Christine & Curtis

*Christine, Insurance Broker & Curtis, IT Consultant*

I got partway through today’s wedding graduate post and screamed. It turns out (surprise!) that this is the Christine & Curtis who contributed their budget to that section of The APW Book, and now we get to see how their wedding played out. As it almost always goes, their actual wedding story is infinitely more complicated, and ultimately more wonderful, than any of us ever would have guessed from the planning. It is a must read (and then obviously go check the book for their budget story).

Our wedding was a hot mess, and I mean that quite literally. Really, I think it was just the universe sending me a message about control on my wedding day, but I will get back to that later.

I’m a planner. A serious planner who loves to plan everything. There is comfort in details to me, and I’m cool with that. Thankfully (for me) so is my husband, or at least he puts up with it, which is all I can ask I suppose. I revelled in the planning process and thoroughly enjoyed it all. My whole focus was on making our guests feel special and spoiled because really, these are the people in our lives. We wanted to use the day to show our love and appreciation for them. Don’t get me wrong, there were times it was overwhelming and I needed a break, but for the most part I truly enjoyed worrying about things like when the sun would be setting on September 4th and whether or not it would be shining in my guests face during the ceremony.

We went a different route for our wedding than most. When we were first engaged, my then-fiancé’s only request was that it not be a “traditional” wedding. When I pushed into what he really meant by this, he tied it all back into money. If the average wedding is 5 hours and costs about $25,000 then that equates to $5,000 an hour and plainly, he felt that he just couldn’t have $5,000 worth of fun in an hour. That’s a hard argument to disagree with. Obviously weddings can be done for much less than this but I’ll be honest, we had zero interest in a budget wedding. It’s just not us. We’re good consumers. Maybe too good. It wasn’t the total amount that we would be spending that bothered us; we just wanted to feel like we were getting value for our money.

We ended up renting a luxury ski lodge on the side of a mountain in Maine. It was stunning and had incredible amenities. We rented it for a week and hosted a weekend of events over Labor Day Weekend, and then we finished out the week in the house as part of our honeymoon. We invited only sixty people, which included about fifteen children. They were incredibly adorable and so well behaved. I couldn’t have imagined the day without them there. We spent the weekend eating lobster, toasting marshmallows, and hanging out in hot tubs. It was spectacular to be able to share this quality time with all our guests prior to the wedding.

We live four hours away from our wedding location and we used solely local vendors. Little did we know that this would be one of the best wedding decisions we made. September in Maine tends to be beautiful. Crisp sunny days with chilly nights. We had an abnormally warm week, but it was still pleasant weather until the big day. About an hour before the ceremony was set to start, an apocalyptic rainstorm appeared out of nowhere with seriously zero warning. The deck overlooking the mountains had been set with cocktail tables and a full bar. The wind sent our tables sailing across the deck, crashing them into pieces. Our bar, complete with glassware and alcohol, started to blow over.

Our wedding planner, caterer, and her staff stood in the pouring rain and held down our bar. They were pelted with hail and lightning was striking maybe twenty feet behind where they were standing. They never moved. Not until the rain ended. They were dripping wet but it didn’t slow them down one bit. By the time the first guest arrived, the linens were dry and the tables were put back together. Our bar was salvaged and ready to serve. They were still damp but greeted our guests with enormous welcoming smiles. I am eternally grateful for their selfless act and am still in awe at the lengths they went to in order to save our alcohol day.

After the rain passed, it got steamy. Like really hot and humid steamy. The AC in our stunning home was broken thanks to Hurricane Irene that had passed through the week before; it had blown a relay switch with the power outage. The rainstorm had dislodged most of my precious plans and there were things scattered everywhere. Decorations were tangled from the rain and some items never made it out of their boxes. I guess you can plan all you want but Mother Nature will do what she feels like.

I had to change out of my dress just after dinner because it was just too hot to keep it on. Once I changed, many of our guests changed too into whatever they had handy. We laughed and danced and sweated with our friends and family. It was so not the night I had planned. But it was perfectly wonderful in its own right.

I will not go as far to say that I wouldn’t change things if I had the chance—of course I would.  I am still bummed to this day that I had to take my dress off.  I had waited 37 years to rock that dress and I barely got to wear it. But honestly, that night was the most magical night of my life. I was tired, exhausted, and grossly sweaty, but I heard over and over how I was the happiest bride anyone had ever seen. I did not stop smiling for one second. Never in my life have I felt more surrounded by love, both from our guests and from our vendors who suffered through the heat with us and seriously busted their asses so we would have a wonderful night.

When the storm hit and chaos ensued, I laughed. It really did not matter. The ceremony was able to start on time, and while we were inside (and really, really hot) we were all sitting on dry seats. The rain brought in so much fog we lost our gorgeous mountain backdrop at the house, but the sky was clear for our pre-ceremony pictures and we have some beautiful shots. I am so grateful for these little things. Besides, I married the best man I have ever met in front of the people that mean the most to me. In that way, the day went exactly as planned. I guess it’s all about perspective.

I think my mother-in-law put it best when she said to me that our wedding day was a lot like marriage. We had highs, lows, sunshine, and stormy patches that came out of nowhere. We had disappointment and celebration, and we were supported through both by the love of our family and friends. There were things we wish we could change, but in the end everything turned out how it was meant to be and we are stronger as a unit because of it. It was one hell of a rollercoaster ride that I would do over and over again if I could. Sure, it was chaos, but it was our chaos.

For the record, I do want to note that the sun did come out after the rainstorm, right in the middle of our vows actually. And wouldn’t you know that it didn’t shine in any of my guests’ faces at all. Just mine. The irony of this was not lost on us, and we ended up laughing and giggling our way through our vows. While this was so not what I planned, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

The Info—Photography: Birch Blaze Photography (except for the last photo after Christine changed out of her wedding dress) / Venue: Ski Esta House

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  • I love your mother in law’s insight there. Seems pretty spot on!

    Also, your dress is gorgeous … but you still look smoking after you changed.

  • 39bride

    What an inspiring post! You are truly a model for how a bride should handle it when things go wrong. I’ll be 39 in a couple days, and married (for the first time) just weeks after that, so your statement about waiting 37 years to wear the dress really resonated with me. If major things go wrong at my wedding (*knock on wood*), I will remember you and how you sailed through with joy and gratitude despite the things that didn’t go as planned…and I will try to do the same.

  • Such a sweet story! And how amazingly great that they were able to spend the entire week being around loved ones. Congrats!!

  • emily

    I, too, had to change out of my dress earlier than I would have hoped. And I sometimes struggle with my feelings about our wedding day, which was less-than-ideal in certain ways. So, thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • Kelsey

    Beautiful wedding, wonderful story! And oh my god, that house! I’m saving your line about putting your focus on making your guests feel ‘special and spoiled, because they are the people in our lives’- what a great goal to keep in mind.

  • KB

    I love this post!! I agree wholeheartedly with this especially about budgets: “It wasn’t the total amount that we would be spending that bothered us; we just wanted to feel like we were getting value for our money.” I have had SUCH a hard time wrapping my head around the budget and why I’m so outraged about paying a fortune for things, but I didn’t know why exactly until I read this sentence – I have no problem spending the moeny, I just want to know that I will be getting my money’s worth.

    I also love this post because I’ve spent most of the planning process envisioning about how things will go wrong instead of concentrating on the fact that, if they do go wrong, it won’t matter because I know with 100% accuracy what my reaction will be – “Screw it, we’re gettin’ married anyways and it’ll be awesome.” Nothing short of Godzilla stepping on our reception venue is going to ruin this wedding – and even then, there’s always the bar down the street!

    • I had a lot easier time wrapping my head around our budget than my fiance has. We’re just over two months from the wedding and the other day I asked Forrest if he was excited. He said, “I’m excited to marry you. I just don’t want anything crazy.”

      Our wedding is clearly not an over-the-top venture and I must have looked like I was panicked. Or about to cry. Or something. Because he very quickly interjected, “There’s nothing crazy! We haven’t chosen anything crazy!”

      It just made me really glad that we’d worked up the budget together and agreed on so many things. Even if the *total* number hanging over the wedding seems like a lot to him, he’s helped to make all of the decisions so far regarding what *we* as a couple wanted to value in our wedding.

    • Jashshea

      Godzilla would be kind of cool.

  • Jes

    I’m so glad you mentioned the kids, it was so fun to see a dozen little ones running around and enjoying themselves at our wedding. Ours too were incredibly well-behaved, which apparently surprised their parents :-) your flower girls are precious! Sounds like you truly had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing!

    • MDBethann

      Children at weddings are awesome! I think the kids at my wedding were on the dance floor more than the adults – one of the toddlers kept following me around in awe of “the pretty princess” and was amazed when I picked her up to dance with her.

      Some of my mom’s co-workers seemed almost shocked that we were having kids at the wedding. But it was a family wedding, and our family has A LOT of kids. 1/5 of my guest list was under the age of 20. Like Jes and the original poster, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And they were all so well behaved!!

  • I just commented specifically on money. BUT I also just wanted to say it looks like you had a BEAUTIFUL wedding. I went to college in Maine and so so miss the fall there sometimes (but also totally know that sticky hotness you’re talking about). You do look like one of the happiest brides I’ve ever seen!

  • Cutest flower girls EVAR!

    • meg


  • I want to send this post to every one of my clients, for it’s wisdom and good humor in the face of chaos. I cried while reading this, because it’s real, it’s frank and it’s what people need to hear about their wedding day. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s going to be wonderful. Your mother-in-law got it SOOOO right. Thank you for sharing Christine!!! :)

  • Lindsay

    it was such a pleasure reading your post, especially because i am getting married at skiesta in october. when i visited the house in april i was awe-struck at how amazing it is, and i am so incredibly excited to spend three full days of wedding celebration with my fiance and closest friends and family members!! thank you for sharing your story, and your photos (we’re hoping to find a spot outside for the ceremony, but if weather gets in the way we’ll probably set it up just as you did!)

    • Christine

      Yay! I love that house and can’t wait to go back on vacation some time. Please tell me you are using The Good Food Store for caterers? I loooooooove them! Good luck!

      • Lindsay

        i haven’t actually sorted out the catering thing yet (i have absolutely no sense of a timeline, and am totally not a planner at all) but sophia recommended them when i met her in the spring! we’ll be taking a drive up there when my fiance arrives in august– he’s been in ireland for the past six months– i can’t wait to show him the house, and we’ll pop into the good food store, too!! i’m curious, did you use a florist from bethyl? we’re two hours away from the house and i’m having trouble deciding if we should get flowers here and drive with them or find someone local to the area.

        • Christine

          Yes, we used Pooh Corner Flowers. Seriously, go with The Good Food Store. Their shop is not indicative of the food they put out. Absolutely delicious and we are total foodies. Heather will help with planning/scheduling too.

  • Jashshea

    Can someone invent a time machine and make it so that Christine and I are friends so that I can go to this wedding?

  • Audrey

    YES! This post mirrors my experience almost exactly, except for my wedding which was the day after that huge storm took out power all over the place a few weeks ago, was also run on a generator. I love how wedding magic and excellent vendors can completely take over and make the day go off without a hitch. Well- except for the dress- I had to change out of mine too. :-)

  • What a beautiful grad post! Thank you so much for sharing. I, too, had to change out of my dress mid-reception because a freak thunderstorm came out of nowhere! But it all worked out perfectly well, even if I didn’t get to wear my dress as long as I would have liked, and it looks like the same is true for you.

  • “I am still bummed to this day that I had to take my dress off. I had waited 37 years to rock that dress and I barely got to wear it.”

    I feel like I have seen this sentiment even from those who wore their dresses the whole time–6 hours is not that long either.

    In college a professor once asked me why I was dressed so fancy for a meeting with her, and I explained that I like wearing my nice dresses regularly because otherwise I didn’t get enough chances to wear them. She liked this and brilliantly came up with fancy dress day, where everyone got to dress up fancy in the clothing they never got to wear. And because it was a writing class, talk about the story behind the outfit.

    (we also had the BEST group picture for that class)

    It might be pretty awesome if APW did something similar–a wear your wedding dress, (or tux, or totally awesome bridesmaid outfit or something?) event where those who wanted to could get a chance to rock their outfits again. And maybe there are drinks.

    • Christine

      I have decided to host a Wedding Dress Pub Crawl where a group of us ladies go out wearing our dresses (or fancy dress of your choice) just so we have a reason to where them again. :) Granted I just had a baby less than two weeks ago so it will likely be a few months or so until I can get back into my dress, but talk about motivation!

    • MDBethann

      I loved wearing my dress and didn’t want to take it off either. My situation was the reverse – the room at the church where I dressed was really stuffy, so I didn’t put the gown on until about 10 minutes before I walked down the isle. I missed out on some photos with my parents and bridesmaids because of it, so I’m kind of bummed about that. But oh well.

      It’s a shame they can’t make gorgeous dresses like Christine’s and mine out of lighter material so no matter what the weather, we can rock our gowns as long as we want.

      I loved how beautiful I felt in my dress, and I don’t feel that way unless I’m all dressed up (work clothes and business casual just don’t make me feel pretty). I mentioned earlier that one of the little girls at my wedding called me a “pretty princess” at the reception. The next morning at breakfast, she kept asking her mom if the “pretty princess” was going to be there and her mom had to point me out in my street clothes. Fortunately, she didn’t seem disappointed, but she clearly didn’t recognize me even though I see her pretty regularly. It’s amazing how a dress can transform us, even if just for a day.

  • Toni1835

    What a great wedding and attitude. I need to remember this as I plan my own wedding day and have to prepare for the unknown. Sounds like a great weekend to me!

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