Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Three Years Ago Today We Stood Face To Face And Said, "I do..."

I remember our wedding day as if it were yesterday. Three years ago today. We stood face to face, read our vows and said, "I do." Our friends and family stood around us, took video and snapped photos. There were tears. Laughter. At the end, everyone raised their wine glasses and we toasted. At the end, after sealing the ceremony with a kiss, there was a huge round of applause.

Lisa proposed early January of 2012. She slipped a ring on my finger that she had purchased a year after we met...almost 20 years ago. She got down on bended knee. I said yes. Within 2 weeks, we decided on the location, date and approximate time. Joe's house. July 28th of that year. Afternoon. Although details would be ironed out in the weeks ahead, one thing was certain. Our wedding was going to be outside the box. Unconventional. Relaxed.

The theme? Come. As. You. Are.

Lisa and I share the same views when it comes to weddings. Most are too formal. People spend way too much money on things that aren't going to matter or be remembered 10 years down the road and clothes they'll never wear again. The ceremony lasts much too long. Weddings often depict a theatrical performance. Guests spend a considerable amount of time waiting. And waiting. And waiting. The list goes on.

In the weeks to follow, Lisa and I discussed in depth everything we despised about attending a wedding. Then, we made a list. From that list, we figured out how we could do things differently and outlined a wedding ceremony and reception that we'd be excited to attend. One that would leave a lasting impression. Then, we altered it to fit our personality along with our guests.

The end result was quite simple. Relaxed. Memorable. Fun. Something we'd be excited to attend if invited. Budget friendly for everyone. Comfortable.

1. Dress code. There was none. We stressed that. Our theme was "Come As You Are' and we meant that. If you wanted to wear shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops, that was more than okay. If you felt like dressing up a bit, that was okay too. We let our guests know comfort was a priority. There were no expectations. No one was going to be judged based on what they chose to wear or not wear. When you're comfortable, you have fun. There is nothing fun about wearing a formal dress, nylons and heels in the summer heat. 

2. Don't expect the brides to be sportin' formal attire either. The theme 'Come As You Are' applied to us too. I wasn't going to wear a white wedding dress. What's the point? It lacks character. Is white even a color? Although I wear skirts, I don't wear dresses and I haven't in several decades. If it's not something I wear now, why would I wear one on my wedding day? The same held true for Lisa. She doesn't like dressing up in stiff pants, a button up shirt and dress shoes. She's most comfortable in shorts, a polo and flip flops. So...that's what she wore. Me? I opted for a bohemian skirt, white t-shirt and turquoise Crocs Flip Flops. 

3. A catered wedding? No way. The best foods are the ones prepared by friends, family and us. We prefer dishes that have been family favorites and old family recipes. No catering company can compete with that. Our wedding was in July so there was no question what our food of choice was going to be and how it was going to be cooked. Barbecue and...fire up the grills! We asked everyone to bring a side dish, but it had to be a recipe that had depth. Meaning. Sentimental value. It could be a casserole that great-grandma used to make or an ethnic dish someone had grown up on. Our goal was to have the tables filled with food that represented love, family and unity. That's exactly what happened.

4. Come early. Have a drink. Mingle. Although some of the guests knew each other, most did not. We wanted to give everyone a chance to mingle before the ceremony and reception. There were no boundaries separating this family from that and one group from the other. We allotted a couple of hours for this to happen. As everyone arrived, Lisa and I made introductions, mingled and spent time with our guests. We had appetizers available. Most people brought their own choice of adult beverages. Drinks were provided for those who didn't. It was a gigantic social hour. People relaxed. They sipped beverages and munched on snacks.

5. No chairs were set up for the ceremony. We met with our incredible friend, Tabatha, who performed our ceremony a couple of months before our wedding day. We emailed and chatted on the phone. Lisa and I wanted the ceremony to be short, fun, and involve the crowd. One thing that irritates me most about a wedding ceremony is it feels more like a show...a theatrical performance. The couple getting married is on stage, the guests are sitting in the audience...blah, blah, blah. That's not something we wanted. There were a couple of people who needed to sit due to health issues, but otherwise, everyone stood partially around us. There were tears. As Lisa and I read our vows...more tears. Several people spoke at our wedding. Lots of laughter. Then, at the end, everyone raised their wine glass and we toasted. That was it. To us, it was perfect and beautiful. 

6. Our reception was total Wabi Sabi. Backyard barbecue style. Mix-matched tablecloths. Centerpieces made by Lisa's mother that consisted of fresh picked wildflowers in antique mason jars finished off with cloth ribbons. Coolers filled with beverages. Paper plates. Plastic utensils. Justin Jaymes played on the back porch that served as both stage and dance floor. The younger "hoomans" played games on the huge lawn. Cupcakes were spread out on a table topped with flowers. Homemade wedding favors filled a wicker basket by the door so everyone could help themselves. Guests wrote messages on pieces of paper and put them in the large mason jar we provided. No one really posed for photos, except for a few, because we opted for candid.

7. Lisa and I were not the guests of honor. We didn't sit at a special table, get waited on or make an entrance at any point throughout the day and evening. When guests arrived, we personally greeted each one. We made introductions. I made drinks for a few of the guests. When it was time to fire up the grills, Lisa assisted with that while I was inside helping set up the tables with food. Lisa and I ate last after making sure everyone had what they needed. At the end of the festivities, Lisa and I joined in on cleanup duty. Everyone pitched it with tasks throughout the day. It was a joint effort. 

8. The skies ripped open and it poured buckets. We welcomed the liquid sunshine. Isn't it good luck when it rains on your wedding day? Oh, did it rain. No one complained. Neither did we. A few people danced in the rain. More guests joined us on the back porch where Justin was playing. They sang. Danced. The rain eventually tapered off.

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."
~Dr. Seuss~

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