Tag Archives: wedding

wedding graduate…

Editor’s Note:  On August 13, I am remembering not only my reception day one year ago, but also the day I met my husband 5 years ago.  To me, August 13 will always be our “true” anniversary.  It is when my life long adventure with Mark started, and then 4 years later, the day we gathered our friends and family to celebrate. 

Wedding “Graduate”, continued from A Very Short Engagement:

So the party planning began. And it was so much easier now that I was already married. It mostly stayed in perspective, especially reading APW daily. We decided we weren’t doing a sit down dinner and what we really wanted was a big cocktail party and dancing.

We decided to spend money on our venue, The Catalyst Ranch, because it was unique and more “party” than “wedding”. It reminded me of Pee Wee’s Playhouse which happens to be one of my all time favorite shows EVER. They had vintage tables, chairs, and couches so no decorating or linens were needed and the sound system was also included.

I collected .50 vases from goodwill to fill with wholesale assorted flowers. We splurged on the vintage photo booth that made real pictures.

I found a 50’s vintage dress in gold satin with a petticoat that made me feel like Ms. Yvonne (see Pee Wee reference). Our friend’s 3 piece jazz band played for the first 2 hours and then we played ipod DJ with some classic Motown and dance tunes.

Part of me still wonders how different it would have been had we just done a “normal wedding”. It almost sounds easier to have a template to follow, although I know that its not! Eloping is a lot harder emotionally than one might think. I felt like maybe I missed out on something that I’ll never get back. We were engaged just before the holidays so no one had time to throw us any engagement parties or bridal showers and there wasn’t a bachelor/bachelorette party (which was actually just fine with both of us!)

At the same time, I can’t imagine having a ceremony in front of everyone. I wouldn’t have had fun. And I probably would have lost my mind planning the reception had I not already done the important part: be married! In the end, I love our elopement story and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I was pleasantly surprised by who made the effort to travel to our party (hello Vancouver BC and Alaska friends!) and truly missed the ones who couldn’t make it. All in all, we had a beautiful representation from both of our lives of family, old friends, and newer relationships we had established together. Its crazy to be immersed into a room full of people that you love. Everywhere you turn, there is one of your favorite people! Everything felt perfect and I didn’t have a care in the world during the party.

Of course it wasn’t perfect, but in the end the little things didn’t really matter and the bigger things were out of our control. Thankfully I didn’t fret over my DIY simple flowers, or the fact that my hair flower piece arrived on the day of the party, or when a song I didn’t plan to have on the playlist took over the ipod. I laughed when my brother in-law accidentally dropped his dessert on the bottom of my dress (apricot sauce blends nicely into gold satin) and when my bra cups kept falling off my sweaty dancing body (note to future dancing brides: invest in a good bra!)

I’m glad that I let it all go and took in all the love and friendship that surrounded me. I just wanted to soak in every moment and really be in it. The best part is that I got to go home with my very best friend and lay in bed and giggle and replay the whole night back to each other until 4am. Let the happily ever after begin!

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a very short engagement…

As we approach New Year’s Eve, Mark and I are getting ready to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary! I am reflecting on our elopement and all the emotions that went with it. I married my best friend on 12/31/2009. It truly has been a year of marital bliss. I hope the honeymoon phase never ends, but I also know that we have the foundation to get through anything life throws at us!

I’ve never had the wedding fantasy. Whether I never thought I’d find my prince charming or figured I wouldn’t be able to afford that sort of affair, I just didn’t ever dream of a big white dress and a traditional wedding. I never ogled engagement rings, knew nothing about diamonds, or ever looked twice at my friend’s wedding dresses. I’m a very low maintenance practical woman, if I don’t say so myself.

But pre-engagement talks suddenly evoked a checklist of things I felt had to be done in order to be married, or engaged for that matter. And those damn bridal magazines? F’em. I blame them most of all for my temporary lack of sanity. Thankfully I was engaged to a reasonable man who helped me keep it all in perspective. And I found A Practical Wedding blog that empowered me to do my own thing.

We didn’t want the “traditional” shin dig. We wanted to have a small private ceremony followed by a big celebration with friends and family. Again, I had no desire to walk down an aisle and be the center of attention. Its kind of odd, because I am an extremely social person who loves to play hostess and throw big parties. I just don’t like being the guest of honor, or public speaking, or all eyes on me.

We started looking at venues for the party. I looked into fun simple ceremonies that could take place in gorgeous park settings if we only had 6 people. I fantasized about a destination wedding on a beach. We were a year out in our planning so we didn’t make a lot of decisions.

Mark started grad school and we discovered that his school health insurance plan wasn’t comprehensive enough for a cancer survivor (childhood leukemia). We then found out his COBRA insurance was possibly going to triple in price in the new year. I have kick ass insurance through my job. We started discussing an elopement. I didn’t want to get married over Thanksgiving or Christmas, so we decided to take New Years Eve and make it our own (just 10 short weeks after our engagement)!

I tried to arrange for a friend that was ordained to marry us at the Conservatory amongst flowers and tropical settings in the dead of winter in Chicago. That fell through with a week to go. My then fiancé kept telling me that all that mattered was that we were going to be married.

I still wanted something pretty and special. The courthouse sounded so sterile (its in a basement…) I started getting nervous, wondering if I was doing the right thing by eloping. Would I regret this? A week before our planned elopement, a health care law was passed making the “need” to elope obsolete. We decided to do it anyways. We were too excited to wait until August by then!

I made a bird cage veil with the help of a family friend that made me “feel like a bride”. The day before the big day, I went to a flower shop and made the most beautiful, simple hand wrapped bouquet I could have ever dreamed up.

We arrived at the courthouse and waited with anticipation with a group of about 20 other couples. Everyone cheered as each couple came out of the judge’s quarters. He said the nicest things to us about the importance of marriage and loving one another. We exchanged rings and made out. It was awesome! Then we checked into a fancy hotel, drank champagne, and had a photographer friend come by for a photo shoot.

For the elopement I decided what was important were pictures to share with everyone since we had no one else present. I didn’t want people to think we did it because we had to. I wanted them to see that we really just wanted to be together. Our pictures turned out more beautiful and unique than I ever could have imagined. I’m so glad we decided to document that piece of our adventure.

We sent out text messages at midnight wishing everyone a “Happy New Year, Love Mr. & Mrs.” On Jan 2nd, which fell on a Saturday, we had a huge brunch (that lasted until 1am) for all of our local friends and made our official announcement that we were married.

And then, we started planning the reception…

Side note: We did talk to our parents over Christmas and received their blessings before we eloped. It didn’t feel right to us to not at least include them in the decision. Given that we are late 30’s/early 40’s, they graciously obliged and supported us.