Sharon & Jason’s Giant Farewell Party

So. Sharon. I’m having a hard time even intro-ing this post, because I just want to yell, “READ IT READ IT, IT’S SO GOOD!” Because it is. This is one of those posts, even if you don’t normally read wedding graduate posts, you have to read this one. Those of you who spend any amount of time in the comments know Sharon. She writes at Bride Sans Tulle, she’s a really active APW commenter, and she wrote a guest post about how love is making a choice (and isn’t it?) that went up right before her wedding. This post hits home in a million different ways. She talks honestly about the ways the huge life change of wedding planning made her a neurotic mess on some days, and she talks about how the wedding ended up showing her something much huger than she would have ever geussed. How it showed her what love is… not just romantic love, but family love, and the love of friends and community. On top of all that, Sharon just moved to the Bay Area for grad school, and I got to meet her at the last APW book club. So, since we’re gearing up for the next set of book clubs, both wedding grads this week are people I’ve met in person. People that are now part of my real life community. So, here is to the ways that APW is helping us build real communities, as well as continuing this conversation of what communities are and can be. Cheers to that! And now, Sharon:

Right after Jason and I set the date for our wedding, I was accepted into a graduate program that would require us to move across the country within a few days of getting married.  So we essentially began viewing the wedding as a giant farewell party that we were throwing for ourselves.  In hindsight, this perspective was a huge blessing because it meant a) I didn’t take on a ridiculous amount of DIY on top of my full time job (because we realized that stuff like photobooth photos or a thousand paper cranes are sadly the first things to get thrown away when you’re loading a moving van) and b) it helped us prioritize what we valued.  At the very top of that list was our community of family and friends, and we set about trying to craft a day that would be fun and inclusive for that community.

A lot of things were hard about wedding planning.  Ironically, considering that we intended for the wedding to be all about our community, I felt incredibly alone for a great deal of my engagement, especially trying to prepare emotionally for two enormous life changes at once when most people assumed I couldn’t wait to get married/move.  I had a myriad of doubts as to whether or not our wedding would be “good enough” without a ton of DIY, fanciness, or artistry.  I also cried a lot over the fact that most of my closest friends and two of my bridesmaids lived out of state/the country and thus weren’t around for most of the planning and I felt like I was imposing by asking anyone else for help.

All of which meant that I didn’t at all have the kind of exuberant, dreamy, fun-filled engagement that bridal magazines posit as the norm.  But while that was exhausting and difficult, I also learned a lot.  About myself and how to start owning my emotions.  About Jason and how he really, really wasn’t going anywhere, even as he watched his fiancée dissolve into a neurotic, crying mess over the guest list for the hundredth time.

Mostly, I learned that I was loved far beyond what I could imagine or what I felt I deserved. My larger circle of friends stepped in when the people who traditionally help with wedding planning couldn’t be at my side and volunteered to stuff invitations, day-of-coordinate, play music for the ceremony, put together our flowers, set up our reception site, and – most importantly – lend a sympathetic ear when I had moments of panic.  At some point, we stepped back and realized our wedding had become a DIT affair without us noticing.

On the other side of the wedding day I can now say this: planning the wedding was hard, getting married wasn’t. The immense outpouring of love from our friends and family and the experience of having so many people we adore in the same room was like nothing I’ve ever felt in my life.  It was an overwhelming experience in every good way and I was by turns joyous, humbled, and amazed throughout the course of the day.

Things went wrong – most notably the air conditioning in our church shut off right at the start of the ceremony.  It didn’t matter one bit.  Everyone still had fun.  We had cultural and religious traditions that were meaningful to us, like Jason picking me up from my parents’ house the morning of the wedding, door games, honoring our parents during our ceremony, taking communion together.  In a completely unscripted moment, the sun hit the stained glass window at the front of the church, filling the entire sanctuary with the most gorgeous warm light, right as we began our vows.We giggled through our yichud drive to the reception and stopped for gelato on the way simply because we could.  Our insanely long ten-course Chinese reception gave us a chance to spend quality time with our guests and gave all our friends a chance to relax, meet each other, and form new friendships.

There were shenanigans involving one table setting an empty Sprite bottle airborne via balloons while the rest of the room laughed and applauded.  One of my bridesmaids tore through the hem of her dress because she was dancing so hard.Our dance floor was packed for two whole hours.  People loitered for so long after the reception ended that we finally decided to take a group of fifteen people to a sports bar for wings and beer at midnight because no one wanted the evening to come to a close.  It was that kind of wedding.  The kind I didn’t think I was worthy of and the kind I didn’t think I could throw.

Making it everyone’s day does not make it any less your day. In fact, for us, it made it more authentically ours because it was the truest reflection of who we are as a couple – we’ve always made it a point in our relationship to keep ourselves open and available to our community, so the wedding was like the fullest realization and celebration of that desire.  The DIT aspect meant a lot of things were out of our control, but it also meant that we got to hang out with a lot more of our friends throughout the day than we otherwise would have.  It felt easy and natural to treat the reception like we do all the parties we go to – sitting down with various friends, sometimes at different ends of the room, drifting in and out of each others orbits comfortably.

Surround yourself with the people who keep you calm. For me, that meant seeing Jason as early as possible in the day and grabbing my bridesmaids at various points throughout the festivities for prayer.  I basically had the sleepover to end all sleepovers with far-flung women friends in the days leading up to the wedding because they kept me calm and centered (and supplied me with wine).  Can I also say that APW played a huge role in my wedding zen? My guest post on choosing went up two days before the wedding and when I read all of the comments, I felt absolutely wrapped up in the support and good wishes of this community.

As we planned the wedding, we kept envisioning a day that felt lived-in and not so far outside of our normal lives that we wouldn’t feel like ourselves.  I spent the morning reading.  We had a dozen cheesecakes instead of wedding cake because, um, that’s what we like to eat.  I wrote up my favorite quotes about love and marriage and stuck them in thrifted frames for our centerpieces because I’ll always be more at home amongst words than flowers.

What keeping a sense of the everyday in our wedding means now, nearly two months later, is that reminders of the wedding are scattered everywhere in our everyday life.  We’ve hung up the centerpiece frames all over our new apartment.  We play the dance mix Jason made for the reception when we cook dinner.  I bawled my eyes out when we took Communion for the first time in our new city.  All these things remind me of the friends and family we left back on the East Coast.

Use your wedding to strengthen friendships. Conventional wedding wisdom says not to invite anyone you won’t be speaking to in five years, but you know what?  We will be speaking to some of our guests in five years because we invited them.  Never underestimate the power of a wedding to bond your community.  Conventional wedding wisdom also says if you have over x amount of guests, it won’t feel intimate.  I call bull.  It’s intimate if everyone there loves you.

Choose happiness. I spent way too much of our engagement driving myself crazy with what-if scenarios and worrying about things that didn’t make a single iota of difference on our wedding day.  We’re trained to think that we need stuff in order to have a pretty wedding and that we need to look a certain way to be a “real” bride, when really joy begets beauty and not the other way around.  Enjoy your day and your community, let the little things go, bask in being married, and that will be enough.

Photos By: Once Like a Spark

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  • Meghan

    I am literally in tears with joy and relief right now. The last week of wedding planning was making my head explode and I’m seeing visions of seating charts in my nightmares. This site and all of these amazing writers have literally saved my sanity during this planning. I love you and I don’t even know you.

  • A-L

    Meg’s right, everyone should read this. I could totally relate to this piece because all of my friends/family who are in the bridal party are nowhere near me, and my mom is so stressed from work that I hate to ask her to do anything. So wedding planning has been a semi-solo venture for me, with occasional calls or e-mails when I just need some feedback to get a decision made.

    And though this couple is naturally beautiful, I’ll accept that the joy makes everyone even more beautiful, as Sharon & Jason look positively ebullient and gorgeous. Thanks for posting this!

    • Amanda

      “I didn’t at all have the kind of exuberant, dreamy, fun-filled engagement that bridal magazines posit as the norm. But while that was exhausting and difficult, I also learned a lot. About myself and how to start owning my emotions. About Jason and how he really, really wasn’t going anywhere, even as he watched his fiancée dissolve into a neurotic, crying mess over the guest list for the hundredth time.”
      Yeah… organizing everything when your family and best friends are far away, well it can be lonely ! It meant I drove my now husband crazy thinkingand talking about things over and over again and a lot of decisions were discussed through messenger and skype ! For that, APW was comforting, helping in the process, reading stories that I could relate to and making me feel less alone in the process , so Yay for this community.
      And like Sharon said, it really taught us to try and be more calm (me) and support each other, .

    • ElfPuddle

      All of my family lives at least two time-zones away. His parents live 15 min. from us, but his siblings are two and three time-zones away. My best friends? Three time zones.
      So, yeah, we’re planning by email. It’s nothing like I thought it would be.

      And this:
      “I felt like I was imposing by asking anyone else for help.”


    • Rachael

      I have to agree with all of you ladies. Thank you, Sharon, for the bit about planning while far away from your friend-resources, especially about feeling like your wedding is an imposition for said friends. My bridesmaids are in different cities/countries, as are my parents, and my FH lives 3.5 hours away. I’m hoping that sometime soon, the help I’m too scared to ask for will appear, or that I’ll get braver and ask for it!

  • Do people really not read the wedding graduate posts?!?!!! I love them.

    Sharon, I thought this was spot-on: “Never underestimate the power of a wedding to bond your community.” I have just returned home from my second cousin’s wedding in the small town where my grandmother grew up (and, incidentally, her grandfather). It was one of the most uplifting and glorious weekends because of the bonding between our scattered family. I cannot imagine how any celebration other than a wedding would have evoked the tender reconnecting.

    • (My second cousin’s grandfather. Not my grandmother’s grandfather.)

  • I was trying to copy and paste but my browser wasn’t letting me.

    Anyway, the part about saying planning the wedding was hard, but getting married wasn’t, because you had a day that surrounded you both with an outpouring of love? YES. That’s exactly how my day felt, too, and it was just amazing.

    Great post. And I love your dress. :)

  • Liz

    ah, sharon. i heart you, lady.

    and this: “Use your wedding to strengthen friendships.” is so, so right on. i could FEEL relationships growing stronger as a result of our wedding day. honest.

    great post! (and you guys are effing adorable)

    • Susan

      That part spoke to me too. I’ve been so stressed that our wedding guest list grew from 125 invited to 125 attending. Maybe it will be okay because everyone is coming out of love and support for us!

  • Marjojo

    I’ve been working on a wedding graduate post (the delay is from waiting for the photos), and I think Sharon must have ESP or something, because these lines sound a lot like my draft:

    Mostly, I learned that I was loved far beyond what I could imagine or what I felt I deserved….Things went wrong – most notably the air conditioning in our church shut off right at the start of the ceremony. It didn’t matter one bit. Everyone still had fun….There were shenanigans…Our dance floor was packed for two whole hours. People loitered for so long after the reception ended

    Isn’t it hilarious how two brides’ perfect days can be so similar and stil so unique? I mean, finding out you’re loved at your wedding and using similar words to describe it is one thing, but what a crazy coincidence that we both had A/C malfunctions!

    Sharon, I love Jason’s face in that picture with your vows, and yours as you walk back down the aisle. And that cheesecake looks heavenly! Great post! Congratulations!

  • So now what am I supposed to write for my grad post, if you’ve already said it all? ;)
    This is a wonderful post. I appreciate that it seems like the things you went through were universal (of course, maybe they’re just a lot of the same things I went through, so it just feel that way!).

    I think maybe learning to not worry about the things that other people were doing for you (letting go of the control a little bit) might be exactly what you were supposed to have learned from planning this lovely party (in addition to all of the big things like community & family love, of course!).

    That last photo of the two of you on the couch is totally one I would frame!

    • Haha, the more great wedding grad posts I read, the more I figure I don’t need to do one because everyone’s got it all covered. :)

      • meg

        NONSENSE. In fact, you actually owe it to us, time to pay it forward! If you speak from your very specific experance and avoid generalizations, you will have no choice but to say something helpful.

        No fair using some other lady’s effort as an excuse not to make your own! :)

        • THIS. In fact, I sent Meg a wibbling Tweet a few weeks ago saying, “Waaah, today’s graduate said what I would say, but smarter” and she let me know EXACTLY how ridiculous I was being. Tell your story, lady! No one else can. :)

          • I know, I know… :) I *have* been planning to write one. And to submit one, even! If I can manage to put together something that my husband and our families will feel comfortable having out on the internet. I am not a writer, and the sharing-privacy line is not one I have a ton of experience with, so striking that balance may take me a while…so, um, consider the original comment amended to “at least in the meantime, it’s good to see you and other wedding grads saying some of the things I’d want to say!”

  • Shelly

    I think everyone has a Wedding Grad post that really resonates with them, and this one brought me to tears this morning.

    “I felt incredibly alone for a great deal of my engagement, especially trying to prepare emotionally for two enormous life changes at once when most people assumed I couldn’t wait to get married/move.”
    My wedding also coincided with a big move to a new city (in my case, it was to be with my husband) and at times it definitely felt like a very lonely journey, not only in the wedding planning that I was doing from afar, but also in the emotional preparation for huge life changes. Somehow it is really comforting to me that I’m not alone in having felt lonely during that time.

  • This was such a beautiful post to read first thing in the morning.

    The talk about surrounding yourself with things that calm you actually made ME feel calmer– not just about wedding stuff, but about life in general. I have a feeling that I’ll be coming back to read this post again in the days leading up to my wedding.

    Congratulations to you, Sharon and Jason!

  • Love this!! So beautiful. And such a good thing to hear since we are going to be doing three major life changing things at that time. You are giving me strength. Bookmarking this.

  • ddayporter

    Finallyyyy!!! I’ve been wondering where Sharon’s post was.. definitely worth the wait, this post made me relive my own wedding a little bit, yay joy!

    one of my favorite lines: “Making it everyone’s day does not make it any less your day.” exactly.

    Also you two are gorgeous, joy may have enhanced it but you didn’t need a lot of help there.

    • I read somewhere that you are the average of the five people you are closest too. So it only makes sense that if you make the day about your community, it will end up being a true and authentic reflection of yourself, like Sharon said.

  • I spent most of this post going “oh! Ilike that!… no wait, I like this part too!….. oh. This is also nice!” Then by the end I gave up because I wasn’t about to copy and paste the entire grad post into a comment say “this part was my favorite!”

    Overall, great wisdom shared on this one. The comments above pull out the bits and pieces that many of us will love. Great post, sharon!

  • Julianna

    Exactly what I needed to read today, 5 days out. EXACTLY.
    Thank you, Sharon!

    • Heidi


  • Alyssa

    YAY! I’ve been waiting for this one ever since your previous post. So so smart, and all things I think every bride should think about. Hell, they’re kinda life lessons in general.

    ALSO? You took people out for wings and beer to keep the party going and I think that’s AWESOME. Plus I really wanna know what’s going on in the 3rd picture from the bottom…are theboys trying to impressed the ladies with their mad push-up skills?

    • I’m really curious about that picture too!

    • Yes! What IS going on there? And why are the girls in their gorgeous frocks already and the boys are still in jeans?

    • Denzi

      Eee hee hee, I can answer this one! It is a Chinese tradition for the groom to pick up the bride at her parents’ house, and the bridesmaids get to test the groom’s worthiness and loyalty to the bride by making him play “door games” ( I was Sharon’s MOH, and I will confess that we went totally power-mad. Jason had to talk like Dobby from Harry Potter, take all the bridesmaids’ luggage out to their various cars, sing something in Hebrew, answer questions about Sharon, and do push-ups. As you can see from the picture, the groomsmen weren’t very sympathetic! (Although this picture was taken directly after the groomsmen also all had to do push-ups, so…) In the end, we finally decided Jason was pretty good husband material and let him in the house. And everyone, including Sharon (who was hiding in her room to listen and kept yelling out “I want to see!”) and Jason, laughed until our sides ached.

      • Faith

        So stinkin’ cute!!!

      • That is awesome. I think if I ever have a daughter, I’m going to make her potential boyfriends play door games. ha! :)

      • Ummm – that is the most amazing wedding tradition ever!

      • ddayporter

        my sister’s husband is Chinese so we got to do that stuff to him too! it really is a most excellent tradition.

        • Aine

          I have to say, that sounds a MILLION TIMES better than the tradition of “its bad luck to even SEE you until the wedding so buh bye”. Unfortunately, my FH thinks its really romantic that he won’t see my dress or anything until THE MOMENT. Who knew boys had these “perfect wedding” ideas in THEIR heads, too?

      • Alyssa

        That is the best tradition EVER.

  • Richelle

    Beautiful and joyful!
    I LOVED the photo of Sharon and Jason bowing to their parents. Cried. The respect and honor and tradition in that photo just kills me. Bravo to you for being humble in the midst of all the hoopla. Many, many happy years together.

  • Such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    On a slightly shallow note: CHEESECAKES!!! YUM!!!

  • I am so excited to see your post, Sharon. You are, as usual, wise, appreciative and joyful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Katelyn

    This whole post was amazing, but I think this part is the one I like the most-

    “We’re trained to think that we need stuff in order to have a pretty wedding and that we need to look a certain way to be a “real” bride, when really joy begets beauty and not the other way around.”

    Some of my favorite photos aren’t necessarily the most flattering of myself or my beau, and most people give me funny looks when I point them out as favorites- but they’re my favorites because they give me joy remembering the moments- and that *makes* them beautiful. Happiness is like the soft-focus lens of life :)

  • Yes, yes, yes, ohhhhhh YEAH to all of this. Brilliant. Love the shot of you guys on the sofa. I love the sentiment about planning a wedding being hard, but getting married is not hard. And I am with you totally on community sometimes being made by a wedding. I asked my husbands sister to be a bridesmaid, even though we didn’t know each other that well, and as a result of that, she has become one of the closest people to us. Love it all, you gorgeous brilliant people! Congratulations and love to you guys as you move on together in life.

  • “when really joy begets beauty and not the other way around.”

    THIS. This is why, after all, there exists the running APW comment of all the traveling dress participants looking like models – duhhh, they’re ecstatic.

  • Other Katelyn

    Sharon, your posts have been so helpful to me. Thank you for your refreshing and eminently Practical take!

  • Cody

    “Conventional wedding wisdom also says if you have over x amount of guests, it won’t feel intimate. I call bull. It’s intimate if everyone there loves you.”

    I love that little line so much. Smart smart smart.

    Congratulations! As everyone else has said, this post was beautiful.

  • YAY Sharon!! I met you at the book club meetup and thought you were so brave for spending your honeymoon driving out west. You are so lovely and wise, congratulations!

  • ohhhh, Sharon. Wise as always. What a great grad post! My favorite part is when you talk about choosing happiness. That was a really important lesson that I learned– and one that, luckily, translates into life in general.

    I wish we’d thought of our wedding as more of a going-away party, too. I think that was part of what bummed me out so much when it ended– it wasn’t only the end of this wonderful wedding day, it was also the last time I was going to see a lot of these people for a while. That was tough. Maybe if we’d gone into it with the mindset of half wedding half bon voyage, that wouldn’t have hit me like a ton of bricks as the bus full of guests pulled away…

    ps. that cheesecake nearly made me drool.

  • I love reading the wedding grad posts & this one was no exception. Everyone has pointed out the things I loved about it in the comments above. I just wanted to chime in & say congratulations Sharon & Jason!

  • Barbara

    Amazing post Sharon! I loved it when you wrote “I didn’t at all have the kind of exuberant, dreamy, fun-filled engagement that bridal magazines posit as the norm.” I really felt that way too. I was laid off my job about one month after my husband and I set the date for our wedding. One of the hardest things about being laid off for me was the loneliness. I had worked with the same small group of people for about 5 years and we had all become friends. But now I kissed my fiance good bye in the morning and then sat on the sofa and cried because it felt like a part of my life was over, and I couldn’t decide what to do about centerpieces. Damn, I spent way too much time worrying about centerpieces!

    And now I’ve been married for about 2 months and the wedding was beautiful, even though everything did not go exactly as I planned! I’m still unemployed (and sometimes still lonely) but now I’m taking part-time classes at a local college and loving it.

    Thanks so much to Sharon for your fantastic post!

    • ElfPuddle

      Barbara, I just want to hug you!
      My fiance and I have been engaged just over a year. Last March, I found out I wasn’t being offered a contract at the school for this fall. Since English teachers are a dime a dozen, I’m still unemployed.

      I kiss him goodbye in the morning and then spend some time wallowing too.

      Thank you for sharing a little of your end-of-tunnel-light!

  • Seriously, what is it about guest lists that is so overwhelming?! That’s what I became a neurotic mess over as well.

    I love that you point out that joy begets beauty and not the other way around. That’s just as true in life as it is in weddings.

    And your photos certainly speak of the joy that was that day.

    • ddayporter

      ugh guest lists. maybe it’s just that you sort of have to rank people, and it forces you to really confront some truths about some of your relationships that you were maybe not acknowledging fully. and it also makes those truths fairly public, at least to those who are invited, if there are some conspicuous absentees. it’s also tough because people who aren’t yet married, or who got married too long ago to remember the angst, don’t really get how fraught the process is. it seems so easy like “duh you invite your friends and family. easy.” but it’s not until you have a guest count maximum glaring you in the face that you realize you have seriously difficult work in front of you. man my blood pressure goes up just thinking about it! haha. so glad that’s over!

      • Someone

        I think we must be very lucky in this area then! We just wrote down all our family and proper friends, done. Maybe we just don’t know that many people?

  • beautiful.

  • Jess

    What a lovely post. Exactly what I needed today (which was off to a rough start until I realized that APW would cheer me up). I know what you mean about feeling alone during the engagement, with family and friends time-zones away. Although my girls have been there in every way they can so far, two off them are much more physically distant than I would like… as is my Dad. Things have been tough generally lately (this summer has been a lot about dealing with moving, and illness and unemployment), and I feel like we’re asking our friends and family for enough support already, wedding stuff aside. Sometimes the wedding feels frivolous in the face of it all, but it’s also one of the things that cheers me up the most. This community has a wonderful way of reminding me that our our weddings are not separated from the rest of our lives…. that they are intimately bound, and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

    Thanks Sharon, and congratulations on creating such a beautiful event (and on surviving the move right afterwards).

  • Robin

    Sharon, thanks for such a thoughtful, personal post. You already know we have more things in common than getting married in the same year– difficult stuff (what happens when you relocate), and fun stuff (yay Phillies!). This post makes we want to add to that list. Thanks for making me feel inspired to braver, and more open. You do it with such candor and grace, that I almost feel silly for being as cautious as I sometimes am.

    • Aww, Robin! *hugs* Once I’m done with this round of crazy paper-writing, I’m getting out my calendar and you and I are figuring out a time to hang out. Just so you know. :)

      • Robin


  • I love the huge smiles in every picture. Everyone is so obviously having a great time and full of love that it makes me wish that we were friends, and I could have been there to share in that joy!

    • Angel

      The coolest thing about the wedding (aside from “Omg! Sharon & Jason are MARRIED NOW!”) was how the community came together – people who had only met the day before or even hours before were suddenly friends.

  • Ah, Sharon, you blow me away! Thankyou so much for your honesty and gracefulness in telling us your story. (Also I love your photos and covet your photographers. That shot as you’re walking out and you’re looking up at him with total joy? Nearly brought me to tears in the middle of work.)

    I really empathise with the overwhelming feeling of loneliness you’re talking about. This has pretty much characterised our engagement so far, and many days I find it totally overwhelming and very difficult, especially as now my ‘people’ are back in the country, but don’t really have time for helping with wedding things. (And my delightful fiance is so sick of hearing about wedding things sometimes I think his head might explode.) It doesn’t help that I feel paralysingly guilty every time I ask anyone for help, or even just take non-wedding-party people up on offers to help. And to be totally honest, I’m struggling with some fairly unjustified feelings of anger towards the people who “should” be helping, but are being actively UNhelpful, and sometimes critical. Any tips for getting through it without having … well, more frequent meltdowns than I am already having?

    • Hey Eliza, I’ve been thinking a lot about your question since I had so many meltdowns over unhelpful people/unideal planning that I don’t know if I have any right to make suggestions. But I’ll give it a shot.

      Looking back, I think if I could tell engaged!me one thing, it would be to try to gain some emotional distance from the planning and being okay with the process not looking the way I envisioned it. For me, I spent a lot of time being REALLY hurt that my bridesmaids seemed so uninterested in all the details or like they couldn’t be bothered to put together a shower because I thought that disinterest was a reflection on ME and how much (or little) they loved me. In hindsight – total bull. It wasn’t that my friends didn’t care about me, it’s just that none of the women who were standing up with me were the detail-oriented, event-planning type. Once they got into town, they were INCREDIBLE with taking over last minute projects, guarding me from stresses, looking out for me, and making sure I was having a good time. And those are the reasons we were friends in the first place, not because they knew how to throw parties.

      Also – communication is so key. If people are hurting your feelings, whether or not they intend to (for the most part, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they aren’t intending to), most of the time all it takes is an honest conversation of “this is the kind of support I need from you right now” to turn the situation around.

  • Kaitlyn

    How does APW always know exactly what I need to read? I just had the most depressing day. We finally found an engagement ring I love, and I couldn’t wait to show it off. Except… I’m new to this city. I have no one to show it to. I’ve only been at my current job for about a month, so no one really knows me well enough to be excited for me. They were all pretty much like, “oh, how nice.” With all my family and friends at least 9 hours away, it made me realize how alone I’m going to be planning this thing.

    This post really reminded me that it will be worth it to pay for and host the huge party we’re planning. For those few days, I will be surrounded by loved ones, however lonely the planning process is going to be.

  • Totally crying right now. I love the entire sentiment of community in your graduate post Sharon. So beautiful! THIS is blowing my mind:

    “Choose happiness. … We’re trained to think that we need stuff in order to have a pretty wedding and that we need to look a certain way to be a “real” bride, when really joy begets beauty and not the other way around. Enjoy your day and your community, let the little things go, bask in being married, and that will be enough.”

    GAH! Such truth. JOY BEGETS BEAUTY LADIES! This just totally made my week. Thank you :)

  • Moz

    ‘Making it everyone’s day does not make it any less your day.’

    Nicely put. And congrats on your marriage xx

  • J

    I think I’m going to have to save this as a favourite and reread it frequently Sharon – awesome post!

    Everyone’s said many of the things I loved, but the one that really jumped out at me and made me happy/sad was your mention of the fact that you prayed with your bridesmaids (and that photo was gorgeous). It made me happy because I think faith is such a huge part of life and marriage so it was awesome to see how it featured in your wedding :) It also made me a little sad because some of my bridesmaids hold very different beliefs to me and while I would definitely love to pray with someone the morning before I walk down the aisle I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. It’s not a huge deal – I just loved seeing it feature in your wedding!

    Congratulations and blessings for a great marriage! :)

    • Do it! Doesn’t have to be a bridesmaid. Just grab another friend who shares your beliefs!

    • meg

      Or pray with someone who doesn’t, for goodness sakes! We’re interfaith. My family is Christian. But you can bet your *ss that they prayed at our jewish wedding!

    • ddayporter

      yeah, I mean if you frame it the right way, you could include even those who don’t have any faith at all. I am not religious but if I were in the bridal party for a religious woman and she asked me to hold her hand in a circle where she was praying, and she let me know my positive thoughts and energy were welcome along with the prayers of others, I would happily join that circle for her (although I have to say it would make it easier for me if we all did our thing quietly instead of reciting bible verses or whatnot). I can’t speak for the interfaith thing but it does seem like even if they have different beliefs, they could pray in their own way while you pray in yours. if there are one or two you are concerned about making uncomfortable, just ask them in advance how they would feel about it.

  • Nicole Smith

    Aw, Sharon, welcome to the bay area. I loved what you said about feeling alone in all this big stuff. I’m 20 days out from the wedding, and trying to not let on how worried I still am about it all coming together. Your post made me cry and relax at the same time. I hope we look even half as happy as you do when the day comes!

  • DIDI

    This may just be my favorite Wedding Grad post yet! Yay for Sharon and Jason :)

  • Hannah

    um, amazing. I think that ‘Conventional wedding wisdom also says if you have over x amount of guests, it won’t feel intimate. I call bull. It’s intimate if everyone there loves you’ is the HOTNESS – we just did a rough count and ended up with 200+ (yikes!) (but also, kickass!)

    Sharon, your ‘choosing’ post articulated so much that I’ve struggled to say – thank you – and this post is equally RAD.

    Thank you thank you thank you and CONGRATS!

    • Anna

      Had to comment on the “yikes, but also, kickass!” part…we’re hitting 250 with our guestlist..not because we are mega-rich (pretty much at the other end of that scale..) but because all those people are valuable to us and part of our community. So..”yikes” sometimes (not even thought about tables or seating yet..) but I know it’ll turn out “kickass!”

  • Anna

    I love love love this post. I love what you say about joy, because you can’t fake joy or summon it up by smiling really hard…and folding 1000 paper cranes or any other project wouldn’t have brought you more joy. I hope that’s one of things people remember from my currently-being-planned wedding, that it was a day full of joy… and thank you for mentioning the feeling lonely/guilty issue, I didn’t know that was an ok thing to feel until I read al of these comments. And finally your wedding photos are absolutely rocking and tell a little story of each part of the day. I don’t even know the stories and yet I like them..!

  • Stopping for a treat in your wedding finery sounds like an awesome idea!

  • Alis

    I love words for centerpieces instead of flowers. I feel the same way!

    I’m happy that your community came out in full force. Planning a huge move and a wedding… That’s a lot! But it’s wonderful that they all came together to wish you well on both of your new journeys.

  • Wsquared

    I’m reading this and grinning from ear to ear. At all the stuff you guys did that felt right to you– the Chinese dinner, the church ceremony (taking Communion together– that’s a very beautiful and powerful thing), and all the things that came together because your community did.

    We’re trained to think that we need stuff in order to have a pretty wedding and that we need to look a certain way to be a “real” bride, when really joy begets beauty and not the other way around.

    Oh, good grief, YES. This is true not only of weddings, but our very lives. How many times have we heard that if we don’t have/do certain kinds of “stuff,” then we’re not “successful” or “with it,” or “independent” or whatever?

    What you’ve written recalls something that the priest at my parish said to both my fiance and me: “it’s YOUR wedding. What makes the sacrament is you guys coming together to be married of your own free will, not me presiding over it.” I’ve always tried to keep that at the forefront of my mind: whatever we do or don’t do, it’ll be fine.

  • “Conventional wedding wisdom also says if you have over x amount of guests, it won’t feel intimate. I call bull. It’s intimate if everyone there loves you.”

    Um, yes. Yes, yes, yes. I could “exactly” so many things in this post, but this jumped out at me most. And it’s so true!

    Congrats, Sharon!

  • Lauren

    This is the best wedding blog post I have ever read. Seriously. Thank you for your beautiful outlook on life and all the sane, important wedding advice that never gets dispensed. Perfect.

  • Jen

    Thank you for this post. It means so much to me.

    I got engaged in March and immediately after started my last set of final, graduated from law school, moved twice (across the country), studied for and took the bar exam, started to move, got deferred, and then moved again. I’ve had to move my wedding date, non of my friends or family live close to me at all (they are all on the East Coast and I live in California) and my life has been too unstable for my planning to be what you see on tv – full of giggling, and wine, and wedding magazines, and endless talking about flowers and colors. It has been kinda isolated and alone and there have been a lot of freak outs and crying. And my fiance? He has been there through all of it to help me calm down, breathe, prioritize, and to remind me that as long as our wedding is a reflection of us and how much we love each other nothing else matters. As long as it is all those things it will be good enough. And with his support (and posts like this on APW) I am starting to believe that. I am letting go of all the things the internet or whatever has told me I need for my wedding to be perfect.

    And this from your post “We’re trained to think that we need stuff in order to have a pretty wedding and that we need to look a certain way to be a “real” bride, when really joy begets beauty and not the other way around. Enjoy your day and your community, let the little things go, bask in being married, and that will be enough.” Thank you for that.

  • I LOVED this one. LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously, I so totally relate. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am so glad you wrote this.

  • Alexandra

    Beautiful. Gorgeous. The love & joy radiates. ;)
    (& welcome to the Bay!)

  • Reading these words makes me think a lot of things. I’m planning my wedding now. A lot of things should be considered and I’m in somewhat tired. Thanks to write these words. I know that there are joys and tears.
    I will be back to share my wedding in next 10th, Sep. 2011. Thank you.

  • It is posts like this that made my wedding day Bridezilla-esque stress utterly disappear. <3

  • Muister

    Seriously, Meg is right, everyone should read this post. This post just answers every fear I feel about my wedding not being unique or special enough because it doesn’t look like an Anthropologie shoot, or the fear of tiring my fiance with my wedding stress/mania, or that I’m selfish for wanting all my friends and loved ones at my wedding instead of a backyard picnic of 25 people. Best. Post. Ever!