I love family weddings. Until recently, I always sort of wondered what people meant by that term. Doesn’t (almost) everyone have a family? Don’t those family members typically end up playing a huge part in the wedding?
I learned a couple weeks ago at my brother’s wedding (blog to come soon) the difference between having family with you at your wedding and having a FAMILY WEDDING. When I got married almost 10 years ago, my family was there, they were awesome, and supportive, and did all the things you hope your family does at your wedding. The thing was, I was the oldest of four kids, all of whom were still in high school at the time. My two bridesmaids were (and still are) close friends—but my sisters weren’t bridesmaids, which feels strange in hindsight because of how close we are now. For my husband and I, our wedding was about who we had become independent of our families, and the new family we were creating. It was beautiful and wonderful and everything I wanted and needed at the time. When my brother got married, our family had grown together as a group of adults who can’t get enough time around each other. We tell stories about our childhood, yes, but we also tell stories about each other and our personalities. About who we were and things we did last week and last year. As a family we have a group identity, a mutual story we tell and keep telling. My brother is a remarkable and amazing individual, but he’s also a piece of this family that absorbed his new wife as a sister and a daughter, and the wedding was as much about induction to an important group as it was about their own personal love story.
Jon and Shanee’s wedding was a FAMILY WEDDING. Jon is the youngest of his four siblings, Shanee is also one of four. Jon’s sister, Stacey was Shanee’s maid of honor and gave one of my favorite toasts of the season. Shanee’s brother, Gray was at her side all day helping with everything from the dress to random errands. Jon’s sister helped them plan the wedding and even was the first to contact me as a potential photographer. Jon’s two brothers, and even his brother-in-law stood up for him, as did Shanee’s sister. Shanee’s grandmother served as her witness on her wedding license. Shanee's deceased grandfather and uncle's photos were both attached to her bouquet, along with the pair of tiny blue elephants that she and her father carried with them to far-flung places. These families were tight-knit, kind, comfortable with each other, and above all, FUN. Most of the attendees traveled from Arizona to a gorgeous guest-ranch in tiny Cuchara, Colorado and stayed on the premises. SO MANY people pitched in to make this wedding happen. The groomsmen manned the bar, grandparents and aunts maintained the buffet. The groom made all the benches that guests sat on for the ceremony and probably too many other things to name. Their officiant was a good friend of the couple.
Suffice it to say that I left Jon & Shanee’s wedding feeling like I was lucky to spend time with an amazing group of people. I’m so happy for these two that they had an epic family wedding and they get to be surrounded by these people for the rest of their lives. Congrats you two! Thanks so much for making me part of your celebration!