It’s a little funny to be writing about our wedding day more than a year later (I can’t believe it’s been that long already!) but I like the idea of writing it down anyway and being able to reflect on it as the the years go by. I tried to finish this before we left for Iceland last June, but that just didn’t happen.
Now that I’ve been a bit removed from the process, I’m astonished at how much planning went into it. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to stress about anything when it came to planning the wedding but I did stress about a few things, which was inevitable as I’ve come to learn. But, I always tried to keep the big picture in mind, which was getting married to M.
We arrived in France the week before our wedding day and spent a couple of days in Paris with my Mom. We had a few days in Provence before the wedding and planned activities with our families & friends along with final errands to run for the wedding. Table decor, flowers, hair/makeup trial for my MOH Jess and I, and buying wine! We spent late nights talking, hanging out, getting things done, doing a rehearsal of sorts the night before. We didn’t sleep all that much that week. That’s another thing, you will most likely be quite exhausted the day after your wedding.
On the morning of the wedding, M and I woke up early and he drove to Avignon to pick up my aunt & her family and two of our friends. I opted to get a manicure that morning with Jess, and of course half an hour later, I had already ruined two of them. No time to redo it and it ended up not being a big deal. We spent the rest of the morning setting things up: laying out the table settings, setting up for ceremony, putting lavender into the confetti cones we made the night before, putting up string lights for the evening, setting up the candy table etc. Everyone helped out and we were incredibly thankful for that.
In a perfect world, I would have written my vows & thank-you speech months in advance and worried about the other things later. But I left it until the morning of. The two months leading up to the wedding were so hectic that I didn’t have time to sit down and properly think about it (we also moved the month before the wedding). We had figured out the ceremony plan the week before and had a few readings for our friends to choose from. I had no idea how to write a ceremony, but got some great ideas from A Practical Wedding and ended up basing ours on the civil ceremony we had at Cityhall because we liked it so much. I locked myself in our room for over an hour and finally sat down to write my vows and my speech. And then cried for most of that hour as I wrote. I hadn’t realized how much emotion had been accumulating in me and it wasn’t until I sat down and reflected on the significance of the day, our marriage, all the things that had taken place in the past 8 years of our relationship that led us to that day, our families and friends. It was difficult but I made it through. Then I was glad that I had that “good cry”, because then maybe I’d be able to hold it together for the rest of the day (if you know me, you know I’m a really emotional person. I’m that person who cries at the movies…sometimes during scenes where I’m the only person who gets emotional). I wish I had written vows that were more meaningful or more profound, or funnier. But I’ve come to the conclusion that my vows were just one chapter in our marriage.
We picked up peonies and roses for my bouquet and Jess’ bouquet, as well as for the dinner table, the day before. I had assumed (quite incorrectly) that you should just be able to pick up flowers anywhere in Provence. There were lots of flowers, but they were all in people’s properties. And here comes a funny story. There is a beautiful house besides the main road between the villages. It has an incredible garden with beautiful garden roses. We visited a couple of flower stores but for some reason (I honestly don’t even know what it was now) I wanted to check out more. So I made the suggestion of stopping by the “flower house” and see if the owners would maybe consider selling some of them to us. Bad idea #1. We parked by the side of the road and walked up to the property gate, which was wide open. So we walked in. Bad idea #2. We didn’t see anyone, and looked around the main garden and pool area, still no one. So we rang the doorbell. Two minutes later, a lady in her 50’s and what appeared to be her mother came to the door and asked us very angrily in French what we wanted. Jess explained frantically what we wanted to ask and apologized for us. The lady insisted we should have rang the bell at the gate (we would have, had we seen it. We looked for it on the way out and it was hidden by the gate that was wide open). Jess apologized again and again and of course they weren’t interested in selling any of their flowers either. I think the fact that Jess spoke conversational French (she’s quite fluent actually) boded well for us. We were just thankful that they didn’t come to the door with shot guns. Back to the first flower store we went. It turned out they did have peonies even though we didn’t see any in the morning. 60 Euros later, we had over two dozen peonies and a dozen roses. I put the bouquet together on the morning of the wedding, thanks to a little research and a flower arranging class that I went to with Jess. In hindsight, that probably should have been done the night before, so my advice to other DIY-ers out there is to do as much as you can before the wedding day.
During the planning process, I had entertained the idea of doing my own hair & makeup. But then realized that a) I never do anything with my hair and I’m really quite clueless with that kind of stuff and b) I wear minimum makeup on a daily basis and really wouldn’t know what to do with that either. With those two realizations, came the third and final reason that made the decision for me to hire professionals, which was so that I wouldn’t need to worry about hair & make up the morning of the wedding. I loved my hair and was really glad that I still looked like myself after putting on more makeup than I’m accustomed to.
If you’ve ever been to a wedding before, you know that more often than not they run late. After what felt like forever with the makeup application (although it was nice to just sit in a chair and do nothing after a busy morning), I got in my dress, tied my bouquet together with ribbons and went outside for our First Look. I felt nervous, not nervous about the wedding, but just anxious from anticipation. I talked about our First Look and why I love the idea of it as a photographer, in a separate post here so I won’t mention too much here. I will say again though, that it was one of my favourite moments of the day, to spend with my husband. We had seen each other that morning here and there, but it was so special to spend those quiet moments alone with him after we both got ready. And that was the second time I got teary eyed that day. I remember saying to M that I didn’t really want to have our ceremony in front of everyone, even though they were our closest friends & family. I think the introvert in me just wanted to elope with just the two of us.
We left out a lot of traditions (the ones that didn’t really make sense to us) when it came to the wedding. One of the few we did keep was to have a Chinese tea ceremony with my mom and my aunt as a way of honouring my heritage. The funny thing about a wedding day is the emotions that sneak up on you at unexpected times.
After some family photos, it was time for the ceremony. As I stood linking arms with my mom, and watched Jess walk down the aisle ahead of us to the music of Desiree’s I’m Kissing You, I started to tear up again. And as we walked down towards my groom, I couldn’t help but smile as M beamed at me. No tears there, he was just too happy. My mom gave me the longest squeeze after we reached M…probably one of my favourite photos from the day. A lot of people say that the day goes by in a blur, especially the ceremony. But for me, the ceremony was one of the most memorable parts of the day. We didn’t want to rush it to get to the “party” or just gloss over it because it was only a gesture. For me, the ceremony is the “meat and potatoes” of the wedding, the reason why you are all gathered in one place. After all, you can throw a big party any time.
One of the readings we had was by Victor Hugo, from Les Miserables:
“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.”
The other one was this lovely story by Edward Monkton. :)
In all the small chaos of the morning, we forgot to tell everyone about the lavender cones. But that’s ok, they threw them at us anyway.
Then off we went for some portraits.
Not bad for a bouquet I put together right? in fairness, the peonies were nice & full and so easy to work with.
There were some lovely speeches throughout the evening…but I just loved sitting under the evening sky, with the setting sun behind us, enjoying a delicious meal with our friends and family, and listening to some live music.
The Nikonites :D
And of course, some sweet treats since I have a weakness for sweets.
At the end of the night, we said our thank you’s and danced under the stars.
So there you have it: our DIY destination wedding. It certainly wasn’t perfect but it was largely how we had envisioned our wedding day would be. I still can’t believe we pulled it off in the middle of planning a move, working full time jobs, running my own business, without killing each other. That’s gonna count for something right? Here are some closing thoughts on wedding planning:
– Do something that you will absolutely love, whatever it is. A wedding is largely planned for the enjoyment of your guests, but it is also first and foremost, for the two of you. So do what you love.
– It’s so easy to get lost in all the little things that go into a wedding. When you get frustrated by one of those little things, take a step back and ask yourself if you really need that flower that’s out of season, or that particular table linen. Remember why you are doing this in the first place; because the feelings of love and joy, that’s what you will most likely remember 5, 10, 20 years down the road.
– When in doubt, hire a planner! (a good one that is) Why? See part 1 of this series
– Hire vendors you can trust to execute your vision, and trust them to do it. As a photographer, I can’t stress this enough. Sometimes a leap of faith is required, but do your research and trust your gut instincts.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help…we thought we could do everything for our tiny little wedding, but we still couldn’t. It both felt vulnerable and awesome to have help, especially on the day of. (Yes I definitely have issues when it comes to asking for help)
– Plan, and research and stress if you must, because even if you don’t want to, it will happen. But on the day of, let it all go and just enjoy the day. Pause often and take everything in, commit them to memory…and be thankful that you found a great photographer to help you remember it all afterwards too ;)
– Don’t stop working on your marriage after the wedding. The wedding is one day, but your marriage will be the rest of your life (at least, I hope so).
P.S. all the lovely photos are by the talented Chloé of Caught the Light.
P.P.S. please don’t mind the various grammatical errors..
P.P.P.S. thanks so much for reading! if you are planning a small destination wedding, I hope you’ve found this series helpful. If you are not, I hope you’ve found this entertaining.