Have you seen Bridezillas on the We network? It’s not something we ordinarily watch, but we happened to catch it tonight. Oh. My. Gosh. How can these women live with themselves? Why would anyone want to voluntarily sign his life over to live with one of them (though some of the grooms aren’t exactly prizes themselves)?

It got me thinking about our wedding. No, not because I was a bridezilla! In fact, I think I was pretty much the opposite. J.P. was living in New Jersey, and I was in Minneapolis. We were building a house in Pennsylvania, so he was in charge of working with the builder. I did a lot of the wedding planning, but he did help when he was in town.

I was 31 and he was 30. I think that made a big difference in our planning and in our wedding itself. It wasn’t about the “perfect day.” And it wasn’t about me, me, me. It was about having a good day with our family and friends, and about starting our marriage on the right foot. Oh yeah—and it was about saving money, because we financed most of it ourselves.

I looked for a dress at regular bridal shops, but I got so tired of the whole racket. Snippy clerks with attitude, ordering a dress that’s three sizes too big, and then stressing about whether it came in, whether it was right, etc., etc., just wasn’t for me. I was pretty lucky to find a dress at a consignment shop. It had never been worn, and it was $375. One of my mom’s friends altered it and sewed the bustle, so that didn’t cost me anything. My mom and I made my veil from materials we got at the fabric store. Another $100 saved.

You can’t see it all that well in this picture because I was wearing a leather coat during our escape from the church. It was April, and it was Minnesota, and there were snow flurries. I didn’t care—I just wanted to be warm! If only you could see our faces—we were smiling from ear to ear.

Leaving the church

I didn’t really have any specific colors in mind when the bridesmaids and I went shopping for their dresses. We stayed away from the bridal shops that day too, and we managed to find black dresses that were affordable and that looked good on all of them. So our colors were black and white. And there were no dyed shoes. I didn’t care if they all wore the same shoe, so they wore their own. Why spend a lot of money on that?

We ordered our invitations from the internet, and made our own programs and favors. A lot of that was going to ultimately end up in the trash, so I wanted them to look nice . . . on a budget. And I think they turned out well. Our favors were chocolate truffles that I made with help from my mom and her friends. We put two truffles in each little white box and topped the box with a gold origami crane that J.P. folded. I don’t think many of the truffles got thrown away!

You’re probably starting to think this was quite the homespun/redneck event, but we put the money into things that counted. We did have the reception at a country club, but even that was a pretty good deal. The food was great, and dessert was included as part of the meal. So instead of having traditional wedding cake, we had cheesecake. In my book, cheesecake’s better anyway, so I was perfectly fine with that.

We had a live band for the dance instead of a D.J. But . . . here comes the redneck part . . . it was kind of an old-time band. They played It Had to be You for our first dance. And they played lots of polka music, which was perfectly fine with my family (you should’ve seen me trying to teach J.P. to polka!).

Overall, it was a really good day. We often say that we’d do the whole thing all over again if we could afford it—it was so much fun. But the best part? It made me his wife.

In the limo


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