earlier this week my hubby, chris, & i celebrated our first wedding anniversary. this milestone has had me in a pretty emotional, grateful, & reflective headspace for quite some time. we enjoyed every single moment of our wedding day & life has blessed us in more ways than one in the year since.
chris & i both very actively planned our wedding weekend together – from the rehearsal dinner to the playlist we handed over to the dj. we made a commitment to each other that our big day would be, without a doubt, completely & totally true to who we are as a a couple.
in some cases this meant politely declining our parents’ well-intentioned suggestions & in other cases it meant having our vendors look at us like we were a little crazy (such as the time when i asked our florist if it would be possible to achieve the “chic hawaiian waterfall secret garden” look i was going for…in wisconsin…).
in the end, though, those awkward moments were SO worth it. they led us to a day that was a beautiful celebration of our love story & our commitment to each other.
as i look back on our wedding day, i realize that the memories we cherish most are a result of the instances we decided to throw tradition out the window & do our wedding, our one day, our way.
tossing aside traditions can be scary as a bride, but it’s my one piece of advice for anyone planning a wedding: don’t stick to the traditions just because you feel pressured to. your day is a celebration of you & your husband. it will go by so quickly & you shouldn’t spend a second of it doing something that doesn’t feel authentically you.
seven ways we threw wedding day traditions out the window to do our wedding our way:
1. the engagement luau
chris & i planned 2 wedding celebrations (because apparently we’re nuts) & in hindsight i still wouldn’t do it any other way.
the first celebration was a casual engagement luau bbq in my parents’ yard in our hometown, enabling us to stretch our budget & be able to both throw a party to celebrate with everyone we love but also have an elegant & intimate wedding day.
we invited all of our family, all of our friends, all of our parents’ friends, our neighbors, their neighbors, the mailmen, etc. (you get the picture – we invited everyone we have ever known…& their mothers too).
everyone was such a great sport about playing along with our luau theme (which i adored since it was a nod to my family’s roots) & showed up in muumuus, aloha shirts, & leis. we played lawn games, drank a ton of passionfruit margaritas, ate a whole-roasted pig, & danced our pants off into the wee hours of the night (at which point karaoke also may or may not have ensued #whoops.)
2. the first first look
i’ve said it before, i’ll say it again, i’m a total pile of mush when it comes to my dad. i’m totally the apple that didn’t fall far from his tree because we are so similar in so many ways.
aside from the time we spent walking down the aisle together, i wanted to be sure to set aside some time to have a a special moment with him before the craziness of the wedding day schedule set in.
we did a father-daughter first look & our amazingly talented photographer, ren, did the perfect job capturing this special memory for us.
3. the wedding party
since we were keeping the wedding guest list very small it would have been so weird to have a wedding party of 20 or even 12 people – that would have been almost 1/3 of our entire wedding!
we opted instead to ask only those who are closest to us to join us up front for our special day: our family.
chris’ older brothers, micah & ben, stepped in as his best men.my older brother, micah, made the perfect man of honor (& he actually saved the day when our audio went out during our ceremony) & i couldn’t imagine anyone else being my maid of honor than my best friend, emily. she was my family in college & was totally the rock that kept me grounded during those sometimes-hard early-twenties years (a really damn funny rock, at that).
4. the flower grandmas
our celebration was an adults-only affair & one of the drawbacks of that was we weren’t able to have our adorable nieces walk down the aisle as our flower girls. so, we asked the next best little ladies in our lives: our grandmas.
i hate to say it, but they totally stole the show, too.
5. the steel drums
since we couldn’t do a destination wedding to our beloved hawaii, we did our darnedest to bring the islands to us. & because we’re not the most romantic people on the face of the planet, but we do like a good party, we chose to have a steel drum band perform at our ceremony & dinner.
i walked down the aisle to a steel drum rendition of beyoncé’s xo, & chris & i walked out together to bob marley’s could you be loved. it was perfectly us.
6. the ceremony
easily my favorite memory of our wedding day was our ceremony. chris & i worked together, retelling our love story, carefully choosing every reading, & writing our own vows, to ensure that our ceremony was a 100% personal reflection of us & our journey to the alter (including kicking the whole darn thing off with a toast of prosecco!).
as a passionate foodie, dinner was probably the aspect of our wedding day that i was most excited to plan. the event staff at bacchus was more than willing to accommodate my ideas.
we passed desserts with the hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour (because dessert should always come first!), dinner included a primi course of family-style antipasti & pasta (a nod to my time spent working in italian restaurants), & for dessert we enjoyed an assortment of cheesecakes (chris’ favorite!).
it’s been so fun sharing our wedding story with you all! if you’d like to read more about our wedding day, check out the 2 other posts in this series:
no longer newlyweds: the five best things we learned in our first year of marriage
I love the idea of a first look with your dad! I am a total daddy’s girl, so I’m sure that moment was so special. And the grandma flower girls…love! You guys definitely made it your own and it looked to be every bit of amazing!
aw, daddy’s girls unite! it was SUCH a great moment.
Your Luau was the bees knees! I’d say our wedding was pretty traditional but, I worked closely with a watercolor artist in Toronto who did a commissioned piece of what I envisioned my bridal bouquet to look like. And then, as the Frank’s commercials put it best, “I put that sh*t on everything”. The theme that I subtly pulled in was also sweet, I used ‘at last’ on our save the dates in a fun script font, then also handmade a golden sign to match that hung above us under a greenery garland. My florist totally didn’t understand the concept so of course we had to pay her to do a site visit so she could visualize it. It was worth the $$ Since it was 12 years in the making, the saying was oh so appropriate. (We also encorporated it into our hashtag and wedding website link, too.) Can’t wait to see what other unique touches people put on their weddings.
thank you so much jenna! (thanks also for being our unofficial luau photographer!) i LOVED the watercolor art you pulled together – seriously all of your details & decor were so well thought out & beautiful. serious pinterest-worthy wedding. not to mention, it was a total blast. can’t wait to see you guys soon! xoxo
I love this post. The moment with your father actually brought tears to my eyes <3.
aw this made my day akansha! thank you!! 🙂