Forget the part about me never knowing If I'd ever get married and not having marriage on my radar at all. At some point, my partner and I made the decision to marry. It works like this: you want it when you want it, and you know when you know. We knew that either alone or with our closest friends and family, we wanted to participate in a ceremony that would proclaim our love and commitment out loud and to each other, using our mouth's. Six months later, we did that.
Have you ever been nervous to recall something? As if remembering will taint your memory somehow. I did not mean to not write about my wedding. Sometimes, a thing needs to happen and fully process in my body before I can re-process it by way of remembering. But it is the beginning of fall now, and summer was too magnificent to leave her behind without a formal documentation of the main event. This wedding was exactly what it was supposed to be, and it's time to reflect upon it! This is a long one, so settle in...
It all happened so quickly, yet none of it was rushed. This event never got out of hand because it never became something it was not. What it was and continues to be, is love alive. What it was not, was on someone else's agenda, or an event that took a year to plan. Personally, the quick turnaround is what aided in the success of our wedding. Most importantly, the flawless execution of it all is indeed owed to my mother's spreadsheets, my father's hand-made wooden arch, Samantha's flowers, wedding-planner brain and Pinterest board, Alli's clipboard and hidden stage-management skills, Anna-Claire Beasley and all of the hands that were on deck, which were everyones. I did not do this alone, nor would I ever wish that upon someone. But for some people, having control over it all is what works for them. Everyone works differently. I am not shaming those who take two years to plan every detail; I think that kind of intention is beautiful. For my spouse (!!!) and I, the things that were most important were location, intimacy and authenticity.
It started with an Instagram post. Instead of shaming ourselves for that, we celebrate the creative folks who have built a platform for themselves on that app, and applaud AC for reaching us in that way. Around the beginning of December, our (incredible) photographer Anna-Claire Beasley posted a call on her Instagram for couples seeking intimate elopement sessions in and around Big Bend National Park. By then, Mitch and I knew we totally wanted to spend forever together, blah blah blah. AC's call resonated with us deeply. Getting married in a national park? By ourselves and in nature and on no one else's agenda? Hell freaking yeah, we wanna do that!
We categorized this wedding as an elopement for about a month until we realized we could not get married alone. As magical as it is for some people, we knew we would regret it if our parents weren't there. Eventually, our friends made us realize we would regret it if they weren't there, too. Our original plans had this elopement taking place in Big Bend State Park, which is much more off-grid, secluded and bare-bones than Big Bend National Park. Once we decided we wanted more people involved, we knew we needed a more accessible location for our guests.
Anna-Claire is an adventure photographer in every sense of the word and there is not a landscape she knows better than west Texas. Together, we decided on Chisos Mountains Lodge located inside of Big Bend National Park. Their patio faces the Window Trail overlook, which was another intimate option that would not be accessible for all of our guests because of the trail. This patio was the perfect comprise: the comfort of chairs with the stunning window trail overlook right behind us. Because we were in a mountain range, it was about ten degrees cooler than the rest of the desert, on top of a random and absolutely God-sent cool-front. Our wedding was on June 01, 2019 and the temperate went from a predicted one-hundo and seven (107!!!) to a comfortable and breezy 80. A miracle, truly. Sweaters were worn in the evening! No one was sweating except when we were dancing! The location was ideal for us and our loved ones. It's a pain in the ass to travel to, but once everyone had arrived and was kissed by that desert-mountain air, nothing else mattered and the weekend was ours.
By the way-- eternally grateful for a partner who was down to get married in Texas.
Obviously, there have been smaller weddings. Both of my siblings are married, Brandi has two kids and Aunt Wendy had to be invited because it would not have been my wedding if Aunt Wendy and Uncle Dan were not there. Counting Mitch and I, the total was 32. Some people could not attend because of other commitments, and it kind of worked out nicely that way (love y'all though, we missed you.) Intimacy works like this in my mind: am I able to be my full, unapologetic self around these people? Yes? Then it is an intimate setting. As all weddings go, every decision was intentional, down to Mitch and I walking each other down the aisle, and a hand-drawn unicorn (by me) on our welcome sign. Details inspire intimacy. A weekend in the desert inspires intimacy, and the lodge where we were staying is the only food sold in the whole park, so giant group breakfasts provided intimacy, as well as Matt's desert Grindr hunt. Everyone was fully present during our ceremony since it only lasted 11 minutes, which aided in an intimate and celebratory evening. At dinner, my mom (QUEEN) arranged a gorgeous table 12 disciples style for myself, Mitch and our parents'. Typically, this set up would make me uncomfortable because of the separation between us and the guests, but since the guest-list was small, we could easily see everyone at dinner and interact at our leisure. "But what about all the people who you didn't invite you who love that you want to take part in this season of love?" Four words: Destination wedding, hometown party. In my opinion that is the best wedding hack I could give someone. Have a small wedding! Ask your daddy to hand-make your altar! Wear your sister's wedding dress! And then once you're back home and happily settled, throw a big ass party at your favorite neighborhood bar. Relive the magical day with the people you love most. Simple as that.
Another thing worth mentioning that provided intimacy on the day of our wedding, was a sunrise photo shoot with our photographer, a well as a portrait session directly after our ceremony. The hours together in the morning and the 15 minutes together right after we got married were essential in keeping me grounded and centered on a day that can easily become so hectic. Not to mention AC's talent: whenever I look at the photographs from this day I am overwhelmed with vivid memories of how I felt. That is what a good photographer does: they capture the feeling.
There is no right way to "be authentic." Authenticity comes from honoring your most true self. So, as Mitch and I were planning this wedding and as the details became more specific of what the weekend would look like, we stayed honest with ourselves if something did not feel right. When something came up that felt like we were doing it because that's what you're "supposed to do when you have a wedding" we said "f that" and did it our way. For me, authenticity arrived in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: One hand had turquoise nail polish the other bright orange, A Texas mood ring on my pointer finger (thanks Mitch,) Three necklaces: my name, Mitch's name, and my mothers diamond, An outfit change into a blue sequin and taffeta 60's dress for our porch-sitting' after party, A small cottage packed full of babes and loud music from the speaker while I got ready, and a first look alone with our photographer. (Apparently it is common to invite everyone into your first look? Don't mean to sound insulting but that is not a first look... it's like many many looks at once?) Non-appearance related authenticity came in the form of location, our heartfelt vows we chose no formula for, and the decorations which were a hand-made wooden arch made by my Dad, and gorgeous flower/succulent arrangements done by Samantha, Betsy and Bridgette. In terms of music, Mitch and I spent weeks deciding on what song we wanted to walk down the aisle to, as music is a love that we share. We decided on Cattails by Big Thief and Uncle Dan picked his heart out, giving a gorgeous version of the song. Mitch made a flawless playlist for our after-dinner dancing, ft. Shady Bug. Most importantly, I felt like the best version of myself all day and all night. Nothing felt performative or out of place... everything was simple. Simple, and good. This night felt like everything good: Garner State Park in the summer, a breeze, kept promises, a sky full of stars and all the complicated lessons love teaches you.
Something I committed to a long time ago, was my desire to one day wear my sister's wedding dress. In 2015 I had the honor of standing beside Brandi as she committed herself to Joe, and there has never been a more beautiful wedding. Even mine (lol) comes second compared to her chandelier in the trees, historic-femme-charm-vibes (??) on the lake in Austin, Texas. I am honored to have worn Brandi's wedding dress, and I am really sorry that we messed with the hooks on the corset a little bit. I hope our children wear it one day and their children, too.
Therapy is good all of the time, but especially during anything transitionary. Processing feelings is so healthy and so important. Shout-out to Rachel who kept me grounded and to all the hands that have held mine, metaphorically and non. Active focus on my mental health kept me away from triggering wedding toxicity that is shoved down our THROATZ by every magazine and blog on the BLOCK. OK??? TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
It was a damn good time. That is my main point: it was a damn good time. I am so grateful for everyone who witnessed our love this summer. Your presence, near and far, represents in my heart accountability and friendship. I love you, I see you, and I support you, back.
All photos minus the group photo that was obviously taken on a cell phone, were taken by Anna-Claire Beasley.
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