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Sarah & Wes’ Thursday Wedding

You guys!!! It’s been forever and a day since we’ve hosted a dress giveaway, but today we have the lovely Sarah sharing her wedding graduate post, and then this afternoon she gives away her beautiful dress. Hooray! But first lets talk about the wedding: the hard parts, the anxiety provoking parts, the explosion of glass that started the weekend (not kidding). Lets do this thing:

Let there be no illusions: I was not a calm bride. But then, I’m not really a calm person. Instead, I was just me: a twenty-something anal-retentive control freak excited to marry her high school sweetheart and completely blown away by love.

Cheesy segue aside, I wasn’t the only one ‘blown away’— exactly one week before the wedding, my fiancé blew himself up. Literally. He’s a research assistant getting his PhD in chemistry; something went wrong in the lab, and a piece of glassware exploded in front of him. He had over forty stitches in nine different places on his chest, face, and arms. Luckily, none of the shrapnel got near his eyes, and though he’ll have a few scars, the accident didn’t do any lasting physical damage. After the longest afternoon of my life, I no longer gave a d*mn about centerpieces, flowers, food, or anything else. I think his accident kicked off my wedding-zen (or as close as I got to it): whatever happened, happened. We were safe, happy, and going to be married; everything else was gravy.

I’ve read a ton of wedding graduate posts, but I don’t have any specific advice for future brides. I think we each find our own inspiration and advice in reflecting on the shared cultural experience of a wedding. So instead I wrote about other things: the hard stuff during planning, what it felt like that day, and what I continue to feel now, months later.

Weddings suck. Yeah, I said it. They suck, and they suck hard. They’re also some of the most beautiful, uplifting, and moving experiences we can share. One of my first surprises with wedding planning was the realization that weddings are filled with contradictions. Wedding Industrial Complex versus Blogging Industrial Complex; big-party aspirations with recession-economy budgets; the conflict of an individuality-revering society engaging in a deeply communal social ritual… It goes on and on. Weddings are complicated, and navigating the contradictions wasn’t easy.

We had our wedding on a Thursday. It was one of the biggest things that stressed me out because I didn’t want our guests to be inconvenienced. We chose to have it on a Thursday because that night was our ten year anniversary; it was hugely important to us that we had our wedding on that specific day. After all my stress about whether anyone would be pissed, I finally realized Dr. Seuss was right: “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” 90% of our invited guests attended, and it was perfect.

DIY or DIT is damn stressful. We decided to do our own flowers, a choice I still love; but it produced one of my most stressful moments. I was the Sarah who said to Meg that weddings are an opportunity to healthfully separate from your parents. The day before our wedding, as we started putting together our bouquets, I had a moment where I was really upset at my mother, and it put my separation from my family of origin into hyper-focus. It was the closest I came to having a breakdown; I snapped at my mother a little, but my friends were there to help, and my fiancé sat with us, cracking jokes to cheer me up.

I struggle with mental health issues, mainly generalized anxiety disorder; Wedding planning fed into my stress, and it was a challenge for me. The process of creating a wedding that was authentic to who my husband and I are had me struggling with my anxiety constantly. I worked hard to negotiate a path through the stress that would allow me to be confident in our choices. My fiancé supported me, and helped me refocus on what really mattered to us. And, in the last month before the wedding, the post on anxiety cropped up here on APW and had me literally in tears. It couldn’t have come at a better time, and it reminded me to be strong.

Starting from the moment my fiancé and I agreed to get married, everything shifted. We were moving from one stage to another, and we were in between—we weren’t dating anymore, but we weren’t married yet. We were in what psychologists term a “liminal state”, suspended in between phases of our lives. We were poised there for fourteen months, in between one huge, life-changing moment in our lives, and not yet at another. We were at a threshold, preparing to move forward. I learned that my biggest fear in the process was letting my friends and family down. I also learned our friends love us very, very, much and were thrilled to be there with us. They loved the food, they danced their feet off, and had such a good time we almost forgot about the cake.

You know what everyone says about your wedding day going by fast? Yeah, they’re right. We become inured to the advice because we’ve heard it so many times, but it’s all true (Editors note: It can be true, my wedding day was the longest, slowest day of my life, so you never know). The frenetic pace of the night overwhelmed me once and it took me a minute to regain my calm and enjoy the night again. Don’t do what I did— Be present. Slow down. Smile.

While I was pumped for our awesome burger sliders and badass dance playlist, the part of our wedding that mattered to me the most was our ceremony. I am planning to go to graduate school to become a minister, and having a ceremony that was both truly personal and deeply sacred was very important to me.

When I think back on the wedding day, it’s packed with memories, moments, and emotions, and I think that’s common for most people. There are moments that stand out to me as I look back on that day (walking the dog by myself that morning, getting my hair done, taking portraits outside before it started drizzling) and all of them come together like pieces of a mosaic. In the last few weeks leading up to the wedding, I found I was most looking forward to the simple joys of wearing my wedding band and calling Wes my husband. And even though it went by in an uncontrollable blur, our wedding day felt like us, just as we’d hoped.

Part of what I love about APW is how it’s encouraged me to think about our wedding, and our marriage, and myself. I know I’m going to keep reading Wedding Graduate posts as I navigate our marriage—we keep realizing what this commitment means, and how it affects us, as we reach each part of our lives. I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the power and strength of our marriage as we encounter challenges and reach for our dreams. Our wedding was the kickoff to our marriage. It felt just as I’d hoped: like an amalgamation of true friendship and laughter and the raw, sheer power of love.

Photos By: Pierre Chiha

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