Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Road to the Alter

AKA, how our surprise wedding came about.

After dating about a year we started talking pretty seriously about getting married. Originally, we both had different ideas of what a wedding meant to us. I wanted something intimate and personal, Jerad wanted what has become the traditional wedding. Ceremony in a church, indoor reception, centerpieces, toasts, bouquet toss, garter toss, cake cutting, all that jazz. We did both want "small" with only immediate family and then all of our friends. We wrote out a guest list, over 180 people. Hmm, not very small.

After another year or so went by, we both changed our minds and decided we wanted a big wedding. In a barn. With twinkle lights and candles, and Santa Maria Style BBQ. So we began planning, researching different venues, colors, all that jazz. Meanwhile, we went to more and more weddings as all of our friends began to tie the knot. Although they were all different, they still felt very much the same. We decided we wanted something different, something more "us." About that time I discovered this blog post all about a surprise wedding. I decided that was the best idea ever. Surprising all of our family and friends, minimal hassle, SO US! Jerad was about 90% gung ho on the idea. He worried that planning something so big, all by ourselves, without ANY help from anyone would stress me the hell out seeing as how I'm such a perfectionist. He was 100% right, I just didn't want to admit it. Still, I told all my best friends about the idea and tucked it away.

I also had really been studying my Quaker heritage and had been going to Quaker Meetings so I wanted to include something of that in the wedding. We both decided that having a Quaker Ceremony would be amazing. It would be something that most people weren't used to, and so personal. Instead of boring toasts at a reception, our friends and families could voice their hearts during the ceremony. I also like the idea of walking down the isle together instead of being escorted down. Since I'm already grown up and have been living on my own for 7 years I didn't feel like I should be "given away."

During the next year, we finalized our plans. We would be getting married in the Valencia Town Hall (ADORABLE!) with the reception at Quail Hollow Ranch. The reception would be outside, with more of a family reunion feel than a wedding feel. We would have lawn games, picnic tables, picnic blankets, and all our nearest and dearest as long as it wasn't more than 80 people (picture something like this). It would be a weekend event with fun things to do and we wanted to find a rustic lodge type place that everyone could stay at.

We both loved the idea, but putting it into practice was difficult. First of all, just our immediate families, aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents came out to almost 70 people. By the time we each picked a few friends to be in the bridal party, we were already at our 80 person limit. It was also just crazy expensive. Neither one of us buy into that "your wedding is the most important day of your life" mentality. We wanted it to be fun for sure, but not consume all of our thoughts/time/energy/ There are a lot of things we were more excited about, like building a house and starting a family.

Nevertheless, we made lists of ideas and links, the invitations we would have, vendors, everything. Now all that was holding things up was the proposal. In the beginning of this year we talked about getting married by the end of the year. As time ticked by, it started seeming more and more like that was NOT going to happen.

I wanted to get married in October, when the weather was still nice, not too hot or cold. Jerad said he "didn't want to share his birthday month." At first I thought he was kidding, but he explained that in the last 4 years of us dating he has had more fun than ever on his birthday and was worried that if we had an anniversary around the same time that the birthday planning would cease.

During the summer we went to 4 weddings, a ton of concerts at the fair, bought a car, reorganized the house, and Jerad started doing AutoCAD side jobs fairly frequently. We were so busy we sort of just stopped talking about getting married any time soon.

Then about 2 months ago when we were in the living room one night Jerad asked me "tell me again what you would want for a wedding if you could have whatever you wanted." I said that honestly, after going to so many weddings (13 since we started dating 4 years ago), and knowing all the stress and tension they cause, I would want SMALL as in not more than 20-25 people, and LOW KEY. A wedding that was about the marriage and not the decorations. About us as a couple and not trying to please everyone else.

He asked me how I would feel about eloping. I said I would love it, as long as it was somewhere that was special to us. Yosemite was the obvious choice. We go camping there multiple times a year (this last camping trip was the third time this year and we're going back in December as well). We love everything about it. We love going with our friends and have SO MANY memories there.

We talked about going and getting married just the two of us. We both felt like we couldn't do it without our core group of friends. They are the people we talk to whenever we have something important and need support, and they are the people who have gone to Yosemite with us year after year as our relationship blossomed. At this point I brought up the surprise wedding idea again and it sounded like a blast. Honestly, I think Jerad was just as excited about surprising everyone as he was about getting married:)

We thought about inviting just our parents, but decided that our siblings would feel left out. We knew that Jerad's sister that lives in Nebraska and just had a baby couldn't make it, and his other sister might not be excited about camping with 3 toddlers. IF everyone could come, it was up over 30 people. We also knew there was no way we could invite our families who had never been camping with us, and everyone not know something was up.

Now we had decided where, who, and how, but needed to figure out when. I really wanted a fall or winter wedding. We had also been getting more serious about starting a family and wanted to wait until at least a year after we were married. If we got married next fall/winter and then waited a year, we were talking 2 years before we even started TRYING to have kids. So.... my answer was "if it was up to me, either now, or when we're done having kids."

He asked what about October.
I said I would love that, but what about his not wanting to share his b-day month? Apparently he was over it.

We already had plans the first 2 weekends of the month, then the 3rd was his birthday, and the 5th weekend was Halloween. That left one weekend free. Oct 24th-25th. Which gave us about 8 weeks to plan a wedding.

Stressful? Yes. Doable? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What we did last weekend:

So, sorry for the lack of posting lately. Planning a surprise wedding takes up a considerable about of time apparently.