And now a little something from Cori!
"My parents really supported the idea of us just eloping, taking the money that would have been spent on the wedding, & saving it for later. They were married by a justice of the peace in my grandparent’s living room & had around fifty guests. When I look through my parent’s wedding album, I’m filled up with the tenderness of such a small ceremony & the absolute connectedness of each person in that room to them. When Z & I were pressured or felt stressed about not inviting more people, we came back to this idea of the intimate wedding over & over again. There were many many people we wished could have been there with us as we said our vows, as we danced & laughed & filled the day with the light of being bowled-over-in-love. But in the end, we really wanted to keep it to the first two ripples away from us—our immediate and immediate extended families. We invited friends that felt like family to us. When there were people who weren’t able to make it, we agreed not to add extra people. It’s really important to remember that while it’s true that it’s not a day just for you and you, it is your wedding and who you want to be right there as you take your vows is one of the most important aspects.
This leads me to talking about the ceremony. For Z & I, we both agreed that the ceremony was the kingpin of the day. People say over and over that whether you have hand-sewn napkins (we planned to and scrapped that, we ended up with compostable paper ones) or the perfect envelopes for our invitations, that none of those details matter on the day of your wedding. And it’s true, so few of those details will even register (you’re thinking bigger things!). But some kinds of details do matter. We had been to a wedding the previous spring where instead of the usual information offered in a program, such as who’s-who & the ordering of events, the bride & groom had explained some of the traditions involved in the ceremony, the history & cultural significance of their decisions & in particular, the role of the family & friends as witnesses to their marriage. I was stunned. We decided to craft something similar for our wedding as a way to include our guests & to focus on the ceremony’s meaning. We did not choose a specific religious attitude, but included a mixture of traditional Jewish & some of our own new traditions. We used out programs to let our guests know what each aspect of the ceremony meant to us. The programs were five cardstock petals connected by a dark brass brad & the backs had the same vintage wallpaper print of our invitations. Each petal explained an aspect of the ceremony. We wrote our own vows, the same for each of us, and that felt like creating a type of unity in our beliefs towards our coming marriage. The crate sealing aspect of the ceremony involved our future respect for the difficulty of marriage, and having our siblings seal the crate with us felt like a moment of physically connecting our families. The programs connected our actions to our guests. And, it’s not about having a crazy cool ceremony. It’s about doing what makes most sense to you and your partner. We didn’t have a scheduled super organized aisle walk (we walked up together) or dogs or fireworks. It was just about us and the traditions we felt would mark our marriage. After the wedding was over, weeks and weeks into our marriage, whenever our parents or friends talked to someone from the wedding, one of the things that came up over and over was the ceremony. People had felt the ceremony was so unusual & intimate & that they had felt it was something they would remember for the rest of their lives. The idea that by choosing our own traditions & sharing their meaning to our guests could make that day memorable for them made the ridiculous detail of those programs worth it. So feel free to lose the vintage stamps, which won’t be remembered by almost anyone but you, but remember to take your time working out your ceremony, and to enjoy it—that was easily the fastest part of the day! Try not to take everything too seriously—there were parts of our ceremony that were truly comical (Z having to keep at hammering his corner of the crate for a few minutes because he bent his nail). These moments broke up the sort of emotional, tear-y aspects in a good way. All in all, the wedding day was intense & wonderful. But the best part was the utter non-describable feeling of the ceremony (& post kiss the surprise of Z pulling an egg from my ear, a magic trick he had done when he proposed). That is the reason you are making all these wild decorations & compostable plate decisions. So, whatever you do, plan your ceremony. Do a small run-through with your officiant (our friend who married us made us do this despite our protests & it really helped!). It will help ensure that you feel like you are there, in the moment, because that is the real thing people— those moments, that is getting married.
My regrets involve the lead-up to the day. Since Z & I chose to get married in Ithaca, meaning neither of our families were nearby to help (Z’s parents drove from Halifax, Nova Scotia!), the week before the wedding was chaos. Family members started to arrive & a lot of the DIY projects were still un-finished. Much of the week Z & I found ourselves away from each other. I’d be working on finishing the programs while Z put up the tent at our friends for the day-after brunch. All in all, we spent very time with each other in the days before. And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being away from the person that makes you feel least stressed when you are stressed out of your mind. Our plan to take two hours the day before to be alone in the hotel room and regroup and get excited was easily squashed by our wanting to help out with everything (one of the hardest aspects of DIY venue is that we needed to be setting up the night before but couldn’t get in until after 8pm). We should have asked someone to help protect our time and make sure we left. Because we ended up roped into so much that we didn’t get that space at all. As a result, when small things started to add up—all my wedding jewelry and makeup was misplaced & no one could find it, there was a party going on in our venue the night before—neither of us felt centered by the time we returned to the hotel that night (at like midnight) and we were both on edge. That was my scary most not myself moment. While the wedding turned out staggeringly beautiful, one of the most thrilling & fun days of our lives, we were more exhausted than we should have been by a lot. If you can’t afford a day-before/day-of coordinator, ask a friend to help make sure that you get where you need to be to relax and enjoy (like leaving the wedding, which was another space that we should have asked someone to make sure we got out of there!). Our friends & family did crazy things for us, like clean hundreds of mason jars, strip labels of wine bottles for water, clean public bathrooms & windows, & string thousands of lights. Any one of them would have been glad to take on the task of helping us get out of there, or not fielding phone calls on the day of the event (not fun to be getting your makeup done and trying to deal with venue messes like bright orange caution fences suddenly up in your lakeside ceremony spot). We just didn’t think to ask! So, ask someone to be your protectorate. Tell them the your desired schedule and your limits and ask if they can help get you away from family & setup if you need to. Because you do!
When it comes down to it, many things went wrong—transportation to the wedding, printing our vows, someone slamming our 1920s typewriter, the music, forgetting to set up the croquet & lawn games, giant orange fences, goose-poop in our ceremony site (we found out later that my dad hand-picked up piles with ziplocks that morning), not dancing with my dad—but so many things went beyond amazingly. And so many things were not what we expected in incredible ways. And the next day—we were married!! Waking up next to Z & seeing his wedding ring—that made everything else that went wild disappear. For us it was all about the ceremony & then about the wild laughing, drinking, ridiculous thriller-dancing that happened for the rest of the day. The details seem beautiful in photos, and lent the day a certain Z&C air, but on the day, it is more about just about everything else you can think before any of that stuff.
As a final note: we can’t stress the photobooth enough—we set up one with Polaroid spectra and a remote, and guests were thrilled and often asked us to come take a few shots with them—meaning, we were spending time with everyone, even if briefly, that afternoon. Our photographs from Brion are wonder-lovely, filled with unexpected moments & we can’t wait to see the full set, to tuck them with other mementos into an album."