Ask Team Practical: Remembering the Wedding

My wedding is coming up soon and as we work our way through planning, we’re realizing that we have a much smaller budget than we originally thought. (News flash: Everything is expensive!) After a lot of discussion, we’ve decided to skip on wedding photography. But, I’m worried that without pretty photos, I won’t be able to remember the details of the day. Everyone always talks about the wedding day flying by in a blur, and I would hate to get to the end and realize I don’t even remember any of the important parts. How can I make sure to save all the precious memories?

 -Wedding Amnesia Hesitant

Dear WAH,

Don’t let people freak you out! Some people experience that crazy-hectic-blur day, but some people don’t. Sure, wedding days are busy, but they’re full of raw emotion. Stuff like that has a knack for sticking with you.

Lucky thing, too, because keeping the wedding day fresh in your mind can be really important for shaping your marriage. When my husband is a complete butthead (which spouses can tend to be), it helps to remember that day that started it all and laid the foundation. It also helps to remember that I swore in front of over a hundred people that I wouldn’t kill him, or something along those lines. But, other things—big things, ideological things, the very reasons we all chose to get married—are brought to mind when we remember our weddings. I don’t just remember how handsome and non-butthead my husband looked or what we promised each other, I also remember a community of loved ones surrounding us. I remember the specific choices we made and how they reflect our ideals about marriage and about life. Whatever major foundational elements you involve in your wedding planning can be important to your marriage, too. Things like the community I mentioned, or your support of local business owners, perhaps your spirituality, your cultural traditions, maybe your environmental concerns, or whatever other meaning you incorporate. (And that goes for elopements, too!)

I get it, you want to remember the specific moments of the day—how your partner’s face looked as you said your vows, how your best friend’s voice cracked with emotion during a toast. I’m just making the case that remembering those details is important, sure. But keeping the wedding day in mind in general is really valuable, too! So here’s how we’d accomplish both of those things.

Don’t discount photos completely just because you can’t afford a professional. Photographs by family and friends may not have the sheen and style of pro photos, but they can be really meaningful. But your loved ones don’t need to bring a fancy DSLR. Instant photos get the thumbs-up from just about every APW staff member, and have you seen what just a phone can do these days? (And, psst, if you do decide to go the DIY route, make sure to check out the two APW How-To posts!) Folks from our parents’ generation usually didn’t have a lot of photographs—just a posed portrait or two for framing. And that aside, even couples who do have a thousand great photos are likely to find that there are only five or ten really meaningful and special ones. But maybe photography is completely out of the question. There are venues that request no photography, and that’s fine, too. There are plenty of ways to make those memories stick without involving a camera.

Writing down the really special details that you didn’t plan or expect can be a sure way to cement those images in your mind. Remember how your teachers said that writing things down would help you remember them? They were right. (Ya know, I really wish people would give their teachers more credit.) And even if your teachers were wrong, lucky you, now those memories are on paper! Writing these things down as soon as possible is the best plan, so you still get everything while it’s good and fresh. Meg made sure to journal about her own wedding before seeing her wedding photos so her memory wouldn’t be distorted by anyone else’s perspective. Even with beautiful photos, she’s really really glad she did.

Not much of a writer, I prefer to rehash memories aloud, with loved ones who share them. “Remember at the wedding…” is an over-used phrase in my house, and I relish reliving all of the emotion with those who were there. (Note: Notice my emphasis on sharing these memories with people who want to. Reliving every detail of your wedding reception with the woman who sits beside you on the bus everyday isn’t going to make you very popular.)

Beyond these few ideas, there are basically four ways to remember the day: things you display, things you use daily, things you tuck away, and things you repurpose. These ideas aren’t just for folks who don’t have any photos; they’re great for anyone (and sometimes even more sentimental than photographs).

Things you display might include framing your vows, your wedding invitation, a special quotation from the ceremony, or the lyrics to the song from your first dance. You could have any of these things made into a commissioned piece of art to hang in your home (you know later, when you have more cash). Or, you could keep your guestbook on the coffee table for visitors to flip through.

It was mentioned before that even practical, functional items can take on special meaning if they have a certain memory attached. Consider continuing to use in your own home some of the items you used for your ceremony or reception (an added bonus to buying instead of renting). This could mean the cake dish that held your wedding cake, a basket that presented the ceremony programs, candle holders, frames, serving ware, vases, jewelry, shoes or anything else.  Once you use something on your wedding day, it becomes your “wedding ____,” complete with shiny memories.

Things you tuck away is even easier than the above! No work at all. Save any small trinkets from the wedding and just stash them in junk drawers and closets. One day when you’re frustrated with spring-cleaning that back closet, you’ll stumble on that preserved flower from your bouquet and be smacked in the face with memories. If this haphazard method doesn’t sound like your style, you could gather all of these bits into a scrapbook and tuck it away to flip through later.

Lastly, you could take important things from your wedding and repurpose them. The obvious one here is the wedding dress. Make that sucker into a cute little cocktail dress, or a special blanket, or some elaborate wall-hanging thing. But, you don’t need to stop at the dress. Repurpose your reception playlist and play a song or two whenever you’re having a rough day or a great day or a special celebration.

There isn’t going to be a wedding pop quiz. Some wedding memories are sharp and bright, but others are nice when they’re out of focus, fuzzy and softly glowing. Treasure them, for sure. But, remember that the wedding is only the beginning—just the first in a series of lovely memories to be stored up.

*****

How did you store up memories of your wedding? What tokens and scraps did you find were meaningful? And if you’re not yet on the other side, how do you plan to remember the important pieces of the wedding?

Photo: Leah and Mark Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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