Friday, December 4, 2009

Flashback Friday: Perfectly imperfect wedding

It's a good thing that throughout my wedding day I was in a state of bliss.  I believed the entire experience was a bride's dream come true: the perfect wedding.

In the days and weeks and years that have passed since Gary and I were married on July 15, 2005, I have periodically contemplated an array of minor regrets. I wonder if this is a common post-bridal-bliss phenomenon. It's probably a natural thought process following any once-in-a-lifetime type of event (even couples who eventually divorce presumably view their wedding day in those terms, right?).  Most brides get only one dress. One cake. One ring. One suite of bridesmaid dresses. One chance to make the perfect choices and to execute each one perfectly.

So when that one day you've laboriously planned for over many exciting months is suddenly over, is it common for the analysis to begin, and little disappointments that weren't there on the Big Day to settle? Especially if a gal were to keep her nose in bridal magazines or be forced to attend wedding after wedding for friends and family members--finding new and better options, seeing fresh ideas and styles as your own choices are left in an era behind, and being reminded of how things could have been done--could potentially exacerbate all this nuptial mourning nonsense.

What I've described does not reflect my own experience to any disturbing degree.  But I have spoken to married women who make me wonder about the universality of longing to re-do at least certain aspects of such a treasured, momentous occasion as our own wedding.  If nothing else, the photos I've seen from early nineties' weddings might be enough to confirm the suspicion.

My nearly-perfect wedding began for me the night before. After Gary and I hosted our immediate family members at a dinner celebration at the restaurant where we met when both employed there, I drove with my mother and my only sister to the bed and breakfast in the foothills of Mt. Hood where I would be married.  This girls' night together chatting and giggling and squeezing together into a huge king bed was the perfect conclusion for my un-married life. The next morning we were elegantly served the most delicious German Pancakes (a first for me) topped with raspberries picked fresh from the garden outside our log cabin. YUM.

We woke up to this day:

Yeah, that's where I got married. NO regrets there! Which was a close call, because we overcame distinct opposition to the idea of requesting that guests travel over an hour from Portland to attend.  I am so glad we held strong to our conviction on this decision, because this venue is one of the most memorable and special aspects of our wedding, and the people who made the effort to attend are the ones who matter most.

Also perfect: my wedding dress.

I had no intentions of selecting a strapless gown; it isn't the most flattering style on my broad shoulders.  This dress really didn't fit the vague idea I was concocting of the perfect dress, but when I tried it on, it literally became the embodiment of my perfect dress. I love the lace-up back. I love the intricate beading and silver-threaded leaf design. I love the organza overlay. It made me feel so beautiful.

We were very pleased with our photographer--actually we got two for the price of one because they were instructing a new guy on the team.  So there were two cameras shooting most of the time, which is why we also got a few precious shots of our actual photographer:

Brian took our engagement photos in NE Portland too, and he was super easy to work with, really fun, and took excellent photos.

The last piece of my wedding puzzle that I've remained especially happy about is serenading my new husband.

My very talented mother accompanied me singing "The Nearness of You" by Norah Jones. I'll never forget that my older brother Bryan told me he had a hard time determining whether I was actually singing or lip-syncing to a professional recording, and also that it isn't right for his sister to sing "like that."  It's a fairly sultry song.

Even these points of near-perfection hit their snags.  The weather was beautiful, but in Columbia River Gorge style, turned windy.  My dress didn't fit quite as well after 8 hours, so the evening photos feature a hefty portion of armpit fat spilling over the top.  That might be the absolute worst part, but just in case I'll go ahead and describe a few more things I've secretly wished could have been different.  I hope it is clear that these are minor blemishes to an otherwise joyful celebration of love.

It's a fact that disappointment always results from unmet expectations. I loved every bit of my wedding while I was experiencing it, but revisiting pictures and memories offers the unfortunate perspective to unwittingly compare reality to the fantasy I thought I was living.

My hair ended up far too perfectly curled, when what I wanted was the loose, messy look from this magazine ad:

I actually love our unique cake, and knew we wouldn't get exactly the same look we fell in love with in a magazine.  It was just an inspiration photo, after all.  Hopefully not tragic enough to be worthy of submission to the glorious, but kind of fun to see the departure.

We planned a butterfly release for the grand finale of our ceremony, only it was more comical than grand, since the butterflies struggled to fly away. It was more of a butterfly "drop."  You can see a few insects fluttering about, plenty on the ground, and Gary trying to shake the rest out of the box.

We visited Mt. Hood Bed and Breakfast on our 2nd anniversary, and the owners told us that the Monarchs and Painted Ladies enjoying their flowers were the spawn of our wedding release. They claimed to enjoy the  beautiful mark we left behind.

So far I've listed the petty little shortfalls of expectation, unimportant in the grand scheme of a beautiful wedding.  But not all of my regrets are so trivial.  For example, like probably any number of newlyweds, I wish we had visited more with our guests throughout the evening.  But that just comes with the territory I think, and considering we didn't have a reception line, I guess it's pretty good that I at least greeted just about everybody there.

We ended up having to arrange for an alternate officiant with very little notice. Originally a dear friend of mine was to officiate the ceremony, but with less than two weeks to spare, she abandoned us.  While each detail of our wedding and reception were carefully orchestrated, the all-important individual who would do the honors of solemnizing our union suddenly became a matter subject to availability rather than preference.  The woman we found (with the unfailing assistance of our amazing wedding coordinator) was fine, but didn't necessarily exemplify our ultimate match.  Also, she lost her place in her cue cards once, resulting in an awkward few moments when she repeated herself and then struggled to regain composure and continue from the right spot.  We did have two beautiful readings offered by Angie, Gary's best friend from high school, and my sister, Diana.  We both got a little choked up reading our wedding vows, and our huskies presented the wedding rings, led up the aisle by their breeder, with whom we had become good friends.

It might sound a little silly, but if I was offered a chance to change only one thing about my wedding day, after seriously considering having someone tell me my armpit fat was spilling, I would probably ultimately decide to go back and make sure my mother watched our first dance. I don't know where she was, but somehow my mom missed that whole performance. And I say 'performance' because Gary and I took lessons and had an entire dance choreographed to Michael Buble's "Moondance." Yes, I know that's really cheesy, but we had a lot of fun at our lessons. Here is the victory pose after we pulled it off:

So maybe my wedding wasn't perfect.  But the entire day I thought that it was.  That's what being in love feels like.


Jennifer said...

It was a beautiful wedding. I think I feel similarly about my wedding--there are a few things that, looking back, could have been better, but overall, I was very pleased with the whole day!

Amber said...

Yes, I think you're assessment that every bride feels a bit of regret over some things is probably pretty accurate. I found myself nodding along as you discussed the process of analysis, because I think I probably went through the same process. My big one was that our dance floor was too large, making it nearly impossible to feel full.

Bridget said...

I've thought about doing a post like this. I think I still will. This was really interesting to read and I want you to know that I thought your wedding was gorgeous! Even the butterfly drop was fine - I knew you would have a sense of humor about it. :).

Annie said...

It's been twenty-two years since Beloved and I wed. Twenty-two years to realize so many things that I would change. Look at it this way, your mother is a peach! I don't care what anyone says, a mother can ruin a wedding faster than anyone else. I'm just sayin'!


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