting married is in some ways indescribable. It is as if you walk through this invisible door and something happens, but you can only see it by looking back through the door at where you were before.

And yet with all these warnings about the emotional magnitude of a wedding, I worried that I would somehow not feel that transformation. Even just after getting married I worried my wedding didn’t have this elusive specialness, even if it was cool. It wasn’t until Shawn and I returned from our honeymoon that I was able to see the glittering magic that the wedding had dusted on our lives. We were married and it was wonderful, pure and simple.

For the most part, we were given free range with our wedding choices. Our families never pressured us to do one thing or another and because of this, I feel that we were able to include more traditional elements that still resonated for us. We had a fully catered dinner with an entirely vegan menu. I danced with my father but didn’t do a bouquet toss. While our ceremony was about us, much of the rest of the wedding was for everyone who came. I made little stuffed animals as gifts for our guests, rather than buying throwaway favors. While it sounds like a crazy DIY craft project, it was something that I loved doing in the months leading up to the day. I poured my heart into each one, imagining the home it would go to, bringing with it a little piece of our love.

We gave of ourselves at our wedding and in return we received the pure joy of our guests. The love and happiness of those close to us was palpable, blotting out the greyness of everyday life for weeks.

The planning of a wedding is part of the journey of getting married. It’s not just about the one day or the few hours you have for a ceremony and party but the whole whirlwind of life that leads up to and follows it. In the months since our wedding I’ve tried to put into words the way things felt and what I learned in planning it all.

Every time I sit down to write about our wedding I get stuck because there is just so much to say. Tonight my husband is at a bachelor party for his friend who will be married next week. It will be the first wedding we’ll be attending since our own and I knew this was the time that I had to share with all of you. I wanted to give back to the community that helped me through the wedding planning. This is my thank you to everyone who is a part of APW.

The Info—Photography: Liesl Henrickson / Venue: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles / Officiant: Elysia Skye / Decor, flowers, & coordination: Suki-Rose Etter / Catering: Jennie Cook’s Catering / Dress: Made by a local dressmaker from a design that Alix came up with! / Shoes: Beyond Skin / Suit Jacket: Denver Bespoke

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