It’s been two years since that brisk autumn day where all our preparations led to one marriage certificate. Thinking back, there are some things that we would highly encourage, and many that we’d stray from. Here’s a bit of a rundown.
What we loved:
- Keep it casual – The bridesmaids chose their own gray dresses, something within their price range and something they could actually wear again if they so chose. The men wore grays slacks and white shirts, we provided suspenders, orange ties, and argyle socks. This so spoke to our nature as friends and to us as a couple!
- It’s okay to be practical – We chose our venue because it was what was available. We were married in James’ church and had the reception at our middle school. It did the job and allowed us to have a potluck and save a few bucks. Which brings us to the next point…
- Have a potluck – Haley was terrified about having a potluck. So many “what ifs” that could result in a chaotic disaster…but it didn’t! There was so much food and so much sharing. The community really came together to provide, and the blessing of this meal is something we cherish most about our big day.
- Ask for help – Our friends and family were more than willing to help with setting up decorations. We did our best to walk through the decor ahead of time, and they took it over day-of. It was nice to take in the day without worrying about everything being perfect. They had it handled! And we trusted them.
- Think outside the box – We had our flowers designed by a local high school floral design class. We had a church friend make the cake. We had another friend do the photography. Friends played our music. Friends acted as emcee and DJ at our reception. Our community really stepped up to help out on our day, and looking back, we are blessed that we knew all of these talented people and that they were a part of our day.
- Get counseling – We did premarital counseling and would really recommend it to everyone! Not only did it save us a pretty penny on our marriage license, but it also helped us know what areas we’d need to work through before and throughout our marriage.
- Serving our guests – A friend from church made the wedding cake and cupcakes for all the guests. One little act that we loved was cutting our wedding cake and serving it to our bridal party. They served us so much throughout that day, and it was one little way we could serve them.
- Have a bonfire – The night before our wedding, we invited our close friends over to James’ parents’ house after the rehearsal for a bonfire. There we shared hopes and dreams that we had written down. Similarly, we shared our fears and concerns, which we then symbolically burned. Again, we were inviting our friends to support us through things that could have been and proved to be hard! We were able to hang out with people we don’t see often and worship well into the night. As a bonus, the bridesmaids all stayed with Haley that night and woke up early for the day – another blessing!
- Let Christ shine through – From our unlimited invites to the ceremonial traditions, we hoped that God would be our focus. As we sought to rely on Him in our marriage, we wanted to live that out during our wedding day. That meant inviting all who wanted to attend, having a foot washing ceremony, and worshipping with our guests.
What we’d change:
- Stop looking at Pinterest and wedding magazines! – Comparison is our worst enemy. Dream together about what you want the day to be, and seriously question the things you feel are “must haves” and why you feel that way. Make your own traditions and step away from the industry’s sales pitches.
- Keep it local – With so many local artists, we’d highly recommend purchasing the bulk of your wedding goodies from the area. Haley would have loved a custom wedding dress that supported an Etsy shop but got caught up in the “need” for the dress shopping experience and spent more than she had wanted. James bought a typical engagement ring, and was sold on the “need” for a diamond. Even with the work he put in to get one conflict-free, we both feel that the pressure to get a diamond at all fuels the industry and we’d recommend searching for other options.
- Experiences first – When investing in the day, what matters most? To us it was the experience. We wanted a big wedding because we wanted to be surrounded by our friends and family who would support us through out marriage. The decorations and dress code took last place to this priority for us. Yes, we wanted it to be special, but our focus could have been on the people more than the minor details.
- Consider hanging out – The wedding day gets to be a long and draining day, but it’s also filled with so many friends and family you never get to see! We wish we had been able to hang out with guests more that weekend. We’d definitely suggest you consider unwrapping presents with guests the next day for the simple excuse to get everyone together again! Otherwise just have lunch while people are in town!
We fully admit that wedding planning was the most stressful season of our relationship. The things we would change about that day are the areas where we felt pressured by society to do things a certain way. Be yourselves and let that shine through your day. Our favorite memories are the areas that we were sure to do that. If it’s getting too stressful, question what can be released for the sake of your sanity and your relationship.
Two years of marriage and we joke that we have everything figured out. We’re grateful for the friends and family who were there that October day, as well as the new friends we have made since. Onto another year and more memories to be made!