Hi Pam! I’ve commented a few times, but never emailed before, so I’m sure my name isn’t familiar. In any event, I love your site, and your Gilmore Girls recaps, and your book. I think you’re great.[/readermail]
Reading the email you posted about Rachel with the mother-in-law from hell prompted me to send you an account of my wedding, because I wanted to tell you a happy story in case all you’re hearing is horrible ones. Although it does seem like it all worked out alright in Rachel’s case.
My husband and I dated for years – nine, in fact – before we finally decided to actually make it official, to the great relief of his southern Baptist preacher father. I started to plan the traditional wedding, but between the expense and the family issues and everything else, it was completely stressing me out. It seemed like there were all these rules you had to follow, and I didn’t even understand most of them. I bought one bridal magazine, just to scope out NYC location sites, and it was horrifying, with all the etiquette and budget tips and, well, bullshit. On top of all that, we didn’t want to have a religious ceremony, which would have freaked out my husband’s father, and my mother was sick, so she couldn’t be there in any event, which was sad, so the whole thing started to seem like more trouble than it was worth.
So we decided to elope. Or half-elope. We planned to get married in the Caribbean, and then come back to New York and have our reception. We could avoid the stress of the formal wedding, but still have the party. When we told our families, they were sort of okay with it. My friends, as much as I love them, were actually more difficult – they got over the elopement thing, but they would not let up about everything else. One of them sent me a page long email objecting to my refusal to wear a white dress, another wanted to crash the wedding (which would have been fine, but she wanted to stay for the honeymoon), and a few of them were pissed that I wouldn’t register for gifts (we really didn’t want it to be about the presents).
We went to St. John, and we got married on the beach and it was absolutely the most beautiful and happiest moment of my life. And then, afterwards, we went out to dinner and then to our rented villa, and sat on our deck and drank a bottle of wine and thought, huh, we’re married. We stayed in the Caribbean for a week, for our honeymoon. The whole trip, start to finish, was perfect. Better, even, than my ridiculously high expectations.
We had our reception in New York a couple of weeks after we got back in an awesome French restaurant with the nicest staff ever. I got to withstand a whole new set of objections – I didn’t want a champagne toast, and I didn’t have a dance floor, and I wanted a buffet, not a sit-down dinner with assigned seating, and everything else I planned was not according to the wedding rule book.
In the end, though, the reception meant almost as much to us as the wedding itself. We had such a good time. We brought the photographs from the wedding and the trip, and I wore the dress that I was married in, and we had just a really, really nice party. The decor of the restaurant was perfect for what we wanted – all tiny wooden tables and comfy old chairs and couches, so it was sort of like we were throwing the party in our own living room, if we didn’t live in a one-bedroom NYC apartment. Everyone seemed to have a terrific time, and a ton of people told me (unsolicited!) that they couldn’t have imagined us doing it any other way and that it was perfect for us and for our relationship. I even had a really nice heart-to-heart with my father-in-law, with whom my relationship had been sort of strained, which was lovely and helped us to get our relationship back on track. It’s such a happy memory for both my husband and I.
I know you’re probably pretty much done with the planning at this point, so the point of my story certainly isn’t that you should elope or do anything the way we did – just that you should do things your way and have the perfect wedding for you. I doubt you actually need to be told that – you don’t seem like the type to be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do – but weddings make people crazy, and if you’re getting any push-back from anyone, I think you should ignore it all. I’m so, so happy that I didn’t let myself get caught up in all the wedding mania and bullshit, and that the memories from my wedding and reception are really the happiest of my life.
Anyway, best wishes to you and Stee. It’s so apparent, when you write about him, how much you love him and I feel so confident that your continued life together will be wonderful.