November 1, 2007

Our Wedding Day

Have I ever told you about our wedding? It was ten years ago, in fall of 1997. We got engaged, and we were married two months later. Estimated percentage of friends and relatives who expected a baby to be born within six months: 75%.

We'd been living together for two years, intending to get married but not finding any reason to do it at THIS time as opposed to THAT time. Then we decided to have kids, and that we'd prefer to be married first. Our favorite season was autumn, and we wanted to get married in autumn. We realized our autumn wedding was either two months away or a year and two months away. We opted for two months away.

Our plan was to work fast. We'd chosen a date, so we thought we'd invite people immediately, then buy nice dressy clothes, get some platters from the deli and some napkins/plates from the party store, and have a nice city hall wedding followed by a pleasant cakey-and-punchy-and-snacky reception in the large formal room available for free at our apartment complex. Get a stereo and some mix tapes and some champagne, and WHO'S a cute little married couple, WHO is?

We told our parents. Mine were happy with the plan, and started looking into plane tickets.

Paul's. Oh, Paul's. His mom said it didn't matter to HER, of course, but that OTHER people were concerned that we weren't getting married in a church, and Paul's grandmother wanted to know did we realize our marriage wouldn't be valid In The Eyes Of The Lord? His mom said she would have to stay in our apartment for two weeks after the wedding, because otherwise she couldn't afford to come. His mom said she was sure MY mom was disappointed we weren't having a bigger wedding. His dad didn't know if he'd be emotionally able to attend at that time.

Did we want to go on our planned weekend honeymoon to a nearby city, then come home to two weeks of Paul's mother in our apartment with us? No, we did not. Did we want to go to a lot of trouble and expense, only to hear how unsatisfactory our efforts were? No, we did not. Did we--now that we thought about it--even CARE if we had a wedding-wedding? No, we did not. We wanted to be married, but we were only half-interested in the party part of it.

So we made a list. What did we really want, in terms of nice-but-unnecessary wedding accessories? I wanted special outfits--ideally outfits we could then wear when we attended other people's weddings. I wanted rings. I wanted to order pretty announcements or invitations, and I wanted matching stationery for thank-you notes. I wanted studio portraits. I wanted to drive around in a decorated car so people would honk at us and be happy about marriage. That was what I wanted.

What did Paul want? (1) minimal fuss; (2) someone else to choose his outfit; (3) not to have to wear the outfit for too long; (4) no pictures of us gazing moonily into each other's eyes; (5) the rings not to be too girly.

We hired a justice of the peace, a retired minister who wanted to keep doing his favorite part of being a minister, and we paid him ten bucks extra to bring his white-haired wife and sister to be our witnesses. We got married in the parlor of the apartment complex, where we'd planned to have the reception. I wore a pretty green dress and fancy black velvety maryjanes with little heels, and Paul wore a white dress shirt and tan dress pants and a leaf-patterned tie. Then we drove to the post office and dropped off huge white heaps of beautiful white-on-white embossed wedding announcements, the square kind that require fiddling around with extra stamps. Then we drove to a studio and had our picture taken.

Afterward, we changed into jeans, decorated our own car, and drove a long way on the highway, waving at all the people who honked and waved and held up their own wedding-ringed hands. We had dinner at a steakhouse we used to go to all the time when we were first dating. We went to a large bookstore and browsed, and we each bought a few things. We drove home. We washed the car.

It was a great day. I was worried I would regret giving up the flowers, the reception--the other wedding accessories. It's been ten years and I don't regret it yet. It was a great day.

I do enjoy going to other people's weddings, though, and thinking, "What color table linens would I have chosen?" and "Ooo, I would have MY bridesmaids wearing non-matched dresses!" and "I love this yummy buffet!" and "Lots of bottles of wine, that's the key," and so on. Wedding stuff is fun.

57 comments:

Brooke said...

Awesome for you for having the wedding you guys wanted and still being happily married. I got married in the summer of 1997, and um...again in the Fall of 2006. But hey. I love weddings, mine, other people's, it doesn't matter. My second wedding had 1/4 of the people and it cost 3 times as much. But hey, it was the wedding of my dreams and we had the best time and great memories, and so there.

I love that you drove around in your decorated car after.

Tessie said...

This was fun to read. I like when I go to a wedding where I can tell that the COUPLE is happy with the festivities, whatever they may entail.

Nowheymama said...

Happy ten-year anniversary! I think the bride and groom being happy with the wedding day choices they make is the most important thing.

And, who wants to stay with newlyweds right after their wedding? For TWO weeks? What IS that?

JMC said...

All I wanted was the fancy cake. We were married outside right before my husband's family's yearly pig roast. The pig roast became our reception. Everyone wore casual summer clothes, except us. But we changed into casual clothes after the ceremony for the pig roast. And I had my cake. Basket weave design with fresh daisies.

Pregnantly Plump said...

It sounds like you guys had a great wedding that was perfect for you. Ours was great for us, but no one decorated our car. I really wished that his best men had. It never occurred to me to do it myself. I think it's great that ya'll did that and then drove around sharing your happiness with others.

the new girl said...

I too had the wedding day of my dreams and although it was a little more traditional, I was really the *anti-bride* (AKA couldn't care less if the ribbon on the favors matched the table linens and the bridesmaid's dresses blahblahblah.

I just remember that the day was super special and I felt a lot of love.

Weddings are fun and go you for having the one you want (No MIL bullshit necessary.)

Colleen said...

That is so wonderful that you did it your way. All that matters is that you're happy with your memories. And... what a wonderful wedding story to share with your children.

AndreAnna said...

I think people often forget that a wedding is not a clear cut definition. It is what the bride and groom want for their day. There are no rules, no regulations, no frackin' mother-in-laws for two weeks!

You did it right because you did it the way you wanted.

P.S. I had non-matching bridesmaids (same color, all different dress) and they looked fantastic! My sister, my maid of honor, even wore - gasp - a white top!

Anonymous said...

You are brave, brave, brave and wise, wise, wise. Would that we had been that, too. We had a day full of broken hearts and seven years recovering from it. Some day I dream of a wee little do-over just for the two of us and the people that care about us and not the size of our butts. :)

Your shoes sounded so lovely, too. :)

~M.

Michele said...

I LOVE that you did only what you wanted to do.

I had the whole nine yards, and it was great, but on our honeymoon I realized it would have been just a nice to have something very small and intimate.

You can always renew your vows someday and have a big shindig if you are so inclined. i went to one last month and she wore a gown and he a tux and their kids were the bridesmaids and ushers. It was lovely.

I LOVE everything wedding. I could own a briday salon. I wouldnt even mind the Bridezillas.

Emblita said...

I think it sounds like a fantastic wedding!
Personally I got married in Vegas... I know... it was sort of sprung on me on vacation in Paris (France)and voila, three days later we were in LV and getting married (in a laughing fit) in the little chapel of the flowers.
We did have a big reception/wedding a year later in a big tent up at my fams summerhouse. My MIL didn't come, because it was too far, expensive, non-smoking, no one to talk to bla bla bla bla....
But most of our friends showed up and we had fun. Thats the big thing, having fun.

Mommy Daisy said...

That sounds nice. After only 3-4 months into out 9 month engagement, my future father-in-law (a paster) offered us money if we'd just elope. And honestly, he wasn't helping with much planning. If my mom hadn't already ordered and paid for my dress, we would have done it. But it was a wonderful wedding in the end, and I wouldn't change a thing.

Congrats on 10 blissful years!

Sara said...

Aww, Happy Anniversary!

That was such a fun read, and it sounds like in the end, you both got just what you'd wanted.

Plus you stuck it to that MIL a little bit too. :)

Congrats!

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LoriD said...

Sounds perfect. Happy Anniversary. We did a smallish wedding, but it was perfect for us. My side of the family is very fun to party with and that was my main motivation for not just flying to Vegas! I didn't fuss too much about the details, except that I wanted it to be simple, understated and fun.

Shannon said...

Happy ANNIVERSARY!

We didn't care about the wedding part, we just wanted a cool trip out of it. However, our families (mine mainly) wanted a HUGE traditional wedding, so we compromised. People are still totally upset with us about it, which is lame.

I'm laughing so hard at the MIL wanting to stay at your house. Ours did for a week. MIL, stepFIL, SIL, half-SIL, and half-SIL's husband. So, including Darsie, Jeff, and I, there were 8 people staying in a tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. Such fun.

I wish you would post photos. Just blur out your heads! I would love to see your shoes.

Mimi said...

What a fun story. Your wedding day sounded perfect. I can't believe that Paul's mom wanted to stay at your place for two weeks afterwards. Wha???

Jess said...

This is such a timely post! Obviously, I clearly value your opinion, because now I'm all proud that we agree on the bridesmaid dresses not matching and lots of alcohol being key.

hello insomnia said...

I love this. My wedding was simple, too, and exactly how I wanted it and isn't that what's important?

mamaDB said...

Happy Anniversary!

Your day sounds like it was just perfect.

We had a small wedding party on the Queen Mary and enjoyed it fully. We also didn't break the bank to do it. I think you should do exactly what you want to to create the memories you want.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

What a fun wedding story! Happy anniversary!

Kristie said...

What a great memory! All weddings don't have to be the party of the year. That's what birthday's are for.

Ami said...

Lots of bottles of wine is sooooooo the key.

Did you go on a honeymoon?

Karly said...

So, did the MIL fuh-reak out that she didn't get to see her son married?

Happy Anniversary!

Marie Green said...

My wedding was fun and stressful all at the same time. I don't regret the way we did it, but I do wish I knew a little more about weddings when we got married.

It was fun to hear about your unique day!

Misty said...

Oh! That sounds so lovely!

Now you make me want to tell my wedding story....I wish we had been as smart as you guys and made a list. I didn't make a list and so I do have regrets...just little ones though.

Alice said...

that sounds FANTASTIC. i alternate between fantasizing about having a big fun wedding (read: reception) and blowing off all the accompanying stress and just having a tiny ceremony somewhere with like 10 ppl, tops. i think i'd enjoy #2 more, but like you, i love love love talking about / hearing about / pretend planning for weddings... happy anniversary! 10 years, wow :-)

coffee stained laura said...

that sounds like wedding perfection to me.

happy 10th anniversary to you and Paul!

Mrs. M said...

i love your wedding story! nothing matters besides the two of you.

i got lots of "you and hubs should do this" and I retorted with "we should do what we like".

we were married outside in a state park and heard all about "not getting married in God's house."

geesh!

Oh, and number of people guessing I was knocked up: 97% :)

Kathryn said...

Aww, I love hearing about other people's non-traditional weddings. My husband and I eloped about three years after we got engaged--we'd just never really gotten around to planning a wedding and didn't have much interest in dealing with the stress and family tensions inherently involved.

So we quietly planned a vacation to Aruba, hired a "wedding planner" to take care of the beach ceremony details, and sent photos to our surprised-but-kind-of-half-expecting-it families the next day. Our reception was just the two of us having an exquisitely good dinner on the beach as the sun set.

Like you, I don't regret a bit of it, but I do sometimes wonder how I would have planned things if I'd ever decided to go through with all the hoopla.

The Wife said...

Wow. You are so cool!

I wanted to elope. But we're both youngest children whose parents would have scalped them and then posted our heads on stakes for all the world to shame if we had eloped. So I caved.

I think your wedding sounds great!

I LOVE hearing about other people's weddings. This doesn't make me weird does it?

Type (little) a said...

Believe it or not, my husband was to one who wanted the big wedding, and even though I didn't, I did it for him, and you know what? I LOVED IT.

Glad you guys are still happy with yours, too, a decade later. :-)

Devan said...

I loved this post! Weddings should be JUST like that! Not that they should all be like yours, but that they should be exactly what the bride and groom want.
Also, this proves that your MIL has been a pain in the ass from the beginning. 2 weeks in your apartment?! WTH?

Devan said...

Oh yeah, 2 more things:
1 - Happy Anniversary!!!
2 - How did MIL react?! hehee

Banana said...

I love how weddings fit the couple perfectly. That's my favorite part of a wedding - seeing how happy the couple is with what they've put together as their perfect day. Happy Anniversary!!

Pickles & Dimes said...

What an awesome story. I loved that you went home and washed the car.

Plus, way to stick it to the MIL!

I agree with Shannon, I want to see pictures (even if your heads are blurred)!

I know you can hear me... said...

That sounds perfect! Happy Anniversary!

caley said...

That was fun to read. I'm curious to know how the mother-in-law reacted?

My husband and I did it our way, too, and I don't regret it one bit. I started to type out what exactly "our way" entailed, but I'm incapable of being brief and concise, and it was getting reeeeally long. I'm thinking maybe I need to copy you (imitation and flattery and all that, don't forget!) and post about it on my own blog.

Congratulations on 10 years, by the way! Not only on 10 years of successful marriage, but 10 years of surviving your MIL. THAT is a milestone.

mom huebert said...

This was so interesting! And good for you that you were able to boil down exactly what you wanted, and then focus on the essentials. That sounds like a great plan, and I sorta wish we had done that 26 years ago.

Swistle said...

Ami- We did a "weekend honeymoon": we went to two nearby big cities, spending a day in each and a night in a hotel in between, and going out for meals.

Karly & Devan & Caley- The MIL couldn't freak: we said we were doing it that way because we could tell that attending a wedding would be a financial hardship for her. We also brought in another of her points, which was that none of her friends would be able to be there. We thought it over carefully ahead of time, and said it so that it seemed like we were doing it totally for her, based on all the arguments she'd made. She was speechless. It was one of the best parts of the whole wedding.

Misty & Caley- Tell it, and then link to it here in the comments! I love wedding stories! Especially "wish we did, wish we didn't" stories.

Melospiza said...

I LOVE this story! And Happy Anniversary! What is ten years, anyway? Bronze? Leather? Cotton-poly blend?

And I add my voice to the chorus: what, oh what snarky comment did your MIL make after being denied the chance to shack up with a newly-married couple for two weeks?

Sarah said...

After being together for 11 years, with our families flung out across the globe and no way to plan a traditional wedding, we eloped to Costa Rica on just 3 weeks planning! I had a proper wedding dress and everything. It was absolutely perfect (other than the family not being there) - it was a time for us to celebrate, and we hired a fabulous photographer so that our families could enjoy good photos. After 11 years, everyone felt like we were married anyway! Also, yes, his family thought I was pregnant. That happened 4 months later, and now we have a 6 month old :)

Yours sounds lovely!

Fine For Now said...

That is soo beautiful! There is nothing more important than remembering that you are getting married, and it doesn't matter how you accomplish it. In the end you will be with each other forever and that is all that matters. It saddens me when people forget they actually have to go home with the other person and live forever, and not just plan a fun, beautiful wedding. Thanks for sharing your day, sounds like it was perfect! :o)

Artemisia said...

What a happy wedding! I love that you guys found what was right for YOU.

Melissa said...

I love it. I love it even more that you are happily married after 10 years. Good for you.

tulipmom said...

Happy 10th anniversary. We celebrated ours recently, too.

Our wedding was wonderful and I loved being super involved with all the little details. I just wish I hadn't stressed myself out so much over them all.

It sounds like you had the right idea.

samantha jo campen said...

Happy Anniversary! The day you were No Longer Living In Sin. And what a wonderful day it was :-)

Congrats!

Sleepynita said...

That is SO my idea of a wedding.
Our some day will go like this: (in an email)

Hey, we are going to vegas a finally getting hitched. If you wanna come we will buy you dinner. If not, you can see the minimal amount of photos later.

Bye!

She Likes Purple said...

It sounds like a beautiful wedding, honestly. Wedding stuff is fun. And weddings should be what you want them. But the marriage is what it's all about. (I've been married for FIVE WHOLE MONTHS so obviously I'm a marriage GURU.)

Jana said...

I love that you guys got to have the exact wedding that you wanted. And how cool to decorate your own car! My hubby's crude brothers decorated ours and we wound up going through a drive-thru carwash so that the valet at our swanky honeymoon hotel wouldn't see the giant penis drawn on the driver's window.

amber said...

I've only been to one wedding, which is bizarre I guess since I'm 25, but really, some things are better left to be enjoyed quietly and elegantly, as opposed to my sister asking me to wear heels and a floor-length gown and matchy matchy hair and be a damn bridesmaid on public display for two or three damn hours. Do I have social anxiety? NO, I do not!

Also, congrats on ten great years. I think a lot of times people who don't have big, flashy affairs last the longest.

Misguided Mommy said...

i'm so glad this ended the way it did. i was petrified that you were going to sell out and have a big smootzy wedding

Farrell said...

I had the big wedding at age 23. It was beautiful, but if I ever do it a second time, I'm doing it on Thanksgiving. Instead of cake, we'll have pumpkin and apple pie. A buffet of all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings.
Lots of people get too caught up in the day, the decorations, everything has to be perfect, blah blah and you end up losing sight of what it MEANS to get married.
Good for you to do what you wanted; obv. it WAS perfect.

Mommy Brain said...

Awesome wedding day! Love the decorated car part. And your MIL's antics. And your FIL's emotional preparedness. And, well, pretty much the whole post. :-)

MadMad said...

What a fun read - and it sounds like a great wedding. (btw, mils are NEVER happy with dils weddings... even if they are big, in churches and planned a year in advance. So you saved yourself a year of getting nagged at, if you ask me!)

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Happy anniversary!

Good on you for getting the wedding you wanted!

The Mommy Years said...

Is it comforting to look back & know that even then - your MIL was insane & ever-so-slightly overbearing?

I saw those traits in my in-laws pre-wedding ... I'm thinking it won't get any better. Ever.

I do love a "perfect wedding for us" story though!! Ours went the opposite direction of yours (we started small/family took over somehow/wound up with huge obnoxious wedding - but a great dress.) I still miss my small quiet wedding plans!