One beautiful year

Wedding

Monday marked one year of marriage — and in my typical fashion as of late, I’m behind the times. Eternally behind the times. But I’m here! And I certainly haven’t forgotten!

You know, we really thought we lucked out with the weather that day: mild, bright and breezy, with temperatures in the mid-60s and plenty of warmth in the sun. As I’m obsessive-compulsive even when I’m not planning a life-changing event for 150 people, I’d checked the Farmer’s Almanac average temperatures like a lunatic in the months leading up to our wedding day. An outdoor wedding in November? Who does that? But their warm predictions held true.

What I remember most about that day was my anxious excitement to see Spencer. And the way that I managed, after months of planning and obsessing, to actually stay in the moment. That elusive idea — that I enjoy the now — is something I’ve tried to cultivate for years. It’s very easy for me to agonize about the future and analyze the past, leaving me clinging to little in the present.

The seconds that come back to me clearly are the times I was actually alone: driving myself from the hair salon to our apartment, then getting my brother-in-law to pick me up headed to the venue; nibbling on a sandwich in the bridal suite when the entire crew went outside to rehearse the ceremony.

I just kept thinking, I’m getting married! And it was all surreal until the moment I stepped out in my gown and red shoes to see Spencer, waiting for me on a shady veranda where we glimpsed each other for the first time.


Dance floor kiss


And we danced. We danced so much. I remember joking with our photographers ahead of time that they were going to be hard-pressed to get any shots of me on the dance floor. Unless under, you know, extreme duress.

But that is . . . not exactly how it played out. Of all the surprises, our endless cutting-a-rug-ness surprised me the most. Not because of my groom, of course — Spence loves to break it down — but me? I’ve never danced so much — and with such reckless abandon — as I did that night, and I love remembering the silliness and happiness that propelled us over and over again. The feeling of having all your loved ones around you, cheering and clapping and smiling, really was intoxicating.


Cake cutting


So what have we learned more than 365 days into this beautiful, crazy thing? For me, I wondered if marriage would “feel different” — like waking as one person and emerging another. Almost immediately after the ceremony, I was greeted as “Mrs. Johnson” . . . and I thought, That’s it? Just like that: in one way, out another?

Though it was strange at first, I love being a Mrs. — and rarely slip up and sign the old name. After 28 years as a Snider, I figured the transition would be rocky. I’d have moments of uncertainty, moments of longing to perhaps return to what was familiar and “normal” and true.

But I haven’t. Spence and I quickly developed a new normal — a normal for us — and often laugh at what feels like our “never-ending sleepovers.” After living at home until the ripe ol’ age of 28, I thought I would panic at the idea of changing residences . . . but we’ve actually moved again, of course, and I’ve adjusted. Very, very well.

Spencer and I are a team. Marriage does feel different — because I know someone is constantly in my corner, always waiting with the porch light on. Asking about boring things like what I had for lunch. Sipping coffee next to me, still in pajamas, and happily wandering grocery store aisles on Monday nights.

Together.

The past year has been filled with laughter and challenges, joy and a little stress. Buying our first home (and renovating said home), moving again, vacationing in California, celebrating our first holidays as a married couple . . . and heading into 2015, life will change and evolve and expand again.

Though we can never know what’s in store for us, I know one thing for sure: I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side. It really is a beautiful thing to know, deep in my soul, that I’ve married my best friend. I look forward to the months and years and decades to come . . .

. . . one popcorn-filled, hot chocolate-swilling sleepover at a time.


Wedding


Advertisements

Giving her away: one year later

One year ago, I was preparing to give my sister away.

And that’s truly how it felt: giving her away. Three years my junior, Katie has been my partner in crime since the day she was born. We lived under the same roof until the morning of her wedding, just a wall apart for 25 years, and the day she married — though joyous and much-anticipated — was undoubtedly bittersweet.

It’s hard to admit that. I love my brother-in-law and love him for my sister; it’s nothing like that. My fear was purely, purely selfish. I didn’t want to feel anything but happy for her on September 28, but I was so scared and sad for myself. Just weeks from my own wedding in November, the swiftness with which everything changed — a giant rug suddenly torn away — was like being shoved into an icy river. Sans clothing. In January.

But now, a year later, I can reflect on that weekend with happiness. With clarity. So many of the fears I had about us moving forward — that we wouldn’t remain close; that we wouldn’t see our parents often; that everything would be fractured, different — have not come to pass. As always, my imagination is worse than any reality could be . . . and though things have changed, of course, they are not bad.

They are good. Great, even.

I looked through Katie’s wedding photos last night, remembering all the anticipation and excitement and anxiety we experienced in swift tumult leading up to their union. As I walked the aisle as maid of honor, I remember clutching the best man’s arm because I was legitimately afraid I would fall over — because of my high heels, partially, but mostly because “I Won’t Give Up” was playing and everyone was there, watching, and it was really happening.

The moment we’d anticipated since we both got engaged — on the same day — was here.

It was surreal. That’s the best way I can describe the entire day: surreal.

But surreal can be beautiful, too.


Why I don’t miss wedding planning


Given I devoted all of 2013 to planning, participating in or recovering from my sister’s wedding and my own, I was a little worried I’d find myself totally adrift in the new year. The post-wedding blues, if you will.

I’m not the type of person who likes to sit too long. I think and worry too much — or start over-analyzing, getting anxious. It’s not good. Much of my adult life has been devoted to trying to achieve that elusive sense of “balance,” in fact; I want to be busy without using that go go go spirit as a crutch or an excuse, but still slow down enough to enjoy the simple things in life. (We know they’re really the big things).

A work in progress.

But as our November wedding drew to a close and gave way to a fresh, crisp new year, I don’t find myself waxing philosophical about my spreadsheets or vendor checklists or time wiled away on The Knot. I’ve channeled my creative energy into work and new pursuits, looking for ways to stretch as a writer and a person. Wedding planning proved I could find more hours in the day, and I’ve gotten much better about using my time better for work and play.

And then there’s the whole house-buying thing happening this spring. That’s certainly going to chew up some time.

But for as much as I loved our wedding and (much of) the process leading up to it, I often think back on last year with a feeling of pure relief. We did it, you know? It’s done. It was emotional, stressful, turbulent. I left my childhood home for the first time; I stood at my little sister’s side on her own wedding day; we dealt with illness and death, uncertainty and major upheaval.

For someone who is typically wedged in her tight little shell (very Cancer the crab of me, I’ll note), I sure did some growing.



I don’t miss wedding planning because it was a series of decisions — ones that felt so big and serious and important and really all-consuming at the time, though I realize in hindsight I should have backed down on some issues and simply not worried at all about others. For someone weighed down by the prospect of making the “wrong” choice at any given time (I’m a perfectionist, what can I say?), that was very difficult for me.

And the help! Asking for help was so hard. I don’t miss wedding planning because I usually prefer to just handle things myself . . . out of fear of, you know, inconveniencing anyone. Even my now-husband. Accepting that others wanted to help me with wedding-related tasks was really tough. I just felt like I was bothering them or, worse, was an “overzealous” bride oversharing everything online. The result? I didn’t always invite others into what was really a very happy time.

Mostly, I don’t miss wedding planning because the pressure is now off. The pressure of handling logistics for 150+ people; the pressure of preparing to move; the pressure of knowing these major events were on the horizon and I was supposed to be having the time of my life when, in reality, I did have a great time planning everything with Spence — but it was complicated, too.

When I expressed anxiety over some aspect of the wedding (or just getting married in general), I feared the judgment of my relationship. I worried admitting to being scared of so many changes happening at once was akin to casting doubt on what I have with Spencer, which was the last thing I wanted to do.

So I held back.

Upon reflection, I could have opened up more to the people in my life. Worked on releasing some control. Though Spence more than proved himself to be the stable, compassionate and thoughtful support I really needed, I could have simply relaxed a little more.

But that’s life, I know. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. How many people are stressed leading up to their weddings? (I’m guessing, um, many.) Nothing is perfect . . . we just do the best we can. And I still had a heck of a lot of fun as an engaged lady!

And the main reason I don’t miss wedding planning? Because I really love being married. Love spending so much time with my husband. I love being a team, deepening our bond, making big decisions together — all that mushy stuff. Our little routines and rituals; our shared TV watching and dinner-making. The little things like sharing (and perhaps squabbling over) chores and grocery shopping are still fun for me, and we’re getting into budgeting and prepping and striding into the murky waters of homeownership together.

The wedding was just the beautiful beginning.

All the great stuff comes after.


Photos by Birds of a Feather Photography



There are places I remember

For someone who likes to keep a tight fist around her emotions, I can be pretty mushy.

Like, really mushy.

Too-embarrassing-to-put-on-the-Internet mushy.

But I guess that’s not a bad thing, right? I mean, I really love my husband. Which is a good thing, considering we’ve only been hitched for two months . . . and if the sheen had already worn off, that might be a little scary.

Last weekend I started going through old photo albums hunting for favorite photos of Spencer and me through the years — pictures that will be included in a montage for our wedding video. I’ve totally slacked on this task; though I vowed to get our videographer the needed materials soon after the wedding, I crashed hard in November and basically abandoned any remaining bridal tasks . . . save the all-important thank-you notes.


Megan

Spencer


But. It’s late January now and, well, I seriously had no excuses left. Plus we would like to get our video back eventually, and I’d already stalled things enough with my procrastination.

And I’m getting déjà vu for some reason. Perhaps because I’ve procrastinated on many tasks before?

Eh, maybe.

So yes, Sunday afternoon was the culmination of all my putting-things-off-post-wedding — and the process of finding pictures of us was actually really fun! My parents-in-law were kind enough to bring many pictures of Spence when they visited at Christmas, and I had so much fun finding shots of us from similar ages.

Watching Spence through the years — and seeing physical evidence of my own rise to eventual adulthood — was actually really emotional. I remember being 16, 17, 18 . . . and friends, it doesn’t feel so very long ago. It’s crazy yet somehow reassuring for me to think that as I nursed my first break-up, my first heartbreak, my whacky twenties . . . well, Spencer had been out there somewhere. Waiting to meet me.


Childhood

Middle school

HS graduation


I used to lament that we didn’t have “a story.” Meeting online means you never have that our-eyes-met-from-across-the-room moment, you know? There’s no crowded bar, no college psych class, no high school sweetheart mythology. We met because Spencer stumbled upon my online dating profile and sent me a message, and I responded.

But I never would have joined the dating site if Jess hadn’t encouraged me to. If my parents hadn’t weighed in with an enthusiastic “do it!” If I hadn’t recently seen my first love again — live and in the flesh — only to realize that what I needed, more than anything, was to move forward. If I hadn’t felt hopeful enough to try.

Spence and I probably wouldn’t have met if he hadn’t gone into a physics program in college, eventually meeting the man who would encourage him to apply for an internship in Maryland. If he hadn’t felt comfortable coming to Maryland. If he hadn’t gotten the job, or been able to leave New York, or wanted to join a dating site himself. If he’d had a girlfriend at home or been too broken up by a past that wouldn’t let him move forward, either.

So, well, we do have a story.

And in some ways, it was 24 years in the making.


Us

Engaged


i carry your heart

I’m a poet at heart.

Back in college, I was the classic English major bouncing around campus with a novel in her hands and newly-released iPod earbuds in her ears. I have incredibly happy memories of wandering the University of Maryland campus, getting lost on the mall — sunny days when I was alone but not lonely.

Because I commuted to school for three years, I didn’t have many on-campus friends. There were times I wouldn’t speak to another living soul until I’d call my mom to check in on my lunch break, my voice hoarse with disuse. But what I did have?

Poems.

I had a creative writing focus in my English program . . . but not in anything I actually, you know, use now. No, friends, I was a poetry student — someone who literally sat in the shade of a tree and jotted down random thoughts because I had an “assignment” — a poem — due in class in an hour.

Those poetry classes, though occasionally tedious, were some of the happiest in my life. They were one of the few times I didn’t feel anonymous on campus, for one; because our class was only 12-15 students, rather than the typical 30-300, I actually felt seen. Even when I was basically told I was a no-talent hack who should have chosen a different major (whatevs), I loved those classes. Loved pouring over others’ words.

We studied poets too, of course. I remember a few of the works I selected to read aloud as some of my favorites, my inspiration. While classmates chose highfalutin never-heard-of-’em writers, maybe to impress the lot of us, I stuck with tried and true classics. Like E. E. Cummings.

When Spencer and I were working with our officiant on our wedding ceremony, I knew I wanted to share a poem. Though my post-college life has been dedicated to my column, humorous narratives and blog posts, I still harbor a deep love of poetry. The ability of writers like Cummings to cut right to the heart of readers with one perfectly-worded, incandescent thought just amazes me.

It didn’t take long for me to come up with the work I wanted read. After asking my matron of honor — my lovely sister — if she’d mind a little public speaking, we settled on “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in],” first published in 1952.

Made famous in a wedding scene from “In Her Shoes,” I’ve loved the poem for as long as I can remember — and love that, on our wedding day, it spoke not only to the love between Spencer and me but also to the idea that we can carry the hearts of so many we love. It’s much deeper than that, I know, but it’s also . . . just as simple as that.

I loved it. Katie rocked it. It was a highlight of our day — and included on half of the bookmark wedding favors that left with our guests.


Katie reading


[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


Reprinted from The Poetry Foundation.
For poem’s original formatting, please visit the link.


Spencer and me


A very bookish wedding

Sweetheart fireplace


When Spence and I got engaged, I was overwhelmed by the idea of a “grand vision” for our day. We had no wedding planner, no strict guidance; it was simply yours truly with her Pinterest board of ideas, trying to mold a day that felt both US! and EXCITING! and VINTAGE! and US!

Emphasis on the “us.”

But I’m sure you got that.

Very early on, I mentioned finding a way to combine our mutual passions — science and literature — into an event paying homage to the joining of our lives. My husband and I are both lucky to do what we love for a living, so it was easy incorporating elements of physics and the written word into our wedding. I also love that we’re an example of opposites (on paper) attracting: though we’re similar in all the ways that count, our backgrounds are very different.

Planning a wedding is no joke, and honestly? I look back on so many of the details and smile, because everything over which I fretted and fussed worked out just fine. I give so much credit to Sandy, my dear friend and coworker, who totally manhandled Nov. 10 into a gorgeous vintage-inspired affair far nicer than anything I could have cooked up alone. She took care of all the flowers, bouquets and centerpieces, and really did an outstanding job.

And she didn’t have to. She volunteered. When I walked into our venue the morning of and found Sandy running around in a baseball cap, pearls and cut flowers pouring from her hands, I felt an indescribable rush of gratitude. Combined with the super-human powers of Jen, our on-site coordinator who has become a great friend, I suddenly felt that famed wedding zen. I knew everything was going to be swell.



So how did we bring our books-and-science theme to life? Well, I knew I wanted some kind of book on each table — and got inspiration from other bookish weddings. Spencer and I scoured secondhand shops and library sales for months to collect more than 70 hardcovers in red, black or gray. Three or four novels went on the guest tables to form the base of our centerpieces, which were capped with Erlenmeyer science flasks full of fresh snapdragons.

Concerned the whole thing would look too industrial, I asked Sandy about adding a feminine element atop the books — like lace. Some kind of fabric. But then we worried we’d have a doily-in-a-parlor thing going on, so Sandy thought of the excellent idea to add pearls.


Rowling centerpiece


If you’re budgeting (like I surely was), the used books cost us roughly $1 apiece. We removed the dust jackets and saved them for later. If you’re concerned some novels were harmed in the making of these nuptials, fear not: Spencer and I donated every single book back to the library when we were done. And we even managed to reunite each dust jacket with its rightful owner before then!

The faux pearls were bought in bulk in long strands from Oriental Trading Company, cut in smaller strands to serve our needs, and the flasks purchased from a supply company. The total cost of my glassware order was around $100 with free shipping, including a discount for buying more than 12 at once.

We wanted more than simple flasks and novels, though. Rather than a traditional number, each table was assigned a famous writer or scientist — and we had a ball coming up with our honorees! Mine included Ernest Hemingway, Megan McCafferty, Jhumpa Lahiri, JK Rowling and William Shakespeare, while Spence’s leaned toward the more obscure with Nikola Tesla (his hero), Marie Curie and Robert Oppenheimer. Sheldon Cooper may have made an appearance there, too!

With the help of my good friend Wikipedia, I typed up brief biographies for each person to include on the tables — just in case, say, you had no earthly idea who Schrödinger was. (Cat.) I also tried to make mention of any personal connections to the author or scientist, such as when Spence and I caught a play honoring Curie early in our relationship or I read The Great Gatsby (for Fitzgerald’s table, natch) for the fourth time during our engagement. We printed these at home on heavy cardstock using a free business card template to make table tents — Spencer’s brilliant idea. We did the same with the escort cards.



There were other hand-created elements, too — ones made by Sandy and me, like the paper roses, or a talented Etsy seller. I really utilized my love of the craft site to find special items embodying our wedding, and loved the banners I ordered to hang from Swan Point’s fireplaces. The one behind us at our sweetheart table, pictured at top, was a last-minute purchase.

We had books shaped into our initials, found at a vintage store; a flask for a cake stand; paper hearts as confetti punched out by a friend at work that also adorned the escort cards. I found a book-shaped box with typewriter-style writing that we transformed into a card box, as well as bookmark wedding favors with the e.e. cummings poem my sister read and an Einstein quote shared by our officiant during the ceremony.



Oh! And no science- and literature-themed wedding would be complete without a little “radioactive” liquid, right? Spence had the idea to make the water in our flasks glow — you know, like a science experiment gone terrible awry. Very romantic! — by using submersible LED lights, which we bought in bulk on eBay. They were fantastic! Because the glow was initially more strobe than subtle, though, Spencer used hot glue to dull and scratch the outside so the arrangements would be lit without causing anyone eye damage.

Always a positive.



So there you have it: our very bookish wedding! It was truly a labor of love, and it’s such fun to think back on the multi-layered processes of putting everything together. Though it was an outstanding year, I’m intensely relieved it’s over. Like, sometimes I just look up at the ceiling and think, Thank God it’s done, and everything was awesome.

Beyond the 1,001 other reasons I shed a few tears that day, there were definitely some relieved sniffles for just having that behemoth of a wonderful day complete. Emotions were high . . . and almost as high as my tension level. No more lists; no more contacting vendors; no more frantic runs to Michael’s on my lunch breaks. We got married! We celebrated! It was beautiful!

Thank God is right.



All photos by Birds of a Feather Photography


Two sisters, six weeks: my slightly manic, yet tried-and-true tips for surviving wedding planning


Now that the dust of two spectacular weddings has settled, I feel like I can draw a deep breath of winter air and reenter the land of the living.

Planning one wedding would have been enough to land me in the Nutso Town, but my sister’s nuptials happening just a month and a half before mine added a whole new level of insanity. Sometimes I sit back in my chair, look at the ceiling and think, We did it.

WE DID IT.

I can hardly believe it myself.

The weather cooperated, our families were present, the loves of our lives were waiting with smiles on their faces. For me, my sister’s day passed slowly — and I was so emotional I almost needed to be propped up. My own wedding day was a blur of excitement and joy and tears and dancing (so much dancing), and I know I’ll remember both for the rest of my life.

But how did we get there?

It’s funny now, looking back upon the “wedding planning journey.” One year ago today, I had nothing but a tear-stained face, a sparkly new ring and an image of a man getting down on one wobbly knee to ask me a crucial question — and that was good enough for me. Across town at the very same time, my sister was actually being asked the very same question (by a different man, thank God).

Today marks one year since our collective engagement, and it’s surreal to think that 365 days ago I was in such a different — and exciting — place. We were just getting started. I figured today was a perfect opportunity to reflect on 2013: a year of love . . . and barely-contained insanity.

Before we get there, allow me to paint the complete picture for you:

Two close twenty-something sisters, born almost exactly three years apart . . .
Both living at home with their parents . . .
Getting engaged on the same day . . .
Choosing each other as their maid/matron of honor . . .
And selecting wedding dates for the same season . . . six weeks apart.


Kate and me - my wedding

View More: http://birdsofafeatherphotos.pass.us/katie-and-eric-wedding


The Snider girls didn’t mess around.

In my completely unofficial capacity as both an “event coordinator” for one wedding and a bride for the other, I learned many lessons about planning the “perfect” day.

Many of them involve not sweating the small stuff.

Others require the presence of near-constant spreadsheets and Google Drive on your phone.

As there are entire websites — universes? — dedicated to wedding inspiration, assistance and guidance, I won’t bore you with a rehash of the planning process. I’ll give you my own hard-won tips for surviving the planning process — and hopefully offer some comfort along the way.

Go grab a sample of your signature cocktail, ladies, and let’s do this.


Signature cocktail


First things first

It’s hard to plan a wedding without a venue, and you can’t choose a venue if you don’t have a guest list. Or a date. Or a month, at least.

How many people you want to invite will dictate where you can throw this awesome party, so start by drafting up a guest list with your fiancé. Share it with your parents and his — and maybe your grandparents, too, depending on how crazy you want to get! Know your first pass will probably seem gigantic, but you will inevitably narrow it down before building it back up again.

Our initial invited guest list was around 190, but it eventually rose to 220 or so. But our final guest count? About 140. But to be on the safe side, we didn’t look at venues that couldn’t accommodate around 180 or so.

So then you look for venues.

And you experience sickening sticker shock.

But once you recover, you’re ready to start crunching numbers and call upon math skills you haven’t rocked since high school. And you eventually narrow it down to a few locations that are remotely feasible, visit them and make your final call: which is when you can get serious about choosing a date and moving on to any additional vendors you’ll hire (photographer, videographer, baker, etc.).

Everyone organizes their wedding materials differently. I put everything (and I mean everything) on Google Drive, accessible by app on my iPhone when I was on the go; my sister did nothing of the sort, relying on the advice of books like Mindy Weiss’ The Wedding Book. It became her bible — especially the month-by-month, week-by-week checklists at the back.

Figure out what works for you. You’re going to want to be organized to some extent, because you probably will have to refer back to contracts or find contact information for vendors or, honestly, just remember what type of flowers you actually chose in the end. After a while, the details blur together . . . it just happens.

If your phone is constantly linked to your hand and you prefer everything compiled digitally, including contracts, think about keeping everything on Google Drive or on a flash drive. If you’re the pen-and-paper sort, get a binder or a notebook (or both).

I used the spreadsheets created by A Practical Wedding to cobble together my own timeline, which I turned into a Google document, then used the checklists from The Knot to fill in some of the gaps. I know APW — and others! — scoff at The Knot, thinking it’s nothing but the machinations of the Wedding Industrial Complex at work, but honestly? I liked them. They kept me organized and thinking about what I wanted to get done and when, and I could delete any line items I didn’t need (like arranging for wedding day transportation).

I color-coded my Google calendar for the year to add important wedding deadlines, then crafted a separate spreadsheet to keep track of what I’d paid, how I’d paid it and when we needed to pay more. I referred to this list constantly to keep myself on budget and ensure my vendors were being paid promptly.

And as you move forward . . .


Throw ‘perfect’ out the window

Perfection is a fallacy. If there’s one thing I learned from becoming a devotee of A Practical Wedding, there is only perfect for you.

Want your girls to wear slacks, not dresses?
Want pie or cupcakes, no cake?
Not a big fan of the first dance?

Whatever. Do your thing. Interject your personality into anything you like — and don’t be afraid to get crafty. Heck, most people I know — um, all the people I know — were working with tight budgets and other constraints for their weddings, so they got bold and created many elements for their wedding themselves. And the elements they didn’t like? They got rid of.

Calling something “tradition” doesn’t mean it gets an automatic pass into your ceremony or reception. It’s okay to do things differently.

But with that being said . . .


Embrace tradition if it works for you. And talk about stuff.

Leading up to our wedding day, I was dead-set again the garter toss. Having been on the awkward end of a few bouquet tosses and witness to many brawls for the bride’s garter, I found the entire thing uncomfortable. And I nixed both with our DJ . . . before talking to my groom.

Oops.

Unbeknownst to me, my guy was really looking forward to the garter toss. Having been on the “single guys” side many times, Spence was stoked to participate as the married man. It was something that mattered to him that I didn’t know mattered to him — because I didn’t ask.

I didn’t make that mistake again.

So talk about things. Get on the same page. Even if you think your significant other “isn’t interested,” ask anyway. Get other opinions, reach out, be involved.

And no, the garter toss wasn’t nearly as awkward as I was expecting.

Though my face might suggest otherwise.


Garter


Don’t fixate on Pinterest

Everyone’s favorite time-suck is a fabulous way to gather ideas on cakes, centerpieces, dresses — for inspiration. I definitely pulled up hairstyles I liked close to my wedding day, grateful I’d taken the time at some point to assemble a visual aid of styles. By the time we hit the one-month mark, when I started having makeup and hair trials, I was emotionally spent — and done making new decisions. So my Pinterest board? Super helpful.

But don’t get stuck on an idea of “Pinterest perfection” that is impossible to achieve — unless you’re comfortable hiring professionals and/or are ridiculously crafty. As I couldn’t foot the bill for pros nor create many visions myself, I relied on the advice of my good friend and venue coordinator, Jen, as well as the kind assistance of one of the most spectacular ladies I know: my coworker and officemate, Sandy. Sandy volunteered to help choose and deliver the flowers and put together the centerpieces, bouquets and more for our wedding. The results. were. amazing.

Which brings me to my next point . . .


Kissing balls


Get by with a little help from your friends

Unless money is no object (and is that ever really the case?), you’re going to need the assistance of your buddies — and not just bridal party — to pull this thing together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because, more often than not, your friends will be there will bells on. Even if they’re not crafting bows or folding favor boxes, you’re going to want their moral support in the days leading up to your wedding and beyond.

Reach out while being mindful of others’ time and talents, and remember you’ll be paying it forward someday! (If, you know, you haven’t already. We’re all in this together.)


Dancing


Make a decision and stick with it

Second-guessing every move you make will leave you standing perfectly still. Because some of us had wedding-themed Pinterest boards before we even had boyfriends, it’s so tempting to become obsessed with the many options available. Who hasn’t thought, “When I get married . . .” or “I’d love to do that, too!” at others’ events?

But the options only matter if the options work for you. Don’t buy into the hype. Once I had my dress, shoes and jewelry, I started deleting those pins and bookmarks. Wiping the slate clean. I didn’t look at more ideas, more choices, because the choices were made. I knew I’d make myself bonkers agonizing over whether everything I’d done was the “right” thing to do.

My mom is a font of knowledge and comfort, and she says it best: “We make the best decisions we can with the information that we have.”

And then we move forward.


Book centerpiece


Is ‘mistakes’ happen, they just make life colorful

So much will come to a head just before your wedding. For as organized as I felt I was, many last-minute decisions — and options — came down to the wire. For a type-A control freak like me, relinquishing control of the event was very hard to do . . . but I knew I was leaving “my baby” in capable hands, and I had to let it go. (Even if it almost gave me a nervous breakdown in the process.)

If the flowers are a different shade or the DJ flubs a favorite song or you stumble a bit leaving the ceremony, it just adds color to your colorful day. The little things I worried I’d agonize about during our wedding did not even enter my mind. At all.

Everything might not be “picture perfect,” but you’ll remember it that way.


Picture perfect couple


Just enjoy the time . . .

Many friends told me to focus on simply living in the lovely engaged state after Spencer proposed, and I’ll admit to not quite getting it.

Right after the proposal, I was in a dreamland leading into Christmas and New Year’s — but once January hit? I was a machine. I don’t regret throwing myself heartily into wedding planning because I got stuff done, but it’s never a bad thing to just enjoy the current phase before moving into the next one, you know?

And I don’t get to say “fiancé” anymore. Husband is awesome, too, but fiancé? Fiancé was special. Soak it up.


. . . And let yourself be emotional.

Wedding planning is stressful. It can be hard. It is often simple, too, but never without a torrent of feelings — some of which may make you feel like you’re going crazy. (And they will. I had a little breakdown the day before the wedding because I was really, really overwhelmed, but you-know-who got me down off that cliff.)

Regardless of whether you’re high school sweethearts, have been living together for years or have known each other a few months, a wedding marks a new chapter — a major transition — and could stir up all sorts of crazy, conflicting emotions. It certainly did for me. But guess what? You’re not crazy.

Being upset or emotional or anxious doesn’t mean you’re not making the right decision — or have “cold feet.” You’re just dealing with a ton of freakin’ stuff right now. Planning an event bringing together family and friends from every aspect of your collective lives is no small feat, so be gentle with yourself.

Whether you’re working with a tiny budget or a grander one, are getting married quickly or after a long engagement, have a “vision” for the day or are just showing up to have fun, well . . . I can promise you one thing: your wedding will be awesome.

Because it will be yours.


Walking with quilt


All photos by Birds of a Feather Photography