Just as I was beginning to plan our wedding a few weeks ago, this post came out from Clothilde about her simple Paris wedding. What she said about planning her event in two months was similar to the timeline that we set for ourselves, and I felt empowered by her thoughts about keeping things simple and “100% you.” Our version of this was a bit different, because of being in SoCal, so here are the choices that we made:
-we’ve worn “wedding” rings for 5+ years (since he first proposed as we watched the sun set one evening at Griffith Park), so that was one thing we didn’t have to worry about for the marriage. My ring is a vintage eternity band, from the ’20s. Stijn’s ring is a simple silver band.
-for a few weeks I struggled with what to wear. I’d thought a cocktail dress would be more befitting our stage of life than a traditional white dress, but after looking and looking, I couldn’t settle on anything that felt right. I wore myself out dress shopping (note: I tire of shopping pretty easily). One afternoon I was thinking about my favorite short story, Isak Dinesen’s “The Blank Page,” and it occurred to me that a simple white dress was what I wanted as I was about to begin the next chapter of my life (something that hinted at so many as-yet-untold stories):
It is in front of this piece of pure white linen that the old princesses of Portugal — worldly wise, dutiful, long-suffering queens, wives and mothers — and their noble old playmates, bridesmaids and maids-of-honour have most often stood still…
The dress I settled on was a silk a-line floor length gown from J.Crew. It was light and easy-to-wear for those two very long days of wedding happenings.
-we held our wedding celebrations at our 1921 bungalow-style home in Old Town Orange. While hard in some ways (parking? food prep? one guest bathroom?), our home is so much a part of who we are, that nothing else would have felt right. We were fortunate to have perfect 75-degree weather and the wisteria and bougainvillea brought tons of color to the pergola in our backyard. Also, we used All-American Party Rental to augment our supply of party goods, and they were wonderful to work with.
-we scheduled a civil ceremony at the historic Santa Ana courthouse. It’s a gorgeous space and we both love history and this reinforces our local ties. Plus, it was a no-hassle way to do the business of marrying. I was surprised by how beautiful it felt to take Stijn’s hands and recite vows as I looked into his eyes. Our family sat on rows of pews around us.
-for our reception we served drinks (sparkling water, juice, champagne, beer, wine) and cake. The cakes were from Blackmarket Bakery: Total Eclipse, Citrus Tang and Straight Up Vanilla. Were I to do it over again I would double the order of the Citrus and cancel the Vanilla (which was tasty but not ohmigawd tasty like the other two). Several guests mentioned that the Total Eclipse chocolate cake was one of the most decadent that they had ever tried, and others complimented the fact that the cakes were rich but not too sweet.
-for the wedding dinner chefStijn and chefCharlie cooked a traditional Belgian dish, vol-au-vent.They also served a variety of cold salad starters and a cheese course accompanied by loaves of Stijn’s own handmade rustic sourdough bread. While I don’t necessarily recommend cooking your own wedding dinner(!), anyone who knows Stijn can understand why this was what he wanted to do. That Charlie was there to lend a hand (and also his partner and honorary bridesmaid Bonny) is why we were able to pull this off…
-both our engagement and wedding photos were taken by longtime friends, who understood me and my style. D’Arcy‘s colorful shots captured our home well (and were perfect for our event invitation) and Brenda’s classical eye matched the look of the old-timey courthouse venue.
-for my something borrowed, I wore vintage gold bracelets (handed down from grandmothers and great-aunts) on loan from some women that I’ve known for many years. I loved wearing something so old and precious for the occasion.
-because we have just about everything we could possibly need or want, we asked guests to consider two nontraditional options in lieu of gifts. The first was to bring books for our Little Free Library, the second was to consider a donation to RIF (Reading is Fundamental) or to First Book (see firstbook.org). Although I don’t yet have a definitive tally, my rough estimate is that about $500 was donated to these organizations as the result of our wedding. Of course we also received many sweet cards and gifts (especially plants, wine, kitchen goods and gift cards), and we have enjoyed each one of them.
-we married on a Friday (the exact 6 year anniversary of our first date) and that night we escaped to The Ranch in Laguna Beach, where we had dinner and sat in front of the fire sipping wine and hardly believing that we were actually married. It was a perfect relaxed but not-too-far-away setting for that first night together as a couple.
-most importantly, our wedding included so many beloved friends and family members and this is what made it truly memorable. I marveled at how far many had traveled and how enthusiastic they were about supporting our union. These past 6 years, since meeting Stijn, have held so many highs and lows, and it’s those people who’ve been ‘there’ for us (both in-person and virtually) who have made this all come together.
As for what it feels like to be married to Stijn…I’ll undoubtedly write more about that in the future. It is not a small thing to combine families and traditions that span the breadth of the globe. Yet for now it has hardly sunk in and I am eager to see what’s next for the two of us as we chart the rest of our lives together.