April & Thomas

Ohhhhh!!! April’s wedding!!!! I’ve only been waiting to share this wedding with you, since, oh SEPTEMBER. Those of you long and loyal readers will remember April as the eloquent and mysterious “A” from the comments all summer long. Right after the wedding she came out as her real self, and you’ve known her that way since. April shared so much of her journey with us that I literally begged her to send me her wedding. And oh, oh, oh, I was right. You guys need to see this. First, April and Thomas are grinning their heads off, in literally almost every single picture. I could not imagine a more happy couple. Second, Heather and Jon of One Love Photo were their photographers (just like they were ours) so you might actually want to put the pictures in your mouth and eat them. Third, April is coming back later this morning to give away a dress (not the one she wore, but a beautiful one that she didn’t wear, that needs a Team Practical home). But finally – just when you think April’s wedding couldn’t have been more joyful or more perfect, she tells you this – NONE of her blood relations were at her wedding. None. And her parents haven’t chosen to meet her husband. So this one goes out to all of you who’s parents have told you that they can’t love you for who you are, and can’t be at your wedding. I hear from so many of you, and I am so fiercely protective of you. Because you deserve a family who loves you for your full wonderful self – and your wedding is your chance to get that family born. So here is April, telling you that not only will you survive, you will triumph:

It’s been 7 months since the wedding day and I still love thinking back on it, and the flat out AWESOME time we had with 62 of our nearest and dearest! Totally thrilled with how great it was – marrying my darling husband being the best part, natch.

A little about us: We’ve been together for almost 9 years and although I didn’t give much thought to the type of wedding we’d someday have, after we got engaged, I gave it near OCD levels of attention! There were times when we both wanted to elope, but I’ll tell you that the upside to hanging in there and hosting this shebang is the indescribable joy we experienced celebrating our wedding with our wild and crazy bunch.

And our friends are *still* telling us how much fun they had. Totally worth it!

Right from the start, we knew we wanted our wedding to basically feel like a reunion, and to spread out the celebration over a long weekend, with friends, food, and a DJ to blast the old school 80’s music we love. We also wanted it to include the things we enjoy most in real life: travel, the beach and San Diego.

With a long list of out of towners the location needed to be convenient for everything to take place from Friday to Sunday. We chose a waterfront hotel in the Mission Bay area as we spend a lot of weekends hanging out and riding our bicycles around there, and it felt right to marry in a part of town we know and truly like. And now, we can go back to that same place for a celebratory cocktail whenever we want!

I’ve been to sooo many weddings and I love me a good party, so I was totally jazzed for our reception. But surprisingly, it was the ceremony that was the most touching part of our wedding for me. We wrote much of it ourselves and focused on compassionate living, the love we have for each other, and the importance of our friends and kept it short, sweet and non-religious. After much back and forth “do we write our own vows?” We just exchanged the traditional ones even now, as I remember those words that scores of others have repeated, the depth and merit in those simple “I Do’s” still brings tears to my eyes.

To include those assembled with us, during the ceremony the officiate asked everyone if they would support us in our lives both as a couple and as individuals. Hearing their resounding, “WE WILL!!!” was thrilling. Our sweet community of loved ones was so happy for us!

And then we partied like rockstars! I briefly mentioned our profound love for 80s music and our fantastic DJ spun a brilliant playlist that kept the floor packed from beginning to end.

Cutting a rug with the guests, my gal pals and the newly minted husband all night long was a blast! And all my worries about keeping the crowd entertained were for naught: people talked, others danced, some just sat and watched the revelry unfold.

I’m sure this all sounds rosy and sublime, but let me tell you: while the wedding day itself was a triumph, the months leading up to it were not and I had more than a few moments where I lost the plot (don’t even ask how hard I searched for plum-colored strappy sandals)! In the beginning I armed myself with the requisite inspiration boards, a folder of pretty wedding stuff, and the blogs – OMG – I checked them daily. But as the wedding date neared and stress levels peaked, I referred to them less and less. My sweet guy was deployed to the Middle East for seven months right before our wedding, so I was trying to finalize the last planning bits myself or re-hashing them with the Mister during our weekly Skype chats. Quel horror. Coordinating myriad details while trying to have a life, work a full-time job AND deal with a lengthy separation from my guy about made my head explode. So I started crossing stuff off the list because I just didn’t care and wasn’t going to sweat it anymore. Welcome bags for OOT guests? Nope – they’re old enough to buy gum and sunscreen themselves. Epic FAIL tracking down cute, plum color strappy sandals? Eff it – I’ll just paint my nails purple instead! And so on… complete sanity saver and I’ve ZERO regrets leaving those many “details” in the dust.

Once my guy returned home, we collaborated on a few DIY/DIT projects, and they were actually enjoyable. Going over photos from the numerous trips we’ve taken all over the world, searching for just the right ones to create custom table cards and escort cards on our home computer together was really fun. Hearing a few guests excitedly say, “Ooh, look: I’m sitting in Portugal!” was delightful. Watching them carefully tuck their escort card into their shirt pocket or handbags at the end of the reception? Priceless.

As someone who coordinates events in real life, I’m just going to say it: Please have wedding elves. PLEASE. Whether you hire event professionals or bribe your friends with booze to lend a hand – you really do need assistance orchestrating it all.
I’d have gone totally mad and our party would’ve been nothing were it not for the collective talents of our enormously gifted, awesome wedding elves. Our sweet, magical photographers (One Love Photo) were fabulous and kept us smiling and giggling all day. And the pictures, you guys – WOW. Beyond awesome. The day-of coordinator kept things humming along and the caterer filled wineglasses again…and again…and again. All in all, a worthy investment!

Every experience in life has lessons, and there were PLENTY I learned during the wedding process, but here’s the cliff notes for you:  accept that several things will go totally sideways on the wedding day. Honestly: I didn’t believe other brides that seemed to casually brush off wedding day debacles. I seriously thought they were fibbing in an attempt to make us feel better. Um, no. They were right. Several things went awry at my own wedding and whaddaya’ know: I really DID. NOT. CARE. Hallelujah! Well, I cared but only for a nanosecond. Then I had a swig of champagne, twirled around in my dress and was fine. My sweet guy was there. Our friends were there. We were beautiful. And we had cupcakes!!!!! Truly, nothing could erase my joy that day.

I also learned that the definition of “family” is not solely limited to one’s blood relatives. My parents have never met my wonderful husband, and not one member of my family attended the wedding. Apart from hurt feelings, I was concerned our celebration would feel less meaningful without my family there to witness it. Silly me – I worried for nothing. My husband’s relatives along with our darling friends made the weekend incredible and we were absolutely buoyed up, cheered on, and lovingly surrounded at our wedding as they looked on us with joy and pride – just like family. Additionally, random passerby wherever we went clapped, waved, and shouted “Happy Wedding” and “Congratulations” —  I do believe all the world loves a wedding!

Lastly: Stand by your choices and your man. Or woman. Whatever decisions you and your partner make for your wedding, there’s no need to justify them to people who don’t get it. A few random people told me it would “spoil the moment” if the mister and I spent the night together before the wedding or saw each other before the ceremony. AS IF! Snuggling in our suite the morning of our wedding; then seeing each other hours later dressed in our wedding finery; and finally walking into our ceremony side by side – filled with joy and grinning like love-struck kids – was thrilling, emotional, and very grounding. We were on Cloud 9 the entire day and I’m soooo very thankful we didn’t compromise what was important for the two of us.

Pictures by One Love Photo (they are APW sponsors, and they were our wedding photographers too, siiiiiggghhhhh, but this is not a sponsored post)

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