Marian & Wade

Last week, Marian kicked off this year’s discussion of marriage by broaching a subject not often discussed on the wedding blogs – being an unwed mother. But it gets even better than that, because today she’s back as a wedding grad. Marian discusses something really near and dear to my heart here – marriage and timing. I’ve had a number of friends who felt pressure, for one reason or another, to rush down the aisle. And even if they were marring someone really good for them, if they got married when they were not ready to make the leap… they didn’t do themselves any favors. It takes a brave woman to wait till she’s good and ready (especially with a kid in tow). So today we have Marian, talking about how she did just that. And, um, if her pictures don’t make the case for getting married when your kid is tiny and adorable, I don’t know what does.

Our wedding was a long time coming, and by standard convention we did things backward. We’ve been together for six years, we had a child unexpectedly early on, and we were engaged for three years. Well, I say to h*ll with standard convention. In an effort to do what was right for us we stuck to our guns and waited until we were ready to get married. Marriage is a big, huge, and often scary commitment that should not be taken lightly, even if you are absolutely sure you want to marry the person you’re with.

(I had panic attacks about getting married because I’m incredibly indecisive and terrified of making the wrong choice!)  So we spent three years, with several false starts, deciding when was the right time for us and what we wanted our wedding to be.

I think the years long off and on planning helped give me the perspective to make the choices to have the kind of wedding that was meaningful for us, rather than what convention said we should do. By the time it came around to actually plan the wedding I realized that the things I envisioned and wanted had changed from my original image.

With the helpful and sage advice of blogs like APW, I realized the most important thing to me, now, was to express the kind of people we are and to create a whole weekend where our friends and family could come together and celebrate. Not just us and our wedding, but also love and each other. I think that’s exactly what happened. Our wedding lasted at least the weekend, though it felt like the whole week leading up to it was also part of it. We had guests arriving from all over the country and my brother and his family even flew in from Japan!  As people arrived the feeling of community grew and I could feel the love these people had for us.

One of the key parts to the feeling and vision I had was having the whole thing at my parents’ farm. Not only is it a gorgeous location, but having it there really brought people together. Everyone helped, and no one stopped putting the finishing touches on everything until minutes before the ceremony. Saturday morning my dad even ran out and got fresh gravel for the pond, and I was filling in gopher holes.

Almost everything for the rehearsal/welcome dinner, ceremony, reception, and Sunday picnic was done by people we knew. The pastor was a long time family friend whose children we grew up with. The violinist was a good friend of ours. The catering was done by people we knew. My older brother played the keyboard, a friend of ours dj’d, my uncle (who used to do professional wedding cakes) made the cake, and my younger brother’s friend was the bartender. It was the most amazing feeling of community as everyone who stopped by the house during the week was put to work in some way, or simply invited to sit and talk with us awhile.

When I looked around that day it was amazing to see everyone there. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. All I saw were smiles and laughter, and that was all I could ask for.

People often talk about the details and their importance, or unimportance. For me they were only as important as the people who helped create them. The centerpieces were a collaborative effort between nearly ten different people. My mom and sister came up with some ideas and I chose the one I liked best. The final touches were beautifully hand drawn, colored, and lettered tags of indigenous wild flowers for table names. My dad sketched them, my brother’s sister-in-law colored them, and my younger brother lettered them. My best friend and I assembled them with my sister-in-law. Had so much effort and love not been put into them by so many people I cared about, the centerpieces would not have mattered at all. As it was, they were stunning in a simple way and helped bring a lot of people together and make them part of the whole event. They told me later they were glad to have been able to help.

In the end the weekend was exactly what I had envisioned, thanks to the help of all our friends and family, especially my parents and sister. It was a country-chic ho-down that brought everyone together. I can’t count how many times people came up to me and said that it was the most beautiful wedding they had been to.

My advice to all the other brides out there is to be unafraid to wait. Don’t be afraid to have as long or short an engagement as is right for you. Be unafraid of convention and don’t be afraid to defy it. Don’t let convention dictate your actions or timing. Don’t worry about what other people will think, if they truly care about you they will simply be happy that you are marrying the person you love.

Photos By: Eric Smyklo

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  • This was a beautiful way to start the day! Thank you for sharing (and your son is still a DASHING young man! Nice job :) ).

  • Marian, your pictures are ridiculously gorgeous! The pictures show how beautiful your family is outside, and your stories shows how beautiful they are inside, to love and support you and be part of your wedding like that. Thanks for sharing!

  • B

    Marian, your wedding looks absolutely beautiful – congratulations! Your parents farm is a lovely venue and if the love radiating from the pictures of you, your husband and your son are anything to go by it must’ve been a great weekend!!

    I also totally agree with your entire last paragraph. Getting married is a huge step and to take that step based on someone else’s idea of timing doesn’t do it justice. From the outside it is impossible to say what the right time is for any couple and having gone through this decision-making process myself I am hopefully much more understanding of people who take longer or shorter than the average. Congratulations on waiting until you were ready (as much as you can be!) before getting married! :)

  • Cass

    How poignant. I just saw the other day that almost half of children are born to unmarried mothers. So I’m sure the to-be-wed-and-with-child situation happens more than we really think about.
    I really appreciate APW being so bold to talk about this! The WIC so rarely touches on the family situation(s) of brides. Marriage is not one-size fits all.

  • “People often talk about the details and their importance, or unimportance. For me they were only as important as the people who helped create them.”

    Wonderful! I’m definitely going to remember this when planning my own wedding. Congrats Marian and Wade!

    • I loved that line too. Imagine looking across your wedding site and seeing how so many people you knew and loved had contributed, instead of seeing the details themselves. I’m sure Marian couldn’t differentiate between the people and the decor.

  • The wedding world needs to utilize the term “ho-down”wayyy more often.

    This was beautiful to read and to look at, thank you so much for sharing!

  • Katie

    It’s amazing how doing the right thing for YOU can pose as many challenges as it does. It’s sad that there are so many ‘rules’ about when we should get married, who we marry, when we have children, etc. BRAVO to you for sticking to your own timeline; for standing up to the expectations that society has for us; and ultimately doing what was felt right for you, your son, and your beautful family. Congrats!

  • “My advice to all the other brides out there is to be unafraid to wait.”

    This is one of the best but rarely said pieces of advice ever. So many girls in their early and mid twenties seem to panic about running out time or something along those lines of illogical. And end up married way before they are ready. And I see it in myself sometimes… on the subject of children in particular. I’m 24. I’ve got time. And honestly, I’m not ready. But sometimes I get all tragic about it because I’m afraid of… I’m not sure what.

    • And P.S. the pictures of your adorable son are not helping with my “OMG I’m running out time to have babies” psychosis.

  • You summed up the importance/unimportance of details perfectly! I loved our centerpieces because I spent a beautiful morning with my bridesmaids making them. I loved our strawberry jam favors because it blew my mind how excited my mom got about making them, that she made them with her friends before I even came home from the wedding. In the ways that our details were an extension of surrounding ourselves with those that we loved, they were important.

  • ohhhh my goodness I just keep staring at these pictures all day. other commenters have pretty much covered what I might have said regarding the content, so I’m just going to go the shallower route and comment on the pretty. That last photo is so gorgeous, I kind of want to frame it and I don’t even know you. Your son is fracking adorable – but no wonder considering what his parents look like. You are a beautiful family! Anyway so much congrats on everything. Knowing your own best time to get married is so important, but it’s hardly ever addressed. Thank you!

  • “Saturday morning my dad even ran out and got fresh gravel for the pond, and I was filling in gopher holes.”

    So I know this totally isn’t the point of your amazing wedding grad post, but it is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I’m also having my wedding at my parent’s farm and I am quite sure we will be running around filling in gopher (mole in our case) holes the morning of the wedding no matter how much planning I do. I am breathing a sigh of relief just to know that even with the last minute “race to the finish” your wedding came together and was beautiful, which helps me know that mine will too even if I have no idea where everyone will park or pee. I’ll figure it out, and it will be amazing.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely wedding (and SON!!) with us!!

    • We had our wedding at my parents’ house, too. Without a rain plan. When we woke up that day, it was pouring (of course)! I looked outside & saw around 15 family members (a lot of people had to travel to the wedding, so they were already at the house or staying with neighbors nearby), covered in mud, building a roof over the dance floor my dad & uncle had built earlier in the week. What I didn’t even know about until I saw the pictures afterward, was that after they managed to get it covered (and it had stopped raining), 2 of my cousins took back-pack leaf blowers to the grass of the entire yard to dry it so we wouldn’t get all wet and muddy!
      So, yes, you’ll be doing things up until the last minute. (While they were doing that outside, lots of us inside were setting up tables, centerpieces, etc. Then my aunt showed up and cleaned the bathroom, complete with leaving a scented candle burning!) But find someone to delegate the extremely-last-minute things to (like the bathroom cleaning). In my case, I had my mom running the show and she delegated it. Then just get ready and don’t worry about it!

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      We had a bbq the day after the wedding on my parents recently renovated backyard patio. The day before the wedding my dad and I were installing grates over the wells to the basement windows and I cut my forearm. My aunts kind of freaked out and berated my dad for having me do manual labor 18 hours before my wedding.

      The 1.5-inch cut in visible in tons of wedding photos and every time I see it I just think of how funny it was to be elbow deep in window wells with my dad holding onto my belt so I wouldn’t fall in. He kept threatening to drop me and he was so excited for the opportunity to use his bandsaw. The silly, unglamorous (possibly dangerous) housework that happened the weekend of the wedding is a really happy memory now – definitely not the airbrushing tragedy that my aunties thought it would be. I’d never trade working and joking with my dad for unscathed arms in my wedding pics :)

  • Class of 1980

    Pregnant women used to rush to the altar to establish paternity. DNA testing did not exist, so the name on the marriage license established who the father was and entitled the child to financial support in the event of a divorce. Even after DNA testing first became available, the states I lived in did not allow you to write the father’s name on the birth certificate unless you were married to him.

    THANK GOODNESS the situation changed and one’s emotional state can be the determining factor in getting married.

    Marian, your wedding was beautiful and I’m jealous of the farm!

    • I love how you always have this eye-opening perspective about the way things were. Sometimes it shows how the world’s gone crazy, but then sometimes we get to see how far we’ve come. thank you!

      • meg

        Yes. Exactly. Yes. And thank you for that.

      • Class of 1980

        Thank you peoples of the internet for the compliments.

        But, do you realize that this site serves to show me JUST EXACTLY HOW OLD I AM???!!!! Nothing like interacting with much younger people to drive that point home! ;)

        I think sometimes it helps to know why certain standards existed. Science alone changed the necessity of marrying because of pregnancy.

        I worked with a girl in the late eighties who found herself pregnant. The man denied he was the father, but she knew it was his because she hadn’t slept with anyone else. And the baby had his eyes. The State of Texas at that time would not allow her to write his name on the birth certificate.

        DNA testing had just become available, though not as widely used as now. And it was not as fast or accurate as what we have today. I’m not even sure if she could have legally forced him to take the test back then. The idea came up, but it would have been difficult to accomplish.

        Since he didn’t want to marry her or take any responsibility, she was left to manage financially as best she could. Her parents stepped in and helped her to raise the baby.

        Back then, it was more prudent to get married while pregnant, even if you ended up divorced. Yuck.

        Three cheers for the advancement of science!

        • Bastard. Am I allowed to say that on here? Bastard.

          But, I know there are good, strong, worthy men out there: this post is evident of that. And thank goodness for them.

          • Class of 1980

            Yeah, there have always been good men – and a few not so good.

            I have an idea. Why don’t women quit giving the time of day to bastards. Don’t reproduce with them.

            Maybe we can breed them out of existence.


      The craziness of the world, past and present, sometimes amazes me. Thanks for the lessons 1980, its so important to know how things were done in the past to appreciate the present and help make the future better!

  • I like your advice to find the right time for you to get married and not take too much notice of what the right order of things is assumed to be. Baby, long engagement, marriage? Great.

    We’re doing it in this order; engaged, married (2 months to go), live between two houses, live together when we eventually get the day-to-day practicalities of our lives to mesh. It might not be our ideal scenario but it’s how it works out for now. Getting married just makes it even clearer to us that we will tackle things together from now on, including where we do and don’t live.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      We’ve been married 6 months and we’re at least 5 months from living in the same state. Married life is still pretty awesome though. And I’m sure the universe will get us together eventually, even if it does so by giving one of us permission to be unemployed. Until then, we’ll keep making jokes about marriage being an easy yes and living together being a committment we’re not quite ready for :)

  • This is so great (the picture on the swing is beautiful!). My favorite part is about being unafraid to wait. I feel so much pressure coming from our families, friends, and myself, it’s nice to hear a calm voice of reason from someone who’s been there. Cheers

  • Melodious

    Bravo for waiting until you were good and ready to get married! I was pushed into my first marriage because we also had an unexpected child early in our relationship. I knew it was a bad idea, but I let my family and friends goad me into “doing the right thing.” It was no big surprise when it ended several years later, after much heartache and disappointment.

    You look absolutely beautiful and I love how involved your families were with all the festivities. DIT at its best!

  • suzanna

    Yay for interracial couples! (it wasn’t too long ago that it was illegal, let’s not forget) Yay for doing what you believe in! Beautiful stuff.

    Also, I wish one of my parents would hurry up and win the lottery and buy a farm so I can get married there.

    • meg

      And yes to this too.

  • Liz

    Wow! Let me just say I am newly engaged and new to this blog and with articles like this I get so inspired. My fiance and I are going to be engaged for two years before we get married, so many people ask why and don’t agree with our long wait. With words and advice like yours it makes me feel confident about our decision ! Bravo!


    Congrats! Thank you for the beautiful pictures and wonderful words! I agree whole-heartedly with listening to your personal clock as opposed to others and must say am very jealous of the amount of beautiful land your parents call home (coming from an area where a postage-sized amount of land is considered large)!

  • Murdock

    You guys rock. Not only do you have a beautiful family, but you did it right. I will say I’m jealous of how beautiful your parents home is and how perfect for a wedding it really is! Congrats on doing what YOU wanted to do, not what everyone else said.

  • Ceebee

    When you get to the part of knowing and growing who and how much you love and are loved, your wedding vision changes. Out with the Disney princesses, in with the real you and your family- the one who made you, and the one you are building.
    The wedding becomes a celebration of what you have rather than a show of what you want.

  • “Marriage is a big, huge, and often scary commitment that should not be taken lightly, even if you are absolutely sure you want to marry the person you’re with.”

    Thanks for acknowledging this, Marian. It’s as if we spend half our lives becoming independent women, assuring ourselves that it’s okay to be alone and to revel in it. Then we spend nine months trying to convince ourselves that this–no doubt–amazing man is worth our lifelong independence and (sometimes) sanity and sacrifice of self. Scary sh**! A whole life turned in months. If it’s not scary, I’d be worried!

  • Oh, and the pic of your hubby helping your son into his suit, and the later pic of your son in his suit…well, this just makes me want to have a five year old of my own to partake in my wedding.

    Clearly, love and family reigns paramount. Your wedding displays this quite well. Congrats to the whole fam, and many blissful years to come!

  • This grad post just made me all soft and mellow. There is so much in here that I can identify with, and it calmed me on a really great level.

    Thank you, Marian!

  • Moz

    I really love what you said about the DIY projects being only as important as the people who made them. That strikes me as being very close to the truth.

    Congrats on your marriage xx

  • Ashlee

    Thank you so much for sharing! My situation is quite similar to yours. My fiance and I have been together for 5 1/2 years, we’ve been engaged for nearly 4 1/2 years, and we have a 3 year old. We’ve moved across the country and back together, as well. When we got engaged we were not even close to being ready for marriage. The things we’ve gone through together have really strengthened our relationship and created the perfect foundation for marriage. I can now say with 100% certainty that he us who I want to spend the rest of my life with, for better or worst. I don’t know that I could’ve said that with such confidence 4 years ago (when I was still very young). Your story is so imnspirational and I love your advice, “Be unafraid of convention and don’t be afraid to defy it.” We are now starting to plan a “pracitcal” wedding with close family and friends for somewhere in the near future.