Danielle & Matt’s Rainy Alki Beach Wedding

One of assistant editor Lauren’s jobs on APW is to act as the wedding graduates editor, and she is more excited about Danielle’s wedding than I’ve seen her in a long time. And clearly, the woman is on to something. There are two profoundly beautiful messages to Danielle’s story – one, the reminder that the wedding planning journey is as important as the destination. Danielle says, “Wedding planning reminded us of how much fun we have together, even with the most mundane things, and why we were marrying one another in the first place.” Which can be super important to remember in the trenches of planning. Two, her story about finding her way to feeling beautiful on her wedding day, is compelling and powerful. So with that, enjoy!

Matt and I have been together for over seven years. After a fluke chance of connecting on Match.com, we decided to meet in person after a week of talking on the phone. The moment we met was totally one of the moments out of a movie – I saw him from behind, tapped him on the shoulder, and said “BOO!” (Call me a dork, I was totally nervous and didn’t know how else to get his attention!) He turned around, smiled, and – I’m not making this part up – said to me, “You’re BEAUTIFUL.” I knew at that moment he would one day be my husband.

As we started to plan our wedding, the first thing we knew was that this was going to be OUR wedding, not MY wedding. It has always bothered me that so many brides think it’s their day and their day only, when it’s just as big of a day for their soon-to-be husband. Matt and I knew we wanted our wedding to show who we are and really display the amount of love we have not only between us, but also for our closest friends and family.

We bought our house in June, three months prior to the wedding, so planning for the wedding had been pretty much shoved aside from March-June. We suddenly realized we hadn’t done anything except for book our venue, photographer, and caterer. We went into superhero-mode at that point, both making lists and delegating responsibilities to one another. We knew if we wanted to pull off the wedding that we envisioned, we both needed to be very involved, even in those moments where we found ourselves sitting up until 3am working on favors and wanting to quit.

We were each other’s cheerleader and it showed how much we totally rocked as a team. That’s not to say we didn’t butt heads from time to time (like when we totally couldn’t agree on the food, BBQ vs. Italian. His choice of BBQ won and I have to admit, it was totally awesome). I definitely learned how to compromise through this process and how to communicate with Matt in a non-destructive manner. This is one of the most important lessons I learned from planning the wedding and I’m thankful we were able to do that together. It gave us another reason to sit next to each other while talking about life and watching a movie. We spent one night filling up bottles of BBQ spice rub as favors. We ended up laughing for days at how much we smelled like BBQ. Wedding planning reminded us of how much fun we have together, even with the most mundane things (trust me, filling up bottles is not that amusing), and why we were marrying one another in the first place.

Let me back up for a moment and talk about something that was a huge issue for me during planning. I am a plus-size girl, and always have been my entire life. I’ve never really loved shopping for dresses for any fancy occasion; going back to my days of homecoming dances and prom. I couldn’t ever go shopping with my own friends because they didn’t carry my size at normal stores, nor did I want to have to deal with the embarrassment of being too fat in front of my own friends. This totally spilled over into my own wedding, and I remember feeling dread at knowing I had to find a dress and thinking about how I would look. I didn’t want to go to a bridal store and have to deal with some woman asking me how much weight I was planning to lose for my wedding day, or pinching me, or squeezing me into dresses ten times too small. It also didn’t help that I found myself to be a lonely bride at times, since most of my bridesmaids lived in Boston, as does my mother. So, that being said, I decided I’d find a dress I liked online and have it sent to me. I thought it was perfect, I was “saying yes to the dress” (someone should have banned me from watching that damn show while I was planning my wedding/trying to find a dress, ugh.) I would look perfect, and I couldn’t wait to get it.

14 weeks later, it showed up, and I tried it on. You know how most brides try on a dress and cry out of happiness because that is IT and they look remarkably perfect in it? Yeah, I was crying by myself in my tiny apartment bathroom because my DREAM dress looked HORRIBLE and I absolutely hated it. It was probably the lowest point I had during planning and I started to get angry at how much pressure was put on brides to look absolutely perfect for their wedding day. I also began to freak out because hello! I now had no wedding dress! Panic set in, and as soon as Matt walked in the door that day, I ran into his arms and basically bawled my eyes out. “What am I going to do?! I HAVE NO DRESS. I’M SUPPOSED TO LOOK PERFECT.” He told me we would find something, that he promised I would look perfect and beautiful and that it would be okay. We would figure it out. I wanted to believe him but at the same time, I knew that I was in trouble because if it’d taken me that long to find the “dream dress” already, how the h*ll was I supposed to find dream-dress-take-two?

I started to look for dresses that were a bit less casual and wedding-y because I realized, “The hell with these perfect fancy wedding dresses that everyone fawns over, I’m going to find a dress that I feel comfortable and beautiful in, even if that means it’s not as fancy or what everyone else pictures.” I came across one that looked perfect for our wedding; it was flowy in the front, tea-length (so I could show off my Chucks), had short flutter sleeves (because hey, I do not love my arms), and it was on super sale. I ordered and literally prayed that it would fit perfectly. It came in the mail, I tried it on, looked in the mirror and started to cry. This time though, I was crying because it was THE dress. I was crying for the right reason. I FELT BEAUTIFUL. That is a moment I will never forget; the moment I realized that I would be beautiful on my wedding day, because I finally felt it myself. There was so much pain, anxiety and stress up to this point that I can’t even put into words, and it was gone in that one moment. I said I would be beautiful on my wedding day, and you know what? I was.

On the day of our wedding, When I finally got to see Matt, I walked up to him from behind, tapped him on the shoulder, and said: “BOO!” (I guess that’s my thing), and as he spun around, the look on his face was priceless. “Dani, you’re BEAUTIFUL!” he exclaimed and every bit of nervousness melted away. I felt like a beautiful bride, and I felt so happy it was like my heart could explode right then and there. That is a moment I will never ever forget and whenever I feel down on myself, I think about that day and remind myself that I am beautiful.

The other thing I remember over and over again is the times I looked out at our family and friends and all I could see were faces of pure joy and happiness. I’ve never experienced anything so powerful in my life. I just had no idea how much people cared! That was what surprised me most, which I’m sure seems odd. I think it’s one of those things that you just have to experience yourself, as I’m sure many wedding graduates have before. And if you’re still planning? It’s one of the best feelings in the world, I promise.

Photos by: Danny B Photography

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