This is part two of my post about our dream of a wedding on the first day of August this year. I’m loving revisiting that day, letting my brain wander back to the Pennsylvania heat and happiness. If you haven’t read part one yet, go ahead and hop back a post. I’ll start where I ended. With a sweet goat and a brand spanking new husband.
See, here’s the sweet goat, arguably my favorite party guest, but it was a tough choice. Big toss up between him and the gaggle of kittens scurrying around. And, you know, Isaiah.
After the ceremony, we felt like how I’m sure a lot of couples feel. The classic did that just happen, holy crap we are actually married, that was so fast, oh my gosh oh my gosh, I love you, we are so sweaty, my feet hurt, I love everyone. Something like that. We took a million thousand pictures with every single person we are related to and us in front of the old barn that has been in Isaiah’s family for generations. Old family, new family, people I’d never met before, people I’ve known since my first moments of life.
This is my family, just the four of us. We lived in the same house in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for my whole entire life and it hasn’t changed much since I moved in as an infant, except for some hideous bright blue wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the house that we ripped out when I was around six. We were happy to see it go, except I was sad to lose my great expanse of “ocean” for my myriad of make-believe games. These people are my people. I know all about them. I love them like crazy. I’m so happy that my dear parents still live in that little split-level house with the former blue carpet and the giant backyard in Pittsburgh, but I’m devastated that Chicago is such a world away from that place and those people.
Getting married was no small thing for any of us. My mom made thousands of paper stars for decorations and cared about me every minute. My dad affirmed my relationship with Isaiah all the way through. My sister was my right-hand gal and has adored me for years in ways that I can’t even understand, the way that a big sister can’t possibly see herself the way her little sister has seen her forever. This wedding was as much for them in a lot of ways as it was for me. The day was huge for our little family which has always been just the four of us. Four no more, now five, and shaken a little, but happy, so happy. I’m still grabbing at the fact that I now have my own family, a unit of two, “the bornmans,” my beau and I and our small army of windowsill plants. But, although I’m someone’s wife, I’m still always someone’s daughter and sister, and I love being tied to these people. We Kuhlmans, we’re scrappy and we love life. We eat takeout like no one’s business and enjoy the occasional walk around the block. We don’t always do the dishes right away or dust as often as we should, and we absolutely have a penchant for long summer afternoons at suburban pools. We are hobby people, throwing ourselves into things that give us joy, whether that’s RC cars, musical theater, webkinz, crime novels, Nancy Drew computer games, photography, or Seinfeld. I got my fierce love of James Taylor from being a Kuhlman. I got my weirdly tiny feet from being a Kuhlman. I got my intense need for weekly comfort food from being a Kuhlman, and my understanding of the importance of jammies, and buying pansies in the spring, and special breakfast, and yearly trips to the seashore, and heirloom cookies, and getting excited when daddy comes home. Blue carpet. Pizza Bella. The lion shaped water fountain at Moon Park and my mom’s meatballs which probably aren’t even all that special but I like them because my mom makes them. I’ll never stop being a Kuhlman. I’m just a Bornman now too.
And isn’t that grand?
For me, getting married meant gaining two siblings, which, in the long run is a WILD game-changer. I was listening to an episode of This American Life once while running on the treadmill, and in the midst of one of the stories someone said something like, “You may think parents are the most important parts of your family, but they’re not. It’s siblings. Parents only walk with you through a part of your life, really. They’re always in a far different place. But siblings are there the whole way. Birth to death. You’ll still know them when your eighty.” Now I have two more whole people in my family who I will know for my whole life. Who I can’t get rid of and would NEVER want to. Laurel and Caleb are now inextricably part of my life, just like that! We could potentially see each other every Thanksgiving for the rest of our thanksgivings! Isaiah and I will watch their kids for the weekend sometimes. Jill, Laurel, and Caleb will all get married and then we will have THREE MORE PEOPLE stuck with us forever. It’s crazy! It’s fantastic! I feel like we are a little team now, huddled on the sidelines, planning our moves. We are a task force. We are a clan. We are a collective of bornman-kuhlmans ready to tackle aging together. I think all of these people are really great, and I’m playing catch up as fast as I can to make Caleb and Laurel as dear to me as Jill already is. See you at Christmas in thirty years. You bring the mulled wine, I’ll make the figgy pudding and pepperoni bread and we will remember the time we made our expanded sibling-hood official in August of 2015. We will know so much more about each other and the world by then, my wonderful siblings and I.
We are married now, and we love being married. We love it, we love it. It doesn’t feel all that different from dating, well, it does, and it doesn’t, which is comforting and encouraging because it makes me so certain that we have been a team all along. We’ve got this in the bag. It’s going to be hard. Oh, yes. We will know heartbreak. I’m going to disappoint him, and he is going to disappoint me, and the world is going to disappoint us over and over again, but it will also be kind to us because it has been so many other times before. I’m in love with this man. He is the boy with the sunflower eyes and he always will be, even if they get clouded over with cataracts or mine do and I can’t see his eyes anymore. We are married forever, and I look at him sometimes and wonder how this even happened. How did we find each other in this big big world? Good gracious, how did we know at eighteen to take the chance on each other? Somehow we did. Somehow we did. It’s grace and nothing else. Grace and a spark of what is good in the world. Our story is simple because it is love, unclouded and safe. I can’t explain it and neither can you, but get ready world because we are together in you forever. I don’t know where we will go. I don’t know what we will do. But you will never know us apart again.
People came to our party. They came! And I knew them! They were real live people, people I loved! You know, you plan a wedding for months and months, and it is sort of a solitary thing. People ask you about it all the time, but you never really tell anyone all the details that you carry around in your head everywhere you go. You pick a caterer, you rent tables and chairs, you figure out where people should park, you do all sorts of things for all the wedding guests, maybe even without thinking too too much about the guests themselves. That’s how it was for me, I think. In my brain as I planned, the guests were sort of like disembodied Sim people, you know, like the game we all played endlessly in middle school, wandering around, doing things, talking to each other. A little crowd to sit in the chairs and eat all the pizza and eat the cakes. Faceless party guests.
But August 1st rolled around, and guess what. THEY WEREN’T FACELESS. Not at all! They had faces, and those faces were faces that I loved! I could tell you the names of each and every person in this picture, even from the backs of their heads! They are my people! I knew everyone, and the people I didn’t know were people that loved me anyway because they love Isaiah! It is so much more fun to have special pizza at your wedding when you also have special people to eat it! And special people to sit in the special chairs I rented and thought so hard about. The special tables I searched for and found. Beloved faces lit by the special lights I picked out and hung. I love this picture of our wedding because it is “well peopled”. That was one of the kindest things anyone told me about the wedding. One of my favorite teachers was in attendance, and he told me afterward that he thought our wedding was remarkably “well peopled”.
Well, I think so too. Thank you for showing up you well-peopled people I adore. Thank you for driving or flying or caravanning your way to our little corner of Pennsylvania to sit in my chairs and eat my pizza and be lit by my lights. Thank you for not being faceless Sim people. Thank you for being real live people who know me and have talked to me and remember things about me. Thank you for coming to my party and sharing my joy in getting married. It’s such a personal thing, to get married, but it is NOT supposed to be solitary. I know that now. I felt surrounded, I felt well-peopled, and I felt immeasurably loved.
Really, so glad you ate the pizza.
Okay, let’s talk about these cakes because I CAN’T GET OVER THEM. Early in the process, Isaiah and I approached his sister Laurel about maybe possibly making our wedding cakes as a giant gift to us. It is a big thing to ask someone who doesn’t make a lot of wedding cakes to make your wedding cake. That’s a lot of cake-pressure, you know? But, sweet Laurel, who, I’ll have you know, does know her way around the cake pan, said yes to our crazy request. She became our wedding baker sister. AND SHE KILLED IT.
I can’t tell you how perfect these cakes were. I mean, you can see them and they are GORGEOUS, but they are even more perfect in my brain because I saw her work on these cakes literally for months. She made a taste test round early, early in the summer. She made a vanilla cake with raspberry icing because I said I liked that and then she fed it to the whole family at a family reunion to see if they liked it too. She experimented with lemon lavender cakes at my bridal shower as a trial for the real thing. She compared and contrasted recipes, she found all the good advice the internet had to offer, she took all my pretty pinterest cake ideas I threw at her in stride, and she made it happen. One day she baked for the entire day, kicking everyone else out of the kitchen. We transported the cakes to the farm on a giant slab of wood in the back of Isaiah’s dad’s Subaru, and Laurel and I both held our breath as Isaiah and his dad carried them through the doorway. She made our wedding cakes. I don’t know how. I could never make cakes this beautiful and tasty. But she did it. They were better than I ever imagined they would be. The moment she and Avery brought them out was in the middle of the wedding. I had no idea what they would look like before that, and it is one of the most memorable moments of the wedding for me. They were gorgeous. They were perfect. They were everything I dreamed and more, and 100% a selfless gift. A moment of huge surprise in a wedding in which I’d planned almost everything down to the minute.
It might be one of the best feelings in the world to ask someone to do something for you that you can’t do yourself, and to have them do it and crush it. Laurel will always be the person that baked our beautiful wedding cakes. I’ll always be the person that asked her to. And who ate it. And who smiled a lot. I can’t make my own cake, and I’m so grateful to have a sister who can. And did. And sprinkled flowers all over it. The most beautiful cakes in the world.
I had this crazy vision for the reception area, and I had no idea how we would pull it off. I wanted a tent without actually having a tent. I wanted the illusion of a grand tent, made out of lights and stars and ribbons. Like a circus or a carnival tent, but airy instead of heavy. I had no idea how we would do it, but I stuck to my vision and make all sorts of decorations by hand. I sewed a couple hundred feet of bunting for the perimeter while watching hours of How I Met Your Mother. I tied little lengths of ribbon on long stretches of string in my back yard. My mom strung thousands of paper stars on ribbon. I tried to find a good deal on globe lights (they’re dang expensive but they look so good! If anyone needs to borrow them, I’ve got them!). I crafted decoration after decoration and then I packed them all in my trunk and drove my way to Lancaster to figure it all out for real.
It’s hard and a little scary to have a big idea about something and have no idea how to pull it off. I dreamed for weeks of my light tent, worrying that I’d have to settle for something less grand. Listen, if you’re ever in this sort of situation, knowing what you want but not knowing how to build it, make it, do it, just get the Bornman men on your side. They can handle it.
I told them all about my dreamy plan, and lo and behold, there just happened to be a giant tree trunk that Mr. Bornman had been saving for years to be a sailboat mast someday in the barn, waiting to be the center of our wedding light tent. He and Isaiah knew immediately what do do and how to do it. They found the right amount of rope and and old, old pulley. They dug giant holes in the ground for hours to set in all the poles. They figured out all the lengths and angles for the lights and the streamers and rigged it all like a well-oiled machine. Isaiah had the idea for the ribbon backdrop of our ceremony too, that grand rainbow facade that seemed too big a task, too fantastic to do ourselves. We did it, because Isaiah knew we could. I’m so happy to be married to my Bornman, my dear man for whom no task or dream is too big or impractical. His father is a carpenter, and his grandfathers were a stone-mason and a farmer. If I want a light tent, he and his fathers before him will build me a light tent with their hands. I’m proud of him and I’m proud of his family of makers, dreamers, hard-workers, doers.
Our first dance was to a song by Ben Sollee, one of our very favorite musicians. The song was “Loving Memory,” and we didn’t pick it until a few days before the wedding. We were driving and talking about what our wedding song should be, bouncing between a couple of options, mostly unsure. This song came on, either picked by me or shuffled in a playlist, I can’t remember, and we listened silently. Afterward, we just looked at each other and knew. Even something as simple as a song to dance your first dance to can fall in your lap in the simplest and sweetest of ways if you let it. On a quiet night two days before your wedding, driving with your love, waiting for the rest of your life.
I almost forgot about the sparklers for our send-off until my mom called me on her way to Lancaster for the wedding. She said “There’s a fireworks store at the next exit, should I take it?” And I said, “YES!” It’s funny the things that somehow slip your mind. It’s good to have moms to catch them.
We danced our little hearts out with our friends at the end of our wedding, almost manically happy, high on happiness and the dreaminess of the day. By the time we escaped, we were so ready, so exhausted, so excited to be alone and to fall into each other. I can’t describe the feeling I had when I was alone changing out of my wedding dress. It was maybe the most surreal my life has ever felt, and it was fantastic. My husband was upstairs, changing too, and together we would sail out into the world and keep on going. We had plans for a wonderfully simple Honeymoon at a resort in the wilderness of Upstate New York, full of calm and food and sleep and waterfalls and ginger ale and each other, but we weren’t there yet. We tore out through the lights and the night. I forgot my phone charger. We held each others hands and exclaimed and sighed a lot on the way to the hotel. We were married. We are married still. It has been three months and I still feel dreamy but I also feel life-y, and I’m so happy to have a husband by my side in this crazy world and city and a gorgeous wedding on August 1st to point to as a sign of grace. That. There. That day was a dream. Our life shall be like a watered garden. I know that to be true. And I am grateful.
In case you missed Part One, here’s a link to the post!
We had wood-fired pizza at our wedding, aka BEST DECISION EVER. Our caterer was amazing, a joy to work with. To be honest, I never talked to them. Margaret, my wedding coordinator / most organized friend (shout out to Margaret, YOU ROCK AND YOU MADE SO MUCH OF THIS WEDDING HAPPEN FOR REAL) talked to them way more. But they made us pizza and it was literally delicious, especially the Pistachio pizza. Like, what? So if you’re in Central PA and you have mobile pizza needs, and let’s face it, who doesn’t?, look no further! Forno Bova.
Our fantastic honeymoon resort in Upstate New York.
Our first dance song, “Loving Memory” by Ben Sollee.
If you or anyone you know is planning a creative wedding on a tight-budget without lots of vendors or wedding professionals and wants to talk about it, EMAIL ME. I did it and it was hard but I loved it and I’d love to be a resource or sounding board or verbal-processing partner for anyone who could use a wedding buddy. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just comment on this post and I’ll try to get back to you asap. Weddings are weird and hard and special and wonderful. You don’t have to figure it all out alone.