I started APW because I love weddings. I’ve always loved weddings. Ten years after my own, I still love them. (Which is a good thing, because this would be a terrible job for someone who didn’t love weddings.)
But I didn’t love planning my own wedding. That is, quite frankly, part of why APW exists. Because I hated wedding planning. And when I was planning my own wedding, everything out there was about how great planning a wedding was. How fun. How beautiful. And all of the people saying that seemed like, well, straight wealthy white ladies with traditional families, and tiny bodies, for whom the wedding industry was designed. But ten years ago, if you fell even a tiny bit outside of that box, you felt… well, really on the outside.
It was hard for me to find photos or stories that helped me imagine the kind of wedding—or marriage—that I wanted. And so I started my own thing. APW was, in it’s original form, a way for me to collect and create stories and images that helped me imagine the kind of celebration and life that I wanted to create. And eleven years later, I’m miraculously still at it. But now I have more time and resources (and an amazing team) to try to collect and create stories for all kinds of weddings and marriages. To help all kinds of people see themselves in the wedding industry.
I have created a job for myself where I routinely get to try on wedding dresses, create wild veils, and pose for wedding book covers. I spend hours of my life picking out the best wedding invitations, engagement rings, and bouquets. Sometimes I think about how I’d do it if we did it all again, and my real answer is: simply. With less formality, and more weird choices.
This August, it’s our ten year wedding anniversary. We’ve had a brutal few years. We had three deaths in three years, including losing both of our fathers. And that’s not even adding in the day-to-day realities of raising two small children while grieving.
So with our ten year anniversary coming up, I felt the need to do something special. I wanted to celebrate the fact that we are still here, loving each other, on good days and bad. I wanted to celebrate the amazing family we created. And while in years past, I dreamed of one day hosting a huge wedding anniversary party, this year I kept coming back to the idea of wanting a little bitty vow renewal / anniversary party. You know, one where I could wear a fancy dress, let my kids wear their dream outfits… and hold a floral whip. God, I love a floral whip.
But a vow renewal seemed silly. In fact, when I googled it, the internet was full of terrible articles outlining all the things you Absolutely Can’t Do during during your silly vow renewal. (Including walk down an aisle of any sort. Apparently during a vow renewal it’s only appropriate to walk towards each other? Or at least, that’s the rule some bossy person made up and published on the internet.)
But I still kind of wanted to do it. So I brought it up with David, who, surprisingly enough, was kind of into the idea. Then I brought it up with our kids who, unsurprisingly, were very into the idea. Our oldest dubbed it #YourMiniMarriage (hashtag written), and asked what kind of dress he could wear, and if we could go to the pool afterwards.
So I thought about it, and thought about it. And then we started debating what it would look like: Vegas or Palm Springs? (Because where else do you want to go when it’s ONE BILLION DEGREES in August?) And then I started wondering: if you took out all of the bullshit, and must-haves, and family pressure: could I enjoy planning a wedding? If we just ran away to the desert with a handful of friends… could I take all the things I love about weddings… but make it fun?
The truth is, I have no idea.
But we settled on Palm Springs, an hour away from our hometown, in hellishly hot August. And we promised the kids a pool party.
And we’re going to say those vows we said to each other ten years ago. “Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers sweep it away.” Which is safe enough to say, since there are all of zero waters in Palm Springs in August, and God knows we’ve survived an inundation in the last few years.
Will it be fun to plan? (I mean, hell, given the wedding industry, will it be possible to plan?) I don’t know. But I’m game to find out.
And obviously, I’ll report about it here (and over on Instagram).
So leave me your best plans (or dresses, or decor) for a desert elopement vow renewal in the comments. I’m here for all of it.