Ask a newlywed how their wedding day went, and most likely you’ll hear them rave about how it was literally “the best day ever,” like they’re a kid talking about that time they were in a candy store and got to buy anything they wanted. I always had a hard time understanding that. Like, was is really the best day there could possibly be? Better than a day of skiing bottomless powder in Alaska, or at a beach in the Caribbean, or in a room full of puppies?
Then I actually had a wedding of my own. And it really was the best day ever.
For the TL;DR people, here’s basically how it went: It rained almost all day, the DJ played the wrong song while I walked down the aisle, I found out that my dress I ordered online from Russia almost fit, and I came close to tripping and falling during the guitar solo for Queen’s Millionaire Waltz in our first dance. It really was the best day ever.
The past nine months had been spent finishing college, working two jobs, and occasionally catching myself doing things like ordering customized wedding cup favors from the chairlift. I was honestly enjoying the whole process of putting together a big party for all my friends and family to celebrate Gavin and I’s love for each other. I had met Gavin first snowboarding at Boreal, then at a Bible study, and we were engaged a year after meeting, under the dim, eerie light of the total solar eclipse in Albany, Oregon.
Now I had to plan the biggest party I would ever end up planning in your my life (unless I decided to work as an event manager). Who would have known that picking a date wasn’t as simple as just “picking a date”? I never understood the concept of “wedding season.” Like, why get married in the same season everyone else does? Well, there are people in this world who have these things called “kids”, and said “kids” have this thing called school, so people who are invited to weddings that require a little travel often have to decide whether or not to take their kids out of school to go to a wedding. Then there is this other thing called “the weather”. We definitely wanted an outdoor ceremony, given the natural beauty of our mountaintop venue. The winter before we were engaged brought over 70 feet of snow to our area, and “Spring” in Tahoe is basically just an extension of winter, so after considering many factors, we settled on May 26, 2018. As it turned out, even the last weekend in May wasn’t safe, because we ended up dealing with winter weather advisories and all sorts of weather forecast shenanigans.
None of the typical “wedding” themes appealed to us – themes like Rustic barn, elegant ballroom, or Boho Shabby Chic with a modern but old fashioned twist. Besides, what does “shabby chic” mean anyway? I knew from the get-go I wanted a skiing/snowboarding mountains theme, complete with ski sign centerpieces, a chairlift swing we managed to finagle, and a homemade cake made to look like a ski hill. And my colors? Green, blue, black, and bright orange. Our (free) venue was our local church in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, overlooking snow-peaked mountaintops and the Truckee River.
Everyone told me I had gone bonkers for wanting to make said cake from home. This turned out to be one of those decisions I am so glad I held my ground on.
“You’ll stress yourself out!”
“Look, I’ll pay for a professional to make this cake if you promise you won’t take this task on”
“Is that really how you want to spend the days leading up to your wedding?”
These are the remarks I got, but unlike my idea of making the whole thing a potluck (which was shot down immediately, so I went and found a food truck to cater our wedding, which was
pretty cool). I stood firm and started testing out chocolate cake recipes, which gave me a good excuse to eat lots of chocolate cake with no real occasion besides “research”. I then found a very artistic friend who volunteered to decorate the cake the morning of, since I figured I’d be busy with other things, being the bride and whatnot. Things were finally coming together exactly as I dreamed.
Then there was the guest list. A guest list refers to the product made after the bride and groom, usually with a lot of parental input (wanted or not), sit down and decide which friends/family they like the most, which ones they sorta like (Also known as the B list), and which ones are deemed “definitely not worth spending the $50 per head on”. Out of all the fun parts of wedding planning, making a guest list is usually the most dreaded task. Finally , we sent out invites shaped like old-school ski tickets, complete with metal wickets brilliantly engineered from paperclips, to almost 200 people.
Then there is that part when the bride has to go to a dress shop with 17 people and try on 147 dresses, expecting to spend about the equivalent of a small car, and stand on a pedestal while the friends give their (sometimes too) honest opinions. Meanwhile, the guy tries on one suit, says, “I like it” and decides to rent it for a tenth of the price of the dress.
I skipped that step and went online and found a Russian dressmaker whose English read as if she typed her response into Google Translate and copy-pasted the English translation into our conversations, sent her $300, and hoped for the best. The thing is, I just had to get this dress. The snowflakey design was perfect for my winter-themed wedding in almost-June. So I bit
the bullet and ordered it the same day I got engaged. A few months later, a little package with Russian lettering and a lot of stamps arrived.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t even close to fitting, but I had time, so I sent it back, and after the dress literally went around the world, I got it back and had a few small alterations made and it all
worked out. I put the newly altered dress on at home and it fit perfectly. But what I didn’t do in the dress was dance, run, bounce in a bouncy house, dead-lift 180 pounds – you know, those things I was expecting to do when it came time to actually wear the dress.
Throughout the process, I promised myself I would not be one of “those brides”. You know what I’m talking about – the “Zilla”, the one who spends hours stressing over what font to use
on custom napkins, or gets into squabbles over the thickness of the paper on their RSVPs or whether or not they should invite their ex’s mom’s second cousin’s dog. Everyone always knew me as the “chill” one. Besides, I cook at a restaurant. Nothing stresses me out anymore.
But when I stared at that winter weather advisory issued for California that Memorial Day Saturday, I’m going to admit that maybe, “Bride-chilla” was a little concerned with the plans for
the outdoor ceremony, and no plan B. The week leading up to the wedding, the not-so-accu- “Accuweather” jumped from sunny and 70, to rain, to snow, to thunderbolts and lightening
very very frightening. I overheard someone the week before, talking about how the rain on Saturday might throw a wrench in their Memorial Day weekend plans. Like never mind squelching your little grill-out by the lake, Linda. Imagine what I’m trying to deal with this weekend! The worst part? The forecast was basically a guaranteed 70 and sunny from May 27, 2018 into the rest of eternity. The night before, as we were coming back from our rehearsal dinner and my parents and other relatives staying in the house were working on some last-minute things, my dad was like “What about the weather?” and at that point, I think we all just made the mutual decision to forget about it and pray to God to figure it out. There. Decided.
So we finally arrive at the day we had all been waiting for. We all woke up early to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof. Gavin and I and the small village of people who were helping us out through the whole process went to the venue to decorate and set up rain canopies, while my friend and my brother decorated the cake.
I must acknowledge at this point, the people who kept the whole day from becoming an absolute flop. To my parents, who I legitimately think should open up a wedding planning business. To my in-laws, who also paid for a lot of the big-ticket items. To all the people who flew across the world not only to attend, but to help with the small details and setup in the days leading up to the wedding, to Tahoe Forest Church and Pastor Mike for the free venue and officiation, and to the youth group at Tahoe Forest Church, who served as ushers, decorators and balloon poppers, among other jobs on the day with the enthusiasm of a rambunctious dog seeing his owner come home.
All that lead-up and finally, here I was in this very moment, right now, driving through pouring rain down interstate 80 towards my own wedding. This is a moment I didn’t personally see, but everyone else who was waiting at the venue witnessed. The sky parted like the Red Sea as I arrived. Under dry skies, the procession started, just as planned. As I walked down the woodchip and rocks aisle, the correct song that we had carefully picked out and rehearsed to faded, and “Somewhere over the Rainbow” started playing. But you know what? In that moment, I realized, that nobody knew what song was supposed to play. No one knew it was the wrong song. So what’s the point in stressing over the small details you can’t control?
What was the point of stressing about the fact that almost all the buttons on my dress kept coming undone all day and I had to keep asking people to “check me”? What was the point of
stressing about a minor trip-fall-but-save during the first dance, or about one of the ushers actually tripping and falling with a tray full of toast glasses? Heck, I could have actually fell during the first dance and I probably would have just laughed it off and told that story for years to come.
All those minor details flew to the wind of that May-winter storm, and were overcome by love, happiness and that feeling of “I never want this to end”. When I look back, I think of that
moment, looking around the tented room, ten teenagers with ties around their heads, dancing to the YMCA song. I think of how I took a risk and decided to sing “I Was Born to Love You” by Queen in front of all the guests, and how it turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole thing. I think of that homemade cake, teetering on the janky, plastic, 4-tier stand, my brother holding it up carefully while we cut the first slice.
So to anyone who is planning a wedding, or planning on planning one in the future, just remember: Maybe you did pick the wrong font for those custom napkins, or maybe the flowers weren’t exactly the same color as your bridesmaid dresses, or perhaps the aisle runner wasn’t “shabby chic” enough. At the end of the day, you’ll probably look back on your wedding and remember all the good stuff (planned or unplanned), and you’ll hopefully still be married to the love of your life.
See our full wedding video here!
And our snowboarding video we made and played at the reception: