Lisa & Brett

Today’s wedding graduate post is from Lisa, who some of you know as the fiercely smart and independent Giggles, from the comments. I’m a little overwhelmed by the honor of getting to share Lisa’s wedding graduate post for a bunch of reasons. First, Lisa is one of those smart, independent, tough as nails women that delight me, and even scare me a little bit with their greatness. Second, this is the first LDS wedding I’ve ever had on APW, and that’s an exciting thing for me (40% of our hometown is Mormon, so, so this is a kind of wedding that means something to me). Since Lisa and Brett were married in a temple, their wedding ceremony wasn’t photographed, and Lisa says that the other pictures were plenty (and I really really feel that, as you might have figured out, given that I shared all of one slightly blurry photo of our ceremony). Her post is packed with such wisdom and beauty, that you will totally, totally get the point (and might realize you don’t need your ceremony video-ed after all, who knows):

Condensing a wedding down to one blog post is about as easy as condensing an autobiography down to six words.

The whole focus of our wedding was on family, the families we came from and the family we were forming. Our wedding was our families and lives coming together in a single moment to push us into the next part of our family and lives together. That focus kept us sane throughout both the planning and the wedding. We used a particular table at the reception site to display wedding photos of our parents. After all, it was their weddings that ultimately made our wedding possible.

The day before our wedding we got both of our families together to meet each other and eat some good food at my favorite Brazilian restaurant. What’s better than good times with the people you love and good food? (The women had all gotten together the night before for a night of belly dancing.)

The morning of our wedding I went for a run with my father. My father and I have run together since I was a baby and he would push me in a stroller. In recent years we’ve run marathons together. That morning my father and I went on a run past the house he and my mom lived in right after their marriage and the hospital I was born in. A rather historical run in many senses.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe a marriage performed in one of the 130+ temples of our church around the world will last not only through time here on earth, but also after this life throughout eternity. We both currently live in Arizona and could have been married here. But everyone else would have had to travel. My family is spread out and was going to travel regardless. However Brett is from Utah, a lot of his family still lives there, and my 96-year-old grandpa lives in the area and would be able to attend there. So we chose the temple that is in Bountiful, Utah, for our ceremony. We held our reception just south of there at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah.

That meant we did the bulk of our wedding planning through phone calls and emails, which ended up being quite the adventure. We chose the bakery for our cake based on the one with the least annoying website (and got a lot of compliments on the yummy-ness). And I set up a blog for my wedding posse since my women were spread across the country.

While there are a lot of things we could plan for our wedding, one thing we couldn’t plan was the weather. It was snowing so hard as we approached the ceremony we could barely see the building from the street. Celebratory confetti from heaven. We were blessed with a beautiful indoor atrium at the ceremony site though and were able to get post ceremony photos there with our families and friends who attended. Wonderful forethought in hindsight in our planning. After photos with our families the snow had stopped and the scene could not have been more beautiful for photos of just us. Cold. But beautiful.

Things we learned and thoughts we had while planning a wedding:

1. A wedding is a reflection of both the bride AND the groom. A wedding is not a surprise party for the groom. There were several DIO (do-it-ourselves) projects and other things that we did that infused parts of us into every aspect of the wedding, from writing love in binary on anything that would fit through a printer for our computer geekiness, to the guest pens with feathers because the feathers were important to him, to our turtle cake toppers made by my sister, to our homemade ribbon flowers (I wanted pansies and making them seemed to be the easiest way to do that), to our computerized playlist, to the dress I sewed. Our wedding was us getting married, not Martha Stewart’s magazine getting married. So we were able to relax and make sure we were only doing things that mattered to us. And keeping my hands busy with the wedding stuff we cared about definitely helped with my sanity.

2. Important things are worth paying for. To keep my sanity, it was worth it to us to pay the price to have our reception at a place that would cover all the food, the set-up, and the clean-up. Worrying about that could’ve killed me. And it was important to me that our guests be guests at a party, not set-up and clean-up crews.

3. Sometimes an anti-to-do list helps. I’m a list person. I live by my to-do lists. But with wedding planning we found it fun to also list all the things some wedding magazines and blogs said are necessary for a wedding that we just weren’t bothering with. Then we listed on our anti-budget all the money we weren’t spending on those things. It made the actual to-do list and budget easier to swallow.

4. Having a fun photographer makes all the difference. A friend of mine (Amy Harrison) took our photos and that was one of the highlights of our day. She was having such a fun time taking photos and was great with the group shots after the ceremony. She didn’t even mind getting wet and cold in the snow, lying down on the cold ground at one point. We were so comfortable with her and it shows in our photos.

5. Comfort. Comfort. Comfort. Whatever that means to you. When you are uncomfortable it shows. Which is why I was wearing long underwear under my dress so I’d stay warm. And nobody knew except me.

6. Demurely carry a hanky. I got a kick out of the fact that I was able to demurely carry a handkerchief the whole day with my bouquet. It looked delicate and dainty, and I’m sure at some point I used it to wipe a tear from my eye. Mostly I was using it for my nose in the cold. But nobody knew the difference!

7. Some moments are pure magic. We loved everyone who came to celebrate with us. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so much love from family and friends. But the moments I will remember are the moments when everyone else faded into the background and we were the only two people in the world. During our ceremony, later when he surprised me by playing Somebody from Depeche Mode on the piano, during our first dance, it was just us. Those moments were magic unlike anything I’ve ever known. If I were to wish anything for a couple, it would be at least one moment like that.

More wedding photos and other wedding stuffs.

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  • The binary code really gets me. So cute! And a perfect, personal touch. I also made an anti-budget list. When we wrote out our budget and to-do list we also included items that were free or “gifts” from friends/family. And Lisa is so right, it does make everything a little easier to handle. Seeing $0 makes my heart want to have a little dance party.

  • This is EXACTLY what I needed this morning after a minor budget meltdown last night. In the back of my mind I know we’ve cut a lot of things out, but I’ve only been focusing on how freaking much everything we have chosen is going to cost. This really put things back in perspective for me. Thank you.

  • Kathleen

    Anti-to-do-list = best. idea. ever.

    • I second that… 100%.

      • Alyssa

        Thirding. With the statement “A wedding is not a surprise party for the groom,” as probably one of the best I’ve heard in a while.

    • Nicole

      Dude, I’m gonna make that a life policy – anti-to-do lists for everyday!

  • Thanks Meg, for some winter wedding inspiration! How beautiful is that picture behind the berries?

  • Zeke


    Especially #1, it is about two people, two families coming together on one special day. I’m so printing this out and sticking it in my binder.

    (Rachel – you’re right, just the thing I needed to hear/read this morning)

  • Chelsea

    It’s so nice to see a wedding that is deeply traditional, but also practical! Sometimes it’s easy forget that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Congratulations on both honoring your faith and family AND making your wedding your own!

    • meg

      I don’t want to speak for Lisa, but I’d put her in the a-typical traditionalist category, same as say, me. She’s plenty comfortable with challenging what doesn’t work for her. I don’t know that she’s any more or less traditional than lots of other grads :)

    • “Traditional” is such a funny word when it comes to weddings. A-typical is probably a good word to use here. I don’t think anything we really did shocked anyone, but we definitely stepped outside of some cultural ideas for the area. We did not have a receiving line that we stood in for two hours because I hate standing in those at other people’s weddings. We served food and not nut cups and punch. We asked for RSVPs (which were my biggest headache). And we didn’t throw anything at the end.

      The ceremony was definitely traditional though.

      • Chelsea

        Thanks! I was definitely thinking of your ceremony when I said “traditional”… I’m getting married in a Catholic ceremony, and sometimes I get jealous of all of the people who are writing their ceremony from scratch – it would be so wonderful to have that flexibility. But, getting married in the Church is meaningful and important to us. So I’m glad that there are those of us out there having traditional ceremonies while putting lots of thought, style, and practical-ness into the wedding!

        • meg

          You know… people get so conscious of traditions on APW without taking a deep breath ;) Y’all forget that WE had a traditional Jewish service. We had some flexibility (hello! We’re reform Jews!) but that just meant we picked readings (half of which were modern, the other half of which were psalms) and music – but the music was all thousands of years old and in Hebrew. And our vows were THE Hebrew vows, with no translation, followed by verses from Psalms.

          All of that is to say, I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, I think traditions are powerful things at weddings. We personally got married to tie us to generations and generations before us. And it’s totally possible to throw out the crap that means nothing to us (Um, sand ceremonies? That are now being sold as “super traditional” even though they are about five years old? What?) and keep all the meaningful traditional stuff, and end up with something that is exactly right.

  • Jennifer

    I also grew up in a town with a large LDS population, and am often annoyed with some of the Mormon stereotyping my friends here in New England (most of whom have had no more interaction with LDS members than giving directions to a pair of missionaries) are prone to, so I am delighted to see an LDS wedding featured here, along with a smart and strong LDS bride.

    I love the father-daughter run together past the personal landmarks on the morning of the wedding. I can’t swing anything of the sort for logistical (geographical) reasons, but I am now making sure I make time for a father-daughter hike shortly before the wedding.

  • Julianna

    I am giggling about the long underwear, but really that is fantastic advice! and the shot from behind the berry branches covered in snow is one of my favorite wedding pictures *ever*.

    • KD

      Brilliant – as someone who is going to be a winter bride and is hoping for a cold blustery day, I can’t believe I never thought of long underwear!

      The wedding is beautiful and I appreciate all your advice! Thank you for sharing!

  • Tricia

    I have to say, I adore your dress. It was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t end up with quite what I was looking for, but I am happy with my dress anyways.

    • Brian

      I happen to know that she made her dress in its entirety, and it’s even more stunning close up.
      Lisa is a fantastic seamstress.

      • AussieAndy

        I think the saddest four words (for me… because really this post is all about me – just kidding!) were “the dress I sewed”. The minute I saw the photos I was desperately anticipating the moment when you would reveal the designer of your dress (who I would of course immediately google and track down). Its stunning and exactly the type of dress I want to wear.

        Dresses in Australia are unfortunately mostly *crap*. Translation: strapless/too revealing and accordingly not my type – but stunning on other, slimmer, brides.

        Congratulations Giggles, the wedding (and the dress… ah love) is absolutely beautiful. Love the photo behind the berries. If you ever decide to make a career out of wedding dress design, look me up!

        • You are so sweet! Thank you!

          My first thought when I started to read your comment was that it was real sad that I’d made my dress and you could tell it was homemade and it really looked kind of pathetic. But that’s my own fear about my sewing coming out. I see every flaw in everything I sew. So far nobody else has been able to see them though.

          Thank you so much for humoring me and thinking it was a designer dress. ;) The base of the dress was from a Vogue pattern, does that count?

          We had one of his nephews take photos of us too and he just couldn’t get over how casual I was with my dress. I knew what the effort and cost of it was and was perfectly okay with it getting wet in the snow and not throwing a fit about it. Besides, by that point, we were already married, everything else that day was just extra.

  • That’s my girl! I was lucky enough to be in Lisa’s wedding posse and run a couple of errands for her (I chose napkin colors based on the paint chip numbers she emailed me) and I was lucky enough to see the beginning of their relationship and its blossoming into the inspiring marriage they have now. I was also lucky enough to drive nearly 2 hours through some pretty heavy snow without sliding off the road. ;)

    I hope someday to have a wedding as laid-back and happy as Lisa and Brett’s! Thank goodness we’re friends so I can talk to someone who’s already done it and done it well! Love you, Lisa!

    • Wedding posse member extraordinaire! I feel like I was the lucky one to have friends like you.

  • Meg, once again you’ve given me the conversation I need to be having today. I am struggling to keep my wedding about family, and seeing this example gives me encouragement and hope, and plenty of ideas that can keep me flexible while dealing with my actual family, and not the family I wish got cast to play in the wedding I want.

    • Ha! If only we could cast the people in our lives, I’d definitely have some different casting ideas. Good luck!

  • Liz

    I LOVE the anti-to-do-list and the anti-budget! What a fantastic idea! And the ribbon flowers are gorgeous-what a great detail! Thank you, Meg and Lisa both, for continuing evidence of practical, beautiful weddings across cultures and religions. I love knowing that, regardless of differences in religious or spiritual beliefs, Team Practical still bands together with the commonly held values of sanity, frugality, and the creation of a new family.

  • Shelly

    I’m so glad you mentioned going for a run the morning of your wedding. What a wonderful moment to spend with your dad. I hadn’t even thought of allotting time on my wedding day to go for a run, which seems silly since that is something I love, always makes me feel great, and helps me to clear my head.

    Also, have to agree with all those who’ve said that the anti-to-do-list is an amazing idea. Drafting mine up now!

  • Mary

    Pure and utter genius = Anti-To-Do-List. Love the long underwear – a friend of mine got married a few years ago in late September in New England. She wore white UGGS under her wedding dress. I loved when she picked up that long dress when she was dancing! I new her tootsies were warm and cozy and she looked so cute! Congratulations Lisa and Brett. It sounds like you will enjoy eternity!!

  • I, too, was blessed to be part of Lisa’s wedding posse. She and Brett truly are perfect for each other and this wedding was perfect for them! It gives me hope for my own one day. A-typical traditionalists FTW!

  • DIO projects- love, love it! I’m appreciating the real voice behind a winter wedding, like the suggestion of long underwear under the gown. It’s an awesome idea! Now I will be prepared with my Uggs & long underwear on my January wedding day.

    Congratulations to Lisa & Brett!

  • OMIGOSH that anti to-do list is the best advice ever. As is the sentence, “The wedding is not a surprise party for the groom.” I understand that…now how do I get him to understand that? He has been very well trained by societal expectations to think this is “my” day and even when I ask his opinion, he’s always reticent to give it. I think it’s awesome you had your groom right there in the trenches with you!

    • I think just letting your guy know what’s going on is great. Brett had very few firm opinions (the guest pens HAD to have feathers and we were NOT using a particular poem on our invites). When we picked colors we went to the hardware store and each picked a paint color. He was worried they wouldn’t match and I told him that’s why he was picking first. Otherwise he was just aware of everything and gave me a hand with things where he could. He was the one who used a glue gun to stick all the leaves to the flowers.

      • Olivia

        I’d love to know the backstory on the feathers!

        Your wedding looked wonderful. Congratulations!

        • It’s a simple story. When he was growing up he thought the feathered pens at weddings were real cool and fancy. He said he knew I’d expect him to have opinions, so he picked a few things to have an opinion on. The feathers were one of them. When I asked him on a scale of 1 to 10 how important what we ate was, he gave it a 3. When I asked about the feathers he gave it about a 9. And really it was only because he knew I wanted him to have an opinion on something.

          • meg

            David appreciates this story. Not the feathers, but the knowing your strong minded wife expects you to occasionally have a solid opinion on a wedding-y thing, so having one.

      • “that’s why he was picking first” (re: colors) made me chuckle… we often have conversations like that. I’m amazed that he’s still surprised, over 4.5 years into our relationship, when things match, or when we arrive somewhere without getting lost. I’m always like, “Yes, I did that on purpose. Remember, I think about things like that!”

  • I am all full of warm fuzzies today. You are all amazing!

  • Denice Dennis

    Just beautiful!

  • Kristen

    While I’m not exactly LDS, I consider myself a ‘friend of the church’. I grew up just a few hours out of Salt Lake and now I live in the Seattle area and it frustrates me to no end to see the misconceptions people have about it. Then, once I correct them on something or stick up for the church then it turns into this whole exhausting THING.

    So anyways, I was thrilled to see an LDS wedding on APW. It’s awesome to see a great woman like you out being a sort of spokesperson for the church. Someone they’ve already found to be a totally relateable normal person and it just happens that you’re LDS.

    Sorry this comment’s a bit of a mess but the whole thing is kind of a mess and so I’ll leave it at “Yay you! Thanks for sharing your wedding with us!”

  • Mama Giggles

    Hi, I’m Lisa’s Mom. Here are some things ( and I know I’ll forget some big ones, I’m old :) ) that I loved about Lisa’s wedding. It was great being able to go to Low’s and get the paint chips. I was able to find just the right pruple for my dress. The belly dancing shower was lots of fun. I’ve never been a big fan of bridal shower games, so this was great. The temple ceremony was beautiful, and the most important part of the event. Some of the things I liked best were things that couldn’t have been planned, like red leaves and berries still being on the trees and then being dusted with a covering of snow. What a perfect back drop for wedding pictures. We had all of our children and their families there and lots and lots of extended family and friends. The food was wonderful, and I didn’t have to fix it, serve it, or clean it up. I was able to enjoy this special day with my daughter. It was such a beautiful surprise to have Brett play the paino and sing for Lisa. What a special touch. He is a sweetie.

  • Sara

    I love your wedding! I got married in Salt Lake City too and I got my cake from Granite Bakery – best wedding cake I’ve ever had. And the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is so beautiful, I would’ve loved to have had my after party there.

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