A black and white image of Peter andI kissing on our wedding day as I hold up a cell phone to take a selfie of us.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Falling in love is the greatest thing in the world. Falling in love with a gentle giant from Ireland is even better! So when the love of my life proposed to me almost seven years ago, saying “YES” was the easiest decision I would ever make.

So here I was, a mid-twenty something newly engaged woman trying to plan her wedding. I’m not going to lie, I was anxious to start turning my “Dream Wedding” Pinterest board into a reality. However, there were a few things I needed to look into before actually starting to plan the finite details of my…I mean…OUR big day.

Initially, I had dreamed of a rustic, magical wedding set in a beautiful barn with our closest friends and family. I could picture the cubed haystacks as seating for the ceremony, thousands of twinkly lights lighting up the barn as we enjoyed dinner, and dancing the night away in a field with a folk band playing. But, like I said, there were hiccups to this fantasy.

The first big issue in our wedding planning came from my soon-to-be husband. You see, at the time, he wasn’t a permanent resident of Canada, but was planning on applying once we were married. To help make all the legalese stuff as simple as possible, we knew no matter where we wanted to have our ceremony, we would have to legally get married in Canada first. At this point, I was still all for my dream barn wedding and it seemed to make sense.

Too bad it was quickly quashed when I did some research. With my family living in northern Ontario, Manitoba and Italy, and all of his living in Ireland, the need for hotels being ridiculously close to the venue stopped my barn wedding right in its tracks.

This is when my wise grandmother said, “Why not get married in Ireland?”

The woman had a point. For my Canadian and Italian family, it would be an stunning destination wedding, and for his family, it would be a short drive to a venue from their homes. This was a fabulous idea! So we started planning, and with the help of my incredible mother-in-law, we booked a beautiful seaside venue, had our cake, decor, and everything else picked out. But there was still that little problem of needing to legally get married in Canada.

So, after a few weeks of wracking our brains, my now-husband suggested we have another ceremony, only this would only be for our parents. At first I thought he was joking, but as we talked through it, it totally made sense. The plan was to fly his parents, brother and a cousin over and get married in Niagara Falls, Ont. GENIUS! They had never been to Canada before, and what better way to show them one of the natural wonders of the world than by getting married on the boat that takes you through the falls!

The plan was set – the family flew over, the parents all met and hit it off wonderfully, and now it was time to head down to Niagara Falls to get married.

The first day was beautiful, with the sun shining, warm weather and everyone having a ball. The wedding day, however, was a different story. It was pouring rain and freezing! We had initially planned to marry on the Maid of the Mist, a la Pam and Jim from The Office, but with the nasty weather, we had to have an emergency location change. In the end, we were married on the observation deck of the Skylon Tower, overlooking the falls. While it was cold and dreary, our happiness and love, coupled with all of us crying tears of joy, made the day perfect.

Following our “I dos”, we enjoyed a delicious meal at the tower followed by alcoholic bowling to celebrate. I’m not going to lie, while it was a far cry from my Pinterest board, this was the most perfect day. Our closest family members were with us as we made a lifelong promise to each other, plus we had a hilarious story to tell our friends when they asked about our wedding day.

A year later, we enjoyed our traditional wedding as planned, with only a handful of people aware we had already been married a year. This eased all our stress about everything having to be perfect. I was already married to the man of my dreams, we just wanted to celebrate it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved our wedding in Ireland, surrounded by my husband’s closest family and friends, plus some of my family from Italy. Our ceremony had a traditional hand-fasting ceremony mixed with us forgetting parts of our vows and high-fiving, the wrong music playing us up the aisle, and our reception had us stuffed with delicious food, lots of wine, and was filled with drunken shenanigans as we danced the night away.

But to me, my first wedding day, that hilarious comedy of errors the year before, would always have more meaning and bring me more joy when I looked back than our big, fat Irish wedding. It was that rainy ceremony and celebration that proved to me that no matter what life threw at us, we would be fine.

As we approach our fifth wedding anniversary, I realize more and more how it was that rainy June day that should have been on my Pinterest board. If I could go back and do it all over, I don’t think I would do the big ceremony, instead, I would embrace the small and memorable ceremony and leave it at that. I mean, how many others get to say their reception was  comprised of endless strawberry daiquiris, cigars and bowling?

If I could give one piece of advice for all the soon-to-be brides out there it would be to just live in the moment. Plan your wedding for you and your partner, rather than for what others expect. At the end of the day, it’s your day to celebrate your love for each other, and that is what should come through.

Originally written for Boundless Weddings

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