Recently, I noticed that we didn’t have a lot (any?) weddings on the site of the church-hall-reception variety. And by church hall, I don’t necessarily mean *church* hall (though that’s one of the kinds of weddings I grew up with), but I mean public hall. Maybe it’s in a shul, maybe it’s in a YMCA, maybe it’s the-hall-everyone-rents-in-your-town. The thing about these halls is A) They are usually pretty affordable B) You don’t have to deal with Wedding People C) Almost everyone who doesn’t live in a big city has access to one, and D) They are pretty… boring inside. But I had FULL faith that if anyone could pull off a stylish-as-hell wedding in a public social hall, it was you guys. So not a week after me lamenting this, Michelle emailed me her wedding. I was so sucked in to Michelle’s wedding sass (that’s a proper use of the word, just wait), and wedding hotness, that it took me a while to realize – the reception was in a public social hall. So here we go. And I’m not above admitting that when I got to the end of reading what Michelle wrote, I was a full on teary mess. Because yes, this is exactly it.
My planning process went something like this: A) add every and all wedding blogs to Reader, B) obsess over said blogs, start to second guess all my ideas and think that this totally awesome wedding I’m planning is stupid, dumb, and will in no way look or be anything like these gorgeous events, C) have an emotional breakdown followed by the realization that my wedding is about the start of a marriage, NOT about favors and mason jars and shoes.I’m not going to sugar coat it, the ten months of planning was horribly stressful. Adam (my lovely groom) and I fought a lot. I cried a lot. I proceeded to immediately unsubscribe from any blog that made me feel inferior, crazy, self-conscious, or dumb. This is an important piece of advice to all engaged ladies: those feelings are not what wedding planning is about. If you have them, please promise me, go right now and take a good hard look at all wedding media you are digesting and make a strong choice to not be a part of anything that makes you feel bad.Case in point, my wedding invites: Half-way through my quest to be the craftiest, budgetiest, most DIY bride of all time (stupid blogs getting inside my brain), my Gocco broke, leaving me with half printed invites. As I cried for three hours and Adam proclaimed that he didn’t know who I was anymore, I faced the fact that I was heading down a crazy bride person path where I felt stressed out and sad. I wanted to feel fun and carefree. I threw out all the half finished invites, had everything printed at a local print shop, overshot my invite budget by half, and in the end, all my guests loved them. They didn’t care, OR EVEN WOULD HAVE NOTICED, if they were Gocco’d, or thermographied, or letter pressed, or made out of gold, or written in blood. It just wasn’t as important as I thought it would be.One thing that grounded us through this whole process was our required marriage counseling through my childhood pastor who was performing our ceremony. Even if you are not religious and don’t have a required number of sessions to go to, pretty please search out a marriage counselor and go to a few pre-wedding appointments. Of course, we are always going to have the same underlining issues throughout our marriage, but during the stress of planning, it was a huge help to be able to vocalize and work through our problems before the wedding. It brought us together, we learned a lot from each other, and it gave us a foundation to start our marriage on.I was surprised that my wedding day turned out to be the best day of my life to date. I knew if was going to be great, but I could have never imagined the love and support that I felt that day. It was full of tears, hugs, laughs, cake, ice cream sundaes, candy, friends, family, and dancing. It didn’t matter how much my dress cost, or that there was no ring bearer/flower girl, or that I made my own bouquets from grocery store flowers. No one cared that we didn’t serve lobster or filet mignon and had a wine and beer only bar. Not one person noticed the lack of out-of-town bags or limousines. Our guests DID rave about our personal, sweet ceremony. They loved the $10 vintage applique I put on the back on my dress. Everyone laughed when my mom made a few jokes during our ceremony and there were tears when my dad and I danced.Remember a few things:
- When things go wrong on your wedding day, don’t let it ruin your experience. If you go into it knowing that something is likely to go all wackadoodle, you’ll be fine. I spent hours making these super cute little containers filled with confetti for our grand exit from the church. Then, mother nature said f*ck your confetti and proceeded to rain all day long. I cared for about .2 nanoseconds before remembering that it wasn’t going to make me sad on my special day.
- Bribe a friend to be a day of coordinator. Mine saved my sanity.
- Yes, wedding nights are typically for sex, but if you party all day as hard and as fun as we did, good luck with that.
- Your wedding is YOUR (and your partner’s) wedding. It is not your Aunt’s wedding, it is not your Grandmother’s weddings, and it is not your In-law’s wedding. Stick to your guns about what you want and what will make you happy. If you need a longer than normal cocktail hour for pictures, then do it. If you want to wear a dress off of the mother of the bride section at David’s Bridal, then do it. If you want an ice cream sundae buffet, by all means, have it.
- When your favorite song comes on during the reception, jump around the dance floor with your best girlfriends yelling , “OMG I’m married!!,” over and over again.
- Try to talk to your guests a little bit at your reception, because, well, I kind of forgot to do this and now regret it a little. I was too busy eating ice cream sundaes and dancing.Photos: Jorge Garcia Wedding Photography