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Monique & Lee

Ok, guys, so here is the thing: Monique & Lee’s wedding is as stylish as they come, but it’s her raw honesty that will grab you by the heart. She tells you about how scary wedding planning can be – and how you need to let other people carry you when the going gets hard. And about how you need to trust yourself, and your husband, and you can love the details and the party too. In short, this wedding is as APW as they come – stylish, but also real. So with that, I give you the lady herself:

Our wedding began with pink champagne and croissants and ended with security staff turning on all the lights and kicking us out. There was a fire engine, rain and – shock horror! – a dress combining beads, feathers AND sequins. Dance moves were busted, food was devoured, tequila was downed and love and laughter filled the room. The biggest amount of fun was had with the best people in the world. And, somewhere in the middle of all that, I married my best friend.

But as wonderful as it all was, it was not easy. If planning the wedding taught me anything, it is that I don’t cope well with stress, but I am very good at hiding it. The silver lining in that big thunderous storm cloud is that all that stress taught me to appreciate the strength of my relationships.

In the beginning, I didn’t care about what anyone thought about the decisions we made. I knew deep in my bones that our wedding would reflect us and we would have fun and – no matter what – we would be married at the end of it all which is all that matters anyway.

But somehow, while I wasn’t keeping a lookout, that all changed. Maybe it was one too many loaded opinions, or maybe the insecurity had been bubbling away the whole time. The little things that didn’t matter – favors, ring pillows, fake tans, ceremony programs, unity candles, registries, garters, flower-girls, monogrammed napkins, diamonds, centerpieces, chair covers, personalized pens – became big, matter of life and death things. I second guessed every decision. And then third guessed it. Not because I actually cared about those things, but because I felt like everyone else cared, and I feared I would be judged a failed bride for not caring.

Luckily, I have a wonderful man and amazing friends who never got sick of reminding me that they love me for exactly who I am. They told me to trust myself. I wish I knew then how right they were.

Having said all that, I found it very hard to talk to people. For a very long time, I was afraid that people would mistake my fears about the wedding for fears about being married. So when anyone asked how I was, even at those moments I was ready to break down, I smacked a big smile on my face and said I was fabulous. Then went home and drank a bottle of wine while looking through sites like APW through tears.

And it wasn’t just rational stress. For example, I was very worried about my ability to walk in my heels, which are higher than what I would usually wear (but very fabulous). Small issue, but it consumed me. I had a recurring nightmare that I developed blood blisters on my heels, which burst when I was walking down the aisle and the white satin shoes soaked up the blood and everyone laughed at me. Ridiculous, but I became very anxious and would have trouble breathing when I thought about the shoes. But after I drunkenly told a friend my fear, the nightmare stopped. Talking about things really does help.

I think I actually made people feel bad when I didn’t confide in them, because they could see the stress all over my face but felt I didn’t trust them enough to talk to them.

While this does contradict a lot of what is written above, the wedding planning process was generally a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughter shared between friends over many a bottle of bubbly. The actual wedding was by far the most fun I’ve ever had. Not everything went as planned, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I got a lot from Etsy, and loved that everything was so handmade. There’s something very romantic in knowing that someone has put time and love into the fabric roses, and the pine cone flowers, and the paper cake toppers, and the crochet signs.

My favorite moment? Just before I walked down the aisle. I surprised the hubby by walking down the aisle to his favorite song – I was made for loving you by KISS – instead of the song he thought would play. Even though some family members were appalled at the idea of us starting the marriage with “a song all about sex” I had our band cover it acoustic-style. Waiting to walk down the aisle, I heard the song and knew the surprise would make the hubby feel so special and loved. I was right. Knowing that I had made him so happy made me so happy in return.

It was also very special to carry a bouquet that was made by my hubby. He spent hours and hours making it after I saw one online that was way over our budget. Lots of people also gave us brooches for the project, so I felt like it contained a lot of love. (Side note: hubby also made the bridesmaids bouquets and helped with the invitations. And he surprised me by telling people, in a lot of detail and with real excitement, all about the things I thought he wasn’t paying attention to. So don’t assume your man isn’t interested – after all, it’s his wedding too!)

Oh, and the many dance floor group hugs we received were also amazing. I do love a group hug.

Aside from my charming new nickname of ‘ball and chain’, being married doesn’t feel too different. We returned from the honeymoon and went back to our work and our electricity bills and our grocery shopping. But we went back married. And that is a wonderful feeling.

Photos by: Jonas Peterson

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