Photographer Yvonne Wong emailed me about a very special wedding that I’m absolutely thrilled to share with you today. The bride, Elizabeth, is a rather prolific writer (whose fab blog you can find here) and is working on a book with her mother about the experience of planning a wedding together. Their anecdotes and stories are all going to be something I’m sure each of us can relate to! To spice things up, I thought I’d ask Elizabeth some questions about the wedding planning process. So while I share her wedding images with you, please enjoy her sparkling dialogue!
Q: What did you know for sure you wanted to incorporate in your wedding when you started the planning process?
A: There were only a few things I knew I wanted before we started planning: a giant ballgown, breakfast for dinner, and music from our parents’ era (I walked down the aisle to “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens, which was my parents’ first dance song at their wedding; Dave’s cousins and uncle performed “In My Life” by the Beatles during the ceremony; Dave walked to “I Believe” by Stevie Wonder and then we made our grand entrance to the reception to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”; etc.).
I also knew what I didn’t care about having in the wedding: flowers. I’ve never been the type to get excited by immaculate floral arrangements, and I hated the idea of all of the beautiful blossoms ending up in the trash at the end of the day. Originally I didn’t even want a bouquet, but I spoke to Molly Cartwright, our designer, and she told me that we could have bouquets for me and my bridesmaids using only three stems. She also talked me into having flowers under our huppa. I’m glad she convinced me, because they looked beautiful – but I’m still happy that I didn’t have floral centerpieces! If we had, I probably would have gone dumpster-diving to save the table arrangements the next morning.
Q: What was your favorite part about the planning process?
A: My favorite part about planning my wedding was…planning my wedding! Throughout our 16 month engagement I kept pausing and thinking to myself, “I’ve always imagined what it would be like when I was planning my wedding…and now I’m doing it. Woah. WOAH.” It was very zen of me, if I do say so myself. I also loved writing the ceremony with Dave. It was the one part of the wedding that I didn’t stress about because all I had to do was find the perfect words to describe the love Dave and I felt for each other. We made sure to include a poem that I’d found before we got engaged that reminded me of our relationship, called “Together” by William C. Gannett.
I dreamed of Paradise, – and still,
Though sun lay soft on vale and hill,
And trees were green and rivers bright,
The one dear thing that made delight
By sun or stars or Eden weather,
Was just that we two were together.
I dreamed of Heaven, – and God so near!
The angels trod the shining sphere,
And all were beautiful; the days
Were choral work, were choral praise;
And yet, in Heaven’s far-shining weather,
The best was still, – we were together!
I woke-and found my dream was true,
That happy dream of me and you!
For Eden, Heaven, no need to roam;
The foretaste of it all is Home,
Where you and I through this world’s weather
Still work and praise and thank together.
Together weave from love a nest
For all that’s good and sweet and blest
To brood in, till it come a face,
A voice, a soul, a child’s embrace!
And then what peace of Bethlehem weather,
What songs, as we go on together!
Together greet life’s solemn real,
Together own one glad ideal,
Together laugh, together ache,
And think one thought, “each other’s sake,”
And hope one hope – in New-world weather
To still go on, and go together.
I love that last verse so much…it gives me goosebumps every time!
Q: What ended up being the best part/thing you did?
A: The ceremony was by far the best part of the day for me. I remember thinking that I could actually feel our relationship shifting. It wasn’t any earth-shattering change, but it felt like we were finally settling into each other, like two puzzle pieces clicking together.
The next best thing I did was finding fabulous vendors. Obviously our photographer, Yvonne Wong was phenomenal – and I’m really happy that we ended up doing the photo booth with them. We also worked with Jody and her team at Good Taste Events, who kept the Good Ship Wedding sailing along smoothly, even when crises popped up. Our videographer, Mitch from Cabfare Productions, delivered a documentary on our wedding that makes me remember every second of the day in a way I never could have otherwise. Oh, and did I mention my hair and makeup team?! I mean, LOOK at me! I gladly admit that I do not naturally look that glamorous. Jacquelyn from Sorella Salon was the artiste behind my hair and Jocelyn Santiago did my makeup.
And of course Aubrey, one of my best friends and the “Atlas” side of Atlas & Campbell tied everything together with a beautiful suite of letterpressed products. I had this crazy idea that we would put conversation starters on each guest’s place card – for example, my blonde, fair-skinned friend who is actually half-Cherokee got a card that said “Ask me about my tribe.” Unfortunately, I waited until a week before the wedding to realize that we hadn’t actually thought about printing the cards – but Aubrey swooped in and within two days we had 200 beautiful place cards that were WAY better than anything I could have made on my own.
Q: If you could have a re-do, what would you have changed?
A: I would find a cool way to ask my girls to be bridesmaids. I was pretty lame about how I invited them to join me on the march down the aisle – I texted, IMed, and even asked one of them less than two weeks before the wedding. In hindsight, I wish I would have found a creative and meaningful way to ask each girl.
Q: What was something you were sure of going into your wedding, but changed your perspective on after the process?
A: This sounds naive, but I never thought I would have any stress or drama during the planning process. I always imagined my wedding planning to go like it does in the movies, where the girl has the entire dressing room of Bloomingdale’s rented out, complete with champagne and gourmet tea sandwiches…she emerges from the dressing room wearing The One, the dress to end all dresses, and her mom and posse of bridesmaids break down in dainty tears over how beautiful she looks. I thought my mom and I were going to be the best of friends throughout the process, that my dad and I would get over our hatred of dancing to bust out a fabulous father-daughter dance, and that money would never be a point of stress.
…So when I had my first knock-down, drag-out, two-wet-cats-fighting-in-a-potato-sack battle with my mom a mere three days into my engagement, I was devastated. It took a couple of months for me to come to terms with the fact that wedding planning is not a fairytale journey like you see in the movies, and that the stress and fights I experienced during our engagement were going to be very painful at times. Eventually I embraced it as part of the process – I read somewhere that planning a wedding is the first difficult task a couple takes on after they decide to spend their lives together, and each time Dave and I sat down to worry over our budget, or talk about a snit I’d had with my mom, I knew that we were also learning about how to manage stress together in our new lives as husband and wife. (How’s THAT for a silver-lining?)
***I’ve got to interject here. Breakfast for dinner!!! I LOVE IT!!!***
Q: You are working on a book about wedding planning with your mom. Tell us a little about that.
A: My mom and I are best friends…but I would be lying if I said we didn’t consider killing each other a couple of times while planning the wedding. Additionally, with our $20,000 budget, our wedding was fairly average in terms of what we could and could not afford. I wanted to share my experience with other brides out there who might be feeling crazy because their wedding planning isn’t unfolding the way they’d always dreamed. I mean, Hollywood has screwed us. Even in Bride Wars, where the stress of planning is made humorous, the girls are getting married at The Plaza! I love how the movie just glosses over the fact that you’d have to be willing to shell out the equivalent of a two-bedroom Fifth Avenue condo to have a wedding there.
So this book, unofficially titled How I Planned Your Wedding, is my attempt to bridge the gap that exists between women’s ideas about wedding planning and the realities of the process. It’s not really a how-to book…it’s more of a story about my experience in the hopes that women feel more normal when their road to the altar gets a little bumpy. And in the end, I did have my perfect day – so hopefully it’s an uplifting book as well.
Q: Were you happy with all your vendor choices? Some brides seem to be having trouble making decisions. How were you able to decide?
A: I was SO happy with my vendors. All of ’em. The best advice I’ve got is to go with your gut and make sure you meet your vendors before making a final decision. I saw Yvonne Wong‘s photography and just KNEW that she was the one…but the deal was sealed after I spoke to her on the phone and realized that not only is she an amazing photographer, but an awesome person. I won’t lie; I have a friend-crush on her. I just want to hang out with her and bask in her coolness.
Consider how much time you’ll be spending with your vendors, and make sure you choose people you click with.