My 24th birthday will be one that I remember forever. It was the day my then-boyfriend popped the question. His proposal was perfect: he had taken me out to dinner at an elegant restaurant before bringing me back to the waterfront hotel and bar where we had met three years earlier. He ushered me into their largest suite where the candles had already been lit and a birthday cake sat waiting on the table surrounded by a pile of presents. Well, you guessed it. Inside one of those presents was my ring. I was in awe as he proceeded to get down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
Like any bride-to-be, I wanted to start planning immediately. We decided on a Fall wedding — early November when New England is at its most glorious — which gave us a solid 15 months to plan and save.
Exactly one month later, my dad was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and his prognosis was grim. Once the dust settled, we decided on a new date. The only thing was that it gave us just two months to pull everything together.
With only two months to plan, we didn't have the luxury of stressing over details or feeling cheated out of the things we had to sacrifice in order to make our wedding happen. Having to make sacrifices on your wedding day for the sake of time and budget sounds awful at first. After all, you only get to do this once, right? (At least that's what most starry-eyed brides hope for, anyway.) But in the end, we were forced to sit down and think about what really mattered. For us, it was having the people we loved there to share in our day. Then everything else just fell into place.
We were forced to sit down and think about what really mattered. For us, it was having the people we loved there to share in our day.
Both our church and venue, which normally hosts up to three weddings at a time, were completely open on the day we chose. Since it was only two months away, and the odds of anyone else coming along to book the venue were slim, they gave us their grand ballroom, something typically reserved for events with a minimum of 300 people (a far cry from our 100). And with Christmas less than three weeks away, the entire venue was already beautifully decorated. Once ordered, my gown came in earlier than expected and needed minimal alterations, and the photographer, DJ, and limo service were happy to have some business in their quiet season. In fact, everything went so smoothly that I still wonder why people actually feel the need to spend a year (or more) of their lives planning a party.
So what, exactly, did we sacrifice? Not much. Since it was so close to Christmas, we chose not to burden our friends with the responsibilities and costs associated with being in a bridal party. Instead, we had a maid of honor and a best man. And rather than invite every single person we've ever met, we kept it intimate with just our closest friends and family members. I didn't get the $1,500 bouquet I had originally envisioned, but that's OK because the simple roses that I carried dried nicely and now serve as a decoration on our mantle. Other than that, I can't think of a single thing that we missed having.
Ten years and three children later, there's a lot about my wedding day that I don't even remember. But I'll tell you what I do remember. I remember the look on my dad's face when he walked me down the aisle, and how we were both crying and laughing as we danced to the song he had chosen. I remember my new husband breaking it down on the dance floor to Michael Jackson (I had no idea he actually knew how to dance) and not being able to contain my laughter. I remember one hell of an after party at the hotel bar, complete with a live band, that continued on well into the night in the hallway of rooms that our family and friends occupied. So you see, the invitations, favors, flowers, and centerpieces are easily forgotten. In a couple of years, you won't remember the details of the party you worked so hard to plan. But you will remember the moments — especially if they're the last — you had with the people you love.