Today’s wedding graduate post is all in the APW family, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Emily of Emily Takes Photos has been reading APW since the very very beginning. She was starting her photography business just as I was starting a blog, and somehow we stumbled upon each other. Emily’s been an APW sponsor for about as long as I’ve had sponsors, and has shot… 20 or 25 (depending on how you’re counting) Team Practical weddings. Plus, she shot our engagement pictures, and hosts APW books clubs, and everything. ANYWAY! A year and a half ago I got a really excited email from Emily that she and Ed had gotten engaged, and I knew it was going to be the most APW-esq wedding of all time (because **none** of us has gone to as many Team Practical weddings as Emily). And sure enough, the woman is wise, her wedding was hopping, and the joy exploding off the page. Oh. And I LOVE that she paid it forward by hiring a brand new central coast wedding photographer. Love. So, with out further ado, I bring you Emily:
I’m a wedding photographer, so naturally, I go to lots of weddings. There comes a point every time during the reception, usually after the cake has been cut and the party starts to wind down, that I think to myself, “That’s it. All those months of preparation and planning, and now it’s over.” Don’t get me wrong, those parties never disappoint, but those moments during each wedding helped me keep perspective when it came to planning my own. No matter how much time and effort I was going to put into this event, it would eventually end. That single thought is what ultimately kept me grounded throughout the planning process.
I took on most of the work myself, though my husband did have a hand in planning. I had worked as an event coordinator a few years back, and I had an arsenal of wedding inspiration from working in the industry, so it just made sense. For a minute, and not much longer, I was worried that we fell into that category of bride-who-decides-everything and groom-who-nods-quietly, but I realized that was dumb, and the way were doing things made absolute sense for us and even mirrored our life together: he speaks up when he feels particular about something, the rest he leaves to me, knowing I’ll do what I think is best for both of us, making it pretty while I do it, because damn it, I care about the aesthetics!
By the time we got engaged, we had been living together for nearly four years, so I wasn’t expecting a huge transformation or enlightenment during our engagement or even after our wedding. What surprised me is that during our engagement and planning, I learned more about my relationships with other people in my life than I did about Ed’s and my relationship.
I learned that my family (even the more prim and proper side) didn’t have as many opinions as I thought they would have. Would they think having a dinosaur-shaped piñata was odd? Nope. Would they appreciate my smart-ass invitations? Well, they kind of saw that one coming. Would my Catholic-priest uncle think the wedding was an abomination if there was no mention of God during the ceremony? Not even a little bit. I learned that some friends, while they mean the best, really just won’t come through when you need them to, which can be kind of heart-breaking. I also learned that other friends, who you don’t think you can count on, so you don’t even bother asking, will surprise you with support (or manual labor) when you least expect it.
I wasn’t really there for the setup of the wedding, but I left it in capable hands (my parents and a good friend). I was delightfully surprised to learn later that so many of our friends came by early to help with all the setup (giving my mum time to run home and change)!
The hardest thing I had to struggle with was letting myself fully enjoy the planning process. I was so conscious of being labeled a “silly little bride” that I found myself shrugging off just about everything I did, or feeling the need to defend why the process was so easy for me. Whenever I did anything crafty (which I LOVE doing, I’m an artsy person, and as I’ve said, I care about aesthetics), I felt the need to add on “oh I had a couple hours to kill, so I made napkins, no big deal, blah blah blah.” I had this self-imposed pressure to act nonchalant about everything, while secretly I was enjoying the hell out of it. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous that was and wish I had allowed myself to be more outwardly excited. I wish I had been saying, “hell yeah I’m excited; I’m getting married to an awesome guy, and we’re throwing one kick-ass party to celebrate!” Oh well, I’m saying it now!
One thing I thought would matter, but in the end didn’t, was the aesthetics of the day. Twist! I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted things to look, and if we had hired an event designer to go nuts with details, that picture would have become a reality. But in real life, I didn’t care that much. I put in as much love and effort as I felt like putting in, and I’m pleased with the result. Sure, my wedding won’t grace the cover of Martha Stewart Weddings, but I thought it was pretty, and I was proud of my work.
At the end of the day, the only things that really mattered to me were A) that Ed and I ended up married to each other (very important detail), B) we didn’t have a bunch of strangers at our wedding (thank you small venue capacity) and C) that we hired a new-but-talented photographer Samantha Kelly Photo; someone gave me my first wedding, and I wanted to be able to pay that forward.
I have one piece of advice for couples planning their weddings, especially if they’re doing a lot of the work themselves: If you can, take an extra day or two off from work to focus on the wedding and visit with everyone as they arrive early. We got married in my hometown (about three hours south from our place), and we had friends coming in from the East Coast and family coming up from Australia. I had planned to go down the Wednesday before our Sunday wedding, but fortunately was able to go down that Monday instead. It gave me plenty of time to visit with everyone, prep the flowers, help bake cakes, run last minute errands, and still feel relaxed. Everyone kept mentioning how they were surprised by my calmness, and I really do believe those extra days were key to keeping me sane. Of course, not everyone has the luxury to take time off to dedicate to their sanity, so in that case, I say make a list of what you need to do, and delegate whatever you can so you can focus on enjoying yourselves.
During my dance with my dad, he asked me about the wedding “So kid, what do you think?” I took a look around and said “it’s exactly what I pictured it to be, and I’m really pleased.”
Later in the afternoon I played a song onstage with the band. While I warmed up on the guitar, I looked down at everyone dancing and enjoying themselves, and I thought, “This is it. All those months of preparation and planning and the party is almost over. And what a damn fine party is was.”
Photos are mostly by Samantha Kelly Photo (though a few are by family and friends)