Kristiina & Kevin

Remember the last day of my vacation, how I posted Kris’s overwhelmed with joy-ness, and you all clamored for a wedding graduate post? Well that girl is snappy, and you have it today. There are a million wonderful things about this post, the way the wedding is both traditional and non-traditional at once; the way Kris talks about really concreate things, like the things they spent their money on; the way she full on tackles that this was her second wedding and what that meant to her on a really personal level. And the wedding is beautiful, did I mention it was beautiful? But before we jump into the post, I’m going to leave you with something Kris said to me in an email, which I loved, “For our wedding we both wanted traditional things.  I wanted a ceremony and he wanted dinner and dancing.  He wanted a wedding party and a ring pillow.  I wanted a bouquet, flowers on the tables, and wedding favors.  I suspected that he wanted me to wear a white dress.  I felt that we had a responsibility because he was the first in his family and his entire generation to be married.” Because sometimes you forget this in the midst of all this wedding hip-ness, simple is great, traditional is great, feeling like you owe something to your family? Sometimes that makes you lucky. And with that, I give you Kris:

The first thing I want to say about our wedding is this: as beautiful as it was to me, as great as the satisfaction I feel about it, the radiant details are less important to me than the fact that we got married.

Perhaps this is partially due to the fact that this wasn’t the first time I got married. The first time was at City Hall in NYC to my very dear ex, who I loved and love.  We had a favorite book: the characters got married at City Hall, and we did too.  We had a couple of different parties afterwards in our many cities that were very us, very loving, very meaningful.  So why then did I feel sad and nervous getting ready to go to City Hall?  Why did I feel like crying the night before one of these parties?  I think we all know the answer.  Sometime even a great person isn’t the right person for you.

My feeling about divorce is that, even at its most amicable, it is heartbreaking.  That vows were said, not just to each other, but to friends and to family.  You may know in your heart that your ex will find someone else, but what about his kind grandfather and grandmother who welcomed you with open arms into the family?  Faith was broken somewhere, even with the best intentions.  That is why, like it says, I have come to believe that marriage should be something you do reverently and advisedly. It is an act with weight. A covenant. It is a great and powerful thing.

When I met my now husband, I did not think we would get married.  Aside from my own fears and concerns, the 13 year age difference made a long term relationship seem unlikely.  I kept bracing myself for the worst, the moment he would find someone else and move on.  That moment never came. We got engaged, now we are married.  We embraced the future together.

When I think of our wedding, I think about how beautiful everything was: the gardens, the pool, the tables, the room I changed in, the patio outside, the chairs, the trees.  I think about the Lion King song his brother sang us, about his best man’s moving toast.   I think about my sister and law singing “Che il sogno di Doretta” as we walked to be married.  Or my friend Ann singing “The Nearness of You” as our first dance.  I think about coming in to our bedroom that night, the bride’s room I changed in, and seeing a million candles and orchids and artichokes that my bridesmaids had repurposed from the tables and used to decorate the room for us.  Let me tell you, any decorated bedroom you have seen in a movie has nothing on these ladies and their men, who helped.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The thing I think about most often is holding the man I love’s hands under the pepper tree and looking at him.  I think about how happy we were, how full we were of the astonishment and joy of getting married to each other.  That is why we had a wedding.

Now the nitty gritty: I think the wedding planning process can be meaningful and transformative; I also think it can be mind-bogglingly stressful and hard.  I thought a little about what I would have told myself at the beginning of it all (not so very long ago!) and here it is:

1) Embrace your own brand of crazy

Planning a wedding is—as we all know—super crazy pants.  I obsessively clinked through every wedding location in LA online.  I think that is over 1,000.  When I found A Practical Wedding, thanks to a rec from my dear friend Liz, I read every post that Meg wrote in two days.  At the height of my wedding-planning madness I was reading 40 blogs a day.  Yes, I do have a fulltime job.  I like to research and really get in to things.

So what if I bought hundreds of vintage salt and pepper shakers to give out as wedding gifts?  Don’t judge yourself—do what you need to do.

2) Don’t lose sight of the bottom line—for too long

I know how difficult marriage can be, the hard way.  I know that a marriage, like every relationship, needs to be protected, invested in, and prioritized.   You probably know this too, but let me add that the wedding is a good place to practice this.  After all, you are not marrying your florist (although it may feel that way at times).  Yes, the photo booth needs attention—but maybe you should just go out and see a movie instead.

3) Think about the feeling

For me, the location was the most significant decision.  I needed a beautiful place that we could afford.  I also needed a place that was very Californian, because I couldn’t imagine dragging family from the East Coast and Midwest and having them spend their time in a banquet hall that they could have found in Ohio.  The location we found was not just beautiful, a 1930s house lovingly restored within an inch of its life, complete with garden and old pool, it was tranquil.  As we stepped out of the car to look at it, peace washed over me.  I felt calm; I felt like I wanted to stay.  I thought our friends and family would feel the same way.

4) Stress and relish

I wish I could say that having found the location, I embraced each wedding task with calm and ease, relishing the shit out of it and leaving frantic stress behind.  But I’m a worrier.  Loved the wine tasting and choosing.  Then worried we hadn’t bought enough.  Then worried about having bought too much. It’s a process—just make sure that there are some good parts in there.

5) Go with the accident

I and the man I love were planning to get married in September, which would have given us 9 months to put the wedding together and allowed me to work an extra job over the summer to help pay for it all. However, the owner of the house said, “How about June?  The garden looks beautiful in June.”  We shook our heads, then looked at each other.  Better for his brothers, who are still in school, than September.  Better for me, who would be done with the quarter.  June it was!  We didn’t need the extra planning time.  And the garden was beautiful.

6) Don’t budget away the joy

Budgeting can become very consuming.  We too had very small amounts we could spend in every area—especially small amounts for Los Angeles.  But there were some line items that ultimately needed to go over budget.  Did we need custom invitations?  No.  Do I understand no one else cares about the invitation?  Yes.  Did I look hard at every budget stationery option and try to picture sending it out instead?  Yes.  But the fact is have I always loved paper and stationery and I wanted to make something beautiful, something very personal.  I loved the process of working with a talented designer. I loved how my husband and I would look at the proofs together and talk about our vision of us, of the day, of what we loved visually.

7) Let your husband-to-be handle it

We had been pretty collaborative, but the week before the wedding there were a number of minor/crucial things that still had to be taken care of and I felt I was carrying them all.  I broke down to the man I love and told him that I was afraid I was going to forget something—that it was all on me—that I was the only one who knew what was supposed to happen when.  He said, Tell me everything we’re supposed to do.  I’ll make lists and we’ll take care of it together.  Fellow control freaks, you are carrying more than you realize.  Delegate and share.

8)  Get married!  It’s awesome!

Did I ever imagine that the 20 year-old engagement-ring-hating, traditional-marriage-avoidant, abandonment-terrified, relationship-misfit I was would turn in to the happily, so happily, married woman I am today?  I did not.  The wonder of it all.

Photos by Steve Steinhardt wedding photography, in LA (they loved him!)

Featured Sponsored Content

  • So many wonderful photos. Capturing not only the happy moments in the foreground, but the background as well. Now this is a beautiful, traditional, shindig I can get down with. Kris, you make a lovely bride! And that photo of you slow dancing with your husband, it literally gave me chills. Amazing! This post brings me so much joy today.

  • Re number 8: Me too!! And that lasted well past 20.
    And wedding looks awesome. Congrats!

  • Faith

    SO many things are womnderful about this one. Thank you for your very practical advice!

    “The first thing I want to say about our wedding is this: as beautiful as it was to me, as great as the satisfaction I feel about it, the radiant details are less important to me than the fact that we got married.”

    There is a reason why I keep reading this site: it always brings me back to sane. My man and I are reasearching the possibility of moving, we are at the very beginning of the process, and I’m starting to feel some nervousness about it.

    The post today reminded me that we will be together, that’s all that matters:)

  • Christine

    Wow. Have been a stalker for SO long and three weeks out from my own wedding, this post hit home like no other. Thank you, Kris! I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this post more than once.

  • Mayweed

    Ooh, do I get to be the first shallow “I love the dress” poster?

    I love the dress!

    Also, very wise words, beautiful photos and an abundance of joy. Amazing.

  • Elizabeth

    This is the first wedding graduate post in a while that really embraces the Wedding Planning Crazies – which, let’s face it, as practical and calm as we as APW’s try to be, sometimes they’re just an inevitable part of throwing a wedding. I was up past midnight lining my envelopes for the invites (which are already behind schedule) because I just HAD TO. My fiance, bless his heart, doesn’t understand why that’s important but is right there next to me with glue dots.

    I can also sympathize with being a control freak. Thanks for the reminder to LET GO once in a while – it’s a message that we Type As need to hear once in a while.

    • Sarah

      What a wonderful fiance you have!

      I did something similar with my invites (which I decided to address by hand) … 2 weeks behind schedule I was sitting up until the wee hours finishing them. My fiance didn’t understand why it was so important, but he sat up with me to keep me from freaking out.

      You have to love the planning crazies!

      • I decided to hand address all of mine too. It was great at first. Somewhere around fifty I was thinking it was a terrible idea. Looking back it doesn’t seem so bad as it surely did then.

        • Elizabeth

          Not only did I decide to hand-write all my envelopes, but I decided to TEACH MYSELF CALLIGRAPHY to do so. Yeeeah. No wonder they’re going out so late.

          • Sarah

            Yep. That’s where I was, too. People were thrilled and impressed, and it was totally worth it. I would definitely do it again …. but I’d give myself an entire week or two, instead of 2 evenings after work. (Who says 2am doesn’t count as evening?)

    • meg

      Oh honey, this is no where NEAR the first wedding graduate to embrace the crazy. Some of the very first did, even, two years ago.

  • Erin

    “feeling like you owe something to your family? Sometimes that makes you lucky. ”
    Mmmm. yep.

  • This post spoke to me on so many levels – I completely agree with Elizabeth’s comment on embracing the planning crazies! Understanding yourself and why you are doing things is so important. The “take time to take care of yourself and your relationship” approach is something I haven’t got down pat yet, but my fiance is helping me work on it!

    Salt and pepper shakers as favors? Amazing!!

    Kris, I really appreciate your honest assessment of what the wedding planning meant to you, and then what the wedding planning meant to you on the day. You sound like you have it all together! All the best wishes for you and Kevin in your life together.

  • Sarah

    What a smart post. Kris, you are an incredibly lucky woman to 1. have this wisdom in you and 2. have found Kevin, who brings out what you love in yourself. =)

    Your wedding was gorgeous! And the salt/pepper shakers? GENIUS!

    It’s times like this I wish I could have a time machine to go back and add things to my own wedding… ::smiles::

  • This is really beautiful. And I’m kind of obsessed with the salt & pepper shakers!!!! Thanks for sharing all of it … it was especially nice to hear what someone had to say who has gotten married before. Very insightful.

  • Jennifer

    So much “me too” on this one! #1 and #7 are the ones I really need to be hearing right now (2 weeks out! eek!) and I am really really looking forward to being able to “me too” on #8!

  • Angela

    Wow, #7 hit a little too close to home. I had a really horrible argument about that last night with the fiance. :/ Thanks for the smart words! I need to get over myself and help him help me already.

  • Karin

    I loved the whole post but I have to say, being a child of divorced parents (I’m now 26) reading the part about how a divorce, no matter how easy, isn’t easy on the rest of the family. How it’s not just each other you let down, but Grandma & Grandpa too. I never thought of it that way until I read this post. Thank you for sharing that part with us, very insightful.

    Loved your list of ‘rules’, they definetly spoke to me as well! Something I will keep in mind! Thank You again for a fabulous wedding graduate post!!

  • Anna

    I always love the posts where people aren’t afraid to give into the things they really want for their wedding. It’s always easier to rationalize than give into your desires.

    Your wedding looks gorgeous and I am in lust with your dress :)

  • E

    I’m very grateful to be reading this post this morning. This makes me happy. Beautiful. Thanks.

  • Alyssa

    I love embracing your own brand of crazy, I try to do that every day! There’s a lot of conversations that end in, “Yes, I have to do this, yes I know I know it’s a little nuts, but I’m not hurting anything so go away!”

    But don’t budget away your joy is REALLY wonderful. If you can cut corners somewhere else and it’s something you really want, why not go for it?

    And of course, I have to add..DRESS LOVE. (I don’t think there’s been a grad post yet where I haven’t thought the bride was uncommonly stunning. By my logic, that means all APW readers are beautiful. Yay for hotness!)

  • I love this post on so many levels. I love that she embraced the second wedding issues, the wedding planning crazies, and the joy. Thank you for sharing!

    • Also (on a completely superficial topic) I forgot to mention how much I love your salt and pepper shaker favors.

  • “Aside from my own fears and concerns, the 13 year age difference made a long term relationship seem unlikely. I kept bracing myself for the worst, the moment he would find someone else and move on.”

    I’m 9 years older than my husband-to-be, and this is my 2nd (and last <3) wedding. I can totally relate to that, and knowing that someone else was feeling that and it never came… I definitely needed that. Thank you. :)

  • Pingback: On my wedding graduate post! « The Imaginary Wedding()

  • Michelle

    Love everything about this wedding graduate post. Wonderful and beautiful and wise.

    #7. I found that my husband really stepped up in the last two weeks before the wedding with sharing the load of last-minute details and keeping me sane.

    • Alyssa

      So jealous of you ladies and your helpful hubbies. Mine wasn’t that bad, but bless his heart, he’s a bit of a mess and the wedding was no exception.

      A week before the wedding we had this big fight because he could not understand why him not getting the stuff on his list done was stressing me out.
      I’d like to say that I was able to respond with a elegant statement on how I was feeling the stress of taking on too many projects and if I know that you still have items on your list that need to be done, it adds to my self-induced stress. I realize you will get them done, but when they are not done on a time-line that I agree with, it makes me very anxious.

      Instead it was more like,

      So go hug your boys because they’re awesome.
      I’ll hug The Boy when I get home because he put up with me and he’s also awesome in his own way.
      Even if he did our iPod music list the night before.

      • I have a boy like that too. He stated that the wedding was for me, and our families, and that he would be perfectly happy to have a city hall elopement. All the planning I put into it was totally worth it though, when after the wedding he kissed me, thanked me for plugging ahead on planning, and told me that he was really glad we did had the wedding.

      • Oh, yes. We’ve all had moments (sometimes a lot of them) like that. And I totally stress when he doesn’t do things on my timeline (or how I want them done). oops! Working on letting go now…

        And Trisha, my husband said those same things: “I don’t need a big party in your backyard to promise that I’ll love you forever [I’ve already told you that many times over the years], but I will do it for you because it makes you & your family happy” and then, all surprised, “That was awesome! What a great party! And they all love us so much!”
        um, I win? We all win! yay!

  • april

    Fabulosity and great pictures too. BTW: I LOVE your #3 “think about the feeling”. YESSS! Takes me back 2 years ago when I was searching till my wits end for a wedding venue that truly *felt* like the sunshiney, laid-back, tropical place we live (San Diego). A place where me and my mister could marry, enjoy our party and even return to in years to come. No one and I mean NOT. ONE. PERSON I’m friends with aside from my mister understood this need as I painstakingly researched venue after venue. So I am absolutely over-the-moon thrilled to see a graduate post where the location and feeling of the venue was super important to the couple.

    Oh, and I have to add: La-la-la LOVE the dress!!!! Any dress where you can see the Bride’s shoes is tops in my book. :-)

    • meg

      I think our venue was one of the most important elements of how our wedding felt (other than, you know, emotion) and I definitely had an emotional reaction when we found it. I poked my head in the door and was like, “Oh hello! I live here!” and David was still outside the door like, “What? What does it look like? I wanna see.”

      That said, I think I try to avoid adding any more unrealistic pressure on people re: the venue search. I mean, thank GOD for our venue. It was owned by parks and rec, and was possibly the only one in the Bay Area that had what we needed and we could afford (and we had the luxury of booking a year and a half in advance, or we never would have nabbed a spot, and a not tiny budget). So. Venues can be hard as h*ll in big urban areas, so I try to stay away from, “OMG you have to find the perfect venue.” Because in reality, sometimes you can’t.

      But yes. If you want to know what dramatically affects the feeling of your wedding it’s people first, then venue. But church social halls leave good memories too, just different ones.

    • The venue was super important to both my husband and I too. We got lucky, and ended up with a perfect one for us.

    • Before I even knew my husband, I knew that I wanted to get married in my parents’ backyard: I love my family & my home (so it feels good there), my dad’s a landscaper, my mom loves planting flowers, and they live on a lake… to me, that’s perfection!
      However, during the month or so that I was freaking out about not being able to seat people in the tiny flat space available in the yard and I was searching for venues (online while living on another continent), I realised that the feel was more important than the place, and that I already had a place that felt right. I just had to adapt my idea of what a wedding was to fit the space we all knew was the best fit for us.

  • ka

    Yay! Thank you for sharing this Kris! I love everything about this wedding from start to finish. And such great advice that I have promptly bookmarked it in my “Wedding” subfolder entitled “Sanity.” It sounds like we come from the same brand of crazy (research is both my greatest joy and the bane of my existence), and I’m really starting to own it now, so thanks for the nudge in the right direction. ;-)

    As someone in the midst of the Great Venue Search (I’ve seemingly contacted every vacation rental in the NYC tri-state area), kudos to you on your find. It looks like paradise! Do you mind sharing what it’s called–as my brand of crazy may not be against switching coasts…


    • “(research is both my greatest joy and the bane of my existence)”
      Oh, me too! At any point I have 20-ish tabs open in Firefox, with 2-3 different topics being researched. But I am getting a bit better at realising when it’s just too much, and closing the ones on cameras that are similar to the one I want to buy, but are NOT the one I want to buy (yes, you have to know what else is available in the market, but you also have to recognise when the topic you’re researching is UNRELATED).
      Also, I hope the rest of the community doesn’t mind me posting a link, but there’s something in each of the points on this list that makes me laugh/wince every time I read it:

  • Nina

    This graduate post brought me such a lovely calm – because it so closely matches my own experience. I too started out traditional-marriage-avoidant and ended up reading lot of wedding blogs and going just a touch wedding mad. And also had to break down the last week before the wedding and truly share the responsibility (rather than just collaborate like you say). And finally, what truly made me calm was your description of the day – really brought me back to our wedding a couple of months ago.

    Thanks for your post – I really enjoyed it!

    • I love that APW is a place where people feel (often varied) things throughout a post.
      Yay, Meg & community!

  • Seriously, this post gave me goosebumps. I’m in crunch time and it’s totally what I needed to hear. Especially number 7. I am there right now (feeling like I’m shouldering it all) and I will definitely be taking your advice.

    The wedding turned out gorgeous and thank you, thank you for sharing!

  • Liz K

    I had the utmost honor to be one of Kris’ “ladies” on this day (and walking that handsome ring bearer down the aisle!) – and all I can say is that thinking about the whole “experience” of Kris’ and Kevin’s relationship thus far sends shivers down my spine and brings tears to my eyes. From hearing her talk about “this guy” who kept pursuing her at a 4th of July party the first time they met, to helping her through tough spots in the subsequent years, and to being enveloped by their radiant joy & love at their wedding… when the going gets tough and the planning crazies set in, That’s what Kris did, and all the insanity melted away.

    Now, that said, I would like to place a call out for some more posts on ceremonies… and ask that Kris write some about hers. You can read a little bit about it over here:, because just thinking about it… wow, the emotions well up in me still… and it wasn’t even my wedding.

  • aarika

    Wow, what a beautiful post =) The outpouring of emotions on all your guest faces in the pictures is so touching! Also the venue is absolutely stunning, where was this?

  • Ana

    Great post Kris! Your words and smile really convey the joy I hope to feel on my wedding day. I am recently engaged and leaning toward the simplicity of NYC city hall but also keep coming back to having a wedding just like this in a beautiful setting surrounded by loved ones even if it means having to plan and save and stress and wait longer to be married. Maybe we’ll have both? Well what I mainly took away is to remember to bravely follow that gut feeling that tells you when something is right for you or not… so we will keep discerning with that it mind. Thanks!

  • Beth

    “My feeling about divorce is that, even at its most amicable, it is heartbreaking. That vows were said, not just to each other, but to friends and to family. You may know in your heart that your ex will find someone else, but what about his kind grandfather and grandmother who welcomed you with open arms into the family? Faith was broken somewhere, even with the best intentions. That is why, like it says, I have come to believe that marriage should be something you do reverently and advisedly. It is an act with weight. A covenant. It is a great and powerful thing.”

    This post is wonderful and this specific part really spoke to me. This will be my second marriage and I felt the same way about my first. It broke my heart to divorce his family even though that we knew we weren’t right together.

    • KristieB

      This part also really hit home with me.

      I’ve never been married before, but I’ve been in long-term committed relationships. Ones where the idea of not seeing his family ever again made me fall apart more than never seeing him again.

      D & I really wanted to make sure that our ceremony was asking our community for their love and support for our marriage. Yes, we were marrying each other – but we were also accepting and making promises to each others family and friends.

  • Erin

    GORGEOUS venue. What IS the venue? Forgive me if you said it somewhere in the post or comments and I’m just totally missing it.

    This paragraph, about divorce, is as important as it is beautiful and hit me straight in the heart: “My feeling about divorce is that, even at its most amicable, it is heartbreaking. That vows were said, not just to each other, but to friends and to family….”

    • First of all, thank you everybody for your kind comments! The venue is a house called The Mountain Mermaid: The owner’s name is Bill and he’s a sweet, sweet man. As an extra bonus, he also rents a few bedroom as a B & B so if you want to stay overnight, you can. We did, and the morning after our wedding had breakfast on the patio with Bill and hummingbirds. :)

  • Mmm, I can feel the joy (and calm!) of the day just looking at these pictures. Beautiful, and all these words are so true.

  • Those salt and pepper shakers! So. Freaking. Cute. My fiancee and I made mix cd’s for our wedding favors…we burned them ourselves and hand-stamped the cd holders while we watched Star Wars. It was one of those unplanned totally fun wedding planning moments. Hilarious, because I avoided stamping the cd holders for so long because I was terrified that they wouldn’t “turn out” pretty – I was scared they’d just look sloppy. My guy was like…why don’t we just do this, now? And we can watch Star Wars, too! Reminding me, yet again, why I am marrying him. Note: some of them were kind of sloppy looking, sadly…but in a hand-made still pretty cute kind of way. Heh heh.

  • Gorgeous!! And so wonderfully sane and insightful. Yay!

  • Christina

    Thank you for this post. I had a mini-breakdown last night. As a control freak, I simultaneously am mad that I am doing everything and not letting anyone help because they supposedly don’t know what’s going on. I caught myself mid breakdown and gave my very willing fiance some stuff to do. It was more of an amazing feeling that I thought it would be.

  • Christina

    Also – is your name really spelled with two i’s? Because that’s kind of awesome.

    • It is. It’s the Finnish spelling. :)

  • I absolutely love the opening reflections. Those are the things to remember and the things to look back on. Beautiful.

  • Aaaaaah, I love this post! I kept saying “me too!” and reading snippets of the post aloud to my fiancee (Crazy: yes! Worrying about too much/too little of things: yes! Invitation obsession just cuz they’re so damn pretty: HELL YES!) Thanks so much, Kris, for sharing your story and wisdom. The pictures from your wedding are beautiful, and you look absolutely radiant!

  • Moz

    This is definitely one of my fave grad posts. I love what you said about marriage being a covenant with more than just your partner, there’s real truth to that.

    Congrats on your marriage xx

  • Great images, very heart felt. Awesome!

  • Holly

    Kris, did I read that right about the 13 year age difference? I can’t see it. that is, I can’t tell which one of you is older. Maybe because everyone is so radiant. You are lucky people!

    • I admit to trying to figure it out (and failing!) as well.

  • This post made me feel content. I love the honesty, the fact that it’s all laid out in a numbered list, and the obvious JOY in all of the pictures. Congratulations to you both!