Thursday, April 3, 2014

Planning A Wedding: On Hurdles

I believe that I've lead a pretty beautiful and privileged life. I went to a gorgeous college in the Northwest where I met the person I will marry. We started our lives together in rainy Tacoma. Now, I'm so fortunate to live in Portland with Ben. I'm incredibly lucky to be planning a wedding with the person I love most. This all fills me with such hope and happiness for the future that it seems like our wedding should fall together naturally, like perfect puzzle pieces. And it will grow to be organic and beautiful, a breezy, beautiful ceremony by the sea. Because that's how life's supposed to go, right? That's how it looks in my favorite films. That's how it always seems in pictures. Perfect.

I've always envisioned my wedding as this blissful period of planning. A time to pick my bouquet of cascading flowers, wear my dream dress, marry the perfect person, and sit down with everyone I love in a pretty room and just be together. And I do know that my wedding will be perfect in its own way, but I don't think that I ever expected this process to be so hard. So fraught with tension and disappointment. I know much of that is me. I take "user error" blame in many of the issues that have arisen so far, but I find myself, at the end of this very long day, baffled by it all. I don't think, in all my dreaming of getting married, I ever expected that something that is supposed to be so beautiful could be so miserable.

Our biggest (and perhaps eternal) hurdle appears to be the reception location. This is arguably the biggest decision of them all in wedding planning. It sets the tone for everything else. Allows you to decide on decor, flowers, photography styles, catering, attire. We started by looking in Oregon and just couldn't find a space that was in our budget, allowed us enough creative freedom, and was in a convenient location for out of town guests. So, after venue visits, budget spreadsheets, and many tears, we regrouped. And we picked Hawaii as our destination wedding location. We'd get married at a beach house and have both reception and ceremony there, in casual style. It felt right.

I undertook the process of looking for a beach house with daily diligence and discovered that they not only had 7-14 minimum stays, running costs up to $4,000-9,000 for the stay, the owners didn't allow gatherings at any of the houses (under any circumstances!). And again, I was crushed. Why was something that seemed so simple and so perfect, so difficult. So I abandoned that idea and was back to square one. We looked at true wedding venues in Hawaii, all too expensive or didn't allow us catering options. We looked at beach parks and public beaches, but those don't allow drinking and we're not interested in a dry wedding.

We finally landed on using my grandparents' home in Hawaii for the wedding. And so planning proceeded with a potential space secured. The price was perfect, the location ideal, the family connection perfect, and we started booking catering. I booked the photographer. I started practicing my wedding invitations. It all seemed to be smoothly moving toward the beautiful, easy wedding I'd pictured. And just today, it all fell apart again, for reasons that go much deeper than a wedding. In fact, it seems trivial in comparison.

So today, Ben and I are back at square one. But without another square to hop to in sight. And I feel so down, so sad and so mixed up, that I'd rather not be planning a wedding at all. I feel so confused about why a dream can be so difficult to achieve. How there can be so many hurdles when I can see the perfect picture in my head. Why this planning process got so tied up in a deep, family wound that is now so much bigger and more important than this wedding. I'm looking out my bedroom window, at the lights up on the hill tonight, and just hoping against all else that if I go to sleep tonight, I'll wake to a brand new world outside my window. One where my puzzle pieces fall gently into place beside me. No more tears and no more heartache.

I assume that everything will fall together eventually. We'll get married next March in the breeze, by the sea. It may be perfect, or it may be flawed. But we'll end up together and happy in the end. And if there is anything that this process is trying to teach me, it is that that is all that matters, after all. 


  1. These photos are so beautiful!! I wish you all of luck in your process! After all the hard times, I'm sure things will begin to come much easier soon!

  2. Family politics, a veritable harpoon in all kinds of things that should just be easy, I really feel for you. Hang in there lovely, take some time to regroup and I hope things go more smoothly for you from now on. My other half and I have already decided and talked about that when we do get married we are not starting married life with either stress or debt and will just be hiring a church hall, supplying our own bar and asking people to bring some food. I have never had the budget to support dreams of a grand wedding, and would probably just elope if I didn't think my future mother-in-law would kill me if we did that!!

    Keep your chin up x

  3. Wow I'm so sorry that this seemingly happy time has become so stressful. Good luck!

    Rebecca {at} Preppy Panache

  4. I'm so sorry for the stress of it all...but from your writing, it sounds like you are just so, so in love. Which makes the perfect or flawed wedding so wonderful in the end. Congratulations to you two!

  5. Oh no! I'm so sorry Kelsey :( You and Ben have had some rough stuff to deal with lately, but I know everything will work out in the end even if it doesn't seem like it right now. I'm here if you ever want to vent!! xoxo

  6. I am sort of dealing with the same thing right now so I can totally relate. You get this picture in your head of the way your wedding should be and when you get down to it, not all of it is possible (because of budget or logistics or whatever else). The important thing to remember is that you will be marrying the love of your life and starting a great new chapter together. Everything else is just details. And while it seems impossible right now, I know you will make it beautiful and be happy with your wedding in the end! Good luck planning, love!

    xo Amy

  7. I'm wedding planning, too, and while our reception location hunting ended well (so far, anyway), I totally agree with you that it seems awesome and fun in movies and then you do it and there is so much more drama than you ever expected! But you are right - this process may make you that much more happy to just be together, and that's the whole point of a wedding reception anyway, right? Best of luck!


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