Broke-Ass Tag: Honoring Family


So if there is one thing I don’t really have when it comes to my wedding it’s regrets. I’m really proud of the day Matt and I pulled together for ourselves and our families. I might wish I spent a little bit less on this or that, but ultimately I feel confident and proud of the choices that we made that got us to that day and that have been propelling us along our happily married trajectory ever since then. That said, there is one thing I have a least few ways I regret how I spent it: our time. 

You see, when I look back on our wedding now, I wish we had planned how we spent our time a little bit better. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great day. We had a lot of fun, and we magically managed to get to every table and spend at least a little bit of time enjoying every person who showed up for us that day (except of course my cousin’s baby who was sleeping soundly when we got to her table!). I got to dance. I got to have a least a little bite to eat. I got to enjoy both of my new brother in law’s speeches. I danced with my dad and then watched Matt dance with his mom (eventually I got pulled into that one too!).

Real Bride Julie's Father-Daughter Dance

We’re laughing at how bad of a dancer I am! Photo by SK Photography

We even got a second or two to hang out in the photo booth and then take selfies with my nieces and nephews. We got to do a lot of fun, awesome stuff that I’m really happy about, but there are other things I worry I left out and in doing so left people out that meant a lot to me, too.

Julie joins her husband and mother-in-law on the dance floor

This was a great moment that I’m glad we got to share with my new mother-in-law! Photo by SK Photography

I wish I had taken more time to honor the different important people in my life, like my mom for instance. I wish I had at the very least dedicated a song to her, if not planned a special dance between she and Matt. Part of me thinks I should’ve at least asked my sisters/other bridesmaids if they wanted to give a speech, although I’m also glad I didn’t put any pressure on them since they already threw me a kick-ass bridal shower, bachelorette party and were just in general awesome. I wish I had made a special effort to dance with more of the special guys in my life like my brothers, brothers-in-law and some of our really good friends. I also broke a cardinal rule and didn’t give my photographer a shot list. She did an amazing job getting wonderful pictures despite that, but I still wish I had taken the time to mention a few specific pictures here and there. I also wish Matt and I had gotten up at some point and thanked everyone for being there. My heart was overflowing with love and happiness and gratitude, but I never got up and said it.

I think I left a lot of these things out not because I didn’t care about the people who helped us make our day happen, like my mom or our families.

Julie's mom during her wedding

This is my mom and I think from this picture alone you should be able to see why she’s super deserving of appreciation! Photo by SK Photography

It was more that I didn’t realize how strapped for time we would be the day of and I thought I’d be able to do a lot more on the fly. It was like being in a whirlwind. A friend even remarked that literally every single time I moved, somebody else grabbed me for something.  Sometimes it was a photo, or a hug or kiss and sometimes it was just to talk. Occasionally it was a vendor letting me know they needed me for this or that. You’re in a room full of people who are there specifically to see you. Every single person you’re dealing with either knows and loves you or your new husband (in many cases both). I think I underestimated just how much we would be the center of attention. And then all of a sudden, just like that it was 6 p.m. and our wedding ended at 7:30.

How could we have made this better? Well, for one thing, I have always believed when you have a positive feeling toward someone, like love or gratitude, you should put it out there to them. I felt so incredibly special that day and I wish I had shared that with more people by putting it out there. When we’re angry or upset, we’re always so quick to vocalize it. My philosophy is that we should be the same when it comes to love and happiness. I’d like to think I did express myself in subtle, private ways, but I think a public show of affection would’ve been pretty nice in this case. Next, I wish I had taken the time beforehand to really scrutinize our timeline. We did at the very least have a schedule of events, but I wish when I got it on paper I had searched my soul a bit more to see if there were any non-cookie cutter events we wanted to include. More than anything, I think I just wish I had realized how hectic the day of was going to be once it all got going. I knew it was going to be crazy getting ready and I planned for that. I didn’t realize just how in demand I was going to be and that was my downfall.

I am glad I was at least somewhat thoughtful when it came to some things for the wedding. I included every single one of my nieces and nephews (except for the two that were just about 1 month old) because they’re such a huge part of my life that I couldn’t not include them in some way. Luckily, the Catholic mass offers lots of opportunities for that! Matt made it a point to dance with his youngest sister and included it in the list of songs he sent to the DJ (at least one of us was thinking!). I made it a point of writing a special note for each of my bridesmaids to give them along with their gifts and we made sure we had something special for our parents as well.

Julie and Matt made sure to include important family members in many aspects of their wedding dayOne of the super important kids (who isn’t quite a kid but still “one of the kids” to me!) who I was overjoyed to be able to include in our special day.

The cheap and easy way to rectify some of these things at least would’ve been to have had more song dedications. They’re like a quick and easy shout out that you can use to express exactly how you feel toward someone, or remind them of a fun or happy memory. When you’re coming up with your song list, maybe be a bit extra conscious of this in the same way I think it’s good to be about your regular schedule. It also helps to take a look at your table count and your schedule together if you’re planning on going to each table to visit with your guests. Maybe add your tables themselves into the schedule so you know where you need to be and when and even add in a derailment here and there (because I’m pretty sure they will ALWAYS happen).

It’s cliche to say it, but hindsight is in fact 20/20. It’s easy to look back and think I should’ve done this and that now, so I can’t beat myself up over it. Instead, I can just rectify it going forward. Just like there will be plenty of other parties in my future, hopefully there will also be more opportunities to honor the people I love and appreciate. We all worry about how we’re going to spend our money related to our wedding. Well time is a commodity, too, and on the day you get married, it can go by much faster than you’d ever expect. Be prepared for your time travel adventure by setting everything you can up ahead of the big day and you’ll be good to go.

Was there anything you wish you’d made more time for on your wedding day? Are you being extra-conscious of anything in your timeline? Share in the comments!


  • 5/21


    Credit:Andrew Callaci (Portland) and Nicole Varnell (Spokane)

    Planning a wedding is an amazing adventure. You have this incredible period of time where you get to celebrate daily the fact that you have found the love of your life. You’ll spend that time finding creative ways to express yourself as a couple and put together a celebration that encompasses all of the great and ordinary things that make you and your beloved, well, you.

    Unfortunately, life doesn’t always get the memo that you’re supposed to be blissful. Sometimes reality comes crashing down and sometimes tragedy hits. When these things happen, you come to grips with the fact that someone you love, someone who was an integral part of your life and someone you never dreamed of having a wedding without, won’t be there.

    Within days of accepting my fiance’s proposal, it became evident that my father was in a lot of trouble over a check he mailed to a business investor. He was being investigated for money laundering and mail fraud and none of us really understood how or why. Thinking it was all a misunderstanding that could be resolved, Dad was cooperative and transparent. His honesty earned him five years in a federal prison hundreds of miles away. Since September, I’ve only been able to communicate with him via email, and it’s very expensive. I filled out the necessary paperwork months ago to be approved to visit him, but still haven’t been approved.

    This situation has had a tremendous effect on my family. Their home was lost. We’re still unsure of how a seemingly simple error warranted five years of prison time. Explaining it all is awkward, scary and painful. Then of course, there are the uncomfortable feelings that go along with knowing my father won’t be there to walk me down the aisle. I won’t get to see his blushing face smile at me awkwardly when he sees me fully dressed in my gown. I will miss out on the adorable scenes of a father-daughter dance. It takes a lot of the joy out of “joyous occasion” when I dwell on it, and being happy feels selfish.

    I had to accept the fact that my situation isn’t altogether unique. We all have our shit, and we all deserve to be happy.

    There are a multitude of reasons someone you love could be obviously, even painfully missing and it can lead to a lot of uncomfortable questions.

    “Who’s going to walk you down the aisle”

    “How are you going to honor them?”

    “How can you just keep planning with them gone?”

    Don’t be afraid to tell people it’s personal and that you’re not ready to talk about it. You don’t ever have to be ready. This is between you and your betrothed. Any insinuation that you shouldn’t be happy is shitty and unfair and should be treated as such. I had a little bit of warning that my father wouldn’t be present at my wedding, so I rushed the wedding dress purchase just a bit. That was the one thing he could contribute and wanted desperately to do it, so when I found a dress I loved, I made sure he was there to see me try it on and make the purchase. He still tells me how grateful he is to have been made a part of it. Losing someone doesn’t always come with a warning, but it if does, consider giving them a chance to feel included. Bring pictures or magazines or questions to ask. You’d be surprised how a glimpse into something beautiful and happy can relieve someone who is suffering.

    A good thing to remember is that people who love you want you to be happy. It’s horribly sad to think about, but how often do people say in their last days, “I want you be be happy and go on living your life”? Most of the time, right? I have the benefit and detriment of communicating with my dad, even just by email and he tells me every time that I deserve to be happy. I choose to believe him because I know he’s right.

    At times, people will take an even more callous approach: “Just get over it. You’ve only got x months left.” How rude. Mourning has no time limit. Fear and anxiety and sadness have no time limit. When someone you love is missing, every step can be a reminder and I’m not here to tell you what and what not to dwell on. When things get hard, find someone to talk to. Someone you trust, who understands your struggle can bring you back to center. Sometimes they will have ideas on how to cope or how to address things. Listen. They care and want to help you.

    Above all, don’t be ashamed. Shame is, in my opinion, the most damaging state to be in. It’s not my fault that my dad wrote a check out of the wrong business account and I refuse to see him as a bad person. It’s not wrong of you to move on with planning even though your loved one is sick or has died. You’ll have enough emotion of your own, so when painful situations arise, never, ever, ever let anyone dictate how you should and shouldn’t feel.

    Have you suffered a loss during your wedding planning? How did you cope? Give brides your kindest advice in the comments below.

  • 5/13

    What beautiful weather we've been having here in Philadelphia. The sun is shining and there is just a hint of a breeze in the air. It almost feels like I'm at the Jersey Shore, and definitely makes me want to take a ride on the ol' bike. It's like the East Coast decided to skip spring and head straight into summer -- perfect for the…

    Read the full article →


    Source I called my Sister-in-Law last week for a very big reason. I wanted to convey that despite her not being in the wedding party, it was important for me that she knows how much she means to me. And that I value her friendship and love equally with everyone who will be wearing a gray chiffon bridesmaid dress that day. She replied gently, "I don't need…

    Read the full article →