From Kelsey and Meghan: Our number one goal for our wedding was to be uniquely “us”. There were plenty of other challenges along the way (financial and family pre-wedding, and then technical on the day of), but we stayed true to ourselves, and, in doing so, really delved deep into what marriage meant.
The first big hurdle we had to face was my parents’ rejection of the marriage outright. The official reason was that I hadn’t finished college yet (although I was 26 years old, but that’s another story for another time), but the reality was that they just weren’t ready for me to be in a permanent relationship with a woman. The most painful, yet honest, thing my Dad said when I told him that I had asked Meghan to marry me was that he was “disappointed in himself that [he] couldn’t be more happy for [me].” The day a child tells their parents that they are getting married is supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives, but, for them, it wasn’t.
The next big hurdle was how #*@&ing expensive it is to get married! As previously mentioned, I was still in college, and Meghan had just graduated from grad school, not to mention the fact that the amount of money most people spend on weddings could buy them a car, be a down payment on a house, or (at the very least) pay for a way fabulous vacation. How could we, with a combined family income of less that $40,000/year, warrant spending over $24,000 (the average cost in our area) on a wedding?!?!?
These issues coupled with the #1 question ever asked when I told people we were getting married, “Is gay marriage legal in MN?”, prompted us to re-evaluate why we were getting married. What did marriage mean to us? What were the important parts of a wedding to us? And (perhaps most importantly) what’s the point of having a wedding in the first place?
I think almost anyone will agree that the point of getting married (gay married or otherwise) is not tax breaks or a legal piece of paper. It’s about standing up in front of your friends and family and declaring your love and commitment to another person. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it is morally reprehensible that same-sex marriage is not legal everywhere in the US, but the point of having a wedding is to formally recognize, through ceremony, that two people are forming a lifetime bond. Although trying to stick to this definition on our budget took some compromising and MAJOR favors, we started with a few “non-negotiables” and went from there.
The first of our “non-negotiables” was fabulous wedding/engagement rings. If a marriage is forever, shouldn’t the symbol of your love, that you wear every day of your life, be as awesome as you are? We thought so, and we even went a step further to have our rings reflect our personality, values, and priorities. All four of our rings were designed by local jewelry maker Karin Jacobson who uses only the most sustainably and ethically harvested materials.
Our next “non-negotiables” were 1) awesome photography, 2) LOTS of dancing, 3) an open bar, 4) an amazing venue that didn’t require any extra decoration, and 5) perfect invitations that really set the tone. We knew that photography wasn’t cheap, but we also knew that, when all was said and done, the photographs were all that anyone would really remember, so we searched and interviewed the city over and found seriously the best photographer we ever could have asked for. We also knew that this was a celebration, and stuffy pomp-and-circumstance just wouldn’t do. So, we asked a friend of Meghan’s to perform the ceremony and decided that the reception should most closely emulate the best dance party any of our guests had ever been to. We wrote our own vows/statement of appreciation, nixed a cake-cutting, bouquet/garter toss, and even fore-went the speeches. We had a 15-minute ceremony, where we said everything to each other that felt right that day, and then danced for 3 hours. It. Was. Awesome.
Now for the compromises….
We had set a budget of $6,000 and, with photography alone, 1/3 of that total had been eaten. Neither of us regret spending what we did on photography, and I still can’t believe we got someone so amazing on our budget, but it meant that we had to fund a venue, food, dress, flowers, decoration, etc. on what even the most budget-conscious brides spend on catering alone. As a designer myself, I wanted everything to be perfect– beyond perfect, but I just didn’t have the budget for it, so on came the disappointment, DIY and favors like I’ve never compromised, crafted and begged before.
Our venue, although amazing (it was designed by my favorite architecture firm in the Twin Cities, is listed among the top 1% of sustainable buildings on the USGBC registry, and has the most fabulous river and sunset views I’ve ever seen), was 30 minutes outside of town, could only accommodate 75 people, and, since they weren’t really a wedding venue, didn’t provide linens, nice chairs, or a ceremony site of any kind. However, it reflected our personalities, values, and priorities, (and fit our budget) so we didn’t hesitate.
To solve the uber-expensive problem of catering, we decided to have a strictly appetizer and dessert, cocktail-style reception. We knew this was breaking from tradition in a big way, but neither of us felt the expense and trouble of a sit-down dinner was worth it. We also felt that, with a small and intimate guest-list, we really wanted everyone to mingle, rather than being stuck at one table. After researching dozens of companies, we chose Common Roots Catering because they serve tasty local and organically grown food, allowed us to purchase our own alcohol from Surdyk’s, and, let’s face it, the fact that their catering manager was a friend of mine didn’t hurt.
After all of those decisions, however, we had less than $1,000 left to purchase my dress, Meghan’s outfit, stationary, flowers/boutonnieres, and decorate the venue/ceremony site, etc. Here’s where the DIY and begging/borrowing really started. I found a graphic designer who did printable invitations, printed them at school for free, and then had a crafternoon where all of our wedding party came over to help us assemble them. I then decided to make my own dress, AND all of the dress-wearing attendant’s dresses (yes, I know I’m insane). Then my design mentor’s best friend volunteered to do all of our flowers at cost. We weren’t even planning on having flowers before, but how can you pass up that kind of generosity?!?! Then, when I designed a freaking awesome, if I do say so myself, centerpiece idea, using cedar planks and glass found at Ax-Man, my amazing carpenter uncle kindly obliged to make them for us. All in all, we had 3 crafternoons, several group shopping trips, and countless weekends devoted to all the little elements that made our day great. Did I mention that Meghan’s co-worker was the most amazing day-of coordinator ever? My dad (yes, MY DAD) still talks about what an amazing job he did.
At the end of the day, and after all the heart-ache, we learned that the definition and point of marriage is not only about what the couple mean to each other, but what the couple’s community mean to them. It wouldn’t have mattered if every single thing that could have gone wrong had gone wrong on our wedding day because of all the love we felt. Every single person that surrounded us on June 30th, 2012, loved us to our core– to that part of your soul that can’t be touched except by true benevolence, and we couldn’t have asked for more.
Photographs by Ingman Photography.