How to Say “I Do” in Three Months’ Time

I’ve heard rumors of courthouses. But there are also scribbled dreams in lock-and-key diaries of dancing under a white tent, string lights and stars glowing up above, or some other twinkly version of happily ever after.

It’s true, we planned a magical vineyard wedding in three months (and we’re still in love). Many have asked how we pulled off this feat. The answer is both complex and simple: Find the one you love, and go with the BBQ.

The stars aligned, we both swiped at the right moment, or something like that. We’re still young, but we’re also old. So we both took one last chance over pasta and Pinot Grigio on a Sunday night date when our knees knocked under the bar table. (He picked up the tab.) Full speed ahead from that first sip of wine when he wondered if he’d always have to carry the conversation, my voice swallowed by my warm bowl of gnocchi. (Now he might wish for a little silence.)

“Is it crazy if we get married in less than a year?” We both asked and didn’t ask. Once, he questioned if I ever had second thoughts, diamond on my finger and venue booked. He worried he was crazy for never finding himself crazy.

For those single and seeking, I know the complexity of find the one you love. You do all the right things (for years), but he’s still not there to kiss you goodnight or pore over your shared budget spreadsheet. I used to read people who wrote, he’s coming he’s coming he’s coming, but I hardly believed this blasphemy.

He came. And he thought of it all: I would want the mountaintop views without the strenuous hike to reach 7,000 feet of elevation. My mountaintop moment came on Crystal Mountain, overlooking the grand 14,000 feet of Mt. Rainier, when he said he’d found the beautiful view that he’d been waiting his whole life for.

He wondered if he should do it again because he had practiced, but then went down on the wrong knee. “You did say yes, right?”

(How could one ever say no to that?)

The winery had an open date: September 14, 2019. Did we want it? The esteemed photographer had a hole in her schedule. Are we ready to book? The renovated farmhouse had tables and pillows for many. Should we do it?

Do you like BBQ? Me too.

Two aunts available (the ones known for fussing at each other about flowers). How do you feel about white astilbe? A pop of fall shades with white-washed, muted tones? Yes, please.

More aunts and loved ones free (the ones known for baking for the masses). Do we want pies, cookies, and cake? Pecan? Lemon blueberry? Sugar? Yes, yes, yes, minding our Ps & Qs.

That one flower meeting when the dress went on sale. It could arrive to my doorstep in three days. Do you have a tape measure?

But don’t miss this: there were migraines (plenty). The pounding, the vision lost over none or four on each side. How about five? I had always dreamed of a handful (or more) to fluff my train. The BBQ decision was nothing. The sides to go with the BBQ was a little something. (Mashed potatoes? Coleslaw? Mac & cheese?) The people decision was everything.

“It was just magical,” I hope I’ll still say when I’m 80.

Mom and Dad shipped in butterflies and they didn’t fly (we all laughed) and then they did fly. They found my bouquet and they lingered. They found it just in time for the family photo, the one where she’s missing but still there with us.

The rain clouds circled, they sprinkled just briefly but never dumped. The boy cousins carried in lanterns to circle our table, the one with the plush chairs and “Mr. and Mrs. Est. 2019.”

I’m biased, sure, but did you feel that slight breeze blow a little fairy dust as father and daughter twirled to Tale As Old As Time?

How to say “I do” in three months’ time? Here it is:

Strip away all the “you’re supposed to”s. Skip the bouquet toss, the fancy introductions, the programs, the menus, the favors, the garter dances, the white doves, the string quartet, the sparklers, the fireworks. Trust your gut, trust each other.

When someone says “but you’re supposed to [blank],” remember that every blank is optional.

Lose a lot of sleep. Fight the migraines. Hold each other.

Listen to your wise mother-in-law when she suggests this is a time to pull together, not divide over conversations in parking lots about unfinished cornhole boards.

Take a deep breath when you make it to the rehearsal and the pastor (and forever friend) asks if you’d like to practice your vows and it sounds a lot like forever right there with a bouquet of stapled ribbons and bows on a paper plate and lumps in your throat.

Laugh when your bridesmaids call you “Bridechilla” and ask if you ever say no to anything. Keep saying yes, please, and thank you.

Hire a wedding coordinator, one who will hide you from the falling urn and the change in the timeline and the cloudy with a chance of meatballs and every other anomaly falling from the sky that can remain a mystery.

“It was seamless,” they have all said. (Keep them believing it.)

Should you say “I do” in three months’ time? We’re procrastinators by nature, both of us, so we’ve decided that even if we had a year or more, we probably would have done exactly the same, painting cornhole boards and writing on chalkboards in the final hour.

Soon enough, you’ll have cake and BBQ in your freezer and you’ll wonder what to do with an evening home as husband and wife with nothing to check off a to-do list. (Watch the World Series? Get back to those thank yous?)

Relax, they say. Just enjoy being The Fenkers.

xo. AAF

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