No Plan Plans Weddings
by Rhianna Mercier
A medium short true story
Preface: We planted a seed, watered it, and it’s growing. Grab a beverage.
not kidding…2 cups of coffee, 2 glasses of wine, 2 tall glasses of sparking water - a libation
Thank you Del Sol, the best wedding DJ in Maui and my Ohana. You planted the first seed on Little Beach that beautiful Sunday. Thank you for reminding me of what I have seen and felt is always for a purpose. Thank you for sharing Aloha with me and everyone you meet on your path. It is a gift to know you.
I love Hawaii. I love you friend.
First, let’s stop pretending like wedding planning is the funnest thing to do. Don’t get me wrong sometimes it is, but I feel like mostly it’s not when your at the end of it. Most bride and grooms are waiting in anticipation for the day; they want to express their love through vows, ceremony and celebration. 50% of my clients eventually get tired of making all the plans and 30 days to 15 days before they call me so ready for all of this to be over with. Too many tiny decisions & issues with so many players on the field. Too many cooks in the kitchen etc. It all takes time, which some are willing to give towards a big grand wedding.
And some are not.
Here is one thing money can’t buy:
Other things money can’t buy:
After over ten years in the wedding world I am finally ready to share, what I believe is, the secret to the most authentic type of wedding experience…
I know that sounds crazy right?
It’s not. It’s exhilarating.
It’s really really hard for most people though, even me!
I have been making, approving, and changing timelines for-EV-ER.
How do you have a wedding without making plans?
I personally think they are so many humans out there who want an authentic day of love without the timeline. I want to quickly go on record and say I do not judge anyone for liking, loving, admiring or thinking about\tagging companies and inanimate wedding objects. Dreaming of the 10-tier cake and champagne tower at the Ritz, do it- be you. If that is how you celebrate love, I want to take pictures of it. I am not apologizing for these chapters. Just hoping you the reader knows that I love each the way I love a rainbow. It can’t be a rainbow with just one color.
It’s just not what I care about.
I care about you.
I have had traumatic gifts given to me. Sobriety. Bearing witness to the death of my friend Jeremy at a young age. Breaking two vertebrates in my neck in 2005. Diagnosed with Postpartum depression, and beginning to understand my seizures in 2009. Then the Thomas Fire in 2017. These experiences changed everything. It changed how I saw my reality and my own mortality. Each time faces wit the same questions:
How much time do I have left here?
How did I spend my time?
Where do I hold value in my life?
I can hear the clock ticking, it runs through my whole body. Everyday.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein
How do you have a destination wedding without a plan? (you technically make a few pre-plans)
Pick a location
Pick a Day
Rent a House
Bring a Photographer
Find a Dress/Suit/Rings
Invite guests (tune in next week to read: Guests & Family Clause)
Travel to a place
Say ALL Of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU WILL ever SAY TO ANOTHER HUMAN IN YOUR LIFE
Sounds simple. Because it is.
People have been getting married throughout time, joining houses (or breaking them) forever. I wonder how the lovers of the past who married against all odds would get married today?Would they do it all the same as they did then or would they blow out at The Four Seasons & deck the halls? Again, not Judging, I love the Four Seasons!!! I work there all the time! It’s beautiful! It’s also the taste of some and not others. That doesn’t make it good or bad, just different.
Regardless of HOW people in 1893 were married, they were married. Without the plans. Without a piece of paper from the government, with or without witness, at home or somewhere special. With flowers or without flowers, with a dress or in normal clothes. In a box with a fox, on train, in a tree, you get the idea.
Break away from the labels and boxes we have put weddings into.
Let’s see and feel the real
So I decided I wanted to try it on myself. To be married, to have a “wedding” without plans.
I had participated in similar actions and conversations with past brides and groom’s, but now I needed to know what it felt like. Luckily ;) enough for me I found my future husband 7 years ago, and proposed to him 14 days into our Thomas Fire displacement.
I knew that explaining this to everyone we knew was going to be difficult.
I wrote a blog about it, I explained to my friends and colleagues for months in person. I used the words “No Plan Plans” as often as humanly possible. The plan is not have a plan. Yet, most people couldn’t really grasp it. Not having a plan is so foreign to us (especially in the Western World), EVERYONE thought it was a fun idea, sure. I mostly heard: “Oh wow, have fun.. with that.” Or “Sounds good in theory but would never really work.”
A few humans said: “If anyone can, you can.”
I was even having trouble before the wedding not day dreaming (making secret plans and outcomes) about THE DAY once I booked the tickets. My monkey mind knew I was trying to keep it as far away from the wedding day as possible. Gabe and I spent 6 weeks in an intense yoga/marriage course with our Yogi, Heather Stone. in order to deeply connect within our energy and our Prana and each other. Cleaning up the wreckage of past resentments, doing the Yoga 3 to 4x a week, not fun Yoga, hard Yoga. All of this in order to gain some idea of how to sail the seas of the adventure we were about embark on.
Just being human and loving someone completely shouldn’t feel so challenging. Should it?
Well after 7 years together our Yogi let us know, we were just getting started.
We had to ask and answer all the tough questions. Where have we put up our own road blocks? Where had we projected the past or the future onto the situation, a mask, a veil, a projection, another human or ourselves?
What stories had we told ourselves?
As a team we uncovered everything we needed to, because whatever we didn’t uncover, we weren’t suppose to.
What we were required to read before we left on the trip:
The Gifts of Imperfection (separately)
The Five Love Languages (separately)
The Untethered Soul (just me)
The words on these pages shifted everything for us. We are forever grateful to Heather for showing us how the teachings of Yoga apply in every moment and in every breath.
“That’s what teachers are for.” she would say.
I wasn’t ready.
Even on my very own ‘no plan plans’ destination dream wedding.
I was sucked into making plans. I was so high on kisses, art, food, people, connection, love and happiness from our portrait session all day through Venice. We made no plans all the day, and it turned out beautiful.
I was in my body, I could feel Gabriel’s heart and my heart. Everything was magic.
We headed to dinner with no plans.
We ate. we laughed, someone started making plans. My fear was coming true.
The expectations were now written in the energy.
Looking at the ink touch the page I knew someone would be hurt and disappointed. I knew that someone would think they HAD to follow a plan. This was against the thing I had fought for the MOST, no plans. There I sat, at the table as the plans were being drawn
I was frozen inside my smile. I had thoughts and nothing came out of my mouth.
I wanted more than anything to just be with each other & in the moment. I didn’t want to leave the beautiful energy I was in. I tried to ignore the paper, then everyone started jumping in and saying what time they were gonna do something, and they were excited. Tasks were divided out and I felt the fear in my chest. I knew I needed to say something, and I froze, actually worse, I think I said “If you must,” and started taking #selfies.
I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready to say “no”, “please stop” to everyone around me. I knew what would happen; an insane amount of tears would start rolling down my face in the restaurant.
I was going to get angry and walk out of this beautiful place. I was going to the leave because it was unbearable. The energy was unbearable.
I left myself right then.
I don’t remember ordering. I think I had a salad because I lost my appetite. I remember making my own espresso with our waiter in the back kitchen and talking in my broken Italia...smiling through my mask with tears in my eyes. I remember the espresso machine. It was beautiful.
We talked at the table. This part is very foggy to me.
Then my head said: Gabe is running out of time to propose!!!! ( I proposed to him first, different story)
Then I left myself again.
Thoughts came: Gabe must be doing it later tonight alone.. no wait.. he might propose over eggs in the morning because we always have eggs in the morning! It’s my favorite time with him and him with me. I’ll be putting together my flowers and having espresso, and it’ll be great.
I am still at dinner with people. I am talking and telling a story I’m sure, laughing but I am not really there.
Thoughts: We made a pact! A promise.
Eating. Chewing. Laughing.
………He waited this long because he needed time to find the right words! Of course! That MUST be it. His love language is service, we read the books, we invested. No worries………………
I was lost.
My truest self, my heart, was no longer available. I was disconnected from the humans I loved and my breath.
We laughed about creme brûlée burning our phones and ordering another Margarita pizza to go. I don’t remember much more. Because I wasn’t there.
There. There. Right There. Gone.
MENTAL HEALTH SIDE NOTE: I have been suffering from rapid cycle thinking since I was little, formally diagnosed in 2009. I was on a high-dose epilepsy medication for five years from 2009-2014. I do not have the tremors on the outside, only on the inside. They are called petit mal seizures. No one can see them. Gabe has been to every appointment, and he walked me through weening in order for it not to effect Maxen. It was really difficult. There are only 3 humans on this planet who truly understand, who have watched me walk through it all, it’s not pretty. It either looks like I am not listening while I am having a seizure, or it comes out as a lot of thoughts and words, sometimes slurred. It’s over-emotional like a breaking dam. They have came back frequently since the Thomas Fire, the panic attacks and the seizures.
That’s why I advocate the way I do for my son. I know his brain will never work the same as everyone else’s and neither will mine. Hunter was diagnosed with Autism in 2008, the same year I was put on my medication. I moved to California knowing I was going to try a holistic approach. I still couldn’t tell everywhere.
I weaned off that medication in the summer of 2014, it was wrecking my internal organs and causing me to not feel or be creative. I decided to dive deeper into yoga, meditation, CBD, healthy eating, acupuncture, light lazer therapy, water therapy and a dream career - I invested everything in the art and the experience.
Since neurology disease & auto-immune disease run in our genes, or so I am told. I have spent my life reading and reading and reading some more. This type of disability to hard to explain.
I have been prescription/over the counter free for almost 3 straight years.
I have a choice over what goes into my body, and I am going to make the best decisions with the information I have at the time. If you are having any type of neurological, auto-immune or mental health need please feel free to reach out anytime about anything.
I am a very driven, successful women who has said no before. Yet the words could not leave my mouth. I also don’t like to make waves while I am enjoying the float. So it was me and me and the other me. At that very moment I couldn’t say the one thing I had been saying for months. Just three little words.
No plan plans. (or No plans plans- same diff)
Gabe later said he thought about saying something, but really believed the paper wouldn’t effect us, we would just ignore the paper.
He proposed right there. In none of the ways my head planned without me. I cried the whole way home in silence. I missed it.
I wasn’t there.
I know now, when I look at the proposal photos that I am surrounded by aloha. I LOVE these photos, because I forgive myself. The end. Life’s too short.
PHOTOGRAPHER PLUG: HIRE ANDY CARRETTO STUDIOS FOR ANYTHING EVER
I would of given up the cape, dress, the tables, the flowers, the gondola ride, and many more purchasable things in Italy in order to prevent my panic attack the next day. But that didn’t happen.
I can’t control $hit.
I want to be present. I want to be real. I have to work hard at it. I have to believe everything happens for a reason. I was suppose to walk though this.
Because here I am.
Gabe and I probably spent way too many hours of our life at the computer screen looking for our “married house” (that is what our 5 year old Maxen named it because he was looking with us)
Then it just popped up one day. I saw the door and I knew it. The hairs stood up all over my body.
The house had all the things needed for a wedding\elopement- even if it was just the two of us, even if no one came we could still have a beautiful day. Everything was there: antique candlesticks, venetian gold plates, beautiful stemware, vases, a extremely old table, velvet chairs, everything. Nothing had to be rented or purchased (besides food), which we loosely “planned” on ordering takeout or going out. That didn’t happen either. We planned the rest of the trip based on historical locations and the best places to stay to live like a local. We made little to no more plans about the wedding other than the things listed in the No Plan Plans list of things to do. We kept working on ourselves, saving money, working hard, and believing in our dream.
Hi I’m Rhianna. I’m a human. I am an empath, an inimitable creative visual artist, a wife and mother, a friend, a women, a goddess, an equal. I currently make art for a living, and I feel everything. That’s why I can capture photos the way I do. It’s because I can feel it. I am right there with my clients, in my heart, their heart and in the moment.
I know how this sounds, but it’s true.
There I am, in a full panic attack.
Gabe is lost in Venice morning of the wedding.
We are an hour behind to catch the light, the light we wanted to be married in. I have been crying for over an hour. That light. That was important to us I thought.
Where had the morning gone?
I watched the light pass over our house while I got ready again, and again. I would cry and then stop and then cry again. The energy and fear that I was so wanting to avoid was there. Everyone around me was “busy,” and no one was talking, connecting or enjoying the day. I could only feel the chaos. I remember someone, or myself saying, “you can’t have it all.” Then thinking I wanted to love you\me and focus on just loving people the most. I remember just breaking.
I continued in meditation and movement on the floor of the Venice house. Constantly letting the plans go & the light go. I could feel it in my back so I grabbed my arms and started pulling on my arms like they were covered in oil. Shaking it out. Finally starting the acceptance process: Isn’t this what I trained for? Isn’t this already what I wanted? To feel real. To face whatever came my way, head on with light and compassion for myself and others? Feeling everything and basing the next decision on how I felt? Basking in the light?
Focus on what’s important.
See, I’m a photographer. My brain was trained to, when in doubt, go there.
Those were the questions I asked myself.
At least twice.
I can feel the energy become uncomfortable around me every time I had to out loud say that I didn’t want to make plans. I had to say it a couple times, as I meditated, to remember what I wanted.
It’s so easy to forget.
Humans feeling loved around me, loving each other, and each item that we touched, each bite we took in Aloha, in love, in sync, in the moment.
I pulled one person in the bathroom and hugged them as hard as I could. I hope they know it changed everything.
That’s what I really wanted, but my head was doing what the video is doing.
This is also a great chance to move your body during this long ass story.
This is your random dance break. Choose your own adventure.
I fully recognize that I am the baby, David Bowie, and the girl in this video.
Always a trilogy of power over thought.
Self, You, Them.
Ego, The Real Me, Pain.
So I have a tattoo written in Hindi that says: Be the Change You Want to See in The World.
I have it so that I won’t forget that I must become the things I seek.
be like water
be moveable and moldable to the barriers & energies around you. Look at the water. I must ask for help. Step aside-self or whatever version this is.. A power greater than myself was on the way. I find my own warrior and call upon her to rise to the occasion. I must focus on why I am here.
To accept everything, to be at the door.
Don’t miss it this time.
I asked Gabe to hold me and to breathe with me. He did. I was able to move past my panic attack or seizure, didn’t have enough time to access which. I took my shoes off outside for ceremony. I knew I would be able to feel the energy of the earth and it would calm me once more. Gabe holding me usually does the trick but we were running out of time. The cold stone reminded me told me (metaphorically): You are alive right now, nothing else is real except the now. The materials and energy that surround us were crafted by the hands and souls of artists & lovers. Those who never stopped loving or creating in their own now. No matter how many times the tides came in. No matter the cost. They continued. The buildings & art reflect the passion of living and loving through them.
Venice is love that is why we are here.
We are love.
I took the biggest breath of my life & let go.
I accepted everything.
I finally accepted love over fear.
I wouldn’t trade it for any other day, That’s the point of ‘No Plan Plans’ Weddings. It’s as authentic as it gets. This is only the now. That is what we will focus on. Good, bad or ugly, everything happens for a reason. That’s what I truly believe. That’s what Gabriel & I had taken on as a new spiritual belief system. One that take deep practice; even better. I’m a diver. It’s similar to going to church every Sunday or being apart of the choir, the leadership team, and the front desk. Immersed in your love or passion.
The rest of the trip was no plans. We ran through (sometimes with trash bags (see Instagram), sometimes we walked through the streets kissing in the alleys and hidden doors. We honeymoon’d in Florence. I can’t wait to write about it.
Wait….How does this translate to a wedding service?
-Skype with me and I can explain.
-Have coffee with me and I can explain.
I am skilled in verbal communication, my throat chakra is strong.
This experience taught me so much. I can talk and say something over and over and still not hear myself. The school of life has always taught me you really don’t work out the kinks until the tools are applied.
Or until you cross paths with someone who is destined to help guide you.
This type of wedding service isn’t for the bride who wants perfection or praise, online or from anyone really. The experience to love another completely is enough. Love is enough. Anything extra is that, extra. BUT you can be extra and real. You can be anything and do anything you want.
Exhibit A: Our wedding photos.
No photo here yet, only Zuul.
(kidding) I’m sorry for my Ghostbuster references, oh wait, no I’m not.
This is for the bride who wants it to feel real. Really real. Like the Velveteen Rabbit real. They want nothing more than to spend all the time with the people they love. Making, helping, and being apart of the experience of their day. Maybe he or she is dripping in jewels, maybe you’re in a clown suit, a crown, athletic gear, maybe it’s just a field and a tree and a picnic. Big, small, Tall, short, a few, a lot.
Spending time with the people who came on the adventure with you, creating a bond, a pact of sorts.
That this day is a very special day indeed, because we are all special. It’s special to gather, to love, laugh, cry, and be together… We are alive.
Traveling together with an intention to not have a plan and enjoy it. “No Plan Plans” weddings are for creative, adventurous people who want to take life one moment at a time.
How do you get to have an insanely creative heartfelt wedding 1/2 way across the world without a plan?
Well, I think I have an idea.
I just did it, I booked the tickets and houses all across Europe. Everyone who came. They just did it.
They looked, they jumped. They are creative and strong individuals who wanted an adventure with no plans.
I want you to know you totally can by yourself. If someone tells you different, they are wrong.
You just won’t have witnesses, unless you get married outside, and ask someone to witness. When it comes to pictures and things and flowers and stuff. That’s where I am extremely lucky!! I am a wedding photographer so I know a few creative humans: I have also been planning, executing and curating events since I was in high school with my mother.
First I needed to find the photographer, then the stars aligned: My mentor said yes, he was going to style everything with us, we were going to source and make it all there, just like we had done every year in Marfa.
Then 30 days out, that photographer cancelled. BLOG
So I cast a line.
Andy Carretto sent me a message “Hi Rhianna, I saw u in the Contax group that you’re looking for a photog for your wedding! I’m free and would love to travel to Venice to photograph you guys! Mind if I ask…. I would be happy to….Would love to chat more!”
I didn’t give up on my dream even after it felt like nothing was going right. People, clients, funds, and love came through.
Passion is a hell of a drug.
Love conquers all things. I know this… I live in it most everyday. Especially when I practice. I want everyone to feel so loved and inspired to live. I want each and every person I meet to know they can achieve anything if they just choose to believe in love and connection, as if it’s written in the stars.
Because it just is.
Most of the hurt in my life has been caused by assumption, expectation, and mis-understandings. I have been the cause of the veil myself; by not being honest with those who love me about who I really am and the all that has happened. That I am not hiding behind a mask.
I was living inside of one until now, this moment.
When I became real.
Gabriel and I invited everyone we had ever met to join us on an adventure of a lifetime. We kept everyone in the dark about all the houses on the trip because we wanted to surprise them and watch them enjoy the experience. Five amazing humans, whom we love, wanted to fly 1/2 way around the world to witness our love. WOW. Saying all the things. Eating all the things. Spending time together, soaking in the culture, the people, and… well…..everything!!!!!!
Before the wedding my feed was FULL of stuff to buy for travel/weddings etc.. I couldn’t get away from people asking about the dress, the shoes, etc.
I kept saying inside I must move away from the “stuff.” Out of my mouth I said: “No plans!”
The consumerism inside weddings, the higher price tags, huge artistic egos, and the hidden costs are the most unappealing parts of the wedding world. The vendors are 40/60; they either give their clients their whole heart & work hard in every interaction +choosing and believing in love, aiding the vendor team to make the day’s experience spectacular + putting our wants/egos to the side to serve the clients real wants and feelings in the moment OR they care more about the timeline, all the tangible items, the breakables, the throwaways, being famous on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Winning Best of Something, “likes” “reposts” etc., and cannot see or feel or hear the heart of the human client breaking; when they don’t hear them. Or they are Both on different days! There’s also burn and turns and in-betweens. I have witnessed it on all sides.
Floristry, Cakes, Planning, Design, Catering, Rentals, Dj’s, Venues, Photo booths, Photography, Video:: the whole list. I only put Florist first because they are the toughest.
I just wouldn’t choose to look at the pretty plates, instead of the tears running down the brides face. This is why working in weddings is rough sometimes. I love all of this.
I am all heart.
Sometimes we do something and we don’t know if it’s right, but we go with it because it’s all that we know. Sometimes we choose the wrong path, because in that moment, everything seems exactly right.
Sometimes we feel lost in the stormy sea of energy, and even when we squint and strain our eyes, we still cannot make out the shore. Sometimes we just swim and swim, praying, hoping, believing that the land comes soon.
Sometimes we have to make a choice between what we want and what we need, and we subtly, quietly sometimes choose what we want. And sometimes when we do choose what we need, we end up yearning for what we want. Shame. Resentment. Guilt. Slowly creeps in our thoughts.
Sometimes we know we are ready for a change, a shift, but we are unsure of what needs to be moved. So we carefully choose a brick, and move it, hoping that our tower doesn’t come crumbling down upon us.
Sometimes we hurt our own hearts or others hearts now, to save them from shattering into smithereens later. And sometimes we accidentally break our own hearts into bits and pieces without realizing who we are hurting.
I feel free today.
Realness. Oneness. Living Each Moment. Be Nice. Be Present (it’s a gift)
Only you know what’s right for you.
Grateful for: Friends - Artists - Lovers - Huna - Mana - Aloha - -Love - Traditions - Matter - Science - Marriage -Hawaii - Spirit - Yoga- Weddings - Ceremonies -Rainbows - Breaking Tradition - Teachers - Yogis - Venice - Italy - Dream - Dao - Hindi - God - Spirit - Chi - Buddha - Ra - Zeus - Allah -Holy Spirit - Darwin - The Force - Jesus - HP -
family and friends and the teachers of love and life and light
more to come…….
Mahalo for reading! I know the second planting & sprouting of this tree is a long one.
You can check out the original invitation HERE
May all beings be happy and free.
Love everything you see including yourself.
p.s. More Art & Film Scans coming to the Blog soon…. gotta get out of this banana suit