An e-mail from Tamara:
"I'm a regular reader of your blog, and I find it to be very refreshing and inspiring in a world gone spending-crazy. I wish that when I got married two years ago that I'd had a better sense of myself so that I could have put a stop to the extravagant spending and crazy planning that took place.
It was a lovely day (I married my best friend), a happy day filled with friends, family, dancing, and good food, but it took a lot of money and way too much stress about the 'necessary' details (how, oh how, to fold the napkins?) to achieve that. Thankfully, I think that the spirit of the wedding ended up being a nice reflection of who my husband and I are as individuals and as a couple--happy, goofy, family-oriented, loving, fun--and people commented to us that it was truly the most relaxed they had ever felt at a wedding and that they had more fun than they'd ever had at a wedding (we made sure to play only the best oldies dance music--total crowd pleaser); for that, I am really happy and thankful.
On my I felt no stress and even though we had a couple of potential disasters (the venue people had set up for another, much smaller, wedding, so there weren't enough seats for everyone and my carefully planned seating chart wasn't used), I didn't care because I was just so excited and happy to be marrying my sweet man.
That being said, the 16 months we spent planning the wedding are the hardest months we have had in our 5 years together--a lot of that time was emotionally devastating for both of us. I was stressed and completely exhausted, he was stressed and sad, my mother was stressed and felt left out, we went into debt (despite the fact that our parents spent thousands of dollars on the day), and it was just not a joyful process because we spent too much time planning an 'event'--a party--and not nearly enough time talking about what marriage meant to us and how we wanted that to be reflected on our big day.
We got immediately sucked into what we thought we 'should' do (because that's how everyone else gets married) instead of what we really wanted to do and what we REALLY should do in terms of honoring our values about money, the environment, etc. Of course, I can't go back in time and when I look at the pictures of our wedding day, I feel very happy; in the pictures, we look just how we felt on that day--happy and relaxed and thrilled and honored to be surrounded by the love of so many good friends and family.
In the two years since our wedding a lot has happened that has changed how we spend our money, how we prioritize our time, how we treat each other, how we plan events, etc. I can't, and don't, regret my wedding because on that day I married my heart's delight, and I think that overall it was an essential learning experience for us as a couple.
About a month ago my husband and I were on vacation in Upstate NY, a place that is very very dear to our hearts--it's the place where we got engaged, and it's where we lived when we were planning our wedding for those 16 months. It's been a year and a half since we moved from there and we are so much more aware of our commitment to our life together now and we are thankful for our time there because, although it was difficult, we learned so much and we survived that time only to grow and come into the wonderful place we're in now as a couple: just filled to the brim with gratitude for one another and the journey we are on together.
Anyway, as we were hiking in one of our favorite spots (a truly beautiful gorge with a waterfall at the end), we started to talk about how wonderful it would be to have a wedding there. We talked about what we would wear (a suit and a simple dress--about a fourth of the prices of what we spent on our actual wedding day attire), and how we would meet up and spend the first half of our day together, alone (we didn't have one second of alone time on our wedding day).
We talked about how great it would be to meet our guests at the hiking spot and then walk with everyone to the waterfall and then get married right beside that gorgeous, natural wonder. We talked about how everyone would feel relaxed and happy and how we would give people ribbon wands to wave in celebration. We talked about how we would then go to the spot where the local farmer's market is held and we would have tables there and music and delicious, local, organic food. We talked about how we would dance and laugh and spend time with the people we had invited (which, this time, would be ONLY the people that meant the most to us in our lives--no strangers!).
We spent about 20 minutes planning that hypothetical wedding as we hiked back to our car from the waterfall, and as we walked we held hands and laughed and we both contributed ideas and I just couldn't believe that in 20 minutes we planned an entire event and that there was no stress, no anger, no fear, and that the event we planned would cost about a third of what we spent on our actual wedding! We didn't worry about fancy chairs, and expensive flowers, and a $700 cake.
When we talked about our ceremony, what we would say to each other, we got weepy with emotion and love. It was a truly beautiful and moving experience for me--and it was healing in a way. At the end of our walk I said, 'Oh well, we had our wedding.' And my husband said, 'Wouldn't it be amazing to celebrate our tenth anniversary here, in the way we just planned?'
So, who knows...maybe in 8 years we'll be there hiking through the gorge and waving ribbon wands with all the people we love."
Wedding photos courtesy of Josh at Treasure Photography
Wedding venue = Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, CA
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