I’d loved looking at weddings magazines since long before I was engaged. As a teenager, I’d use the money I earned from whatever part-time job I was working at the time to treat myself to the latest Martha Stewart Weddings and dog-ear the things I loved. I kept all the back issues on a shelf I referred to as “the archive.” Half-decent with a pencil, I’d draw sketches of my dream dress. It usually included some combination of a full tulle skirt, fitted bodice, taupe ribbon sash, and cathedral-length veil with a blusher.
When Pinterest came into existence, you better believe I had a weddings board (strategically kept secret, obviously, so as not to terrify any potential suitors), even though I was nowhere near walking down the aisle. The details of my dream day shifted with changing influences and passing fads: a tented backyard reception (a la Father of the Bride) gave way to a rustic barn wedding (despite never having stepped foot in a barn in my life) to a Latin-flavored celebration to honor my Cuban heritage.
So when my now-husband, Charlie, proposed seven years ago on a perfect fall day Central Park, you’d think I had my dream wedding fully planned and ready to execute, right? Not quite.
The prospect of planning a wedding—in real life, not just in my head—is hard for indecisive types like myself. I like too much and agonize over decisions. Planning a wedding with real dollars is also a very different prospect than doing so with imaginary money. That custom fireworks show I envisioned capping off the night? Not quite in the budget.
Having seen how my tastes had changed over the years, I knew I didn’t want to look back on my wedding with regret. I decided to stick with a simple color palette and kept the details fairly timeless. My husband and I chose The Room on Main for its classic ballroom feel and neutral finishes. My mom—my not-so-secret wedding-planning weapon—designed a custom monogrammed crest that appeared on our invitations and favor boxes. Floral arrangements were kept lush and loose, with the head table featuring a leafy garland dotted with roses and berries.
A lot of my wedding day was different than how I imagined it as a teenager. The dress I had in my head never materialized, and I ended up going in the complete opposite direction, selecting a form-fitting satin number with a beaded and pearl-accented illusion back and cap sleeves. I wanted live music, but my indie-music-loving husband wanted a song list populated with more obscure choices that aren’t in the repertoire of most wedding bands. And the sparkler exit I dreamed of? Turns out it’s a fire hazard and a no-no at many venues. Then again, when I was planning this imaginary wedding, I also thought I’d be marrying Leonardo DiCaprio. Sometimes reality is better than anything we could dream up.
My point is, if your wedding day looks a little different than you imagined, due to a global pandemic, a tight budget, or any other reason, know this: It will still be one of the best days of your life. It will also be a blur. Here’s everything I remember from my wedding day:
Fair to say, some truly special moments, and some not-so-glamorous ones. But they all added up to create one of the happiest days we’ve still ever had, and most importantly, the start of our life together. We have a few more gray hairs than we do in these pictures, and I couldn’t fit into my gown today even if I slathered myself in Crisco. But five years later, we’re got a lot of great memories under our belts and three beautiful babies under our roof.
If you’re planning a wedding, my biggest pieces of advice would be:
As always, let us know how we can help make your wedding planning process easier. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.