I suppose that since I married the neighborhood king of shoegaze and cardigans and Being Very Quiet And Intense, it makes perfect sense that our wedding was beautiful and serene and full of joy and calm and filtered sunlight and moments where I thought my heart would explode.
I took the day before the wedding off from work, and after I got Morella to school and got myself ready, I went to the nail salon and ran a couple of other errands. On the way home I picked up the beautiful wreath for our door from Amanda Burnette, and everything started to feel very Real. With some help from Matt’s parents and grandparents we got all the places set and everything ready for the welcome dinner, and I managed to get Morella and myself mostly packed for the rest of the weekend.
I picked her up from school, we put our dresses on, guests began to arrive, and the party was happening. Glasses of my cold Irish whiskey punch (from David Wondrich’s recipe) were filled and refilled, Mom’s famous Italian wedding soup was served up in steaming bowls accompanied by fresh polenta loaves from Sub Rosa, and the trays of fried green tomatoes and vegetable manicotti from Tarrant’s were perfection too. To finish it all off, we had homemade almond truffles from our friend Earl—a platter that I was secretly glad there were a few left over from, so that we could look forward to savoring them later. I looked around the candlelit room, the company a bit cramped to be honest but all talking and laughing animatedly, and felt very full. Afterward we drank more punch, washed dishes, watched the girls run around, and took Instax Mini pictures of ourselves.
In the morning I woke up feeling good. Got showered and makeupped with a bit of extra care (read: extra primer) and packed the car with all our supplies while Morella played with Katherine in the backyard. Then she and I went across the street to the Simpsons’ to get our hair done, a thing that might normally be sort of a chore / timesuck on your wedding day but was great fun with that crew. Jenny came in with doughnuts and the kids gorged themselves while Jess curled and teased and pinned. It just felt like any weekend morning on the block, which I think helped to keep me feeling calm. When that was done, I ate a quick lunch and we headed to the Mill at Fine Creek. Since I already had my hair and makeup done, I had plenty of time to bring in all the bins with our favors, centerpiece stuff, and other supplies inside and then just swirl around in the bride’s room swivel chairs until it was time for the next thing. Lianna steamed our dresses and we chatted and listened to music. We spent some time admiring the moody, gorgeous, purply bouquets by Amanda Burnette, and chatting with Christine and Brandi, our day-of wedding coordinators. Finally Matt and I met up with Jaime in the ruins to get some of our pictures out of the way before the ceremony, and though it was like 56 degrees outside and I was wearing no coat, I barely felt the cold. The big fluffy faux fur collar helped, though.
The ceremony was short and sweet, just as we wanted. Morella took her job of flower girl very seriously and threw down her flower petals sparingly, and I love that you can see her “I’m concentrating” face in the pictures. Lianna looked like a model I hired to make my pictures look good instead of the real actual friend she is (I swear). Dad is a pro at walking people down aisles now, so he was chilling. We walked out to “Plainsong” by the Cure, the perfect complement to the late afternoon sun shining through the trees and our feet on the cold stone. Jeremiah talked about love deepening over time, a concept that means a great deal to me as historically I tend to move that way whether it’s in friendship or in romantic love, and it’s always painful to discover that others I’ve paired myself with, well, don’t. The idea that marriage is a beginning and a start, and an acknowledgement of a relationship of mutual support that’s already there, rather than some kind of end goal. It feels impossible that I could be so full of hope at this hour in my life. Anyway I had a big dippy grin on my face and at some point during the ceremony just gave up trying to hide it and look serious and attentive. It is hard to be attentive when I’m looking at Matt.
Dinner was absurdly good. The chef, Lisa, is a genius and I had some of the best food I’ve ever had that night as a part of the meal she put together. If I ever figure out whether I loved the crab-stuffed shrimp, the cream of onion bisque with balsamic oil, or the half cornish hen with asparagus over polenta best, I’ll update this blog post with the news.
And then we danced. I hadn’t originally given much thought to dancing since it was such a tiny group (28 of us total, which includes grandparents and toddlers), but Morella said she was really looking forward to that part of the party in particular. So we danced, mostly twirling around with all the littles and laughing at their antics—and as we all know, the very best dancers are those who can channel their inner toddler who just doesn’t care, full of braggadocio and entirely free of self-consciousness. But the highlight for me was Matt’s grandmother tearing up the dance floor during Iggy Pop. Life goals, y’all. 👌 💯
We cut the cake (a king cake, and Morella found the baby of course), danced a little more, and had one last drink in the groom’s cottage with the last lingering guests. And that was a wrap.
Brunch at Mom and Dad’s in the morning was so nice, and a good chance to give hugs and say proper goodbyes to the out-of-town guests. I didn’t take any pictures though because I was “moving a bit slowly,” as Matt says. And just downright exhausted. Mom’s salmon dip, my favorite thing at the brunch, did its part to revive me though. And pushing Morella on the big tree swing. After everyone was gone we hung around with Mom and Dad for a little bit and cleaned up some, then headed home for a quiet afternoon.
The whole weekend was a big success, so easy to pull off, and I never felt so loved in all my life. You don’t really grow up envisioning your perfect wedding and picturing your daughter being there, but that’s how it ended up for me, and it really was perfect. She’s such a big deal to me and really the central character in my life, and seeing her grow closer to Matt all these months has been sweet (read: now asking her “stepfahdder” to do things for her instead of just “Matt”).
My advice to any prospective brides out there is to get married when you’re 35 in the woods with just your immediate family, grandparents, and one attendant each. You can always celebrate with your larger group of friends and neighbors later in a less formal way, which is what we’re doing in May. Also, spreadsheets are your friend. And so is a great wedding coordinator.
Bonus round: A lot else has been going on with us lately, throwing our home’s doors open and entertaining being the main themes for this spring. I had the pleasure of hosting my sister’s baby shower last weekend, and it was so fun to have a big crowd over with all the smiles and sweet moments that entailed, and to stand around and watch her open Harry Potter-themed baby gifts all afternoon. This past weekend we also had a few friends over to play board games for Matt’s birthday, and I found a board game I don’t hate, had an awesome time catching up with people, and stayed up surprisingly late. In less fun news, we’ve been gradually moving Matt’s stuff over and / or getting rid of it, so that’s been kind of grueling and hilarious by turns. In the most fun news, Jaime and I did a lil bridal portrait photo shoot at the magnificent Monumental Church. I hadn’t been inside in years, so it was good to see the progress on the restoration and just soak up all the history of that place, forgotten gem of the city that it is. I won’t belabor this post further with too many more Tess-pics, but they are plentiful.
Details, because you know people will ask:
Welcome dinner (pics)
- Wreath: Amanda Burnette
- Soup: Homemade Italian wedding soup by Mom
- Bread: Sub Rosa Bakery
- Fried green tomatoes, vegetable manicotti: Tarrant’s Cafe
- Truffles: Earl Vallery
- Photography: Me
Wedding day (pics)
- Day-of coordination: Wood Grain & Lace Events
- Venue: The Mill at Fine Creek
- Food: Lisa Benusa, The Mill at Fine Creek
- Cake: Sucré
- Flowers: Amanda Burnette
- Photography: Jaime Patterson of Hidden Exposure Photography
- Officiant: Jeremiah Dillon
- Design (invitations, menus, programs): Matt Klimas
- Favors: DIY mini terraria assembled with personalized whisky rocks glasses, preserved moss, and tiny succulents from Strange’s.
- Guest book: Starboard Press
- Hair: Style by Jessica Simpson (my neighbor, not the celebrity, though she’s a celebrity to ME), fascinator by me
- Makeup: Me
- Dress: Jenny Yoo
- Rings: Catbird and UntilDeathWed
Bridal portraits (pics)
- Venue: Monumental Church
- Photographer: Jaime Patterson of Hidden Exposure Photography
- Hair: Me
- Makeup: Me
- Dress: Jenny Yoo
* * *
I want love waiting for me after school
I’d like a stream of consciousness
Every time I take a breath
I want love on the front porch after school
I’d like a stream of consciousness
Every time I take a breath
— Self, “Meg Ryan“