Image: One Love Photo


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

#81: Brave Wedding: Stephanie & Ben

Today's brave wedding is special to me on two levels. First, because the groom and my boyfriend-for-life are best friends and are involved in an intense "bromance"; they share a brain, a history of nonsensical jokes that only they find amusing, and a version of "date night" (Dungeons & Dragons role playing games via Skype) that the distance between New York City and Philadelphia cannot tear apart.

Second, I love that the bride Steph, a self-proclaimed feminist and tomboy, unapologetically embraced the fact that she wanted a "fancy" traditional wedding. Because hey - sometimes it's just fun to be fancy, ya know? The style of your wedding reflects you but it does not define you. It's special not (just) because of how it looked, the choices you made, how unique it was, or how many personal touches you added - it's special because of the promises that were spoken in the presence of your loved ones. Your wedding is a block of hours within a blissful day - a single chapter in your own epic love story. It's special because it's all yours. And with that I give you my dear friend and not-quite-sister-in-law-but-feels-like-family-anyway Steph:

I’m a feminist and Women’s Studies minor, so one of the bravest things for me was just accepting that I was about to take on the role of “sombody’s wife,” and finding a way to make that role my own. I highly recommend the book Offbeat Bride by Ariel Meadow Stallings regarding this issue.

I’m also a tomboy by nature. My standard uniform is jeans, a t-shirt and sandals. I wasn’t one of those women who’d been planning my wedding since I was six years old, and I’ve never fantasized about being a princess. Yet as Ben and I looked at venues and other things associated with the big day, I soon realized I did have a more “fancy” as opposed to “laid back” vision for our wedding. I still wanted it to be US, but for that one day I wanted US taken up a notch. I wanted, if you’ll pardon the pun, a “marriage” of quirky and traditional. We also both didn’t want to spend beyond our families combined means for just one day.

By choosing our location just outside the city, we were able find a place that felt fancy (Fisher’s Tudor House) while still saving at least $20 per person on the meal (this was a BIG DEAL because we wound up with almost 200 guests).

Other special touches that made the day about US:
  • I’m Jewish and Ben is Lutheran. It was important to us to have both traditions incorporated into the ceremony. We found a rabbi online who was willing to officiate an interfaith marriage, and he joined Ben’s childhood pastor in conducting the ceremony.
  • Ben’s youngest sister Beckie was our flower girl. She was 16 at the time. I got a few raised eyebrows but to me it was perfect. There weren’t any young children in either of our families and it just fit!
  • Our friends our also very important to us, and we included almost all of them in the wedding party. I had 10 attendants at my side. In large part because there are 8 women I consider life-long friends from different periods in my life who helped make me the person I am today. When trying to envision the day, it just didn’t feel right without each of them standing by my side. So I took a “the more the merrier approach.” It was stressful at times, but it was absolutely the right decision.

  • Family is very important to both of us and all of our immediate family had a special role in the ceremony and reception. Ben’s family built our Chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy). I also wore my maternal great grandmother’s veil and paternal grandmother’s wedding ring during the ceremony, and used my maternal grandparents Kiddush cup. At the reception, we had a “sibling dance” where me and my brother and Ben and his brother and two sisters danced together to “Through the Years”.

  • To help introduce everyone in the wedding party we had a “bridesmaids vs. groomspeople” lazer tag outing, followed by dinner at Friendlys. It was a blast!
  • With a large wedding party, gift giving gets expensive. My main gift to my girls was a handmade blue bracelet (it matched their dresses) from a lovely woman named Helen Bheler ( The cost of the bracelet went towards cancer research. It felt good to know my money was serving double duty in the good cause department.
  • Although we chose blue and brown as our colors for neutrality, we added random “pops” of my favorite color purple, and his favorite color green. Even when it clashed it worked.
It sounds silly now, but I was sooo scared about walking down the isle. I like being the center of attention…up to a point. But the idea of being such a HUGE focal point in front of so many people just about gave me hives. However, the advice everyone gave me was true. First off, everyone was there to celebrate with me and because they love me. And more importantly, when it was actually time to walk it all just flew by. All of the other people faded away and I only had eyes for Ben.

Our first dance as husband and wife was my favorite moment. Hands down.

Don’t be afraid to break with tradition a little bit. Case in point, Ben's mother/son dance. I was really nervous that it wasn’t traditional enough, but it was one of the best parts of the wedding. Cake fights are a must! As is doing some kind of special dance or song routine with your girls that really reflects you. In my case it was “Stop in the Name of Love”.

The day goes by incredibly fast. Everyone who tells you that is not kidding! Take time to enjoy it and really soak it all in. Also, keep in mind that it really is only one day. If you have a great relationship going into it, married life together really isn’t all that different than your life together as you’re planning the wedding.

I learned that Ben and I work well as a team. Which likely is a good sign for the rest of our marriage.

I learned that it’s ok to spend a lot of money if a) you can actually afford it and b) it’s something that really matters to you. We spent $3K on photography (which included the actual taking of the pictures, our wedding album and 4 smaller albums for our families; check out for more info) and 5K on our honeymoon. It was all paid off in full by the wedding day. We planned out a budget and mapped out how much extra each month we’d have to save to afford those two big ticket items and did the work to make it happen. And we enjoyed both immensely.

Most importantly, I learned that all of the stress and headaches of wedding planning are worth it in the end. I’m glad I don’t have to do it ever again, but looking back there isn’t anything big I would change.

1 comment:

Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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