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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