Happy Thursday, friends! I can’t believe we’re already in the month of April! Since Wedding Season is right around the corner, I’ve dedicated this month’s posts to all things wedding! I’ll be sharing my own wedding & engagement stories, including a ‘What I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married’ post, as well as gift ideas for the bride-to-be!
This past December, I married the love of my life here in Albuquerque in a very unconventional, but still traditional, wedding ceremony. Today I’m bringing you all the details behind our unique wedding: why we didn’t have any bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc; why we held the ceremony in a house; and why (and how) we only had 25 days to make the day everything we dreamed. It’s been 3 months since my husband, Daniel, and I said “I do”, which has given us enough time to reflect on the big day. I’m also sharing any regrets we may have three months post-ceremony.
All photos in this post were captured by the incredibly talented Sarah E. Photo | @sarahephoto
Why 25 Days?
When Daniel & I were dating, we were sure of two things about our future wedding: 1) We didn’t want to be engaged until we were ready to get married at a moment’s notice, as opposed to getting engaged and then waiting 6 months+ for the big day; 2) We both were content just going to City Hall one afternoon for the ceremony. Why so casual? For us, we wanted our wedding day to be about one thing: the celebration of the blessing of our marriage. Not that larger, more planned weddings don’t do just that. They do! But for us, personally, our way of celebrating meant keeping it small, sweet, and simple.
So, why 25 days? It’s simple, really. Daniel & I were engaged on Sunday, November 19th. Our parents’ only requests for our wedding was to serve as witnesses at the ceremony. We chose December 22 as our wedding date, since my parents would be in town for Christmas, and Daniel’s parents had time off to drive the two hours it would take for them to attend as well. 8 days after our engagement and choosing the date, we picked up our marriage license and made the call to the judge’s office to make an appointment, only to find out no judge was available until the middle of January (not to mention, judges in New Mexico aren’t very keen on wedding ceremonies). Obvious disappointment ensued. Neither our families, Daniel, nor I were available for months after December. And like I said before, we were ready to be married. Daniel’s step-mom suggested we contact she and her husband’s preacher to see if he would be willing to officiate the ceremony for us. It seemed like a perfect fit. Daniel had known him for years, and we all shared the same faith. The preacher’s response caught me off guard: He said he would be honored to do it. What a blessing! So, with that set, Daniel & I decided to hold the ceremony at my (now, our) house.
Planning The Big Day
Even after our City Hall plans changed and we started planning a traditional wedding ceremony, we stuck to our decision not to invite anyone besides our parents. Neither Daniel nor I are from Albuquerque originally, and neither of our families and friends live here. We felt it was unfair to ask our loved ones to spend money on plane tickets and hotel stays 3 days before Christmas, and with only 25 days notice, no less. Was it a hard decision? Yes and no. No, because we were already used to the idea of not having anyone besides our parents present during our wedding ceremony at the courthouse. Yes, because now we were having a traditional wedding, and I wondered if the room would seem empty without the rest of the people I love there (more on this below). Before our City Hall plans were scrapped, we told everyone we might have a more traditional ceremony in a year, so that people would have the chance to plan and save for the travel expenses. But once the courthouse plan was thrown out the window and we began planning our more-traditional wedding day, we realized there would be no future ceremony. This was it. And so, it was time to plan our dream wedding.
I like to think of our wedding as a God-thing: Perhaps it was the fact that He knew that even if we had gone to City Hall, we still would have decided not to have a traditional wedding down the road. He closed the door on a City Hall ceremony, only to bless us with the opportunity to have the most beautiful, meaningful, loving wedding specifically suited just for us.
There were three things I wanted on my wedding day: Gold glitter decor, a robe that says “Bride” on the back, and Sarah E. Photo to be our photographer. Having gone to high school with Sarah many years ago, I watched her photography business flourish in the following years post-graduation, and it quickly became my dream for her to photograph my wedding, if and when I ever got married. When the time finally came to plan my wedding, I knew I had to take a chance and ask her. Without hesitation, she accepted and produced the photos of my dreams.
Prepping For The Big Day
Originally, I planned to wear a beautiful black floral dress I bought from Dillard’s for our ceremony at City Hall. But once the plans for the traditional wedding were in motion, I hoped for a genuine wedding dress. My mom offered to fly to Albuquerque to help me find the perfect white gown, as well as a bouquet and a cake. She was a lifesaver. There’s no way the wedding could have hit “dream” status without her.
I called a few local bridal shops and explained my situation and the time limit I was under. Everyone I spoke with assured me alterations could be done in less than a month, as long as I found the dress on the first day of looking! And that’s exactly what happened. I walked into Darlene’s Bridal Boutique, and the second dress I tried was the one. Another God-thing. What’s more, I hadn’t even picked the dress: Darlene did. She saw what I liked, found the beautiful gown, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I knew it was the gown of my dreams.
Afterwards, we ordered the bouquet, a cake, and got started on the decorations! Pinterest DIY wedding decor boards became my best friend.
Once my mom was back home in Tennessee, she enlisted the help of two of her friends to make wedding decorations. But they went above and beyond. The wedding would have been almost bare if it weren’t for them!
Daniel and I opted to go the traditional route of not writing our own vows. Instead, we wrote letters for one another to open just before the ceremony. And by just before, I mean 5 minutes before I was supposed to walk down the aisle. A sweet memory I like to share with people is how similar our letters were to one another: Both were 3 pages in length; the first page was serious and sweet, the second a little funnier, and on the third, we both wrote a joke.
I decided to style my own hair, but had my makeup done at MAC, and I cried when I saw myself in the mirror. It wasn’t my radiating beauty that made me emotional (ha!), but the fact that I saw myself as I would be when I walked down the aisle to marry my love. I then cried again after reading Daniel’s letter. And again when my dad came in to escort me down the aisle. And then again, when I saw Daniel. It was all very symbolic: When I saw my dad, I cried for sadness and sentiment. When I saw Daniel, I cried for joy and excitement.
Our ceremony was exactly what we wanted: short, sweet, and meaningful. I don’t remember a thing the preacher said, to be honest. And I barely remember saying my vows. The truth is, all I remember from our ceremony is looking at Daniel and laughing, smiling, and (lots of) crying. I remember exchanging the rings, and nodding at him to follow through with a funny, very-puckered-up kiss we had planned when it was time to “kiss the bride”. After our ceremony, we spent two hours in the desert with Sarah, taking the most breathtaking photos I’ve ever seen.
Daniel and I received so much love leading up to our wedding. A week-long group text with my best friends made it feel as though they were with me every step of the way. Of course texting can’t replace having the ones you love physically with you, but the love and support they sent was definitely still felt. On our drive to dinner after our desert photoshoot post-ceremony, Daniel & I both agreed wholeheartedly that the day was everything we ever wanted. It was absolutely perfect for us. It was our dream wedding. And that’s the point of a dream wedding: It can be anything you want it to be: a rustic theme with 300 family and friends celebrating with you; an elopement to a far away island; or two hours gallivanting around in the desert in December. It’s your wedding, your dream. With that said, I want to send a reminder to you: While your wedding day is an incredibly important moment in time and should be represented the way you envision it, please know that what you remember from the day won’t be the decor that surrounds you while you say “I Do”, or the bridesmaid that can’t seem to be content with anything going on, or even (don’t hate me) most of the guest list. What you will remember is how you felt when you saw your husband-to-be standing at the other end of the aisle; and that magical moment when the preacher announces you two as husband and wife. So while you’re planning the wedding of your dreams, soak every moment up, and don’t get too stressed out with the details. The day will be perfect despite the color of flowers you chose for the reception tables. The ceremony won’t be ruined even if your veil keeps falling during the ceremony (personal experience). Remember what the day is truly about: the blessing and God-given gift of marriage, and the celebration of you finding your one-and-only.
Looking back on our wedding day, and what it took in those short 25 days to get there, I have so much joy in my heart. I wish I could relive it all over again. Sometimes when I see wedding flowers or invitations, I have a brief moment of wanting that second ceremony in the future. But then I’m reminded of the beautiful, wonderful wedding that was so perfect for us, and all is well in my heart.