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Happily Ever After: Our Editor Says "I Do"

Sarah Baumann shares the details of her dream wedding day.

Champagne flutes clinked nonstop. Warm congratulations came at every turn. A rose-hued fog enveloped me as I reveled in the words “my fiancé” and marveled at the sparkling patterns my ring cast on the walls. After dating for four years, my beloved Jeff proposed one December evening amid the holiday lights of our freshly decorated tree, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for weeks.

Champagne flutes clinked nonstop. Warm congratulations came at every turn. A rose-hued fog enveloped me as I reveled in the words “my fiancé” and marveled at the sparkling patterns my ring cast on the walls. After dating for four years, my beloved Jeff proposed one December evening amid the holiday lights of our freshly decorated tree, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for weeks. 

As the editor of a bridal magazine, I’ve spent countless hours thinking about all things wedding. But now that I was wearing the glass slippers around town instead of just trying them on at the store, it felt a little different—entirely more special and important. As the “Tell me how he proposed!” and “Ooh, let me see that ring!” comments turned into “Have you set a date?” it started to feel real.

As we began to plan our wedding, I thought I knew everything (I’m a weddings pro, after all). But the reality was a myriad of delightful surprises and unexpected turns. From booking our first vendors to our last spin on the dance floor, we learned many things—chief among them, that getting married is all it’s cracked up to be.

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Step by Step

“Baby steps,” said Jeff, more times than I can remember during wedding planning—this man is the Zen to my neuroses. That became the mantra for our wedding planning, as I quickly learned how easily you can get overwhelmed.

We knew we had to tackle the big things first: book venues and a photographer, set a wedding date and create a guest list. Before we did any of that, though, we hired a wedding planner. Bringing in help—someone to discuss decisions big and small and read all the fine print—helped save my sanity. And it was great fun to have someone to obsess with over our French bohemian design theme; friends will listen patiently, but only a professional can tolerate that much talk about letterpress.

Step by step, we sorted through those first big decisions. We weighed what seemed like endless options for venues and vendors, and we second-guessed ourselves a time or two. But soon we accepted that no-brainer lesson to trust our gut. We chose the things we loved the most, and as our team of awesome pros came together, we knew they’d knock our wedding vision out of the park.

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Dressing Up

Cake tasting was decadent and selecting flowers was the prettiest task I’ve ever undertaken, but few duties were as thrilling as saying yes to that dress. I expected something less—to be underwhelmed or wracked with uncertainty and indecision. Instead I found myself gleefully sashaying around in a sea of silk taffeta and chiffon. Playing dress-up was just as much fun as it had been when I was a little girl.

I walked into the salon confident in my wants: white or ivory, with a healthy dose of embellishment. After several dresses, the capable sales associate pointed me toward a pale blush Chantilly lace gown. “No, absolutely no blush,” I said. “Oh, just try it on,” my mother said.

I tried it on, my mom cried, and so did my aunt. On came the matching blush cathedral lace veil, and then I cried too. It was a good early lesson to remain open-minded in wedding decisions, and to trust the pros. And to trust your mom’s happy tears.

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Defining the Details

The upside of looking at weddings all day, every day, is that you have tons of ideas when it comes to planning your own. The downside is that it can make you a little obsessive about the details. Months after my wedding, I was reflecting on the planning process with a girlfriend, saying, “I can’t even remember what I spent so much time on.” “Linens,” she said. “You really spent a lot of time talking about linens.”

In a fervor that only a bride-to-be can understand, we chose the little elements that brought the vision to life—the pretty pink cake, perfect arrangements of peonies and garden roses, and the mélange of linens (I became so consumed that I even had some custom made). But my favorite details were the ones that Jeff and I got excited about together. Picking out our favorite songs, shopping for our pup Sherman’s bowtie, choosing our late-night hot dog snack and learning the foxtrot for our first dance are things I’ll never forget.

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At Last

The weeks leading up to the wedding were a blur of last-minute to-dos and guest arrivals, and before we knew it, our wedding day arrived. The morning was filled with pampering, “Chapel of Love” on repeat, and an energy that was both surreal and palpable. But as I walked down the long church aisle, the day’s magnitude started to feel weightless. A hundred pairs of eyes were on us, but we were locked on each other’s—a miraculous calm after a whirlwind.

The day came and went in a flash, yet somehow it was filled with an eon’s worth of wonderful memories. I was stunned by the beauty of it all; spending a year and a half planning my wedding did not prepare me for how magnificent everything would be. Every flower was more vibrant, the chandeliers sparkled more brilliantly, the music was sweeter, smiles were brighter, every word more kind. We made our best efforts to savor it.

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Expect the Unexpected

Our day was not without its hiccups, of course. We planned for bad weather and we got it. The June skies minded their manners throughout ceremony, but darkened and opened up before the reception. Some guests came to the reception sopping wet, and my down-do didn’t survive, but it didn’t matter—somehow it even added to the excitement.

People will surprise and delight you on your wedding day. Your girlfriends will cart your luggage to your bridal suite, unpack all your things and bring flowers. Your groomsmen will make last-minute runs to buy giant see-through umbrellas. Fathers and fathers-in-law will give speeches with tears in their eyes. Guests will say the nicest things, take ridiculous photo-booth photos and dance their hearts out.

In what felt like an instant, the wedding was over. I anticipated a post-wedding letdown, to mourn the loss of a thing that I’d spent so much time on. As the days passed, visions of tablescapes danced in our heads to the tune of the night’s soundtrack—but the sadness never set in. The wedding was over, but we got to keep each other.

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