Posts in the 'Wedding Inspiration' Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ceremony Venue: $0
Reception Venue (and parking): $3,000
Food and booze: $4,500
DIY Projects: $125
Other Decorations and Disposable Cameras: $150
Invitations (including postage): $250
Hair, Makeup, and Henna: $200
Dance Lessons: $300
Angela and Jay had their beautiful wedding in January of this year, incorporating meaningful locations, the support of their community, and some Arizona flair. Seriously, how cute are these cactus favors? It goes to show that you don’t need to spend $30,000 to have a beautiful, memorable wedding day…and since their family and friends were involved throughout, they were able to start their married lives feeling truly loved and blessed.
Names: Angela and Jay
Occupations: Angela- PhD Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, Jay: Video Game QA Lead, Red5 Studios
Wedding location: Phoenix, AZ (Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and the Science and Heritage Park)
Wedding date: 01-04-14
Wedding budget: Original $3000…..Actual $5000
Approximate guest count: 100
How would you describe your wedding? Laid-back, informal, with traditional aspects
What was your favorite part of your wedding? I loved getting to talk with all of my friends and family during the reception. I just wanted it to last forever.
What did you splurge on? The reception venue. We met on NYE 4 years ago at a bar owned by my husband’s friend. The venue is RIGHT behind it, so we both wanted to celebrate our marriage there, even though it was pretty expensive for our budget. It didn’t include much. It had a small catering kitchen and tables and chairs we could use. I also spent $444.00 on my wedding gown. I felt guilty for this, since Jay was wearing a suit he already owned. I REALLY wanted a simple white dress, off the rack. But I couldn’t find anything I liked. My mom made me go to a David’s Bridal one day and I found something that wasn’t too shiny and fancy for me. I hoped to sell it…but, then a friend burned a cigarette hole in it, and I spilled my beer on myself. I’m sure someone would still buy it…
What did you save on? Everything else!! The cake/cupcakes were made by my best friend from high school. I won a few bottles of champagne in an online contest. I cut out all the paper flag decorations with my mom. My brother bought decorations off Craigslist from a woman who had similar colors for her wedding (candles, cake plates, lights, lanterns). I bought all the servingware (bowls, trays, and tongs) at a dollar store. I didn’t want flowers at first, but my mom wasn’t having that. So I found 10 bouquets at Costco for $100. They doubled as bouquets for the bridespeople and table decorations. We gave small cacti as favors (only 50 of them) and my friend purchased them for me at cost ($1 per cactus) from his cousin who runs a nursery. We decided a build your own sandwich bar would be good instead of a caterer. It was very simple. We had sliced cheese, turkey and roast beef with condiments. We bought bolillo rolls from a Mexican bakery which was cheaper than the same rolls at Costco. I made three grain/pasta salads that were very very inexpensive. One was quinoa, one was a pasta salad, and one was Israeli couscous. The biggest saving was the alcohol. My husband’s friends who own the bar gave us free beer and wine! We also received free coffee due to a mixup at the coffee house. That was a nice surprise!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have done two things differently. First I would have managed time better. We were married in a church service and since my husband is not Catholic, we didn’t have the full ceremony. In fact it only took 30 minutes. We had no idea it would be that quick! This meant that our guests had to wait about 2 hours between our ceremony and the reception. Since our reception was only a block from the church, most of our guests just headed to our friends’ bar for food and drinks. We had to set up the wedding while they did this. We decided to set up our own wedding to save money (of course!). Since we were early, the young men we had hired to set up the tables hadn’t gotten started yet. Everyone was stressed out and working hard. They wouldn’t let my husband or I do much, which was nice, but also frustrating.
The second thing I would have done differently is I would have hired a day-of coordinator. I would have just asked an old friend and paid her $50 or something. That way she could have fielded the 10,000 questions everyone had for me that day. The questions freaked me out because I really wasn’t very picky about how everything looked, but of course no one believed that. Most of the questions were related to the decorations.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? We had a few challenges. The biggest challenge was money. We don’t have a lot and everything really added up. I was in Washington teaching for the Summer and Fall semesters right before the wedding. So not only did Jay and I not get to see each other, but all of my planning was done through email and phone calls. I didn’t even see the church until the rehearsal dinner. Luckily we were familiar with the reception venue.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself?
1.Our families really care for us. When we needed help purchasing something they always came through and just gave us money. We didn’t abuse this privilege, however.
2. I wouldn’t have bought so much food. Lots of our friends who said they were coming didn’t show, so there were too many sandwiches. Also, we had made sure to tell people that we were only serving light food, and during that 2 hr break between wedding and reception, lots of our guests ate dinner. My mom ended up donating bread to a soup kitchen which was great, but it would have been better for us not to spend the money in the first place.
3.I also learned that dancing is not as important to other people as it is to me. I spend what seemed like weeks and weeks creating our playlist. It was nuts. I went from slower dancing at the beginning to all out party music at the end when everyone would have been drunk. Well, The only dances that happened were our first dance and the father/daughter dance. Everyone else just used the wedding as a way to catch up with old friends and family, which was lovely, but not what I had envisioned. I wish I’d not cared about the music so much.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
1. Seeing friends and family that I hadn’t seen for years. I have lived in CA and WA for the last 4 years, so I’m out of touch with a lot of my Phoenix peeps. My husband is the same way. It was nice to have everyone together.
2. The cake and decorations! I really loved what I did. Yes it was simple, but it reflected us. We aren’t flashy people. I was really proud about the money I saved.
3. The help we received from friends and family. They worked so hard and the night of the reception I felt really very guilty for it. I saw my mom running around putting lunch meat on platters and making a veggie tray. My bridespeople and other friends all helped immensely with various food and decorations. It made me feel awful at the time, but everyone says it wasn’t a problem and that they had a good time. Also, it made me feel very loved.
4. Wine and beer! Not only was it free, but it helped both me and my fiance loosen up a bit.
5. Getting to celebrate our commitment to each other in front of all our friends and family. Although Jay and I have been committed to our relationship for a while, it felt good to share that with everyone else. Everyone was really happy for us, and that felt great!
Top 5 least favorite?
1. I didn’t like the music at the wedding ceremony, but it wasn’t a big deal. It was just boring church music that didn’t really fit the wedding.
2. My fiance was nervous and I didn’t know how to cheer him up. He didn’t smile once during the service and his hand was sweaty when I met him at the altar. I felt like I was failing him by not creating a happy wedding. He finally loosened up at the reception after we cut the cake….. about 3 hrs in…
3. I don’t have a picture of my parents walking me down the aisle.
4. Friends and Family who said they were coming that did not show up.
6. We only paid for a 3 hour reception. I wanted it to last at least 2 hours longer into the evening. We did all move over to the bar, but my fiance and I didn’t stay as late as our guests. I guess that was probably a good thing!
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I didn’t have any bad advice, just a LOT of judgement from others. When you tell people that you are getting married, suddenly everyone has an opinion on things. (tablecloths, flowers, food, “You HAVE to have the Chicken Dance!”, etc.) That was a little annoying at first, then a lot annoying. Also, I really thought that our relationship would somehow grow deeper at a profound level after getting married. It didn’t. I still feel the same love for him that I felt before the wedding. Although there are times when I think “Wow, that was a whole fiasco, wasn’t it? Getting married in a church when neither of us are religious, having a fancy white dress, registering for gifts, etc. I can’t believe he loves me SO much that he would do it all and not complain once.”
The best? A few friends told me “Do what you want and try not to listen to other people.” and “This is about a marriage, not about a wedding.”
Any other bits of wisdom? Just have fun on your wedding day! Soak it all in and try to remember everything. Smile and say thank you as much as possible. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Venue (4 hour rental, includes a $500 refundable deposit): $1645.00
Security (We had to hire an off-duty cop for the venue.): $120
Marriage License: $107.00
City Fees (sound permit, alcohol permit): $38.00
Food,cups/napkins (Costco, regular supermarket, Mexican Bakery): $423.00
Sparkbooth (only 5-6 guests used this…I could have skipped it.): $55.00
Stereo speaker rental (we borrowed a few from friends too): $80.00
Vistaprint invitations w/postage(we emailed most people but sent out 60): $61.50
Dress (David’s Bridal): $444.99
Shoes/Veil (DSW Outlet and Claire’s Workshop ): $52.30
Church marriage prep: $350.00
Hair (The Root Salon)$65.00
Bouquet (made by a friend who does this as a small side business): $100.00
Rings (I used my grandmother’s but it needed a few prong repairs. I traded in some gold to help pay for that. We bought a stainless steel one onAmazon for Jay for the ceremony. He got a tattoo of his ring because he doesn’t like jewelry): $210.00
Hotel room for wedding night ( Sheraton Phoenix Downtown ): $112.00
Free items: Cake/cupcakes, alcohol, tables/chairs were included with rental, extra help setting up was a gift from BIL’s girlfriend, Church fees were paid by my parents (because they wanted the church wedding), Coffee (there was a mix-up at the coffeeshop, so we got it for free!), and FIL paid for the rehearsal dinner.
Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon was inspired by the famous premier signs of old Hollywood movies for this project. There’s something so glamorous and exciting about big flashing twinkle lights! For the inside of the frame, you could have a photograph, or follow Tiffany’s lead and create a chalkboard. It’s the perfect canvas for adding your own creative stamp to the wedding décor.
What You’ll Need:
Large vintage frame, with sides at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) wide
Strand of umbrella lights with globe bulbs
Black permanent marker
Drill bit and drill
Scrap wood block
Staple gun and staples
What You Do:
1. To arrange the lights evenly around the frame, measure the length and width of the frame, and then count the sockets on the strand. Measure and mark out the bulb spacing with a permanent marker.
2. If the sockets have umbrella clips, use wire cutters with a cutting edge to remove them.
3. Choose a drill bit slightly larger than the socket width, so that when you drill the frame, the socket can slide into the hole. Using a scrap wood block as backing for the frame, center the drill tip in each mark and carefully drill a hole from the front side of the frame through to the back. You may need an assistant to hold the frame to keep it from moving while drilling.
4. Remove the bulbs from the sockets and, starting at the bottom corner of the frame, push the socket closest to the cord end through the back of the frame. Carefully centering the staples over the cord (you do NOT want to puncture the cord), staple the cord to the frame on either side of the socket. Repeat with each socket.
5. Secure excess cord with more staples, or use tie wraps to tie excess cord together.
6. Screw in the bulbs and plug in the lights.
To make a chalkboard similar to the one pictured, cut a piece of Masonite board to the dimensions of the frame. Spray the Masonite with several coats of black chalkboard spray paint. Let dry. Place the painted board into the frame and use chalk to write a message for the guests.
Jenny Doh’s book, Stylish Weddings: 50 Simple Ideas to Make From Top Designers, takes all of the frustration out of the home creation of fifty different beautiful wedding details, spanning six different themes, so you’re sure to find something that will fit in with your wedding’s style. This week, we’re giving away one copy of Stylish Wedddings: 50 Simple Ideas to Make From Top Designers to one lucky blog reader! Want it bad? Get an easy free entry by subscribing to our newsletter. It’s packed with the best steals, deals, and wedding giveaways on the web, and we’ll never spam ya!
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 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).
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.
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.
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
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)
Coming up with a meaningful wedding ceremony from scratch proved to be quite the challenge! We ended up using many sources…traditional Christian ceremonies, literature we both loved, inspiration from wedding blogs, and my amazing Grandfather/officiant. In the end, I’m so so so happy with how personal and emotional our ceremony was! Here are a few highlights!
We used “Sigh No More” by Mumford and Sons as our processional music.
Walking down the aisle, I couldn’t believe it was finally happening! All I tried to do was breathe and stay present in the moment as much as possible. After some introductory words from my grandfather, one of our friends read our first reading, a poem by e.e. cummings that we love!
“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”
Instead of a unity candle, we decided to include a ritual that was much more “us” in our ceremony. So we planted a tree! Much of the credit for this idea goes to the awesome blog 2000 Dollar Wedding. We played “Old Pine” by Ben Howard while we got our Aspen sapling into the ground.
Grandpa: Zach and Carrie have chosen to symbolize their commitment here today by planting a tree with the help of their parents. Just as the love and support of their parents has helped them grow into the people they are today, so will the water and soil here support and nourish this tree. While it is now a small sapling, over time, with proper care, it will grow and flourish into a strong and mature aspen tree. Given the same care and attention, the marriage of these two will similarly flourish and prosper.
One of our best friends gave our next reading, a quote by Louis de Bernieres:
“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And
when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether
your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you
should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is
just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over
when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate
accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other
underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their
branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”
I loved how this quote also tied in the tree metaphor! Next was the hardest part: our vows! We wrote our own vows and didn’t share them with each other beforehand. I was so afraid I would start bawling! Zach went first, and I just tried to absorb his words without starting to cry!
Zach: When I met you, my life was good, but there was always something missing. After only a few dates, I knew you were the person I needed. I knew you were the one. I found a new satisfaction in life that was exciting and real. I felt whole.
Carrie, I love you because every day you expect me to be a better man than the day before. You’re never satisfied with the normal thing, only greatness.
I love you because there is no one like you in the world. You’re caring, thoughtful, and the funnest person that I have ever met.
I promise to love you no matter what. I promise to wake up every day with the thought of making our lives better. I promise to work as hard and as long as I need to make sure we accomplish all of our goals. I promise to listen to what you need and continue my quest to be your perfect partner. I cannot wait to spend my life with you.
Next was my turn! Ahhh!!! Thankfully, my acting training from back in the day kicked in, and I was able to keep a clear and strong voice, despite the emotional weight of the moment.
Carrie: Zach, when I met you, unexpectedly, the timing was horrible. But it didn’t take me long to fall in love with you. For the first time ever, I felt that my life was not all about me anymore. You were the first and only person who I ever considered changing my best-laid life plans for. When we were continents apart I laid under my African mosquito net and dreamed of our future together as I fell asleep. I think I knew, even then, that we would someday be standing where we are right now.
Zach, I love that you are constantly seeking to learn more about the world. I love how you can’t ever read a book or watch a movie without something making you say “I want to do that!” or “I want to go there!” I love that you are so calm under pressure, so laid back, and so optimistic and joyful about life. In you I find a balance I desperately need, and I am so grateful for that. I love that you have so many talents and are wildly successful at anything you try, from hockey, to science, to music, to cooking. Every day I am more proud that you are mine.
Zach, because I love you, I promise to always be by your side. To take care of you when you’re sick or sad or tired. To seek to understand you more every day. I promise to control my temper and impatience, to be a better partner for you every day. I promise to appreciate the ways in which we are different, as they make us perfectly compatible. I promise to use my skills and abilities to make all of our adventures unforgettable. I promise to support you and to prioritize our relationship no matter what obstacles we encounter.
Love, I believe, is an action and a choice and I will choose to love you even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, and even when I don’t want to. And I promise that I will be faithful to you, and God willing, we will keep exploring the world together until we are both old and gray.
Since we didn’t buy new or different wedding bands, we exchanged the same rings we had been wearing as engagement rings all along. The symbolism of rings was still an important part of the ceremony for us.
The rings on our fingers, we were almost done!
Grandpa: Forasmuch as Zachary and Carrie have consented together in holy wedlock and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have pledged their faith each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands and by giving and receiving rings; by the power vested in me by the state of Arizona, I now pronounce them husband and wife. What God has joined together let no one put asunder. Zach, you may now kiss the bride!
For the closing of our ceremony, we couldn’t help but include the commonly-used but wonderful Apache Wedding Blessing. This blessing spoke perfectly to our love for travel, adventure, and each other!
“Now you will feel no storms,
for each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness,
for each of you is companion to the other,
You are two persons,
but there is one life before you, and one home.
Turn together to look at the road you traveled,
to reach this—the hour of your happiness.
It stretches behind you into the past.
Look to the future that lies ahead.
A long and winding, adventure-filled road,
whose every turn means discovery,
new hopes, new joys, new laughter,
and a few shared tears.
May happiness be your companion,
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead;
And through all the years to come.
Go this day to your dwelling place
and enter into your days together.
May your days be good and long
upon the earth.
Your adventure has just begun!”
As we recessed down the aisle in a haze of exhilaration, “That’s What’s Up” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played and all of our guests clapped and cheered for us!
Totally unexpectedly, the recessional actually produced some of my favorite pics from our day! Aren’t the looks of pure joy on our faces just unbeatable?
Coming up next: Our homespun reception!
All photos copyright Bright Fizz Photo
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.
Seriously, how cute are these? So stinking adorable!
It takes the alloying of two metals to create rose gold: gold and copper. When blended together, they make a gorgeous pink hue that’s not only romantic, but also symbolic of the merging of your lives. On-trend for 2014 but also a classic, the blush tones of a rose gold wedding will be warm, inviting, and nothing short of breathtaking. To prevent rose gold overload, try mixing with cream…or for a fun pop of color, mint!
Clockwise from center:
Luella gown, BHLDN
Rosette flats, BHLDN
Essie Penny Talk, Amazon
Infinity Bracelet, Zulily
Arrow through heart necklace, Amazon
Rose gold hair comb, Treasures 570
Hanabi bridal belt, Something Ivory
Vintage morganite and diamond ring, Blue Nile
Rose gold plated wedding band, Amazon
Clockwise from center:
Watters Mahogany in Buff, Weddington Way
Butter London Champers, Amazon
Go for the Rose Gold Flat, ModCloth
Let Love Blossom necklace , ModCloth
Rose gold hair comb, LuluSplendor
Club Rochelier rose gold zip-around clutch, Amazon
Kate Spade Skinny Mini Bow Bangle, Nordstrom
Rose gold wishing tree guestbook, Krystles Weddings
Rose gold champagne burlap and lace bunting cake topper, A Fete Beckons
Rose gold caviar sequin linens, Joe’s Prophouse
Rose gold cake knife and server, The Vintage Wedding
Mr. Watters wedding invitations, Minted
Martha Stewart Rose Quartz craft paint, Amazon
Rose gold salad set, West Elm
DIY Wine bottles painted with Krylon Copper, Amazon
Listen up, aspiring wedding bloggers! BAB is looking for some real brides to share their grand adventure through Wedding World, a land of wonder, inspiration, financial pitfalls, DIY dragons, and etiquette monsters…a fellowship of real brides, if you will!
We’re looking for a newbie bride-to-be (or two, OR MORE) who is at least 6 months out from her wedding date to journal about her wedding planning journey. If you’re in the habit of keeping a personal blog or journal, if you love to engage with people via the magic of blogging, if you’ve got a fresh voice, an irreverent sense of humor, and you’re pulling your wedding together on a budget, you should definitely give this a shot.
Here’s what we’d like from all applicants: a brief letter of introduction, telling us who you are, where you are, when your big day is, and why it’s gonna be amazing. We of course want to know if you have any background experience writing and/or blogging, and a more-than-basic knowledge of WordPress is a HUGE bonus. We’d also love to see the two writing (or blogging) samples you’re most proud of. Please send all applications to Mellzah at email@example.com. Flowers and candy are always appreciated but will have no bearing on the final decision.
These are unpaid positions, but there is the possibility of paid work in the future. We do pay in love, appreciation, glowing recommendations, the occasional freebie, and of course, the opportunity to get your foot in the door of the wedding blogging biz! Please give this a lot of thought before you apply – we need contributors that will be timely, reliable, fabulous, and professional.