People, I am so excited I can barely keep my clothes on. Why? Because this is Brave Bride's very first real wedding! Hooray! Today's guest blogger is the fun, stylish, and down-to-earth Hanh, who recently married her long-time boyfriend Brandon in Toledo, Ohio. Below she discusses how she bravely planned a wedding that was a bit offbeat for her traditional family's taste. Despite the stress and anxiety that this couple endured, their wedding boiled down to good old fashioned LOVE in the end. (Wait until you read about her favorite moment of the entire wedding day. Get yo' Kleenex out, y'all!) This is a bride who sees the big picture. She "gets it". Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hanh...
I am a "brave bride" because I was able to find that middle ground amidst the wedding craze. During the process, many conflicts of interest glare their ugly face. Luckily in the end, I was able to preserve much of my personal flare. I was never much of a conventional girl, even when it came to the wedding business. I preferred a short white dress and hated the idea of a train (which greatly disappointed my dear grandma). My wedding was a reflection of all the things I adore in life: buttons, balloons, cupcakes, cute shoes, skirts, bright colors, different music... and fortunately, all of such things came with good input and approval from the other half.
My biggest battle was my parents, especially my father. They hold on tight to tradition and Vietnamese values. It took a close decade of me dating Brandon for them to warm up to idea of marriage for me. To complicate the situation a bit, I was going to marry a boy outside my race. Culturally, conversations have always been reserved between me and my parents. We mostly talk about school and never venture into discussion about love and personal dealings. This wedding process was a learning opportunity for all of us.
Me and Brandon wanted to fund our entire wedding, within a reasonably budget. Realistically, it was not possible on just one income and a crazy mess of school debt we both had. My parents generously offered to pay for half. And this meant they had a big "investment" in the big day.
Initially, we were going to have an "American wedding" in Ohio and a "Vietnamese wedding" in my home state California. But time and money did not pan out just right. So we opted for one special blended day in Ohio. There were many nights where I had to stand my ground and explain to my parents why I wasn't going to have a ten-course meal, a videographer, a limo, a live band, 3 hours of non-stop Vietnamese dancing music, and a multitude of others things they believed represented the "right wedding."
There were those moments I just wanted the day to come quick and disappear. To call it stress was an understatement.
The silly things I worried too much about: being rather OCD in habit, I worried about almost every little wedding detail... What time the guys were going to get ready? What everyone was going to wear and how? How the food was plated? Who was going to sit next to who? What song would play at a certain time? How the flowers should be (I did my own, huge mistake and huge success at the same time)? What I expected everyone to say the day of? etc.
In the end, it did not matter that greatly. For sure, all those little details added to the beauty of the day when they worked out right. In retrospect, I should have relaxed MORE the days and weeks before the big day. I finally accepted and realized a couple days before the wedding that nothing works out just perfectly. Take all the good things and run with them! There is no time to fuss over the things that went wrong.
Because smile, the wed-day is really about bringing all the wonderful people in your life in one single place and time to celebrate your LOVE.
My favorite moment of the day: when Brandon was absolutely teary and speechless after I said my short and sweet vows. After a long pause and with soft whispers of help from his groomsmen, he replied, "ditto."
Lessons: Too MANY to list, but the biggest one learned was my personal realization that weddings are meant to be about the crazy beauty of LOVE. The little cute decors definitely helped spice up the day, but ultimately the day was about the celebration of me and Brandon's love. Also, as a the bride you will get many talks that start off with "you should do this like this..." Stay true to yourself and your loves in life. Find that right compromise between you and all your "investors." In the end, YOUR memory of your day is forever and the most valuable.
Photography: ShutterLOVE Studio
Dress: Dolly Couture