The last little while has been a huge roller-coaster of craziness for me. My (now) husband and I celebrated our wedding on May 31, left for our honeymoon two days later, and found out I was pregnant the day we got back. Don’t get me wrong, these are all fabulous things, but I’ve had a lot of time to sit around and reflect on just how much has happened.
A large part of that reflection has had to to with the wedding and the planning process that led up to it. Shawn and I got engaged at the end of December, 2011, after a rather surprising conversation that included him saying, “I think we should get married.” This is not something that I was expecting from him for a long, long time, but it was a welcome notion. I think he had a longer engagement in mind, but he wanted to get married in May, I wanted to get married before I turned 30, and we both wanted more than five months to plan the whole deal. That’s how our date was chosen.
Very early on in the planning, I had a major meltdown. Everything that we were looking at and all the fabulous ideas we had kept falling in to one of two categories: Way outside of our modest budget or That’s just not done at a wedding. The last point was something I thought I could overcome with some creativity, some DIY and a lot of help from Senor Internet, but the first one left me feeling completely helpless. There was no more money, so we were going to have to make sacrifices. Ack!
That’s when I got the idea that, perhaps, a wedding planner was the way to go. They were usually able to get deals on things and knew the best vendors for the best price, right? The trouble with that is, I ran in to the same issue with money that I had been having everywhere else. Our budget was not supposed to exceed (at the very most!) $15000, so why would I spend $3500 of that on planning? Again, Ack!
Enter Jordan M. Broom of Atmosphere Wedding Planning and Design. His work, as our wedding can attest, is gorgeous, and his fee schedule was perfect for us. Instead of charging a flat rate regardless of budget, we got to pay a certain percentage of whatever our budget happened to be. That was doable, and after our fist meeting, we both agreed, as did my mum, that he was the one.
Talk about a reduction in stress! My mum, who (along with my dad) was the main source of our budget, has a very demanding job. I have a nasty chronic illness that can lay me out for days at a time. Having a planner meant that there was someone who had our backs, who could do the emailing and phone calling when we weren’t able to. It was brilliant.
Now we just had to reconcile point number two: we wanted a vintage style, 50s feel wedding with a huge side of geek. The WIC (wedding industry complex) doesn’t agree with things like having comic books, video games or cartoons at your wedding, so I needed to start doing some serious digging. Luckily for us, Jordan was completely on board with the whole thing, and not having to convince your wedding planner that something is going to work is a huge bonus.
Thank God for Offbeat Bride. When I discovered the Tribe, I came across a group of women from all over the world who wanted to do things just as awesome as I did. I was a huge relief. Other people did have Super Mario and Marvel and Dr. Who at their weddings, and it was absolutely okay. It was a place I could go to vent, to bounce ideas off of people, and to share my triumphs and photos. Hearing other people validate my choices (even thought I was sure of them) really made a huge difference in my level of stress, and it was nice to have a neutral party to share with.
I especially loved sharing our engagement pictures. This was our first chance to work with the AMAZING Kelly Redinger. From the first look at his website and blog, we were both pretty sure we wanted him, but the meeting sealed the deal. Not only is he an awesome guy, but we have a lot in common with him. In fact, a large portion of the first meeting was taken up by Kelly and Shawn talking about books. I loved it. Take a look at some of my favourite shots from that day:
As you can see, his work is phenomenal. We had such a blast traipsing around the Old Strathcona area and finding interesting places to get shots. Once we got the photos back, I was even more excited to have him shoot the wedding.
The biggest challenge at this point was finding a venue. Neither of us really wanted a standard ballroom in hotel reception, so it was back to digging. After a few uninspiring meetings, I had a lightbulb: The Alberta Aviation Museum. It was perfect. It happens to be one of my favourite places in the city, and I used to drive my it every day on my way to work. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? Getting married surrounded by vintage planes seemed like the perfect solution, and the adjoining hangar (a huge blank space the we could mold in to what we wanted) was perfect for the reception. The best part? It was within the budget.
All I had to do now was try and ignore the nay-sayers. “You’re not having a white cake?” No, actually, we’re having an awesome cake designed based on our favourite cartoon show, and guess what? The boutonieres are going to match. “You’re totally going to regret not having a long dress, trust me.” No, actually, I tried on 71 long dresses and none of them made me feel as fabulous as the tea-length confection I’m going to be wearing. Besides, it’s easier to swing dance in a short dress. “You have to have a receiving line.” No, we don’t. We plan on getting around to see everyone at the reception. (We even managed it, too.)
There came a point where I just stopped sharing our plans with anyone who wasn’t directly involved in the planning process. That left parents, in-laws and bridal party, which is not a long list. I even stayed away from Facebook for a long time because that can be an extremely toxic environment. Who needs to be questioned about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it every other day? And yes, I know some of you have gotten married, but that doesn’t make you an expert on my wedding. In short, i just wanted the constant comments to stop.
Offbeat Bride helped in a big way with that. I could talk to the people on there without fear of judgement or being torn apart. I also knew that the other Tribesmaids would only offer advice if asked, and would never try to shove anything down my throat. It was a tranquil island for me in the middle of a storm.
I think the worst thing that happened was after my bridal shower. I got a gift from someone (who shall remain nameless) that wasn’t invited to the shower. The gift, and card, made all sorts of implications that I should be well on my way to losing all the weight I needed to get off before the big day, and that she hoped Shawn was getting used to his knew role as my subordinate.
Excuse me? I come from a place where weight doesn’t have to be lost for any reason, not unless the person wants to lose it. A wedding is no exception. Shawn fell in love with me just the way I am, so why would I change to someone else for the biggest day in our lives? Right. I wouldn’t. That’s one thing the WIC does very wrong. Most bridal sites I’ve been to all have posts about, or ads for, weightloss; teeth whitening; tanning; laser skin correction. As if the women of the world don’t have enough problems with self confidence! Brides are beautiful, period. I’m not going to spray tan my porceline skin just because someone in a magazine told me that pale skin looks awful next to wedding white. Ack!
As for Shawn being my subordinate… if he ever started acting that way, we would have a serious problem. We entered in to our relationship as partners, grew to be best friends (we just have that much in common), and remained partners the whole time. Sometimes one of us has to pick up more slack than the other, but that’s the way life works. No one in a marriage should ever be less than the other.
You’re probably thinking, “What if she meant the gifts as a joke?” Well, if it were anyone else, I would consider the fact. Not in this case. I was so angry I burned the card and cut up the shirts that came with it. Fire is always so cleansing, and a little destruction now and again is good for the soul.
The closer we got the actual day, the more I started panicking. I had a fair amount of DIY planned, and it seemed like the clock was ticking down. I had decided to make:
- Hand written programs
- Place cards made out of scanned Marvel cards
- Co-ordinating table markers in 5″x7″, placed in chalkboard painted frames
- My brooch bouquet (although this was complete fairly early in the process)
- The decorations for all the containers for the candy and dessert buffet
- The bout figures, because we couldn’t find figures for the cartoon we wanted in the right size
- Chocolate fudge for the dessert buffet (thankfully, my parents made the rest of the home made treats)
- Action cards for our kissing game (which involved rolling a huge 20-sided die)
I’ll admit, a lot of that got finished the week of the wedding, but my stress was completely unfounded. That would be my biggest piece of advice to brides, whether offbeat or WIC: Don’t Panic! Everything can and will work out, and freaking out about it along the way doesn’t help anyone. Honestly, you’ll look back at the things you were worrying about and go, “What the hell? I really had a panic attack about THAT?” Let the process flow, and everything will fall in to place.
We absolutely loved our wedding, and I thought it was way more fun than some weddings I’ve been to that have cost three times as much. Sure, I have a huge bias, but we got nothing but positive feedback. Here are some other things I would suggest to upcoming brides:
- If you want something for your wedding that people think is mental, but it happens to be important or meaningful to you, do it. There’s nothing worse than listening to people who’s opinions don’t really matter and regretting it on the day.
- Don’t rush in to buying a dress, and don’t think it has to be long and white just because it’s a wedding. If you want to wear blue, or pink, or rainbow, go for it. It’s your dress and your day.
- Make sure the day represents both of you. Shawn and I were equally involved in planning, so that meant we were equally in love with our wedding.
- Decide where you want to splurge. Make a list of the top two or three things that are important to you (ours were food, photography and my dress) and budget everything else accordingly. Honestly, who needs to spend thousands of dollars on invitations that most people aren’t going to keep?
- Have fun. No matter what happens, have fun. When we were taking pictures at our favourite comic book store, a piece fell off the belt on my dress. Did I panic, or cry? No. I found a pin, stuck it back on and went back to having fun.
We don’t have any professional pictures back yet, but here are some other goodies to give you an idea of what the day was all about:
Photo Booth! Have you ever seen a stop-motion photo booth before? No? Then check this out!