“Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.” – Fay Weldon
This is the quote with which I ended my vows to Faye. It best sums up how I feel about what happened to my life when she waltzed (or butterfly-flapped) into it. As I introduced the quote during the ceremony, I said confidently, “this is a quote by Emerson Waldo.” At which point everyone (or what seemed like everyone) laughed. There is no such person, of course. Three weeks later, I still have no idea how this man got into my printed pages (or how everyone at my wedding knew who Ralph Waldo Emerson was). But it didn’t matter. All of the little things that went wrong during our wedding weekend got thoroughly eclipsed by the absolute wonder and amazement I felt at the fact that it all – often miraculously – came together. It was the best weekend of my life and by far the best wedding I have ever been the groom in. I had all of my favorite people in one place supporting me, and I was standing there with the woman who liked me enough to want to spend the rest of her life with me, and, man… it is so hard to sum up into words. So I’ll draw a picture.
Did that help? No? Okay, then. Instead of trying to capture the entire experience, I am going to go through some of the unanswered questions and fears from my earlier blog episodes and tell you how they turned out.
Episode 1: Ask her out. I swear. Just do it. And if she says “no,” take a deep breath and ask her out again. I am not suggesting that you stalk her – please respect the restraining order – but be bold. She really might be the one. Early, spontaneous road trips are great, because you begin showing The Real You a whole lot quicker if you are spending 24 hours a day together.
Episode 2: Going with the family heirloom was the perfect choice of a ring for us. It fit in the budget (only had to pay for the resizing!) and Faye continues to get compliments on it every day. But only go with the ring if you actually like it. You are going to have to look at it everyday and it would be a shame if you found yourself suddenly suggesting your fiancé wear fancy gloves during the summer.
Episode 3: While I think my logic for asking Faye to marry me before speaking to her parents was sound… looking back, I definitely would have told Faye’s parents my intentions before I asked her. I think it would have been special for them and Faye wouldn’t have minded.
Episode 4: While keeping parts of our engagement story private was Faye’s original request of me, I have found that I am happy to keep parts of our rest of our lives together private as well. As a writer, this is obviously sometimes a challenge for me. But I find that sharing a secret memory with Faye keeps it in that magical place forever. (Faye and I sometimes rob banks for a living, but I would never reveal that to you.)
Episode 5: We held the wedding ceremony in Faye’s backyard. It was perfection. I can’t imagine having it anywhere else. We spent a lot of time worrying about the weather and fretting over the need for tents. It rained for about two weeks leading up to the wedding, and then it stopped Thursday night and didn’t rain again until the moment the reception ended. Here is a video I made of myself while driving in the rain on the Wednesday before the wedding. I like it because somehow, in spite of my worries and stress, I made up my mind to stay positive about the weather – even though I was driving through a hail storm and my iPhone app kept insisting that it wouldn’t let up for a month. If that isn’t progress for me, I don’t know what is! (Kids, don’t try this at home.)
Episode 6: All of Faye’s maniacal binder-making and magazine-clipping was worth it. Almost every little piece – every dream and conversation we had – somehow came to life on our wedding weekend. I am convinced that Faye can do anything now. She could solve our country’s health care problems with two binders and some late night googling.
Episode 7: Budgets aren’t real if you keep raising them. We came up with a number and then we watched it compound because we lost our ever-loving minds trying to make the party match our vision. It felt unavoidable. Nope – don’t let anyone tell you that a DIY is the inexpensive route. It was a huge financial and emotional undertaking and we will be paying for it for some time to come. And I am here to tell you that it was all worth it. That is how I am feeling at this moment. We threw a huge, and from what I gather, kick-ass party for ourselves and our friends and family – one we will remember for the rest of our lives. How do you really put a price tag on that? (In other news, please send $1 to Beau-coup.com ATTN Eric. No reason.)
Episode 7.5: Our honeymoon was amazing. We did a two part-er. To fulfill our need for pure relaxation, we spent our first four nights at a resort called Kamalame Cay, which is a small private island off the coast of Andros in the Bahamas. We had our own beachfront cottage with doors that opened on all sides, allowing the Caribbean air to wash over us whether we were inside or out. We even had our own golf cart to travel across the three miles of natural beauty. We played Boggle and drank rum drinks by the pool and then had massages on a pier in the middle of the ocean.
For honeymoon part two, we fed our inner adventurers by going to a small “eco-resort” in Port Antonio, Jamaica, called Kanopi House. It was a hidden gem, and sleeping under a mosquito net in our cabin in the middle of a rainforest was an experience we will never forget. We swam in the nearby Blue Lagoon and kayaked to Monkey Island (no monkeys, to my dismay, but a great opportunity to pretend that you are stranded on a deserted island). My personal highlights were rafting down a river through the Blue Mountains, being driven over treacherous mountain roads by the Mickey the best driver on the entire planet, eating a birthday cake baked for Faye by chef Elaine, and hanging out with the house manager Carla and her two lovely boys “Beenie Man” and “Bunty” (named after competing Jamaican reggae DJs). They all made us feel at home from the moment we got there.
Best of all, I actually turned my phone off and never checked email the entire time we were away. I still feel a sense of relaxation I have never truly felt before. I am going to try to hang on to this feeling for as long as possible.
Episode 8: This whole process has taught me not to be as afraid of the phone. I even got to the point where I was able to deal with vendors without a Faye-made questionnaire. I talked to caterers and liquor store owners and cannoli stuffers and was shocked to find them all to be pleasant and not at all out to humiliate me in public.
Episode 9: The members of my wedding party were rock stars. They arrived full of positive energy and were ready to do anything to help make the weekend perfect. A few of my close friends that I wasn’t able to include as groomsmen also were there for me the entire time and became instrumental in helping things go smoothly throughout the weekend. Amazing.
Episode 10: My new motto for anyone planning a DIY wedding is “D is for Delegate!!!” It helps if you have people in your life named Sarah, Gabrielle, Richie, Patricia, Evan, Holly, Mom, Dad, or Heather who happen to be either a graphic designer and DJ, beekeeper and honeymaker, videographer, courageous neighbor-officiant, photographer and audio producer, flower arranger, table-constructor, or ribbon-and-stamp whiz. Really the list of people who made it all possible is unbelievably long and we couldn’t have done it without each and every one of them.
Episode 11: Faye’s dress was more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed of. She looked like an Italian supermodel bride. I don’t know how she could have ever been concerned. But of course she believes there were imperfections, and wants me to pass on this lesson: “don’t be afraid to insist on what you want from whoever is helping you with hair, makeup, accessories, etc. This is not the time to bite your tongue for the sake of your relationship with your hairdresser.”
Episode 12: We ended up with exactly 150 guests. We didn’t invite any kids, which was hard, but no one made us feel badly about it. I personally loved having a great big wedding. (In other news, please send $5 to Beau-coup.com Attn Eric.)
Episode 13: The matrix worked! While it was complicated having people drive to multiple sites over the wedding weekend, holding the ceremony in the backyard and the reception at a cool loft gave the night a unique flair. We basically got both of best worlds.
Episode 14: Opening gifts is F-U-N! At first, opening cards with money in them made me uncomfortable. I found myself wondering if the person giving the money could afford it. I mentioned this to my sister, who gave me money even though she has a mortgage and two toddlers to feed. She told me that giving us money “made me happy, and I wouldn’t have given it if it was going to kill me, so stop whining and enjoy it. Besides, how is giving cash more expensive then a gift?” I’m taking her word for it. The cash really has come in handy – particularly on the honeymoon. Meanwhile – is it bizarre that I begin to salivate whenever I see a Crate & Barrel box at my door?
Episode 15: The seating chart we used was a lifesaver and everyone seemed cool about where they were seated. Of course, something else I learned from this whole process is that no one will ever tell you if they were unhappy at your wedding – so don’t stress TOO much about such things.
I want to leave you with a few other things I discovered that might help you on your wedding planning adventures.
1. Get a suite and host a party in your room after you reception. This was a huge highlight for us. Sure, we sacrificed the whole riding off into the sunset thing, but we are going to have the rest of our lives to spend together. How many times would we have all of our favorite people in one room again?
2. Everything you are stressed about going wrong probably won’t. And everything you are not worried about just might. So, by the transitive property, worrying is useless.
3. When you are forced to choose between chatting with every single person at your reception, or dancing your ass off, dance. I am serious. This way, you are going to regret not talking to some people, which will happen regardless, but you are never going to regret having danced with them.
Finally…don’t wait to become a finished product to get married. You will never be “there.” You will never be perfect. You may never feel perfectly happy with yourself and where you are in life. You will always just be you. So go out there and find someone who you like. Someone who likes your you-ness, who you can put up with on a road trip. Then agree to grow together.
That was what Faye and I promised to each other in our vows. To grow, to change, to be happy and sad. And to do it together.
And that is a promise I know I can keep.
Thanks for reading.