Kari & Matthew

Today’s wedding graduate post is from both Kari and her husband Matthew. It includes a circus clown (Matthew), a serious over-crafter (Kari), a carousel (why don’t more people get married on carousels, P.S.? One of the first weddings I ever went to was on one), a tornado, and one of the best wedding graduate quotes ever: “Then the tornado sirens went off.  It was at that point that I made the executive decision to open the bar before the ceremony, a wise call if ever there was one.” To which I can only offer an Amen. Today’s story is one where everything goes wrong, and yet, somehow, the important things still go so very right.

Our wedding story had a fantastic beginning:   my husband – a circus clown and variety artist –  proposed with a juggling ring inscribed “Will you be my Primary Primate?”  After accepting, we started planning a ceremony on April 24th, my grandparent’s anniversary.  We wanted a backyard ceremony that was very “us” – no wasting money on things we didn’t love, no listening to what the WIC told us we had to do.  We planned a picnic at an indoor carousel as the “rehearsal dinner” and invited everyone who was invited to the wedding.  It was meant to be lighthearted and fun.

It started to turn when my crafty instincts took over (I cut and strung mini flag bunting on every wedding invite for example) and I went a little off the rails with DIY projects, but I felt like handling everything myself made it more personal.

I have been doing events from large (New York Fashion Week) to small (client dinners) and everything in between (my husband’s off-Broadway circus) so I didn’t think that I needed any help.   I certainly didn’t want a wedding planner – I didn’t have an extra $100,000 for Colin Cowie and everyone else scared me. I also thought that getting other people involved (who I wouldn’t have been paying) was an imposition.  I thought my family and friends wouldn’t care about these small details, and somehow might judge me for caring about them so much, so I didn’t ask them for help.

Since we were planning to have our ceremony in St. Louis and my family lives in North Carolina, our little New York City apartment became the center of everything.   The craft supplies took over and no one could really assist.  His family isn’t crafty, my family wasn’t close, and with only one other person in the wedding party I felt very much on my own.   I realize now what I needed was another person like me—but I was on DIY overload and no one was around to talk me back from the ledge.   I saturated my eyes with Martha Stewart-like projects, and every new wedding recap I saw on a blog made me want to add something.  I wanted everything to have our fingerprints on it so that it would “mean something”.

This “make everything myself” was a fine approach at first, and I was able to white knuckle it through the planning process (luckily my husband stepped in when I proposed making the cakes ourselves and convinced me that Whole Foods was a smarter choice).  That well crafted plan fell apart however, when the wedding day itself did not go as I thought.   When trying to make it through the main portion of the wedding amid small disasters, those carefully crafted details got lost.  Because I had cared so much about them and was the only one who could really understand the time they had taken, I let losing them be more of my focus than it should have been.

When trying to wrap my brain around what happened the day of our wedding, I asked my husband, Matthew, what he would write about – since we don’t hear from grooms often – and this is what he said:

On April 24, 2010 a tornado touched down St. Louis, and it was the happiest day of my life.  Not because of the tornado, mind you, but because that was the day I married my wife.  The experience was not without incident.  The tornado and the storms that preceded it meant that all of my wife’s carefully detailed craft projects had to be reconfigured or scrapped entirely.  We moved the ceremony site from a copse of trees (too muddy), to the pool deck (until the rain returned), to the only “enclosed” space that would fit the guests (a leaky event tent that was meant to be the dance floor later in the evening).  And it wasn’t just the weather.  One of the musicians got sick, and our ring-bearer (our 12 lb. rabbit) refused to cooperate.

As water was baled and furniture moved, the band set up in the garage and played “Stormy Weather.”  Then the tornado sirens went off.  It was at that point that I made the executive decision to open the bar before the ceremony, a wise call if ever there was one.

Maybe it was the theatrical training of many of the guests, but certainly an air of “the show must go on” permeated the proceedings.  The storm broke just as my bride walked down the aisle, and the ceremony culminated with a double rainbow.  (I’m not making this up.)

Perhaps the moral of this story is trite, but our day was made as rich by the things that went wrong (and were overcome) as by those that went perfectly as planned.  It brought everyone together.  No one freaked out, and many of the guests continue to say that it was the best time they’ve had in years.  To my wife’s credit, she too became like the fabled reed in the wind, bending gracefully and enjoying the beautiful comedy of errors that began our marriage.

How could I not be married to this guy, right?

I wish I could, in fact, have been a little more reed-like, but I found that instead of bending during our disaster-ridden ceremony day – I shut down.  I embraced the “f*ck it moment” that I am forever eternally grateful to APW for, but I took it to the extreme of, “Whatever. I will just pretend I don’t care about losing control and just try to make it through the day.”

Why did I shut down?

We had a tornado – hail and all –  on the outdoor ceremony;  A band member had a heart attack the night before (he’s okay) and my husband’s carefully composed march song wasn’t played;  There was  a fire in the kitchen and my mom complained about the delivery of food;  My Dad decided not to come (partially because he wasn’t walking me down the aisle); All the handmade – literally every petal on every flower in every bunch of table decorations hand stitched by me – decorations got piled in a basket and taken down to the basement to get them out of the rain; A guest at the rehearsal carousel picnic gave us some sort of illness so both my husband and I ended up in the emergency room (me in a scary state after my new husband found me passed out and choking and probably saved my life).

Because all of this happened I felt like it robbed the wedding of what was going to make it special.  I had been so committed to doing everything myself that I focused on those handmade details and couldn’t keep the wedding train on the tracks.   We have wonderful friends and family who pitched in and cleaned gutters in their fancy clothes, and moved water off the dance floor, and made the best of it.   They really wanted to do whatever they could on the day.

My Uncle grabbed his stamped escort card and pinned to his lapel, since there were no longer reception tables to go to, and people followed suit.  Later in the evening I was surrounded by family members with “Cow Table” and “Little Fish Table” boutonnieres.  Everyone tried really hard to get my vision the way I wanted it.

I didn’t ask for it enough, and I should have.  I know now that my friends and family wanted to help me (they certainly came through in a crisis situation).  They would have been thrilled to be involved earlier.  When I thought I was saving my Mom and my best friend the annoying details and manual labor, they really thought that they were being cut out of this great time in my life.  I have memories of the day, but I could have had memories of building decorations, or sewing my bouquet, or any other number of projects – if I had only been willing to ask them.

I look back on our wedding I think of all the things that were lost:  the songs that never got played, the toasts that never got made, and the wind-up toy bouquets that never made it out of the basement. I wouldn’t have those regrets if I had spoken up, let go of the control, maybe paid someone, and had anticipated what I know now to be true:  friends and family will do what they can and not feel like it is an imposition. Perhaps on an anniversary I will throw another party to get my design details right, but I know now the love I felt that day can’t be replaced with all of the craft projects in the world.

P.S. We are now 12 months into our marriage, and I firmly believe that everyone should ride carousel horses with their fiancees while a vintage pipe-organ plays “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” – it makes for a happy couple.

Most of the photos are by one of my best friends –  Carrie, of Carrie Ann Studios who broke her “I will never photograph weddings” rule for me.

Featured Sponsored Content

  • “To my wife’s credit, she too became like the fabled reed in the wind, bending gracefully and enjoying the beautiful comedy of errors that began our marriage.”
    How sweet! What an eloquent husband!

    And “the ceremony culminated with a double rainbow.” How awesome, in all that chaos and unplanned catastrophe, some unplanned beauty shone in!

    The carousel is wonderful, and congratulations on your marriage! Thanks for sharing!

    • Matthew had such a great view of it all. I was full of regrets at first and he just kept saying how amazing it was.

  • Great post, and very wise words, Kari! Thank you so much for sharing. Although your wedding didn’t go as planned (at all) the pictures sure show a lovely event full of friends, family, and love. I think your wedding looked fantastic :-) Congrats on a year of happy marriage!

  • Pingback: Wedding Graduates: Kari & Matthew | camping table()

  • This is so fabulous. I appreciate the honesty of being disappointed, but I love the groom’s outlook. It really brought tears to my eyes as I read his description of the bride walking down the aisle, and the double rainbow at the end of the ceremony. How fitting!

  • “If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not funny.” –Woody Allen

    It sounds like you have a wonderful base of people around you…what a day!

    I loved this post, because it showed that, yes indeed: the show must and will go on.


  • We too had the bottom drop out of the clouds on our wedding day right as I was coming down the driveway of the historic mansion on a horse and white carriage. My guests went running, the babies started crying, and everyone got soaked, except me. I sat smiling and laughing in my carriage with an umbrella covering my neatly done-up hair and perfectly applied make-up and yelling to everyone, “I’m Sorry!” I didn’t care about my dress getting wet. 5 minutes later the rain stopped and the silver lining appeared through the clouds. It ended up being a beautiful day even though my music I had picked out for the ceremony was no longer available, due to the equipment getting soaked and taken inside the reception hall. The guests came back to their seats, but no longer sat in them. The wedding party returned to their spots on the front porch of the mansion, but no longer looked as perfect as before. The 5 flower girls, 2 ring bearers, and 1 bell ringer were all calmed down and able to sit or stand quietly. My driver went around the circled driveway to re-do the entrance that the bride deserved. However, with no music the entrance wasn’t what I had in mind. My sister saved the day by humming the bridal march and by the time I reached my groom the entire wedding party and those in attendance had joined her. It was a magical day!

    Your day does sound a little more extreme than ours considering y’all had the tornado sirens and you had done so many DIY projects, but I’m so glad you had a man that stood by your side through it all! The only thing that matters at the end of your wedding day is that you are married to the love of your life!!!!

    My advice to any brides out there is to ask for help (I got my reception done for free because I asked my uncle and my dad made my invitations). You never know if people are willing to help until you ask!! Being married is a wonderful blessing and I pray that everyone can find the same joy that I have found! God Bless, Kimberly (kimberlywasher.blogspot.com)

    • Stephasaurus

      Love the story of your wedding day! Your sister humming the bridal march reminded me of when I photographed a friend’s mom’s wedding last summer. The DJ was doing the music for both the ceremony and reception, since both spots were outside and very close to each other. He couldn’t get his sound system to work in time for the ceremony (thankfully it worked for the reception!) so all the guests hummed the bridal march. The bride and wedding party could barely contain their laughter while they walked down the aisle to everyone singing “Daaa da da daaaaa, daaa DA da daaaa!”

  • memery

    yay Kari! love seeing the pictures after getting to hear your story last weekend. happy (late) 1 year anniversary! celebrate with orange buns this weekend!

  • elyse

    “When I thought I was saving my Mom and my best friend the annoying details and manual labor, they really thought that they were being cut out of this great time in my life.”

    Yup. I was the exact same way! I remember when it came time to put the invites together and address all the envelopes, I just wanted to sit down and get it done (my way) and didn’t get why my mom really wanted me to come home for a weekend and do it together, that it was something she’d always imagined us doing. We were also busy getting ready for a post-wedding move halfway across the country* so had no extra weekends to spare for a trip home (which I guess means I should have accepted more help)

    * Funny. . . Kari – the day of your wedding was one month before ours and the start of our crazy 4 day house hunt in St. Louis! I totally remember the tornado sirens going off. As an east coast girl, I had no idea what the sirens were for, and when told, freaked out, convinced we should go hide in a basement somewhere. We’ve been here almost a year now, and I still can’t get used to those sirens.

    Love the carousel!

    • I didn’t know what the sirens were either! I wasn’t really paying attention until I was putting on my lipstick and hail just came down out of nowhere and the whole reception setup was soaked. Must me a Midwestern thing, but this Southern (and NYC) girl didn’t know what to do.

  • Why don’t husbands write more letters for these graduate posts? They need to! There is always such a marvelous, full circle effect when they do.

    (& the carousel was brilliant)

  • Can we just talk about the pink toole under your dress for a second?!? Fabulous!!!

  • Wow. I love everything about this post — the insight, Matthew’s recollections, the photos, the details, the dress! Kari, despite everything that appeared to have gone wrong (holy crap — ER visit??) I would have LOVED to have been at your wedding.

    • I was kind of uptight about it, but everyone else seemed to have a great time! We ended up having garage karaoke, and mini hamburgers, and vows that included “give you the last of the bag of chips” – so in retrospect it was pretty good. So – anniversary party, you’re in!

  • Sara

    Kari I can relate to so much of this post! I had a DIY wedding and didn’t ask for enough help either. When a monsoon (not literally, but we did get 4 inches of rain in 2 hours) started 20 minutes before our outdoor wedding was going to start, all of the decorations I slaved over for hours got shoved in the trunk of someone’s car and I haven’t seen them since. It took me about 6 months to get over the fact that my wedding day didn’t turn out as I had envisioned it during the whole planning process. Thankfully, time gives us perspective, as it did for you, too. The best part is having a wonderful husband at the end of it all. Congratulations on pulling off an unforgettable wedding!

    • It took me a long time (longer than I want to admit because no one wants to be Bitter Betty) to get over it. It is only because I have Matthew – and some great friends who still talk about all the good stuff – that I have let go of much of the disappointment.

  • Other Katelyn

    This is what brought me to tears: “Later in the evening I was surrounded by family members with “Cow Table” and “Little Fish Table” boutonnieres. Everyone tried really hard to get my vision the way I wanted it.”

    Your family is so kind-hearted and wonderful, and what a story. Carousels and tornadoes? Hell yeah.

    • I loveloveLOVED the boutonnieres! Such a sweet thing to do. I love how people will rally together for loved ones in such a way.

      Kari, even if you were frazzled then, you have these incredibly sweet memories NOW. And that’s all the more important!

      • The fact that it happened so organically was really sweet. I was just sitting in the kitchen of my now sister-in-law’s house and looked up and saw my Uncle Carl with his table assignment on. And then I started looking around, and everyone had one. We had some weird table names (based on our inside jokes) so to have family with “Cobra Strike!” and “George Jefferson” was pretty hilarious.

        Yeah, my family is awesome.

  • I love you.

  • Awesome! I am having an indoors wedding because of weather fears, but I am STILL worried about it pouring (we’re having a very, very rainy season here in Pittsburgh). I will have to read this post when the weather report for our wedding week comes in. You’re awesome!

  • carrie

    This made me smile today, so thank you. And congrats on a beautiful wedding!

    • carrie

      More importantly, congrats on getting married to a wonderful man! The wedding is second. :-)

  • LOMO

    “I thought my family and friends wouldn’t care about these small details, and somehow might judge me for caring about them so much, so I didn’t ask them for help”

    “When I thought I was saving my Mom and my best friend the annoying details and manual labor, they really thought that they were being cut out of this great time in my life”

    Kari – totally perfect reflection on DIY/T.

    Note to all wedding undergrads – it is sooo true, people WANT to help, they really really really do…so don’t make the decision for them by not asking.

    I set up two nights per week about 3 months out from the wedding; one on a weekday evening and one on a mid afternoon weekend as designated “Wedding Crafting Days.”

    I put a mass invite out to everyone in town I knew about the dates and times and simply said “Come when you can, stay if you want…there will be box wine!” Every month I would re-send the invite with a rolling list of projects, some crossed off as complete with other still highlighted as To-Do’s.

    This took the pressure off a direct invite and let people plan when they could fit it into their schdules. Some nights it was just me and Jus, others I had a house full of people. It really showed me that people I hardly knew were SUPER dedicated to crafting and had the best time.

    • This is brilliant. I wish I would have done this. I would totally want to help people who sent out a crafting and box wine invite. Excellent idea.

    • charm city vixen

      This is awesome!!!!! Such a great idea — I will definitely keep it in mind!

  • Erin

    This is beautiful! My wedding is mostly outdoors, and the weather SHOULD be fine, but I am of course worrying about it anyways…this goes to show that what is really important won’t be washed away with the rain, namely having all the people I love together to celebrate our love. Thank you for this!

  • m

    I’m getting married outside and now I feel extremely confident that no matter what, we’ll be married by the end of the day!

  • I love, LOVE your Groom’s perspective of your wedding! I’m so sorry so many things went wrong at your wedding; I can only imagine the disappointment. Your guests came & filled your day with love- it’s something many of us (including me!) take for granted, yet it’s the most important detail of all. Congratulations~

    And the carousel- absolutely fabulous!!!!

  • KA

    “I also thought that getting other people involved (who I wouldn’t have been paying) was an imposition. I thought my family and friends wouldn’t care about these small details, and somehow might judge me for caring about them so much, so I didn’t ask them for help”

    I am trying soo hard to not do this. And I totally 100% would be like this if not for all the awesome ladies of APW telling me not to be like this–so thank you for helping out a fellow DIY bride!

  • Angela García Borreguero

    Happy anniversary to both of you!!!
    we share the same wedding date, so we also are 12 months into this marriage thing….
    Sad to know everything went nuts with your details, but glad you make it right in your hearts.
    I´m with you about asking and letting all your relatives help with wedding related things…good advise for me 12 months ago…
    anyway, happy marriage!

  • Moz

    Holy cow, I think you guys win ‘most disruptions on a wedding day’ and I have sung at a wedding where everyone has been running from bushfires!

    Congrats on your marriage!

  • charm city vixen

    Congrats on your beautiful wedding! It looked stunning — despite all calamities and crafting misfortunes!

    I love that despite everything, you still got married amidst friends and family.

    Also, LOVED your dress and the carosaul (*shallow comment*)!!! LOVED IT.

    Wishing you all the best! And definitely thinking that an anniversary party with crafts sounds delightful! Because really, who wouldn’t like to be a guest at a party celebrating love?

  • Jo

    This is something I need to remember, for sure.

    And the carousel wedding is absolutely beautiful!!