I’ve always had a big sweet tooth. When we decided to have our ceremony at 7p, I opted for desserts instead of “food” at the reception. We offered homemade ice cream along with an assortment of family recipes. Because we didn’t have the reception catered, it meant lots of elbow grease before hand (especially for my mom) and that we needed to find someone to keep food stocked for guests.
When it came to our bridal party, I didn’t want to be too matchy-matchy.
For the girls: My bridesmaids ranged from my best friends growing up to Josiah’s younger sister to my older sister. With such a variety of women, it was important to me that all four of them were comfortable in what they were wearing. It didn’t seem reasonable to me to put someone 26 and 15 in the same dress. I also didn’t want to break anybody’s budget with a dress they’d never wear again. I made a wish list on Modcloth of dresses I liked. Even though only two of them chose a dress from my list, it gave them an idea of the style and color I wanted (and the option to pick one they thought was affordable).
For the boys: Guys are much easier to dress than girls. For starters, it’s easier to find the same outfit in a wide range of sizes. Plus, guys usually aren’t as picky about what they’re wearing (at least not the men in my life). I wanted the guys’ suits to be as afforable as the girls’ dresses. That’s why I chose gray pants and vests from JC Penny’s. They could buy both for around $75 (and Josiah bought the ties).
Finding a wedding photographer can be tricky. Someone who fits both your style and budget is even trickier. When we got married I was in college and knew someone who was a photography major. I love, love, love her style! The catch was she had never been the “lead” photographer at a wedding. What I mean by that is that she had assisted photographing weddings but had never been hired for one of her own. She was going to spend the summer shadowing another photographer (who would help with ours). Knowing her style, how talented she was, and that she’d be able to ask for help made me more than comfortable hiring her. I can’t say I recommend that route for everyone. Being confident in the people you hire is critical. Even though we saved a lot of money by hiring her, it wouldn’t be worth the risk if you weren’t confident in their ability.
Like most of our DIY wedding projects, my mom did the flowers. I had pinned a few bouquets I liked and we decided we could handle making them ourselves. A few nights before the wedding mom, dad and I headed to Sam’s to get flowers. I knew what color I wanted them to be but didn’t have a specific kind of flower in mind. When we got there, there weren’t enough. We asked the poor, unsuspecting Sam’s employee to check the back. A few minutes later he came out with a cart full of bins of flowers. We got enough for bouquets and for the vases that would line the tables. Going to Sam’s worked for us for two reasons: 1) I didn’t have a specific kind of flower in mind 2) I was willing to wait until the day of the wedding to know exactly what the bouquets would look like. Some brides would be freaking out, and I totally understand that! There were some aspects I wasn’t willing to leave to chance. As long as I knew what color the bouquets were going to be I was OK not knowing how they would come together. Again, my mom was willing to put in the time to make the bouquets (which isn’t for everybody) and she made them just what I wanted!
The atmosphere of the reception was really important to me. I wanted it to feel relaxed and romantic. To set the stage we had cafe lights hanging from the rafters, votives on the table, and Louis Armstrong playing in the background. Doing the electric slide or dropping a sick beat (ok…I can’t pull that off ) wasn’t what I wanted. I decided to make a playlist of my favorite artists–Ella Fitzgerald, Jack Johnson, Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Norah Jones…you get the idea).
Like I mentioned earlier, we got married in a renovated tobacco barn. I made a pretty big pinterest board of things I liked, but narrowed it down to a few ideas that would make the biggest impact. We started by hanging paper lanterns and cafe lights from the rafters. Then we made pennants out of scrapbook paper and strung them onto twine. We also gathered pictures of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents on their wedding days (or as close as we could get). I made tags with their names and wedding dates and pinned them to twine. We also put three of our engagement pictures into the panes of an old window and propped it up on the gift table.
Instead of buying plastic plates and disposable napkins we collected saucers from Goodwill for about .5o each.
We Mom sewed cloth napkins which we rolled the silverware in and finished off with…you guessed it… twine.
I’ve seen several alternatives to a traditional guest book. I didn’t see myself pulling out our guestbook in the years to come and reading the names of our guests. My bridesmaid painted a cartoon of Josiah and I for guests to stamp their fingerprints onto, as well as signing a paper to tape to the back. We chose a solid wooden canvas so the pressure of people’s thumb prints wouldn’t make indentions into the cloth. Now it’s hanging in our hallway as a wonderful reminder of all the people who were there on our wedding day.
I loved my dress. It had a keyhole back, lace that trickled onto the skirt, and a beaded sash—but I couldn’t tell you the designer. I’m not saying designer labels are bad things, I love Vera Wang, but I loved my dress more than any designer dress I saw.
- Something Old: My grandmother’s pink trimmed handkerchief
- Something New: A pair of sequin sandals from the mall ($30) & my dress
- Something Borrowed: My grandmother’s diamond/pink pearl earrings
- Something Blue: Mom stitched our wedding date into the lining of my dress
I also wore the past, present, and future necklace my parents gave me for my high school graduation. Even though I wasn’t trying to save money at the time, I decided to do my own make-up and my bridesmaids painted my fingernails and toenails pink while I got my hair done. To be honest, having my make-up done never crossed my mind. I wanted to do it myself so it would look and feel like a fancier version of what I wear everyday.