Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inspirational Weddings: Shannon + Ruben

Matt and I tried to think of our wedding as a "Friends and Family Reunion," as a way to release ourselves from the pressure to create a "Once-in-a-Lifetime" wedding. I mean, who cares what the chairs look like at a family reunion, right?

But Shannon and Ruben's wedding takes the concept way more literally. They actually got married at their yearly family reunion. So cool!


I would love to share my story with you and your readers, and to continue to encourage couples to stay true to their genuine selves and make their event special, with out the need of feeding the wedding industry. :) Overall, my husband and I feel that our wedding was the best wedding that we have ever attended! (We may be partial, but it was so much fun!)

My husband and I currently live in Chicago, I grew up in Texas, and every year we travel to Kerrville, TX, for my family reunion during the 4th of July weekend. Last summer when Ruben and I shared with my Grandfather our plan for getting married, he suggested we have the wedding there at the hotel where my family has met every year for the past 33 years. We instantly loved the idea. I have been at that hotel almost every summer of my life and had shared many memories there. Also, Ruben's family didn't live to far away, and it wouldn't be too difficult to travel.

So, it was decided that on July 3, 2010 we would get married at my Jenson Family Reunion. Our event turned out so much more amazing than I ever imagined. I was encouraged by you to stay true to myself, I would repeat your wedding mantra, and remember that it was about celebration and memories, and not about "stuff" that we couldn't afford. A DIY wedding to the core, I made made all the wedding invites, and my mother in law made fabric flowers as decorations, as well as other Puerto Rican wedding traditions like lace capias, and my mother made my wedding veil as well! :)

Ruben and I decided that everything else we needed for our wedding we could found at thriftstores, and we had a great time traveling around the city to find lace doily table runners, and milk glass vases, as well as candles, and other items. We also saved glass jars that we used throughout the year, to use for candle votives. With the help of my aunts, my cousins, and the hotel maintenance men, all the decorations went up. It was awesome, I provided all the decorating materials, created basic design ideas, and then they took the ball and ran with it. Having their input was such a gift; it was as special for them as it was for me. Plus we took a room that wasn't so cute and made it our own. The room where we got married was a board room suite (that had never been used for anything other than board meetings, especially not a wedding.) In the room were 17 large painting of Indians and cowboys riding horses. Not exactly our style, and since we couldn't take them down, we decided we would cover most of them up with paper and place pictures of our lives together in Chicago. Our guests loved it, it was so us! I had two great friends, who are sisters, act as florist and wedding day coordinators. My longest friend and her mother took care of making sure the food was out and beverages were served.
The ceremony was officiated by my childhood pastor who has known me since I was 9 years old, and has been apart of my life for many major events. He is still in Fort Stockton, TX where I grew up, and so we did our pre-marital counseling via video on Skype! It was so special to have him there! My husband (who is a professional orchestral bass player) played a bass & cello duet with a dear friend from college, the moment right before I walked down the aisle. He sounded amazing, and it was incredible to hear my future husband play so well, knowing that his bass was very much a part of our marriage. :)

We decided that we would serve the foods that we grew up on. Ruben's family made Puerto Rican food including; rice and gandules, grilled pork tenderloin (that the groom grilled himself the day of the wedding,) fried plantains, and baked beans. My side of the family made savory finger foods as well as homemade desserts, and we catered sandwiches from the local grocery deli.

Ruben created the playlist and acted as DJ throughout one part of the evening. My maid of honor had made a special playlist of all the great group dance tunes, and then by the end of the evening, everyone brought out their mp3 players and played their favorite tunes. Meanwhile I danced and danced with my family, my new family and our closest friends.

Of course, I could go on and on! We didn't pay for a professional photographer, but got amazing pictures from family and friends with amazing photography skills. Some of my favorite photos were taken by Ruben's 15 year old niece with his Nikon.

The biggest lesson that I learned is that a wedding is much more than the bride and groom's special day. It's a special day for the whole family involved, and we had an amazing time! What was great was that there was no post wedding blues (that I had heard about.) Once the wedding was over, we still had reunion time, playing games and hanging out with family. None of the wedding left overs were wasted and eaten by Rubens family as they traveled home, and by my family as we hung out through the rest of the reunion.

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Sarah said...

Yay! This sounds totally fab! Congratulations!

Julia said...

This does sound great. Shannon and Rueben, if you are reading this, can you say more or show a picture that tells me more about how the candles and glass jars worked? My partner and I are trying to figure out how to contain candles for people to hold for our ceremony too.

Claire said...

Sounds like a great time. It is great that the family all chipped in together and helped pull of such a fab wedding. How cool to include your wedding as part of the reunion.

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