Posts in the 'wedding' Category

Real Bride Elizabeth: Pre-Marital Counseling

After I got engaged, one of the first things I did was find someone to do pre-marital counseling. At the time, I felt very strongly about it, and after almost completing all of our sessions, I feel even more strongly that all couple should do some sort of pre-marital counseling.

holding hands

Melvin E Via Flickr Creative Commons

At first, I was a bit stuck, as I didn’t really know where to look. My fiance and I were both raised in religious households, but don’t attend church now. We knew we were getting married in North Carolina, but didn’t know who would be officiating. When my sister did her pre-marital counseling with my parent’s pastor, she said she didn’t get much out of it because there was a lot of talk about wives submitting to their husbands and all that. Not into it. So where did I turn? The Internet, of course. I looked at a couple of websites but didn’t find anyone who jumped out at me. Then, I noticed Reverend Amy, an inter-faith minister (which means she does both religious and non-religious ceremonies). She had a lot of great reviews on The Knot, so I shot her an email. I got a really good vibe from her, and scheduled our first session.

Honestly, I was a little nervous going into our first session. I am the first to admit that I know what my faults are — I can get very snappy very fast, I tend to shut down when I’m angry, and I’m not the best with money management, to name a few. There was an irrational part of me that thought that she was going to tell us that we were the least compatible people she’d ever met, and we were crazy to be getting married.

newlyweds at the beach

pmeidinger Via Flickr Creative Commons

My fears were quickly put to rest. Amy was very friendly, in-touch and so easy to talk to. Prior to the meeting we had to take an assessment online to see our compatibility, and to my relief we were pretty compatible in every way except financial management, which she said she rarely has anyone who scores high in that area. In our first session, we talked about communication, and subsequent sessions have included finances, intimacy and relationship roles. I think everything we have covered has brought me a lot of insight into my partner and will benefit our marriage.

Guys, meeting with someone has been SO helpful, I can’t even tell you. To have an impartial party help you talk through issues and concerns is invaluable. One thing that has really blown my mind is that so much of how we act in a relationship comes from how we were raised. I suppose that seems obvious, but it really helps you to see why your partner behaves the way they do. For example, I learned that Bryce stresses out about money so much not because he doesn’t have it, but because growing up, his family would talk a lot about how much things cost and if there were any financial troubles. I learned that I have a hard time resolving conflict effectively because my parents never fought in front of me, so I never saw how you handle conflict in a relationship.

couple at the window

*Light Painting* via Flickr Creative Commons

Many officiants will do pre-marital counseling as part of their wedding package. Also, some states will give you a discount on your marriage license if you complete counseling, which is just fantastic! I know when you’re planning a wedding it’s really easy to get caught up in the wedding part of everything, but I think it’s even more important to invest in your marriage.

Are you doing pre-marital counseling? What important lessons have you learned?

DIY or DIE: Custom Envelope Liners Full of Sparkle

dana envelope liner

I am admittedly not the craftiest beaver on the block; and it’s true, many a craft has beaten my ass to the ground and screamed in my face “Martha Schmartha, yo!” But that doesn’t, for some reason probably linked to estrogen and my passion for all things glittered, squelch my lofty craft ambitions and attempts at greatness. Or, more accurately, attempts at not-complete-failure.

I used to be such a pesky perfectionist about my crafting attempts that it would ruin the whole experience, and often, never even attempt them out of fear of failure. But what I learned over time, is that part of the point of DIY is embracing the imperfections in the art. The little hints of humanity in each creation that remind the maker and the recipient that it was made with blood, sweat, tears, and love. And wine. Always wine.

Our Save the Dates were easy. We found an inexpensive style we loved on Etsy, and made a few small design tweaks with the lovely girl who designed them. She arranged for printing, and a couple weeks later, they arrived in the mail. And they’re beautiful! But, I’m such a shameless whore for embellishments – mainly in the form of sparkles – that I couldn’t leave well enough alone. And when I went shopping for some adhesive crystals to add dimension and glitz to our design, I found myself sneaking supplies for glittered envelope liners into my basket, like a sugar addict smuggling cookies in with her produce. I couldn’t help myself! The girl at Paper Source pointed out how simple it was, thanks to their easy peasy trace & trim templates. I had always thought it looked so challenging, but the temptation was just too strong.

And it was SUPER DUPER EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY FOR SHEEZY, kids. Like, foolproof. So, lest any of my fellow brides and grooms shy away from dressing up their STD’s, invitations or thank you cards … I’m here to walk you through it!

Supplies:

Envelope Liner Template Kit

Double-sided Tape Runner

Gold Glitter Wrapping Paper Roll (or solid/printed paper(s) of your choice. Just make sure it’s not cardstock-weight. That would make it too bulky.)

A7 Envelopes (or whatever size fits your inserts. The Paper Source kit comes with templates for 4-bar, A2, A6, A7, A9, 5-3/4″ square and 6-1/2″ square envelopes. Bonus!)

Scissors
Pencil

Wine (psa: never craft without wine. trust.)

 

invitediy copy

Steps to greatness:

1. Lay out your liner paper, face down, and trace the envelope liner template that corresponds to your envelope size, in pencil. You can see from my picture that I maximized space by nesting the “peaks” into one another so I wasted as little paper as necessary, and had to make less cuts overall.

2. Trim along the lines to create individual liners.

3. Slide a liner into your envelope. It will nestle in snugly, and you’ll see it doesn’t overlap with the glue on the lip of the envelope flap.

4. Fold the flap down, and crease across the fold with your finger.

5 & 6. Open the envelope back up, but leave the liner folded down. Run your double-sided glue tape across both top edges of the “peak” of the liner.

7. Fold the envelope flap back down against the liner and press firmly along the edges of the peak.

8. Open your envelope and admire your handiwork!

See? Couldn’t be easier. Just trace, trim, fold, glue and you’re finished!

It’s such a simple, inexpensive project, but it really adds so much personality to the invitation experience. I just might start doing it with every thing I send! It’d sure make paying bills a lot more festive :P

Go forth, and line your envelopes with wild abandon, friends… and relish in your crafty bad-assery! You won’t be sorry, I swear.

Dana

On Marriage: The Lie and The Truth About Marriage

 

Often times, when we’re in the throes of wedding planning, we forget what’s on the other side of the tulle, peonies, Champagne and sparklez. We forget that there have been fights, anxiety, uncertainty … and there will be more of those. Because marriage takes sweat, fortitude, compassion and sometimes fear. As this post from Momastery points out, sometimes we lose the butterflies, and it takes work to get them back.
marriage-450

 

The Way We’re Told It Goes:

  1. Meet The One
  2. Fall In BUTTERFLY Love, Have all the Feelings
  3. Date, Accept Proposal
  4. Have a Wedding: AKA YOU’VE CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!
  5. You’re done! Congrats, Cinderella! All that’s left now is: Happily Ever After!!!!!

The Way It Has Worked For Me:

  1. Meet A Special One
  2. Fall in Butterfly Love, have all the feelings
  3. Date
  4. Have a Wedding – AKA Cross the STARTING LINE.
  5. You’ve begun. Shit gets real.  Grocery shopping and children and assembling furniture and navigating each other’s families and demons and other confusing, terrifying things keep happening. Slowly understand that marriage is not what you thought it would be and your husband is not who you thought he’d be and additionally you are not who you thought you’d be.
  6. Notice there are no more butterflies. Panic like bloody hell. Understand with mounting dread that LIFE has killed the butterflies and this must mean you have “fallen out of love.”
  7. Look into separation.
  8. Start to learn how horribly difficult it will be to get unmarried for you and everyone you love and also – HOLY CRAP IT COSTS A LOT. Try to locate a path of less resistance. Search for some solution that is less emotionally and physically and mentally and financially expensive. It’s often not LOVE that makes us stay- but the expense of leaving. AND THAT’S OKAY.
  9. Ask for help. Meet with experts, talk to wise people, read good books. Mostly, Be still and listen for The Next Right Thing in the quiet.
  10. Wait. Keep waiting. Make no decisions except what to do EXACTLY RIGHT NOW. Sit with the pain. Sit with the struggle. Sit with the uncertainty. Resist the relentless urge to deflect the pain, run from the pain, numb the pain with food- booze -work –future tripping- unkindness- false certainty -busyness or any other Wisdom Killer.  Just Be Still and Wait.

- Continue reading here.

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 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)

Five for Friday: Sweet Pieces from ModCloth’s Wedding Styles

Y’all, I love me some ModCloth. Like, it’s a little ridic. And when I found out they were rolling out vintage-inspired wedding styles, I straight swooned. While there are some short dresses, some long dresses and some dresses that aren’t white at all, there are also glorious accessories and enough glittery, sparkly goodness to last me a lifetime … or at least this wedding season. Here are my five favorites:


Gilded Grace Dress from ModCloth – $139.99


Yes I Candescent Heel in Gold from ModCloth – $29.99


Candlelit Soiree Dress from ModCloth – $129.99

Honors and Upwards Jacket from ModCloth – $54.99

Sparkle Your Interest Dress from ModCloth – $157.99

The last one MURDERS me. It’s the cutest ever. EVER. Which item from ModCloth’s vintage-inspired wedding styles is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!

Real Bride Ellis: Hello Wedding World!

 

Hello BAB readers! My name is Ellis and I am so excited to blog here along side these very wonderful and talented ladies. I’d love to take some time to tell you about myself, my fiance, and our wedding!

I am 28 years old, I will be 29 on February 2nd. I am originally from Southern California (Huntington Beach) but did some traveling and moving around starting at age 19 and eventually ended up in Portland, Oregon. I come from a large family, I have three siblings (1 of which just moved in with me this past weekend, my baby brother T) and 7 nephews and 2 nieces! I currently attend Southern Oregon University and have one more year to graduate with bachelor degrees in Human Services and Mental Health with two minors in Early Childhood Education and Photography. I hope to move back to Portland and get into the Social Work Masters Program at PSU in Fall of 2015. I work in both a daycare and a photo developing shop, which keeps me quite busy along side of school and wedding planning.

My fiance’s name is Andy, and he is 33. He grew up here where we live in Southern Oregon. He graduated with a bachelors in History from the University of Oregon and went on to receive his Masters of Education at Southern Oregon University a few years later. His entire family lives here in the valley and being close to them is a huge deal to us, though he does long to be back in the city. He enjoys biking, building, cooking, video games, and reading.

We met in early 2007 through a mutual friend (long story, maybe I’ll divulge sometime) and began to date off and on until it was more official in late 2008. We immediately clicked and I honestly knew from the moment I laid eyes on him he was the one for me! We had a long distance relationship (400 miles apart) from 08-10, where we would see each other about every weekend. I moved to Southern Oregon with him as a temporary solution and we have been here ever since.

On December 30th 2012 Andy asked me if I wanted to go for a drive with the dog to play in the snow. We drove an hour to Crater Lake area only to find there was no snow! An hour back, I was ready to just go home, he insisted we head 10 minutes south of where we live to Mt. Ashland. Once we got in the snow, about 4 feet of pure soft powder, I turned around and he had a ring box in his hands. He opened it and said “Will you?” and I of course said yes. He was so nervous he forgot he had a bouquet of flowers hidden in the trunk as well. We were so excited, we called his parents and my siblings on our way home to announce our engagement. It was a really beautiful night, I’ll never forget.

Fast forward a year and some weeks later, we have been planning a wedding on a budget. I thought we could afford $15k, the budget soon dropped to $10k, and after some emergency dental work last Fall the budget is now closer to $6k. We are getting married on a real working farm which also houses historically claimed barns and buildings. It is beautiful with acres of fruits, vegetables, and flowers growing, large willow trees, and even peacocks running loose on the grounds! Our wedding theme is very laid back but sweet summery and chic. I am thinking light pinks, golds, mints, and navy with free flowing fabrics and string lights that turn on at 10pm just as it starts to get dark.

It has been a second job this past year putting this wedding together and though I’ve only had one big meltdown (thank Zeus), it has been stressing but rewarding. I’m very excited to share my experiences, tips, tricks, and hints for wedding planning on a serious budget!

xo,
ellis

Can’t Afford It/Get Over It: Georges Hobieka Couture

A reader wrote in recently that she’d been struggling to find the perfect dress…until she saw it walk down the carpet at the Golden Globes on Sarah Hyland.  Perfect, except for the color and the couture pricetag, that is.

Let’s see what we can do–we’re looking for something with a bateau neckline, a dropped waist, and some frothy goodness at the bottom!

 

CAN’T AFFORD IT

Georges Hobieka Couture, $$$

GET OVER IT

Satin and Tulle Gown (For Her & For Him, $269)

Ksenia’s A-Line Bateau Chapel Appliques Wedding Dress (TBDress,  $188)

Knee length satin tulle dress inspired by Audrey Hepburn (Light in the Box, $149)

Side draped sheath/column bateau floor-length chiffon wedding dress (Light in the Box, $127)

Skinny white belt (Amazon, $10.99)

 

Bateau necklines are definitely on the rarer side–there were exactly two dresses at David’s Bridal with a bateau neckline when I did my search! But if none of these alternatives tickle your fancy, I’d suggest talking with a trusted tailor–I’ll bet they’d be able to come up with something a little more spot-on. I hope this helped!

If YOU have a dress, shoe, accessory, or other wedding accoutrement that you need help getting over, hit us up!

Ask Liz: Getting Married – How and Where, Exactly?

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!

 

Dear Liz, 

I have a burning question! My  fiancé and I have been engaged for over a year. We are so ready to get married but we just don’t have the financial means right now. So a friend of mine who is ordained said that she would marry us. This is a great option for us due to our lack of finances and our lack of patience. I’ve never heard of this type of wedding until my friend said that she could do it. I’m a little embarrassed that I am so excited to get married but have absolutely no idea about how this process might work. What I do know is that she will be signing papers for us but what I don’t know is with those types of ceremonies is it typical for the couple to exchange vows or to even call it a ceremony or is it simply just signing papers? Please help me.!!!!

Signed, 

Blinded By The Aisle

Dear Blinded,

She’s ordained to perform your ceremony and sign your marriage license as the legal witness to your marriage. Sadly, that’s th best I can explain it. I’m a wedding officiant, too, which makes it even sadder! The  rules in every state are different as far as getting your license and how.  Here in California, for instance, the couple needs to appear together at their county courthouse in order to get a license. The officiant gives it to sign after the wedding ceremony. Vows are an essential part of it, and they have to include  an acknowledgement that the two of you have freely chosen to be married on that day. You can make your vows, and the rest of your ceremony, as simple or as elaborate as you want. But you need to start the legal process first, so google “Marriage license (your state)” to find out how.

 

Dear Liz, 

We got engaged on New Year’s Eve. When I told people at work last week, everyone was really nice, but they kept asking me if we’d picked a wedding date and venue, yet. I guess it’s a standard question, but I keep thinking that we just got engaged, do we have to start planning the wedding right away? I said this to the last person who asked, and she told me that I should start thinking about it, because all the best places get booked up quickly. I didn’t want to spend forever planning my wedding, my sister took over a year to plan hers and it looked and felt like hell. But, I thought I’d have more than a couple of weeks! Now I’m panicking that I’m not going to find a good place. Do I really have to start looking now?

Signed, 

Rushing Past the Ring

Dear Rushing,

Don’t panic, it’s not useful. Congratulations on your engagement,and welcome to the show. If you do want to get married this year, then, yeah, you should probably start searching for a venue now-ish. You know, at least before the next round of brides joins the pool after Valentine’s Day! I’m kidding, sort of, although it does seem that venues are getting booked up faster every year. That being said, it also depends on your definition of a “good” venue. So, that’s the first thing you and your fiancé  should do – figure out what kind of place you want to get married at – indoors, outdoors, ballroom, barn? And, how many people you’re inviting. And, if either of you had your heart set on someplace specific. And when you can actually do this thing – come up with three dates that will work with your  schedules.That’s a conversation over dinner.

Don’t panic, plan. If there is a specific venue you like, call them and ask about availability ASAP. Tuesday-Thursday are the best days to reach the right person. You could get lucky and the first place you see is the one you love, but be prepared to let the process take a few weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And  - deep breath – try not to get frustrated. The next “wrong” place brings you that much closer to the right one. Annoying cliche, but still  true.

So, who’s “marrying” you? Are you feeling the pressure to get your venue locked down? Got questions of your own? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

 

Liz