I wish I could remember when I first found Sarah’s blog, My San Francisco Budget Wedding (now known as My Inconceivable Life). I do know that when I found it and started reading, I immediately left a comment saying something like, “Where have you been this whole time?” I felt immediately connected to her style of writing and loved her DIY-heavy approach to her family-centric wedding. We became fast blog-friends. I loved that she and Tony grew up in the same era that I did and would let their “I ♥ the 80’s” freak flags fly. It’s a tough row to hoe, being a huge fan of the 80’s. Not everyone holds the same passion for The Dead Milkmen, Siouxsie & The Banshees or Rancid as us 80’s lovers do.
Over the course of the next year, I would meet Sarah as well as other blog friends, make her hair toy for her wedding, sponsor a photography contest on this blog that she decided to enter at the last minute and lost by *this much* and then attend her wedding, not in San Francisco as originally planned, but in Tucson, AZ. Who knew?
For those of you not familiar with Sarah and Tony and their amazing story, here’s a quick recap: They dated seriously in high school and parted ways as most teenage couples do. Tony married and divorced. Sarah married, had 2 kids and divorced. Twenty years later, they reconnect on Facebook. Both originally from Tucson, Arizona, conveniently Tony is in San Diego while Sarah is in Orange County. They decided to meet.
Their story is one of the single most real-life romance novels I’ve ever read. I can’t read her old posts without tearing up. Remember that heart-wrenching love you had as a 14-year old girl? Remember that giddy feeling that kept you up at night, listening to your romance-music-of-choice (Depeche Mode’s Somebody [dude, the ORIGINAL emo band] was a personal fave). Remember the passion that seemed to take over your soul, before wisdom and experience kicked in and kept you from behaving like a total douchebag? Yeah, they got to go back to that…and stay.
However, all good things do not come without a price tag and Sarah and Tony had to pay mightily to see their dream through. Painful divorces, sick family, job changes, moving…all of it seemed to come at them all at once. As cheesy as it sounds, love persevered.
I’m making this Unfake Wedding a multi-parter because like me, Sarah is all about the details. This wedding was so personal, so lovely and so untraditional in so many ways, that you couldn’t help but be moved be the whole experience. I was honored to be a part of it and feel the same way about sharing it here.
But before I let Sarah tell her story, I’ve got mine.
When me, Sarah, Tony, Becca and Lyn all met, it was really odd. I mean, how often does someone you’ve never met invite you to Disneyland, to stay at their house and just hang out for the weekend? And who accepts that kind of invitation?
Me, Lyn and Becca do.
Meeting these ladies was one of the best decisions I ever made. Going to California last January was the shot in the arm this freshly-unemployed chick needed.
After that fun experience, we got invitations to Tony & Sarah’s wedding in San Francisco. I was really excited to be a part of their wedding day and I wanted to take The Candyman and maybe take some time for us there. He’s never been to San Francisco and I want him to experience the great things about that town. But then, just a week or so after getting the invitation, I get an email from Sarah about how they were changing everything about their wedding. Not just a quick venue or date change, but the whole city. From San Francisco to Tucson.
SCREEEEEEEEECH! Wait, WHAT? Frantic email to Sarah of the areyouokayohmygodwhatsgoingon variety. Sick mom, no choices, decisions made. Boom. Just like that. Like most things thrown in her path, Sarah seems to take a minute and just sort of look at things and then she makes some smart decisions very quickly. This isn’t to say she doesn’t freak out over things. She does, but never in a way that’s regretful, which I think is so important in life. Never regret, but learn. Always.
Sarah is self-described as one who doesn’t make friends easily. I don’t think she gives herself enough credit, but who of us do? When she tried on her wedding dress for us that night after we’d come back from Disneyland, exhausted but wired, drinking wine, she confessed she had no bridesmaids and that we had been, in terms of girlie-support, her cyber-bridesmaids. As a bridesmaid, I tend to take myself very seriously. I have a duty to fulfill. Hearing her say that suddenly made the experience we were sharing more important. I think we were all touched by her honesty and how vulnerable that statement might have made her feel. I know I would have felt insecure as hell.
A few weeks before her wedding, I emailed Sarah, including Lyn and Becca, telling her that we wanted to help as much as we could with all the bullshit that a DIY-heavy wedding includes (there’s lots of schlepping, set-up, tear down). There was a THREE PAGE LONG to-do list sent back. Right on. This is on like Donkey Kong.
Coordinating the cybermaids was no easy feat. I am in North Carolina, Becca is in LA, Lyn is in Santa Barbara. We coordinated flights (Becca sent a spreadsheet organized in low to high cost vs. most time spent with the bride/friends options. Very helpful.) to meet in Phoenix, then rented a car, driving the 2+ hours to Tucson, timed to be there precisely when the rehearsal dinner started. That would have been PERFECT had Lyn’s plane not be delayed for a gazillion hours. We got there just as the last stragglers were departing the rehearsal dinner. No one had started cleaning up, they left all the food out, covered and warmed for us. Sarah saved the last few glasses of a VERY nice bottle of wine to share. She gave us beautiful Chinese tea sets and sets of chopsticks in DIY chopstick sleeves. The atmosphere in their home and backyard was just lovely. Beautiful lights strung across the yard. Long tables set up cafeteria style, but warmed with candlelight, friendship and that anticipatory buzz that comes along with planned, life-changing events.
We didn’t stay long. We still needed to find the hotel, check-in, get settled. And it was 11pm Tucson time, nearly 1 am East coast time. I was running low on fuel. But no, once settled in the room, Lyn would have none of it and busted out her travel whiskey. I cried “Uncle!” after just one and headed off to bed. Becca and Lyn stayed up, misbehaving.
The next day, we got half-way ready and out of the house to Sarah’s. We ironed, tucked, zipped and laughed. There were kids everywhere. As someone who doesn’t have kids or spend a lot of time around kids? Children can be worrisome. I don’t want to accidentally drop an f-bomb. I don’t want to make them cry. I want them to get out of my way. Sarah’s level of calm with her kids was like, fucking amazing. She’s like the freaking Zen Kid Master.
Lyn and Becca zipping. Photo by Kelly Rashka.
Once Sarah was dressed and pretty, we cybermaids busted ass over to venue to set up. Her mini-van was packed to the max with crane mobiles, egg crate flowers, cake stands, gallons of Sangria. Everything was labeled and we had The List. We divided and conquered. Becca and Lyn took the outside; hanging mobiles, setting up the PA, table decor. I took the inside; dessert tables, guest stations, more mobile hanging. Her family took care of the bar and liquor stuffs.
Lyn, contemplating crane mobile transportation and mini-van extraction. Photo by Kelly Rashka.
We left the venue to head back to Sarah’s to change. We seriously had 15 minutes to get dressed and do hair and make-up. I’d had my hair up all day in these weird clips in order to keep it scrunched up, so that it would look good. It’s my version of walking around in rollers. I mean, I went to Jamba Juice with my hair piled on top of my head, looking like a warrior Amazon woman.
With Lyn, watching Sarah getting her hair did. It looks like I’ve got may hair in a banana clip. And I ran around the city of Tucson like this. All day. Nice…. Photo by Kelly Rashka.
Anyway, my hair ended up looking good for once, though it was flinging all over the freaking place whilst I boogied down later that night. Meh. I have a lot of hair. I deal with it.
We got back to the wedding venue in plenty of time to tweak. Move that cake over here, straighten those escort cards. Sadly, at this point, Lyn was feeling like a bag full of assholes. Something, whether the whiskey the night before or the Arizona tap water she was chugging (we warned her to stick with bottled!), Lyn was starting to look a little peaked. Pale. Clammy. Lacking in all aspects of her usual snark. She sipped ginger ale and ate lightly, until it was cake time. I suggested a little hair of the dog and surprisingly, she perked up some after a cocktail. She was feeling well enough to get her dance on by the end of the night.
You’ll learn more about the wedding in the official feature.
After we packed up the reception and got back to the hotel, we were exhausted, but we’d had such a wonderful night. We dove into the snacks from her OOT boxes.
My arty OOT box photo op. LOVE my luggage tags!
The next morning we dragged ass back to Phoenix, running late, literally running to catch my flight. No time to say proper good-byes. Quick hugs all around in the car rental return garage. Not nearly the ending to something I watched grow over the last year.
But what I know is that it’s no ending. We’ve promised each other things for the next time. Money is tight for all of us. We can’t just willy nilly jump on a plane like we’re a Kardashian and meet up some place fabulous and have a fabulous girl’s weekend. No, it will take timing and planning and effort. And it will be so worth it.
Next up? The actual feature. Check back, I promise Tony and Sarah’s story is incredibly special.