Kristine & Steve

*Kristine, Registered Nurse & Steve, Benefits Coordinator*

Today’s post is proof in its purest form that you don’t need a fancy wedding (or a wedding with lots of details, or an expensive dress, or any of the nonsense the WIC is selling you) to have a glowingly happy wedding. Kristine & Steve’s wedding, with a white bridesmaid’s dress, a tiny guest list, an impromptu iPod dance party, and photos by A Beautiful Day Photography, is one for the ages. Let’s do it.

My baby family is only three months old and I’m already chomping at the bit to write a Wedding Graduate post. I have been since the day I discovered APW. But I’ve struggled to begin because there is just so much to share. Do I focus on the gorgeous setting that made every venue-related mini-meltdown completely meaningless? What about the dress saga? As a plus-sized bride, I knew boutique shopping would be a challenge. After the salesgirl at the first store put her foot in her mouth one too many times, I tried to have my dream gown custom designed through Etsy. This was a disaster too. So I said uncle six weeks before my wedding day and rush-ordered an ivory bridesmaid dress from Joielle. And it was just right.

Or should I share the experience of becoming a wife for the second time by the age of thirty? There was a whole heap of baggage I had to wade through during our pre-engaged and engaged eras. But somehow those insecurities were nowhere to be found on October 15, 2011.

But what has really stuck with me is how damn joyful the whole weekend was. Pure f*cking joy.

I knew Steve and I were making an important commitment. I knew it would be special. But maybe because of the planning stress or because of the baggage, I wasn’t sure I expected to be so high that day. Maybe because I was trying to be so cool and laid back about it all, I didn’t think the actual wedding day would matter so much.

It mattered. So much.

We chose to have an extremely small ceremony. Part of it was to stay within our budget and part was that we didn’t think we needed the production, as we called it. It was about celebrating our commitment. Who cared about a million tiny details? So we invited immediate family and a couple of very close friends and called it good. My aunt and uncle and Steve’s dad generously offered to throw us a post-wedding celebration in our hometown a few weeks later. We really got the best of both worlds: An intimate ceremony that perfectly reflected our relationship and our personalities, followed by a casual party that allowed us to celebrate with everyone we knew and loved.

We focused on writing a meaningful ceremony and serving an incredible dinner. Those were our priorities, but I also found that I stopped thinking of the production as a nuisance as we wove in details that really meant something to both of us. We honored the memories of my father and Steve’s mother. We toasted my grandfather, whom we had lost only months before, with oyster shooters. We asked a dear friend to fly across the country and share her beautiful voice with us all.

My mom’s request to incorporate rituals from Thailand, where she is serving in the Peace Corps, turned out to be the perfect vehicle for making each and every guest feel that their presence deeply mattered. We had a string ceremony during our rehearsal dinner (pizza and beer for the win!). Incredibly, everyone was still wearing their strings at the wedding and they become a symbol of togetherness. And the water ceremony at the end of our wedding was a beautiful way for guests to offer words of love and support.

And guess what? Despite the deliberate exclusion of a dance floor, when the tables were cleared and our delicious meal was put away, we cranked up the iPod and had an impromptu party. All twenty-two of us. And we raised the damn roof. My uncle became the life of the party with his hilarious breaker skills. My brother spun me around the room until both of us were dizzy. It. Was. Amazing.

When I flip through our photos, the joy that leaps out at me reminds me of something important: There’s a reason we have weddings. There’s a reason we honor the beginning of a commitment that is so very important. There’s a reason we fight so hard for marriage equality, so that every couple who wants this commitment can have it.

The reason is that in the midst of planning and stressing and living, we can remind each other that we are not in it alone. That the partnership and support and intimacy that feed us are things to be celebrated, things that can and should bring us joy.

The Info—Photography: Daniel Sheehan and Kristine’s personal collection / Venue: Salish Lodge & Spa / Officiant: Annemarie Juhlian / Wedding Bands: Brilliant EarthDress: Dessy Collection bought from Joielle / Necklace: Botanical CreationsBest Women Dresses: Landa Designs from Joielle / Hair & Makeup: I Love Blush / Flowers: Bella Signature Design / Invitations: Everlasting Invites

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  • Sara C.

    “When I flip through our photos, the joy that leaps out at me reminds me of something important: There’s a reason we have weddings. There’s a reason we honor the beginning of a commitment that is so very important. There’s a reason we fight so hard for marriage equality, so that every couple who wants this commitment can have it.”

    Ahh so beautiful!! (and I love your hair! :-D)

    • carrie

      THIS! I loved this as well.

      And I’m smiling hugely. So gorgeous! Congratulations!

      • That was my favorite part too! The love & happiness shines through the words & photos of this post, well done. Congratulations!

  • Karen

    I loved this post, very well written. Yes, weddings are for the community to say “Yes! We support you!”

    Thank you for including the link on the string ceremony. Would you please explain the water ceremony as well?

    • Kristine

      Hi Karen,
      The water ceremony is a ritual during Thai weddings, when each guest is able to approach the bride and groom and pour water over their joined hands, while offering words of blessing and encouragement. We sat at a table and our guests lined up and each got a chance to do this. The pillows were made by my mother’s neighbors in Thailand.

      Thank you for asking! :-)

  • I love how your happiness shines forth from this post!

  • This made me tear up — this whole post just radiates love and joy. Congratulations, Kristine and Steve!!!

  • Martha

    “The reason is that in the midst of planning and stressing and living, we can remind each other that we are not in it alone.”

    Yes! You quantified it beautifully. Also, you look stunning – I love your dress and your hair! And this location looks so much like a place I knew and loved years ago in Colorado that it’s making me all nostalgic.

  • Liz

    A Washington wedding! Hooray! The stunning natural beauty is the only thing pretty enough to frame your joy.


  • I’m doing the 20-ish person wedding as well … and sometimes I’m afraid that it won’t live up to the idea of a “wedding”. And I’m a little worried about having my reception focus on the food as much as it will. And that after 3 hours of eating and breaks and more eating, are these people really going to be in the mood to dance the rest of the night away with me?

    So thank you for reminding me that it works out, and that having the tiny wedding doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the dance floor or the party atmosphere.

    • Kristine

      I realized through planning that the only idea of a wedding that counts is yours! We picked the parts that were important to us (including the food) and then just rolled with it. And it turns out that excellent dance parties have no minimum head count. ;-)

      Good luck with planning!


    • Sarah

      I was a bridesmaid at a 20 person wedding a few years ago and it was fabulous! It was absolutely a “wedding”, just as much as it would have been if there had been ten times as many people there. It felt so personal and intimate and was so obviously right for the couple getting married. Also, we partied so hard that at the end I crawled straight into bed with my bridesmaid’s dress still on and refused to move!

  • I love this! And you’re completely correct– there IS a reason we have weddings, and that reason is really not chair covers. ;) Your photos are so full of joy- and your dress is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Cari Ann

    I was lucky enough to witness this wedding, and it truly was as beautiful and joyful as the pictures indicate. Congrats again, lovebug! Enjoy every second of married bliss!

  • Ahd

    Our wedding was one that radiated happiness… I literally felt like it I’d burst at the seams with glee. And those memories keep me going now… a year later… when things aren’t going so great (massive understatement) There’s nothing better another beautiful happy wedding to remind me of that special day! Congrats!

  • I wish you happiness Kristine and Steve. Congratulations

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