Fourteen years ago today, what many people agree was quite possibly the most beautiful wedding they ever attended was held. It wasn’t a huge wedding, so perhaps that’s why you haven’t heard about it.
It was held in my mother’s back yard. We had a small budget to work with, which encouraged creativity. The groomsmen insisted I was not going to make the groom (or them) wear any sort of ridiculous rented garment and I didn’t. I did make him wear a tie though. And he wore new pants, fancy ones even, he’d picked up at Salvation Army with the tags still attached.
I still love that about him.
We did most of the planning in a day. My mother had set up meetings with different caterers and florists for one day – we met with exactly one of each, realized we could work with them and that was that. We had very specific ideas about what we wanted and most of them were not very traditional. In fact, when I sat down with the florist, I refused to look at her standard wedding flower pictures. I asked if she was up for something different. She practically hugged me in response and answered with a very emphatic YES. We talked about what would be blooming when we got married and she worked with what was local. My Granny let me have at her peony patch (which was absolutely glorious) for the flowers for the tables. Rather than wear a veil, I had a crown of lilies of the valley and lenten roses. My bouquet was purple snapdragons and lilies of valley and a few other purple wildflowers that were blooming at the time. The boutonnieres were leaves and seeds.
A friend of Pat’s had found a copy of this awesome 1974 wedding planning book entitled “Celebration: The Wild Flower Write Your Own Ceremony Picnic Reception Wedding Book”. Pat had a huge amount of imput into our wedding. These were back in the days when he had most of the month of January off and he happened to discover that Martha Stewart was doing a week long series on weddings on her show that he not only watched, but taped for me, so we could talk about what he thought our wedding should be like. Needless to say, our wedding was a Martha Stewart version of that most delightful book. The wording for our invitation came from that book. A good bit of the inspiration for the ceremony we wrote came out of that book. My dress, which was the first dress I tried on and was absolutely perfect although not at all what I thought I wanted when I walked in the bridal shop that day, came with a train that got chopped off, so that the hem was right at my ankles. I wanted to get married barefoot, but compromised by wearing a pair of sweet white leather sandals that matched my dress perfectly. I had seen a picture in one of Martha’s wedding issues of an antique plant stand that was put into use as a cake stand, in lieu of a tiered cake. I sent the picture to my brother-in-law, who likes to build things and had him build me a similar one. The florist draped it in flowers and each one of the four ‘layers’ had a different cake on it. Each cake had white icing, so it looked traditional, but Pat didn’t want ‘traditional’ cake. I agreed. So, under white cream cheese frosting was a carrot cake. Under a white buttercream was a strawberry shortcake type cake, with layers of fresh strawberries. Under a white chocolate buttercream was chocolate cake.
It rained daily for a good two weeks prior to our wedding. We didn’t have a back up rain plan. My mother got nervous and kept talking about one, but Pat & I knew we didn’t need one. (To this day, we still don’t come up with solid back up in case of rain plans and it has never failed us.). Exactly two days before our wedding, the rains stopped and everything dried up just enough for us to hold the wedding outside. The weather on the day itself was perfect. We pressed all our friends in helping us set up the day before and clean up the day after. My mother, my Aunt Jenny & myself made all the bridesmaid’s dresses – they were a lovely green linen. It was a very much do-it-yourself wedding, which is really how we still live.
I recently read Mindy Kaling’s book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”, It was funny, but I mention it here because she wrote the most spot on chapter I’ve ever read about marriage, mostly based on her parent’s marriage. How marriage is about committing to things like houses and neighborhoods. About how a happy marriage is really based on being great pals with the person you marry and having fun with them, that marriage is work, but it’s work you choose and you should choose work you love. About weddings she said, “In real life, shouldn’t a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal, in the presence of a bunch of your other friends? A great day, for sure, but not the beginning and certainly not the end of your friendship with a person you can’t wait to talk about gardening with for the next forty years.” That so perfectly sums up my wedding and my marriage that when I read it out loud to Pat in bed one night, I got choked up. I think he did too.
Fourteen years after the fact, people still tell me how our wedding was the best wedding they’ve ever been to. They talk about how it was so perfectly us, it couldn’t help but be beautiful. We’ve been to a few weddings that had some copy cat touches, we’ve even lent the now plant stand out for service as a cake stand again. It was an awesome party to celebrate our friendship so that we can spend the rest of our days talking about gardening and music and everything else in life we babble on about. Fourteen years into this being married thing, I am still madly in love with my husband. And we still throw really great parties.