When Adam and I first got engaged at home, we talked about what we'd each want for our ideal wedding day. As an introvert, I envisioned something private and intimate, with just our immediate family members. Adam, being the extrovert and community-minded person he is, wanted a big party. There isn't really a fair way to reconcile those two things for a compromise — it's one or the other. So, we decided that wasn't going to work… and instead, our version of a compromise was simply to do both. We got married twice.
Our two weddings
On Thursday May 24, 2018, Adam and I got married by The Honorable John Gillis Jr. in the chambers of his courtroom in downtown Detroit. We were joined by our parents and siblings and Casey Brodley, our photographer. Our ceremony was short and sweet, and each of our siblings served as our witnesses. Afterward, we took a handful of family photos and sent our families on their way, while the two of us had our portrait session with Casey throughout the city. Later that evening, we met back up with our families for a wonderful, celebratory dinner where we toasted our new life together.
Seven months later, on November 10, 2018, we got married again. This time, we were surrounded by 225 family members and friends, and had a traditional Jewish wedding in black tie attire.
We each put a tremendous amount of heart into the November wedding day's designs, because I work as a wedding calligrapher and invitations designer, and Adam is a woodworking hobbyist. I created our invitation, day-of-wedding goodies, and our Ketubah. Likewise, Adam built our chuppah, bars, and farmhouse tables.
Along with our own contributions, another big, meaningful factor was my dress. I wore an heirloom, 100% silk gown. This dress was my grandmother's, worn for their wedding in 1955. This same dress was also my mother's wedding dress, worn by her again in 1985. Because it had been preserved and was in really good condition, I decided to wear it as well. After some extensive alterations, the dress was stunning – and the general consensus is that I looked like Belle. It's a high compliment to be compared to a Disney princess, so I'll take it! My mom knew about my wardrobe choice, but we surprised my grandmother and my dad on the day of the wedding. Having those moments with each of them were so emotional and something I'll cherish forever.
It wasn't my perfect day
…But to be honest, it wasn't “the perfect day” for me, as people always are prone to asking the bride. It was Adam's perfect day, and that's incredible! I'm so glad he had the rocking evening he always wanted, to celebrate our love story.
However, I had terrible crowd anxiety and felt really overwhelmed for a lot of the reception. I completely skipped cocktail hour and ducked into the venue's private computer lab for a portion of the evening to have some privacy.
Our day-of-wedding coordinator (Kate McClellan of Purple Clover Events) was a true angel. She came to sit with me and calmed me down. As we chatted, she told me how normal it was for brides to be anxiety-ridden about being the center of attention on such a heightened day.
Because I was uncomfortable, we changed up the schedule on the fly and skipped the traditional first dances after speeches; instead, our first dance happened organically, toward the end of the night. I signaled to Kate and our band leader that I felt ready, and we made it happen then! We danced to a female-sung version of Kygo's “Firestone.”
During my heart-to-heart with Kate, I realized it's an unfair practice to ignore the fact that so many brides/grooms are troubled by being the center of attention for such an extended time, with such a large group of people, especially on such an emotionally charged day. As wedding industry professionals, we need to acknowledge that the mental health of the couple has to come first.
The whole evening confirmed that Adam and I made the right decision in respecting my desire to get married privately earlier on. I'm not sure my bundle of nerves would have made it down the aisle in November otherwise, had we not already been married! My “perfect day” had been months earlier, during our first wedding.
Advice for couples just starting their wedding planning
And that brings me to our advice for couples starting their planning now. There's no rulebook that says you have to do it a certain way. There's no requirement for a big, white dress. There's nothing stopping you from doing it on your terms.
Before you start planning the small details of your big day, think broadly about what your “perfect day” really means to each of you — and know that it's totally fine if those dreams for a celebration don't align with your mom, your friends, or even each other.
Your values align as a partnership, which is what counts — they don't have to be the same for the party celebrating that union. Because you're a team, you should honor each person's goals equally.
Figure out a way to celebrate your love story in a way that makes sense for you as a couple… even if that means getting married twice!
If you're looking for more examples of couples who compromised by getting married twice, we've got an entire archive of folks who had two weddings!