Wedding Planning During a Pandemic, pt 2

The Allerton Mansion, where we’ll be getting married (photo courtesy of their website). Not pictured: all the beautiful gardens and trails on the grounds around the mansion.

Back in April, when my fiancé and I got engaged, I knew our version of wedding planning was going to be a little unusual, thanks partly to our mutual disdain for most wedding traditions, but also largely thanks to the pandemic. Still, it looked like we might actually get to plan the day we wanted over summer and fall of 2020, as things started to open back up. We initially thought about an October 2020 date, since that coincided with our anniversary of 10 years being together, but so much was still so uncertain that we figured waiting until 2021 would be wiser. We did find out that our top choice for venue was actually doable after and booked that for Sunday, June 6, 2021, after learning that a Friday or Sunday date was a full $2,000 cheaper than a Saturday date.

Then, of course, everything shut down again, or close to it. If our wedding was today, we would not be allowed to have it with anyone present except ourselves (and I feel for everyone who wanted a winter or early spring wedding but can’t). Our state is so close to meeting the metrics to roll back some of the gathering restrictions (as in, it could happen this week) and of course the vaccine is rolling out. But, as I said last time, the uncertainty does make planning and committing to decisions difficult.

Nonetheless, we have made a little progress. I got a beautiful custom ring in December from a local jeweler (which was all the more special for the fact that Jake and I both got input on the design modifications). And just last weekend, I found THE dress. In both cases I envisioned us buying them online (and for less money) but it didn’t work out that way. As I’m sure anyone who’s gotten married can attest, the moment you add the word “wedding” to anything, the price doubles or triples. It’s nuts. I am constantly warring with myself between “we’re only doing this once, might as well go all out!” and “WHY does that cost SO MUCH!?” A few of those battles (photographer, caterer) have yet to be resolved…

In front of our book collection, of course, since that’s one recurring theme in both our lives: books.

One thing we did completely do ourselves was engagement photos. Mainly, we just wanted one nice image to put on our save-the-dates. I got a ring light and a new phone for Christmas, so we put them both to work — with mixed results. My phone has a feature where it can detect faces and will snap the picture automatically if all detected faces are smiling — regardless of whether it’s actually a nice smile or just one of us showing our teeth. We still had fun with it though, and got a few decent shots, and my sister put together a save-the-date design through Zazzle that turned out really nicely.

We also sorted out our bridal party — another thing that had to be done a little unconventionally, especially since about 80% of them live in other states. Jake took the route of texting/messaging his groomsmen to ask them, while I went a little more formal: I mailed out cards to each of my six ladies with instructions not to open them until they heard from me; I then scheduled a Zoom meeting one night and had them all open their envelopes together (it was also an opportunity for some of them to meet each other for the first time, since they’re also fairly scattered across the country). It was a lot of fun and to our good fortune, everyone we asked said yes.

One of the rejects for Save-the-Dates, though I do think it has its merits.

I put Jake in charge of finding an officiant; we have a virtual meeting with one this Friday evening. I’m also going back to the venue this weekend to get details on their lighting and sound systems, since we refuse to hire a DJ (we have slightly unconventional taste in music, and besides, there are SO MANY songs that I do NOT want to hear at my wedding — I’m looking at you, “Chicken Dance” and “Shout”). We also don’t want to rent a bunch of special equipment if the venue’s options will do just fine. There are just a lot of choices, it turns out, that we can have a say in (the color of the napkins and table linens, for example) that I just don’t have strong opinions about (white is fine! Ivory is fine! Why would we pay extra for someone to wipe their mouth on something that matches my “colors”?). Plus honestly we’re lucky enough to have a venue that doesn’t need a lot of jazzing up.

Our color palette is this range of blues and purples — photo borrowed from Pinterest, which is a goldmine for decor ideas

I am still excited about doing some decorating though. Now that we’ve chosen our “colors” (which will mostly affect the flowers/centerpieces and the bridesmaids’ dresses) and picked out some decoration ideas (more books, especially since the ceremony itself will be in a library) I can start to plan the specifics. At this point I want to make the centerpieces and possibly the guest book myself, though we’ll see if that enthusiasm continues as the date gets closer and I haven’t made any progress. 😛

We have also decided that we will likely write our own ceremony, rather than trying to pick and choose elements of the more “traditional” vows. Honestly, I got a lot more excited about the ceremony when it finally occurred to me that we could do that, because so many of the traditional wedding ceremony elements don’t feel like they apply to us. We have been together for more than 10 years now, and we made a commitment to each other long before he popped the question. We don’t need to tell each other that we’ll be there for one another, or to light a candle to symbolize our unity, because we’re already demonstrating that unity and that promise to each other every day, and I truly believe that we’ll continue doing so. We’ve seen each other through plenty of challenging times, and I have no doubt that there will be more, but given how much of our actions have already proven the commitment, a lot of the words seems superfluous.

But, we’re both writers, so don’t think we won’t find the words to commemorate the occasion in a way that we feel is meaningful to us. Because that’s really the point of it all, isn’t it?

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