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Nicole & The Big Things That Matter

Nicole and her husband Andy got married they day before we did, and something about that must have cosmically bound us together. When she sent me her wedding graduate post, I read it with increasing awe. Here is the post I really meant to write after the wedding but never did. Here is what you really need to know, in a nuts-and-bolts way (my somewhat more conceptual post is back here). These are the big things that shaped our wedding day, just like they shaped Nicole’s (well, these things and the guests). My vote would be that you focus on this big stuff, and let the little stuff go. Which seems exactly the right thing to tell you now, at the beginning of The Season. Take it, Nicole:

It’s been almost 5 months since our wedding, which I think makes this just the right time to write about it. It’s only now, after gathering all the random comments from guests and having had the time to talk together so many times, that I think I can get my head around it enough to write this.

There were a million little decisions we made that hardly anyone remembers. There are things that went wrong, or that I wish we’d done differently. But it’s the big things that color a wedding — the few choices that people remember for years, and that in some way come to define you as a couple. On those counts, our wedding was pitch perfect. Here are the 3 things that truly made it what it was:

The location:
We had a destination wedding, of sorts, because we got married in Traverse City, Michigan, a place where not a single one of our 100 guests actually lived. It’s a resort town, with beaches and vineyards and lush orchards and golf. But it wasn’t entirely out of left field — my husband is from Michigan, and spent summers as a kid in the northern part of the state, so in some ways it was continuing a long thread. We felt like we were introducing all of our family and friends (most of whom are decidedly city folk) to a beautiful, unique, chill place they would never have thought of going otherwise, and that they will forever associate with us. And getting married there really established it as “our” town, where we now know we’ll bring our own children regularly someday. Once we chose the location, the tone of the event started to come into focus: something polished but still laid back, and that emphasized family while highlighting the ways we were charting new territory as a couple.

The food:
The very first big decision we made was to have a pig roast at the reception. I mean, the whole hog, carved on site. The rest of the party flowed from that. If you have a pig roast, it makes sense to have the whole shebang in a refurbished barn on a flower farm. If you have a pig roast, you can have corn on the cob and tomato salad and serve everything on paper plates. And — my favorite — if you have a pig roast, you can do away with a fancy wedding cake entirely, and hire a local woman to bake 15 beautiful cherry pies (also connected to our location, since Traverse City is famous for its cherries). And there we had the bones of the celebration: fun, bright, warm. And very, very delicious.

The ceremony:
Since religion isn’t meaningful in our lives, we wanted our wedding to be about family. We had two officiants, Andy’s uncle and my cousin, both of whom got ordained online. They wrote everything but our vows (which Andy and I wrote together), and it was unusual, lovely, and intensely personal.

The character of the ceremony, again, easily led to other choices. Such a casual, brief affair is perfectly suited for the open air, and ours happened in front of a gazebo in the gardens. Our wedding party consisted only of our siblings (my brother was my bridesmaid), and both of my parents walked me down the aisle. In such a setting, green of all shades seemed like the natural color theme (which led to one of my most favorite frivolous bits, my emerald green peep-toe heels). It was such a perfect ceremony that even the rain gods miraculously decided to hold their fire.

To someone planning a wedding, what I would say is this: you’re going to have to make a million little decisions, regardless of whether you actually care or not. But the focus should be on choosing big things that will shape the spirit of it all, things that get you wildly, deeply excited. If you do that then a lot of those little things that seemed obnoxious will fall into place, and even seem fun and energizing. (And one of the most liberating parts of the process can be hacking away at the things that don’t contribute to that story.) Choose a color and soul that you want to have linger for years, and then LIVE there.

Photos: All candid shots. Awww…

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