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Wedding Graduate: Prom To Altar

Nicole and I bonded way back when I was first starting my blog – we had similar vintage engagement rings (yay!), and shared a similar sense of irony and mild distaste when viewing the state of the WIC. You might remember Nicole from that post sassing The Knot and their hot new color combos, and you may have seen her personal wedding blog, Prom To Altar. I asked Nicole to write a wedding graduate post, because I figured she had words of wisdom to share… and oh, does she. Take it away, lady….
This is the story of a wedding cake, and about how weddings aren’t about stuff—they really aren’t.

Patrick and I did two things when we began planning our wedding: we set a budget, and we prioritized the things that budget would be spent on. Top priorities included having our large families and closest friends present, good photography, a good DJ, and a pretty location (not mind-blowing or amazing, but pretty). All the rest we decided we didn’t care so much about, and/or knew we could do with very little money.

When we got to the question of the cake- very low on our list of priorities- we discussed a few ideas—cupcakes (more expensive than cakes! Who knew?), having a friend make it (not many people jumped at that high-pressure, no do-overs job), buying a bunch of small cakes (turns out that adds up), or nixing the cake altogether (that didn’t go over very well). We decided to hire a baker, but only if we could find one within the budget.

We came across a woman who baked wedding cakes out of her house for a very reasonable price and went to meet her on a dreary March day. The meeting was great—she had many photos of cakes she’d done, she provided references, and she seemed to understand the (very simple) design we described. She explained the mechanics to us, we discussed logistics, and we put down a deposit.

Fast forward to our wedding day. When we arrived at the reception venue, Patrick and I went to look at the room while our guests were enjoying cocktail hour outside. The room looked beautiful (and gasp! we didn’t even hire a lighting designer!). I had totally forgotten about our cake until that moment, and got excited when I spotted it from way across the room. “Oooo our cake!” I started over towards it. “Um, honey, there’s bit of a problem with the cake,” Patrick very gently said. I noticed at that point that all activity in the room had halted– the waitstaff, the DJ, our photographers, they were all watching as I approached the cake. When I arrived beside the tower of confection I immediately saw the “bit of a problem”. The bottom tier was cracked, and the whole thing was off kilter. It looked like an earthquake had hit, and there were no survivors. It was not pretty. Not at all.
See? Heinous. And it only got worse.

“Ohhh…. well, alright, whatever!” I laughed. I had just married the love of my life– I was so happy, in such a good mood, that nothing was going to get to me. The cake could have been in a heap on the floor and I wouldn’t have cared (well, I may have sent someone out to buy a dozen pies in that case). Besides, the cake remained way way down on our list of priorities—that hadn’t changed.

We shifted the timeline around and cut our cake first so it could be removed from view (and away from the danger of completely collapsing on a small child) as soon as possible. Our DJ made a cute joke about being able to have dessert first on your wedding day, our photographers were able to capture the cutting in a way that hid the cake’s defects, and the day went on. The cake was a catastrophe (although it did taste good). And it didn’t matter one bit.

Our wedding day was beautiful.
Our wedding day was incredibly fun.
And the cake was a total disaster.
It just didn’t matter.
That’s the secret that the books and magazines won’t tell you.

So this is my lesson to you. No matter how many books are written about perfect wedding cakes/flowers/dresses, regardless of Martha Stewart articles that argue otherwise, and no matter how many blog posts focus on the minutia, the ‘stuff’ doesn’t matter. The flowers, the cake, the dress, the jewelry, even the venue- all that stuff that gets so much attention while you’re planning actually gets the least amount attention on your wedding day. Your joy, your guests’ happiness, the way you two look at each other—those all have starring roles.

Here are some of my favorite photos of the stuff that does matter: the love, the laughter, the people we brought together, the joy, and the moments that never could have been planned—no matter how careful a planner you are.
We had a blast dancing to our entrance song, The Jackson 5’s ABC. Everything was just so FUN!
It was the greatest thing to see our guests having such a good time. The dance floor was full all night, and guests of all ages, family and friends were having a blast together.
A trolley turned out to be budget friendly (vs. renting a limo large enough for our bridal party). It was also great fun. We spent the 20-minute ride to the reception singing, toasting, and (Patrick and I, anyway) kissing every time someone honked or cheered at us. We were so glad to have our best friends there.
More important than the cake was the cake topper, which had been used on Patrick’s grandparents’ wedding cake.

Can I hear an Awwwww…? Thank you Nicole! I’m not sure I can hear the ‘not about stuff’ message too many times, because darn it, the stuff is so shiny….

All photos by Upstate Photographers

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