Just to prepare you – get ready for a very long post!
Our wedding was on May 9th, 2009 – today is our second wedding anniversary! After the wedding, Martin and I had to move our things from Knoxville, then we went on a 2 week honeymoon to Colombia and then we moved to Spain! In all the commotion, I never posted our pictures. I can’t believe that and shame on me! So Im going to do it now! And for those of you planning a wedding, Ill tell a little bit about the planning and ways we saved money.
We had a small budget so I immediately thought of what was MOST important – things we HAD to have. For us, that was photography, a great outdoor venue, and lots of food and drink for our guests. Above all, we wanted to create a relaxed, chill, personal and super fun wedding day for ourselves and our guests.
My first and most obvious decision was to hire Julie Roberts as our wedding photographer. Julie is just beyond words. She is an incredible photographer and artist and she is now one of my bestest friends! Its important to know what style of photography you want and to find a photographer that fits you, not only in style but in personality as well. Many people dont understand the importance of finding a photographer who is correct for them. But doing so will ensure that your whole wedding experience is better and that your pictures are exactly what you want! Photography was one of the biggest chunks of our budget but it was the money best spent!
Next, we looked for venues in Knoxville since that is where we were living at the time but most places were very pricey or had silly rules or one thing or the other. My mom stayed at The Pond House Inn in Elizabeth City, NC and loved it. When we visited the property together, I immediately fell in love. First of all, there is a huge beautiful white house with lovely rooms inside. And the grounds are just incredible! The house is surrounded by gardens, big shady trees, little sitting areas and a little creek! It was just what I had imagined. Plus, the lady who runs the property, Martha, is super sweet and super accomodating! We rented the entire property for the entire weekend. Martin and I and most of our wedding party stayed in the house during the weekend and each morning Martha made us breakfast. One of my favorite parts about our wedding was that we all hung out together. This made everything so easy on everyone – no running about, changing locations, worrying over being seen – and it made sure we were able to spend quality time with each other and all our friends! If you are interested in the OuterBanks region, I highly highly recommend The Pond Hous Inn!!
I knew that I wanted to have a Maggie Sottero dress. Her dresses usually have interesting asymmetrical lines that are super flattering. Plus her dresses are affordable. I went to different bridal boutiques to get an idea of which styles were my favorites. My favorite boutique in Knoxville was A Joyous Occasion. They had the best selection of gowns and the friendliest people! But I actually lucked out and found a lady in Maryville, TN who was closing her store and selling her sample gowns. She had one of the styles I was considering so I drove out to her place and bought it for $200! This was a tremendous money saver! I wasn´t a fan of the beaded applique so I cut off what was on the dress (don´t be scared to alter a dress!) and then I kept my eyes out for antique jewelry to add in its place. During the planning process I went to numerous Goodwills and estate sales to find things for the wedding and I also looked on ebay. I found several antique brooches and earrings and had them sewn onto the dress. Much prettier and more me!!
The always incredible Lisa Foster made our bouquets and bouts. I wanted to incorporate peacock feathers and she did a fab job of bringing my idea to life!! I knew that I also really wanted orchids in my bouquet but they are very expensive, so to keep the price down, we filled my bouquet with hydrangea and we used white carnations for the bridesmaids and groomsmen. I thought everything looked adorable and fun with the peacock feather accents, I loved them! Yay for Lisa!
I wore shoes that I already had :) I would have LOVED obviously to buy an amazing pair of shoes (I was lusting after a pair on Anthropologie) but in order to have money for the absolute things I wanted, I knew this was an area where we could save money. Besides, I like these shoes, they are strappy and gold and made my legs look great :)
Lauriel Bradley of the super awesome Femme Fatale Salon in Savannah, GA did my hair. I love braids so I told her I wanted a big braid wrapping around my head and ending in a ponytail or bun. She did the best job ever, I really loved my hair! Martin’s best friend, Paul Cleckler, owns Femme Fatale Salon so if you are in Savannah, go there! They do amazing cuts and color, Ive never been disappointed!
My friend Dana Atkin did my makeup. If you have capable friends, use them! I don’t normally wear a lot of makeup so I didn’t want anything heavy or dramatic. She did a fantastic job at giving me a bit of color but keeping it natural – I love her!
For bridesmaids gifts – I made all the girls these feather hair pieces – it was actually way harder than I expected so if you have the money just buy them! But in the end I think they looked cute and it was important to me to give something handmade. I also found lots of vintage hankies on ebay (its great to buy things like this in “lots”) I then hand selected the prettiest and cleanest ones and had my sister, Terri, embroider their monograms on them. Here is mine.
I also gave these hankies to our moms.
I also made my own hair piece out of bleached peacock feathers, a white feather thing I found at Michaels and an antique earring. I really tried to make my own birdcage veil which was harder to shape than I ever would have thought so in the end I decided to only wear the hair piece.
For jewelry, I wore my grandmother´s antique rhinestone bracelets and earrings and for my “something blue” I wore a tanzanite ring.
I bought these parasols from a previous bride! I thought theyd be fun for the pictures. This is a great way to find things for cheap or think about re-selling some of your items after the wedding to recupe some of your money. Craigslist is helpful or many wedding blogs now have areas or “marketplaces” for brides to buy and sell items.
Deciding on bridesmaid dresses was one of my hardest decisions. It was important to me to keep this price low for my friends and at the time I just couldn’t find anything I loved in the colors I was considering. Looking back, I wish I had given a color range and allowed my girls to choose their own dress. I see this a lot now and it always looks great. But I finally found this dress at J.Crew on sale! Thankfully there were 2 styles so even with it being on sale, everyone was able to find their size in one of the two. After deciding on this purple dress, I then focused our colors and decorations around purple, white and silver. The girls each chose their own shoes in silver or a soft gold. I think we all looked super fab in the end and I really adore this picture!
As a present for Martin, I did a boudouir session with Julie and made a book for him using Blurb. Ladies, doing a boudoir session is a great experience. I was obviously nervous and super self conscience but in the end it was fun and liberating and a great boost for my self esteem. And your man will love having these pictures!
Each groomsmen received a pair of monogrammed cufflinks and I gave my dad a pair of antique cufflinks I found on Ebay.
Martin had is heart set on full tails, hats and canes so the boys all looked super dapper! They rented their tuxes through Mens Wearhouse. The vests and bow ties were silver.
There was no hiding ourselves away as guests showed up. No. We greeted and hugged everyone as they came and just hang out together until the ceremony started! Again, it was really important for our day to be stress free and fun. Plus, having a destination wedding of sorts, everyone had to travel so we wanted to make sure we spent time with everyone.
These are my brothers in the first picture!
All the Savannah folks.
All of Martin’s family.
All of my famiy on my Dad’s side.
And all of my family on my Mom’s side.
I think a lot of wedding traditions are archaic and it excites me that nowadays there are no rules. You CAN do what you want! We wanted a ceremony that focused on us as equals. One that highlighted the importance of our union but didn’t take away the importance of our individuality either. I didn’t want to be “given away.” I wanted both families to participate in the ceremony equally, so we each walked down the aisle with our parents and they stood with us for the beginning of the ceremony. This felt really special to me. We walked to “Your hand in mine” by Explosions in the Sky.
The dad of Martin’s other best friend, Christopher Hodges, officiated the ceremony. We wanted to have someone we knew. In lieu of readings, I read excerpts from “I Love You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. I absolutely love this little book, its so silly and perfect and I felt it best described everything I wanted to say to Martin.
Mr. Paul Cleckler (same one who is the hair master) also has an ah-mazing voice. I mean melt your heart and weaken your knees ah-mazing so we knew we wanted him to sing at our wedding. Thankfully he obliged and sang “Forever” by Ben Harper…..for me, it was the most emotional part. After the kiss, everyone walked back down the aisle to the “Queen of the Surface Streets” by Devotchka.
Some reception details – Our invitation stated “A vintage inspired reception to follow” in the hopes that our guests would dress appropriately – fun hats and dresses, seersucker, bowties, etc! In the case of anyone forgetting their fun hat, I brought along my vintage hat collection for people to borrow from. Oh and that sassy bridal portrait of me? Those will be in the next post ;)
Again, I went to numerous thrift stores and estate sales and collected bird figurines in all shapes and sizes. I spray painted them all white and used them as table decorations. I bought duponi silk in silver on sale at a fabric store and sewed my own table runners (I then sold them and the bird figurines after the wedding to recuperate some of my expenses.) I found the lanterns 50% off at IKEA. I also collected tons of vintage milkglass vases to use on the tables and filled them with peacock feathers that I bought from Save on Crafts.
Bob-B-Q, a barbecue restaurant in Elizabeth City did the catering. The name sounds ridiculous but the food was outstanding! We had pulled pork barbecue, mac-n-cheese, corn on the cob, green beans, fried green tomatoes and hushpuppies! They provided all the plates and silverware as well as water and ice tea. For alcoholic beverages, we took a big trip to Costco and bought beer and wine. This saved us a bundle – to not have to buy alcohol through a caterer – and whatever wasn’t used could be returned (or drank later at home :)
We also set up croquet! I brought along bocci as well but it never got set out – I wanted fun things to do especially for the kids and people who weren’t interested in the 80’s dance partay that went down most of the night!
Our adorable little cake was made by Angel Cakes and Confections in Knoxville. I wanted something very simple and small (to keep the price low) with delicious flavors – the bottom was hummingbird cake and the top was strawberry. I gave Angel the purple ribbon and lace to decorate the cake. She’s a very sweet lady and added the cute little flowers and the birds that were on our programs. Because we had a small cake, we also bought other desserts at Costco to ensure everyone got a bite!
For music, we rented a sound system and hooked up an ipod. Our first dance was “This Year’s Love” by David Gray.
I danced with my Dad to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and Martin danced with his Mom to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
I spent ages making the most perfect playlist of oldies and 80’s and current dance tunes and we danced the night away! Oh, and because it was really really hot that day, I changed into an adorable little vintage dress I found in Knoxville. I never had the intention to do that, I always thought 2 dresses was kind of silly, but it sure was easier to shake it in a shorter dress!
This is my bestest most wonderful better half Leah. Ever since middle school, we always danced together to “Only Fools Rush In” by Elvis so I made sure to include it in the evening :)
So there you have it! Being in the wedding industry and looking at images all day every day, there’s so many things Id probably do differently but what’s important and what I wouldn’t give up for the world – is that I had a freaking blast – and Im pretty sure everyone else did too! And even though it does goes by super fast, I wasn’t left feeling like the whole day only lasted 2 hours – and that’s because from the moment I woke up till the moment we went to bed, we spent the day together. And I really loved that!
So far, every year we spend together gets better and better. Martin has allowed me to live the life Ive always dreamed of living and I feel very blessed to be able to say that. We will be making a big change AGAIN this Fall by moving back home but Im excited to see what lies ahead. And I know we will be OK because we have each other and the ever present support of our families!