Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A is for Advice....Wedding Advice

Allyson and I were talking this week about some of the things we wished we'd done differently, as well as our favorite moments of the day. I'm a big list-maker myself, and think lists are an easy way to outline some of the things to think about for your big day. So here you go....

Top 5 Moments (or things we are glad we did)

1. "Pre-Vows"

We wrote our vows together. They were actually fairly easy to write because we agree on what a relationship means to us and what we want to give and get from each other over the years. The vows were set up like "I promise to...."

Our "pre-vows" came right before our vows and were a chance for each of us to say why we love the other one. We decided not to share this with each other before wedding day. We did talk about the length of them and the general approach, so that they seemed to fit together. This was by far the most meaningful part of my day. I cried saying mine and I cried when Allyson said hers. No matter what else happened this day (and lots of other great things happened), this made the day. 

We wrote our pre-vows and our vows in a little book that we can now keep and look back at over the years. We also wrote down everything we did the week following the wedding in the book, so we can remember that too. 

All Photos Taken by Wedding Photographer, Jonathan Steinberg

2. Our Song - I've Just Seen A Face by The Beatles

Allyson and I sing together a lot. We have lots of songs we could've sang. The one we chose isn't the one that necessarily highlights each of our voices the best. But the words are perfect. It's fun and easy to sing. And most importantly, we are so connected when we sing this song. It's nearly impossible to screw up because we can feel the other person doing their part; not just focusing on trying to get our parts right (I should really speak for myself here...I've been a singer my whole life and love to harmonize. Part of good harmony is connecting with the other person/people and it's kind of what I live for when singing. I'm just so so grateful I have married someone I can harmonize with). 

Favorite two moments of this song on wedding day: 
                     1. When we messed up the words. Seriously, favorite part. Why you ask? Because we laughed for like 3 seconds and then just jumped back in like it was part of the song. My wife was pretty nervous about doing this in front of a crowd, and she was just so strong out there and actually had fun. So proud of her!

                     2. These lyrics get me every time: 

"...she's just the girl for me; And I want all the world to see we've met..."

 Because we are gay, and there is still so much controversy about that in our society. And so many gay people or couples feel like they have to keep their love quiet, these lyrics mean so much to me. There hasn't been a moment since I first considered being with Allyson, that I didn't want to tell everyone. That means something...she's it and no one can tell me otherwise. I want all the world to see we've met!

3. Venue

We spent months making a decision about where to have our wedding. We have friends and family all over the country. The first place we thought of was Orcas Island and we found Odd Fellows Hall online. We fell in love with the idea, but then ruled it out thinking it was too complicated for people to get there. We researched and visited at least 10 other places in the Bay Area, and nearly put money down on an amazing place: Marin Headlands Center for the Arts. Then we realized the venue itself would cost one-third of our budget and that just seemed insane! We are both so glad we came to our senses. For one-fifth the cost of the Center for the Arts, Odd Fellows could not have fit our personalities more. To get married outside, under beautiful madrona trees and looking out on the water, just worked for us. 

4. Our Parents' and Maid of Honor Speeches

We didn't have much control over this. And sadly, I think these were more emotional for our family and friends because we are gay. Our parents displayed so much support, love, and pride in their speeches. I think everyone cried. 

Photo Taken by Friend, Joann Chang

5. Friend as Officiant

 Allyson has known Nora since they were very young. They grew up together and now we are all friends, along with her lovely partner, Lynn. If we had hired someone we didn't know to officiate, I have to believe that the ceremony would not have been as special. Nora knows us and you could tell from every word she said that she believes in us, as individuals and as a couple. On top of that, she was a natural at speaking in front of people. Thanks Nora!

Runner Up: 6. Didn't Drink Too Much

This may seem like a silly thing for this list. We enjoyed every moment of this day. But we may not be able to remember every moment if we had drank too much. We had both talked about this ahead of time, but I honestly don't even know how we could've drank too much considering the amount of socializing before dinner and dancing after dinner we did. Nevertheless, lots of couples end up getting sloppy, and I'm so so so glad we didn't. I'm also grateful not to have been hungover - on top of the most exhausted I've ever felt - the morning after the wedding!

Top 5 Things We Wish We'd Done Differently

1. Thank You to Wedding Guests
First, we placed a framed "thank you" to our wedding guests by the guest book, but my guess is no one read it. We also said a thank you speech after our parents and maid of honor spoke. Well, we were so overcome by emotion from their speeches that we both feel we kind of dropped the ball on our speech. Our day-of coordinator convinced us that the thank you speech could take the place of walking around from table to table and talking with our guests. What a mistake! We are still regretting not being able to speak to everyone that came, and this would have been our opportunity to do that. Make sure you do this for your wedding! It's so important to feel like you connected with each person that traveled such a long way to be there for you. 

2. Group Photo

We ( I ) didn't do a good enough job telling our photographer some of the key pictures we wanted. We had pictures the perfect photo opportunity. All of our guests could have gotten on the patio at Odd Fellows Hall, along with us, and the photographer could have taken a terrific group shot from up on the balcony. This is worth taking the time to rally the troops. We so wish we had done this. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Steinberg

3. Eat the Cheese!

Neither one of us had a single bite of the appetizers, and we have heard that the cheeses were out of this world. We also only had ONE bite (and was it even a bite if it mostly went up Allyson's nose?) of dessert. Take a few minutes to eat the cheese.

4. Don't Commit to Too Much 

We had some friends planning to go whale watching the following morning, and we thought that would be so fun and give us a chance to spend more time hanging out with people who had come for our wedding. We said it sounded fun but we'd let them know. So we didn't totally bail, but I still felt bad that we couldn't go. Bottom line....give yourself time to recuperate the next day. You'll need it. And some people (probably younger people and those that stay up past 10pm on a regular basis!) could handle an after-party after their wedding, but we were exhausted and wanting some time to ourselves. We hear others had a great time but I'm just saying...I felt bad that I'd suggested an after-party and then we couldn't even make it ourselves. 

5. Don't have a #5 - It really was an awesome day!

Top 5 Songs

This is hard and I'm trying to be objective. These are not necessarily my favorite songs of the evening. But these are the songs that got people on the dance floor. 

1. Love Shack - B52s
2. Thriller - Michael Jackson
3. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen (This slightly embarrasses me, and we actually were out taking pictures during this song. However, we have pictures documenting the fun people had!)
4. Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
5. It's a tie between 
              I'm Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO
              Any of the three Lady Gaga songs we played
              Call On Me - Eric Prydz (for a certain group of people)
              California Love - Tupac (for the California peeps)

I'm happy to share our whole list with anyone who is interested. Just send me a message at asutkowi@gmail.com

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