Sarah & Josh’s Bainbridge Island Wedding

The ferry broke down, the wedding was perfect.

Some of you will remember that last summer, I fell in love with this one wedding picture, this one blurry Holga that Heather & Jon of One Love Photo shot, more than any other wedding picture from last summer other than our own. I didn’t know why, but I fell crazy crazy in love with it:

Sarah_Josh_0632Well, it turns out this was from Sarah & Josh’s wedding, the wedding Heather & Jon shot this wedding the weekend after our wedding. And it also turns out I could not have more of a wedding sister than Sarah. I mean, EVERYTHING, from hipster cowboy shirts getting ready, to jewish weddings, to wedding photographers, to blackberry desserts, to… I would say… the spirit of the thing. So of course I fell in love with the first photo I saw. Of course. So this wedding comes in two parts: first, Sarah’s regular wedding graduate post with lots and lots of pictures. Second, tomorrow, Sarah’s essay about wrestling with issues of sexuality and feminism during the weddings process. So here is Sarah, who realized mid-way through the planning process that she did *not* want to spend what they were planning to spend, ditched it all, and threw a party in the backyard. A party in the back yard that embodied every single important part of a wedding. It embodied why we do all this. Sarah_Josh_0006 (1)
Let me tell you the story of my wedding “disaster,” and the lessons I learned from it. Since our wedding was held on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, we were counting on the ferry to transport our guests from Seattle. The ferries are occasionally 10 or 15 minutes late, and we’d factored that into our plans.


What we never could have predicted, though, was that one of the two ferries would break down mid-morning, sending the ferry schedule for the rest of the day into complete disarray. When my phone rang with the news, I was really upset for about 2 minutes. I thought: What a disaster! All our guests are going to be late! The Rabbi is going to be late! Our band will be late! Maybe everyone will give up and just go home!!! And then, I caught myself as I realized—wait, this is my wedding day.


Am I going to spend it being stressed out and worried because something out of my control went wrong? Of course I wasn’t going to do that. As soon as I realized that, everything fell back into place, and I went back to enjoying the wonderful day.


As it turned out, the schedule change was a blessing in disguise. We suddenly had extra-time for leisurely portraits, not to mention a glass of champagne on the patio.


Slowly, our guests began to arrive, and we had the unexpected treat of getting to see many of them before the ceremony. In a Jewish wedding, there are usually several ceremonies that occur before the public ceremony under the Huppah (wedding canopy).


The change in schedule meant that we got to share these with a small crowd of our friends and family, rather than hold them in private as we had planned. Our Rabbi even surprised us at the end by inviting our guests up to individually offer their blessings to us, and this turned out to be a very moving experience.


The lesson? Plan everything, but don’t freak out when something doesn’t happen the way you planned. The unexpected might turn out to be just what you needed.

What ended up being most important on the wedding day was the simple fact that my groom and I were getting married.


That said, here are a few other things that I was really happy we did:

  • We hired a really great klezmer band and we got everyone dancing right away, during the cocktail hour. It was festive, it was wild, and it was very Jewish, but you don’t have to be Jewish to start off with some great music and dancing! I loved that it was over-the-top celebratory, nothing else could have captured the pure elation of that day for us.
  • One of my amazing aunts came into town a few days before the wedding, and she took over overseeing all the actual details of the wedding day. She even ironed out a few kinks I hadn’t foreseen in advance. It took a lot of planning on my part to get everything I had in mind down on paper so that I could pass it off to her, but it was well worth it. You don’t want to be fielding phone calls or worrying about checking to make sure your floral arrangements are in the right places on the day of your wedding, trust me. I was so grateful I had someone I completely trust there to take over for me.
  • I was really happy that my groom and I found a few private moments together throughout the evening. Following Jewish custom, we had about 10 minutes of private time together right after the ceremony, and then, in some kind of strange miracle, at one point we found ourselves alone in the backyard with the band playing a slow dance song just for us… sigh! It was all so magical.
  • We just got our wedding photos. Since we held the wedding at my mom’s house and had it catered by my groom’s uncle, wedding photography was our single biggest expense. I’m really glad we made the splurge because our photographs are amazing, and now we have a permanent document of all of the magic of that day.Sarah_Josh_0819


Most of the other details are not worth stressing out about. Spend time picking out invitations and flowers and your dress and your hairstyle if that is enjoyable for you and helps you get prepared for the amazing day. But: if you find yourself freaking out that the hairpiece you bought isn’t going to work with the new hairstyle you’ve just settled on (ahem, did I actually worry about this at one point?), take a deep breath and walk away from the feathers and tiny faux pearls. Seriously, this is a sign that you need a break from all things wedding.

It is probably impossible to plan a wedding without getting into some stressful situations, particularly if you have family and/or friends closely involved in the planning. It helped me to remember that our wedding was an emotional event for our families and friends, too. Try to be grateful and compassionate, especially when you have a disagreement with them about something wedding related. There is probably a solution to whatever the issue is, and you’ll figure it out with a little bit of discussion and patience.

Brides and grooms to be: congratulations on your upcoming wedding, and best wishes for a joyful wedding day and a long and happy marriage.

All photos by One Love Photo, they were our photographers and I can’t say enough good things about them. I don’t think Sarah can either.

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