Every couple and family that we work with has
a story many, many stories. There are happy ones and sad ones, long ones and short ones, stories that make us double over in laughter, and stories that let us see depths of despair. We love learning the story of each of our couples and families — it’s one of our favorite parts about our work. But we are not storytellers. We are story-documenters.
When we realized this, we knew that we should document ours as well. The Radian Story is the story of us, Radhika and Ian. From the day we were born to where we stand now, this is our story from babies to bride & groom.
Part 7: #GoRadianGoAmerica (Or That Time We Got Married)
Spoiler alert: we made it through the long-distance engagement! On the other side of that two-year ordeal, not only did we finally get to be together full time, but we got to do it as husband and wife!
From Radhika’s perspective
What no one tells you when you get engaged? Planning a wedding is hard. Just kidding. If you have friends who have been married before you, you might hear it a lot.
Because we were long-distance during our engagement, we did tons of wedding planning during the weekends that Ian was in town. And because our engagement lasted two years, we had plenty of time. We truly learned to divide and conquer during our engagement, and spent time making decisions together when they were actually important. For example, while we registered for gifts together (over Skype, picking out things online while sitting in our separate beds hundreds of miles away) and saved the photographer meeting, venue hunting, and cake tasting for weekends that Ian was in town visiting, I handled more “boring” things like linens and let Ian tackle the food because I knew he would make sure it was great. We absolutely could not have planned our wedding without the help of our parents, who often pushed us to make decisions well ahead of time (I’m pretty sure our save-the-dates went out a full year before our wedding).
In the end, our 4th of July wedding at The Gardens at Gray Gables in Summerfield, NC, a few minutes from where my parents live, was one of the most amazing days of our lives. It was surreal to see hours and hours of labor and work and two years of tears culminate in an event that brought together so many of our family and friends. When will that ever happen again in our lives? Four tips I learned from planning our wedding:
1) DO NOT plan last minute DIY projects. It’s not worth it. I love DIY projects. Ask the vertical pallet garden that was on our deck for a few years or the emerald walls in our old bedroom. I think DIY’ing things for your wedding is a perfect way to add personal touches: we created our own programs for our ceremony, made table numbers from chalkboard-painted wine bottles, and even made our own guestbook. All of these things made our day feel a little more us. But saving a few projects for the last minute, like giant tissue pompoms to liven up our tent (yes, it happened, I’m not proud of it), was not worth it. If it’s important — like actually important — it needs to be done before the week of the wedding. Leave the last minute moments for soaking it all in.
2) Take some time for yourself on the day of the wedding. Before the ceremony, leave some space to be alone. Afterwards, make sure you have a few minutes with your new spouse. Sometimes, we look back on our wedding pictures and our only memories feel like out of body experiences because we’re seeing ourselves — we don’t remember what it looked or felt like in the moment. This is one reason we think photographs are so important, but we also want you to have real memories of your day. Make sure you take the time to make those memories and let them soak in.
3) Your wedding should be fun! You know that scene in Friends where Monica tells Chandler, “If you call our wedding a party one more time, you might not be invited.”? Well…Chandler was right on that one. Getting married is special and important, but it should also be fun! Our wedding hashtag was a play on #goheelsgoamerica, and since we got married on July 4th, it worked well! The year before our wedding, I counted down by doing a 365 day photo project — I took one photo every day from July 4th, 2012 till July 3rd, 2013. And, in the end, even with all of the seriousness, it was a party: one that our closest friends and family all attended.
4) Go with your gut and hire people you trust. Yes, have all of the budget conversations you need to and decide ahead of time what your top priorities are. But once those decisions have been made, make sure you are working with vendors you trust. If the style of your wedding is really important to you, then find a planner who gets it. If you and your guests are huge foodies, make sure you personally love the food that you’re serving. If you know you’re going to want to look through your photo album 50 years from now with your kids, hire a photographer whose work you love. You only walk down the aisle once. Well, unless you’re me…
From Ian’s perspective
The waterworks started as soon as I saw Radhika walking down the aisle toward me. My tear-stained cheeks were complimented by the light rain that had started to fall. As our friends and officiants, Dan and Amanda, started the ceremony, the light rain turned into a classic summer storm. Not five minutes into our ceremony and we found ourselves retreating inside to wait out the rain.
When we got inside I really got a good look at my bride to be. She was breathtaking in her gown—and after seeing her secretly sharing pictures of it over the last year with all of her friends and family, expectations were certainly high. We weren’t officially married, but I felt like the moment we had been waiting a painful, long-distance two years for was finally here. We stood together in the groom’s suite (complete with no less than 35 mounted animal heads) and danced. No music, just us, anxious to finally make official the forever-bond we had felt nearly since we’d started dating. When it came time to go back outside for the ceremony (the storm was hard but fast), the rain had stopped, and my tears came back with a vengeance.
I cried through the whole thing. I’m a sucker for sappy moments, and this one was my own, our own. I could only barely get out the “I do,” let alone our vows, which we had written together on our first camping trip as an engaged couple. We promised to honor each other, to support each other on our journeys as individuals and as a couple. We promised to be there for each other forever. It was moving and my tears were proof.
The rest of the day was exciting and fun and beautiful. We took took photos with friends and family that had come from far and wide to celebrate us. We ate our delicious food and cut our delicious cake. We danced until our feet hurt. But honestly that part was just the bonus, a nice way to mark the real, important milestone in our journey together. More than anything, I remember what it felt like to make our commitment to each other official, and to do it in front of the people that showed up to celebrate and honor and support that commitment.
In some ways our marriage was the culmination of our two-year, long distance engagement, complete with tons of planning, and disagreements and love and pain. More importantly, it was only the beginning of a lifetime together, a lifetime where all the hard lessons learned during our relationship so far could be put in service to nurturing and growing our partnership with each other.