Wedding: To Do's

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our wedding day was exactly what I expected it to be and more. Was it perfect? No. Were there things I would have done differently? Yes.
In an effort to help future brides, here are a few things I would recommend.

To Do:
1. Have a Coordinator (or two)
-This doesn't mean hire someone. I asked brother's girlfriend and my mom's best friend to be those people. I gave them lists with all our vendors and their names and phone numbers, I gave them lists of what needed to go where. There were a few decorations that were used at both the ceremony and the reception and we knew we'd need someone we trusted to transport them. Thankfully we had those people to do that.

2. Flexible Timeline
-We did a first look so we could get all the wedding party/bride and groom pictures done before hand. This was key! We allotted the time between 12:30 and 3:30 for getting ready, our first look and group pictures. We had plenty of time and some leftover even though we didn't get pictures started until almost 2 p.m.

(If you zoom in on the gray sheet, you can see the timeline I gave to everyone in our bridal party, parents and coordinators)
3. Understand It's Not a Performance
-Not kidding I'm a perfectionist and a control freak. I wasn't a bridezilla, but I wanted it to just go how I planned. Rehearsal dinner was a reality check. The guys were goofing off, the girls weren't there on time, the mics weren't working so we couldn't hear the pastor's instructions, etc. Just bad thing after bad thing after bad thing. It sobered me up and I realized: this is not going to go as I planned. I also realized: that's okay.

4. Unity Cross
-I talked about this in last week's post, but I loved our Unity Cross. It was my favorite part of our ceremony and it was unique. It's not like unity sand or a unity candle that's just kind of there. This means something and every time I look at it I am reminded.

5. Infinity Dresses
-The bridesmaids dresses were Henkaa dresses and they were a great success. Each girl had the same dress but tied it a different way, however they were most comfortable. For my bachelorette party they all brought their dresses and decided how they'd be tying them for the wedding. Some of them were too long still so we just used a good pair of shears and cut the bottoms. My sisters each wore big necklaces to signify that they were maids of honor.

It was colder than Antartica, pretty much.
6. Emergency Kits
-Not for actual emergency, but wedding-type emergencies. I bought bags from this Etsy shop and filled them with stuff. The bags were well priced and great quality! And I got them super quickly because I kinda decided to do this last minute. Q-tips, tissues, safety pins, straws, snacks, water bottles, nail files, wipes, hair spray, bobby pins, band aids, stain remover, static remover, and more things of that nature I can't remember. I gave them to them the night of my bachelorette stuff along with a bracelet for each of them to wear for the wedding. Also, instead of having the bachelorette the weekend before we had it two weeks before. This was a lot less stress and gave me the weekend before to work on last minute stuff.

A crappy cell phone picture from the bacheloretty evening. My cousin was sick hence my sister holding two bags.
7. Videographer
-I wasn't sure if it was worth the price, but I'm so glad we hired a videographer. My parents told me that's the one thing they wished they would've had, so that pushed me toward the yes side. It was a little less than my photographer so basically it was paying that fee twice (ouch). But the way I saw it, those are the things you should splurge on because the photos and video are all that's left after the wedding day.  Our videographer did an awesome job and we love our video. We got to pick our music and the package we wanted, just like with a photographer. We chose the package that did a little pre-wedding, the whole ceremony, then a mix of the toasts, dances and party stuff at the end. It suited us perfectly and the end product was a little under two hours long. Definitely recommend!

Our photographer taking a picture of our videographer. How cool is that?
Our wedding video trailer. We got this before our actual video as a little preview.

8. Soldering Rings Before the Ceremony
-I chose two wedding bands. I liked the idea of a wrap that went on both sides of the engagement ring, but I couldn't find one I liked so I sort of made my own. Typically you put the wedding bands on at ceremony, but we just put on the whole set. It doesn't really matter either way. Plus, since we left for our honeymoon the day after the wedding, I didn't want to worry about keeping track of three bands the whole trip.

9. Instagram Hashtag
- I know the hashtag thing can be really overused. For us, it was awesome. We used our usual, #freedatlast14 (freedatlast was taken by people posting about getting out of prison...awkward). We got so many cool photos from Instagram shots our friends uploaded! It was lots of different angles and things the photographers didn't get to see. Plus our friends were there later for when things started to get a little weird.

My talented little sister made a bunch of these chalkboard-like signs out of cheap 99-cent Hobby Lobby foam poster board, chalk board markers, and a Hobby Lobby empty frame (use those 50% off sales!) we painted silver.
10. Favor Donation
-In lieu of favors, we made a donation to my best friend's memorial scholarship fund in honor of our guests. Instead of food or some little trinket people probably wouldn't even use again, we felt this was a good way to make some actual use out of wedding favors. On The Knot I actually read posts from wedding guests who were angry the bride and groom donated in their honor. First, it's their wedding. Second, quit being selfish. The fact that you are expecting a favor is wrong to begin with. Just be grateful.

Of course, I learned not to do a lot of things. Post on that coming soon :)
PS- have I mentioned how thrilled I am to finally be sharing this stuff with you? Five months is a LONG time to wait for pictures (I didn't want the posts to be boring) and I'm probably forgetting a lot because of that time.

Wedding Day: The Details

Friday, July 25, 2014

One of my favorite parts of the wedding planning was the little details. I tried not to be too cliche with everything. I wanted it to be unique. One of the things I enjoy least about weddings is going to one and thinking, "Oh, I saw that on Pinterest."
Instead, I created as much as I could on my own.

Theme: Freed at Last

I created all the wedding paper products myself. We used the theme "Freed at Last" across the board. Yes, a little cheesy since it's my blog theme, but it's been our thing longer than it's been a blog title. It was also the name of our signature drink at the reception.

Shoes: TOMS wedges
I knew I didn't want heels because I can't walk in them well/it was February, but I wanted some height. I ordered these TOMS and they were perfect. The beautiful color matched my wedding colors (blush and gray) perfectly, were easy and comfortable and duh, TOMS are for a good cause!

The Bracelet

This bracelet holds so much meaning. Manu and Papa are what we call my mom's parents (long story short my oldest cousin/the first grandchild couldn't say grandma and it came out Manu apparently and it stuck). My grandparents bought me and my sisters and the rest of the granddaughters individual pearls for Christmas for years until individual pearls became hard to find. My sisters and I decided as our something borrowed for one and other's weddings, we'd string all of ours together to make a bracelet. When I took the pearls in to have them strung the jeweler was amazed. He said people didn't string pearls anymore and it was practically a lost art (AKA it was going to be expensive).

The Garter
I was surprised when my aunt asked if she could make my garter. As far as I knew she didn't normally make garters but I said yes because I was excited she offered. When she gave this to me after rehearsal dinner, it was hard to avoid the tears. It was my something old, new, borrowed and blue all in one. The Old: the white flower at the top was made from linen from my great-great grandmother's handkerchief. The New: the garter itself. The Borrowed: a piece of our invitation made into a little charm. The Blue: a piece of felted yarn from one of my grandma's many projects.

 The Bouquet Charms
Something that was really important to me was making sure my my best friend and my late grandpa (whom I never met) were honored on our big day. I ordered these charms from this Etsy shop. They are great quality charms and looked perfect on my flowers. It was a subtle, but heartwarming way to honor the two people who couldn't be there for our day. 

The Unity Cross
No sand or candles for us. I didn't want a jar of sand or a half-burnt candle on our mantle for the rest of our lives. I found the Unity Cross on Pinterest and knew I had to have it. It is such a staple in our home now and a great conversation piece. First Cameron put his piece on the base, then I put my piece inside his. There is a lot of meaning behind each piece (which you can read about on their site), and then they were joined by three pin-like nails, signifying so many things: the father, son and holy spirit; the three nails by which Jesus was nailed to the cross; the cord of three which the Lord says cannot be broken; etc. 
This was one of the most symbolic and important parts of the ceremony to me. It meant a lot to me and still does. That cross sits as a centerpiece in our home and reminds me daily of our commitment to one another and the Lord.

Our Canvas Guestbook
Instead of a guestbook that would've certainly sat on a shelf and never been looked at again, we took one of our gorgeous engagement pictures and made a canvas print. People signed around us with nice silver and gold pens and now it's hung as art in our home. The downside to this? Not everyone knew they were supposed to sign it. I think some people thought it was just there to be displayed and didn't see signatures. I figured it'd be pretty self explanatory so I didn't make a sign or anything directing people to sign it. Guess I was wrong because we had maybe 50 of our 200 guests sign it.

There was a lot of other small, handmade details to our wedding but these are the things that stood out the most to me and I'd recommend to any other bride.

Our wedding day

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five months later, I finally have pictures to share so this post isn't quite as boring.

No matter how hard I try, I can't quite find the words to adequately describe what our wedding meant to me. Amazing? Not quite. Extraordinary? Nope. The best day of my life? Yes, but still not enough.
It was a day of laughter and overwhelming peace.

I am a cryer by nature, so it came as a real shock to me that I didn't shed a single tear the entire day. I'm going to chalk that one up to the calm that settled over me. I think it was God's way of saying, "Don't worry, you're doing the right thing. Now sit back and enjoy yourself."
So I did.
I didn't sleep much the night before. I tossed and turned til about 3 am, slept for a few hours, but by 6:30 I was wide awake and figured I might as well be productive. Family and close friends began arriving to load the cars to drop off the hall decorations (the staff at the hall did the actual decorating-huge weight off our shoulders the day of). By 9:30 my sisters (maids of honor) and cousin (one of four bridesmaids) and I were off to meet the rest of the girls at the salon. The photographer didn't meet up with us until later in the day, so you can recap (crappy iPhone pictures included!) the salon and bridesmaids getting ready here.

We got to the church around noon to get the girls ready while the photog/videographers did their thing with my dress, jewelry, etc. Once they were done doing their detail shots, the girls and my mama helped me get into my dress.
One of our favorite parts of the day was our first look. Cam and I met just the two of us (plus two photogs, one videog) in the sanctuary where in just a few hours we'd be married. We met half way down the aisle and pretty much just stared at each other. We talked and gaped and giggled, then we brought in Trig. Duh. You know how obsessed I am with this dog.

(We faked all these kiss shots before the wedding. We decided it'd be more special if we waited that day.)

It was the most beautiful time. It was our only alone time until we left the reception and having Trigger be a part of our day was so special to me. He's really our baby so of course he needed to be there.

Something I really, really hate is waiting forever for the bride and groom to arrive at the reception. Pictures, schmictures I'm hangry by 7 pm! We decided we'd do all our bridal party pictures before the ceremony to attempt to combat that and it worked really well. Right after our first look our group took off and wouldn't you know it we were back within an hour. It was cold, I mean, reallllly cold in Ohio that weekend, hence my cardigan in all the pictures :)

Fake laughter, in case you couldn't tell.

After group pictures was the waiting game. We creeped through the blinds to watch people coming in, but I pretty much just chilled in a rocking chair that was in the room we were getting ready in. It was warm and cozy in the room and I honestly started to get tired rocking back and forth. I wasn't kidding when I said I was calm.
The only moment when I came close to crying came between the pictures and the ceremony. Close family friends (whom we refer to as cousins) were planning to come up from Georgia for the wedding. Unfortunately, a big ice storm paralyzed the South two days before the wedding. I prayed and prayed but they said it wasn't going to happen. Much to my surprise, there was a knock at the door as we were chilling in the room. I jumped up and hid, worried it'd be someone who wasn't supposed to see me before the wedding, but literally shrieked with joy when I saw my "cousin" Hannah open the door. We hugged for probably a good five minutes and I asked a million questions. Turns out the day before they knew they had to come, ice storm be damned. They drove most of Friday and all of Friday night to be there for me. If that doesn't make you tear up a little I don't know what will.
That was my "bridal" moment, the moment where the gravity of the whole day just settles on you. These people traveled hundreds of miles for me, for our wedding. It felt like the love of our family and friends immediately enveloped me in that one hug. I was so, so blessed.
After what felt like forever, it was time! Fun fact: I don't wear contacts and usually require glasses to see more than about 10 feet from my face. Walking down the aisle I had my eyes fixed on Cam, but he was out of focus until we stopped walking. From there, I really don't remember much. I remember my bouquet was a lot heavier than I thought and I remember focusing on not locking my knees because it would have been a disaster if I passed out.

Before I knew it the ceremony was over. Dismissing people took ages, but I was glad we did it because I didn't make it around to every table at the reception. Since we dismissed everyone I got to at least say hello and thank them for coming.
We headed out to the car and drove about a mile to a gas station where we bought Mt. Dews. Classy, I know. We had to go somewhere and we were so thirsty after waiting all day for the ceremony! We headed back, did family pictures at the church, and then headed for the reception. Quick and easy.

Monogram is backwards, but you get it.

This part I really don't remember much of. We sat, were served salads, headed to the buffet, then sat some more. Toasts began, cake was cut, dances were done and partying ensued. I had one adult beverage with my meal and then I think one glass one water in between our giant mosh pit of a dance floor. I sucked down what was left of that Mt. Dew we got after the ceremony as soon as we left.

Another fun fact: Cam's dad gave us a surprise toast, singing to us included, that we had not known about our planned for in our schedule. I exaggerate not when I tell you he talked/sung for almost 40 minutes. This was between cake cutting/dances and it was a little awkward. People weren't paying attention and we were worried about timing. Finally someone cut him off when I realized it was close to the time our photog was supposed to leave and we hadn't even danced our first dance! Yikes.
But bless her, our photographer stayed almost two hours extra. I apologized up and down because like I said I had no idea he was planning on speaking. I had allotted like 10 minutes for my dad's toast, my sister's and the best man's. Oops?

Probably the biggest bummer of the night was my dress. My sisters bustled it perfectly which was what I'd been worried about. Those little suckers are complicated. What I had not foreseen was the unfortunate event I'd like to call the Big Boob Fold, kinda like the Big Bang Theory. You see, when  a girl who is a little, ahem, chesty wears a strapless dress, the front of the dress does this weird fold and ceases to support anything. Since I got a lace-up dress (actually had it tailored from a button-up to a lace-up) and I felt totally supported in it at all my fittings, I wasn't worried about it.
Boy was I wrong.
Big Boob Fold...exhibit A.
As soon as I sat down at dinner (on a stage with the rest of the bridal party, no less) I could feel the fold pushing on my ribs. I looked down and sure enough, I was showing way more chest than necessary. I felt really uncomfortable for the rest of the night. We tried relacing it twice to no avail. It was such a bummer and I was really mad at myself for my dress choice. It felt so good at the salon and at all my fittings, but it couldn't stand up to the pressure apparently.

The night rolled on and despite our schedule set-back, our amazing DJ caught us up, smushed all our planned dances into a few minutes and we got on with the party. He announced the final dance and it was bittersweet. I didn't want to leave our party and go home to change and head to the airport right away. I mean, I had family come all the way from Georgia and I was so disappointed when I realized I'd be leaving. Alas, 11:30 was the last dance and we said our goodbyes and hit the road. We changed, hung my dress and started our two hour drive to our hotel by the airport. We checked in around 2 and set a wake-up call for 4. Wheels-up at 6:30 and in Miami at our cruise port by noon.
What. A. Day.

post signature