I'm so excited to share today's guest post with you all. I first found A.Marigold's blog when I was looking around for other local women facing down the challenge of planning a sane Los Angeles based wedding. When I received her after-the-wedding guest post last week, I was hoping to find some Los Angeles-specific wisdom in her recap. Instead, I received a post-wedding sanity-check that didn't discuss Los Angeles, vendors, or helpful how-tos at all. And it was perfect. It was just what I needed to read. I read it over and over again, just hoping it would properly sink in and stay with me for when I need to recall it most. It's about what really mattered in the end, from a woman who spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the details and pretties and multi-cultural challenges along the way. So please join me in welcoming a woman you may already know from her own blog or as Mrs Spaniel from Weddingbee.
I think, if you're reading this blog, you already believe that your wedding should reflect your values, and not just because it's "your day." I thought that my wedding reflected my values, because I carefully chose where to spend and where to rein in expenses as much as I could, and where else are preferences revealed than in your actual budget? I hate to say I have regrets about my wedding, but very shortly after coming back from my honeymoon, I finally opened my eyes: my values and priorities were WRONG. I am going to tell you my experience and give you some advice. I know you won't listen to me, and that's okay, because I wouldn't have paid attention to this at all either.
I tend to think I am very smart, but I'm usually walking pretty blindly through life, smashing into the sharp corners of the hallway without really thinking about what I'm doing. Maybe you are smarter than me and can learn from watching me walk into walls. Or maybe you can laugh at what I thought was important because you already know that it isn't. Or maybe you can come back here after your wedding and say that you should have listened to me. Or maybe you won't come back here and say that, because invitations are totally worth half a month's rent to you.
I should say that I absolutely loved my wedding, and people tell me it was beautiful and they had a great time. I believe them. But if I could do it over, without the bright wedding blog lights in my eyes making me veer off track, it would still be beautiful, but it would look very, very different.
Starting with the most inconsequential, I put a premium on invitations. If I were to try to explain my obsession with invitations, I could say that more brides probably feel about their dress the way I did about my invitations, so you can substitute "dress" for "invitation" here, and you might understand. I will admit: I went a little nuts. I don't think I could have done more research on invitations if I tried. I loved them. I still love them. I have never seen a more beautiful piece of paper anywhere in my entire life than my own wedding invitation. Sure, most people throw them out, but I had a love affair with paper that wouldn't allow me to cheap out (though I did score a great deal for letterpress invitations... but "great deal" is all relative, isn't it?). But now, when I hear people obsessing about invitation details and getting upset that they can't have the paper of their dreams, it's all I can do to keep my advice to myself: your invitations don't matter. They may impress some people, and people may tell you that they are beautiful, and that will make you feel good. You may have the coolest, most creative invitations the world has ever known. But after the wedding, you will never think about your invitations again. They just aren't that important in the larger scheme of things. The important thing is that your guests know where to go and when to get there, and the weight of the paper you tell them on will not make or break your wedding day.
...And neither will your dress. It's not unreasonable to want to feel beautiful in your wedding dress. You'll probably be photographed more on your wedding day than any other day of your life, so why not wear something that looks amazing and fabulous? I couldn't possibly justify a high-end designer dress, but I was picky, and spent a pretty penny on my dress. I went with a mid-range designer that didn't exceed my budget, but I'm still not sure what possessed me to think $1,200 was a good amount to budget for a one-use dress. If my time machine were operational and I could redo my wedding, I would still have spent too much on my dress. But too much would have been way, way less. It is still just a piece of fabric, and you are going to look beautiful and amazing and fabulous because you are the bride (yes, that's actually true). It's actually not possible to be a non-beautiful bride, even if you're 20 pounds heavier than you want to be, your hair and makeup aren't professionally done, and someone spills a soda on your white gown. (Did I mention someone spilled a soda on my gown? It actually didn't upset me at all—much to my own astonishment—because I am never wearing it again anyway. Maybe I shouldn't have spent $1,200 on it!)
A few things stick out in my memory when I reflect on the best parts of my wedding. The toasts that our friends and family gave were meaningful and heartfelt, and I couldn't have planned or paid for them. Dancing with my new husband (the non-staged, non-choreographed, unrehearsed time on the dance floor) was my favorite part of the night. Sharing a table and a meal with some of my favorite people in the world, and knowing that they were putting out fires for me that night that I could never have delegated to a coordinator was priceless.
I think the details were beautiful, and I know that people noticed (some of) them. It was great to have a DOC who took phone calls from lost vendors so that I could attempt to "be present" (oh yeah, I failed. Don't sweat that either, because it probably won't happen). But it's not the stuff that I'll remember when I think of my wedding day in fifty—or even five—years. I probably won't go back to look at the pictures of my shoes or our rings, even though they are pretty pictures. I doubt I'll go back to pictures of my dress hanging in front of a window. Instead, I think I will remember the excitement, the nerves, the drama (oh god the drama), but mostly the love and support we received from the people whose love and support meant the most to us. And they would have loved and supported us if we'd invited them over the phone (though they might forget the date), if I'd worn an off-the-rack dress from the mall, if we didn't invite our extremely extended families and their closest friends to celebrate with us (even though they'd be angry about it for awhile).
In the end, I think that was really all that mattered. I guess food and drinks are still important because you want to be a good host at one of the biggest parties you'll ever throw, and I wouldn't trade in my photographer no matter what kind of event I would have hosted with the benefit of hindsight, because I love seeing this visible record and affirmation of everything I felt that day. But everything else? It was small stuff. It doesn't mean that I think you should ignore it, because wedding planning can be a lot of fun, and I don't think it's wrong to spend time or money on things you enjoy. I guess the takeaway is that if you don't love the way you're spending your time and money, then opt for keeping it simple, because those details (from the dress to the flowers, from the moment you wake up that morning until you leave your reception—everything except the part where you promise to spend your life with the person you chose above all others) are just that: details. When it's not fun? It means it probably doesn't matter. Don't sweat it. Let go. Let someone else make the decision, even, if you can, because it will make you both happier. Okay, now I know you won't listen to me. But at least I tried.
I'm listening, and I'm going to re-read this post on Saturday, just before I go shopping for a dress that I really want to love, even if it might get spilled on. Thank you.