We did! We flew all the way from Algeria to New York and had a wedding. I still can't believe we pulled it off, that it wasn't just one long dream, that all those people showed up and ate cheese and danced their socks off. I would very much like to go back and repeat the whole thing all over again, only in very slow motion, so that I could nestle myself into every little corner of the whole weekend.
I was never one of those girls who had a dream image of what their wedding would look like, perhaps a fleeting image here or there, but as I've grown up places and their meaning to me have changed. If circumstances could have been different, perhaps it would have been in a big backyard somewhere, with flowers picked by our friends and homemade pie for dessert. A little bit crafty, but not over-the-top burlap cliche. But the reality was we live in Algeria, and our friends live all over the world. I thought, briefly, that a kind of home-grown wedding wouldn't have been right without my mother, but the truth is no wedding would be, or was, complete without her.
So New York, my home for so long, Paul's grad school years, was right in so many ways. On the Thursday before the wedding we went out to the site to look things over, and there, in the bright sunlight between the bridges, I was shocked at how beautiful it was.
Paul and I debated having a wedding at all, after all it's quite expensive and neither of us are terribly traditional. But the thing that swayed me was the memory of my mother telling me about her wedding to my father, that despite the fact that the marriage did not last very long, she was so glad to have had the party. She always reminded me that it was the last time her whole family was together, that in the subsequent Christmases since one family member always missed one holiday or another, and five years later my grandfather died, and that was it. The last time they had been together. Clearly my mother told me that story enough times that it stuck, because how could I not have a wedding after that?
So we told everyone we worked with that the reason we were having a wedding was to see all the people we loved together in one place. And it was true. The wedding, to me, wasn't really about us, after all if you're willing to move to Algeria with someone I don't think there's too much question of marriage cold-feet. It was about getting to spend time with people we don't get to see very often, and my only regret is that we didn't get to see more of everyone.
Logistically, of course, a wedding is a bit like putting on a show, and I have to say I'm not bad at that myself. I also believe that my time is valuable to me, and that there are some things worth hiring professionals for. We were lucky to work with the awesomest wedding planner (florist/stationer/coordinator/extraordinaire) around, the nicest caterers, the raddest photographer, and of course some great family and friends who helped usher, errand, escort, and fulfill necessary odd tasks, such as sharpening seventy #2 pencils.
Having planned everything from abroad, while I certainly had a picture in my head of what it would look like, we didn't know how things would turn out. Would the room be pretty? Would the food be good? Would it rain? Would people dance? And I have to say, every single element turned out better than we even imagined it could. From the absolutely gorgeous space (again: see awesome wedding planner), to the perfect weather, the joy at seeing so many people coming to the ceremony site. The food shocked us at how delicious it was (food was actually one of the things that we didn't pay much attention to during the wedding planning), including the most tender brisket I have ever had, and pecan pie so good that when we did our "pie cutting" I actually exclaimed, "this is amazing." There were so many other fun elements that we didn't even know would happen, like all the random Brooklynites in the park that day that got to "attend" our ceremony, the spontaneous and perfectly executed electric slide on the dance floor, Paul's dad dancing, conducting our wedding rehearsal on the street in front of the Bowery Hotel, the ice cream sandwich truck we hired for the end of the night, etc.
At the end of it all, I could not be more lucky. Lucky to share such an amazing weekend with so many special people, lucky to have a job where I get to travel all over the world so that I can come back to America and appreciate all that it is, lucky to be able to go on 3 weeks of vacation. But mostly lucky to have a husband who is sitting in the other room playing Bach on his cello while I write.
Snapshots courtesy of awesome friends and family.