Kirk and I got married this past April in Oceanside, California. It was sunny and hot, probably the warmest weekend we had all spring. The ceremony was held at a park across the Strand from the beach, and the reception on a hotel rooftop with a view of the pier.
Weddings. They’re so hyped in our culture, yet just one day of your entire life will be spent experiencing your own. When planning ours, Kirk and I went back and forth trying to decide where and when, what and how. Should we have it in Wisconsin, where my family is from, or Michigan where his is from? Or Chicago, a meet-in-the-middle, of sorts? Or California, where we live now? How large or small should our guest list be? Should we involve just immediate family? How much money do we want to spend? Wedding cakes are how much? Should we just screw the whole idea and elope?
Despite the simplicity and economical appeal of eloping, getting married wasn’t just about us. We wanted our moms and dads and sisters (both Kirk and I each have one sister) to experience their daughter and son and sibling get married. We wanted our friends and family who’ve never been to San Diego to see where we live. We wanted to celebrate us, because we rarely, if ever, did that sort of thing.
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I have to thank Kirk for all of the work he did to plan the wedding. We gave ourselves (unintentionally) less than four months from the time we set the date until the big day. After deciding in late 2015 we wanted to have a wedding — and have it in San Diego — we started coming up on a time crunch. We wanted nice weather. December, January and February are too cold, November can be iffy, too. May and June are afflicted by “May gray, June gloom,” and July can be cloudy as well. August, September, October are all great, but it would be nice if we gave our Midwest guests some respite from their annual 7-8 months of crappy weather.
That left March and April. To better our odds of warmer spring weather, we settled on April. It was a quick turnaround. We could have pushed it to October of 2016, or April of 2017. But from our perspective back in December of 2015, that would mean we’d lock ourselves into our current living situation for the next year or longer. Since recently becoming debt-free, Kirk and I have been planning some moves. Literally.
We hit the ground running in January, with Kirk designing our wedding website and me starting yoga teacher training. (!?) Taking a 200-hour yoga teacher training course while planning a wedding on top of a regular workload isn’t something I’d recommend, but thanks to Kirk’s efforts we made it work. Why the training, why then? It was my last opportunity to do the training with the incredible teachers I’d been practicing with for the last 4 years, as they were leaving San Diego to open another studio across the country.
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There are a million little details that go into this wedding planning thing. Even though ours would be relatively small and our reception was planned almost completely by the hotel (food, decorations, seating, lighting, etc.), it’s still a circus. A few things made ours more complicated than not: hosting several friends and family members at our house leading up to and after the wedding, having separate locations for the ceremony and reception, and throwing a cocktail party at our house for all our guests the night before the wedding.
The Saturday before the wedding was my graduation from teacher training. After leading a class of fellow trainees through my own 30-minute yoga flow, I exhaled three months of intense physical and emotional effort from my body and mind. The feeling of relief was too quickly replaced with nervous anticipation of the wedding — less than 7 days away. Something else was gnawing at me, too. Kirk and I had decided to write our own vows, and I hadn’t finished mine yet.
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Our families began arriving from the Midwest starting Tuesday, trickling in over the week, providing us with an incredible amount of preparation help. My Aunt Jayne made last-minute alterations to my dress. Kirk’s mom Val and Aunt Anita slaved away in our kitchen preparing all of the food for the Friday night party and post-ceremony refreshments. My sister Kelly and friend Hadley threw me a bachelorette party Thursday night. My mom sorted tiny details I would have forgotten including my jewelry, bobby pins and sanity.
Friday night at 6:30 pm, I was in a full-blown holy-shit-we’re-so-not-ready-for-this panic, when Andrea, my friend since kindergarten, fresh off her flight from Chicago, walked into the courtyard of our house with the biggest this-is-finally-happening! grin on her face. I was struggling through my bachelorette party hangover, trying to set out chairs, and had yet to set up the bar on the porch, or hang the lights. “You should put your dress on. Let me finish this,” she said, grabbing the lanterns.
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The day of. From the minute I awoke, through all of the last-minute logistics — making sure all friends and family helping us pull this together knew what they needed to do, when, where and how; that the chairs, flowers, tables, refreshments, sound systems, musician, photographer, baker, their equipment and goods would arrive and depart, be set up and torn down when needed; that all the things flying around the ether only as theoretical plans until now, actually manifested in real life when we needed them to, oh shit! — through it all, I was still writing my vows.
Five minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin, I was sitting on the couch in my dress with my computer on my lap, my cursor blinking at me. My sister had driven my mom to the ceremony first and was coming back for me any second.
Kelly burst in the door. “You ready? It’s getting late.”
“Just one second here…” I frantically connected my computer to the printer.
“You haven’t printed out your vows.”
I took the paper from the printer. “Have now. But I still haven’t finished.” I wanted them to be perfect.
“Gimme that.” She grabbed the paper and scanned it. “What are you talking about…?” She scribbled the last word, and added a period. “Done.”
My sister at the wheel, we drove the dozen blocks from my house through town and down to the Strand. To get to our entrance point on the south side of the park and meet my florists waiting with our bouquets, we had to drive right past all of our guests gathered at the park. I crouched down in the backseat of the Passat. By now we were close to fifteen minutes late. Later, I found out Kirk grabbed the mic to explain to everyone that I was having a tough time getting out of my wetsuit and into my dress.
We parked the car, were handed bouquets, then rounded the corner to see my dad waiting at the edge of the park. The ring bearers (we had two: Kirk’s cousin, James, and his best man’s son, Levon) set off. Kelly, my maid of honor, went next. Then I took my dad’s arm, and together we walked down the aisle.
Just like everyone says, your wedding day is a blur. Near the end of the ceremony, after we read our vows, I breathed my first tiny sigh of relief. Even so, the rest of the day I was in a heightened state of reality, a million thoughts and none blazing through my mind and not at all times. My friend Hadley, who got married last year, told me there will be things you wished played out differently — you can’t help it. With so many things happening at once and only one shot at how they play out, mishaps are inescapable. The goal of course, was never a perfectly executed event. It was a gathering and celebration of friends, family, and love.
I’ll remember… Our ring bearer, James, surprising us by wearing the same outfit Kirk wore to his aunt and uncle’s wedding nearly 30 years ago when Kirk was their ring bearer; the joke our officiant (Kirk’s uncle Greg) made when he called out my thoughts that he was dragging on too long (he wasn’t); the whale spout our guests saw behind us during the ceremony; the cheers and clapping from people sitting on their decks and on the beach as we walked the Strand; our first impromptu dance on the pier to a Peter Frampton song played by O’side local, Issac; my sister’s heartfelt speech; Kirk’s best man TC’s speech, so long and so not PG; my dad’s speech, how he paced the floor and timed his punchlines like a stand-up comedian; Kirk directing the reception’s events with aplomb; reminiscing with my since-we-were-babies friend, Julie, while watching the slideshow Kirk’s dad, Kevin, put together; dancing with Kirk like crazy people to Queen; spotting my dad and Kirk’s dad taking pulls from a bottle of scotch; cruising back and forth through the lounge on longboards by the fireplace; watching Uncle Greg tear up the dancefloor in his Teva sandals.
To all of our friends and family, who came to help celebrate us, thank you. ☼
Photos: John Newsome Photography.