MEGAN, ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR & TONY, BARISTA
SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: A post-election celebration of family, community, and the timeless power of true love.
PLANNED BUDGET: $12,000
ACTUAL BUDGET: $15,000
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 100
LOCATION: Stinson Beach, California
We got married three days after the election. What we thought would be a joyous celebration of electing the first female president quickly dissented into despair. The night of the election I fell asleep crying and the next morning was pretty wrecked. We had to go get our marriage license, and the whole time I was oscillating between despair, grief, and anger. Friends and family were texting us to express their sorrow and sympathy for what we must be facing. It seemed like the worst timing for a wedding. Yet the day before the wedding we woke up with a fierce determination. The wedding and our marriage had gained another layer of importance.
We choose love. What we learned during the wedding weekend was just how incredible it is to be fully surrounded with love. Now, more urgently than ever, we need to set our compasses to return to love. Yes, there will be anger (even rage), challenges, frustrations, roadblocks, and all sorts of trouble ahead, but may we always remember the reason for standing up for our beliefs. Love unites us and conquers all. Never give up and never forget how powerful our joined hearts can be. Let our anger be what brings us to our feet and love be the glue that bonds us together.
Where we allocated the most funds:
Catering. My husband and I are both into eating well, and we wanted to feed our friends and family a meal that we were proud of. We thought about taking a more affordable route and having a local restaurant cater family-style tacos and skipping the appetizers altogether. In the end, we went well over our budget and chose an amazing caterer who provided some simple appetizers and an elaborate and delicious dinner prepared with local, organic ingredients. It was all worth it when I turned to my husband at dinner and said, “This is the best food I’ve ever had at a wedding!”
Where we allocated the least funds:
Flowers and stationery. We used succulents for centerpieces and table decor, which doubled as cute wedding favors. The succulents were propagated by my sister-in-law who took clippings from her existing backyard collection. We chose a single lily for the bridesmaid’s flowers and splurged on a beautiful bouquet from the local florist. We spent less than $300 on flowers in total. We opted to go paperless for all of our invitations. Best decision ever! We did send out handwritten thank you notes after the wedding because we were just so touched by everyone’s generosity we wanted to send them something personal.
What was totally worth it:
Folding a thousand paper cranes. This was one of those “brilliant” Pinterest ideas that I saw and fell in love with. I was fairly certain that I would be kicking myself the week before the wedding for making the commitment to folding cranes, yet not only did we succeed in folding one thousand of them, it transformed into a bonding experience. We folded them at the bachelorette party amidst tequila shots and laughter. Made it into a happy hour event after work and got our co-workers involved. We mailed a stack of papers to a cousin who lived far away and received a box of folded cranes in return. Sitting down in the evenings with my now-husband and folding cranes became a sweet, quiet time for us to simply be together and check in with each other throughout the madness. In the end we hung the cranes from wooden beams in the reception venue and everyone who had a hand in it was extra-delighted to see them flying all around the room.
What was totally not worth it:
Agonizing over the guest list for the wedding and day-after brunch. I wish that we were able to invite everyone we know and love to the wedding but settling on a hundred-person guest list meant making tough choices. Of course you need to put some real time and energy into narrowing down your list, but stop with the guilt of not being able to invite everyone. It’s your weekend, and just because someone doesn’t get invited to your wedding doesn’t mean you love them any less.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Staying organized and assigning little jobs to friends and family in advance. There are many people who are super excited to lend a hand; they just need some direction from you. Since it was largely a DIY event, there was no shortage of little tasks to take care of. We tried to pick projects that could be tackled in advance and assign them to our willing helpers. One sister-in-law coordinated the day-after brunch, while another took the lead on making all the centerpieces. My mom built the wedding altar and my mother-in-law organized the rehearsal dinner. My maid of honor sourced the bridesmaid gifts and organized the bachelorette party, among other things. It’s helpful if you are clear about exactly what you need and when you need it completed by.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Be decisive. The wedding industry is huge and there are literally thousands of options for every choice you have to make. You could spend all day, everyday researching ideas. Just be clear what your priorities are and once you have three solid options—pick the one you like best.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
I have some special dietary restrictions and I don’t eat sugar, gluten, or dairy, so that made the prospect of finding a cake that was still edible seem pretty unlikely. I wasn’t attached to having a cake, but I did still want a ritual that involved exchanging something sweet. We decided to make 250 chocolate truffles by hand and offer them as a cacao ceremony during the reception. It took a whole day of chopping, stirring, rolling, and sprinkling, but we ended up with two intoxicating flavors of dark chocolate truffles—one spicy and one sweet. We mixed all of our good intentions for the marriage into the truffle batter. Patience, passion, trust, respect, and communication—the real recipe for love!