Natalie & Eric

*Natalie,Economic Development Specialist & Eric, Reporter*

 Today’s wedding graduate post just nails it. I mean, NAILS it. Natalie wraps everything I learned while wedding planning into one little ball and ties it with a bow for you. It reminds me more of my own wedding graduate post than anything else (and with totally gorgeous pictures). All of you in the trenches of planning are totally mandated to read this. It’s required. Love, Meg.

I have tried to write this post many times, started it many ways. Mostly in my head. But thinking about what I needed to hear when I was engaged and reading this site, I think what I want to say is this: It is worth it.

Whoever you are, your engagement has its own trials and tribulations. Some of mine were figuring out where to have the wedding when our family and friends are so wildly dispersed throughout the country, stressing out over the last thing I thought I’d ever care about (the dress), being long distance for the last five months of our engagement, navigating through different perspectives about the meaning of a wedding and the role religion plays in it.

Those were mine. You will have yours too. You will work through them, just lean on your partner, try to be true to yourself and considerate of others.

The week before the wedding, I was sitting on a couch in a rented basement apartment with my mom, folding paper and tying ribbons to mini vodka bottles while watching a romantic comedy. I remember very clearly telling her that I was just so ready for everyone to go back to not caring about me or my decisions. I am not someone with an extremely defined sense of style, a good details person, or very decisive. So the process of making decision after decision that would be held up for inspection by everyone close to me was, at times, agonizing.

I thought I would be SO done with weddings.

Cut to: a few months ago, when a business trip landed me in San Francisco City Hall on a Friday afternoon, which happens to be high tide for marriage ceremonies. I must have seen a dozen brides and grooms, and it took all of my professional decorum (and the fact that I’m really shy around strangers) to not run around hugging all of them and yelling “CONGRATULATIONS! You’re getting MARRIED TODAY!” I was just positively overjoyed for these people I didn’t know because I knew now what kind of day they were having.

Because on my wedding day, I was filled to the brim. It is hard to explain how it feels to be in a crowd composed entirely of people you love, cheering you on, as you promise and are promised to be with the person you are crazy about forever. All I can tell you is that it’s everything you need it to be. When you are pouring your energy into finding that venue that feels right and fits your budget, or into working through a fight with your future spouse, or into setting boundaries with your family of origin as you create space for your baby family—all that energy somehow is channeled out into the world and then comes radiating back to you.

If you are in the trenches, you might not believe all this. You think I’m spinning you a yarn. I’m not, but you are probably in need of some more specifics than “In the end, it all works out!” Alrighty then. I made myself sit down and write this post since it was only fair to pay it forward to all I gained from reading wedding graduate posts, so here goes. Some Advice.

1. Protect Your Own Experience. This is a Meg-ism (it’s in the book), and one that I am so grateful for. When you think about how you will spend your wedding week, or hey—your whole wedding planning time, sprinkle it with the things that make you you. Make time for people and activities that make you feel calm, centered, happy—like your best self. For me, this meant that I wanted to bake 18 pies with my mom for our wedding. I’m sure to many of you that sounds like a recipe (heh) for stress and chaos. But being in the kitchen, cutting butter into flour, and rolling out dough for hours was an oasis in the middle of the home stretch to the wedding day.

Running a 5K the morning of my wedding would be hell for me, but maybe that’s what you need. Recent wedding graduate Sarah spent the night before her wedding drinking with old friends—maybe that’s what you should do. What do you need to be unclouded on your wedding day? Who do you need to see? Do that, spend time with those people. And don’t forget your basic well-being. Appoint someone to make sure you eat and drink water throughout the day. Also, share the wealth—put an APW post or two in front of your partner and encourage them to protect their experience too.

2. Think about the emotional side of your decisions, even the ones you aren’t emotional about. Planning my wedding from a distance and in the middle of a challenging final year of graduate school meant that I had one clear, overriding goal in making wedding decisions: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” But sometimes, I let that goal blind me to the other implications of my decisions.

Just because I was personally indifferent about cutting something out of the wedding day didn’t mean that everyone would be. Early on, check in with the people who have an emotional stake in your wedding, and find out what matters to them. Your random co-worker, your distant cousin? Those people do not qualify; they don’t get a say. People who raised you? They’ve earned their day in court.

3. Pick a last song in addition to a first song. I barely remember our first dance, I was too distracted by being the center of attention. But the last song, as I held tight to my new husband and danced among a full dance floor of friends, soaking it all in one last time—that song is the one that makes me nearly double-over with emotion when I hear it now.

4. Ceremony, ceremony, ceremony. I experienced the details at our reception amidst a blur of hugs, photographs, food, and dancing. They matter, but at your ceremony, your attention is held. It is when you are most present, most tuned in. So give yourself the freedom to put time and effort into your readings, your vows, how comfortable your shoes are, your music.

It has been just over half a year since our wedding. I’ve spent a lot of these intervening months trying to process everything that happened since Eric asked me to marry him on a wintery day almost two years ago. I am still processing, but one thing is for sure, and that is that there is something to the cheesy tradition of being carried over the threshold on your wedding night. You do pass over a threshold when you get married.

You step over an invisible line, one that starts to come into focus as you are further and further away from it—so at six months out, I don’t have much wisdom to pass on. Just that it’s real, passing through it ain’t no cake walk, and that what you get for it is a whole lot more than cake. Though get this—you ALSO get cake. Awesome.

The Info—Photography: Kyle Hale / Ceremony Venue: Church of Our Saviour /Reception Venue: Michael C. Carlos Museum / Catering and Day-of Coordination: Masterpiece Events / Invitations: A Printable Press / Pies: Natalie and Natalie’s mom / Cake: Eric’s mom / Florist: Candler Park Flowers / Dress: Pronovias White One, from Hem & Her in Tucson, AZ / Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Hair & Makeup: Scoobie West / Bridesmaid Dresses: The Limited / Groom & Best Man Suits: Men’s Warehouse / Ties: The Tie Bar

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