When we first began to plan our wedding I kept joking to friends, family, and coworkers about how I was a “negligent bride.” From day one John jumped right in. He was a natural. He put me to shame. And I never had to ask him to do any of it. Secretly though I was elated, grateful, and relieved. I didn’t want to be a bridal island. The thought terrified me actually. But, like everything, I voiced that fear to John and he got it. He rolled up his sleeves and took care of business – calling vendors, setting up appointments, negotiating contracts, making game-time decisions, balancing our budget, saying no and sticking to it. It was really at that point where I started to feel excited about our future. I was marrying a strong, take-charge, yet sensitive man who listened when I asked for what I needed, and who also cared about all the planning that went into our wedding. Could I be this lucky?
In the middle of planning I hit a road block where I was feeling lonely, sad, an unsure of how it would all pan out. It did all work out in the end with a lot of work on my end, asking for help, and delegating when I needed it. I told myself the happiness of getting married would help distract from a lot of the bad feelings of late. The wedding actually exacerbated a lot of my anxieties – being the center of attention for the day, pleasing everyone, putting others’ happiness before my own, doing everything flawlessly. I also began to worry that the wedding was taking over too much of our lives. I started to forget what life with John was like before all the planning, what we talked about during dinner, what we did on the weekends, what we emailed about during the workday. No one really ever talks about how hard it is to do the balancing act between planning a wedding and Life. We just had to figure it out as we went: we took long, wedding-free, weekends away, we forced ourselves to totally unplug, to consciously not talk about the wedding, to go out and celebrate our engagement over and over.
On the day itself I was calm from the moment I woke up. Eerily calm actually. I kept waiting to get nervous, for my palms to start sweating, for some disaster to happen and to have a freak out. But it never came. The whole day went by and it never came. That is what stands out to me most now, I’m actually still a little amazed that there was not one tiny hiccup. But mostly I feel lucky and grateful to say that my wedding day was perfect.
We stayed together the night before, woke up together, but got ready separately.
Our photographers orchestrated a First Look session. Which, if you haven’t heard of before, is when you see each other and take photos on your wedding day before the ceremony. I cannot recommend this enough. Waiting all day long to see each other would have been too much undue stress and anxiety for me. Not to mention doing portraits and wedding party and family pictures beforehand frees you up to, you know, enjoy your guests and your cocktail hour. Our amazing photographer, Kristin, suggested the first look idea and we were totally on board. Also, I found, doing pictures beforehand set an awesome, fun, and calm tone to the day. Our immediate family and wedding party surrounded us in the hours before the ceremony and I really needed that. Pictures beforehand ensured we were all fresh and looking our best too. And, it was FUN! Seeing John turn around and see me for the first time, his smile and tears, are part of a moment I will never forget.
Family and wedding party portraits:
John and I portraits:
When it was finally time for the ceremony we all queued up in order, my arm on my Dad’s. That moment was special and emotional. And yet, I kept waiting to feel nervous but I didn’t. All this time I thought the ethereal bride moment was a myth. And for all of my hyper-anxiety I thought for sure it would bypass me anyway. But I walked down the aisle and said my vows and I was fine. I was fine! No tears, no shaky voice, no splotchy red face, no terror. Just bliss.
The ceremony did get interesting and hilarious when John, my outgoing, extroverted, professional improviser/performer, confident husband, broke down and cried through all of his vows. He! Cried! I still can’t believe it. See, the man does not get nervous. Ever. Between job interviews, big presentations, performing in front of huge audiences, he never breaks a sweat (did I mention I hate him a little bit?). And yet, the sweet man could not hold it together during his 5 lines of vows. I was floored, I couldn’t believe I was the calm, cool, and collected one. Of course, in a way only he could, he managed to endear all of our guests, laughing his way through the tears and giving the moment his signature charm. Everyone cried, then everyone laughed. And I loved him even more than I ever thought I could at that moment.
And then, it was over and we were married. Married! Finally!
Immediately afterward we took a few more pictures but then we were left alone, just the two of us, for about 30 minutes. We rehashed the ceremony, the day so far, all of the small details we could recount. I felt like a giddy little girl.
We were able to go to our cocktail hour and greet everyone for a little while. One of my favorite memories from the day was entering the art gallery the cocktail hour was held in and immediately being swarmed by all of our friends. We didn’t make it 5 steps past the doorway. It was an awesome feeling.
We went back to the main reception area for our formal introductions and our first dances. Our parents and wedding party were introduced and met with thunderous applause. Little did our guests know that we were waiting in the nearby freight elevator for our entrance. Finally, our DJ announced us for the first time, the doors to the elevator were thrown open, and we were met with applause, cheers, whistles, and screams. The feeling was indescribable. It was at that moment that it really hit me that everyone was there to celebrate this huge thing we just did. To support us and love us and hold us in this moment.
Our first dance:
The speeches from my maid of honor/sister and John’s best man/best friend were great. We laughed and cried, in equal proportions.
I love this reaction shot to RJ’s speech:
The only big thing left to do after the speeches was to cut the cake.
After that, the rest of the night was easy. We let our event coordinator at the venue take charge of the timeline and cue us when we were needed. And other than that we ate, drank, danced, and talked to our guests as much as time would allow.
Our final dance:
There were a lot of lessons I learned throughout the whole wedding planning process. I wrote a lot about them on here, specifically my post on the top 15 things I know now that I wish I knew then. When it came down to it though the biggest thing I took away from our wedding day was that it was 100% us. We didn’t compromise, we didn’t apologize, and we went with our gut. We didn’t have a religious ceremony, we didn’t have a receiving line, we took pictures before the ceremony, we served BBQ, I didn’t toss my bouquet, we didn’t go to an island for our honeymoon. And you know what? It was perfect to us. And, we’re still getting compliments on the whole thing from friends and family. At the end of the day you have to do what makes you and your spouse happy.
One last thing that didn’t surprise me, but humbled me, was the love we felt from all of our guests. You always hear about how weddings are a big love fest and it’s totally true. I felt so loved and cared for and cared about on the day. The details don’t matter, what you wear or look like doesn’t matter, the logistics don’t matter – joy is what matters. And I’ve never felt so joyful in my life.
(All photos were taken by the amazing and extremely talented Kristin Korpos Photography.)