Wedding Week // The Ceremony
It's Day 2 of wedding week, and today I am excited to share details from our wedding ceremony - my favorite part of the entire day. Before getting married, I was always rather surprised to hear brides say this (how could it be better than a reception with hip-hop jams and free-flowing bubbly?!). There are many reasons why the ceremony was so memorable for me, but the surprising detail is that we weren't actually married during it.
When David and I decided to relocate to Tokyo, we were about 9 months away from our October wedding. For the most part, everything had already been planned: we had a reception venue locked down, some vendors lined up and accommodations booked. We began the paperwork process for our Japanese Visas and quickly realized that our engaged status was a big, big problem. To make a very long story short, we ended up accelerating our wedding ceremony so that I could accompany David to Tokyo. We were legally married at the Marin County courthouse on a sunny Thursday morning in March, after which we headed straight to Napa to quietly celebrate our new title. We decided not to broadcast the news widely, as we both didn't want to take away from the importance of the celebration we had planned with our friends and family. I remember at one point during the debate over whether or not to have the courthouse ceremony, my mother-in-law asked us if we felt that it would detract from the October wedding - and I told her that I was concerned it would. Luckily, I was very, very wrong.
Big Sur is a special place for David and I. We discovered it together on a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco while moving my belongings to our first apartment. It's also where David eventually proposed to me. He had grand plans to pop the question at Pfeiffer Beach, a hidden stretch of Big Sur coastline enclosed by mountains and craggy, waterfront rock formations. But on that particular weekend a winter storm passed through and flooded the access road to the beach, leaving David to scramble for an alternative location (a hiking path at our hotel). Weather in Big Sur - and especially on Pfeiffer Beach - is wildly unpredictable. So when we decided to hold our ceremony there, you can only imagine my stress level. We planned for a very short, low-key ceremony and hoped for the best.
I'll never forget walking onto the beach on our "wedding" day. There was barely a breeze blowing, and the coastline was covered in an unbelievable ethereal light. It truly looked like something out of a dream. We hadn't rehearsed the ceremony at all. There was no flower girl, ring bearer, bridesmaids or groomsmen - David and I wanted our friends and family to be able to relax and enjoy the day. I walked out alone, to a solo guitarist strumming the Hawaiian wedding song. Our officiant, Lauren, was a Big Sur local who had also spent time living in my little hometown of Denton, Texas. She read from a script that David and I had written together, including a favorite passage on the meaning of love from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. But it was during the readings that David and I had selected for each other that the magnitude of the day really hit me. I started to tear up as I read to David from Kiersten White's The Chaos of Stars, and at that moment I realized that it didn't matter that Lauren wasn't going to pronounce us "man and wife" at the end of it. It didn't matter that there wasn't going to be a piece of paper for us to sign. We had everyone that we loved standing before us, celebrating the relationship that we'd built together and the new family that had been born from it. I was overwhelmed to be surrounded by so much love and happiness.
David and I exchanged our own personal vows and gave each other rings as a symbol of our commitment. Lauren capped of the ceremony with a champagne toast (it's not a celebration without bubbly), and as our friends and families raised their glasses to us I felt more married than ever before.
Dress: A La Robe via LOHO Bride | Hair & Makeup: Kelly Jones | Jewelry: head piece by Gypsy Junkies; hand piece by Litter; squash blossom cuff by St. Eve Jewelry; groom's wedding band by Catbird; bride's wedding band by Jennie Kwon via No.3; bride's custom engagement ring by Shreve & Co. | Suit: custom by Pacific Fashions | Tie: Burberry | Groom's shoes: Oliver Sweeney via Nordstrom | Ceremony Location: Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, CA | Day-of Coordination/Design Assistance: Katie Rebecca Events | Flowers: Big Sur Flowers | Ceremony Musician: Richard DeVinck | Officiant: Lauren DaCruz | All photographs by Evynn LeValley
P.S. While scouring the internet for ideas on how to structure our unofficial wedding ceremony, I found a lot of negative backlash regarding vow renewals or women who wanted to celebrate a past legal union with a big party (including some ridiculous commentary that these women should not wear white gowns). So, I loved finding these heartwarming stories about vow renewals taking off in Japan.