Observations from a future bride and Noble Native founder.
I love weddings, and I've been fortunate to share in many of these events over the years. I love the excuse of getting dressed up and paying too much for fancy wrapping paper, and if I'm in the wedding, paying too much for a dress that I hate. I love the invitations, the flowers, taking my heels off during the reception, and the butter mints... oh the butter mints.
For me, thinking about my future wedding reached a cross roads in my late 20's. I was smack dab in the middle of my quarter life crisis, exhausted from a string of breakups, and firmly convinced that not only was everyone else more likely to get married than myself, but that there had to be something wrong with me because I was still single. I can't give you a date when I reached this crossroads, but my options were that I would no longer think about it all, and also that in the event that I did need to think about it, that I had so much more insight into weddings (being so old and wise and still single), that planning it would be easy... just add groom.
Fast forward six or seven years, and my life looks completely different, I'm completely different, I'm better now. Sam proposed, it happened, it was better than any story I could have dreamed up out of jealousy, it happened and it was beautiful because it was my story. Now what? Five minutes after the ring went on, everyone expects every detail of the next five years of your life to be planned, and I genuinely had no idea what I wanted next!
First thing's first, we need to decide where, so that we could decide the when.
I'm an introvert and my fiance is an extrovert, and while a part of me wanted to hire a sky-writer to announce that I was getting married (finally), the other part of me wanted to be selfish of the day, and be able to really absorb the love and attention of the people that would be there. It's impossible to do that with larger groups, so we both agreed to opt for quality over quantity. Small wedding, done!
Not exactly small, I'm the oldest of eight children, and my divorced parents are also from large families, and so I've got family coming out of my ears! My fiance is from a VERY small family, and the time and attention paid to each member of it, is very very different from mine. However in the spirit of fairness, and with the continued hope of keeping the day simple, we decided to not have wedding attendants... sorry to all of my sisters and friends that were looking forward to purchasing another green dress from David's Bridal.
The location of the wedding was a particularly difficult challenge because of where we live. I wanted to get married outside on the grass, but it's wedding suicide to plan an outdoor event in the midwest. To further complicate the matter, we couldn't agree on the state to hold it in. My fiance was born and raised in Kansas, but I grew-up all over the place, and have the strongest emotional ties to the state of California. When we realized that neither state was of interest to other person, we did the next most logical thing, and decided to have the wedding in Europe.
Say what??!! Yep, it may sound nuts, but the last thing we wanted to do, was to get trapped into having a wedding that one of us wasn't 100% thrilled with, just because we either wanted to make the other person happy, or because it was easier than what we really wanted. So, we began circling the globe for the where, and after an endless amount of pro/con lists, we decided on the Loire Valley in central France.
What won us over on the location, is that France is beautiful, and is literally crawling with beautiful country homes outside of Paris that people airbnb for next to nothing! So, we booked a beautiful house next to a small river, in a little village of 900. Our immediate family could all come stay with us in the house for several days, and a limited number of our friends would also come and stay in a nearby hotel. Built in the 16th century, the house is something from a fairy tale, no decorations required.
Sound too easy? There was way more problems in planning the little things that I thought would be easy. Food was a big one, even for a small party such as ours of 40, how do you feed that many people in a place that you've never been before?? Thank goodness for our Airbnb host, she was a wealth of knowledge, and put us in touch with a private chef, that made everything else easy, he's even bringing me decorative flowers for the tables.
If you're wondering if it's legal for Americans to get married in France, it's not. The French government requires that at least one of the people getting married, reside in the country for at least 45 days prior to the wedding, which is totally unrealistic for us, so we did the next best thing!
Our wedding became a two-parter. Our "wedding" is the ceremony in which we will exchange our vows and cry our happy tears, and this will occur in France. Back at home, we planned an afternoon wedding reception at an urban winery (it's the french connection), in which we can celebrate with some of our family and friends that weren't able to travel to France, and we'll legally sign our marriage paperwork at that time. We're calling this event our "enhanced reception."
I think it's also worth mentioning that cost was always a factor in our planning, because we genuinely wanted to create an experience, rather than a single day event. It was a difficult balance, but with the majority of plans finished, our wedding (including our airfair to France, and our photographer), has all added up to about $7k. Not bad if I do say so myself!
I'm confident that the real reason that you're reading this post, is because you want to know about the dress. It's all about the dress, and I'm no exception. In my next post, I'll tackle sustainability and wedding dress shopping.