Leah and Omid’s Low-Stress, High-Fun Wedding

I’m so lucky to be sharing multiple weddings this week from members of Team Practical that found their photographer(s) through the site, and who I think are fantastic people as well as being fantastic photographers. And Leah is also… just great. She donated her wedding dress through the site, because it was more important to her to share with the community than to keep a really emotionally loaded object for herself. So, it’s no surprise that her wedding was amazing. Beautiful not only in looks (because it was) but in spirit. So, so, beautiful in spirit. (And for those of you who’ve been asking me for some non-DIY weddings already – and I *hear* you – this is it):

Location: Ceremony at San Francisco Institute of Art, Reception at Zarzuela

What made our wedding creative wasn’t the crafts or the details because there weren’t many of those. In fact, as my wedding approached I had a couple of minor meltdowns about the lack of personality in our wedding because there weren’t programs or favors or cute DIY projects. I realized that I was looking at it wrong. Our wedding was something that I never thought would happen. Omid had repeatedly stated his views on marriage, the fact that he didn’t think it was important or necessary because we had already made a commitment to each other. What changed his mind is his love for me. He realized how important it was to me and he has always done everything in his power to make me happy, so this was just another one of those things that he did. His willingness meant the world to me and I didn’t want him to wonder what made him change his mind so I did everything I could to make sure the wedding reflected us, his anti-wedding attitude and all. We focused on food, family, friends and our love for each other.

He didn’t want a stressed out bride so I threw a lot of the traditional stuff out the window. No cute DIY projects, no programs, favors, flower arrangements, or anything like that. There were times when this was hard for me but sites like this one helped to remind that our wedding was about us and our love for each other.

Another way that we made the wedding more personal was having it at our favorite tapas restaurant, Zarzuela, where we picked every dish served. We had our favorite waiter there who helped make our day memorable and sang us a traditional Spanish wedding song that is passed down among his family. The best man found a flamenco group to perform.Our reception won’t win us any spreads in magazines but it was everything I could ever have possibly hoped for.

I should admit that we didn’t have a budget. We thought of our wedding as a wedding week and we had things planned for many different days and we just tried to stay reasonable about our spending. When we tried to do a budget we both got super stressed and stress was not something that we wanted to be a part of our wedding. However, there were things that we did that helped us save money. First, we got rid of a lot of traditional wedding items. Second, I went to a bridesmaids store, Bella Bridesmaids, to find my dress. I knew I wanted it to be affordable and I was planning on getting something short with a poofy skirt. I didn’t get that but I still found a dress. I didn’t think it was perfect, perfect would have cost a lot more, but to keep it in budget all I was looking for was something that I felt beautiful in and I found it. Third, we kept our wedding small, 40 people including us. And last, we hired an amazing photographer, Emily of Emily Takes Photos, who happens to be incredibly affordable.

What made our wedding sane was the overwhelming amount of love around me that day and the days leading up to the wedding. Leading up to it, my sister did a wonderful job of being nothing but positive and supportive of our plan. She was there whenever I needed something. The whole thing reminded me that it is great to have a sister, even better to have one who is also my best friend and biggest fan. On the day of not everything went smoothly or looked the way I wanted but I could feel the love for my husband and family trying to burst through every part of me. Most of my wedding pictures show me laughing because I was just so incredibly joyous. We also made sure to spend a lot of time with everyone (before, during, and after the wedding) which didn’t leave much time to stress out about stuff. I had a bad day or two but overall I was relatively calm about the whole thing. It was amazing to be surrounded my so much love and support. It was like I was cocooned in a giant security blanket and I was floating on a high from it for days after.

Other than our friends and family, a key part that helped us stay sane was that we had a cocktail party that night. We had a lunch reception that we had purposely kept small and low key but there were people we still really wanted to be part of our day. We decided to hold a cocktail party and invite the wedding guests and friends and family that we hadn’t been able to invite to the ceremony/reception. It also fixed one of the other problems I had been having with our wedding plan, no dancing. Not only did we host our event in a small restaurant but my grandfather seriously injured himself a month before the wedding and he was in a lot of pain at the time. I knew that if there was dancing he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from getting on the dance floor for at least one dance with me. So in the interest of space and my grandpa’s pride we nixed dancing. I was bummed about the lack of a first dance and not being able to dance with my dad but the cocktail party fixed it. Granted, I was dancing in a cocktail dress I had borrowed, with shoes that didn’t match because my feet hurt, on a wooden deck to teeny bopper music on my neice’s ipod but I was also dancing with my husband, my dad, my mom, my sister, my neices, friends, and new in-laws under the stars on one of the happiest days of my life and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

One thing that surprised me was how happy being married has made me. I’ve always valued the the commitment inherent in a wedding and wedding vows but Omid’s attitude and my tendency towards cynicism made me wonder, at times, why we were doing it. I didn’t expect to feel any differently but I did and still do. I was nervous, I had butterflies in my stomach, and the moment of our first look it was like my smile was trying to escape my face it was so big. I couldn’t stop looking at my husband-to-be and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Cliche but totally true. There was so much love it was like I was floating the whole day and I don’t think I ever stopped smiling or laughing. I still giggle when I call him husband and when he calls me wife it makes me just as giddy as on our wedding day. After all the talk about how weddings weren’t as important these days, about the politics of marriage and the injustice that forbids some people from marrying the people they love, I expected to be underwhelmed by the words and the sentiment. I wasn’t, they did matter. They settled into my skin and my being and the fact that I am spending the rest of my life with this amazing man by my side became very very real.

Photos by Emily Takes Photos, of course.

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