Here Comes the Bride Part II

IMG_6162A year ago I announced my wedding, which was 3 days away with this post. It was Part I, but I never successfully wrote Part II. The fact that I was having a wedding wasn’t what begged a part II, but it was the fact that I planned said wedding in 20 days. Why? Because the Army.

Several awesome things happened in the process of planning my wedding. First of all, we were able to find a photographer the night we decided to move the wedding up. I had seen an “Elopement Package” on Craigslist so that was the first thing I checked on, it came with a photographer, officiant, bouquet, and cake for $250. I just used the photographer. We also found that getting a marriage license and marrying the next day was possible in St. Louis City. Some places require you to wait a couple weeks.

After we decided not to elope, and I got past trying to be as cheap and practical as possible, we actually found a venue! Two weeks out we found a nice, quaint spot with a rustic feel and an affordable price. This is a miracle because most venues are booked well in advance and cost no less than one million dollars. This place was gorgeous, in town, and $200 an hour.

What is probably more important than where we were getting married was what we were wearing. I was able to pick out and order Spencer’s suit without him, and I won some drawing at a Bridal Show and received a discount, and then also a military discount totaling $90 off and a free garter!

Wedding from Andrea 037Before the wedding had a date, my homegirl Catherine sent me a link for a Bridal Gown Giveaway. I had already bought a basic dress but she figured I could sell the free one. The catch was that the dresses wouldn’t be distributed until Veteran’s Day which was only 11 days before my wedding. I didn’t have any faith there would be more than leftover, reject dresses, but I ended up finding a version of my Pinterest dreams! When I walked out of my dressing room in the long sleeve, fitted, lace embroidered dress people truly came from across the store to admire it. Strangers tried to convince me to take it, but it wasn’t until the attendant secured the veil that I finally wiped away tears and decided it was for me. It needed no alterations. That in itself was a miracle.

One my way home with the dress, I received confirmation that I could have s’mores instead of cake and at a discount!

In Other News

After I decided we wouldn’t elope, I thought we would just have our best friends and family. Then I decided I should actually invite friends. This was the unfortunate part of the having such a short amount of time. I told one of my friends she wouldn’t be included, then two days later told her they would, and our friendship has never been the same.

Also, a DIAMOND fell out of my ring the week before the wedding. The afternoon before the wedding, the ring was not returned to the store! The jewelers were able to rush it over, though. I didn’t even have Spencer’s ring and ended up rush ordering an $18 tungsten band from Amazon Thursday before (which is good because he has lost that already.)

And last, but certainly not least, Spencer was not cleared to come to the wedding until Tuesday before the wedding. Since it was his first time putting in a request for leave, we had no way of knowing the likelihood of his request being granted. Consider writing a deposit check for $1,700 for a wedding you don’t even know can happen. I couldn’t relax until I knew for sure he was coming. Then I couldn’t be happy because my wedding was in 4 days…

I appreciate the people that helped me out. Number one was Catherine Rains, who was my ‘round the clock consultant. She helped me make a lot of decisions that frankly I didn’t have the time to pore over myself. I was also able to delegate a few other tasks. Elizabeth designed the program, Allison worked on invitations I didn’t end up using, I asked Amber to host the second reception, and Lindsey worked on the Pinterest Thumbprint Guest Tree. Auntie Helen appointed herself the coordinator and helped me make judgement calls on the plans and ran the event.

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The Event

The wedding turned out beautifully! Elizabeth said it might have been the nicest wedding she had ever been to. Before anything began or anyone arrived, Anyah showed up with a bag of goodies. When I was getting dressed she produced a glass of moscato on ice with a straw, which was the turning point for my day.

The wedding lasted from 12-3 pm: ceremony, cocktails, then lunch. Afterward, Spencer and I went to a hotel and rested, and ordered room service. At 7pm, we arrived at Lucas Park Grille to be received by our friends, clients, and coworkers. We served hors d’ouevres and sheet cake. The ambiance was excellent.

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My Regrets

If I could do anything differently, I would have made the photography a higher priority. The photographer I had was sufficient, but her pictures leave me wanting. If it weren’t for me being creative and bossy, all the pictures would have been mediocre. It took 11 months for me to finish my digital album because I was so regretful about how the pictures came out. The photos last a lifetime. I should have spent more than $150 on them.

Other than that, I think having pie and ice cream would have been a better choice than the s’mores we served at the wedding in lieu of cake.

Honestly, I think I would have been happy with the same event even if I had more time. It just would have been nice for all of our family to have been able to make it.

Epilogue

I have written this story several times since my wedding. The problem is that what always came through was my hurt and disappointment rather than the success of the event. Despite its majesty, I actually consider my wedding to be a traumatic event in my life for a few reasons.

First of all, I don’t feel the large majority of my immediate friends and family were there for me the way it seems reasonable to expect. (I will be doing some generalizing here.) With only 3 weeks to be engaged in my wedding planning, who of my closest friends asked how I was doing or what they could do? A few good friends were able to do this, but most of my closest were not. More people asked me what they should wear than asked me what I needed. I admit that being a bride can make a girl crazy and sensitive, but I do not feel anyone appreciated the stress of planning a wedding and preparing to become someone’s wife in such a short amount of time. Afterward I really questioned the kind of relationships I had formed if those people were not there when I needed them most. I don’t feel anyone had any grace for me during that time, as in no one was understanding when I didn’t act how exactly how I should have. It was like no one could put my needs before their own. I felt that if they couldn’t do this for my wedding, when would they ever be able to support me in excess? The morning of my wedding basically everyone majorly involved showed up late, including the photographer. I cried. I assume everyone thought I was emotional about getting married, but in reality I was convinced no one cared about my wedding, and it was going to be terrible.

I reconcile this now by accepting that people don’t always do the right things and they won’t always realize they were wrong and they won’t always be sorry, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good and that doesn’t mean I should take it personal; they just didn’t act the way I wanted in that moment. It took me a full 10 months to have peace about all parties in this situation. I actually talked about this in counseling. Also, let’s be real: 3 weeks is a short amount of time for some people to even conceive the idea of stepping up.

Maybe the most significant detriment to my wedding experience was the fact that I was very uncomfortable with the whole state of public attention. Being engaged felt pretentious to me because what is more pregnant than the term ‘fiance’ (other than the term ‘pregnant’)? Looking at wedding options was overwhelming to me, not just because of the money, but the idea of having people travel to be at my self-important event and potentially having them wish they hadn’t spent the time. Nor did I want to be the center of attention for the whole day and feel responsible for making their time worthwhile, which I was not sure I could do.

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Almost a year later I realize the problem was my self-image. I did not think I was worthy of a large wedding. I didn’t think I was worth people’s time for something so rote and universal as wedding. My self-consciousness was not humility, but rather a lack of self-worth. I don’t mean that any person that chooses to have a small wedding thinks they are worthless, but the fact that I had a small wedding and hoped people said they couldn’t come means I didn’t think I was enough. In some ways I think I’m right that a lot of people at a wedding don’t actually want to spend 7 hours there, but it’s a rite for every woman, so why not me? Before the wedding, I didn’t know I had such a low self-image because I come off very confident, but now I realize that behavior is both an assertion and a defense mechanism so that by having high standards, I distance myself from people who may hurt me.

In the moment where I sat alone at the venue before those who were supposed to have been there early arrived, my fears were realized. To me, people were proving to me that I wasn’t worth it. Not saying that’s true, but that’s what was impressed on me at that moment. That’s why I cried.

In Conclusion

I’m glad we got the wedding out of the way because the important thing was getting married and getting on with our lives. Even if I didn’t have a complex, I’m still glad I had a small wedding. Weddings are stressful and expensive; I was able to keep both at a minimum with a wedding of only 40 people. I wanted to keep it about our nuptials and not about entertainment. But all that really mattered was that I stepped into my calling as Mrs. Weldon almost as soon as I possibly could.

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Other military spouses completely understand why I had to do this and how it could have been traumatic. My neighbor doesn’t even keep pictures of her wedding in her house or on her phone! She had to marry by a certain date and everyone wasn’t on board with that. The military puts us in awkward predicaments and unfortunately our weddings tend to be one of them. I know I am not alone but I encourage women who might be entering a situation like this to be true to themselves and just try to be happy despite whatever the circumstances might be. While the activity around my wedding was stressful, I did enjoy my wedding day, and that eternal memory is what one has to protect.

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