Wedding Wednesday: 10 Things I Did Right

Inspired by this post on one of my favorite new blogs, I thought I would do a little post about the things I think I got right about our wedding.

1. Had a vision down to the smallest details. In order to pull off the wedding I did in five months, I really had to plan every little thing. Some things I planned the crap out of, like the decor and favors. Some things fell into place, like the fact that A.P. wore a purple and green tie with a grape soda boutonniere and I wore green shoes and purple flowered coat were a happy accident. But they came together because I'd planned every little thing. It pays to be obsessive about these things, as it does with any event. We hang out with people who were at our wedding and even they say that our wedding was one of the best they've ever been to. It's because every detail seemed attended to and everything oozed charm.

2. Researched, researched, researched. In order for us to legitimately afford a wedding with every little detail attended to, I needed to do a lot of research. I wanted a photobooth, I found a way to get a photobooth. But I didn't just throw money at the problem. I did a lot of research. I found a place with great reviews that was in my budget. They didn't offer the photobooth I wanted for the package I wanted, so asked nicely if they'd consider swapping. They kindly did. Same thing with our venue. I adored Lovely, but if they had told us they cost a minimum of $10K, I would have gone somewhere else. Part of why I chose Lovely and why it appealed to me so, so much is because they did not require the use of preferred vendors. They let us DIY a lot of stuff (e.g. the bar, which my brother who works in the industry provided for us as our gift. Booze! The gift that keeps on giving! People still talk about how drunk they got!) and didn't require anything except for us to use them as our baker. Well, duh. Even with things I bought on eBay or etsy, I would research to make sure I was not overpaying. I can honestly tell you from watching TONS of auctions that no matter the final bid, you'll end up paying about $1-1.50 a piece for either antique keys or vintage handkerchiefs. The point is, I was able to have the vision I did because I did a ton of research. I bargained. I asked questions. I made sure I knew what I was getting for my money.

3. Personalized EVERY. LITTLE. THING. Part of why everyone loved our wedding is because it felt "us"...down to the vintage salt and pepper shakers. I know that this kind of thing isn't for everyone, but it's really worth it if you care. And no one is saying you have to go overboard. You don't have to have vintage salt and pepper shakers because you don't have to have a million details. That was my doing. But if your details, even if you have but a few, are personal, they are meaningful, even to your guests. My friends raved that every inch of that place oozed "us," from the vintage Florida postcard "guestbook" and the vintage birdies that adorned each table to the poems we chose for our readings. I have a friend who is getting married soon and the favors she is talking about having are nice, but they're...meh. I probably won't do much with it and it won't warm my heart to look at it after her wedding. Don't get me wrong. It's nice of her to give favors at all; I certainly don't attend weddings expecting them. But part of what brings people in for the real thing is feeling like your love is surrounding them. If you do a candy bar, give your favorite candies! If you give jarred goods (e.g. jam or honey), try and give one you can write a sweet story about on the label. And it's true in other areas, too. Don't just let your minister pick some nice readings! And don't be told you have to have readings from a holy text (more on that below)! Take a night and read some pretty poems or excerpts. Honestly, you can personalize almost any idea and it really does pay to do so.

4. Incorporated those we love, remembered those who couldn't be there with us. I knew early on in life I would never have bridesmaids. A.P. wasn't big on groomsmen, so it wasn't hard to nix that detail. That being said, it was still super important to me to incorporate those we love in meaningful ways. And there are lots. You don't have to give someone a bullshit job like the guestbook. You can ask someone to give a reading during your ceremony, give a toast during your reception. If you have a friend who plays an instrument, you could ask them to play during your ceremony or reception. I've seen both done. There are all sorts of ways to incorporate those that you love and I can't stress the importance of doing so. I have another friend getting married (all the hens are flying the coop, man!) and she has not asked me to participate in her wedding at all. It hurts. A lot. And there's nothing I can say or do about it. People get wounded easily about things like this, and it's a really simple thing to include them. It's also a simple thing to remember those that can't celebrate with you. We chose to honor these people in a few ways. We mentioned loved ones that had passed and others who couldn't be there during our ceremony and had a moment of silence to remember all. We also mentioned some of them during a speech we gave at the beginning of the reception. These are simple gestures that mean a lot. And believe me when I tell you that people remember things like this.

5. Stood up for my decisions...and didn't back down when someone challenged them! If I had backed down when someone balked at my ideas, I would have ended up with a wedding that wouldn't have made me happy and would have felt like I was compromising even further (because of course there were things we already were compromising on, we're not made of money). When I first told my mother that we were going to send out poster-sized invitations, she thought I was crazy. But I think she really liked them in the end. My godmother was disappointed that we were marrying in a bakery and not the church, but she loved our wedding! I'm not saying these people got over it, but when I was firm, they knew there was simply no point in discussing it. And it made it a non-issue. And then we all went on to have a blast!

6. Found a great photographer...within our budget. Do you have any idea how many TALENTED photographers there are??? Do you have any idea how many are willing to do whatever you ask them (within reason) so that you are happy with your photographs? The answer to both questions is SO MANY. I know a lot of people hire photographers from out of town. My friend is doing that for her wedding. And that's fine, I guess. Everyone's gotta work, right? But I really, firmly believe that everyone has amazing options nearby within your price range...if you look hard enough! And if you do #2, you might even happen onto a better deal than you set out to find! I'm not telling you to give up your dreams, but I am urging you to look around. Because there are so many photographers who are willing to take certain kinds of shots, styles of photography if you ask nicely. Just ask nicely. We talked with Theresa a lot beforehand about what we liked (sepia, bleached out/dreamy shots, photojournalistic, etc.). We got back exactly what we asked for. I wanted to take the el shots, she obliged. Don't be a bridezilla, but often, if you simply ask you'll find you get exactly what you're looking for and within your price point if just look hard enough.

7. Made a budget, stuck to a budget, but didn't let a budget bog me down. Budgets are great and very important. Weddings can get expensive and it's important to go in knowing what you can/are willing to spend money on so you don't get suckered into making decisions that break your bank. But! But, they shouldn't be a stress on your wedding. All things being said, no one gets married with the idea that they're going to do it again. As far as you know, it's your ONE wedding (no matter how prevalent divorce is these days), so I'm sorry if it breaks everyone's budget conscious freaking heart, but you're allowed to break your budget a bit. I'm not advocating blowing $30K if your budget is $10K, but if you go over by a a paycheck or so, you'll live. I have a saying about money, "Money is money. That's why they call it money." It's a take on the famous David Mamet money joke. The point is, right before we got married A.P. lost his job and right after we got married I lost mine. We made it. It worked out. We didn't die, homeless and broke in the blizzard of 2011! You'll figure it out. People always do. It's not worth stressing yourself to death over.

8. Had a "bachelorette" party. Okay, so I never, ever wanted a bachelorette party. EVER. It was not my intention to have one. My friend, B-Mac, insisted that I have one. At least a girl's night out. But I wanted to wait until the Half-breed Swede was in town (I wanted all my dear old friends to be there!). And by then, I was pooped. The wedding was one week out! So we decided on a girl's night where we would watch wedding-themed movies/TV shows. We had raclette, made girly drinks, and had a delicious cake from Whole Foods with a "2" on it to celebrate both my impending nuptials and B-Mac's birthday. We ended up talking so much, we never even watched the wedding themed movies or TV shows. We had a great night talking about boys and gossip and fun stuff. We drank and ate and were silly. It was perfect. Going out might have been a total blast, too, but this allowed us to really talk and spend time together. Plus, we didn't have to spend a ton of money. If you're not the bachelorette kind, at least have a nice night with your closest gal pals.

9. Played great music (and some fun bad stuff, too)...even during the ceremony! A.P. and I are big music lovers. It's not for nothing that I'm taking guitar lessons! We were actually really happy that we got to do our own music. Some people are all about DJ's, but we knew all we really needed were some fun tunes. And it was true. I have a lot of friends who aren't big dancers, but we all totally cut a rug for a long time. We did have some problems with the sound system at first (what was easy to hear during the ceremony with everyone quiet was hard to hear during the reception with everyone talking), but we got it worked out and we had fun. A.P. and I have gone back and forth on this a little, but in the end, as great as a DJ is, I've been to too many weddings with bad DJ's who play music we would never listen to. I think that if you love music and know it pretty well (between the two of us, we make one Rob Gordon), I say go with your gut and program the hell out of your wedding! And don't just play what you want during your reception, either! Pick unexpected songs! I was once my friend's date to a wedding and they played Ryan Adams's "Dance All Night" when they walked down the aisle after the ceremony! Totally awesome! I walked down the aisle with my dad to The Magnetic Fields' "The Book of Love," and we walked down post-ceremony to Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)." Pick whatever songs you want! Another great way to do #3, too!

10. Always asked...kindly! I'm a big believer in that it doesn't hurt to ask. I also am a big believer that when people say that, they mean it doesn't hurt the other person. I'm pretty outgoing, but sometimes I get really nervous about seemingly simple things like asking a question. Luckily, I'm also a big believer in being really kind. I found that if I got over my nervousness and just asked, but asked kindly, I almost always got what I wanted! Even if you can't get what you want, people remember that you were so nice about asking and the way you asked (you really have to be genuinely nice, not fake nice) that sometimes, much to your surprise, they will find a way to get you what you want. People are awesome like that!

Thanks for the inspiration, Laura! Now, my dear married readers, please tell me, what things do you feel YOU did right with your big day?

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  1. Our "things we did right" list would probably be remarkably similar to yours, actually-- we made a budget and stuck to it, figured out what was really important to us and didn't let other people convince us that we should move our wedding to a church/choose wedding colors/buy more expensive dresses, incorporated the people we loved into the ceremony, etc. Oh, and we love to bake and craft... so we handmade most of the decorations and all of the favors as well as all of the food for the reception. Yay for doing things right!


  2. @Helen: Hear, hear! Yay for being awesome is more like it! ; o )


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