Big Wedding, Small Budget

Writing about the wedding.

I’ve found it much harder than I expected to write about the wedding. Several times, I’ve sat down at my computer, preparing to write a blog post, only to realize that I have nothing positive to say. Every time I think about writing about the wedding, all I want to do is list the things that went wrong, the things that didn’t quite live up to expectations, the disappointments. And who really wants to read about that?

I think I’m giving the wrong impression here. Of course, there were things that went wrong, starting with the weather. I’m not the kind of person that can ignore those kinds of details (more on that in a future blog post). But overall, the wedding was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t really have asked for a better day. I had such a good time all day long. I felt so much love. Just thinking about the wedding, and the entire day, makes me happy.

So, why do I find that so hard to talk about? Even in person, when someone asks how the wedding was, I usually make a generally positive statement and then talk about the rain. Why can’t I talk about how great it was instead?

The truth is, the wedding was one of the most emotional days of my entire life. The moments that stand out in sharp focus live so close to my heart that it’s hard to talk about them casually. It’s hard to explain. I mean, how can I just tell someone I barely know how it felt to walk out to the ceremony and look at all of those faces, all of those people who had come to witness, to celebrate with us? How can I talk about how it felt to look into Steve’s eyes while he vowed to stand by me for the rest of our lives? How can I describe how it felt to sit down in the sunshine at the end of the day with some old friends I never get to see, and to look around, to see my relatives and friends playing cornhole, running around with their kids, doing shots, talking to each other?

I can barely talk about it here. It’s impossible to even type this without getting choked up.

One of the first wedding recap posts I ever read was by East Side Bride at A Practical Wedding. She wrote, “Part of me doesn’t want to share my wedding with the world. I think I’m afraid if I shake it too hard the glitter will fall off.” I never really understood that sentiment. I mean, once you had such a happy occasion, wouldn’t you want to share it with everyone? But now, I understand perfectly. For me, it’s not so much about keeping things private as it is about protecting the emotion. Talking about things in such concrete terms moves me from feeling to thinking, from emotions to words.

I do want to recap the wedding. I want to share those sharp focus moments. But I think I need to live inside the wedding for a little longer. I need to seal those feelings on my heart before I start talking about them.

So, I apologize if you were looking for details, and a description of the day. That will come later, probably after I’ve gotten the pictures back. I do plan to discuss some things I learned from the wedding in the meantime. And if I seem overly negative, well, now you know why.

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One Week Later

Well, we did it! We braved the weather and got married. Everything was definitely not how I expected, but it was a wonderful day and weekend anyway. The first week of married life has been, well, interesting; we’ve got Steve in bed with bronchitis, so it’s not been too much fun. Hopefully, things get better from here on out.

I have a couple more posts to write about the wedding, I think, once life settles back down to normal. I won’t be posting as often in the next few weeks, and I’ll probably close the blog out with a wedding recap once we get pictures. Then, I’m planning to go back to writing a regular blog—more on that later.

Thanks to all of you who celebrated with us, as well as those celebrating in spirit from afar. We look forward to seeing pictures and visiting with all of you again soon!

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This is it!

I’m sitting here writing this blog post from the bed in my hotel room. It’s the day before my wedding. Who can believe this day has actually come? Unsurprisingly, this post will probably be a bunch of disjointed thoughts, reflecting my brain right now, but here’s where I am in general:

We’ve had a hell of a time with the weather this weekend. The forecast started saying rain for Sunday a few days ago, and since then, it’s basically all we’ve talked or thought about. I mean, it’s an outdoor wedding where my main rain plan was for it not to rain. The final decision wasn’t made until this morning. And I’m proud to say I’ve found a little Wedding Zen in the process. Now that we’ve decided what to do, I’ve let it go, even though I don’t know exactly how it will work. I let Steve take care of it and trusted him to make the final decision (which we all know is hard for me). This victory was hard-fought, and only happened after a lot of tears, a lot of shaking my fists at the sky, and more than a lot of saying, “This isn’t fair!” But the wedding will happen, rain or shine, so I’m moving on.

My to-do list is almost done! There are literally three things on it. That’s it. So that’s a really good, but sort of strange feeling. I’m not worrying too much about what I have left to do. I’m feeling a bit more present, although not as much as I would like. Hopefully, once I finish the last big task this morning and the open house starts, I’ll be there, just enjoying everyone’s company.

Weddings are crazy, y’all. It was impossible to predict the combination of emotions I would be feeling as the day approached, and I’m sure it’s even harder to predict the way I’ll feel once it all really gets started. I’m just going to ride the wave and enjoy it. Everything else will get figured out somehow (but think dry thoughts for us)!

So, what about this blog? What happens next?

Well, I have to say, keeping up this blog has been a really enjoyable experience. I’ve had so much fun writing it. I forgot how much I got out of writing, since I haven’t really done much since I was in school. It’s also been a really good outlet for me to talk incessantly about wedding stuff. And it’s been a great way to connect with others—hearing about people being excited about something I wrote in the blog has made me so happy!

So, the blog will not go away right after the wedding. I’m sure I’ll post some recaps once I get the pictures back. I also have loads to say about what I’ve learned through this whole process, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. But once that’s done, I have no intention of keeping up a wedding blog. I’m sure I’ll be wedding-ed out very, very soon.

I will keep writing, though, just somewhere else. I’ll let you know when it happens, and feel free to move over there if you’re interested. For now, let’s get this party started!

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Changes

Well, the day is almost here. Although right now I hoped I would have found my wedding Zen, it has not happened yet. Instead, I’m worrying about the one thing that’s completely out of my control—the weather. I’m spending hours getting my house ready for everyone to come over, and I’m driving from one end of town to the other running errands. I’ve basically become a mad woman. I haven’t given up yet on wedding Zen, though; by Wednesday, most things will have calmed down and maybe, just maybe, the weather forecast will have changed.

All this stress hasn’t left me much time for reflection on what is actually happening here; namely, the huge life transition of getting married. In moment of stolen calm, though, I find myself a little, I don’t know, nostalgic? Sad? Wistful? I find myself thinking back to my last apartment and how much I loved it, to all the time spent bonding with my dog when it was just the two of us, to the excitement of the beginning of my relationship with Steve. Since we have lived together for so long, it has felt like not that much will change after we get married, and I think that has left me a little in denial as to how big of a life step this really is.

Getting married does mean a change in my identity. It means I will now be a wife. And although that mostly thrills me, it’s a little scary too, a little unknown. Even though Steve and I have been making decision together for a long time, now we’ll have to. Now, I really can’t just decide things on my own without taking anyone else into account. Now, I’ll have my own family.

Frankly, these feelings don’t surprise me at all. Even though I’m super excited to get married, I also feel a little sad at transitions, even happy ones, even ones I have been looking forward to. A new chapter in life always means turning the page on an old one, both the good and the bad. It means saying goodbye to a little bit of who you were before and saying hello to who you will be. And my focus on being emotionally present at this wedding means honoring all of my feelings, the happy and the sad, the excited and the wistful, the optimistic and the nostalgic. After all, life is ever-changing, isn’t it? And so are we.

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Single Digits

Well, people, we have just nine days to go. I really can’t believe it. In this engagement, time went by so slowly, then sped up, then went slowly again. But the last month has absolutely flown by. Our first wedding guest is actually already here! And that’s just crazy.

As you may have noticed, I have been absolutely terrible about posting on this blog last week and this week. Things have been incredibly busy around here. People have been asking if I’m excited and the truth is, right now I’m just focused on getting things done. As we get closer, though, there have been more and more moments where I start to be really excited. Mostly, I think I’m trying to suppress my excitement until I can really enjoy it and not just be stressed out and overwhelmed with emotions.

Something about wedding planning that I never quite got were the “after-wedding blues.” I couldn’t really understand what people were talking about, because I was determined not to make this wedding the focus of my entire life. And I’ve been successful with that. I have a lot going on at work right now. I’ve spent mental and emotional energy pursuing new opportunities, changing things around, making plans for the summer. I have not defined my life by the wedding. But the wedding has certainly defined the last couple of weeks. And although I don’t expect to have a hard time shedding the identity of “bride” (especially since I’ve had a hard time picking it up to begin with), I do have this huge thing to look forward to. I’m especially looking forward to seeing all of our friends and family, since that is really the point of having a wedding vs. going to the courthouse. And then, they all go home. That special time with each other and the ones we love comes to a quick and abrupt end. So I do expect to be sad when it’s over.

I’m trying to be proactive to prevent the blues from lasting too long or going too deep. I definitely have big things to look forward to over the next couple of months. In June, we’ll have our annual beach weekend, my favorite two days of the year. In July, one of my best friends will get married. In August, one of my favorite cousins will get married. So there are reunions and happy times in the near future.

I’m also thinking about how I’ll spend my time once I’m done working on wedding stuff. I’ll be able to be more productive at work, which will be a blessing, especially since my caseload has doubled over the past two weeks. I’ll be able to read books that make me think instead of sticking to magazines. And, most importantly, I’ll be able to play video games again! I’m thinking about picking Skyrim back up or maybe buying Far Cry 3 as a post wedding gift for myself (any suggestions?).

On top of all that, Steve and I will be building our baby family and our marriage from the ground up. Even though our day-to-day lives won’t change, I expect some shifts in our relationship and I’m really excited to explore those and see where it takes us. Life is good now, and it will be good after the wedding. And, we can always look forward to getting the pictures!

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Reflections

It’s hard for me to write anything profound or reflective about the wedding right now. With only 12 days to go, I’m drowning in errands, phone calls, and arrangements. Over the past week, I’ve spent more hours than I would like to admit just going through bags of stuff, literally sorting things out into different Ziploc bags (this will all make more sense after the wedding, I promise). I spent all day Sunday running around town shopping, ordering the alcohol (so glad that’s done!) and making copies at Kinko’s. I’ve actually stopped counting down until the wedding. Instead, I’ve been counting down until next Wednesday, which is when I’m giving up on my to-do list. I know there will be a few small tasks after that, like picking up my dress, making a Publix run, and packing, but the rest of it will be let go. So, really, I only have 8 days until the festivities start! Yay!

I thought that everything would feel the same as we got closer to the wedding and then there would be a big shift after the ceremony, after we officially became husband and wife. Now, I realize how wrong I was about that. Instead, it’s been a transition, a slow one that has sped up considerably over the past few days. I looked over at Steve last night and thought, “He is going to be my husband.” And I wasn’t thinking about it in the abstract, someday sense. It was concrete and immediate. It was real.

I am prepared for a shift to happen after the wedding. But it already has started. I can feel my mind and heart beginning to prepare for the transition of becoming a wife. It’s happening almost unconsciously, and I think it speaks to the importance of ritual to make the movement between two stages of life. It’s not only the day that makes a difference, though. All of the planning of logistics has helped move me in the direction toward marriage. Looking forward to the day has signaled my unconscious self that something big is coming, and I better get ready for it. It’s almost too big to grasp, so right now I’m just trusting myself to be present, to do it right.

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Letting it all go.

I am determined to enjoy my wedding day. The whole day, not just the five hours that comprise the actual event. Now, that might sound like a strange thing to say, but I’ve realized that to relax and have fun I’ll need to not be in charge. And for me, that does not come naturally.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love planning, organizing, and running things. I enjoy being in charge and knowing everything that’s going on. I like making decisions and executing them. And after all of the planning I’ve done, the natural thing to do would be to remain focused on getting everything right the day of the wedding.

But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to hand the reins over to our day of coordinator (a trusted friend) and leave the last-second decisions to her. If something goes wrong or changes, I’m going to work really hard not to notice and not to care. After all, at that point, what could I really do about it?

All of this is easier said than done. And it really hit home for me when I was thinking about my wedding jewelry and I realized that I probably wouldn’t wear my watch. This has been causing me a vigorous inner struggle; I mean, I always wear my watch, mostly because I always like to be on schedule. But I don’t want to worry about the schedule at the wedding (instead, I will probably just be asking what time it is constantly). I want to experience my wedding as a participant and let others worry about the time.

So, I’m going to do it. I’m going to hand over the details and leave the watch at home. I’m going to ignore what is happening behind the scenes while I eat, drink, visit, and dance. I’m going to enjoy myself and for once, I’m going to let someone else be in charge.

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For Better or for Worse

It’s interesting how the focus of my thinking has changed as the wedding has gotten closer. Of course, I’ve made an effort throughout this process to think about the marriage, not just the party. And those “marriage” thought came up more naturally while choosing a Ketubah text and writing the ceremony. But the truth is, most of my mental energy has been focused on planning the wedding. I mean, there’s just so much to do, you know? So many decisions to be made.

Except now, there really isn’t. We’ve really reached the end of the planning process. Sure, there are a ton of things left to do, and I’ve been working on wedding stuff every day. But literally, there is one decision (and it’s not a very difficult or consequential one) to be made. The rest is just doing. And with virtually nothing left to figure out, my brain has been free to meditate on this marriage thing we’re getting ourselves into.

Suddenly, stories I read online where a spouse becomes unexpectedly sick or disabled have rocked me to my core. Whereas before, those stories would have felt touching, and I would have been left with admiration for both spouses, now, I’m left with questions, a bit of anxiety, and a profound feeling of jumping off of a cliff. Of course, Steve and I have been committed to each other for some time, and if he had gotten into an accident six months or two years ago, I don’t think I would have left him just because we weren’t married. But still. There is something huge about making a promise to each other to stay together in the case of something tragic happening. There’s something about making an active commitment rather than a passive one that feels much more real, much more binding.

In just three weeks, we’ll be promising to stay together for better or for worse. And we’ve already been through some better, and some worse. From where I’m standing right now, though, it’s the act of making the promise that seems to be all the difference. I know I’ll be spending the next three weeks, and probably the next 30 years, trying to wrap my brain around what this commitment really means. It’s something I don’t think you can understand before you go through it. And now, facing down that cliff, I’m finally starting to grasp that. And I’m holding on to the fact that we’ll be jumping off that cliff together.

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Memories

Last Sunday night I stopped for a minute and thought, “Wow. A month from now the wedding will be over.” It took my breath away for a second. All this work, all this planning, all this time, and in a month, we will be back to real life.

My first reaction was, “What will I do with myself?” This wedding has taken up pretty much all of my time, especially for the past few (and the next couple of) weeks. Then I remembered my old life, where I put my clothes away, spent time at the dog park, and played Skyrim for hours. Oh yeah—I like real life! Whew.

Even with that realization, though, I felt sad. It really hit me how fleeting the wedding day is. No matter how much preparation you do, the whole thing still just lasts one day. One day to celebrate with loved one gathered from far and wide. One day to focus completely on your relationship. One day to throw an amazing party and dance up a storm. And then it’s all over.

I’ve heard many, many people tell me that your wedding day goes by in a blur. I think the prevailing wisdom is that you won’t really remember the day in detail. And truthfully, I’m ok with that. What I’m not ok with is forgetting how the day feels. I’m absolutely determined to remember that. I’m planning to force myself to stop for a moment, several times throughout the wedding to take a breath, look around, center myself, and remember exactly how I’m feeling, the good and bad. Because the truth is that this one fleeting day has taken a lot of work, and I want to make sure that the day, or at least the memory of it, lasts as long as I can make it.

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Planning Update—One Month Left!

Oh my god, you guys. Yesterday was one month exactly until the wedding. I really can’t believe it! It’s hard to believe that exactly one month from today, it will all be over. I can really feel now how the wedding is just one fleeting day that flies by. Whew.

We’ve now reached the point in the do-it-yourself wedding with all the doing. All of those little details on my to-do list are now due, or overdue, as the case may be. Always the listmaker, I now not only have the checklist on The Knot, I also have another, more detailed list on Word. And, to top it all off, I’ve started keeping a daily checklist on my phone of wedding stuff that needs to get done. This is crazy, guys.

Anyway, this is my last monthly planning update. So, it will be the longest and most complicated. Here’s what I’ve gotten done (more or less) since the last one:

  • Order guest book: This is done! Just waiting for it to come in the mail.
  • Schedule vendor meetings: I’ve now met with the videographer and venue. I have a meeting scheduled for this week with the DJ. All that is left is to meet with the caterer and fill out the info sheet for the photographer.
  • Have my first dress fitting: The second fitting is this week!
  • Buy bridal party gifts: They are sitting in wedding storage, AKA our spare room, as we speak. I love them!
  • Shopping day: This was extremely satisfying, even though it didn’t happen all at once like I had planned.
  • Finish planning open house: I haven’t finished planning so much as turned it over completely to my parents. It felt great to let go of it.
  • Make table numbers: I’ve created them all; they just need to be printed. I’ve got to find a place where I can print 5×7 cards.

There is probably too much still left to do to list here, but I’ll try my best to condense it down. Here’s most of what has to get done before the wedding:

  • Buy stuff: Tablecloths, plates, cups, drinks, centerpiece supplies, table number holders, and probably some other things I’m not thinking of right now.
  • Finalize details with vendors: Go over the small details with the caterer and day of coordinator and create a ceremony guide for the photographer and videographer.
  • Make a floor plan and assign seating: Also, the escort cards need to be filled out.
  • Print the programs and table numbers.
  • Get the welcome bags ready: I have to buy the supplies and bags and create and print the inserts.
  • Order the flowers: And buy bouquet-making supplies.
  • Get the marriage license: While we’re at the county clerk’s office, make sure that everything is set for Ilana to officiate.
  • Make a day-of schedule.
  • Wedding Beauty: Finalize makeup, get my hair cut, make a waxing appointment, and figure out details for nails that weekend.
  • Every other small detail that is too tedious to list here.

I’m confident I can do this. Of course, I still need to pay bills, go grocery shopping, make dinner, and not suck at my job in the meantime. Plus, I have to take some continuing ed classes for my social work license renewal before the wedding. Procrastination will always come back to bite you later, kids. Take it from me.

No doubt, I will be busy this month. But that is actually probably a good thing because it will make the time fly by. Before we know it, the day will be here, and I’ll be someone’s wife. Now, to go take some deep breaths before I hyperventilate…

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