i meant to post this on wednesday. but i had it on another computer and kept forgetting to e-mail it to myself. so here it is now. so next week we'll talk about weddings some more, and christmas week will be thailand week, no? great.
this is long-winded no lie. when we get back alllllll our pictures we can talk details, but i figured it would be fun to just share my experience, hear about yours, hear about what you think yours might be like, and so forth and so on. this post is to be a bit of an overview – what helped us along the way, what we thought was useful, what mattered the most to both of us and so on. if you’ve been married, join in the discussion! if you think you’re going to get married, join in the discussion! if you hate weddings, move along.
the resources i found most useful…
- Real Simple Wedding Checklist: it’s pretty easy to know the big things. you need a reception venue, you need a photographer, you need a DJ, etc. but the little things along the way, especially those to keep up with when you’re about a month out, can be hard to keep straight. i loved this.
- Borrowed and Blue: we're lucky charlottesville is featured on this website, as it’s currently a forum that’s growing. the site features different weddings in different “destination” spots – and thank goodness Charlottesville is considered one of those! all of the vendors we called and spoke to and got quotes from came from this site, except for one. it clearly showcases what real weddings look like in various venues in town, the style of different photographers, what transportation companies exist, what catering companies exist, etc. with the help of this site we pretty much figured out the big parts of our wedding within two weeks of our engagement – it was our north star. i hope it helps you, too.
- Etsy: oh etsy. where we would be without you! i’m a fairly anti-DIY bride (more on that to come), and etsy can provide affordable alternatives while still not doing anything from scratch. the vendors i specifically used were wedding for you for the favor bags, pink orchid invites for programs, table numbers and place cards, the small printer for our invitations, and joliemade for some artistic details. for the favors I only had to put peanuts in the bag and tie the bows – pretty much as far as I was going to go on the DIY road. second – pink orchid provided a program template, which gave me a little guidance in cobbling that together, ordering our other paper goods from her gave the event a feeling of continuity, and having someone else print out our place cards was a godsend. you do not want to be writing and printing those suckers out the week of your wedding. finding this little gem of a service was the best - totally worth it. our invitations - i was browsing one day when i was senior in college and came across this shop. i thought his work was stunningly beautiful. i am a huge sucker for a beautiful invitations - i know for many it's something that wouldn't be high on their list, but it mattered to me. and now, years later, we ordered our invites from him. i can't recommend him enough - he's very responsive, i was able to get a level of detail you usually don't (i asked him to shift letters by a mm or two in the proof because i can be that anal and he was happy to do it), and then he sent us our 150 invitations within about two weeks (!) i had a total bride moment and started crying when i first saw them so yeah, he was amazing. strongly recommend this guy so very, very much. joliemade was a great way for me to be creative and someone else to execute it. in particular, i decided putting a banner on the favor table – ‘virginia peanuts’ – was the way to go, but trying to make a banner myself, while possible, seemed like the biggest pain in my butt. while jolie doesn’t list custom banners in her shop, i figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. lo and behold, like many small shop owners, she was happy to accept a custom order and it was a done deal. easier for me, not to say the product turned out a lot prettier than if i had done it. and the 'treat yo self' print on our favor table? something we get to keep forever (and will hang in our kitchen). talk about money well-spent.
- what’s the most important thing to you? hint: it should be your photographer. while half-joking, we do all have different wants and needs and visions, i’m actually pretty serious. it’s good to figure out with you and your betrothed would call your top 3 are – the dress? the venue? flowers? size? location? where do you want your budget to matter and where do you want to save? so yes, while we’re all different, boy oh boy do we think your photographer should be at the top of the list. our photographer knew locations for us to take pictures, recommended other vendors to us based on her 20+ years of experience in the area, gave us advice on scheduling the reception, and so on and so forth. if you pick a good photographer they will be more than just someone who takes pictures of you that day – they’ll be an unbiased wealth of knowledge who will give you a little guidance in planning your wedding. they can be worth their weight in gold – choose wisely.
- overall feelings on weddings, by OTBC: between us, brian and i have attended 20 weddings. we really feel like we’ve seen it all: the vegan wedding where the bride came down the aisle in the wheelbarrow, the high-class elegant affair at the peninsula hotel in chicago, cathedral weddings, outdoor weddings, evening weddings, afternoon weddings. we’ve seen the bride’s dress rip, we’ve seen the bride in too much make-up; we’ve seen the groom sobbing, we’ve seen the groom sweat through his suit. we’ve eaten family style, buffets, plated dinners and everything in between. we’ve had the cake, we’ve had the cupcakes, we’ve had the mini-cupcakes, we’ve had the cookies. we’ve been in philly, oklahoma, atlanta, miami, rhode island, italy, chicago, nashville, the bahamas, tallahassee, massachusetts, new orleans, washington d.c. and virginia. (we are going to our first local wedding next year - queens, we're coming for ya.) we’ve taken photos in a photobooth many, many times. we’ve seen a lot of stuff, and this is what i want to tell brides after seeing it all: you are not unique. you are not special, you are not memorable, and you are not fresh and new. so you put candles into mason jars instead of votives – wow. you and approximately 70% of women aged 25 – 35 who have a heartbeat like shit like that. it’s not different, it’s not new, and it does not endear you to me. *** let's pause, let’s collect ourselves (myself) – yes, that was a little harsh. but what i'm really trying drive home is this: don’t kill yourself for your wedding. while i appreciate good details, there seems a huge drive to become the most creative, have the most memorable, have the biggest wedding, and so forth. it's crazy to watch. i have seen brides stay up to all hours of the night to get all their projects done because their wedding has to reflect them in the exact way they envisioned. i have seen brides go to store after store after store to find the exact right dress, something no one has seen before (newsflash: we’ve seen it all before. take a seat). i have seen brides make color wheels and try on 20 different bridesmaid gowns and call their florist before picking a color for their bridesmaid dress. and it’s just – enough already. it’s a party. it’s a goddamn party. have that mason jar if it’s the aesthetic you want – but don’t break your budget bringing in new and different things to your venue. don’t label each jar with the table number yourself if you don’t have time. don’t think everything needs to reflect you and be done by you and explain who you are as a couple. let your marriage do that. let your marriage let the world know who you are, what your values are, and what you find important. your wedding offers lots of built-in choices anyway: want red flowers, easy. want pork instead of chicken, done. want a black dress instead of a white dress, do it. there are plenty of ways to have your wedding reflect you. don’t go crazy trying to make every detail perfectly you, and please, whatever you do, don’t tell me you’re unique, don’t tell me everything in a small way reflects you as a couple, don’t tell me about what a warrior you were to stay up to 3 AM beading your own sash. tell me 20 years from now that you’re still married. then i’ll be impressed.
*** all photos by jen fariello. please credit her.***