A little more than a week ago, Liz and I became a married couple.
Our engagement lasted more than a year and involved us financing our own Big Day. This afforded us (pun intended) the freedom to do pretty much whatever we might have wanted to do.
Our (non-exhaustive) list of conditions amounted to the following:
- Secular: I would have considered it disingenuous to bring in a rabbi or minister when neither Liz nor I subscribes to a particular organized religion. Because our guests would came from multiple faiths, we decided to have a neutral ceremony that focused on the coming together of families and our dedication to one another, mixing and matching different cultural elements where appropriate. Although we had initially asked a mutual friend to officiate, he demurred and referred us to an associate of his, Dr. Robert A. Ringler, who has officiated at many interfaith and nontraditional ceremonies over the years. He also appeared in The Hangover. (I did step on a glass in deference to my parents.)
- Independent: We worked within our own means to maintain a high degree of control over our planning process, as well as invaluable experience in managing our own financial affairs.
- Efficient: Liz’s mother provided us with some paper (card stock, more precisely) invitations. This didn’t work out, so we made our own online invitation system. (More on this shortly.)
- Vegetarian: Although it may sound inconsiderate since many of our guests do not share our culinary proclivities, suffice it to say that we did not feel comfortable choosing food that neither of us would taste personally. Since we received compliments from self-described carnivores afterwards, I consider this endeavor an unequivocal success. In any event, we chose a buffet because the wide variety of palates presented an obstacle to a multi-course, sit-down meal.
- Informal: I already had navy pants (purchased at a discount from a department store) that matched a vest I had “borrowed” from my father. In lieu of a suit I decided to emulate an admittedly-hipsterish look. Stylish, effective, and…
- Affordable: Well, more or less.
- Liz’s sister, Victoria, agreed to sew the bridal gown.
- Meanwhile, I had no qualms about skipping the suit jacket.
- Faced with a choice between videography and photography, we chose the latter as a means of preserving our memories.
- We hosted a midday ceremony and luncheon and held the reception throughout the afternoon. Not only will our outdoor photos appear with more clarity, but we economized on the cost of the venue and managed to have enough energy afterwards to go out with our wedding party. This decision helped us to see more of everyone, but YMMV.
- A limited selection of alcohol. We wanted to honor our guests with a unique selection of food and decided to invest our resources there rather than in cocktails.
- No “matchy-matchy” clothing on the wedding party. We asked our bridesmaids and groomsmen to simply wear whatever semi-formal outfit they might have lying about. We didn’t buy anyone any clothing.
- After the wedding we had our “un-honeymoon,” a staycation of sorts wherein we became tourists in our own city. We plan to save up for an actual, out-of-town vacation, to occur (if all goes according to plan) next year.
- Intimate: A small and low-key affair struck us as an appropriate way to honor those most central to our lives.
- Memorable: We wanted a venue with architecture, ambiance, and (most importantly) food that we would, with any luck, remember fondly for many years to come.
- Colorful: This mostly represents me being a troll for a while, but at some point we both took to the idea of a non-white bridal gown. Liz’s sister, who graciously made the dress, proved (mostly) happy to oblige. (Vera Wang provided not a little inspiration.) We owe Victoria immensely for the time and effort she put into this.
- Inclusive: We hoped to acknowledge not only family and friends in our ceremony, but also those who currently lack the legal or social freedoms to have their own ceremonies.
With regard to the last point, Liz noted comments on A Practical Wedding that some couples had integrated portions of a landmark legal decision as a vehicle to express not only their mutual affection, but also their support for marriage equality.
The invitations proved a complete mess at first. We had everything we needed: card stock, a printer, and a program to lay out the design. Little did we count on a lack of adhesion between the toner and the surface of the invitations. Trips to three print shops proved fruitless because of the seemingly-unique sizing and porousness of our card stock.
After some debate on professional printing, Liz and I decided to spend a few days designing our own online invitation system to integrate with our wedding site. Our efforts paid off: we now had a real-time headcount and the positive experience of working together on a design project that our guests could actually use.
Saturday, 11 May 2013 will live in my mind forever as the happiest day of my life.