It's hard to figure out what to say, or what even needs to be said. And somehow, it seems frivolous to spend so much effort, over the course of 7 months to plan JUST ONE DAY. And again, to spend that much money on JUST ONE DAY (that being said, I know we had a relatively short engagement and low wedding budget, and I'm very impressed with what we were able to accomplish with that. But still).
I can't say the day went like I expected. I can't even say that I enjoyed most of it.Y'know, during the 7 months leading up to my wedding, I can't say that I pictured staying up til 1am the night before making flower arrangements, or driving to the church with 160 sunflowers and some greenery in tow at 8:30 the following morning, or all the frantic setup that happened. For probably about 3 days all I heard was my name being called incessantly , and boy, for it being "my day" A LOT of people had A LOT of opinions about things I needed to rearrange. Sometimes these were helpful, sometimes they weren't. About 11:30 the day of our wedding my husband's grandmother entered the church hall, saw me in the kitchen and proclaimed "You can't be working your own wedding! That's not allowed." She didn't have anything to say once I explained that things weren't going to get done if I didn't do them. The day's schedule (particularly the reception) went wildly offtrack, and I was completely horrified when I realized that the sunday school classroom we'd been storing things in DID have to be emptied before Sunday and all the mess would be coming back home with us (I ended up getting up at 4am the morning after the wedding to start cleaning because that mess was driving me crazy).
We wanted things to be simple, sustainable, affordable, and "God-honoring" (the quotation marks are there, not because I'm mocking, but because that's such a huge thing, I'm not sure anyone knows what it would really mean, or look like.) This meant that pretty much everything for our wedding (except the organ playing, which was the major fiasco of the day) was done by us or someone we love (this includes our wedding photographers- we hired friends of a friend, and made lifelong friends in the process). Which meant a lot more work, stress, and tricky situations for us. And so much thought went into every decision.
But it's hard to even start to describe the serendipitous things that happened. There was the fabulous green floral brocade fabric I found at Joann's on clearance -which became 3 bridesmaid dresses, my husband's tie, and a jacket for his mother, all at $5/yard, plus love and labor from one of his grandmothers (not the one complaining about me working too hard). My dress- an under $200 Ebay find. I'd determined that as far as dresses went, I only had 4 requirements: ivory (so I wouldn't look like a ghost), tea length or shorter (so I could actually MOVE on my wedding day), as close to $200 as possible (so I wouldn't be paying for it for the rest of my life) and not brand new (I would not have been able to enjoy my wedding thinking of women in Bangladesh paid $0.35 to work 20+ hour days, falling asleep by their sewing machines. I realize this is a very, very sticky set of dilemmas, but I just didn't want my dress to be a part of that). Enter Ebay, and a vintage Harry Keiser dress-1950s ivory lace tea length, and my exact measurements. It fit like a glove straight out of the shipping envelope. Absolutely unbelievable. One of my cousins wound up getting married in Nashville 2 weeks after our wedding date, so my grandmother was able to fly out from CO for my wedding, stay with my uncle and go to my cousin's wedding before going home. So wonderful. The bishop at the church we were married in (yes, stuffy Anglo-Catholic cathedral) gave us the key to the church, so we had the run of the place for setting up and tearing down. Our couple photos morphed into a five hour adventure around our favorite places in Columbia, and involved climbing over fences and trees and jumping into a fountain (good thing I had a dress I could move in!) ending with cupcakes at our local cupcake shop.
I was more than a little nervous about how our Bible Belt Protestant family members would deal with our Anglo-Catholic wedding. But I introduced my dad to the bishop, and within 5 minutes they were swapping church planting adventures. Both the bishop and assisting priest (who's a chaplain at school, and a dear friend) came to the rehearsal picnic and laughed and feasted with our family, and while I won't say that "walls came down", everyone realized the other people there were human. And I didn't hear anyone accuse our wedding of being "an empty ritual." Communion was another thing that made me anxious (since this Idea of consubstantiation, i.e. feasting on Christ himself strikes many people as cannibalistic and/or idolatrous). We'd chosen for only the two of us to recieve (primarily because I wasn't about to try to explain Why We Have Wine in Church to our families), and it was probably one of the most profound moments in the day for me. The realization that we had made this incredible commitment...and the only way it can be kept is through perpetual, constant feeding on Christ.
And this is dragging on way too long....but. Some of the things I thought we did especially well:
- Choosing hymns. Come Thou Fount as the offertory (which got horribly mangled by the organist. Sigh. One of my highschool buddies played a lovely rendition of it on his guitar at the reception though) and Adoro Te Devote (Thomas Aquinas's realization that logic and reason weren't enough, and faith is what takes us past reason, into knowing God) for the Communion hymn. Perfect.
- Choosing disposable party goods. We went for corn-based, biodegradable products (with recycled paper napkins, printed with water based ink. May have cost us a few pennies more, but we minimized our wedding's contribution to the Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Choosing to buy preowned items and/or reusable items as much as possible. Best find: 6 square sheer yellow tableclothes for $3 each, thanks to a wedding catering company going out of business. (Thank you, again, ebay).
- My necklace, our sisters' and mothers' jewelry, and gifts for our dads were purchased through the Greater Good Network or Ten Thousand Villages - allowing us to contribute to huger relief, children's literacy, and/or support fair trade and skilled craftsman around the world, in addition to buying crap for our wedding.
-Finding things for people to do. This is partly my skill in managing my to-do list in such a way that when I had 20 people surrounding me looking for projects to do, I could pretty much immediately hand them tasks. And also things like the fact that both of our fathers are ordained ministers and neither performed our ceremony. But my father-in-law did the Epistle reading, and my father read a chunk of one of our favorite children's books (The Little Prince) at the reception. For my dad, this was one of the most meaningful things we could have done, because it reminded him of how much he read to me as a little girl.
-Splurging on wedding photos. This was close to half the cost of our entire wedding. But our photographer and his wife were everywhere...helping pin my veil, tying my husband's necktie, unloading wedding crap back at our apartment at 10pm, and bringing peace and happiness everywhere they went. We have beautiful, beautiful photos (better images than I've seen from weddings that were obviously much more expensive than ours).