Editor at large: Till fence do us part

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Chris and Natalie pose in front of the fence that surrounded their venue. Natalie's mother provided a veil-decorated hard hat.
Chris and Natalie pose in front of the fence that surrounded their venue. Natalie’s mother provided a veil-decorated hard hat.

“Natalie, don’t freak out.”

My dad can get dramatic over the phone. I usually don’t worry about it too much when he gets like this, but it’s about 9 p.m. on a Monday night — which is definitely not the time he would usually call me.

“Okay, I won’t,” I replied.

My dad then told me about construction fencing that had been installed all the way around my wedding venue. My stepmom saw it as she was driving serendipitously, just because she was excited about the weekend’s events. It’s Monday, and my wedding is on Saturday.

Once you got inside the main area of the venue, it was fine, he said. But walking in, you were surrounded by fences, and the fences would make it into the backgrounds of most of my wedding photos. The gardens where we planned to take most of our bridal portraits were also totally off-limits.

OK. We had five days to sort this out. We had lots of other things we needed to get done that week, but we thought maybe those fences would be gone by Saturday. Why else would no one have informed us that the area was under construction?

The next morning, I called the venue and asked if the fences would be gone.

“Oh, no, they’ll be there Saturday,” the voice on the other end of the phone said. “But once you’re inside you barely notice them.”

Natalie's younger brother Dustin Stafford officiated the ceremony. Everyone laughed when he joked about Chris's life being planned out "one spreadsheet at a time."
Natalie’s younger brother Dustin Stafford officiated the ceremony. Everyone laughed when he joked about Chris’s life being planned out “one spreadsheet at a time.”

The conversation continued with phrases like “it’s not that bad” and “soften the blow” and “oh, you’ll be fine.” Not exactly the kinds of things someone who spent thousands of dollars to host a party wants to hear. No, not a party. A wedding. Our ceremony was also scheduled to be there.

We had to figure this out. I wanted pictures without a construction fence in the background. I called my photographer.

“I just wanted to let you know that there is now a giant construction fence around my venue,” I told her. She said she wasn’t too worried about it and to send her pictures.

I texted her the pictures.

“Oh. Oh wow,” came her response. “We need to have a first look,” she said, referring to the moment the photographer captures the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time before the ceremony.

It was a rush to find a good place for the “first look.” Then we had to rearrange some of our vendors to come earlier. All while doing extra work and preparing for a long drive out of state to where we would get married.

But Chris and I try very hard to roll with the punches. It was five days before the wedding we began planning 10 months ago, and it was not going to be the way we had been dreaming it would be. But we were determined to make it great.

It didn’t take long to decide to have our first look at the nearby college we were attending when we first started dating. Our vendors were very understanding that they needed to come earlier. My photographer scoped out the venue and the college for good photo locations. Several phone calls later, we even got the venue to push the fence back away from the pathway, so guests would see parts of the garden instead of a giant fence as they entered.

It took a lot of time that we, frankly, did not have. But the situation had been dramatically improved from what it would have been if my stepmom never saw the fence and we had seen it for the first time when we arrived at the venue Friday morning for our rehearsal.

It was also sweet seeing Chris for the first time at our college campus. We got some excellent photos there that we never would have gotten otherwise.

And my mom surprised me Friday night with a hard hat decorated with a veil. We took some photos wearing it in front of the (stupid) fence.

In our travels and time together, Chris and I have learned that the best thing to do when something doesn’t go as planned is to laugh at it.

Natalie and Chris prepare for a time-honored wedding tradition: shoving cake into each other's faces.
Natalie and Chris prepare for a time-honored wedding tradition: shoving cake into each other’s faces.

Plus, as a very good friend of mine told me when I told her about the fence, if you end the day married, it was a successful day. I would say it was successful indeed! It was a night full of laughter and love, surrounded by some of the most important people in our lives. There were tears, cheers and beers, and we have already spent the last couple of days looking at photos and reminiscing. It’s not easy to plan a wedding, and it’s not easy to change things at the last second, but if nothing else, it strengthened our relationship as we learned to work as a team and compromise together during this week.

I am writing this column from our 13.5-hour plane heading into Auckland, New Zealand to begin our honeymoon — a tour through New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. While something is sure to go wrong during these three weeks abroad, I am confident that Chris and I have what it takes to laugh together and roll with it.

*The venue has not been named because they made a tremendous effort to make it right after lots of loud complaining from my whole family. It is a recognizable place if you know where to look, so the city, state and name of the nearby college have also been omitted.

–By Natalie Covate

MLTnews editor Natalie Covate is writing about her wedding and honeymoon adventures.

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