Shannon, Therapist & Herbie, Transportation Researcher
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Loose, eclectic, fun, communal, and surprisingly traditional love fest
Number of guests: 200
Where we allocated the most funds
The venue, which we had for the whole weekend and our families got to stay in. We also chose to spend more on catering and photography because we wanted to have high quality in those areas. We also had a higher guest count than we originally imagined.
Where we allocated the least funds
We got friends and family to help out with details like place cards and the ceremony arch. Shannon’s friend Maggie made some amazing invitations. We did an Internet-only save the date. We had talented friends and Herbie’s cousin Iman do live music, and we had friends and family do hair and makeup.
What was totally worth it
Having a big wedding was pretty terrifying, but totally worth it. Each person there was someone who shaped our lives. To be so vulnerable and feel so supported all at once was totally exhilarating. Spending on photography was totally worth it: we’ve already looked at the pictures a million times and relived the whole day. Our wedding coordinator was also totally worth it. She was a very good value, and was worth every penny. On the day of the ceremony, numerous little things came up and she handled each one of them, including multiple little things we were glad to not even hear about until after the wedding. (So-and-so doesn’t have a seat! Children are running around and the ceremony is about to start! Shannon is cold and her jacket is wherever! Etc.)
What was totally not worth it
Nothing really! We chose what to spend on and feel pretty good about our choices.
A few things that helped us along the way
Therapy? One of Shannon’s best’s friends got married a month before the wedding. She was a constant support and was very helpful the day of as well. Also, remembering that this is something we chose to do. It meant a lot to us to put our relationship in front of our families and solemnize it that way.
My best practical advice for my planning self
Everything needs to be good enough. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s a wedding and everyone’s there to feel happiness and love! They don’t care if some detail is not precisely the thing you imagined it could be.
Favorite thing about the wedding
Doing our grand entrance to “Bad Girls” by MIA? Feeling the love of all of our family and friends? Having our union blessed as a sacramental marriage by a renegade Catholic priest? No, honestly our favorite thing is that we got to share the moment with everyone we love. It’s incredibly special and a blessed moment to stand in the powerful beam of 200 people who really, really love you.
We decided not to have wedding parties, which was great to not have to deal with silly matching outfits or any of that drama. But at the same time, the wedding party serves a purpose that I (Shannon) wish we would have anticipated. Although we had SO much support from close friends, there were times on the morning of the ceremony when Shannon was totally stressing and maybe it would have been nice to have more people around distracting her and complaining about their ugly dresses.
Have a shorter engagement period! We were engaged for a year and a half, and it would have been nice to have executed all the details in half the time. It happened to us because of venue availability and because we didn’t want to get married in the summer. By the end of the engagement it felt like we had been planning a wedding for half our lives. Avoid this.
Our wedding planner thought it was funny that we got ready in same area. We were in different parts of the top floor of the mansion, which has multiple rooms. So we had to just knock on the doors and make sure we wouldn’t see each other. Apparently this is super weird? Whatever.
During the ceremony, we would both get nervous. Our niece Euna who isn’t yet two years old was in the front row smiling up a storm and she was totally our conduit to help us enjoy the moment.
Herbie’s mom is really shy and insisted that she not give a speech at the reception. During Herbie’s dad’s speech, she shocked us all by grabbing the mic and giving an extemporaneous toast that started with a somewhat winking, self-knowing, “I’m really a shy person…” We were so stoked she was feeling the moment.
There was random missile test during the toast. It was really beautiful and colorful flashing through the dusk sky. No one knew what it was and it was deemed a freak astronomical event that blessed our union.
Traditions honored at the wedding:
We thought we would have NO traditions and then we ended up having so many of them. It turns out (in our humble, somewhat reluctant opinion) that many traditions serve important functions that actually added a lot to the experience of the wedding:
- We were actually sacramentally married by a (renegade) Catholic priest, Herbie’s uncle. We did not go into the planning process thinking that we would have a religious ceremony, but we found ourselves with the opportunity to have a ceremony that spoke to our families’ religious traditions. (Both of our families are Catholic.) Instead of having a first dance (the thought of which made Shannon very anxious), we decided to perform a “first song” on musical instruments—Herbie on cajon, Shannon on wood blocks. We did have a wedding cake because we did want to have a delicious sweet treat, and our connection with Trent at Sweet Lady Jane let us have a really nice cake in exchange for a donation to the bike coalition. We then had a cake cutting to honor Trent’s gift to us. On the other hand the cake itself was very non-traditional in shape and we overheard the caterers having an intense all-hands meeting to announce the cake-cutting strategy.
- The hat being passed around during the dancing: Shannon’s cousin Nick is the keeper of that hat. He brings it to every family wedding. It started at Shannon’s sister’s wedding. It was just a magical thing that happened on the dance floor with Shannon’s grandma, her aunts and uncles, and her cousins. Whoever is wearing the hat needs to boogie down and it’s just a fact of life.
- We didn’t do any gendered traditions because we’re not into that. Bye bye heteronormativity! As an added benefit, no one had to purchase or wear matching outfits.