Posts in the 'real bride' Category

Real Bride Kate: Remember Your “Yes”

Up to this point, my and Daniel’s wedding planning has revolved around proposed dates, hypothetical decorations, and just plain uncertainty. However, this is all about to end. Right now, we are elbow-deep in paperwork, but in just a few weeks, on April 8th, Daniel will have his interview with the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia. He will either leave that interview with an approval, at which point we can begin the official planning, or he’ll walk away with a denial, at which point I’ll drink way too much red wine and start back at square one.

As you can imagine, with our entire future on the line, this is a very stressful time for us. The visa process is going smoothly, but we never know what may pop up and make us reevaluate our situation. The only way I have gotten through it is remembering one thing: why we’re putting ourselves through this.

In that spirit, I was thinking about the night we got engaged, and I realized, I had neglected to share our story with The Broke-Ass Bride community! So sit back, relax, and let me send some happy, gushy, love vibes your way.

Captain America Shirt

Fortunately/unfortunately, I knew Daniel was proposing during his visit in November. After all, the whole immigration process doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity. Therefore, since surprise would not be part of the equation, I made two requests: don’t tell anyone else your plan and make it private.

Given the fact that he was not in his native territory, could not drive and was sworn to secrecy, Daniel nailed it.

On November 21st, Daniel and I went on a double date with two of our best friends, Teresa and Bryce. While Teresa and I were in class, Bryce and Daniel were hanging out in another town. We drove separately to the restaurant, Teresa and me in one car, the boys in another, and the guys were about an hour late to arrive. I was so angry. We had told them a specific time, and they weren’t there. After a long day of class, I was stressed and starving and just wanted to go home to bed. Of course, little did I know, Daniel was late because he was putting together a night I would never forget.

Teresa talked me down from my irritation, and the four of us ended up having a lovely dinner together. On the way home, Daniel and I drove by the hotel where we stayed during his first visit to me. As we neared, Daniel sighed, “Ah, there it is.” I laughed and replied, “You say that every time we pass here.”

Daniel smiled and pulled out a set of keys, “That’s because we’re staying here tonight.”

I knew what was happening. But my hands still started shaking, I almost missed the turn into the hotel parking lot, and I could not come up with an intelligible response.

Daniel led me up to our suite and made me close my eyes. He walked me into the room and finally allowed me to look. In front of me was a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, and this piece of artwork that he commissioned to commemorate our engagement.

Art by Pearce Hoskinson. Art by Pearce Hoskinson.

I turned around to see Daniel on one knee. At the time, I expected a speech or some other romantic oration. But he simply said, “There’s nothing else to say. Kate, will you make me the happiest man alive and be my wife?”

I had a million snarky, cute retorts rattling around in my brain. But he was right: there was nothing else to say that we hadn’t said to each other already. So I just said, “Yes.”

Was it the proposal I had always dreamed of? In all honesty, no. But the one element I had never been able to fully imagine, my fiancé, is better than any dream ever could be. After all, when you love someone more than anything, when that person knows you better than anyone, when you have shared nearly everything two people can share … you don’t need a fancy proposal. All you need is commitment, love, “yes.”

As we sludge through visa paperwork, as we have nightmares about rejections, as we hand over hundreds of dollars to the government, people ask us, is it really worth it? And there’s nothing else to say but “yes.”

If there is one piece of advice I can give to my fellow brides- and grooms-to-be at this point in my wedding planning, it is this – even when the planning is overwhelming, when the bills are stacking up, when you are ripping your hair out with uncertainty and frustration – remember why you are doing all this.

Always remember your “yes.”

Real Bride Elizabeth: Family Matters

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 Sisters!

I am extremely close with my family. Of my three younger siblings, it’s difficult for me to think of three people I would rather hang out with. I was convinced that all the horror stories I heard from friends about family members going crazy during the wedding planning process would not happen to me — no way, no how. Then my younger sister, Tegan, got married. There wasn’t too much drama, but there was a tense moment the night before the wedding when Tegan told my cousin she would prefer she not wear a white, lace dress to the ceremony. No brainer, right? What followed on that wedding eve consisted of my aunt telling my sister she was a spoiled brat who had never been told no (if you know my parents, you would know this is laughable) and Tegan dissolving into tears.

Still, my naïveté persisted and lasted until my engagement bubble was rudely burst, all by family members. I am still four months out, so I am sure there will be more, but I’d like to present you with the top three most dramatic moments in my planning so far, ranging from “Excuuuuuuse me?” to “WTF?!?!?”

1. My mother (would the list be complete without a mother-of-the bride moment?)

My mom has made it clear from Day 1 that she is not happy with my choice to get married in North Carolina instead of my hometown in Wisconsin. My fiancee has a majority of his family and friends in North Carolina, and mine are scattered all over the US. Plus, I’ve always wanted a destination wedding but didn’t have the budget to pull off Mexico, so this was a happy medium. Every couple weeks I get a text or a call along the lines of, “Why are you getting married in North Carolina again???” She tries to pull everything from the tradition card (I’m not that traditional, so doesn’t bother me) to the fact that a lot of my extended family won’t be able to make the trip (that’s the point!) to try and get me to change my mind. Deposits have been made, appointments set, there’s so going back at this point.

2. My aunt

I heard through the family grapevine that one of my aunts had confided in many family members that she was on “Team Ex,” and was not pleased that I was marrying Bryce because she didn’t think he was “as fun” as my ex. Well, that’s pretty offensive to both me and my groom-to-be. Yes, my ex was a nice guy overall, but there were definitely reasons I called it off. And while he may have been more outgoing and extroverted around my family than Bryce is, I’m the one marrying him, so it really matters how we interact with each other, right? If you like my ex so much, why don’t you marry him?

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 At the end of the day, you don’t remember all the drama that happened before the wedding.

3. My other aunt (the same one that threw the white dress fit at my sisters wedding, shockingly)

This one definitely takes the cake. After we got back from North Carolina, we headed to Wisconsin to see my family there and celebrate the good news. My aunt and cousins were there as well, and everyone seemed really happy for us. However, I woke up the next morning to a text from my aunt asking if I was sure my fiance was straight. OK, I admit, I can somewhat understand this. Bryce loves Beyonce, shopping and watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” When I met him, the thought that he was gay did cross my mind. When we started dating, one of my friends was convinced I was his beard. At this point in our relationship, I’ve dotted my t’s and crossed my i’s.  I assured her I had the situation under control, but she continued to tell me that “many” of my family members have expressed the same concern. I think what bugged me more was the fact that all these family members were lip-flappin’ about my personal life!

Throughout all this drama, I have chosen to take the words of my homegirl RuPaul to heart: What other people think of you is none of your business. This has become my mantra throughout the wedding process, and will keep me going until I walk down the aisle. This is my wedding, and I’m doing it the way I want, with the person I want.

Real Bride Jess: Wedding Countdown – 4 months to go!

Our engagement has FLOWN by. Am I the only one who feels this way?  I thought our 11-month engagement was perfect … until seven of those months just disappeared. The problem with wedding planning is that most of us have never done this before. Some people have friends or sisters that they help out, but it isn’t the same. I feel like I need a whole ‘nother year to plan, but I want to be married right now! What I’ve started telling people is, “I understand why people elope.”

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Our adorable Save the Dates.

I know you’re all wondering: Well, what have you actually accomplished? Here’s the answer:

 

And the scarier list- things I still need to do:

  • Actually pick a florist

  • Pick a DJ

  • Get a bartender

  • Tablecloths, cutlery, plates, glasses, etc.

  • Hair and makeup people

  • Rent a dance floor (this seems silly, but is a real thing)

  • Lighting

  • Get Michael a wedding band

  • Outfit my flower girls

  • Outfit the Michael & his groomsmen

  • Venue decorations

  • Buy and send out my invitations

 

I’m sure this is not even the full list, but you get the picture. At the end of the day I’m definitely overwhelmed but more than that I’m excited to be so close to finally marrying the man of my dreams.

 

 

Real Bride Andrea: A Fly on the Wall

I had the rare opportunity this weekend to attend a wedding where I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t a guest or a guest’s date so therefore I was able have a completely objective, fly-on-the-wall perspective of someone else’s special day. I got to watch a shoe-string budget wedding almost fail. But guess what? I was the only one who seemed to notice.

 

Our food at the Gedding. Simple and beautiful. We were proud!

A chef friend of mine asked if I would be her sous-chef for a wedding for about 40 people in Nipomo, CA. I love to cook and I love weddings and now I love to see what other couples are doing, so I agreed to do it with her. It should be noted here that one of the grooms (it was a gay wedding, a Gedding) is a co-worker of my chef friend. So, she (and I) were doing this for free. Free Catering from a genius chef and her cute sidekick? Nicely done, Grooms. Nicely done. The wedding was held at a modestly beautiful, country home. The ceremony was set up outside in the backyard with white folding chairs and several vases of flowers. The reception tables surrounded the ceremony area, ready to have the ceremony chairs added as soon as it was time to eat. About 5 hours before the ceremony was to begin, we arrived to several family members and friends (half the wedding guests) making favors, stringing lights and putting together flowers. From the looks on everyone’s faces, it was clear they’d been working all morning. There were people running around asking where things were, who was supposed to be where, etc. It seemed a little stressful to say the least.

We found the kitchen to be really well stocked for our needs, so we got to work on what seemed like 57 different small plates the grooms wanted us to put together. Stuffed mushrooms, pesto chicken, pulled pork sliders, curried cauliflower, crème fraiche potatoes, tapenade, etc, etc. (It all ended up being delicious!) The kitchen was a central location so I got to see and hear everything. So many things went awry, that even I was getting stressed out.

 

This is the “Chef friend,” Stephanie. We call her “Chefani.” I suppose I could’ve named her in the post before now. She is also one of my bridesmaids!

It seemed to be due to sheer lack of organization, so as a soon-to-be bride, I was taking notes! I got to see a lot of mistakes addressed in The Broke-Ass Bride book first hand! Here is what I learned for my own wedding:

Lesson 1: Be careful in using friends as vendors and have a back-up plan! The Dj cancelled last minute and they decided to “just turn on the iPod” (Yikes.) The DJ was “an old friend” of one of the grooms. Why would he cancel last minute?! From what I could tell, there was no other entertainment planned for the reception. After everyone had eaten and they had cut the cake, the sun had not even gone down yet and there was NUTHIN’ going on. By the time my chef friend and I left, (6pm) people were shuffling around to get ready to leave.

Lesson 2:  Limit alcohol consumption (and Lesson 1 again.) The owner of the venue (another friend of the Grooms’) began taking tequila shots at 1pm. Approximately 7-8 of those shots later, (And 7-8 times that I turned her down in joining her) she had, (surprise, surprise,) forgotten to make her special BBQ sauce for the pulled pork sliders. (I still haven’t decided if all the tequila was because she was nervous or that was a regular thing. Either way, it was impressive because despite 1,000 repeats of the joke that she was “trying to sauce the cooks” by offering us shots, she stayed pretty with it.) When she finally did remember, she barreled into the kitchen, pulled out several pots and pans, her laptop for the recipe (for her special sauce,) all the ingredients she might need, and more tequila. She started her sauce and promptly forgot that she was making said sauce so my chef friend came in to save it. Thank goodness! (I’m pretty sure the owner of the venue took all the credit for that sauce that she didn’t really make.) By the time the wedding was to begin, she had cleaned up pretty well but had a little sway to her. After the ceremony, she had moved on to wine and probably didn’t last much longer after we left. She invited us to Christmas Eve dinner, but probably won’t remember.

Lesson 3: No matter how small the wedding, make sure your wedding guests know where to go and when to go.  As the guests arrived, not one person knew where to go, not even the officiant! With all the family and friends helping with wedding favors and decorations when we arrived, you’d think they would’ve made some cute signs directing people where to go. They had so many cool areas set up, the ceremony area, a wine and beverage bar, the food tables, etc. Let people know that’s what’s happening! I was just the caterer’s assistant, and part of my job became directing people where to go and greeting other vendors (more friends) as they arrived. Throughout the wedding, people were like, “I guess the ceremony’s starting?” “Do we eat now?” “Is the bar open or what?” My chef friend and I had all the food set and ready to go as soon as the ceremony ended. Everyone approached the food tables and NO ONE partook. We had to run outside and yell, “Go ahead! Eat!” People really need to be given permission at weddings. Even small weddings need timelines.

Lesson 4: If you do use friends as vendors, figure out a way to thank them that doesn’t involve making your wedding a walking advertisement for their companies/services. There were, what seemed like, 100 “toasts” that went on forever thanking all the friends for their contributions for the wedding. “Thank you to Ben from Cakes R’ Us for the beautiful cake. You can find more of his cakes at www.cakesrus.com!” or “We can’t thank our good friends at Wines R’ Us enough for their contributions today. They’ve been making wine since 1986 …”  Maybe some people might disagree with me on this and I do think that friends and family who make a wedding possible should be thanked, but this wedding sounded more like a golf charity event.

Lesson 5: As long as you’re happy, your guests will be happy. Ultimately, everyone was there to see the couple get married. They looked handsome and seemed really happy and that is really what matters. It is really a comforting feeling to know that, even if all my grand plans for the most awesome wedding of all time don’t all work out, people are still going to be happy to be there for us. And for that reason, we cannot fail.

But in all seriousness grooms, no entertainment? The iPod never even got turned on.

Catering a Gedding wouldn't be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Catering a Gedding wouldn’t be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Still don’t have a venue …

 

Real Bride Tiffany: Friend-fficiant

You’ve heard the word “friend-or” (which I am highly against which is probably a story for another day), but have you heard of a “friend-fficiant”? Probably not because I literally just made that word up nine seconds ago to use in my title. If you haven’t figured it out yet, “friend-fficiant” refers to a friend that is serving as your officiant at your wedding. I haven’t copyrighted it yet so please feel free to use it as you see fit.

Religion is not a part of our lives, and we decided that having someone we know be our officiant would be so gosh darn special. And also PAYING someone to officiate your wedding? Insane. Absolutely insane. I understand that there are professionals that are realllllly good at officiating weddings and creating perfect ceremonies. But I am also incredibly stingy and I knew that I could get someone to do it fo’ free, naturally.

And beyond the cost-savings, we do have a very special (not “special”) friend that just happens to be the reason for our entire coupled existence. She is the one whose fiance worked for the same company as Justin and who invited me to crash that infamous Christmas party that would forever change our fate. She is also incredibly well-spoken, and shares our core values and beliefs so close that we could all actually marry each other and live on a compound. Which, would make her endlessly happy because she has been trying to get us to move up to Seattle ever since she left us in San Diego. BUT I DIGRESS.

me and em

Like the real ladies we are.

We have a really rad friend who is MORE than honored to be our officiant. FRIEND-FFICIANT. After we told her, she immediately got ordained through the internets (once she finished crying). IMMEDIATELY. She also chose the title of “Doctor of Space and Time.” And I mean, that just totally validated our decision.

Having a friend-fficiant is a fairly new concept to my family — my family with Catholic roots. My mother probably suspected I would never get married in a church, but I do think that she did expect us to have a professional minister conduct our ceremony. It just felt so cold to us, and so incredibly impersonal. It was just not our gig, at all. Non-traditional is basically our gig.  How special to have someone who knows our relationship from the very start to seal it in marriage for us? I can’t think of anyone better (besides Bill Murray, H. Jon Benjamin, or Herschel from the Walking Dead)…

Are you considering a friend-fficiant?

Real Bride Peach: Finding the Dress and Budget Badassery!

Guess what, y’all?!?!  I found my dress! Wheeeeeee!

As you saw from my boutique reviews, I didn’t find my dress the first round. Or second. Or third or fourth or fifth!  In actuality, I found my dress on the SIXTH round of trying on.  Good grief, right? I think I stopped counting after 50-something dresses. And let me tell you, for a pretty simple, non-girly-girl, that’s a LOT of lace and poof to put on her body.

Before I became a BAB Real Bride, I wrote a few posts about my self-imposed guidelines going into the bridal gown shopping experience. You can find them here and here. But the short version is that I knew what I wanted, but I kept an open mind. I remembered to stay under my budget and staunchly ignore the shrunken sizing. I brought along my mom and MOHs for the first three boutiques, and a different set of girlfriends for the next one, and I did two appointments on my own. Through each experience, I learned more about what style flattered me most. And yes, without revealing too much, it WAS slightly different than what I thought would be my final choice.

Bonus points for friends who make these custom t-shirts to wear to the appointments! Because NO BUTT BOWS ALLOWED. EVER. (for me)

The shopping, overall? It was fun. Yes, you can read here about my not-so-pleasant trip to Bridals by Lori of “Say Yes To The Dress Atlanta,” but despite that one dark spot, who in their right mind can really and truly hate on getting to try on gowns worth thousands of dollars each that are designed specifically to make you look and feel amazing??? Not this Peach!  I slid my Crossfit booty into ballgowns, sheaths, drop-waists, strappys, backless-down-to-my-butt-crack options, sweethearts and dramatic v-necks in tulle, satin, chiffon and silk of all textures and colors from blush to peach to diamond white.  And it was awesome. Not gonna lie.

Real pic of me right before trying on my first wedding dress ever. Which turned out to be … terrible.

In the end, I found my dress at an appointment I’d made on a whim and I’d gone alone. The night before, I’d found a boutique online that was right around the corner from me. I booked an appointment for the next morning. After I woke up, got dressed and was armed with coffee, I left the fiance sleeping soundly in bed and went to the appointment. It was the 4th of 5 dresses I tried on there. And the minute I slid it on, I was laughing, posing, twirling and grinning ear to ear. Because I just knew. I could see it. The ceremony in the garden. Dancing with him afterward. Boogie-ing down with my friends. And maybe getting a little teary with my mom and dad before the ceremony. No other dress gave me the vision. It was as simple as that.  I said yes. I signed the papers. And I didn’t look back.

It’s the dress that I want and I found it my own way, which in itself is empowering, that no one has seen me in it (other than in pictures) but me.  I absolutely adore it and I feel amaaaaazing in it. Done and done.

And because this is The Broke-Ass Bride, I’d be remiss in not sharing my budget advice. First and foremost, stick to your guns. Don’t even step a pinky toe into a dress that is over your max budget, no matter what you’re told by a consultant. Keep in mind the extra costs: taxes, fees, alterations and accessories. I tried to keep those included in my budget to make sure nothing slipped!  And never, ever be afraid to politely ask for discounts. In my case, when it was explained what amount was due today vs. due later, I asked if there was an incentive offer for paying in full right now. Good businesswoman she was, she offered me a 10% discount on the dress, veil and accessory for paying in full.

Peach’s final tally for her dress, her veil and an accessory, plus all taxes and fees? $1150.00.   Not too damn shabby, if I do say so myself.

For what it’s worth, the dress that I ALMOST bought at a different boutique was $2499.00 just for the dress alone. And I think there’s a reason I just couldn’t bring myself to get it, despite how gorgeous it was. Not only was it already over my max budget (my MOH said she’d throw a car wash to make up the difference, bless her!), but I know now that it just wasn’t THE dress. And I don’t regret waiting until I found the one I bought. I love it.  YAY!

What about y’all? Did you find the dress the first time out? Did you have a huge entourage? Or was it more of an intimate solo experience like mine? 

 

Real Bride Kate: Cutting Costs & Adding Individuality

Daniel and I have three goals with our wedding: keep it cheap, keep it from looking cheap, and keep it unique. During these early stages of our planning, we’ve tried to come up with ways to save ourselves money without sacrificing our vision. Thus far, we’ve come up with several ideas that not only cut costs, but also make our wedding even more uniquely suited to our personal style. Take a look at our top five!

1. The Dress

This is my "marriage" dress from the ever-gorgeous Kitten D'Amour. http://www.kittendamour.com/  This is my “marriage” dress from the ever-gorgeous Kitten D’Amour.

Even though I plan to have two dresses (one for the “marriage” and one for the “commitment ceremony”), I am still able to have them both for less than the price of one regular wedding dress. How? I want a rather “untraditional” style. I want a tea length, vintage-inspired dress, preferably all lace and preferably red. My first dress is a stunning party dress from Kitten D’Amour, an Australian company that specializes in vintage-inspired luxury clothes. My second dress is to-be-determined and is proving difficult to find. However, there are several vintage-inspired brands that allow fully customizable dresses, and the most expensive dress I like is around $800 US. In short, don’t be afraid to go untraditional and/or custom – it’s cheaper than you think!

2. The Flowers (or lack thereof)

Book Page Bouquet via The Flower Girl Atlanta

Daniel and I aren’t really flower people. I don’t like them because they die so quickly, and Daniel just isn’t very interested in them at all. Besides, our venue has several gorgeous gardens in the springtime: flowers included! Therefore, instead of blowing the budget on floral pieces that will simply wither and fade, we’re considering replacing all the wedding flowers with material options. Boutonnieres? Try pocket squares. Centerpieces? Try candles and lanterns. Bouquets? Try vintage bro0ches or origami. Personally, I’m leaning toward book pages – perfect for me (as an English major/writer) and my potential bridesmaids, who are all English majors, writers, and/or bookworms!

3. The Favors/Gifts

Memory jar via Health Exchange

I have never understood exactly why guests and attendants need favors or gifts. Yes, they all deserve gratitude for showing up, showering us with love and support (and things of monetary value), and devoting their time and energy to our wedding. However, which guests really want a container of bubbles or tulle bag of candies? And which attendants really want a necklace or cufflinks? Shouldn’t your loved ones be willing to celebrate your union without expecting gifts? And more importantly, don’t they deserve better than something disposable or generic? Daniel and I do want to provide our guests and attendants with a favor or gift, but we want it to be something they can actually keep and treasure. We’re not sure what form this will take yet – maybe printed photographs with us at the wedding or personalized poems or my pseudo-infamous “joy jars,” but whatever it is … it will be better than a plastic container of bubbles.

4. The Decorations

bevfabriccrafts_2270_49726223 via SaveOnCrafts

Two of our best friends are getting married in a few weeks, and the bride has informed me that their wedding decorations are minimal. In her words, “why spend a bunch of money on decorations that serve no purpose after the wedding?” I totally agree. One reason Daniel and I chose a “vintage” theme is so our wedding will be filled with things we love that we can use again in our vintage-styled home (you know, once we’re done with graduate school and have money for a house, yikes!). So, the picture frame with chalkboard center that lists the wedding menu will become Daniel’s board for the grocery list or dinner options. The small suitcase that holds the wedding cards will sit on our coffee table and hold magazines (by which I probably mean GQ). You get the idea.

5. The Officiant

This is Daniel and our friend Gary at MorrisonCon. This is Daniel and our friend Gary at MorrisonCon.

Neither Daniel nor I are religious, so we knew we did not want to have a religious officiant. However, the idea of having a judge or justice of the peace marry us seemed a bit unromantic and impersonal. Therefore, we had the brilliant idea to ask a friend of ours to become an ordained minister and perform the ceremony. The advantages to this are: it is free, we can customize the entire ceremony (which is appealing for me as a writer), and we can be joined in matrimony by someone who truly knows us and blesses our marriage. Our officiant of choice? Our friend, Gary, who was in Las Vegas with us when we met. Gary was our first mutual friend, and he witnessed (and advised on) the first days of our connection – add in his dazzling sense of humor and teddy bear charm, and how could we do better?

Of course, nothing is set in stone until money is paid, return dates are expired, and the bride drops the “zilla” in the decoration category. However, we are feeling pretty confident that these ideas will save us some cash and add a few unique details to our wedding day. In all honesty, I think it’s just lucky that we both like “vintage” – but hey, I’ll take all the luck I can get in putting this wedding together.

Real Bride Jess: Saying Yes to the Dress

One of the first things I did after getting engaged was find my dress. This was purely by accident. It wasn’t on my to-do list to find my dress so early, but I was glad it happened!

First, I have to show some love to The White Flower where I found my dress. It was wonderful! I went twice and both times had great associates who were personable, friendly, and totally awesome. You schedule an appointment so that it’s just you, you entourage, and the stylist in the whole place. They were great about my vague “I want to spend as little as possible but get everything I want” budget as well as the fact that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted.

The first visit I went with two of my roommates and the second time I went with just my mom.

Another awesome thing about this place: they let you take pictures! It was great to be able to go home and look through the slideshow and pick our favorites.

After I picked the dress, however, there was a whole new type of questioning that I hadn’t anticipated. This included:

- Can I see a picture?

- Will it be long enough?

- Is it white or ivory?

- Will it be hard to find a matching veil?

- Are those sleeves?

- How will you wear a bra with that?

- What will do with it after the wedding?

Some of these questions I could answer: Yes it will be long enough, technically it’s ivory, yes it has little sleeves, it has a built in bra thing.

The most difficult question by far is “Can I see a picture?”. Before I was engaged it was obvious to me- I wouldn’t show my dress to anyone but my mom. What I didn’t take into consideration was how freaking excited I would be about my dress! I wanted to show everyone! If you asked me if I had found my dress my answer was “Yes, do you want to see a picture?!”. What I decided was this:

a. The pictures that were taken at the salon didn’t do the dress justice, so it won’t really give it away to show them.

b. I’m not sending it to anyone, so the three seconds they see of the dress will probably be soon forgotten.

c. It’s fun! Who doesn’t love being oohed and awwed over?

That being said, I’m not going to put the pictures of me in my dress online (what if Michael saw them?), but I will give you a tiny peek.

Real Bride Ellis: Moms in Trees

momsintree

It was winter in Portland, 2007. I was 22 years old, single, working 2 great paying jobs and living a relatively care-free life. I sold my car for a bike and lived off of deli sandwiches and PBR. I had just finished a shift at the vintage store I ran with my two best friends and was getting pumped for an all nighter of Rock Band, beers, oven-pizza, and fun. My phone rang, it was my mother, she was distraught. She asked if I was with my friends, and then told me she had something to tell me. In a split second my life went from everything I wanted to pure misery: my mother had cancer. It was spreading rapidly and they hadn’t pinpointed where it had started. I was the last of 4 children and pretty much my entire family to know. “You’re going to be alright though, right?” I asked her after the initial period of shock subsided and my heaping sobs leveled out. She couldn’t answer me, she handed the phone to my older brother. “She is okay,” he told me. I believed him.

I fought hard to keep my life the same but the truth is, it never got back to “normal” for me. After months of treatments, it was decided I was to move back home to help with her “end of life care” while our family transitioned into this extremely trying time. I watched my mother, once full of life and energy, slowly fade away in every sense.

It has been 5 years since she passed, and though I have been on the long, winding road of healing and rediscovery of myself, or who I am without a mother, or what that means to me; nothing has been more trying on this journey than planning a wedding without her. She never actually got to meet Andrew even though we were already dating when she was sick. It just happened too quickly and, to be honest, I didn’t know how I would come out on the other side.

Some people have to do this without their family, without their mothers or sisters or grandparents for many reasons. The most common reason is distance but no matter, it’s not easy. Looking for dresses was like pouring salt into open wounds, it stung pretty badly to stand there alone.

I’ve found comfort in those around me, people have played more than one role and it’s been the biggest blessing of my entire life. My maid of honor lost her mother when she was 16, her experience combined with being my wedding buddy has been more valuable than anything else. My future mother in law has stepped in with so much grace and love that, at times, I almost forget a huge part of my heart is missing.

Still, the days when I’m just working on the small details, or thinking about the way the ceremony might play out, I get a wave of sadness realizing that not only am I going to have to do this without her, but I am going to have to hold it together for the rest of my family who hasn’t quite reached the place of acceptance that I have.

I’ve always been a great griever, and some days I catch myself grieving myself for the sadness I have to endure on my own wedding day. I hope that by the time that day comes, in just a few months now, I have reached a place where I can embrace my blessings, my wonderful fiance, his exceptional family, my exceptional family and friends, and realize that though she is gone, she is not absent from my life completely.