I've always known that when it came time for me to start planning my wedding I would try to do it the easiest way possible. I didn't want a color scheme, I didn't want a theme, I didn't want bridesmaid's dresses or the "here comes the bride" song or a church. I wanted the beach, I wanted my friends and family, I wanted romance and fun. Brad and I are perfectly suited for each other that way, we like to buck tradition and just do what we really want. We love Mexico so it was easy to decide on the destination. At first we were planning on doing one of those all-inclusive, pick your wedding package and show up deals, but when Brad's sister found a beautiful Hacienda on Cerritos Beach, we fell in love. Brad already had an affinity for Baja because of the motorcycle races he does there and it's a dream of ours to have a compound in Mexico with room enough for all our family to come stay/live. So, decision made. We rented out the entire 12 bedroom place for a week and started the invite process.
I don't think I realized how much drama can occur throughout the process of inviting your friends and family. Actually, I know I didn't realize it. I was really thrown for a loop by how many people said they were going to come and then backed out, people we didn't expect to come who in fact (and wonderfully) did, and by the "no brainers" - of course they'll come - who in fact did not. My biggest surprise was how sensitive I was to this - I like to think I typically remain even-keeled and unhurt by these types of things, normally giving a "to each their own" kind of response. But it's a funny thing that happens when you are planning your wedding, decisions you didn't think would be so emotional become just that and several times you end up saying, forget it, let's just go do this by ourselves.
Add to this the toll wedding planning takes on the couple. Now, just to reiterate, I thought this would be a piece of cake for Brad and I because we tend to take things in stride and not worry about stuff. We don't get caught up in the details but when we had to think about details and logistics and MONEY... stress was the inevitable result. We started fighting, we started semi-resenting the other for all the "work" we felt we were doing in comparison to the other, we (he) started hiding certain details/facts from each other (me) in order to prevent the above mentioned emotional reactions. And the money thing weighed heavily on us (more so him). Again, we said to each other (at alternating times, thank goodness) let's just forget about this whole wedding thing, I'm not into it anymore.
Can you believe I actually threw my back out a few weeks before the wedding? I didn't know what it meant to throw out your back but all it took was me rolling out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and I was immobile. What in the world was happening to me?? I felt like I was falling apart. This back issue plagued me off and on until the wedding. Oh stress, why are you so cruel?
The thing that was nice was that we didn't really disagree on anything major. I did shoot down a couple of ideas, for instance, hiding the guestbook in a super secret spot so they'd have to hunt for it, and having kids on the balcony with buckets petals to dump on us. But mostly we let each other have what the other wanted. Brad wanted to come up with signature drinks, done. I wanted the dudes to wear simple black tailored suits with thin black ties, done. Brad wanted a flamenco guitarist to play during the ceremony and cocktail hour, done. I wanted the best photographers in the world.... took a while to get there but after some heavy persuading and a wedding date change to accommodate the photographers' schedule... done.
I made the above emphatic topical distinction because this is normally the biggest thing to the bride-to-be. And it was to me too, but, surprisingly, this wasn't as emotional a thing. I decided pretty much the day after Brad proposed that I was going to design my own dress, contract with a seamstress and get'er done. I'm not a fan of strapless dresses and uniqueness is something I value. There always seems to be at least one or two things I would alter about a wedding gown so, I just wanted mine to be what I wanted from the beginning. I didn't try on any dresses, I just found a woman who makes glamorous couture gowns (so she said) and who lives in Greece (lesson learned), and I gave her exactly what I wanted. Now, it wasn't the most simple dress dress in the world to make. I'm a sucker for over-embellished aesthetics which some (my Mom) would call gaudy. Inspired by Elie Saab's gorgeous creations and Monique Lhuillier's sexy corseted bodices, I put together what I envisioned myself wearing while that guitarist did his thing. Well, the seamstress had the plans in October, the dress was due to me April 1st and my wedding was on June 30th. I didn't stress when I hadn't heard from her until April. I didn't panic when she said she needed another month to finish. I didn't even freak out when the end of May rolled around and there was still not one picture sent to me on the status/progress of my dream dress. On June 7th, about two weeks before I left for my wedding in Mexico, she sent me the first picture of my almost completed dress. Cue hot bubbly feeling in my blood immediately followed by tear flooded eyes that I struggled to wipe dry so I could see the image of this awful excuse for my wedding dress.
Within, I'd say, 2 minutes of seeing the picture, I emailed the lady and said, "That's not my dress, do not send, issue refund", then called up a DC wedding boutique and made an appointment for the next day. So two weeks before my wedding, I tried on gowns for the first time, bought a gorgeous Romona Keveza and a cathedral length veil and slept well that night. Brad did too, because I didn't tell him how much it cost. It was actually quite thrilling to find my gown right before I was going to be wearing it, I started to get really excited! After tailoring was all said and done, the dress arrived at my apartment the day before our plane took off...
The night before leaving, I packed a huge suitcase full of wedding related stuff and then another huge bag just for me (I still had no idea what jewelry I was going to wear so I literally brought every piece I own), and then did my hair. As I was just finishing off the face-framing strands with my curing iron, I guess I rested the scolding thing against the left side of my face (my good side) and left a one inch burn mark along my jaw line. Really, did that need to happen?
Everyone tells you when you plan a wedding that things will not go as planned and that there will be surprises on your wedding day. I didn't really pay these words of wisdom too much mind because I thought I would just roll with the punches, not worry about the details and be happy with whatever happens. I mean, what could go wrong?
Aye. Well, let me tell you, I didn't even recognize my own self that day...
All images by Ben and Erin Chrisman from Chrisman Studios