If you ask my teen daughter what she remembers about “our wedding” when she was 3 and a half years old, the main thing is the lollipop someone apparently let her have after dinner. She also remembers running up to me as I stood at the edge of the water on that Tulum beach, pledging my heart to her father while the sun set behind our dearest friends and family. She interrupted, she recalls, because it seemed like time for her to get some of the attention!
Of course I remember a lot more. The darling pink flower girl dresses my mom made, along with the lace one for me, modeled after a dress we saw in a wedding magazine but could not afford. The shot of tequila my high-school bestie handed me as I began to unravel a bit pre-ceremony; the dance I shared with my father, who missed so many of my childhood moments; the toast my husband and I gave after dinner in that little tent on the beach lit with twinkle lights and filled to the brim with our tipsy, sweaty dearest ones. I can vividly recall the overwhelming joy of having all of My People, for once, in one place: my mother and all of my “half” sisters, even the ones who grew up three states away from me, my father and my step-mother, my best friends and my groom’s best friends, and Isabella, the child who came first.
Sometimes the "I" referred to in the vows is a "we" right from the start, whether the wedding is a marriage of co-parents like mine was, or about creating a newly blended, and equally precious, family.
I wore white, but other than that, not much was traditional about our wedding, from the lack of an official bridal party to a lack of shoes for the bride (sand!), but starting of course with the timing: I had given birth to our baby three and half years earlier and now there she was, not quite a toddler and not yet a kid, with sticky hands and flowers in her curly hair. I can see her now, getting ready with my girlfriends and me in a humid, adobe-tiled hotel room covered in piles of makeup and clothes, letting my mom comb her tangles for two seconds before turning to try button up my dress. I can see her running down the sand path ahead of me with her fellow flower girls, tossing the roses she’d industriously wrenched from my bouquet before we rescued it. I can feel the weight of that warm little body as I scooped her up when she ran to me, and squeezed and kissed her before letting her run back to my mom. She was there, our daughter, an irreplaceable part of our haphazard, beautiful day, and of the future we were promising each other. Though it’s not how I might have once imagined my wedding, it is an exquisite memory that feels perfect and right and inevitable.
Romper’s special weddings issue “We Do” celebrates the moments and the days exactly like this: the weddings that involve not just two people, but three or even more. Vows, wedding attire, and cake toppers are so often geared to the "adorable couple," but sometimes the "I" referred to in the vows is a "we" right from the start, whether the wedding is a marriage of co-parents like mine was, or about creating a newly blended, and equally precious, family.
“The boys had helped us build the canopy under which we would stand to take our vows,” writes Sara Nolan in her beautiful essay about the pledge at the altar she wanted to make to her step-sons, without requiring vows in return, just as the love and care we offer our newborns expects no reciprocal promise.
It was wobbly construction, but not wobbly enough to be negligent. We designed and assembled it one raw spring day out of fallen tree branches, dragged from the Stone Ridge woods behind the friend’s home upstate where we’d have the ceremony. The labor was hard enough that jackets came off. A blended family is like that: a bunch of collected parts, under non-standard architecture.
Non-standard, maybe, but priceless.
Also in this issue, Rachel Sobel shares what it meant for her to have her own little girl walk her down the aisle; Christine Hernandez writes about best ring bearer-ever — her toddler (and how planning a wedding when you’re also taking care of a baby is a liiiittle bit different than doing it pre-kids!); and Aimee Christian recalls realizing at five months pregnant that she wanted her blossoming family to all share the same last name, inspiring her to elope. Plus, a fashion major prices out the wedding she and her husband were able to pull off while raising a 2-year-old, and Romper’s own Samantha Darby recalls the show-stealing turn by her toddler on the big day. It was no accident — as you’ll see, things look different when you have a baby first and build a marriage up around them.
And that’s what we wanted to show.
When celeb hairstylist Nakia Rachon (you know her from Beyonce’s braids on the cover of Vogue) and her partner of 10 years got married, she was still breastfeeding their youngest (you need to see these photos), proof of the beauty we’ve so often overlooked in plotting our perfect wedding moodboards. Breastfeeding is a part of many a bride’s big day, and we’ve got 24 exquisite photos to prove it. We’ve also got some of the most joyful and celebratory wedding pics you’ve ever seen, starring brides and their children, and 20 more weddings that showcase the beauty of a baby bump in a wedding dress. No shotguns, just incredible amounts of love.
“Changing the narrative around pregnant brides starts with representation, which is why these photos are so important,” writes Samantha Grindell in her stunning photo feature, and Jennifer Garner, Zooey Deschanel, and Gwyneth Paltrow might agree — they’re just a few of the celebrities you know and love who also who got married with a baby on the way. And we also celebrate celebrity weddings that, like mine and so many others today, came after the baby. (I knew I had something in common with Kim Kardashian!)
No wedding issue would be complete without plenty of advice, tips, and how-tos for any bride who wants to create the day of their dreams. From swoonworthy dresses that are a cinch to breastfeed in, to precious flower girl dresses on Etsy and ideas for incorporating your kids into your wedding dress, we’ve got you covered. You won’t want to miss these adorable cake toppers that celebrate your family, these personalized wedding sneakers, or the wedding castle bounce house!
Isabella might not remember a whole lot from our wedding, but I hope that when she looks at the photos, she does reconnect with some sense of the love and the overwhelming support from our friends and family that day on the beach. Our family was already complete, but there we were, as the sunset darkened into a blooming, twinkling night sky, to say that we knew we could keep it that way, always.
After dinner was eaten and lollipops were consumed, she finally tired out — and I’ll always remember what it meant to have that tiny, heavy body there, an impossible, magical feat. We happily passed her from auntie to auntie, and Grandma to Grammie before she fell asleep in my sister’s arms, the warm night sweeping our party on into the small hours.
—April Daniels Hussar, Managing Editor