Friday, March 25, 2011

Planning the "Perfect Wedding"...Twice

Wedding Number One: Summer of Love

When Husband & I got engaged (and it finally sank in that we were getting married), I was torn.  I'd spent 18 months deeply entrenched in the psychotic debutante wedding industry of the deep south several years ago; but still, I had visions of beautiful decorations, finding the perfect dress, a sun-filled afternoon surrounded by loved ones, and the exciting moment of stepping hand in hand into our new lives together, to the applause of our nearest and dearest.

I was torn between throwing the wedding of my dreams, and the practicality (and, let's face it, annoyance,) of actually throwing it. Sure, I wanted a one-of-a-kind couture dress . Yes, I wanted my dear friend, who owns a paper boutique, doing the invites. Yes, we wanted a summer wedding.

Other than that, our opinions and vision varied. His idea was "let's just go to the courthouse." I know I fell in love with him because he is who he is... but unfortunately for wedding planning, the person he is does not give a shit about a  "Dream Wedding".  His dream wedding involves marrying me, the end. If he could also eat meat and fire guns for the reception, it would be epic.

We had the budget decided and the understanding that he would help out where his talents were (lighting, finding a good video camera, play lists, rings and honeymoon travel), but the majority of planning the wedding and peception party would fall largely on my shoulders, since it was my vision, and he would yea or nay things as I brought them up.

I made it through announcing our engagement, asking the bridal party & family if the date of July 3 would work for them, picking out invites, looking for dresses, and then designing and emailing our 'save the dates'.

...And then I began having a major identity crisis...
(Since when do I care about my bouquet? Since when do I care what my friends wear? Are these multi-colored napkins pretty or are they for clown parties? Are plastic plates tacky or practical?)

...combined with slight panic attacks...
(Why does it cost $10,000 to host 25 people on a piece of state land? Why do small wedding packages have to include cake, champagne and officiants, all of which I hate? How can I cut our guest list down to under 20 people when there are 12 people in my immediate family alone?)

...and wedding nightmares.  
(Why am I wearing this bad dress? Why did I wait till the reception to notice my hair wasn't done? Why are there blue carnations on all the tables? Why am I wearing red tights?)

The final straw was when what we thought was going to be a wedding planning Christmas trip north totally bombed. The idea was, we would meet with possible vendors and see our potential wedding venue, but the trip fell through. We spent Christmas at our apartment, me trying not to get totally depressed.

I realized that with every closed door or hitch in my planning, I felt further from marrying the man I love. This is of course ridiculous, but at the time, it's how I felt. Yet I could not reconcile myself to a courthouse wedding; I wouldn't "settle" for less than what I envisioned for us.


The Iron Chef Challenge

That week, my  Maid of Honor and younger sister  called and said "Remember that thing you told me not to do?" Meaning she was preggo again, with a due date of our wedding date.

I could picture a wedding without many things... a cake, a huge guest list, elaborate flowers, favors, trained monkeys, musicians, piles of presents, a rented limo, a honeymoon to Europe, a four star catered dinner, china, silver, even our parents ... but I simply could not get married without her by my side. Of course I was happy for her, but knew that I had to make some hard decisions.

When I thought about what really mattered, like if it was the End of the World and zombies were breaking through windows in a church and we were fending them off with our shotguns, while trying to get married, because we didn't want to die without getting married, what would really matter? What was my vision then? The answer was I needed Husband and my sister there. And I needed to be wearing a great dress.

My sister, brother, his girlfriend, and Husband's sister and brother in law would all be visiting in a week and a half  for my bridal shower. My bridesmaid, Kim, was already in town. So, with about 1/5th of our budget, we planned a Flash Mob , or  Guerilla" Wedding (as they have since come to be described) at the Getty Center  for the evening after my shower. It took some sacrifices (my dress, sadly, would not happen in time; also, the Getty does not allow professional photography), but they were worth it. It was also weird and sad to keep it a secret from the rest of our families and some of my shower guests, but we wanted to keep our group to a minimum, since technically the Getty Center doesn't allow weddings. And, technically, my sister wasn't announcing her pregnancy yet.

But the planning was fun, and it was the kind of challenge that, as a deadline-oriented Graphic Designer, I enjoy. It was kind of like Iron Chef: YOU HAVE ONE WEEK AND X AMOUNT OF MONEY. GO!!!!  I think it would make a good reality show.


Wedding Number One, Take Two! 

We got the paperwork before work one morning at the courthouse. I got a  dress from a retro reproduction store I love. A vintage-loving friend and hairdresser totally rearranged her life to make this happen, also calling in a nail tech. (Fantastic!!). Husband and I had already decided on what he wanted to wear, so we just went and picked it up. We'd already decided on rings and ordered them, so we had those. We asked a friend to officiate, so she got ordained online. I knew of a cute flower shop which would probably have a good selection, so we decided to pick up a few flowers there the day of.

My bridal shower was a great way to celebrate with a wider circle of my friends on my wedding day, while Husband got to go eat meat and shoot guns with his friends like he'd imagined he would.  Afterwards, my sister and bridesmaid and I went to do hair and makeup, and Husband met us there with coffees. We went to dress at our apartment. Everyone else met up with us at the Getty at 7:30.

Ready to do this?
We all took pictures and drank wine, then walked to a quiet spot (where we had had a memorable date  early on in our relationship) to say our vows by flashlight.  I felt a freedom to truly speak my vows, to curse, to cry, to spontaneously go in for a kiss, and to laugh, which I don't know I would have felt in the mixed company of extended friends and family.

I realize that this is ironic, since I'm nine times out of ten the person who will speak her mind without question... but when it comes to expressing my love for Husband well... apparently I get all shy and stupid. So for me, this was truly the kind of wedding I wanted after all, even though I didn't realize it. As it was, my knees were water.

After much celebration and well-wishes from complete strangers, we celebrated at Yamishiro. Afterwards, our siblings and friends bunked together for the evening, and we went home to our apartment and our dogs as husband and wife.

 Our wedding was perfect, and intimate, and everything we needed it to be at the time. 


Wedding Number Two!

the damn family (some of it)
We're legally married, and that's great, but I come from a Big Family. We're kind of like a cult. For one of us to just up and marry someone half of us have never met is weird. And I just know how much they would all love Husband if they met him.

We've just moved into our new home, after months of looking for something to rent. Our home is absolutely perfect for the beautiful, elegant, and very personal DIY garden party reception I envisioned throwing for ourselves, our families, and friends.

I love painting and drawing, gardening, cooking, and now that we're safely married and have the perfect (FREE!) venue, I am VERY excited about the decor and planning we have left to do.   July 3rd will be the best of both worlds: We're officially married so the pressure's off, and our loved ones get to experience the commitment we've made to each other (and party!!)

Our new landlady is completely into the idea; she grew up in that house, and it has seen years of family gatherings, fun parties, and celebrations. As she puts it, "It's a Party House!" I love the idea that the roses and lillies her father planted will bloom at our wedding, and that I will make my bouquet out of them. I love that our wedding party will happen in a place that has seen generations of growth, laughter, and bonding.

This blog is to share a little bit in the planning, and to also motivate us to keep doing the things on our to-do list.  We have a few more months to breathe deeply, plan all those great decoration details, and relax in our new home, where we will host our dear friends and family, in July.

1 comment:

  1. awwww i love this! happy anniversary :) i am happy to have been there for both weddings ;) xoxox <3 when (someday) i get married all i need is him, you, and mountains. the end ;)