Susan and Janine: A Homegrown Wedding
"Have you ever done a wedding held in someone's house? Is this ever done?" Janine asked me (with a slight tone of worry) as the three of us chatted for the first time.
I'd done weddings in camps and barns and museums and nature preserves...but nope, not inside someone's house. And now that I have, I want more of my couples to do it.
Here's how Janine and Susan's wedding felt: like a big, relaxed house party imbued with celebration, warmth and personality. See, when you have a wedding at a venue - no matter what kind of venue - you have to think about how to bring an authentic sense of yourself and your life/relationship to that space. And that can be an incredible thing to think about and create, of course. On the other hand, when you have a wedding in your home - EVERYTHING is already saturated with a sense of "you," and comfort, and home.
Let's talk about the night!
There's basically no more relaxing way to get ready for your wedding...than in your own house, alongside your partner. With a goddaughter helping apply makeup, and your son and daughter laughing and relaxing and helping prep... with the comforts of home all around you, rifling through the closet and changing your mind about which shirt to wear (and then changing it back)...does it get better than that?
When your wedding's in your house, there's zero pomp and circumstance. Janine and Susan invited friends and family in with hugs and laughter and so much joy. Friends brought gifts and baked goods and grins and shrieks, grabbed alcohol and snacks, shrieked as they met people they had only "heard about for so long!" and quickly crowded the kitchen with raucous personality and laughter.
Oh yeah, this whole thing was about getting married, right? Right. So they crammed 70+ people into this wee living room, here. Everyone that came to celebrate happily piled themselves atop the couches and stood in every spare inch. And they had a quick little ceremony, where they got to be themselves (because what else would you be in your own living room?), and of course Susan got emotional because she wears her heart on her sleeve, and of course Janine was beaming because she adores Susan, and of course family was tearful and shiny faced with happiness.
Now this was my first house-party-wedding, but it wasn't my first time celebrating the marriage of two people who already have fully formed adult lives - either because they are having a second marriage or simply getting married later in life. I consider it a unique pleasure and privilege to bear witness to these particular unions...because they are celebrated from multiple "directions" and in such a full way by both young and old. Susan and Janine were fortunate to have their mothers, father and stepdad sharing in this moment...right along with Janine's delighted and loving college-age kids, and a myriad of grown siblings, young nieces, nephews and lifelong friends. There's nothing like the energy that comes from being "loved from all sides" in this way; to witness tears of joy in a parent's eyes as they watch their daughter get married...and then turn around and see a child beaming at the sight of their Mom or Aunt's happiness.
The thing I loved most was how full the house felt. People filled every nook and cranny with their presence. In dresses and pantsuits and tuxes, no one even blinked as they sat down to have dinner on the stairs, had conversation standing in the hall, dining room, near the veranda, while waiting to use the bathroom, on the roof, leaning against cabinets or even while traipsing across the laundry room.
Oh, and they also filled the tiny tent Janine and Susan attached to their house...with dancing, dancing and more dancing.
The party wound down, cheesecakes got eaten, people flopped back down on couches and night fell. Only two cookies remained on a plate in the dining room. My day in their home ended much as it began...quiet bookends to an evening teeming with love, laughter and good cheer. These two women are very much loved, by very many.