Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A non-traditional traditional wedding

Hair and makeup: Destiny Taylor
Photography: Christine Shields

I'm normally an incredibly private person, but I wanted to share these fantastic photos by my friend Christine with you all anyway! It only took me over a year. Ha.

Wedding season is coming to an end over here in the western side of the world, so I wanted to share a little info with any brides getting ready for later season nuptials. 

I had a great experience preparing for my wedding. I'm Catholic so I had the opportunity (courses and other prep are required to be married) to personally prepare with really great informative and helpful classes. I also had an amazing team of people helping me create a super stylized gothic sans cheesiness aesthetic. (see names above for example!) I was incredibly fortunate to be good friends with several artists already involved in the wedding industry (sort of by accident - when you work in fashion independently, half of your market is probably going to be bridal stuff). I also had some experience with wedding junk after modeling a lot of it for so long at such a young age. So, even though it was never my childhood dream to get married and have a fairy tale ceremony, I did have an idea of what I knew I didn't want. So this week I'm going to write a bit about how I was able to pull off a wedding without going completely insane and how to make it work for YOU and your husband/wife/spouse. (Soon I'll go more into my great creative team and how I essentially made our wedding on our floor by myself.)

If you're a human, you probably have experience with people pressing incredibly specific ideals on you... 

"You have to do this. And you must do that. He's/she's not in love with you unless he/she buys you this. You can't use that color because, to me, it means this. Without that, it's really not a wedding, is it?"

Well, no. I don't have to have a toddler stumble down the aisle holding our rings only to immediately puke on them to have a "real" wedding. Actually, you don't even need rings at all. All that stuff is made up. I may be somewhat involved in the wedding industry somewhat involuntarily, but I'm okay with rebuking some of this stuff publicly. Just do you and your spouse. Not just you, not just your spouse, your mom, your mother in law, nor your brides maids. 

For the largest task of planning our wedding; my husband and I decided what we didn't want.

We didn't want flashy rings. 
My husband's ring was $50 and mine was in the $100 area. I didn't want to risk our financial stability for a bauble that was merely a small symbol of many of our commitment to each other - not the commitment itself. As in, when I take off my ring, that bond and the promise isn't gone along with the ring. 
I went without an engagement ring for months and when we picked out something that really suited my style and personality, it just happened to be super cheap. I liked it so much that I didn't want another ring to go with it. In short, we went for the "let's get something that's really us, not what K Jewelers says will make me love you the most" route. If you can't afford the shiniest ring at the mall or even if you can and just don't like them, don't. It's not important. It bothers me that people put so much emphasis on the price of something rather than the sentiment. I mean, there are entire shows dedicated to how much a wedding costs! Seriously! And whoa, wedding rings as we know them today only became a thing long after the United States was established. That wasn't that long ago. It wasn't until the late 800s that Christians widely began using wedding rings. Many cultures still don't. So. Please don't just do something because you're expected to. Wear construction paper if you want to.

Which leads me to more unnecessary fluffs.

We didn't need a lot of people at our wedding.
We're close to very few people, so even inviting the 50 or so people that showed up was a bit overwhelming. In all honesty, we didn't want to feel like we needed to put on a show nor did we want to be overwhelmed by massive group of people paying attention to us. Nerve racking! Not to mention how much money and time you'll save with half the people. I felt that there were a lot of people at our wedding, but it was actually just the right amount. My husband and I were able to set aside time to talk to everyone at our reception. That was really important to us because a lot of people traveled to be with us that day.

We didn't need a flower girl or ring bearer.
Actually we didn't need kids at all. It's not that we have anything against them. We made the decision based on experience. We've both been to many weddings, not to mention attend Mass every Sunday, and a lot of the time your attention and time is inadvertently stolen by a child. Our family, especially on my side, has a whole ton of kids. I mean, really, all together they probably weigh a ton. Now, this may be unpopular to say, but our traditional Catholic ceremony was much more important than our reception (average wedding costs 25k, 15k on average is spent on the party!), so it was really important to us that everyone was able to be fully present, understanding, and able experience that (one hour long) moment with us.

Which brings us to the live televised wedding...
We were firmly against cell phone use during our ceremony. For the same reason above. Cell phones can be ten times more distracting than kids. And I was completely confident my friend Christine, who took the photos above, would capture the moment infinitely more beautifully than an iPhone would. I hope someday that people will worry less about capturing a moment they won't remember because they were messing with their phone and just be there without needing photographic evidence.

I guess we didn't need a cake.
There wasn't really a huge deciding factor here other than I just didn't want to fuss with it. I made most everything myself for the wedding and I wasn't going to touch that. It would just mean more consultations and design decisions. More time and money I just didn't have. A friend of ours made really cute cupcakes as a gift and they tasted great - which is what food is for, right? Although I do think it's just fun to destroy, I mean eat, beautiful food.
I was going to have a Portland friend of mine, Artisan Cake Company, make me something pretty rad, but having my wedding in California made things a bit too difficult. If you live in Portland or somewhere over there, definitely check them out!

We didn't want to be a puppet show!
It may come as shock (my mom says this all the time), but I'm not the most outgoing person despite my social media presence. I don't like a lot of attention - well, not that I don't appreciate it, but it just kind of embarrasses me. For example, I thought about calling off my bridal shower because the thought of sitting in the middle of a circle of women while they all looked at me terrified me to the core... Anyway. 
We decided we didn't want to feed each other dessert in front of everyone. Why is that even a thing? This upset my mom because she thought it was a symbol of us taking care of each other from then on. But... I don't spoon feed my husband. I take care of him and he takes care of me, so does there really need to be a symbol for something that's actively happening all the time? I don't think everyone thinks that about the cake thing - I think it's just more of a photo-op. We also decided not to do a dance or that awkward garter event. We just wanted people to relax and enjoy themselves, not line up for the next scheduled force fed activity. We didn't make every one sit in an assigned seat.
We were the last people to arrive at our reception, just by accident, and when we walked in we were immediately swarmed. That's fine I suppose, but I didn't realize how awful the expectations and formalities of wedding receptions were. Not until our best man, who had already changed out of his hot tuxedo unto a t-shirt and jeans, asked us to start the food line because everyone was starving and thirsty waiting for us. I felt awful because I had hoped that people would just dig in. They should have. It was after three in the afternoon and I'm sure most of them skipped lunch. If a wedding party seriously gets upset because their guests each before them, shame on them.
Anyway. Most people may think all this no dancing no stripping no food fight thing is boring, but we're honestly fairly boring people. We don't dance or go out to bars and do karaoke. In our spare time we go to the movies a lot and watch movies at home a lot. Like, a lot. So why would we be expected to anything that wasn't like what we normally like to do?

We avoided the cookie cutter cuteness.
You can get downloads for pretty much every little thing for a wedding. Which is great, but that doesn't give you much freedom does it? You can also pay someone to buy stuff with your money. Or you can hire someone to make it all for you. All of that is fine as long as it reflects you. I don't get wedding trends (Gatsby weddings are huge right now) because you're not a trend, right? I feel that a wedding should reflect your style, your spouses style, and your relationship. Your relationship is not a passing fad. 

Some of our family and friends were a bit disturbed that our wedding was so "dark" because of all of the grey and black (my dress was grey too!) because they have kind of a simplistic attitude toward color. They thought that darkness = funeral. But what they didn't think about is how a lot of the beautiful space above, below, and around us is black. Or how a lot of bunnies and kitties are black or grey. Or how many other cultures see black as a color of success, knowledge, and even celebration. It's mostly in the West we relate dark colors to negativity.

Now, here's one thing I actually kind of regret about doing the strictly DIY thing.
I made 75% of my wedding. I didn't do the flowers, food, or 90% of the table cloths if that gives you an idea. I combed through Goodwills and eBay for months collecting vintage pieces to turn into centerpieces. I spent DAYS, yes DAYS, melting candle wax on candelabras so they looked all dripping Dracula abode-like. I spent hours on the floor hand embellishing my hand made invitations that were of my own design. Hours hand writing tiny little thank you notes that went into tiny little bottles to give to guests, hours repainting 60 vintage frames, hours sewing yards and yards of fringe onto yards and yards of fabric... and... and... you get it. So, I'm all for making something all your own but be careful exactly how much time you put into it because you might lose your job. Enlist a team of troops to help you do these things if you must! I will go more into the DIY bits in the coming weeks.

I also wanted to wear something really unique for my first day as a wife. I had one of my closest friends and creative partner Holly Stalder (who just happens to be an amazing fashion designer in Portland, but she makes things for brides everywhere!) design and make my dress out of my mother in law's wedding dress from 1977. (More on that in coming weeks too!) My best friend Tanya's wedding dress was made by herself and her sister for basically nothing and it's so beautiful and simple. To me, wearing a new dress combined with an old dress and having your friend make it cannot be compared to picking up something 20 other brides this season wore from David's Bridal. Again, that's just me, so if you and your mom or sister have a ton of fun making memories trying on dresses together, then do that!

We didn't freak out.
When you don't have way high up expectations and lots of fluff to take care of, there's not much for you to worry about going right or wrong, really? Instead of freaking out because the bakery made your cake the wrong (but still good!) flavor, think about whether or not you husband showed up. That's important... To most people I guess. We only tried to worry about the essentials. Whether or not everyone was there/on time, that we had our clothes, making sure everything was paid for, that our car was going to make it to the church in traffic, how everyone was going to get from the church to the reception, etc etc. Because there wasn't a whole lot to keep track of other than wearing clean underwear and making sure the food wasn't spoiled, very few things went wrong. I spelled kind of an important name in our programs wrong and didn't realize until the day before (oops!), my dad said my new last name wrong during the rehearsal (that's what they're for!), and I created a really amazing playlist of vintage jazz music that we couldn't play because we forgot our iHome (the reception venue decided not to tell us that their brand new sound system didn't work). No big deal. I wasn't going to be listening to music anyway. I was going to be listening to my guests talk about their velvet tuxedos and their young daughter's twitter account. I can listen to that playlist any time I want now!

We didn't do a honeymoon!
This is something I actually have something good to talk about for once. I know, right?
I think honeymoons are great. They should be important. It's a vacation from all the chaos you just went through and an adventure to kick off the life long adventure you just began the other day. But what I don't think is important is when (within reason) and where. In theory we did have a honeymoon. With my new in laws. We sat around for a week after the wedding and did almost nothing. It was great. There was no pressure to take out a loan and go to Hawaii. We can't afford that mess and we don't have the time either. Someday we'll do something extravagant, but we're not about to suffer a huge financial blow to our future for a week of frolicking. We did that when we got home with our new kitty. This obviously varies couple to couple, but the whole theme of this post, once again, is to not make a decision, be it small or huge, based on what your best pal or your Nana says.

I'm by no means saying 
that our aesthetically "non-traditional" super traditional Catholic wedding is the only right way to have a wedding. All I'm saying is remember what is important to you and your spouse. If you're not sure of why you're doing something, look it up. research it. And also remember of course that there is no right way to eat a cake or wear a dress or address invitations. Those are the things you won't remember. What you will remember is why you married your spouse when the two of you laugh together. You will remember why you married your spouse when you cry together.


  1. Absolutely wonderful article.

    I've never wanted a traditional wedding either and pretty much expected you to do your own thing too -- which I so applaud. Weddings nowadays don't seem to focus on what is important. The American "bigger is better" spectacle parade often wins over the act of binding partners together with their profession of love until death in front of people who actually care. Basically everything you said I agreed on. Looking forward to more tips and pictures (which, my goodness, are grand as always). <3


  2. I'm totally obsessed with these photos. You look absolutely stunning! <3

  3. Inspiring words from a wonderfully creative, thoughtful and inspiring person!

  4. I would expect nothing less...I wish a life of love and happiness.

  5. Thank u so much for this amazing article i am getting married in 17 days and i am not doing the traditional wedding either. U have relieved alot of stress for me. Thank u for sharing

  6. I couldn't agree more with everything you wrote!!! My husband & I planned and did our wedding with a very similar mid set actually! It's a shame that society has has ingrained in peoples head what things are "mandatory" to have a good wedding. We also opted out on the garter thing (I would never want to do that in front of all my close friends and family, awkward!) and we didn't do a bouquet toss and a few others things. We didn't pay extra for a dance floor or dj, but made our own playlist and had a maypole dance with all our wedding guests, that's one of my favorite memories of life! If we did do anything "traditional" it was because we wanted to and it meant something to us. We also did almost everything DIY, and you're right it's so much work but I would trade it for the world! Our wedding was a dream come true and oddly enough even though our wedding was outside the box, so many people have told us it was the best wedding they ever went to! I'm quite sure you've heard the same thing many times! Looking forward to seeing more DIY photos of things you made for your wedding, if it's anything as beautiful as your engagement pictures, I know it'll blow my mind! All the best to you and your husband! -Lindsay of Sheaves

  7. Absolute truth. Touching images and wisdom. Thank you for being transparent and inspiring.

  8. I liked your post and you look so pretty, but I don’t think that nontraditional vow renewal means you have to invite all your friends. You could have invited a few of the closed ones. It would be a fun.


Pin It button on image hover
Pin It button on image hover