Updated: Jul 16
With so much uncertainty around upcoming wedding dates, and whether there will be headcount or travel restrictions, couples are considering splitting their wedding up into two (or even more) events. There are many ways to play with this concept, and I am in the unique position to advise you on this decision, not only as a wedding planner, but as a married person who did exactly this.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram for awhile, you have probably figured out that my #frenchhusband is not Canadian. We met in a very soulmate-ish way when we worked together at Le Pois Penché, a brasserie parisienne in downtown Montreal.
Fast forward to late 2012, and French Husband, who is actually called Adrien, had been in Montreal three years and we had been living together in the Plateau for nearly one of them when we found out his application to renew his work visa had been rejected. That single page letter, which told him to return to France within 30 days, made the decision: when he got home from work that evening, and before he could go totally apoplectic about the news, I asked, “so… do you want to get married?” And he said, “Yes, please.”
And that is the very romantic story of my engagement!
Actually, looking back, I don’t mind that we didn’t have a massive build up or that he didn’t get on one knee and tell me all the reasons he can’t live without me. We hadn’t even really planned on getting married – I even think I was a bit disillusioned about weddings back then. I was fed up with the waste I saw they caused behind the scenes, and Adrien didn’t want to party with 300 people he didn’t know. Also, my high school French teacher had been common-law married and he told us that “it was just a piece of paper.” With all of that in mind, we moved to Paris, and I set out to get the document I needed in order to be with the person I love.
I think there were 25-30 people at our ceremony, held at the mairie du 13e and officiated by Adrien’s sister, Dorothée. His other sister, Maylis, was my witness, while her partner took some amazing photos.
A seriously beautiful day, and I will never forget that tower of macarons.
After the ceremony, we all went to my in-laws’ apartment and noshed on French things, over the course of the afternoon and evening. Other than Adrien’s family, most of whom I had just met, and his friends – ditto – I had one friend there, one of my closest girlfriends from college who was the first of my friends to visit me during my nearly ten-months sabbatical. It was very simple, delicious, and homey – it was exactly our speed.
But when we returned to Montreal, I immediately started planning another, much less intimate celebration. Everyone had an ask: my dad wanted a rabbi to bless us two atheists, and my best friends all wanted to speak. One of them actually tried to break into my laptop to get a video from my honeymoon of me lipsyncing at the tail end of a wine tour in Tuscany, but luckily, she couldn't figure out our franglais password. My husband didn't want to be the center of attention, and I couldn't wait.
Clockwise from top left: With my dad and all of my sisters; with my mom; my heart's desire - a hora; and my other heart's desire - an adorable ring bearer.
So why did we have two weddings? The short version is that we wanted to be legally married right away, and we also wanted to share a celebration of our love and commitment to one another with our friends and family. I didn’t really feel married after my first wedding. It’s not that it wasn’t a beautiful, romantic day, or that I don’t have great stories and intimate moments from that time. I still love that day. But I didn’t feel the weight of marriage on me because, as lovely as it was to have Kate there, I needed a lot more. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an entire community to support a relationship. Marriage isn’t just a piece of paper, and a wedding is more than a ritual. It’s the coming together of the multitude of mini-villages you’re a part of over a shared love: you. It gives your community faith in love, and it gives you, as a couple, this feeling of support from everyone in the room. And you will remember it, when you fight (anyone quarantining with their person right now and feel like… all the emojis!?), and when you go through hard times together, that all of those people who stood and applauded on your wedding day are rooting for you.
This isn’t just an emotional issue, though. It’s also a logistical one, and there are already a ton of stresses – I have an entire Instagram highlight reel dedicated to them! Now, you have to figure out how this is going to play out for you. While we’re all in this pandemic together, there is no formula that helps me figure out what will work for every couple. You and your partner are probably both going to have ideas and dealbreakers, so you may have to try a few options on for size – maybe with a pro/con list? – and find one that resonates with you. I know this is frustrating for every couple, but this change in plan is just part of your sweet journey, and one of the many struggles you’ll encounter in your relationship. I hope figuring this out is something you get to do together as a couple, rather than have to. And if you need someone to step in and do some of the emotional heavy lifting, I’m your person.
Because things are so up-in-the-air for couples right now, I’ve created a standalone coaching offer. If you want my help figuring out what’s right for you, or handling logistical, budgetary, or familial issues, send me a message through my contact form, or shoot me a text at 514.754.1105, and we can set up a free, 30-minute discovery call.
Want to know more about what sets me apart from the rest of Montreal’s wedding planners? Check out my blog post: WTF is a Wedding Coach?