SUPER PERSONAL | Sometimes, life kicks your face. But it also reminds you that there are only two things that truly matter in love, weddings and marriage.

Happiest of evenings, pretty faces.  It’s a little after 9pm in the evening here in NYC, and I’ve got some heavy stuff to share that isn’t at all what I ever wanted to share today.

First, let me say that I hope your day has gone well, complete with a delicious lunch, lots of emails answered and little to no drama/back-stabbing going on within the common areas or washrooms of your respective offices.  Yes?  I do hope so.  Because nobody likes office drama.  Totally messes with efficiency.  Anyway this post is kinda heavy on the personal, emotional side.  And quite low on the helpful-use-of-transitional-phrases side, as you just experienced when I jumped from workplace efficiency to Alison’s EMOTIONS.  So, just a warning, if this kind of thing isn’t for you today.  I’m pretty sure you guys won’t mind, but heck, you never know.  

Ok so.  Sometimes in life, you go through experiences that sort of, how do I say this – that sort of change your view of the world and what’s important and stuff like that.  Not that you don’t already have the knowledge of what’s important in life, but it’s just not as much in the forefront of your mind as it is when you have these little (or big) experiences that bring you to your knees a bit.

We visited Honey’s grandmother today.  Her name is Henny (short for Henrietta) by the way.  We spent a lot of time with her this morning.  It was really, really emotional, very sad, very overwhelming, but also good.  You know, in that important way that things are good, even when they aren’t actually good.  Anyway the important thing is we spent some more time with her.

Most likely for the last time, though.

Because Honey’s grandma is dying.  And while it’s just the circle of life and hakuna matata(sp?) and all that, it just totally sucks.  She’s a beautiful, kind, strong, generous, smart and caring woman, and she won’t be here with us beyond the next few days.  I’m just trying to feel lucky I even got the opportunity to get to know her as much as I could, and just be in her loving presence at all.

Seeing Henny on what was likely this final occasion is, at the very least, a reminder to me of what’s most important in life.  You guys already know things like this OBVS., because you guys seem to be the coolest and smartest freaking readers one could ever hope for as a blogger (thanks for being cool people, by the way)… but it feels appropriate right now to put it out there, that weddings and marriage are really mostly about two main things:

Sharing and receiving unconditional love, and having the people in your family who love you and matter to you, around you, on your wedding day, and throughout your marriage.

At least, those are the two things I personally think weddings and marriage should be about.

A few lovely visual reminders of the importance of cherishing the time you have with the people who love you.

Here’s where I work really hard at turning this super personal post around into something relevant to your lives.  Because I know I’m not the only person out there who’s dealt with this and the emotions attached, and I’m wondering how such happenings in life might be affecting other people…

So, my question:

When you envision your wedding, do you see the presence of your elders/older members of your family as a very critical piece of your wedding puzzle?  Are you dealing with any family problems or difficult situations that are affecting your experience planning your wedding?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts/experiences.  One thing I love about blogging here with you guys is how none of us assume that life’s all sunshine and roses 100% of the time.  Family issues are always going to make their way into our lives, in big ways and in small.

So uhhhh, I love you guys.  Sorry, I think I’m understandably a bit sappy and emo today.  You were warned.

xoxo  - Alison

Note: the three images I included in this post are from upcoming features.  I felt they best spoke the message of today’s post.  I really treasure those beautiful moments.  Top to bottom: Canary Grey Photography, M David MediaJodi Miller Photography, Lauren Rae Photography

Label(s): Real Life Issues, {Love + Relationships}

Love all of this...


  1. Jesse Green on September 27, 2011

    Totally dealing with this in my own life/wedding planning right now. My Grandpa who has had an amazingly huge impact on my life is suddenly on his way out of this world. Someone I never imagined not being in attendance of our wedding, probably won’t see the world outside of his bed again. It completely sucks, but when you get to have some amazing memories with them before they’re gone, it helps lighten the load just a bit.

  2. Marie on September 27, 2011

    Life is beautiful and so are the loving relationships that we have while we are here. It makes it so hard to say goodbye when we care for somebody so much and what they have given us we can not express. It’s always harder for the ones left behind, especially when you feel like a part of what molded you is missing. It really does put what is important into perspective. I think the best honor we can pay those we love is to be that person for others. Carry on the affection, support and laughter that makes everyday better to share. Sending you and your honey my love and true sympathy. Henny sounds like a very special lady, I know her love will live on through you two.

  3. Nicole on September 27, 2011

    Right now, I would grab my man’s hand and go elope at the courthouse. A wedding composed of just the two of us sounds perfect. EXCEPT. My Grandparents wouldn’t be there. Honestly, I would be much more sad not to include my grandparents than even my own parents. These people are SO dear to me. Grandparents have a special place in our hearts, I think. They’ve seen the world. They’ve experienced life. And (at least in my case) they love more than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. As much as I would love to grab my honey and head off to some distant island, I know that to start my marriage I want to have a 46 year old and counting love cheering my on in the front row. Thinking about sweet Henny!

  4. Lauren on September 27, 2011

    Thanks so much for sharing one of my photos in this post. It not only hit close to home, but was a beautifully written window into your own experiences, and THAT is always appreciated in my book! You and your honey and your Henny are all in my thoughts and prayers, sweet Alison! <3

  5. Koru Kate on September 27, 2011


  6. Aleah + Nick on September 27, 2011

    Oh, Alison. So very sorry to hear this. Saying goodbye to a grandparent is incredibly difficult – when my grandfather passed away I wrote a speech that I read at his funeral with my cousin – saying that he was seemingly superman and would live forever.

    Our words couples tying the knot is to include people that you can if you can. If they aren’t able to physically be there make sure that they are in spirit whether it’s with a written poem or a subtle way {last weekend our bride had three white blooms in her pink bouquet representing the groom’s sister}.

    Nonetheless, we’re so sorry to hear this and will be thinking about you…

  7. Janna (SparklyLove) on September 27, 2011

    So sorry to hear that you two are going through this right now. It’s not easy. I’ve been there. Definitely count yourselves somewhat lucky though, that you’ve had the chance to say goodbye. As hard as it is to be there, and know you are saying goodbye, looking back, you’ll be so thankful you had that time.

    When we were planning our wedding, there were grandparents that couldn’t attend because they weren’t physically able, and there were others who were no longer with us. We recognized them during the evening and had pictures of them around. My mother and my aunt were so happy to see a picture of their dad and to know that he was still part of my most special day.

    Our largest family issue when planning our wedding was the large size of my mother’s family. I have a lot of (much older) cousins who I see on holidays, but am not close with. They are all married and have families of their own. Inviting them would have meant increasing our guest list by at least 25. If I were close with them, it wouldn’t have been an issue to spend the extra and invite them all, but since we aren’t that close, I made the call to not invite them. Well, I got some phone calls/text messages/Facebook IMs about that. I know that some people didn’t like my decision, but I don’t regret making the call I did. We wanted something small with the people who are closest and dearest to us. We got exactly what we wanted. You were exactly right when you said that weddings are about having the people in your family who love you and who matter to you there, the only thing I would add, is that family isn’t always just the blood family you were born into.

  8. Casey on September 27, 2011

    I am so sorry you are going through tough stuff!! But I am so happy for you that you got to visit her for perhaps the last time. I have only 1 living grandparent, who has decided she cannot/will not make the trip for my April wedding. It really hurts, but you can’t force people to do what they don’t want to do! Thank you for reminding me to cherish my family.

  9. Chelsea on September 27, 2011

    I’m sorry to her of Henny’s illness & your family’s struggle in watching her fight. Thankfully you’ve found the space, here, to assess those murky emotions that always come from situations like this.

    I lost my great uncle today & have had very similar thoughts to yours. Regardless of the event, having family, especially elders, make celebrations feel whole. The more, the merrier. It’s all about bearing witness to love, light & good fortune.

    Wishing you & yours peace. Thanks for yet another intuitive & honest post.

  10. Elizabeth on September 27, 2011

    I’m so very sorry you are experiencing the heartbreaking loss of a family member. This was a huge issue for me while planning my wedding. Both of my parents and most of my grandparents had passed away. Let me also say that I was only 22… Not at all nearing the age where parents should be dead. One thing I was terrified of was feeling a gaping hole in my wedding day that couldn’t be filled, so my mission was to see my family in every detail. Every single guest at my wedding wore a gerbera daisy on their chest, my parents’ wedding flower. My sister who I was now raising was my maid of honor and wore my mother’s pearls. Instead of walking down the aisle to an instrumental piece, I walked to “How Great Thou Art” sung by a gospel choir which reminded me of Sunday church services with my grandparents. There are so many more details I could share individually, but collectively, they more than filled the huge hole in my heart that day. When you look hard enough, you can find many ways to honor those that are there in spirit in ways that can make you feel genuinely happy and nothing short of grateful for the too-short time these people were in your life.

  11. Rachael on September 27, 2011

    My grandmother passed away five years ago and I still can’t fully understand and accept that she won’t be at my wedding. I always imagined her there when I daydreamed about getting married as a kid, and now I can’t get that imagining out of my head. I’m trying hard to think of a way to honor her when the day comes that won’t have me breaking down into depressed-style tears on a day that should be happy.

    I’m sorry to hear about Henny. Sending love…

  12. Lauren on September 27, 2011

    Alison, so sorry to hear what you & Honey are going through. I will keep your family in my prayers. Your tweet about life kicking you in the face really spoke to me tonight, I have gotten a few kicks this week and sometimes there is solace in knowing you are not alone.
    Losing a loved one anytime is difficult but especially before a wedding. I lost my Grandfather before my wedding and I was devastated. We had the flowers from his funeral pressed into beads for a Rosary that I wrapped around my bouquet and carried down the aisle. It made me feel close to him even though he wasn’t there. Just wanted to share in case some of your readers are going through the same thing. Stay strong!

  13. Em on September 27, 2011

    Thanks for sharing lady. Prayers going up for Henny and your fam tonight. xoxo.

  14. coasterkim on September 28, 2011

    So sorry you guys are going through this. It’s an inevitable part of life but is never easy. Enjoy the time you have and had with her and remember what makes her a great lady.

  15. Samantha on September 28, 2011

    I’m so very sorry to hear that you both are going through this right now. My thoughts are with both of you!

  16. Eileen on September 28, 2011

    *hugs* Sorry to hear–that last goodbye is always rough. F’s father passed away two years ago, and we’re both still coming to terms with the fact he won’t be there when we get married in the spring. We’ve also already had one member of our guest list pass away and one be put on comfort care–at this point, we’ve (semi)jokingly started calling it the black list, and thought about moving some people off–you know, for their own safety. But, seriously, yeah. It sucks for people to not be around, and no amount of “I know they’re watching over you, etc, etc” makes the fact that you don’t get to dance with them any easier.

  17. Katie on September 28, 2011

    Thinking of you, Honey and Henny and sending you all the grace one can send! You are so not alone! And I bet Henny is so proud of you and Honey!

    We are getting married next year and the MOST important guest, without a doubt, is my grandmother, followed closely by grandpa. They raised me from about 13 years old to now (at 26 they would love to still raise me, but who can blame them right?). My parents were dealing with some heavy things (divorce and the death of my younger brother, among other things) and my grandparents literally saved me.

    I think grandparents are some of the most important people in a person’s life. (I literally don’t know how people go through life without knowing their grandparents) They teach you things only they can and show you a different life you would otherwise never know. And they are so happy being grandparents! Who couldn’t be happy in their presence! They are full of so much love and giving it out without any worry. :)

    Thank you for the reminder of how lucky I’ve been in life! Calling G&G right now!!

  18. Steph on September 28, 2011

    It’s funny how even when you know it’s coming, the death of a loved one still seems totally incomprehensible. Hugs to you all during this difficult time.

  19. Colleen {Soundtrack To I Do} on September 28, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m not married yet, and my last living grandparent just had a stroke last winter, and is not likely to make it to see my wedding day. It will be hard not to have any of them there, but their memory will be… and hopefully my honey’s GP’s will get to share in our day. Sending love to you and yours in this difficult time.

  20. Claire Martine on September 28, 2011

    Oh THIS is the single most important reason why FH and I had a wedding. My grandparents have respectively been married over 60 years and they are the reason that I wanted to walk down the aisle in front of family. In the past year they’ve all four had health problems and we’ve questioned whether or not just to get married in their back yard a couple times.

    Fast forward to this weekend and our wedding is Saturday. My FH little sister got into a car accident yesterday and totaled her car. And my uncle has had 6 strokes in the past three weeks. Very humbling.

    I completely stress the importance that, regardless of how bridezilla my mother has become, this wedding is about family and love. Thank you for the morning reminder and I’m so so sorry to hear about Henny. My thoughts to you and Honey. xoxox

  21. Lena on September 28, 2011

    I’m so sorry my love, and so glad you got to spend some time with her. My great aunt, who I call my Nana and has played as big a role in my life as any of my grandmothers (or other great aunts, since my Big Greek family never stops talking or interrupting or loving each other), is in failing health and my mom just flew out this weekend to see her. Just writing that makes me tear up, and the idea of losing her is almost unthinkable, so I can imagine how you’re feeling and why you’re getting sappy. Sappy’s cool, because now I’m super sappy too.

    xoxoxoxo, Lena

  22. Isabelle on September 28, 2011

    It really is the worst and I’m sorry to hear about Henry. We’ll be thinking about you and your family! I lost my grandma earlier this year and it’s pretty hard to recover from. I knew she was old, but my grandparents still have this invincibility in my eyes so I was shocked when I got the message that my grandma had moved to hospice. Cut to me, crazy googling everything that that could mean and any likelihood that she would go back home.

    In any case, to relate this to weddings… my husband and I got married at the wee young ages of 23 in some part due to me wanting all of my grandparents there. I knew that David was the one and my grandparents are such a huge part of my life that I knew they had to be there. They were and it was wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  23. Alicia @CharityWedding on September 28, 2011

    So sorry to hear about Ms. Henny and I totally understand the sadness you face. I am SUPER close to both sets of my Grandparents which in itself is a blessing because I know at this point many people don’t have both sets of their Grandparents still with them. When planning my wedding I really didn’t care about anybody’s suggestions or points of view (I mean that in a nice way) as it was MY wedding except for that of my Grandparents. I knew each and every one of them was so thrilled and wanted to be a part of our day. So when we considered a destination wedding and my Mom actually pushed for it, I knew there was no way it was happening. I wanted those special people to be a part of my day and I absolutely did not want to hurt their feelings by planning a day that they could not be a part of. For the most part they are all healthy, except my maternal Grandfather who has Parkinson’s disease. He is the sweetest most fabulous guy who can barely walk, barely speak, and can barely muster a smile as his face has lost the ability to move if that makes sense. It is so hard to see someone you love deteriorating. What is even worse is watching my Grandma, watch him deteriorate because she has spent her entire life with him. That makes me so so happy to have an amazing husband who will be by my side when I fall apart but even the thought of losing someone after the last 50 or so years of your life included them, seems so awful. I wrote a novel, so I’ll stop. But I am sorry you are dealing with this.

  24. Ariana on September 28, 2011

    Major hugs and tons of love Alison. Death sucks, but she’s a lucky lady to have such a loving family by her side. I’m sending you and your honey lots of heart stitchy-uppy healing thoughts.

  25. Kristine {In Love, Engaged} on September 28, 2011

    I, too, am so sorry to hear about your Honey’s grandma {by the way, Henny is SUCH an amazing name} but I’m so glad you shared. I mean, LOOK. 24 comments to date–most from people who have experienced the same thing. It really is our shared experience, especially the difficult times, that bring us closer and connect us. I’ve really loved reading everyone’s comments–they’re so touching, and so REAL.

    My husband’s grandmother passed away a couple of months before our wedding and my grandfather went into the ICU only about a month before the Big Day. I prayed so hard that he would make it through–I couldn’t bear his loss before such an important day. Luckily, he did, and has been making a very slow recovery, but it rocked me, as death and illness always does. It means so much to hear others’ stories and to feel, in some strange way, comforted by them.

    Thanks for your story, Alison. I love that this is a place where we can laugh until it hurts AND get really serious and sappy with one another.

  26. Ilana on September 28, 2011

    The wonderful thing about grandmothers is their unconditional love for their grandchildren. They’re our biggest fans and cheerleaders and always know just the right amount of love to give any situation. My grandmother passed away just last night and, though we knew it was coming, it is a shock to the system and, yes, a kick in the face.

    Bless you and I pray for comfort for you and your family.

    Matthew 5:4
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.


  27. jacin {lovely little details} on September 29, 2011

    so sorry you two are going through this. i’m not sure if you’re married yet or on your way or what your plan is, but whatever it is, i can say to remember her everyday. take the positivity you loved about her, and instill it in you. she made you a better person, you might not even know the magnitude yet, but you will continue to live her legacy as you move on in this crazy world. and you’ll appreciate her on the hard days, and on your happy days you’ll feel the sentiment that you know she’s with you somehow.
    mimi (my grandmother) passed away just before our wedding. she was my favorite person in the world. i’ve never cried like that in my life – but for our wedding, we knew we had to involve her somehow, even though we knew she was with us in our hearts. she was a huge harry belafonte fan – and though at her service everyone tearfully sang “i left my heart in san francisco” (extra tear-jerker for me since i live there now), we didn’t want to bring the group down with sadness. so we had the DJ start the dancing part of the night with “jump in the line” – harry belafonte (you know, the song from beetlejuice where they all do the conga?). the DJ said “in honor of …. let’s get everyone on the dance floor” – the place was PACKED with the biggest and most amazing conga line i’ve ever seen. she was definitely there. and honey’s grandmother will be there with you through all of your highs and lows too.
    thinking of you two :)

  28. Amy Carruthers on September 30, 2011

    Every time I sit down to read your blog, I feel as though I’m sitting down directly across from you…and I’ve never even met you. I always appreciate how you write with such fearless honesty. It’s refreshing. And it matters to so many of us who just want to share in something real. Thank you for opening your heart and being so personal…

  29. Nicole on September 30, 2011

    yes! i really want my great aunt myrtle who is 96 to be there and she is able to be there (which is a blessing in itself) but her daughter is making a huge to-do about how she can only be there for an hour and she needs someone there with her to help take care of her and if these needs aren’t met then myrtle can’t come and all of this and it just feels like such a big headache. We purposefully had our wedding in a city 20 minutes from where Myrtle lives so she could attend and now her daughter is making it too difficult. I hope it works out.
    I’ll be praying for you and your honey and grandma. Sounds like she is a wonderful woman! xoxo

  30. Lauren on October 1, 2011

    I definitely feel you. I’m 20 years old and getting married in 3 months. My best friend is my maid of honor, but my sister would be if she were alive. She died when I was 14 and she was 12. It’s incredibly difficult to even imagine how it’s going to feel walking down the aisle without seeing my sister waiting to hold my bouquet and fluff my dress. I’m not going to get to hear her speech or words of encouragement. It’s just hard.

  31. Alison, Henny sounds like a beautiful woman and you are blessed to have gotten to known her, like you said. I love how you talked about weddings and marriage being not just about you, but about your family, your lineage. One of my favorite things at my wedding was that we had wedding photos of my parent’s wedding, and their parent’s wedding as well as Jonathan’s side of the family.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  32. This post hit hard since I know what you are going thru and I apologize for my ramblings…..It seems as though we are all in that age now that our parents or grandparents are passing away and everyone’s experience is different but also the same, which brings us all together. This issue has been with me for the past 4 years and I’m finally not a complete crying mess when I think about it or talk about it. But, I have been doing posts on my blog a lot about honoring loved ones who have passed away and I find myself tearing up when I do them.
    For my wedding our reverend said something really nice during our ceremony, “Many of their deceased relatives and friends are with us in spirit. Mindful of them, of family and friends who cannot be present this day, and of all our families and friends, we rejoice in the love that Layla + Christopher celebrate this day.” Also during the speeches at the reception I lit a candle in memory of my dad and all those who could not be with us. It’s ok to cry too! Chris’ dad started to cry since his dad (Chris’ grandpa) has COPD and Alzheimers and not doing well so they were not able to come to the wedding. My grandparents have all passed away so none of them were able to attend our wedding. My dad’s mother (my dearest grandma) decided it was her turn after her husband passed on 7 yrs back and then her younger son (my dad) passed on in 2007 she just literally declined in health right away it was the saddest and craziest thing. So I lost my dad and grandma within months of each other. I think about them all the time and know that they are watching over me.
    Over the past year so many blessings have been brought to my life and it really makes you thankful for what you have and when truly wonderful things happen. Thank you to everyone who shared their comments and to Alison for having the strength to write this.
    As it is Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays and one that we always spent with my father’s side of the family. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and give thanks to all your blessings.

  33. Chris McCafferty on December 7, 2011

    I don’t think those 2 things should just be about your special day –

    I think they should be the foundation, or cornerstone of your life right?

    Celebrating your wedding day with loved ones around you is a wonderful, enriching experience, but I sometimes think most peoples’ lives would be richer all the more if that love was around them on a daily basis.

    Difficult though to balance time with the people you love with work and other commitments.

    Nice post Alison,



Leave a comment