Going to the Chapel...Or Something Like That: Part One
The Real Story of an Average Bride
In August, I’m marrying my best friend. Yeah, yeah...blah, blah. Everyone says that. For me and most people, it’s true. I mean...I really believe most people go into marriage with careful consideration. You’d have to be nuts not too! My fiancé and I are both older, we’re both 37, have never been married nor have any children together or from previous relationships. We were 33 when we started dating, but we’ve been friends since we were 20.
Six months in, while wanting to start new chapters, we moved in together. Across the country from anything remotely familiar. Three years later he asked with his grandmother’s ring in hand and I happily obliged.
For awhile, a few months or so...I really didn’t dive into the whole wedding planning experience. We weren’t financially prepared and wanted to just get through the crap year thrown on us. Seriously, the only good thing that came out of that year was my engagement. Don’t feel bad. We did some cool things and some years are just like that. You kinda have to roll with life’s punches.
When the whole process finally did start a friend advised, “Everything you first plan will be changed along the way.” At first, I didn’t believe her I was an eager bride with a vision...slowly but surely though...that very sentiment became my reality.
I, like most women, have thought about this day since I was a little girl. The missing element and the best thing I ever did for myself, was never having a face to the groom until meeting my fiancé. My fiancé on the other hand, like most men, rarely thought about how his wedding day would go. His thoughts were consumed with setting shit on fire, beating his brothers up, building forts out back, and one day hopefully being able to touch a set of tits.
However, along the way my fiancé, for the most part, has delighted in the decision making. It’s only when we discuss financials that he turns into Steve Martin’s character in Father of the Bride.
We’ve since moved past it and are making the best of our tiny budget. Truly, I’m lucky and I get his Steve Martin moves...getting married is chaotic and expensive. And even I have nipped some unnecessary wasteful wedding ideas out the window. I have even almost said, “Screw it! Let’s just go to the courthouse!” And I fully understand why couples do so.
Since I feel all hopped up on wedding woes, I felt compelled to share. Surely, I can’t be the only bride that feels this way? Surely, I can’t be the only bride who used to think “Bridezillas” were just a bunch of bratty, evil women but has since changed their tune to realize that, “Oh no! These women aren’t Bridezillas at all. They aren’t crazy bitches....they are just at their wits' end with the entire wedding process.”
To get to here I have to start back there. The day I decided on location. It was a beautiful botanical garden in Vail, Colorado. We had moved to Colorado years ago and so we decided to get married in our current state. Vail reminded me of Europe and we both fell in love with the garden. The price was inexpensive and our original thought was to be as rustic and eco-friendly as possible. We wanted it to be about family but soon realized although that tiny garden fit the budget, everywhere else was insanely priced. My first quote of this adventure was for the reception space—just at the low, low price of $22K.
Yup, I said that right. $22K. That’s like, in my world, a down payment on a house, a camper van and savings to travel, a few trips to multiple worldly locations, the beginning of a retirement fund, a huge nest egg, or multiple debts paid off. You get the idea. The list is endless. Plan one became null and void.
My sista friend: one. Us: zero.
Although I was still hoping our wedding would take place in Vail, that too followed suit. Here we were trying to have an eco friendly wedding but insisting not only that most of our guests fly to get to us but that they spend extra money to rent multiple vehicles and drive two extra hours to get to us. It was a little too hipster hypocritical. Hipstocritical. God, I hope I see that word take off!
Staying within that realm and wanting to really, I guess, stick with a theme. We looked into spots closer to home in Denver, Colorado. By the way, before starting this wedding planning party...I never knew there were themes or colors or looks people went for. I mean, yeah...I was a little girl who dreamt about her wedding but I never thought about color patterns or connecting the dots to, “Oh, this bride is bohemian. Oh, this wedding is rustic chic. Oh, this bride is goth so it’s gonna being vampy and Halloweeny and weird and dark.”
Like really, I just wanna walk down an aisle to a certain song, throw a low key but fun fiesta and celebrate the love I have for my honey with friends and family but with 199 days to go, we somehow have a theme and are rolling with it.
OK, so at first...I was into the whole rustic idea. It got me. It. Got. Me. Too. Pinterest makes everything look ah. maze. ing. You know what I’m talking about. I know you do. Some “rustic” concepts we’ve kept but for the most part, most of them have been tossed out.
Here’s my reasons why and maybe you can relate? A) There’s always that one “frenemy” who is riding the wedding wave too and somehow, someway they take your ideas and roll with them. In a bride’s world, it’s like stealing the babies name. B) Rustic is everywhere. Everywhere. Being that our wedding is actually quite different in a lot of ways...rustic became cliché and overdone. No one needs to see one more mason jar filled with whatever. No one needs to see one more photo booth made out of old frames and a worn down couch. Although, I do dig the photo booth idea and agree in having one at weddings-however it shall be. People love to take pictures when they are drunk, bored, need a change of wedding pace or just want to get social and let loose. C) It’s expensive. Who knew a piece of wood could be so outrageously priced? Seriously, who knew? Making things look DIY or DIYing, in general, is a hobby I’m convinced only upper middle class women do or can afford. That and Yoga in a studio.
I digress and an extension of C)...D) Any place that looks rustic comes with an obscene price tag. I’m still trying to figure it why myself? It’s the equivalent to overpriced abstract art. I’m looking at you Andy Warhol.
During this whole process, I’ve learned one essential piece of valid and experienced information: those who can actually afford to plan a halfway decent wedding they want, have an already half way decent income.
It’s actually kinda sad. I have a little less than half of what, according to everything I read, most Americans pay for the average wedding and I still feel like every time I turn around more things are adding up making it harder to stay within budget. I will say this. It’s all about choices and where and what you want to pay for.
For example, who needs 12 different versions of the same invite? Why do adults need a save the date, invite, and whatever seating chart, meal plan, and information card necessary to make sure guests arrive and have a good time. I’m not trying to herd a bunch of cats and if things are that difficult to figure out, I question how we got this far in our relationship to begin with. That’s like a hundred trees killed so you are completely in the know at all times for about a year when it concerns my nuptials.
Needless to say, we opted for a website for most guests and invites for older family members and friends. A fight I couldn’t win and didn’t want to fight against my mom. She’s lucky she got the 25. Just kidding, it’s my mom and yeah, I still try to make her happy. It doesn’t take much and she is helping us out so it’s the least I could do but an argument, I would have rather not had. By the way, purchasing less trees to kill actually costs more money. Yup. I’m still scratching my head at that one too or banging it by now...but...I get it, they are a business and of course they aren’t going to be pro website and my mom did meet me half way. The 25 that do receive invites are still being led to the website to RSVP.
Personally, the website has been pretty rad. It’s helped me stay the course, organize all my plans, allowed me to catch up with friends and family and call to personally invite them, and learn about creating websites or at least working with them. The only downside: some folks just can’t be bothered to RSVP. However, I don’t think a paper invite would have changed that either. Then again, maybe I am herding cats?
For now and with 199 days go (the website counts the days down for me, FYI and I’m still trying to figure out if I love this feature or if I absolutely hate it and believe it to be the worst thing ever invented), I’m wading through wedding responsibilities.
We’ve got a venue, a reception space, a caterer, all the bases covered. My dress. The theme, I think? We’ve chosen a less expensive cake, to provide our own beer and wine, opted out of expensive floral arrangements, and let the space speak itself. Now, it’s just about putting all these pieces together to throw one hellva hangout.
That is, of course, if the guest list doesn’t kill us.
...to be continued.