Classic Style

Marriage Material.

By: Jen Shoop

Would you do anything differently about your wedding day?

Someone recently asked me this, and I immediately, without hesitation, replied: “No.”

I’m startled, even now, by how little I would change — this, despite the fact that I was just 25 when planning the wedding and am admittedly one who gets carried away by trends.  (Ahem.)  We had ginormous silver urns overflowing with heaps of deep blue hydrangea, a signature cocktail of lavender lemonade and Tito’s vodka that a mixologist friend of ours had designed, soft yellow and white linens to contrast with the cerulean blue elsewhere, and scoops of peppermint ice cream served in delicate chocolate cups passed around while the live band playing soul music roused all of our guests off of their feet and onto the dance floor for hours of un-self-conscious merriment.  The cantor at the Mass in the Church my parents had been married in some 30 years earlier never showed up, and my best friend bustled my dress but I still managed to step on one of the ties, so the lace train of my dress swept around the dance floor all night.  But who cared?  Not me.  I was in seventh heaven and I could have been wearing yesterday’s laundry: I had just married my best friend.  (And, besides, the lack of cantor actually gave the Mass an unexpected level of solemnity and peacefulness as the quartet performed my favorite Latinate hymns — Dona Nobis Pacem, Ave Maria.)

My Dad did his best to stave off the waterworks by telling me a horrible joke in the vestibule of the Church where I decided, a minute before walking down the aisle, that I did not want to wear the blusher portion of the family veil — a veil that dozens of other women in my family had worn over the past many decades — as I had intended to.  “It’s not working for me,” I said, suddenly, urgently, to my sister.  She cocked her head to the left.  “Yeah, a little Bride-of-Chuckie if you ask me.”  So we removed it and she squeezed my hand and headed down the aisle with my two other sisters and three very best friends, five of whom were reported to be crying as they walked down the aisle. (“Is this a wedding or a funeral?” joked my brother.)

Mr. Magpie looked handsomer than I’d ever seen him, standing proud and tall at the altar — he has always had notably good posture, but today he projected a certain level of swagger, standing with his hands in front of him, his hips squared as if to say: “This is my day.  This is my wife.”  His eyes, though, were another story altogether: soft and happy and gentle.

We held hands and stared at each other in love and disbelief and wavered our ways through the vows, and then, all too quickly, it was over, and we were practically skipping elatedly down the aisle, Mr. Magpie pumping his fist and looking like a movie star in a moment my sweet cousin caught on camera that we will forever cherish.  We waltzed down the aisle to Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” which an untoward friend of my mother’s had told me was “very passe and very out of vogue,” but I insisted and loved every moment of its joyous organ-heavy sound.

At the country club, always a ham, Mr. Magpie commented: “I wish we had photographers following us around every day.”  (He’s a natural in front of a camera.)  We took dozens of photos, posed and unposed, but what I mainly remember about taking photographs is this: Mr. Magpie’s eyes rimmed with tears when I turned to look at him while having my bridal portrait taken.

Just before entering the reception, the wedding coordinator scurried us off to a private room where she had trays of appetizers and our preferred drinks (bourbon for Mr. Magpie, champagne for me) waiting for us.  “Take a minute,” she said, closing the door behind herself.  If I may be so bold as to make a blanket suggestion to any of you bride-to-bes out there: do this.  Take just a few minutes to sit in quiet and love with your husband just after you’ve married him, because the rest of the evening is an elated blur.

We managed to pull off our first dance to Otis Redding’s beautiful “Ton of Joy,” a soulful song the band had learned to play for the occasion.  We’d taken dancing lessons, and they paid off.  They paid off even more powerfully during my first dance with my father, to Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” which I’d dreaded for weeks.  When my lip started to quiver, my Dad started counting off, just as we’d done during our lessons: “One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.”

Later (and I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find where; I must do a better job at tagging these posts), I saw an uncle of mine standing offset from the dance floor, watching the merriment ensue.  He was holding his hand to his heart and he said, tearfully: “There’s a lot of love in this room.”

And there was.  We had about 120 guests, all beloved friends and family members we held near and dear to ourselves.  I loved the size of my wedding for that reason — each and every guest an important and deeply loved person in our lives.

And later, Mr. Magpie stood to address me in a Groom’s Speech.  There was not a dry eye in the house.

And later, hours of dancing.  Un-self-conscious, legs flailing, singing-at-the-top-of-our-lungs, champagne-spilling dancing.

And later, just after tossing my bouquet over the balcony, the crowd — many of whom were UVA grads like ourselves, including my father, who was especially tickled by it — erupted into “The Good Ol Song” as we descended the stairs, kissed our parents, and rushed off into the vintage white Rolls Royce parked in the cul de sac, petals in our hair, hearts on fire, hand in hand.

So, no.  I don’t think I would change a thing.

But, the prompt did lead me to spend some time poking around for some incredible wedding finds I might have added to the day, or that I might advise a bride-to-be to consider:

+This stunning, sequinned cape ($345) — can you imagine running out the door in this?!  I can’t even.

The Fashion Magpie Needle Thread Bridal Bolero

+A custom wedding dress label/patch ($25) — you could have your seamstress stitch it right into the dress for your something blue!

The Fashion Magpie Custom Wedding Dress Label Blue The Fashion Magpie Custom Wedding Dress Label Rose The Fashion Magpie Custom Wedding Dress Label

+Maybe the only thing I would change now about my day is my footwear.  I went very traditional (and slightly boring) with a pair of white satin Kate Spade sandals.  I would wear something fun instead — something like these Alexandre Birman fur-trimmed sandals ($695), if married in the winter, or these insane satin-bow-tie Brother Vellies heels (on sale for $375!!!), or these Marion Parke feather-trimmed beauties ($595).

The Fashion Magpie Clarita Fur Heel

The Fashion Magpie Brother Vellies Heels

The Fashion Magpie Marion Park Lainey Heels

+I honestly wouldn’t change my handbag choice for the day — I was fortunate to wear a vintage Judith Leiber bag my mother loaned me for the occasion — but I have to say that these Edie Parker “Mrs.” clutches ($1,295) are beyond.

The Fashion Magpie Edie Parker Mrs Clutch

+My mother and I decided that a wardrobe change into a “getaway” dress was a little over-fussy for me, but if I had changed…something like this frothy Acler dress ($350) would have been up my alley.  Or this.  Or OMG this.

The Fashion Magpie Acler Dress

+I got ready wearing one of these oversized boyfriend shirts from Claridge + King ($180) with my new initials and the wedding day monogrammed on it.

The Fashion Magpie Claridge and King SHirt

+I’m definitely one for pomp and circumstance — I love traditions, grand gestures, over-the-top flowers, overflowing champagne, etc.  But.  In another life, if I were one to wed at the City Hall, I’d splurge on something retro-leaning, like this.

+Also, I really wanted everyone to throw rice as we ran out of the Church, like in the 1940s or 1950s, but apparently it’s bad for birds!  But in my dream world: rice.

+I ordered one of these personalized hangers so that my photographer could take a picture of The Dress (ivory tiered lace with scalloped edges and a big satin belt — aka, heaven), but it didn’t come in time.  So, I’d order that on the early end if I were you…

+If you need your something blue: this or this, tucked into your bouquet.

+My something borrowed was a pair of pearl and diamond drop earrings that had been my grandmother’s.  But, how fun would these be for the reception?!  (Or, if you’re ultra bold, these.)

What do you think?  What would you change about your wedding — if anything??


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9 thoughts on “Marriage Material.

  1. Such a sweet post, and it sounds like your wedding was such a lovely and meaningful event. I am not sure I will get married in the church, but I love all of the classic hymns. Your mention of Dona Nobis Pacem and Ave Maria brought me right back to fond memories of going to Mass with my family, and now I will (happily) have Dona Nobis Pacem in my head all day!

    I hope to be planning a wedding in the near future, though I have a feeling mine will be more City Hall-ish … we shall see! I LOVE those Brother Vellies and they would be such a cool choice for a bride. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

    1. I’ve always had mad respect for the women who get married in City Hall — so unfussy and adult and romantic in its own way. Those Brother Vellies shoes though. OMG.

  2. I’m seriously crying reading your post, this bought back such lovely memories of my favorite day. I adore your idea about the oversized monogramed Oxford (I kind of want one now), I had a matching robe set to my bridesmaids, and loved it of course, but the Oxford would have been such a classic and clean choice for our CT wedding. I also would have done a different shoe choice, I had beyond gorgeous Badgley Mischka rose gold heels that were so beautiful, but SO uncomfortable. I barely wore them, and ended up wearing my satin KS pink flats instead the whole night (which subsequently forced me to throw them out the very next day since they were such a disaster from the soaking cocktail flooded dance floor). Other than that though, I wouldn’t change a single thing, my day was so special, and filled with everyone and everything I loved.

    1. Aw — so lovely that you feel the same way about your wedding day, minus the shoes 🙂 Sounds like a beautiful day. Ahhhh weddings!

  3. I’m getting married in June, and this gave me a great list of some things to think about! Did you get married in D.C.? We live in Glover Park and will be married across town. Would love to see pictures from your wedding at some point!

    1. Hi Elisabeth! CONGRATS! So exciting. We lived in Glover Park, too, when I got married! Such good memories — it’s still so quiet and tree-shaded in those parts, but you’re close enough to restaurants, bars, etc to make it feel urban. We got married at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and had our reception at Chevy Chase Club. I’ll def share some pics of the wedding in an upcoming post!!! Magical day 🙂

  4. I loved reading this post!!! I’m getting married next month (officially counting down now!!) and I’m so excited to read posts like this. Thanks for the heads up advice for this soon to be bride!!! 😀

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