Two years of perspective

We got married this week two years ago. Our wedding was what we had hoped it would be – a fun and meaningful day with the people we cared about most. This year and last year, we looked through our photos together from the day and reminisced on how much warmth and love our wedding brought.

Looking through our photos also reminded me of just how many creative projects I attempted with our wedding. From a creative standpoint, I’ve spent some time thinking about what worked and what didn’t. I think those lessons apply to event-planning and creative projects in general, so I thought I’d document them here!

Pick and choose what’s important to you
We had a wedding party, bouquets, toasts, a first dance and my dad walked me down the aisle. But we also had postcard invitations, cupcakes, wrote our own vows, and discarded the garter/bouquet toss. By being selective, the day felt like a lovely ritual that held real meaning for us. | photo by Gillian Spencer

Be realistic about what you can and want to accomplish
Planning arts and crafts projects is where I lost all sense of discernment: I thought I would design my own invitations, make my own dress, build a photobooth, create a picture slideshow, craft decorations, arrange bouquets, create my own thumbprint guestbook (more on that later)… In reality, I was only able to finish the invitations, the guestbook and some of the decorations. Weddings tend to be accompanied by a lot of other time commitments, and I found myself with less crafting time than I would have had normally.

Go for maximum crafting impact
The decorations I did manage to create were paper flowers for table centerpieces. I spent dozens of hours making tiny paper flowers, and I still had lots of help. It took a lot of those labor-intensive little flowers to look like a real table centerpiece!  Later that year, I helped a friend who was getting married make jumbo paper fiesta flowers and we were done before we could finish a second glass of wine. I loved my delicate paper flowers but given how many I had to make, bigger flowers would have been a good idea! | photo by Joseph Traina

Let people help
Since I started more projects than I could have possibly completed, I can’t imagine what would have happened if my friends and family hadn’t stepped in. Casey made my dress, Elizabeth stepped in as a coordinator, Kristin and Dudley made our amazing photobooth, my sister took our portraits (and let me cry on her throughout the wedding planning process), Nathan made the slideshow, Nathan’s mom helped with paper flowers and made party favors, my mom thrifted almost a hundred vases for my paper flowers, Katherine created a decoration plan, Jen schooled herself in the floral arts and made the bridesmaid bouquets, Nathan’s aunt made flower girl dresses, Jacob helped figure out the venue sound system and advised us on our slideshow, my cousin-in-law made our scrumptious cupcakes… None of these projects would have been as fantastic (or completed at all) without them.

We also had a crew of people helping to set up the venue. They strung lights, put out flowers, seated elderly guests, ran last minute errands. Guests that came early started helping, too. Part of me wanted to have everything completely ready by the time guests arrived, but our rental started a few hours before our wedding ceremony. So many people pitched in and Nathan and I were both touched.

Decide to enjoy yourself!
By the time the day of the wedding rolled around, I decided there was nothing more I could do and just floated. A sense of calm came over me; we’d prepared as well as we could and whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I enjoyed the whole event immensely! Only a few things went “wrong”, and they’re funny. The balloons we were going to put at the door flew out of my friend’s car. I forgot my birdcage veil, sent Nathan back to the hotel for it, and he forgot it too. Our slideshow was set to a song that was louder than the rest of our music and gave our guests a nice jolt when it started playing.

And, the aforementioned thumbprint guestbook turned into this explosion of color:

Hilarious, no?

There won’t be many times in your life that all of the important people in your life are together, so savor it instead of, for instance, monitoring thumbprint placement.

In conclusion
A wedding is generally a major undertaking, with lots of emotional peaks and valleys. My lowest lows were caused by stretching myself too thin and overcommitting to projects, and my highest highs were feeling so supported by friends and family, and actually getting married. I didn’t think too much about the ceremony itself during our planning phase, but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the wedding. There’s a dizzying amount of wedding inspiration out there – would I have stretched myself so thin without the aid of Pinterest? – but the day of our wedding put everything back into perspective.

What was your biggest lesson from planning a wedding or a big event? Are you planning one right now?


33 thoughts on “Two years of perspective

  1. Happy 2 year anniversary! I absolutely LOVE the thumbrint guest book – well, canvas really – that would be so cool to have hanging on the wall – your wedding looks like it was equal parts beautiful and FUN! The best kind 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sally! I haven’t hung it up yet because it didn’t turn out as I had planned; but it’s really growing on me so maybe I’ll hang it up after all!

  2. Looks just beautiful! My husband and I have just celebrated our 5 week anniversary and only last week got our photos to pore through. Yours certainly looked amazing and I know I could have fallen into the trap of over committing to too many self made aspects, so in the end I didn’t really do anything except my wrap for the day – it was more than enough! Happy anniversary and many more to come for your I hope!

    1. Your wedding looked gorgeous as did your wrap. Congratulations on getting married AND knowing your crafting limits. And thanks for the anniversary wishes!

  3. Aww happy anniversary! I had the foresight to know not to take on too many projects for some reason. Which is odd because I usually want to make everything. I was pretty hands off. I did a guestbook with photos of both of us growing up and made purses for my bridesmaids. That was it. I love your dress! Your wedding day looked totally artsy and cool.

    1. Wow, hand-made purses sound like really lovely gifts. And I’m so impressed with your crafting restraint, especially given how cool your art and sewing projects are!

  4. Oh, your wedding looks like it was SOOO lovely. I simply adore that first pic where you have those large fridge magnet words. Happy Anniversary!

  5. Can I just say that I love the thumbprint cats???

    I’m with you on the wisdom of knowing when to let go of certain craft projects or visions…I wanted to do everything for my wedding too, but I’m glad I didn’t! Yours looked like it turned out beautifully. Happy anniversary!

    1. I’ll pass the compliment along to the creators of the thumbprint kitties! I wish I’d been wiser about not trying to craft everything, but it was a great lesson and a great wedding.

  6. Happy anniversary! I love the thumb print idea, particularly the cats! Pinterest is great for ideas but it can also be horrible when planning a wedding – it’s hard sometimes trying to remain realistic about what is achievable in the time that you have. I wanted to do so much more handmade stuff but it wasn’t worth the stress (we were also buying a house at the same time – double stress!) so left a lot of it out but the day ended up perfect anyway!

    1. Congrats on getting married and buying your house – at the same time! I’m wondering if Pinterest would have been more useful to me to gather really specific ideas instead of general wedding inspiration. There are just so many seductive images. I’m glad your wedding was a success!

  7. What a beautiful wedding! Congrats to you two! I wish my wedding had been a little more reflective of my style, but I was young, broke, and planning it very quickly with a lot of pressure from my parents and in-laws about how it should be, so we ended up with more of a cookie cutter wedding than we wanted. But at the end of the day, it was a nice party with our closest friends and family, and it was so nice to see everyone, especially since I’d been living far away and was moving to yet another far away city right after the wedding. Your tips are so helpful– I hope that people planning weddings take them to heart!

    1. Thanks, Sonja! I think being in my late twenties really helped me avoid external pressure, although I made up for it with internal pressure! Even though your wedding didn’t match your style, it’s great to hear that it was still meaningful and fun. And hey, it’s never too late to make up for it with an anniversary party.

  8. Happy anniversary! Thank you for sharing your experience about wedding planning. I will be planning one one of these days and reading this has given me some ideas and inspiration. I also really love your guest book!

  9. I have to let Nathan off the hook here – you sent ME back for your veil and I totally forgot it. (Unless you sent us both and we both forgot, in which case you were clearly not meant to wear it.) I was also responsible for the balloons, but I pulled some rabbits out of my hat that day so the scale was still tipped in my favor. That was a sweet, memorable day.

    1. Oh my gosh, too funny! The scale is always tipped in your favor. Besides, who needs a veil? I had yet to put it on without looking like a doofus, so I’m not sure why I even asked for it. Thanks again for working your magic on our big day!

  10. What a lovely post Morgan. I have no wedding to plan but I do love hearing about people making their day so personal and special to them, because that’s how I’d like to do it.

    It’s like looking in a mirror with the whole make all the things and associated lack of perspective, I do it with my house, and well two years later I’m getting around to pinning upholstery tutorials, while sitting in a chair that has needed reupholstering since I moved in, in front of a window with no curtains because i took down the old ones in a fit of clear everything but haven’t sewed up the new ones – i think you get the picture, planning eyes are way too big for my actual available time!!!

    p.s. I love your eye make up in the viking pic & happy anniversary 🙂

    1. It’s funny you mention house projects, because that’s another arena where I’m prone to overcommitting myself. I recently bit the bullet and got our couch reupholstered professionally after several years of thinking I’d do it myself/living with it covered in sheets. It was expensive but such a relief to have it done!

      Thanks for the anniversary well-wishes! Along with her other duties, my sis did my makeup.

  11. Happy anniversary and thanks for this post. Firstly it was lovely to get an insight into your wedding, it really did look like a beautiful day. And also thanks for the tips. I need to keep these in mind for any party I do. I might just be the person who is monitoring the thumb prints!

  12. Happy Anniversary – what a magical and creative wedding! That’s the best feeling: to know you’ve done all that you could and then sit back and be immersed in all the goodness! Extra bonus for having fabulous photos to look back upon! Was it at the sculpture garden?

  13. Happy anniversary! My husband and I did all the planning for our wedding…I agree with not sweating the small stuff. We were ruthlessly organised and kept a huge file on everything, but unforeseen stuff will happen. For example, our tiered wedding cake started to collapse in the heat as we cut it. Funnily enough those are the things you laugh about in the many years to come!

  14. Happy anniversary! I got married around the same time (September 2011) so I’ve been thinking similar thoughts.

    In hindsight, I’m really glad we kept the DIY projects more or less under control. I would have loved to make my dress, but I also wanted to spend a month in Europe, and I wasn’t going to have time to do both. So I bought a dress and sewed on some decorations and it was great. Hilariously the most memorable thing about our wedding seems to have been the centerpieces, which were just toys we got from goodwill – legos and stuff that people built things with, and some plastic dinosaurs. Well, that and the location (science museum!)

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