Ali & Joshua

I was thrilled when Ali’s wedding landed in my inbox. Her email was such a lovely, pay it forward testiment to the APW community. She said, “I’ve wanted to write a wedding graduate post ever since I began reading APW. The posts written by brides have stuck with me so much more strongly than any detail photos I have ever seen. Even if my story doesn’t make it to the website, I still wanted to share it with you. APW has acted as wedding planning therapy for me, so I want to give something back.” And YES! That, for me is what wedding graduate posts are about.

But her wedding…. sigh. Ali’s wedding is a testiment to what DIY & DIT is really about for me. I’m a creative person, but I’m only marginally crafty. So for us, for our wedding DIY & DIT was about necessity. It was as simple as making our wedding happen. But from that necessity emerged a real pride of creation. And that is so exactly what Ali’s simple, lovely, backyard wedding is about. Creation, pride, and love, love, love, love.

My backyard wedding was almost entirely DIY. I cooked for 80 people, I decorated, I arranged flowers, I cut and hemmed table cloths, landscaped my backyard, etc. This was not driven by a desire to be crafty, but rather it was the only way to have the party that I wanted on our very modest budget. When I told people that my husband and I were taking all of this on, I received pitying looks. No one thought I was going to be able to pull it off. I myself doubted that I would come out on the other side of the wedding with my sanity. This was partly because I have struggled with health complications through out my entire adult life. I have a syncope disorder and when ever I am under stress I fall into a dead faint. It’s dangerous, frustrating, and makes it very difficult for me to take on anything challenging. This seemed like an impassable hurtle to our wedding day. But I looked our beast of a wedding to-do list right in the eye, and tackled it.

We didn’t do it all alone though. We had a great team of helpers. My husband and I were speaking about our wedding day and we both described the same feeling. We were told that our wedding day would validate and confirm how much we love each other, but we already knew all about our love for each other. It was the love that we were receiving from our friends and family that really blew us away.

I had friends come to stay with me 2 weeks prior to our wedding day. They worked as hard as I did and were just as invested in my wedding as I was. The night before the wedding they stayed up with me until 5 in the morning helping to tie up lose ends. I was astounded by how ready and willing they were to do anything that I needed. I was brought to tears when my exhausted best friend, who had been cooking since 8 AM, insisted on giving me a pedicure at 4:30 in the morning the day of the wedding because she wanted me to feel pampered for at least 30 minutes.

There were times that I thought that everything was going to fall apart, but there was always someone there to hold it all together. My dress was altered and pressed by a friend, the photography was done by a friend, our officiant was a friend. So, although our wedding day was meant to be about the relationship between my husband and I, it was the relationships with my friends and family that stood out to me. To the DIY brides out there: ask for help! There are probably people who will surprise you with their skills and love.

It’s okay to be disappointed! There are two extremes on this topic. The mainstream WIC constantly tells you that every little detail must be perfect for you to enjoy your day. Your roses are more yellow-white than pure white? Alas, wedding day doom! On the flip side of this, the indie wedding movement tells brides that if they really have their priorities straight, then they won’t fuss too much with the little things. This is the message that I identified with more strongly. Therefore, when I felt disappointed that a detail that I loved had fallen through, I felt guilty and shallow. Shouldn’t I be focussing on the bigger picture? Although I don’t think you should hang the happiness of your wedding day on the details, I also learned that it is okay to be concerned with the details that you really love. Things were so hectic on the wedding day that many of the projects that I had slaved over were never brought out to the  party. I did feel unhappy that the programs that I had designed and assembled spent the wedding ceremony in a box under my bed. I did get a little misty-eyed when the many tissue pom-poms that I had made got rained on and turned into giant spit balls. It’s okay to feel like things could have been better, even as you feel perfectly in love with your new husband. In the end, the details didn’t really matter too much, but I still feel a twinge when I think about the stuff that fell by the wayside.

The best part of the day was when my husband and I ducked into our bedroom after the ceremony and laid in bed together for 15 minutes before someone came to fetch us. It was a calm moment in a crazy day. I recommend that all couples that can take a few minutes away from their guests do so. I was emotionally drained and it recharged me.

Our wedding day was wonderful and hectic and beautiful. I think our marriage is going to be even better.

Photos: By family & friends

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  • That second picture is one of the best wedding/relationship/life pictures I have ever seen. A beautiful, simple moment in which you got to connect to one of the many people who were supporting you that day, and in your life. Congratulations on a beautiful wedding and an even more beautiful mentality. Bookmarked!

    • Fabulous shoes, super cute dress, love the setup…it is entirely beautiful!

  • Christen


  • Bethany

    Love it love it love it! It gives me hope about our low-budget, mostly DIY and DIT, self-catered wedding. Thanks especially for the comments on it being okay to be disappointed about details that don’t pan out. Hey, it’s (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime event! Yeah, I’m probably going to look back slightly disappointed that we had to get the plastic porta potties rather than the nice restroom trailer (my big detail disappointment), but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my priorities straight.
    And by the way, taking on all that work with such a scary health problem… you’re my hero :) Thank you, congratulations on your beautiful wedding, and best wishes for you marriage!

  • As always, a graduate post just in time to remind me that everything is going to be okay. This is exactly what I needed today.

    Simple and beautiful and I love her shoes!!!!!!

    • And her hair! Hooray for short-haired brides!

  • Wow! This was wonderful!

    “We were told that our wedding day would validate and confirm how much we love each other, but we already knew all about our love for each other. It was the love that we were receiving from our friends and family that really blew us away.” YES. Please!

    “Our wedding day was wonderful and hectic and beautiful. I think our marriage is going to be even better.”

    Thanks, Ali! And what a great reminder to be true to yourself, whether that be caring about the deets, or letting them go.

  • What she said about the details matter vs. don’t matter really resonated with me. Depending on the day I can identify with either side of this dichotomy and it would really suck to always feel wrong. Thanks for the reassurance, Ali!

  • Jessie

    My wedding is in just 18 days, and me and my mom have done it all from scratch. Seeing your beautiful photos and hearing what was really important to you is inspiring. I suffer from extreme anxiety so I identify with your overcoming more obstacles than just a to-do list. Thanks for sharing your great story!

  • I love your ideas on the details not mattering, yet giving yourself permission to feel disappointed when certain details go wrong. It makes me think about all of the hopes and fantasies that we have about being married to our partner, and how some of those things (for me: having children, learning how to cook, having a satisfying sex life, never having to deal with infidelity, never getting seriously ill until we’re 80), just won’t happen. And how all of it all together — the lovely little details of married life, the fond memories, the screw-ups, the major disappointments — come together as a package deal when you sign that marriage license. And I have to find my happiness in the mess. Scary, beautiful, exciting, and nerve-wracking!

    Thanks for sharing, Ali! You looked so beautiful and happy. Congrats!

  • ddayporter

    ahhh yes it’s ok to feel disappointed. I also felt guilty for being disappointed that the sashes we had made for the bridesmaids ended up looking apron-y. forgot to take any holga or polaroid pictures. forgot to tell the non-drinking guests that we had stocked the bar with sparkling cider and sparkling grape juice for them to toast with. of course they were tiny things that didn’t take away from the incredible joy of the day, but I couldn’t help feel a twinge about it, I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way! I will say that it was not until several days after the wedding that these things started to bother me, and 3.5 months later they don’t bother me at all.

    anyway thanks for sharing your wedding, you all looked extremely happy and beautiful. Love the big group photo!

  • Liz

    LOVE her hair.

    and yeah, we definitely need to be more realistic when talking about wedding disappointment. it’s a tightrope, though- if we acknowledge our disappointments, there will always be one bride out there who feels justified in melting down over every little detail.

    and 10 months later, it’s not the disappointments that i really think about.

  • Alyssa

    What an adorable wedding! And a big yay for reminding people it’s okay to be disappointed, AND for suggesting that the bride and groom take a few minutes away for themselves. I know people have said it before, but your 15 minutes of cuddle time sounds like the best idea I’ve heard in weeks…

    And how cute is your hair?!? Love it.

  • I love this wedding graduate. (Why do I feel like I say that after every wedding grad post? I think APW brides just rule in general.) I too think about that not caring vs. caring thing, if something goes wrong, so it’s nice to see so many other people struggle with the same thing.

    And I love your hair! So happy to see a short haired bride!

  • Moz

    Man, I love grad posts. Congrats Ali and Joshua! xx

  • Jennifer

    Lovelove the “ducking under the vines” photo. And the “hugging the officiant” photo. But especially the “adorably happy couple” photo at the end. And *I* teared up at the exhausted best friend giving Ali a pedicure so she could have some pampering in the middle of it all.

  • “So, although our wedding day was meant to be about the relationship between my husband and I, it was the relationships with my friends and family that stood out to me.”

    That is what I hope I feel like after my wedding. My marriage can be about my relationship with my husband. I want my wedding to be about all the people who we love.

    Great post, awesome wedding! Congratulations!

  • What a beautiful wedding graduate post. It’s always refreshing to see a short-haired bride.

    We have purposefully set out to make our wedding about our relationships with our friends and family. The honeymoon will be our special alone time, but the wedding (and the days leading up to it) are about family.

  • Ali, your words are so wise and inspiring. And your thoughts on the details ring true to me. Thank you for sharing your day with us and “giving back.”

  • MinnaBrynn

    Love this. All of it.

    (Also: Jennifer said “And *I* teared up at the exhausted best friend giving Ali a pedicure so she could have some pampering in the middle of it all.” I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one!)

  • Christine

    Congrats to Ali and Josh!! What a wonderful wedding. I have been married for 30 years and I so admire the fact that so many people are choosing to have their wedding ceremonies the way that that choose to. I remember wanting a intimate Christmas Eve wedding (my husband and I met on Christmas Eve), or a lovely outside wedding. At the time, not causing any sort of drama, was more important to me, than having my wedding ceremony the way that I had envisioned in my mind. I do not regret my choice, as I did have a wonderful time at my wedding, and at the end of the night I was a married to my wonderful husband. But in the past 2 years I have been so honored to have been a guest at a few amazing weddings. My son and daughter in law got married at an Inn in Napa Valley, my nephew got married at a museum. I recently have been to a mountainside wedding, which was wonderful. I was honored to have been a guest at the wedding of my best friend’s daughter. She did such an amazing job. It was an outside wedding, and unfortunately, the weather was rainy. But the truth is, that the weather could not put a damper on how totally impressed I was with the ceremony/reception/decorations, food, etc. I came home from that wedding feeling in awe of how unique and beautiful that wedding was. What a joy it was to be at that wedding, as well as all of the other weddings I have attended. Being yourself,…stamping your signature…showing your personalities, is such a wonderful way to share the day with those that love you. Best wishes

  • saveroomforpi

    A truly beautiful event, I love the photos of hugging and emotion and the big group shot!

    Congratulations and best wishes!

  • this made me cry, and was exactly what I needed to read. I too felt the overwhelming love and support from our friends and family, who we absolutely couldn’t have pulled this wedding off without! And also about being disappointed about some details that weren’t overlooked as much as forgotten about or just plain not executed due to stress and frantic-ness the day off! Its only been a couple weeks, but I’m starting to get over it too.

    lovely wedding!

  • I’m so glad she said something about the indie-complex. I identify so strongly with that – I read these blogs about these happy zen brides and I want to be one of them SO MUCH and when something goes wrong, I hate myself for caring. Ali’s post eases my fears that there is no middle ground between crazy beyotch bride and uber zen bride.

  • dev

    Congrats Ali & Joshua! Your wedding looks so sweet, and simple, and lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  • Congratulations Ali & Joshua! Sweet & lovely wedding. I adore that you & your new husband took some time after the ceremony to be with each other. I want to do something similar.

    I love this: “The posts written by brides have stuck with me so much more strongly than any detail photos I have ever seen.” It’s exactly how I feel about everything I read on APW!!

  • Thank you, thank you thank you for this post! I especially appreciate the honesty about disappointments. I can totally relate to the need for striking a balance between not getting hung up on having a ‘wedding show’ but also caring about the details. I am going to stop thinking I’m an ahole because I want some of the stuff to look neat-o, especially after all the work we’re putting into our wedding party.

    Also – wow, kudos to you. It takes stress to a whole ‘nother level when you might faint when you get overwhelmed. Good job and congratulations on a lovely, heartfelt wedding.

  • Hannah

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful day with us. I wish you and your husband many smiles, joy, and happiness. Thank you for sharing about your syncope. I have narcolepsy with catapexy and I also simply fall over with any emotion. Same sort of dilemma as you. However, nothing can stop a girl in love (especially a practical bride!). It IS very dangerous and it can be stressful, simply anticipating the event. I give you mucho kudos for handling a uber-diy wedding with grace, love, and joy. Many wishes of all that is good for you two!

  • Ali

    Thank you for all of the lovely comments and well-wishes!

  • Aleza

    I love what you said about the wedding being a lot about friends and family coming together to share in your love. People always tell me that “this is your day; this is about you two”, but I disagree. I’ve been with my partner for 8 1/2 yrs and I’ve known a long time that we’d be together and there was also time when we thought maybe we’d be together but not married for whatever reason.

    Anywas…. our wedding is also more about celebrating with family and friends than us. I’m inspired to see your wedding happened in your backyard because that’s also where we’re having ours. I have a lot of reservations about it- but you’ve re-inspired me!

    Congrats on your love filled wedding!

  • Congratulations!
    So beautiful day!
    Love opened as flowers.

  • Melodious

    Your description of the pompoms turning into spitballs made me laugh out loud! Ali, I’m glad you had such a wonderful, personal day.