Planning a wedding that was true to my love story, and that was a meaningful and FUN experience for our friends and family, was of the utmost importance to me—as I detailed in Part I of my wedding series. However, it’s no secret that the wedding planning process can be as intensely emotional as the wedding day itself. I wanted to share the happiest wedding memories that I hold close to my heart (with more gorgeous photos from The More We See!), but also two of my biggest stressors, because it’s a common misconception that every part of a wedding should be 100% happy.
My Two Biggest Wedding Stressors
If I could get married again, I would actually skip having a bridal party. The stress involved in finding beautiful, coordinating, affordable dresses for 5 bridesmaids and suits for 3 groomsmen (that also needed to be taken to the tailor!) seems completely unnecessary in retrospect. (Although we did find gorgeous bridesmaid dresses for under $100 on Etsy!) Asking our favorite people to give up their time and money for us—especially when many of them had to travel to the wedding from several hours away—put a strain on these relationships that I would now choose to alleviate. I tried incredibly hard to be sensitive to the demands we were making on our friends and family and to minimize them wherever possible. However, I’d rather have worked with our photographers to make sure that we got gorgeous pictures with our favorite people—without requiring them all to purchase matching outfits—and figured out other meaningful ways to involve them in the day.
Two months before the wedding, we were blindsided by a number of deaths that hit too close to home: I lost two close relatives in a matter of weeks. I struggled to contain my guilt as I planned the wedding—a massive celebration of new beginnings—as my family was dealing with these crippling losses. I worried that we would all have mixed feelings to grapple with on the day of the wedding, and that focusing on the happiness of the occasion was selfish or insensitive of me. However, I found that there’s nothing like a wedding to bring people together in the face of death. I had to accept that with every joyful milestone, the reality is always bittersweet. So often in life, new beginnings coincide with somber endings, and rather than lessening the beauty and joy of the current moment, it heightens it. I’m so thankful that I could bring some happiness to my family during such a dark time.
My 5 Happiest Wedding Memories
I’ve always loved surprising people, and so the giddiness that I felt during the first look—approaching Alex from behind and waiting for him to turn around and see me in my dress for the first time—was amazing. Our photographers captured the moment perfectly.
I will always remember how I felt as the barn doors opened and I walked arm-in-arm with my parents toward the ceremony. It had been cloudy all day, with the chance of rain growing with each hour; but the sun came out from behind the clouds just as the ceremony began. I remember the excitement and gratitude that I felt upon seeing so many people from so many different points in my life gathered together for the occasion, as well as the sense of calm that it brought me to have both of my parents by my side. I was giddy, but I wasn’t nervous at all—it felt as though I was stepping into the dream that I’d been building for the last year and a half.
I loved hearing our love story retold before we said our vows, with all of its funny and poignant and dramatic twists and turns. It all came together for me when I was singing the line, “Like the river flows surely to the sea/Darling, so it goes; some things are meant to be.” I was looking into Alex’s eyes and thinking about how our two separate existences had collided and been grafted into one shared story, culminating in the moment that I was currently experiencing. It was then that I rejoined Alex to say our vows (after a long hug), and I couldn’t have been more ready.
The toasts were a highlight of the reception for me. Before our wedding, my vision of toasts (formed entirely from movies) consisted of drunken college roommates recounting stories of exes past, or relatives awkwardly expressing ambivalence about the occasion, to everyone’s horror. These expectations couldn’t have been farther from reality. One by one, our friends and family members had the entire room in stitches and in tears as they shared anecdotes about our early years and expressed genuine happiness that Alex & I had found one another. The finale was my dad’s show-stopping toast, the memory of which has me dissolving into tears even now. He shared tiny, meaningful moments from my childhood that I was shocked he remembered and stitched them all together in an incredibly heartfelt letter to Alex that we all barely made it through. I had never seen my dad cry before that night, and I ended up standing next to him through the second half of the toast—we both needed the support! It was perhaps the most meaningful moment of my life—a memory that I’ll truly cherish forever—and the entire room was dabbing at tears as they gave him a standing ovation.
Walking out of the ceremony, with our loved ones tossing rose petals into the air; entering the reception, with everyone grinning and cheering, ready to celebrate with us; and leaving the reception in a flurry of sparklers and more smiles and cheering. I’ve never been happier in my life.
If you enjoyed this post, check out Part I of my wedding series: Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are.
Our feature on The Girl in Real Life
Photography: The More We See
Venue, flowers & food: Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills, PA
Officiant: Alisa Tongg
Coordinator: Lisa at Brava Weddings
Hair & makeup: Bella Angel