Wedding Graduate: Peonies and Polaroids

Our next wedding graduate post comes from a woman that needs no introduction, the unbelievably talented blogger behind Peonies and Polaroids. I’m so honored to have Ms. Peonies come share some of her considerable wedding wisdom. I think you’ll find she shakes none of the glitter off her day, but tells us just enough that you will nod and smile and tear up and feel so much better.
What did I learn from getting married? Many things – if you’re Doing It Yourself ask for help, loads of it. You don’t need as many boxes of biscuits as you have guests. Spending your monthly food budget on fancy cheese is unnecessary and if you take medication that alters your mood taking it upon yourself to lower the dose a fortnight before your wedding is a bad idea. But which of these things to expand on, which that might offer some insight to other brides to be? I’ll go for the one that I wish I’d realised earlier….

It’s not about the details.

Hardly a novel idea, I know. Wise women like Meg and East Side have been telling us this since the very beginning but lovestruck fools like me (I’m assuming that I’m not the only one) have been ignoring them. Let me share what I have learnt, although I feel like an idiot for not listening in the first place…

I love the details, the details were my sustenance during the bitter moments of wedding planning, the he wants to elope so he doesn’t have to wear a suit moments, the my mother has told me 16 times in the last 12 months that she hates weddings moments. Making handmade prettinesses made me smile (and occasionally want to throw things out the window, but that’s par for the course right?) and I firmly believed that they would make our wedding…*better* somehow.

Well, they didn’t. It wasn’t the details that we managed to pull off that made me realise this, it was the huge number of projects that didn’t quite make it to the wedding day either because we just didn’t have time to finish them or because on the morning of the wedding we were too busy making sure our guests would have tables to eat at to worry about fripperies like decor. The aisle decorations never made it, but even better than admiring our beautiful silk ribbons our guests admired the love and joy that shone out of our ceremony… Escort cards? Well I spent days making them but again and I know not how or why, we ended up with a list of names written on a piece of card and no lives were lost as people found their seats without the help of handwritten notes hung on a washing line with bird shaped pegs. Finally, the one thing that really brought it home to me that the details matter less than the thought behind them – the photo line.

We fantasised about a string of photos hung outside and fluttering in the breeze. Photos of us at every stage in our lives, with our family members and friends hung where all could admire them. We spent hours choosing just the right photos and a fortune having them printed. We bought ribbon that coordinated with the rest, two bamboo sticks to string them between and a hundred wooden clothes pegs to hang them up with. On the morning of the wedding we got as far as putting the sticks in the ground before we were confronted with a worrying lack of dinner tables and ceremony chairs and the photos were abandoned in a sorry pile at the bottom of a cardboard box and swiftly forgotten about. Until much later in the day that is, when they were found by a bridesmaid slightly squashed and in a terribly unattractive yellow cardboard packet. She took them out, divvied them up into three piles and handed them round. People held a half eaten cupcake in one hand and a handful of photos in the other as they congregated in groups to laugh, reminisce, cringe and get tearful. The photos were a huge hit, with everyone. People who had never met before shared giggles at my mum dressed (very convincingly) as a Mexican man; friends saw pictures of parties they had hosted and remembered what it was like back in the old days and girlfriends saw their boyfriends as little, fat naked babies and cooed delightedly. Nobody would have enjoyed them more if they had been hanging beautifully in a line, nobody cared that the yellow packet didn’t match the invitations or that the photos weren’t in chronological order. What they did care about was that they were given a chance to come together, to tell new friends old tales, to remember other occasions we had all been together. The details can be pretty, they can give your guests something to admire, remember and talk about. Spend time on them if you want to, spend time on them if you enjoy it. But know this one thing, your guests care about the thought not the execution. The things your guests really want to admire, talk about and remember? The love they share for you and each other. Think about the memories you will make, not the photos that your details will make. I won’t deny that the compliments I got on the little things made me smile – ‘Oh, you like the matchboxes? Why thank you, they took me hours to make’, but the self-satisfied glow that I get from remembering those moments is as insignificant as a sparkler to the sun when I think about the sight of our friends and families coming together and talking and laughing, really laughing, about the history and the future we were building and celebrating. That is what matters, those are the memories that will fill you with love once it is over. Not the escort cards, not the aisle decorations and not the cursed invitations.

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Oh, thank you for writing all this, Peonies. You’re making me tear up over here. And laugh, too – I love the reminder of the yellow cardboard folder.

    I recently bought The Cake Bible and set about trying to learn how to make a fancy cake so I could do the wedding one. In May. I bought it because I like baking pies, and because I want to stretch myself to learn new things, and honestly because i’m fiddly and meticulous like so many crafters and I wanted something small and precise to concentrate on – like marzipan roses. Fun! And then after my first cake last night, a genoise I can’t pronounce which didn’t rise, with buttercream that tastes more like butter than cream and a layer of fondant which – though satiny smooth – tastes like a layer of sugary plastic, I broke down and interrogated my honeybun about what kinds of cakes he liked, what flavors, what styles, in a desperate, pleading, Gestapo kind of way. “BUT DO YOU LIKE RASPBERRIES versus BLUEBERRIES?” I thundered. “I NEED TO KNOW NOW!” At 1:30 in the a.m. Not my finest moment, but the honey sighed, told me he didn’t care what bloody cake I baked, he’d eat it and be proud of me, and then tickled me until I started laughing and gave up the wedding despair.

    Anyway, just wanted to say – thanks for the inspiration and reminder. I do enjoy both of these blogs very much!

  • Aww…a truly lovely and insightful post, peonies. Thank you for sharing your thoughts (and your entire process with us).

  • What a wonderful post. It did make me laugh and tear up a bit.

    I’m so happy to hear these things about weddings, because hopefully it will make all brides calm down a little and realize how insignificant all the little details actually are.

    Thank you!!!!

  • This is the best! Thank you for the reminder that it’s not all about the details :)

  • That is such a sweet memory! Thanks for sharing!

  • no glitter has fallen.

  • I wonder how much you enjoyed putting together all of the little details, even though they all didn’t make it in to the weeding. To me this is half the fun!

  • so so sweet…

  • Peony, Meg, I am so glad you guys got together for this. Peony could not be better suited to Meg’s brilliant Wedding Graduates idea. I absolutely loved this post so very, very much. I felt that moment and I love your bridesmaid who rescued those photos and created that moment. I can’t tell you how excited this makes me for the big family event that is our wedding. Goosebumps.

  • LR

    Ahhh how true it is!
    My friend recently was married and we her friends cooridinated decorating the day of the wedding. All those details she thought about- those hours we spent making escort cards to attach to mini white pumpkins that she had to track down and drive hours to buy… the pumpkins that noone took home with them…
    The best memory of the whole day? All of her “girls” hanging out in the bridal lounge eating cheese and drinking beer and when she had to use the girly room… all the girls lifting her huge dress up so she could reach her spanx. We laughed so hard and seriously, such a funny memory… and the dancing! The pumpkins? Well… they are still there.

  • I love love love the story about the photos, and the moment captures as people look at them. Just lovely.

  • Thanks so much for this! I honestly just let a little tear slip while reading this. You are a helpful and inspirational guide, as I can tell things are going to get challenging!