After the Wedding: How to Create the Perfect Day
Speaking to Elizabeth Charlez just after her wedding, the bride described the first dance with her now-husband, Rahja Porter, as ‘the big highlight’ of their ‘amazing and beautiful day’. Elizabeth, 34, an assistant at a law firm, said: “I was laughing and smiling, just like any bride should look during the dancing - happy and excited.”
Elizabeth and Rahja, 24, a financial administrator for a broker, got married during Memorial Day weekend, in an outdoor ceremony at their church in Omaha, Nebraska, followed by a backyard style wedding kindly hosted at their pastor’s house. Even the weather played its part to perfection, a major concern for any bride hosting an outdoor wedding, as it turned out “sunny but not too hot, with a little bit of wind”.
The day got off to whirlwind start. Elizabeth said: “To be able to fully embrace the day, I should have arrived earlier than 9am or done more preparation. It was kind of hectic ironing tablecloths and putting out table numbers, but it all worked out in the end.” In hindsight, Elizabeth described the hardest part of her wedding as keeping track of the guest list. She said: “We had a handful of last minute drop outs and could still have been working on the seating plan on the day itself!”
When it came to the ceremony, the bride had been nervous beforehand about taking her vows, but said: “It was easier than I expected. I’m not someone who likes speaking in public, but I fully paid attention to the groom, and that helped overcome my fears.” Elizabeth thought that for Rahja, the high point of their wedding was the bridal party speeches. She said: “There were so many laughs when his best man, and another groomsman who knew both of us, did their speeches. I am not an emotional person, but when my bridesmaid spoke I did get choked up.”
Another particularly touching moment occurred when Rahja discovered the inscription Elizabeth had arranged inside his black and rose gold wedding ring, with their wedding date and an intimate quote. She said: “He loved it. He liked that it was specific to us and special.” Elizabeth had chosen an ‘extremely unique’ beaded and sequinned dress for the ceremony, and joked that her husband might even have felt jealous.
She said: “All the planning, the colours and so on, accessorized off my dress. My style is very retro and 1950s, and he felt I was more ‘in the theme’, while he wore a classic look with a shirt and bow tie.” The couple ‘sparkled in’ Hispanic touches throughout their wedding, in homage to Elizabeth’s half Mexican, half Lebanese heritage, from the taco truck for the catering to the cinnamon and vanilla flavoured churro wedding cake to the Vans shoes with ‘Day of the Dead’ decoration, worn by the couple at their reception,
One regret still lingers. Elizabeth said: “The photographer took family pictures after the wedding, but I should have jotted down a list of who else the photographer should have got, not just the bridge and groom and our parents. “It would have been nice to capture a picture of our pastor and his wife with their daughters, as the wedding was at his house, and also my church group.”
Elizabeth also recommended arranging someone to video your special day, rather than only taking photographs. The couple planned an ‘unplugged ceremony’, as they didn’t want everybody to have their phones out but hadn’t booked a videographer. Elizabeth said: “My mom’s friend did video part of the ceremony and send it to us, and I’m glad someone broke the rules.”
Their big day may have rushed past, but Elizabeth and Rahja have so many great memories surrounded by family and friends, about everything from the ‘amazing’ food and music to the speeches and weather. Only their two-year-old daughter Akilah was a bit grumpy, overwhelmed by all the assembled guests. Elizabeth said: “I think it would have been better if someone else had held her, rather than expecting her to walk out after the two flower girls.” Now the newly-weds are planning their honeymoon, thanks to contributions by their guests, hopefully to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.
As advice to other brides, Elizabeth said: “Once you walk down the aisle, let everything go and enjoy the moment. I did it by paying attention to the groom. We worked hard to plan it and spent a lot of time and money, but for me, on my wedding day, it was perfect. I feel like marriage won’t always be easy, and we need to embrace the moment we got married, to remember when times are hard.”