Remember that wedding picture last Friday that I wanted to eat? The beautiful dreamy one? Well, Britta sent me her wedding graduate post, and that picture was just the tip of the amazing iceberg. I don’t even know what to say about this post, other than I love it so so so much. I love that Britta was as neurotic about her wedding dress search as I was, and that she ended up with similarly amazing last minute funky results. I love that she also likes to look at her bank statement to see how rich she is. I love that she likes to get her hands dirty and make things. And the pictures. Oh… the pictures. Here we go:
Adam and I have different versions of our engagement story we tell to different audiences but for the semi-anonymous Internet I’ll go with the vague but true: I came home sauced one night in September and then it just happened.
We’d been dating for about four years. We met after I finally managed to talk to him following one academic year of stalking him through the engineering building we both spent most of college in. I’ll always remember the first time I saw him standing there in front of the injection molding machine…
After getting engaged the first wedding decision Adam and I made was that our wedding would be cheap.* I don’t like spending money. He has an expensive motor sports habit. We wanted to throw a huge party for all our friends and family (yes, to celebrate our love, blah-blah) but we had a lot of other things we wanted to do with out funds. (Him: spend it on tires, Me: Look at my bank statement and see how rich I am.)
The second decision was where to hold the wedding. We both went to college at WWU in Bellingham WA. My Dad’s cousin Fred and his wife Beverly live outside Bellingham in a big house on the bay. Every year they throw a 300 person 4th of July party because they love huge parties. Patriotism has very little to do with it. I left a message on Beverly’s phone telling her Adam and I had ‘Big life news”. When she called me back the first words out of her mouth were ‘Are you pregnant? Are you getting married? Are you having the wedding here?” Of course we were! Done and done.
Neither of us had thought much about weddings previously nor did we have particularly opinionated family members to guide us. So we generally made the whole thing up as we went along.
As we made decisions like ‘choosing a mystery groomsman before the ceremony based on best mustache’ we got a few raised eye brows, but that was part of the fun and I think most people who know us would have been disappointed with less. All we really wanted a was huge party. We were lucky enough to have un-particular and indulgent friends and family.
As wedding planning continued it turned out I’d rather have my hands busy as an anti-anxiety measure. I made a lot of wedding stuff. I crafted some crafts. Its like xanax. To anyone confused about why people get all crafty around wedding time: That shit kept me sane. And it was fun. Really really fun. (Full disclosure: My job is industrial design. Making stuff is my thing.) We made the save the dates and the invitation which involved a brand and butane torch. We made napkins (80 cents to rent 1 napkin!?! Hell no!), the wedding arch out of PVC pipe and old table cloths, a pinata of our faces for the kids to hit. It was all a lot of fun and kept me from going too nuts. That being said….
The dress kicked my ass. At one point I told Adam “Adam, I give up, I have failed at finding a wedding dress…I think I’ll get married naked…maybe in scrubs” I couldn’t feel good about any dress over $200 (Oh the cheapness!) and I kept changing my mind so often about what I wanted it probably wouldn’t have helped if I had spent the money. Normally I’m a decisive person. Not in this instance. I looked at thousands of dresses on the internet. I must have bought 10 dresses that I returned. At some point I started making jokes about how all my wedding stress and neurosis was all being channeled into the dress. Eventually I figured out that that was probably true.
But panic is the soul of invention. Right after getting engaged I’d bought a dress (okay 3…) from one of the Chinese wholesale websites. (Not generally a route I’d recommend but hey…) This particular dress had a fine bodice but had a lot of weird going on with the skirt. It lived in the closet for about eight months and for some reason I never cut it up to make the wedding arch. Three weeks before the wedding on the verge of folding and buying a $600 dress, I had a last-ditch idea and I spent about eight hours cutting up a lot of goodwill lace and chiffon curtains into 8” squares. I stitched them on the skirt of the China dress until it was dense enough you couldn’t see any mistakes I made or how uneven the bottom was… from where I’d manically hacked in a hi-lo hem with scissors…. while Adam acted as dress model while standing on our laundry hamper. (We’re the same height… he offered… and if that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.) After the dress was done, I’d reached wedding dress peace. Even though the dress was a little big and I knew the hem was uneven and the squares could have fallen of at any given moment I didn’t change my mind anymore.
At one point I read a post on APW about how and when to cater your own wedding. The qualifications were things like: knowing how to cook, and having done it before. None of these were really true of us. However we did the food for our 200 person wedding and it turned out fine, even great.
The key was organization, (google docs!!! Planning is everything, the plan is nothing) and conscripting as many hands as possible in the 2 days before the wedding. We only served dishes that involved one step…either chopping, grilling or thawing. Brats and corn on the cob were grilled. Green Salad, fruit salad, and bean salad were chopped, and Adam’s step mom heroically made 300 corn muffins she froze ahead of time that we later thawed. Same with the brownies Adam and I made for the cake. We also hired 4 college students from Adam’s Ultimate Frisbee team to man the buffet and we lucked out with one extremely competent family friend to help manage it all during the festivities. If you think it through and call in a lot of favors (coolers) it can be done. Which is not to say you shouldn’t fear and respect the beast…cause you should.
When it came to the wedding weekend it was ridiculous how much help we got and how lucky we got. The weather was perfect. Our friends and family took time off work and helped set up, chop food and generally deal with all complications of throwing a 200 person wedding. Honestly the 2 days of preparation before the wedding were at least as fun as the wedding itself. Its pretty humbling to see your entire network of loved ones hard at work on your behalf.
And we shamelessly called in every favor we could: The amazing location at my Cousins’ house. Adam’s Grandpa is a pastor and we asked him to marry us. Adam’s step mom and her mom took care of the rehearsal dinner. One couple we’re friends with own a company that sets up light and sound for trade show booths. Clearly we promised them beer on us for eternity and ended up with a sound system that kept the neighbors up til 3am without having to worry about a single cord. We constructed a one day band for the ceremony out of my brother on trumpet, Adam’s brother on guitar, My aunt on Accordion, a college friend on Bass and the best man’s dad on Drums. They all met for the first time on the day of the wedding and rehearsed while we set up tables and chopped food. You could not find a more funky sound west of the Mississippi.
The only things we paid actual wedding professionals for was A) the huge tent we rented, an extravagance I was willing to spring for because even in August it can rain buckets in western Washington (and it did rain buckets the weekends before and after our wedding)
B) Our awesome photographer. We found her on APW. I can’t say enough about how awesome she was. The pictures really speak for themselves but Christina was also great to work with. We later looked at the full 742 pictures (The rally car number is 742…nice touch!) and we were amazed how she managed to be everywhere at once and capture everything. She must have been literally running around our wedding but after the family pictures I hardly remember seeing her at all. Apparently my mom kept trying to get her to eat some food but she wouldn’t stop taking pictures… amazing amazing pictures. Oh yeah, and she charged us almost nothing for what we got. Ridiculously under-priced awesome photography.
And the wedding was everything we wanted. During the ceremony I cried a lot but not as much as I thought I would. We spent approximately 30 seconds with everyone we know. Neither Adam or I ended up eating more then 2 bites of food.
There was dancing and Bohemian Rhapsody and a dance contest, fireworks and a particular pair of brown corduroy’s were split in half during the limbo contest.
I saw nothing but grins in every direction. I’d be hard pressed to think of a happier day.
And now that the wedding is done and we’re back from our honeymoon road trip I’m still overwhelmed with how much everyone did for us and how much fun we had. It was awesome to see friends from all different parts of our lives came together and party like they meant it. On this flip side I was also humbled by how much it meant to people to be invited and included in our wedding. Weddings are heady stuff. People like to be involved and people being involved in our lives turned out to be what it was all about.
I can’t say much about marriage yet. Our one month anniversary will be this weekend. We haven’t succeeded in spontaneously referring to each other as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ yet. I am optimistic we’ll get the hang of it.
* For context: we ended up spending 10K, counting the rings. Its more then I was shooting for but felt about right and allowed for plenty of fun and not too much financial regret. And it was worth it.