Posts in the 'unique wedding' Category

Real Wedding: Jessica and Andrew’s Most Unique, Eclectic and Fun Arkansas Wedding

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I was over the moon when Jessica emailed me to say that she’d won free wedding photography from Beyond the Ordinary Photography’s contest because she’d read about it in our newsletter, because it’s always exciting when the work I’ve done has helped to make a real difference in someone’s life. If you’re already subscribed to our newsletter, you know that Beyond the Ordinary Photography is running another contest this year, and if you aren’t subscribed, you can change that now! Congratulations, Jessica and Andrew, your wedding was amazing and it was an honor to have played a tiny role in it.

paper bouqet

henna

Andrew close-up

ring bowl

 

Names: Jessica Keahey and Andrew Beekman

Occupations: Civil Engineers

Wedding location: Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Wedding date: 10/20/12

Approximate guest count: 210

How would you describe your wedding? Eclectic and fun. We didn’t have a theme; we just made individual decisions on what made us happy or what we found to be really enjoyable or interesting. We decided that we wanted our wedding reception to be a very fun party that everyone attending would enjoy. Up to a year later, we have had people tell us that ours was the best wedding that they have ever attended and how much fun it was.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? Andrew and I both agree – our favorite moment was dancing with our very best friends and the catering staff from Geraldi’s, (best lasagna in Northwest Arkansas), at the tail end of the night. I’m sure this will seem very strange to your readers, but it was an incredibly happy and carefree moment in time that stands out so clearly to us both. With the night winding down, I walked into the kitchen at the back of the reception location to find the caterers all lined up in a row like well-dressed soldiers awaiting orders to do food battle. Juxtaposed against the revelry on the other side of the kitchen door, it seemed pretty surreal to me – so I invited them to come drink and dance. The young staff literally cheered when their boss relented, and we had a total blast boogie-ing and tapping the kegs with them.

fekt gearts

upclose heart pin

drink ceremony

cocktail preparation

What did you splurge on? The food, the booze and the reception venue. Andrew and I believe there are 3 things that are vital elements to a great wedding reception: good food, good booze, and good music. I’m a vegetarian while Andrew is a carnivore, so we wound up picking each of our favorite local restaurants to cater a buffet-style dinner. We also had a candy bar, popcorn machine, and a huge tower of cheese in addition to a mouth-watering cake. Feeding and providing an open bar to over 200 people was our biggest expense, but it was really important to us. Early in the planning process, we struggled with finding a local venue that was 1) large enough (and had enough room for dancing), 2) open late enough, 3) allowed alcohol or otherwise had booze available, 4) permitted outside food to be catered in, and 5) was within our price range. The UARK Bowl, Fayetteville’s first bowling alley and iconic local landmark, fit the bill and was within walking distance of the ceremony. The venue rental also included tables, chairs, linens, place settings, use of their kitchen, our name in lights on their outdoor marquee, a stage and sound system, bar and 2 bartenders for the evening, clean-up, and the help of an event coordinator during the day-of the wedding — which kept us from having to coordinate with a bunch of other vendors and rental agencies.

What did you save on? The decorations – We made almost all of the decorations and favors. All the DIY projects were incredibly time consuming but very rewarding, and our amazing friends really pulled together during the day-of to help us get it all put in place. (See below for more details on our DIY projects.) Our rings – We both decided that we wanted something unique and didn’t want to support the diamond industry, so we each picked a handmade ring from artists on Etsy. Our attire – My dress was simple and really incredibly affordable. Andrew got his suit on Black Friday when we were visiting a friend in New York. And while $850 may seem like a lot for our duds and accessories, Andrew got a really nice suit out of the deal that he still wears (along with a badass tie, pocketwatch, and cufflinks), and I got some fantastic shoes to add to my closet. We really tried to think about long-term use rather than spending a chunk on something that would get worn once. The photographers – Beyond the Ordinary photographers Charity and Nicole honored us by choosing our wedding as “the most unique” entry in their 2012-2013 contest for free photography. I had enough airline miles and hotel points to fly them to Fayetteville from Chicago and put them up for free. The ceremony venue – We had our ceremony at the Greek Theater on the University of Arkansas campus (where we met). It was free! Bonus: it’s an amphitheater, so no expensive chair rentals required! The honeymoon – Andrew had accrued enough airline miles to snag free tickets to Japan for our honeymoon. While there, we used airbnb to save a ton on lodging by staying with locals and, in the process, got to meet some really incredible families during our stay.

Jessica

Jessica (2)

Andrew and Jessica

Seurat

invites and crafts (2)

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would forego buying disposable cameras. We really thought they would capture some great candid shots, but they were relatively expensive to develop, the picture quality was quite grainy, and the shots were overall pretty underwhelming.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? I’m really not very good at delegating and didn’t have to, as we forewent a traditional wedding party. Our close friends joked that we had built up a lot of wedding karma by helping them at their events over the years because we were able to call in a lot of favors from these very talented and generous people who helped us out of love.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Everyone has their own opinion about what the perfect wedding should look like and consist of (some of whom may be quite vocal with these opinions), so it’s definitely tricky navigating through it all – especially for a non-traditional, secular wedding. We had a fairly long engagement period, so that helped give us the time we needed to consider all the options available and make our own decisions.

What were your top five favorite things about your wedding? 1) Having so many of our loved ones attend and celebrate our love. A good friend serving in the Peace Corps in Yerevan, Armenia, at the time even flew back to officiate. We had such support for our friends and family and so much help through it all.

2) Our vows – It was important to us that the ceremony truly focused on us as individuals and our love, so we wrote our own vows. I’m a former slam poet, and Andrew writes the sweetest love letters/poems on the planet. Let’s just say there was a lot of laughing and crying. A friend was actually so inspired that she wrote a song based on a line from Andrew’s vows which has been put to song by a local artist.

3) Our unity cocktail – A few months before our wedding, Andrew and I made nocino, an Italian walnut liquor, from green walnuts on a tree behind our house. Another friend made an accompanying liquor that he presented and which our parents assisted in blending together into a quaff during the ceremony. It was a distinctly unique and meaningful moment for us.

4) The reception as a whole and all the revelry – The reception was really unique in that we showcased the talents of our fantastic friends, from singing and instrument playing to juggling and dancing with giant silk fans. And there was so much dancing – A rock-n-roll professor of ours agreed to get his band together to play a set. They unexpectedly jammed out the whole night and got everybody on their feet dancing. Afterwards, Andrew’s band played a set before we put on our digital playlist of hand-picked dance jams for the late-night crowd.

5) The before and after events – Prior to the wedding, I convinced the lady who did henna at a kiosk in our mall to come to my house for a mehndi party with my best girlfriends. It was tremendous fun, and I got to have beautiful wedding henna. Then the day after the wedding, some very dear friends threw us a brunch. The day of the wedding itself was so hectic that it was nice to get to spend more quality time with friends and family after the big day.

cake (2)

invites and crafts

cheese tower

Top five least favorite?  1) The expense – We saved quite a bit of money on some elements so that we could splurge on the food and drinks. But overall, weddings with a large number of attendees just cost a goodly amount of money.

2) The sheer amount of time and energy spent – It took a long time and a lot of planning and energy to pull it all off. I definitely had “wedding brain” for a while and then a bit of wedding PTSD afterwards.

3) A no-show vendor – We booked a caricature artist who didn’t show up. It was a bit of an annoyance, but at least we didn’t lose any money on a deposit.

4) The hotel that night – A total disaster. It was really a sour ending to a beautiful day. But now we can kind of laugh at how terrible the experience was.

5) A missed toast – I found out later that my dad had written a toast that he didn’t give. I really wish that we could go back in time and hear it.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? That we “had” to do any one thing in a specific way because of tradition or expectations. It’s one of the biggest and most memorable days in a person’s life, so we decided we would make it exactly what we wanted it to be. We rejected a lot of “traditions” like the garter and bouquet tosses or standard wedding registries because they just didn’t have any significance or meaning to us.

The best? Looking back at the outpouring of love and written/spoken words of advice, it’s really hard to pinpoint one voice above all others. We received much advice on the theme of how to maintain love and respect for a lifelong marriage. I think there’s probably no one single piece of advice that’s the magical key to a happy union.

thumprint sign

thumbprint canvas

fancy hat

ginseng

 

Any other bits of wisdom? My childhood BFF was driving me to the venue, stopped the car and very seriously looked at me and said, “Ok, this is it. Are you ready to do this? Or do you want to drive to Mexico?” I about died from laughter, but with all the craziness of the day it was a snap back to the true core of what the day was all about – being ready for a lifetime of commitment with someone. The meaning of it all can easily get lost in the planning and hubbub, so my last bit of wisdom is to keep the reason for your union in sight at all times. And make sure you have a really, really good friend willing to drive you to Mexico, if need be.

dancing

groom drumming

marquee

Vendors

Jessica’s ring: Adzias
Andrew’s ring: Jewelry by Johan
Wedding reception: UARK Bowl
Ceremony location: Chi Epsilon Greek Theater
Dress: Unique Vintage
Photographers: Beyond the Ordinary
Caterers: Geraldi’s and Lucky Luke’s BBQ
Cake: Meridienne (very sadly now closed, I believe)
Ring Dish: Crystal Peace Studio
DIY projects: I learned how to make paper roses from blog tutorials and made my own “flower” bouquet and boutonnieres for our friends and family out of old sheet music. Similarly, I learned how to make dahlias out of felt for corsages for the moms. I also made my own hair fascinator from scraps of my altered dress and butterflies from the craft-store. In lieu of a traditional guestbook, we went with a thumbprint canvas. A friend painted a whimsical leafless tree and our guests filled in the “leaves” with their inked thumbprints and names. Now we have a nice piece of art (rather than a book that gets hidden away) that reminds us of our special day and our friends/family. We also designed and printed our own invitations with the help of (again) some amazingly talented friends. It was also worth every penny of the $20 we spent at Office Depot for them to do the folding!!! Other DIY projects included hand sewn felt heart pins for all our guests, whimsical military medals for the dads and gents, huge bunches of balloons, colorful banners of flag pennants, handmade signs aplenty, cootie catchers, large table mats of sheet music, pinwheels, and more. We set up all the decorations, including long bolts of colorful fabric and an arch (we owned and refurbished) at the Greek Theater, with the help of friends and family. We also borrowed and set up PA equipment for the ceremony to save some money.

Budget breakdown

Photographers: $0
Rings: $1,000
Ceremony Venue: $0
Reception Venue (and parking): $3,000
Food and booze: $4,500
Attire: $850
DIY Projects: $125
Other Decorations and Disposable Cameras: $150
Flowers: $0
Band: $500
Cake: $650
Invitations (including postage): $250
Hair, Makeup, and Henna: $200
Dance Lessons: $300

Real Bride Tiffany: Adjectives on Adjectives

As a blogger and overall blog enthusiast, upon our engagement I made sure to add every single wedding related blog I could find to my reader. Every. Single. One. I had more than 100 posts to gaze at each day, and while it was fun at first it quickly because tiresome and then just flat out annoying. And the thing that annoyed me the most? The overused wedding theme adjectives. You’ve heard them, you have!

Rustic.
Vintage.
Classic.
Elegant.
DIY.
Handmade.
Whimsical.
Rustic Handmade Traditional.
Vintage DIY OMG PLEASE STOP.

The theeeeeeemes. The adjectives. That is the second question that people ask. When is your wedding and what is the theme? At one point during my extreme frustration with the theme-machine, I created my very own: Whimsical Sharknado.

No, that isn’t really our theme.

I understand that an overall style is important for planning decor. It just gets taken too far and with many of the weddings and couples featured in the posts, it becomes very clear that the theme doesn’t resonate through their entire life. Do you typically wear cowboy boots every day? THEN WHY ARE YOU WEARING ONE WITH YOUR EXPENSIVE AND GORGEOUS WEDDING DRESS? And because of these themes, weddings look less and less personal because brides begin to think that their decor needs to fit a certain expectation. We are getting married in a barn? Then we HAVE to have burlap and mason jars. And OMG don’t even get me started on mason jars. YOU GUYS THERE ARE OTHER JARS TO USE, I PROMISE.

So what is our non-theme theme? I call it “sh*t we like.” While it is mildly brewery influenced, the decorations will just be what makes us happy. We didn’t pick set colors. I just saw some flowers I liked at Trader Joe’s and said, “THAT COLOR!” We don’t have a singular adjective to describe our wedding. Well, besides awesome. It will just be us and things that make us smile (okay, mostly me because I don’t think that garlands make Justin quite as giddy as they make me).

wedding

Although it all will be cohesive and overall just lovely (click for image attributions).

Whoa, hello rant post! But really, I find this to be one of the biggest conundrums with the wedding industry. Don’t let yourself get stuck in one theme…just do what makes you happiest, even if it can’t be described in one word.

Real Wedding: Lanny & Destry’s Super Intimate Rustic Vintage Soiree Under 5k

 

Your “I dos” are a moment of gravitas, a quiet but weighty culmination of your decision to spend your lives together. In honor of their serious decision to make this commitment, Destry and Lanny decided on a similarly intimate wedding ceremony and reception: 40 invited guests, immediate family and the closest of friends. By this decision, they were able to spend more time with the community that has watched them sow the seeds of their relationship, helped them nurture it, and witnessed it flourish.

Names: Destry & Lanny

Occupations: Destry is a design drafter,  Lanny was an administrator for a private travel company but currently attends business school full-time

Wedding location: Kingston, Idaho

Wedding date: July 27, 2013

Wedding budget: My crazyperson spreadsheet tells me our final total was $4,300-ish.  We didn’t give ourselves a hard maximum.  Instead, we decided to spend by priority.  Neither of us gave two hoots about centerpieces or expensive favors; instead we cared about food and photos and got INCREDIBLY lucky on both counts.  While we spent a lot less than the national average, we still feel like we spent an enormous amount of money for one day.

Approximate guest count: We limited our invited guests to 40, but counted on 35 attending for sure. We only invited our immediate family members and very close friends.  Destry is the oldest of five, so you can imagine that it adds up quickly.

How would you describe your wedding? At the risk of sounding cliché and ridiculous, I’d describe it as a balance of country, rustic and vintage.  We kept it subtle though. We didn’t want guests to feel like we were beating them over the head with kitschy crap.  We didn’t have time or energy to invest in kitschy crap either.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? It’s a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s really hard to choose one favorite.  I would say that driving from our hotel to the venue together was so special and important to me.  We both had a chance to be alone together, in our own car, just being together, quietly.  Because we knew it was going to be such an emotional day, that short drive was so important to both of us.

We were lucky to have an equally-meaningful moment alone at the end of the night after everyone had left.  The sky was inky black with bright stars and the barn was lit up with twinkling lights woven throughout the Virginia creeper that covered its entire frame; we stood silently at the top of the hill wrapped in a blanket, looking down upon the scenery and reflected on the deluge of pure love we’d experienced that day.

What did you splurge on? Without a doubt, the food and furniture were our most costly expenses.  Our wedding was held over 60 miles from our home in Spokane.  So, we felt it was important that we provide a really solid meal to our nearest and dearest if we were going to drag them to a mountain farm in the middle of the woods.  Have you ever been to a wedding on a Saturday at 6:30 pm, only to find that it’s a cake and punch reception in the church gym/basement/lobby?  Those are basically the worst (in my opinion) and we were against that at all costs.

Additionally, we really scored with a venue that embodied everything we hoped for and wanted to provide some aesthetic continuity by using furniture that didn’t clash.  We found an up-and-coming furniture rental company out of North Idaho who provided some stunning pieces for us.

Also, I know it’s silly, but I totally went all out with my hair as well. I was pretty close with my hairdresser at that time, but after her two previous attempts at formal styles left me crying in the car we decided to go another direction.  My hair is fairly long, but I wanted it longer for the wedding, so she offered to pick me up some extensions with her discount and color them to match my hair.  After several unanswered texts and voicemails left me feeling like a jealous ex-girlfriend, I bought the hair myself and scheduled an appointment with someone else.  I ended up spending a small fortune on the whole ordeal, but it felt worth it:  $200 for the hair, $70 to color it, $50 for the trial and $100 for the wedding day style.  (I feel compelled to note that I’m still pissed that I spent as much as I did on the day of the wedding because the salon’s active price list shows the trial hair as included in the total price.)

So, what became of my former stylist?  Well, I finally heard from her three days before the wedding letting me know that she had blocked out the entire day and we could go get hair, color and style it starting at 9 AM.  A note about that – the wedding took place on a Saturday, and the hair extension shop isn’t open on weekends, so despite the sketchy billing practices, I am glad I opted out.

 

What did you save on? Ev-er-y thing.  We saved by doing our own flower arrangements – actually, we didn’t use flowers at all. We bought raw cotton online and put everything together. The allergic reaction was totally worth it.  Picture, if you will, my then-fiancé and I in our non-air-conditioned kitchen, trimming and cleaning raw cotton bolls.  We spent countless hours picking dried leaves out of the cotton so we could spend ADDITIONAL countless hours stringing each one just-so on jute twine and arranging them into our respective bouquet and boutonniere.

I had intended to splurge a little and treat myself to a morning of girly pampering, however that never materialized.  I scheduled a makeup trial a few weeks prior to the wedding, but I didn’t feel that this woman was listening to me.  I’m 30, and I don’t think it’s in my best interest to try out a new personal style on my wedding day.  I’m old enough to understand what looks good and what works for me.  Since I’m a jeans and hoodie kind of girl, you can imagine how hard it was to mask my disappointment when she revealed my potential makeup.  Winged eyeliner and I are never going to be best friends, nor do I have aspirations of acquainting myself with berry lip-stain.  Adding insult to injury, I paid $75 (after tipping, because I’m a doormat) for a look I couldn’t wait to wash off my face.

Ultimately, I didn’t feel that she was especially honest or talented so I lied and canceled my appointment about a week before the wedding, citing something about the cost being budget-prohibitive.  The (supposedly) agreed-upon rate was $100 for both sessions, but I had already effectively paid the bulk of it after listening to her talk shit about everyone else in town while she applied makeup that didn’t match me or my coloring.  After the rage-tears subsided, I went to Nordstrom (alone) and met with the only kind of makeup artist I can trust with utmost confidence – a gay man.  I showed him a photo and he whipped my look into shape, directing me to all the right products and showed me how to recreate his work at home.  I hugged him, and practiced nearly a dozen times before the wedding and I’m thrilled with my choice to do my own.

The piece-de-resistance, though, were our photographers.  We happened to have two very close friends who are, not only incredibly talented, but provided their services for free.  Without their generosity, as every bride knows, we would have EASILY doubled our expenses.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Looking back, I would have asked more people to help.  We would have had a little more fun during the planning stages if we’d allowed more folks help us out from the beginning.  Instead, we stubbornly refused offers for help until much closer to the wedding date.  That cotton-stringing party I mentioned above?  Ultimately, my in-laws came to the rescue with four additional hands for stringing.

I can’t quite remember why we were so secretive about planning, but I suspect part of it had to do with a bizarre idea that someone might steal our ideas? Weddings make people crazy.  Like, crazy-crazy.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? 1.) Hurt feelings. If I had known beforehand, how personally other people would take our wedding choices, we might have eloped.  We received unsolicited suggestions, advice, and requests for invitations for people we’d never conceive of including in our celebration.  It was an ongoing challenge of (and testament to) our patience, kindness, and ability to tolerate other people.

2.) Money.  It would be so much easier to throw everything on a credit card, but that’s not our style for anything we do in life.  We felt incredibly fortunate to have been in such a position that allowed us to do everything we needed and wanted to do on our own terms.  Still, having more money might have abbreviated our timeline considerably but we don’t regret any of it.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) have a contingency plan.  ALWAYS.  For good measure, have three or four backups.  We picked out a favorite restaurant to host our rehearsal dinner and made reservations to hold the date (I can’t remember if we paid a fee or not).  A month before our wedding, my best friend drove up from Portland, Oregon for a bridal shower hosted by my mother-in-law and I had hoped to take her to dinner there … as we were walking up to the building, it dawned on me that they weren’t just not open, they were closed.  Like, for good.

Obviously, we ate elsewhere, but I was determined to keep from getting ruffled by the situation.  Later in the week, my fiancé and I ate at another restaurant that had recently undergone a major renovation and appeared to be a great place to host our rehearsal – so we booked it on the spot.

By sheer bad luck, we were forced to resume our search on June 17 (about a month before our wedding) because our second choice BURNED DOWN.  I crowdsourced suggestions on Facebook and had friends beg me to stop ruining Spokane with our wedding.  It was about this point that I stopped giving a shit about it but it turned out to be better than I ever could’ve imagined.  A family-owned bar/café where we spend Saturday nights playing trivia stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam (those are the same sport, right?) with how they handled our dinner.  We told them how much we could spend, the headcount, and offered a vague suggestion of the kind of food we liked.  It was such a success that our families are still raving about it to this day.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? It was a day full of love and laughter and ridiculously delicious food.  Because we chose to invite literally nobody outside our immediate families and our closest friends it made the day so ridiculously special, I still struggle to elucidate my feelings.


Top 5 least favorite? We had a lot of people offer to help or provide something (mostly food) and we were far more comfortable hiring people to do that job for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) sanitation.  Remember, if you will, the comment above where I mention that the venue and our hometown are sixty miles apart – now imagine chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad, and basically mayonnaise-based anything in someone’s back seat for nigh on two hours.  Sounds like fun, right?  Sorry to let the booster club down, but I’m not trying to battle diarrhea on my wedding night.  For the sake of feelings, let’s just say it’s because I want everyone to have a good time and avoid being unfairly labeled bridezilla, okay?

One of my photographers is married to a former marine and bodyguard.  Why on earth is that even remotely of consequence?  Because my husband’s ex-girlfriend (one he’d broken up with before we even met; IN 2002.) has a super-adorable habit of making her presence known.  Neither of us expected anything especially dramatic, but he studied photos as a precaution and kept her out of sight when she did, in fact, show up.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “Just relax! It’ll all come together” – Everyone who ever planned a wedding but experienced a subsequently immediate Telenovela-style bout with amnesia. Nothing ever just “comes together” and anyone who suggests otherwise probably didn’t have a DIY wedding if you know what I mean. Are you fucking kidding me? RELAX?  I am relaxed (sort of), but I am still allowed to give like, ONE shit about how this day goes down.  Will I remember all of it, not likely; but I don’t expect to.

The best? From my older sister, more than ten years ago: “Wedding planning is so stupid. It is literally the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done.”   Having done it, I can confirm that she’s right. The wedding itself wasn’t stupid, but the kinds of things that consumed my thoughts throughout the planning process were so cosmically insignificant; but they felt so god damned essential in the moment.

Second best was between my husband and me – it became kind of a mantra between the two of us: “This is our party; our wedding is not our marriage.”

Any other bits of wisdom? Just Relaaaaax!  Okay, I’m kidding … kind of.  It’s easy to get upset and overwhelmed when people overstep boundaries, but standing up for yourself is the best thing you can do when you’re planning your wedding.  I desperately wish I had just told a few vendors to piss off directly instead of skirting the issue as if their feelings were supposed to take precedent above mine.  I wish I had been more assertive and direct when people acted in a way that made me feel like they were taking advantage of an emotionally charged event.  But there’s nothing I can do about it now. (Except write some passive-aggressive Yelp! reviews.)

Oh, and don’t you dare listen to anyone who has the nerve to tell you that you must spend more or else your wedding won’t be “everything you ever dreamed of.”  Your wedding will be everything you dreamed of because you’re marrying someone you love.  Anyone who suggests otherwise is presumptuous, snide and condescending.

 

Budget breakdown

 

TOTAL

VENUE

$235.00

FOOD

$1,128.85

FURNITURE

$961.57

OFFICIANT

$200.00

LIQUOR

$200.00

FLOWERS

$250.00

CLOTHES (D)

$300.00

INVITATIONS

$105.00

HAIR

$420.00

CUPCAKES

$135.00

REHEARSAL

$400.00

 

    TOTAL:  $4335.42

Wedding vendors and links:

Venue: French Gulch Farm and Garden, Kingston, ID

Furniture Rental: The Attic, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Catering: Couple of Chefs, Spokane, WA

Attire: Bride – David’s Bridal, Spokane, WA Groom – Duchess Clothier, Portland, OR

Hair: Bride – Douglass McCoy, Spokane, WA Groom – Porter’s Barber Shop, Spokane, WA

Bride’s Makeup: BRIDE!

Flowers, bouquet and decor: Bride and Groom designed all decor using dried wildflowers and cotton purchased online. Tabletop arrangements were styled by Groom’s brother and sister in law. (Bride made bouquet, Groom made his own boutonniere)

Rings: Bride (same ring, except blue) Groom

DJ:
iTunes, operated by Groom’s brother

Invitations:
Designed Online, Printed at Home (We purchased the full suite; including save the dates, thank you cards, and custom map)

Photographers: Andrew Callaci (Portland) and Nicole Varnell (Spokane)

Real Bride Tiffany: Our Brewery Wedding Dream

Choosing a venue can be one of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning. And in San Diego, the options are endless. You can get married at the beach, on the bay, at the beach, at a winery, at the beach, on a ranch, at the beach, in the city, and also the beach. Did I mention THE BEACH? If you are sensing snark, your snark-sense is working. We are the furthest from beach-loving people as we could possibly be. Why? SAND. Also, sand fleas. I will not elaborate, lest you spend the rest of the day inadvertently scratching phantom itches.

After our engagement (and maybe a little before because at the end of the day, I am woman) we started browsing venue options. Our search continued until I said, “How about a brewery?” and Justin replied, “This is why I am marrying you.” I searched the most popular brewery site in San Diego – I won’t give it a name but I will tell you that it rhymes with “phone.” The food and beverage minimum for this site was literally more than I ever dreamed one would spend on a wedding which led to yet another WE CANNOT AFFORD ANYTHING emotional breakdown. Actually more like, “I would NEVER spend that much on a wedding WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE” breakdown.

ks collage photo kscollage.jpgimages via Rachel McFarlin Photography & ABM Photography 

Which led us to look up Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens. We were both very familiar with this site because it is down the street from where we live. One point for convenience! Beyond the uniqueness of the grounds, a few things really set KSBG apart from other venue options – most notably that it is all inclusive. There are no separate charges for parking, cake cutting, chairs, table setups, linens, you name it. Many of the other venues I glanced at made me appalled at the nitpicky, nickel-and-dime charges they come up with. And the bonus? They have their own bakery and DJ contracted already. Which means less work/decision making for us to do. Total score.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. The grounds and gardens are GORGEOUS. Hello, you are going to give me all of your beer and do half of the work for me AND be completely gorgeous? SOLD. Really, it was a no-brainer. And in the end we are proud to say that we looked at ONE venue. One singular venue that met every single one of our wedding desires. KSBG, our one true wedding venue love. Am I bragging? Yes, yes I am. Because this was a huge decision that we made incredibly simple and are more than confident in our choice. And I also just spent a good two hours looking at return address stamps so I needed to remind myself when the important decisions happened…

The one person who is not happy with our decision is my father. My Bud Light Lime loving father, whom we are forcing to drink “that fancy shit beer,” because obviously they only offer Karl Strauss products (which are a DELIGHT). We are trying to acclimate him; so far, we have not succeeded. Stay tuned for updates on our quest to teach my father the ways of fancy beer!

Wedding Inspiration: Fun, Geeky Save The Dates!

A great place to begin personalizing your wedding is with the save the dates; while wedding stationery is often quite formal, save the dates give you the freedom to be a bit more quirky and fun. Now, you don’t need to send save the dates–depending on how soon you’re getting married, and the number of people you’re planning on inviting, they might be an unnecessary expense. However, if you’re six months or more out from your wedding date and you’re planning on inviting a number of people from out of town, save the dates are a great way to ask your friends and family to keep you in mind as they make plans for both the time and expense of travel. It’s also a great place to include your wedding website information if you’d rather not include it on the formal invitations. I know that as soon as I receive a save the date, I tack it up on the fridge so as not to forget–and looking at any of the following save the dates would make me smile every single time.

Dana’s friends Ben and Renee just made these adorable Save the Dates based on some of their favorite movies, with a little help from their friends:

Photos by: Josh Gibson; Grooming + Layout: Annah Yevelenko-Gibson

Seriously, how cute are these? So stinking adorable!

This Freaking Genius Movie Inspired Engagement Shoot Stole My Heart.

Now that the zombie apocalypse and/or dinosaur attack wedding photos have had their 5 minutes of fame, I hereby declare THIS COUPLE to be the winners of the internet’s “best engagement photo session awards” for at least a week.

Redditor “hamburgersandwiches” shared this inspired set of iconic movie scenes, re-imagined as starring he and his fiancee, with the title “I’m getting married Sat. I know these suck, but here are my engagement photos.” Phone home, bro.

To which I screamed at my computer screen, “SON, ON WHAT PLANET WOULD ANYONE THINK THESE SUCK?!?!? YOU’Z CRAZY. AND I WANT TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND.” All work and no play must make hamburgersandwiches a delusional boy.

Party on, Wayne.
Party on, Garth.

Take the red pill, man.


And that’s just the start. Here’s the whole slideshow. Goddamn brilliant.

I can’t wait to see this couple’s wedding photos, if this is how they kicked off the engagement.

Dana

Real Wedding: Etan & Megan’s Modern, “Bookish”, Table-Dancing Los Angeles Wedding

Bringing personality to a wedding while still keeping costs low  is a challenge all couples face. Etan and Megan added a great amount of character to their celebration with lots of DIY décor, and a group of people willing to dig in their heels and help this self described “bookish” couple. This Los Angeles duo focused on celebrating what they absolutely loved without going overboard. Good food, cold brews, laughter, good books, and twinkly lights are the key ingredients to this extremely charming L.A. wedding. 

Names: Etan & Megan Rosenbloom

Occupations: Etan works in marketing in the music industry and is a heavy metal music journalist. Megan is a medical librarian who works with rare books.

Wedding location: Lehrer Architects, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, Calif.

Wedding date: Oct. 13, 2012

Approximate guest count: 80

How would you describe your wedding? Everything about our wedding was very personal, from the elements of the ceremony to the DIY décor to the barn raising feeling of putting the whole thing together with friends and family. Also, all the things we didn’t do ourselves we sourced super locally, whether it was the clothes, the food, the beer, so it was a very eastside of LA wedding. We had a lot of bookish decor, which makes sense as we’re both pretty bookish people.

What was your favorite part of your wedding?
Megan: After all of our hard work, taking a moment to breathe and watch our friends and family all together getting hyped on the dance floor and being humbled by the fact that they were all here for us.
Etan: The heightened sense of intimacy with Megan under the chuppah.

What did you splurge on? We didn’t really “splurge” on anything, but as might be expected our biggest expense was the food. But Whoa Nelly Catering worked with us to keep costs low and delivered absolutely amazing food. Our foodie and vegan friends were especially delighted with their offerings, which were all sourced from our local farmers’ markets. Many people said it was the best food they’ve ever had at a wedding.

What did you save on? We managed to save a lot on booze. We are really into craft beer (even my bouquet had fresh hops in it!) so we wanted that to be the star of the show. A friend of ours runs a great beer bar and was able to source three California craft beer kegs for a great price, and then, sweetheart that she is, ended up gifting us one of them. So we had world class beer for our guests for a song. We got our wine from BevMo on their 5 cent sale, so a lot of our bottles were only a nickel! We didn’t want to have a full liquor bar, so next to our agua frescas we had a “spike station” with a bottle each of vodka, whiskey, gin and tequila for people to spike their drinks if they wished. We also borrowed PA equipment from music friends and Etan created some great Spotify playlists for dinner and for dancing.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? We probably should have hired a videographer. We had a lot of family & friends who couldn’t make the trip. Our friend who shot the video on my personal camera did a great job stepping up to help, but my gear just wasn’t up to snuff. We also should have reminded people to do certain things like use the photo booth or thumbprint the guestbook to get more participants in those activities.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Mostly just trying to stay sane while working full-time and doing all of these DIY projects at night, and knowing when to let a certain project go if it just wasn’t working out.

 

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? From planning the wedding, I learned a lot about time management and balancing all the things I wanted to create and what I could feasibly achieve. At one point, I was thinking that I was working really hard to make certain things that no one was going to notice. I was pleasantly surprised that our guests really did notice all the hard work and love that my friends and I put into all the details of the wedding. Having people come up and mention certain small elements that they enjoyed really made me proud as a crafter and made all the work worth it. I also learned not to be afraid to ask friends for help, and our friends gave us a lot of help in too many ways to list here. At the wedding itself, having everyone there for us, taking part in this very intimate moment, really hammered home just how much we are loved and supported as we forge our new family together.

What were your top five favorite things about your wedding?

It’s hard to pick just five!

  1. Our groomsman/ brosmaid Alexis was a giant help with a lot of the crafting and lighting design, and he designed one area that he could decorate however he wanted. He made us this beautiful lamp where he cut pages out of our two favorite books (Ulysses & Finnegans Wake, both by James Joyce) into leaf shapes, laminated them, and attached them to the lamp so the light glows through the words. He also made us a clever table out of dictionary where the ashtray rested on the page for “smoke” words and the cup holder rested on the page for “drink” words. He made this lovely little oasis for us where we relaxed and took a few photos immediately after the ceremony. Now both of these items adorn our home and we love them to death, and every time we look at them we think of him and all he did for us. Alexis was rewarded in a surprising way for all of his hard work…he fell in love with our bridesmaid Maryanne at the wedding and is now moving across the country to be with her!
  2. We were lucky enough to have Etan’s mom’s best friend, Cantor Perryne Anker, as our officiant & pre-marital counselor. She’s been present at the ceremonies for many of Etan’s major life events, and was a great calming guide for both of us through this whole process. She made the ceremony personal, moving, and funny…everything we could have asked for.
  3. Instead of the traditional parent-child dance, Etan and his mother Aviva did a choreographed Israeli folk dance to the song “Erev Ba” and everyone was very impressed by how light on their feet they were! It was a beautiful, touching moment. Aviva was glowing with motherly pride.
  4. Watching our two very different families from separate coasts get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company was a real treat. We might not ever get everyone together in the same spot again, so that was really special for us.
  5. Watching all of our friends and family go absolutely apeshit on the dance floor was a huge highlight. I took a moment to just enjoy the scene and be glad we could bring all of these wonderful people together, if just for an evening. The first song was Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and when Prince starts in with his little sermon, everyone just went wild. Our friends Josh, Grant and Agatha ran over to me during the song, looked at the table near the dance floor and said, “Wanna Breakfast Club this shit?” OF COURSE. So we all got up and danced on the table, and at the end of the song Etan came over and I jumped into his arms from the table and he spun me around and kissed me as the song ended. It was a total movie moment…even better than The Breakfast Club. I’ll never forget it.

Top five least favorite?

  1. The ceremony music false-started so our bridesmaid Lavinia had to swoop in and save the day by restarting it.
  2. We found out a few days before that there were some plumbing issues so we had to scramble and get a port-a-potty for the guests. I kinda had a meltdown about it at first, but they turned out to be really nice as far as port-a-potties go, and no one cared.
  3. The whole shebang ran late so we didn’t get enough dancing time, we should have allotted more wiggle room…I think our friends could have danced for hours more!
  4. We were so busy and things went so fast that I only got one of those delicious beers and we didn’t get any pie until the next day.
  5. The next day it was super hot, we were all exhausted, but we had to go back to the venue to take down all the decorations and clean up. That and returning all of the borrowed stuff and trying to sell the things we don’t need was kind of onerous but wasn’t too awful.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? People told Etan to let me do everything and make all the decisions, that it was my day. That’s not true, it was OUR day, and we learned quickly that making these decisions together was crucial. The last thing Etan wanted was to show up to our wedding and not even recognize what was going on, so he was involved in the whole decision-making process even if he was less involved in the actual crafting parts.

The best? Try to take time to be in the moment…it is so true. When you plan a whole year for one day, it’s insane how fast it’ll go by. Also whether you’re a DIY bride or not, whatever you do, hire a professional event coordinator for the day of the wedding. You will not be able to manage the logistics on your own, and it’s not fair to push it off on a bridesmaid or family member…they want to enjoy your wedding too, not work at it!

Any other bits of wisdom? Have the wedding that speaks to who you are. It wasn’t the fact that we did a lot of things ourselves that made it personal, it was that I’m a DIY person and that reflects who I am. If you’re not a crafty person, don’t try to craft a bunch of stuff for the wedding because you feel like that’s what you’re supposed to do. We carefully picked all of our own music not only to save money on a DJ, but because we’re music people and we had to have every song count. If you don’t like cake, don’t have one! We had pie. We’ve been to a lot of weddings as guests and I would say the only ones that we ever found a bit disappointing were ones where it felt like the couple was making choices because they felt pressure to from some source outside of themselves — whether it be a family member, friends, or the general wedding industrial complex. Your friends and family love you, and they want to celebrate who you are as a couple, so show them who you are in the way you do your wedding, even if that means eloping.

Vendors
Caterers: Whoa Nelly Catering
Flowers, Crowns & Boutonnieres: The Paper Arum
Photography: Lindsay Giles McWilliams (Denver, Colorado) & Sarah Law Photography: (Southern California, soon to be based in Portland, Oregon)
Musical Performance: Homesick Elephant featuring Kelly Sulick
Valet: Hollywood Hills Valet
Bride’s Dress: Shareen Vintage
Bride’s Hair: Megan Klammer at Heretic Salon
Bride’s Makeup: Heather Cvar at Le Pink & Co. Apothecary
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Matrushka Construction
Flower Girl Dress: Made by friend
Groom’s Suit: Al Weiss
Groomsmen’s Blazers: ASOS
Groomsmen’s Ties: Zara
Engagement Ring: Single Stone
Wedding Bands: Claude Morady
Save the Dates: Photo by Sarah Law Photography; Design by And She Designs
Invitations, seating cards and programs: Designed and handmade by the bride
Ketubah: Gallery Judaica
Ketubah Art: Peter Wonsowski
Thumbprint Guest Book & table numbers: Bear Witness Studio

DIY projects
Decor primarily by the bride Megan Rosenbloom & groomsman Alexis Bourbeau
Custom Lighting by groomsman Alexis Bourbeau (abourbeau@aol.com)
Mothers’ shawls, groom’s kippah, and bride’s capelet knit by the bride
Challah cover embroidery by the groom’s aunt Alma Schneider, sewn by the bride

If there is one lesson to take from Etan and Megan’s big day it’s to be realistic about your time. Most ladies become DIY divas in an effort to add personal touches to their wedding days. Luckily, friends and family are often eager to help. Be sure to let them. Be honest about your own limitations and allow others to step in and help. A wedding is your day, but those who love you truly want to offer a supporting hand in the festivities. There’s nothing wrong with accepting that – in fact, it will probably help things go more smoothly.

Congrats to Megan and Etan, and special thanks to their wedding photographers, Lindsay and Sarah! 

 

{Real Bride: Mellzah} When Enough DIY Is Enough

How cute is this? How hard would it be to make one for myself? AND SO IT BEGINS.

I am generally all about DIY projects; if I see something I like, my gears start spinning as to how I can recreate it for myself, and wedding planning has provided ample opportunities for me to build and tweak and tune every detail to my heart’s content. It also has provided me ample opportunities to go overboard.

At one point, I read an article criticizing wedding DIY as creating a culture of a disposable day filled with throwaway things…and I took that as a cue to dye, cut, sew, and hand-embroider all of the wedding napkins lest people think poorly of me for using monogrammed disposables. That particular madness ended when I changed the wedding colors/scheme and didn’t want to start over from square one…at least I have a heck of a lot of cocktail napkins to use from now until the end of eternity.

The commitment to quality DIY, however, didn’t stop there, and got much worse for a while. For instance, we picked our venue because they were on the preferred list of a caterer we tried at the Seattle Wedding Show. Later, when we discovered this particular caterer was out of our budget (severely so), we were glad that the venue provided a sizeable kitchen and didn’t require you to hire one of their preferred vendors because we were going to (wait for it) cater our own wedding. I figured out recipes, tested them, figured out how to scale them up/pre-prepare and freeze them, but ultimately decided that while it might be possible to do this ourselves, that I didn’t want to spend my wedding day freaking out about what was going on in the kitchen, or IN the kitchen, which is where my perfectionist ass spends 99% of the parties I throw. I also didn’t want to set my bridesmaids on that task, in the back in their pretty dresses, frying up eggrolls, not least because grease tends to do a number on chiffon.

Later, I thought “Wouldn’t it be fun to do all the flowers?” We didn’t plan on having floral on any of the tables, so it just meant bouquets and bouts…and then I remembered that more people get bouts than the wedding party, and mothers and grandparents should have corsages and then I thought it would be nice to have a little floral at each table, and it was already galloping out of my control and I knew it was going to explode into a giant pain of wilted, angry “Why did I think it would be fun to do this?/ I don’t have time to do this! /I’ve decided to set the venue on fire instead.” the day before/the morning of, and that my fury face, though funny, doesn’t translate particularly well to lovely photographs.

This is how I devised my rules of DIY. When I decide to take on a project, I ask myself the following questions:

 Is it necessary? As in: do I need it or just want it? Will it be an integral part of the day, or something that that I’ll look at later and wonder why I’d wasted the time and effort? By this question, something like personally designed and assembled invitations would be worth pursuing as they’ll presumably be tacked to the fridge for a while and set the tone for the event itself. Envelope calligraphy that will just be thrown away…not so much.

Does it have impact? Is it something that the guests will see and take in as part of their overall impression of the day, or is it something that only I would worry about and notice? With this question, I was able to focus my efforts toward special centerpieces, and not decorating the bathrooms (I trust that people will still know that they’re at a wedding when they step through the door).

Is it reasonable? Will making it prove just as expensive or more expensive than buying it? Is it a reasonable use of my time, or will I feel upon completion as though I climbed Mount Everest by myself, naked, with only a vuvuzela and a herring strapped to my back in an aquarium? I am aware that I can generally ask my friends for help, but I also want to be reasonable in my requests for their time. It’s one thing to spend an afternoon together working on a project, and it’s another to spend every weekend for a month toiling in a friend’s sweatshop because she had to have handmade paper menus for her intimate wedding of 500. For instance, it took some time and effort to make our wedding website (and very little in the way of financial resources), but no more time than was reasonable, and we found the results extremely worthwhile. Not so much with the napkin thing.

Have you ever done anything like this before? Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up calligraphy or floral arranging or, I don’t know, welding your own seats out of found scrap metal, but if you’ve never done it before, practice it way ahead of time. If you’re not familiar with the process, things could take much longer and not turn out the way you’d like. Spraypaint has the unfortunate tendency to not dry when it senses you’re in a rush, glue likes to fail, and spot welds will crumble before your eyes: these things are law. When you give yourself plenty of time, you can invest a little and see if the project is worth pursuing or if you’d rather not undertake the task.

Is there a better way? Just because I first envisioned making it one way doesn’t mean that it’s the best, most resource-effective way to do it. It’s worth taking the time and brainstorming other ways to see the task through to completion. For example, I’ve got my heart set on Battlestar Galactica dog tag escort cards, but my initial idea (based on a tutorial I found online) of flattening pennies on a steel plate proved extraordinarily difficult (I’d have to take a few breaks to rest my shoulder during the flattening of each penny) and the results weren’t proving to be worth it. I’ve got a couple of new ways to do it battling it out in my brain and I know that one of them will prove more effective than spending every night for the next two months pounding pennies.

Can it be done in advance? The less a DIY project can be done in advance, the greater the side eye you should give it. Your time is a resource, and in the last few weeks leading up to your wedding, it will be at a premium. You don’t want to be making favors, assembling centerpieces, arranging flowers, frosting cupcakes, and putting the finishing touches on your dress the day before, unless you get that exciting runner’s high from stress.

Speaking of time: Is it worth it for the amount of time you’ll have to exchange for it? What’s the personal cost to you if you miss a year or more of baby showers, birthday parties, movie nights, and cookouts because your every free moment is devoted to wedding projects? Are you willing to look back on that year of your life as The Year of Wedding Projects?

Do you really want to DIY it, or do you just not want to pay for it? Granted, planning a huge shindig at the expense of our married future has never been one of my aims, but I’ve been particularly conscious of it because of my time here at The Broke-Ass Bride, because I don’t think it’s authentic for me to preach to everyone the virtues of hard work and saving a dime if I don’t do it myself…but at the same time,  I have come to realize that I don’t need to be punishingly strict with the budget, and that some things are worth paying for to have them off my plate. So we’re paying a caterer, and we’re paying a florist, and that frees up my time and mental energy to work on the details that are important to me (the perfect ipod playlist to get the party grooving)  AND have some much-needed me time. All that should matter in regards to our budget is that we end up with a total cost that seems reasonable to us. Yes, some people will spend less than us, and some will spend way, way more, but everyone has different circumstances and for us, it’s worth spending a bit more to have a party that we’ll remember fondly than a shindig that we’ll groan just thinking about the work involved.

Walk through my questions the next time you have a DIY project that you’re on the fence about—I hope it will help you pare down to projects that are reasonable for your time, skills, and budget. And if you have any DIY questions, feel free to hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out. I’m so not handmaking 500 pieces of paper for your menus, though.

 

{Real Bride: Carrie} We Did It!

Photo Credit: Melissa Gebauer

Editor’s note: Our little Carrie is MARRIED, y’all! She just returned from her honeymoon, and we’re giving her a little time to bask in newlywed-dom, but she wanted to pop in and share the good news with our fabulous readers! Join us in wishing her a hearty congrats!

Greetings from married life, BABs!  I want to wait for our professional photos to come back before I write official recap posts, but I had to pop in to say that WE DID IT!  Our wedding was a whirlwind of stress, hard work, last minute details, laughter, reunions, love, and joy.  It was completely homespun, perfectly imperfect, and we loved it.  To everyone going through planning conundrums, DIY frustration, and other wedding-related headaches, it is SO, SO WORTH IT IN THE END!

I promise you’ll hear more from me once I have some pro photos to back up the story!  Hopefully any day now!