My life as of late looks like the pages of a bridal magazine. From the gorgeous white dresses to the memorable wedding bands to tableware, florals and gift bags … and don’t forget the band, or is that a DJ we wanted?

I’m getting married next August. Even though it’s nearly a year out, the number of details that need to be locked down feel infinite. And it’s not only the details that feel daunting, it’s what each individual detail means and who will be affected by it. The whole event involves a hodgepodge of emotions, opinions and flowers. Don’t even get me started on the flowers. I had no idea how expensive a few bundles of colorful plants could be.

As my fiancé and I plan out the details of our big day, I feel very thankful to have family and friends stepping up to help. Everyone wants to be involved and assist us in any way they can. But with all of that support comes a lot of expectations to do right by those family and friends, to make them feel special and appreciated. Our wedding day is not only about us, it’s about all of the people we love and care about, which puts a lot of pressure on us to create the perfect event.

But this holiday weekend, my fiancé and I took a break from our own wedding plans to attend someone else’s wedding. These nuptials were unlike any I’ve attended before. Held at a venue in upstate Washington, a short drive from the town of Port Angeles, this wedding encompassed three days of festivities. All guests were invited to NatureBridge, an “overnight retreat facility,” essentially summer camp, for the holiday weekend to enjoy the great outdoors with the bride and groom. The accommodations were rustic to be sure. We stayed in old log cabins with the other wedding guests, sharing small rooms filled with bunk beds, showering in communal bathrooms and eating in a mess hall-type dining room. NatureBridge is situated right next to Lake Crescent, one of the deepest lakes in the state. The body of water has a clear, blue tint to it unlike any lake I’ve ever seen.

Everywhere we looked at NatureBridge, there was an adventure to be had. We hiked up to a waterfall, rented kayaks and even found an old logging railroad tunnel. When the actual wedding ceremony and reception arrived on Sunday, most of the guests (there were about 120 of us) were decently well acquainted, having shared in the beauty and grittiness of such a special place. Sunday’s events would have been special all on their own, but there was something about the weekend as a whole that made it feel cohesive, personal and very representative of the bride and groom.

Along with being a memorable weekend in the northwest and a celebration of two of our friends, this trip was a good reminder for me that unorthodox ideas often turn out to be the best ones. The bride and groom had a vision in mind for what they wanted on their wedding weekend. Even though some relatives told them it was too much or that it wouldn’t work out, they pushed ahead to make their dream of the ideal day a reality.

That should be the goal of a wedding — or a birthday party or any other form of celebration — to make it a reflection of the people who are being celebrated, to add in those personal details that remind us why we love the guests of honor in the first place. Perfection is not the adjective to strive for with an event of this magnitude. It’s authenticity that’s important. And if friends and family can’t get on board with authenticity, they will just have to figure out a way to enjoy themselves regardless.

This doesn’t mean the tedious details of whether or not to have a bridal party, the flavor of the cake or the color of the damn table chargers goes away. But it’s important to keep the end goal in mind and not get too hung up on glassware, table assignments and who is going to keep track of that one drunk uncle who is sure to make a scene. Let a year of intense planning begin.

Barbara Platts wouldn’t call herself a bridezilla, at least not yet, but there’s still time. Reach her at or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.