You guys! We’ve got a SUPER huge treat today. Broke-Ass Bride’s very own Emily has decided to grace us with her very own wedding awesomeness and DAY-UM does she deliver.
Name: Emily & John
Occupation: Freelance writer/blogger/Etsy shop proprietor & Fisheries Biologist, respectively.
Wedding location: Decatur, GA
Wedding Date: February 18th, 2012
Budget: < $10K
How would you describe your wedding? We wanted our wedding to feel more like a big party, with all the things we love. We’re foodies, music snobs, vintage enthusiasts – and we love a good cocktail, so obviously these were our priorities.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? I had almost no expectations about things like, you know, the ceremony – in fact, I fully expected to trip coming down the aisle, or have something go terribly amiss – but looking back, this was actually one of my favorite parts of the day. It was perfect. I got a little choked up – much to everyone’s surprise – I am NOT a crier! Also, having about 95% of the people I love in this world in the same room was a big deal for me.
What did you splurge on? We splurged on the things that people generally splurge on when throwing a wedding – the food, and the venue. Initially I didn’t expect to spend so much on the venue itself, but it took us a long time to find our ideal venue – and because it was a community center, we felt good about where our money was going.
What did you save on? Photography, flowers, music, and my officiant. The photography was definitely the biggest save – I snagged my dream photographer Whitney Huynh, via Wish Upon A Wedding - an online charity auction site that provides dream weddings for couples who are facing serious illnesses or life-altering circumstances. I paid a RIDICULOUSLY low price for a $4K wedding package – so low in fact, that I’m too ashamed to quote it here. It included 2 photographers (but I actually got 3!), a photobooth, and even more goodies!
I also made a crazy-amazing trade with my fabulous florist, Juli Vaughn Events. I fully intended on doing the wedding flowers myself, to save money – but my mom wanted to go with a traditional florist. We brought this up in front of my caterer, who recommended me to Juli. I was about to make a cross-country move, and I had a lot of choice vintage and antique goodies to unload – so Juli and I made a swap. A bunch o’ typewriters, oscillating fans, my epic collection of mason jars, and a smattering of vintage cameras, for wholesale pricing on flowers. #WIN.
My officiant, Brenda M Owen, aka The WeddingWoman, actually found me through my blogging gig here, and gave me a nice little “wedding blogger’s discount” (Being a wedding blogger has its perks, y’all!).
We also opted out of hiring a DJ or a band – my parents were really pushing for that, but John and I both have very exacting musical tastes, so we made our own playlists for the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dance sesh, brought our own pair of kickin’ vintage speakers and sound equipment, and even made CD playlist favors!
We also saved a TON on decor by using what we had (VINTAGE), and hitting up Target the day-after X-mas to save BIG on string lights and other doo-dads. I understand that not everyone has a giant arsenal of vintage and antique treats in their personal collection, but still…you likely have something sitting around your home that could make your event design scheme infinitely more interesting!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have invited more people. We invited 75, knowing only 50 would show. As the RSVPs trickled in, I realized barely a third of those in attendance would be under 30, and only a tiny number were single! (That made me feel seriously old.) As a result, there were fewer people on the dance floor than I had hoped – the libations didn’t turn enough non-dancers into dancers, unfortunately!
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Well, despite the fact that we’d been engaged for 2.5 years, we planned this entire shindig in 3 months. That was challenging – but what was really challenging was the cross-country move that got jammed in right at the halfway point. My hubs got a job offer he couldn’t refuse, so off we went to Reno, NV.
Also, I am pretty laid back – my mom and dad are both EXTREME worriers. It only took one parental freak-out for me to realize that I was going to have to be totally on my game with the wedding planning, so that we could all still be on good terms by the time they walked me down the aisle together.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Expect surprises – and be open to them! My wedding turned out to be much more fabulous than I ever could’ve anticipated.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
The one thing that touched me the most was how much John LOVED everything. He had been very involved with planning, but we were both elated with how beautifully things turned out. He said “Best day ever” at least half a dozen times. And he was right!
MY FLOWERS were absolutely amazeballs. I was seriously going to make little arrangements myself, and I’m sure I would’ve been satisfied with them, but having professional arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnieres really bumped my wedding up a notch. (I have to pimp Juli Vaughn Events here again – Atlanta brides, take note!) We also rented an antique bar cart, chairs for our photobooth, and a black chandelier from Four Inch Fold. These larger pieces rounded out our vintage look quite nicely!
MY CEREMONY! Because of our big move, Brenda and I never actually got to meet until my wedding day – something she was a little anxious about (because she’s such a PRO). But everything worked out splendidly – Brenda crafted a beautiful, moving ceremony that we’ll always cherish. Also, the time immediately following the ceremony was really special. After we got hugs and kisses from all our guests, we ran out in the rain with our photographers for a few couple portraits. These photos are my absolute faves from the whole day. We were so pumped up with love.
MY BRIDESMAIDS! My b-maids were/are the 3 ladies I love most – and I was so happy they traveled from all over the country to be there! FABULOUS LADY TIMES.
THE FOOD! We queried a LOT of caterers, and we really didn’t think we were going to be able to get the food we HAD to have for the price we wanted. We lived in Athens, GA for almost 3 years before our move to Nevada, and we LOVED locavore, contemporary Southern cuisine. The menus that looked the tastiest to us were often more than double what we wanted to spend on catering, and included ridiculous, excess charges that we simply couldn’t fathom paying ($500 for a coffee service?!). Zest Atlanta Catering TOTALLY got us. They understood what we wanted, they wowed us with a totally opulent tasting spread, and when they gave us a quote, the food was SO much more affordable than comparable menus we’d seen!
Top 5 least favorite?
I really have no complaints – it was a PERFECT day. I’ve been reading about “real weddings” for so long, I was prepared for anything (and prepared not to lose my cool) – but everything was so much better than I ever expected.
Ok fine, I have one or two complaints. John and I love fancy cheese – so we had our caterer do a beautiful cheese spread using Sweet Grass Dairy cheese – Sweet Grass is a Georgia dairy farm, so we were stoked to share our little foodie obsession with our wedding guests. It was by all accounts, an awesome spread, which I did I not get to taste any of, or even see! Things move really fast at weddings, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get to stuff your face with apps between your ceremony and reception.
Also, I only had one bite of my wedding cake – on top of our dessert table, our cake was totally excessive (but still beautiful). So keep that in mind if you’re doing a dessert table – you probably only need cake for half your guests.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
Peeps – when you start throwing ideas like “wedding taco bars” around, people start to freak. My friends were freaking in a good way – others (like my parents) were slightly appalled. Be prepared to defend your stance, pick your battles, and make an occasional concession – but make sure the wedding day you get matches your wedding vision, no matter what.
“Have a cocktail.” – this cures most wedding woes!
Bridesmaid Dresses: Nordstrom
Hair & Make-up: BB Salon
Catering: Zest Atlanta Catering
Officiant: Brenda M. Owen, aka The WeddingWoman
Flowers: Juli Vaughn Designs
Vintage Rentals: Four Inch Fold
Story: Wedding Story Writer (This is a rather luxe new wedding service I got to test-run at my wedding at a STEEP discount, thanks to a writerly connection I made via Twitter! Again, the perks of being a wedding blogger…)