Last Minute

On the day before our wedding, Mr. WholeHog got an unexpected text from his friend Adam: “You’re doing great,” it said.

At that point, it didn’t feel like we were doing anything great. We’d just run into traffic picking up music equipment and had likely missed our chance to have a rehearsal. We’d spent the week finalizing beer and wine, finding a shirt and tie for Mr. WholeHog, and filling our living room with tissue paper pom-poms as we attempted to sort out our many decor ideas.

Now that we actually pulled off our wedding(s), I feel OK admitting how much we left to the last minute. But while we were in the planning stages, our to-do list was overwhelming. I felt shamed when someone would breezily say, “Well I imagine by now you’ve got everything taken care of!” I’d think of five or ten things that we hadn’t yet taken care of, things that we hadn’t even made a decision about yet.

At times, it was easier to lie. A good friend is getting married in the fall so I’d use her story as my own.”When are you getting married?” a woman at a make-up counter asked me, a few weeks before my wedding date. “In the fall”, I said casually. “Well you’re ahead of schedule!” she said. It made me feel temporarily less panicked.

In hindsight, though, Adam’s text was true: we were doing great. We just didn’t know then that so many of the details that we put off the longest would be the most memorable.

One of the last things we did was our ceremony music. The night before our wedding, Mr. WholeHog edited down 5 or 6 songs we each loved so we each had an individual mix of music to lead us down the aisle.

Going for music we loved (Beatles, Fleetwood, and Beasties for me) rather than the expected classical selections set the tone for our wedding right off the bat. As I was waiting for my turn down the aisle, I heard Mr. WholeHog’s music start and the whole crowd cheered and clapped. It was clear that our guests were ready for a party.

Beer was another last minute choice: After looking unsuccessfully for a keg of beer from Moonlight or Speakeasy breweries, Mr. WholeHog wandered into a liquor store a few blocks away from our house. It was the day before our wedding, and there, amid all the Budweiser and Pabst, was a small keg of Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA. We thought our guests were mostly wine drinkers, but we ended up with over a case of wine that hadn’t been opened. The keg, however, was tapped.

I thought I was ahead of the game with my wedding attire. I found my dress in December, five months before the wedding, and I’d ordered a veil from Etsy two months in advance.

0903zach_and_phaedra_wedding5051Photo by Jacob Bauch

But the veil didn’t arrive until two days before our wedding. Everything I’d read about birdcage veils said that I’d need to spend some time with it to get it right. The instructions from Etsy said I might have to iron it. Instead, I simply stuck it on my head 10 minutes before our ceremony and my sister pinned it into place. I got loads of compliments on that last minute detail, and it had the added benefit of making me feel like a bride.

Of course leaving details to the last minute is different than leaving essentials to the last minute. Maybe we felt OK putting certain things off because we knew that the location was full of personality on its own, and that our caterer had food and service covered.

Still, knowing what we know now, there’s so much we would have done differently. But part of what I’d change if I could is the fear that we were doing it wrong because everything wasn’t planned out in advance. I’ve come to realize that a lot of weddings — maybe most weddings — aren’t perfectly set up beforehand. A friend told me that she and her husband wrote their vows the night before their wedding. I met someone who decided the day of her wedding that her dress wasn’t right and went out and bought a new dress that day.

Perhaps the real freaks aren’t those of us who have last minute decisions, but those who have “dreamed of this day since I was 6 years old” sorts, those who haven’t left anything up to chance.

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