I Want a Marriage More Beautiful Than My Wedding
New TYCI contributor Kat Lombard-Cook shares her experience of a more unorthodox approach to Her Big Day…
On October 31st, I married a wonderful man in a ceremony that was all about our family, friends and community. We then got all dressed up and had a massive Halloween party. It was exactly what I wanted and, aside from a few hitches on the day, a relatively stress-free, tear-free, positive experience. My mum walked me down the aisle to Camera Obscura, and the hubby and I walked out to Kid Canaveral. We wore matching Doc Martin’s and my red dress matched his kilt. It’s funny to me – I didn’t set out to have a ‘feminist wedding’. I just set out to have *my* wedding, but after reading articles like one that was published in Salon the week before I got married, ‘Where did my feminist wedding go?’, I realised that weddings like mine are still the exception.
I’m lucky; I know it. When I told my mother that I was getting married, she told me that my wedding should be what my partner and I want it to be. Her mother had planned both of her weddings for her, and she hated it. She wasn’t about to push that onto me. Not everyone has that luxury. There’s often expectations, tears and compromises involved in planning a wedding. I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t. But if you want to, you really can totally have a different, unique, kick-ass wedding.
Of course, having the support of my mother was amazing, but I highly doubt that I would have ended up in a white dress, walking down the aisle of a church no matter what. The second thing she said to me is pretty telling of how strong a personality I have—she asked if I was going to wear a dress. Anyone who knows me knows I am not traditional by any means. That’s one of the things my friends and my husband love about me, and whether it’s something my family loves or not, by the time I hit 30, I’m pretty sure they knew I wasn’t going to change. Yes, we had to be firm with people who were skeptical, but both of us were always polite but insistent that we were having *our* wedding, and so our families and pals were respectful.
So much about how weddings are organized, created, executed and celebrated is, for lack of a better term, cookie-cutter. You make a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part, your wedding is going to be just like the lady who got married before you and the guy who’s coming in next. We didn’t want any part in that. The hardest part is getting past the hurdle in your head that’s telling you you can’t do things the way you want. You hear so much about what your wedding ‘should’ be, and what you ‘have to’ do. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about what you want. If you want your wedding to be your own, it’s far more do-able than you’d think. (And if you want the picture-book wedding, that’d fine too, just go for it and don’t be embarrassed)
My partner and I decided that our wedding should reflect who we are as individuals and a couple, and that it should include and highlight our families, friends and community as much as possible. There are some great resources out there for folk who want a different wedding. I’d say the first thing to bookmark is OffbeatBride.com. They’ve got resources, feature weddings that give you inspiration, and also let you know that you are not alone out there.
We also turned to our friends, who were a huge inspiration for us for just about every part of our wedding. Our good pal, and TYCI-er, Lisa-Marie had an amazing wedding not that long ago, and we asked about the wonderful Humanist officiant they had, Gerrie Douglas-Scott. She made sure we knew that, aside from about one line of legality, there was nothing we did or did not have to have in our ceremony. At first, we were nervous about eschewing tradition, but we found that most people we talked to got really excited about our ideas and relished the chance to do something different.
We chose to include a Scottish tradition of drinking from the quaich. Usually, the bride and groom’s fathers come forward and accept the couple into their respective families. They then pour whisky into the quaich, and at the end, we drink from the cup. Instead, we had my mother, and all of his parents, mum, dad, step-dad and step-mum, come up and participate. We wanted to make sure that the whole family felt equally valued and included in our ceremony.
We even worked in a part of a movie we both love, a speech from ‘The Princess Bride’! One of my bridesmaids actually got up at the end of the ceremony and did her best Peter Cook impersonation:
Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday.
Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…
And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.
She got a huge round of applause. Afterwards, we heard from a lot of people that they enjoyed the fact it was more informal than most weddings. They weren’t worries about something going ‘wrong’ and knew we were having fun, so they could too.
As much as we could, we kept things local. That was part of having the ceremony include our community. The ceremony took place at the Govanhill Baths which meant a lot to my husband as he swam in the Baths as a kid. For anyone who doesn’t know the story, the short version is that 11 years ago, the council decided to shut it, despite neighborhood protests, left it empty and unused, and after a decade of fighting, the community trust finally regained use of the building again last year. We loved being able to use such a unique space, and also to donate our rental fee to help refurbish the building and make sure it stays a vibrant part of the community for years to come.
Our reception was at Queen’s Park Bowling Club. One of the first times I hung out with many of my pals here in Glasgow was when I went to the Halloween Little League in 2010. I had just moved to Glasgow from Massachusetts a couple months before and was getting to know people. It was a great night and we liked the idea of trying to have our own Halloween indie disco.
We are so lucky to have amazing, talented, creative pals who contributed to a lot of the wedding favors. We had a wedding zine, and five CDs that people sent me mixes for. I got five different badges made up from weebadgers and made two different sets from them. We hoped that folk who were be seated together but not know each other might start trading mix tapes and badges. Ice breakers are always good!
I got a *lot* of ideas and how-to’s off of Pinterest. I highly recommend being a magpie and finding inspiration in things other people have already done. A lot of the time they tell you how they did it or link to tutorials, which I found indispensable. Here’s my wedding board, if you’re curious: pinterest.com/katlombardcook/
For example, I didn’t want to use real flowers, so I crafted all of bouquets in the wedding from old books I picked up at the charity shop.
I also made table numbers by embroidering old books, made seating cards that looked like card catelogues, paper hearts from books, drink tickets and other assorted decorations. There are more pics and links to the tutorials I used in the behance gallery I made. I’m pretty sure there were still some folks who didn’t know exactly what I did as a designer, but I think they got it when they saw all the stuff I made. That honestly made all the work worth it, knowing how much people appreciated the time and effort.
Our amazing friend Alexandra Godwin did our make-up for the reception. I wanted to be a sugarskull, and my husband wanted to be a zombie. She outdid herself!
My husband, and a number of our friends, are wheat intolerant, so rather than having special cakes for some people, we decided to go with a gluten-free bakery. Wild Flours is based in the south-side, and supplies the liked of the Glad Cafe and now Cup! We told them we didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, because honestly, it would have bee out of place, so they came up with this autumnal beauty.
Draw on the talents of the people you know, and take advantage of what makes your community unique. You’ll probably find out your friends have strengths you didn’t even know about! More often than not, people will be very willing to help you out. I worried about putting pressure on people, but most of our friends felt proud to lend their talents and loved being part of our day.
Yes, there were things that I would change, if I were to do it again. One of my bridesmaids mentioned how, at her wedding, she made sure the women spoke during the dinner. I didn’t even realize all the people giving speeches were men until afterwards. My mother read a poem during the ceremony, so we asked my husband’s step-father to speak during the meal, but hadn’t considered how that affected the gender balance during the reception.
It’s never going to be perfect. Things will go wrong. It will be ok. Below is my contribution to the wedding zine, and it was what I kept in mind whenever it seemed like a ball was going to drop and something wouldn’t get done. Your wedding is NOT the most important day of your life; it’s the first day of the rest of your life with your partner. A little bit of perspective goes a long way.