Wedding Wednesday: Other Side of the Aisle Submission

Hi lovelies! I'm so excited to FINALLY introduce you to one of our newest features around here on NTMK: real brides. The feature is called Other Side of the Aisle, because these real bride submissions are a bit different than other sites in that you have to have been married for a wee, little while. This won't be something you see every week, but rather once in a while. (It is also one of the different types of submissions I accept, if you're interested in being a NTMK real bride yourself, or submitting to any other features, check out the guidelines here.)

Helen is one of the lovely ladies who writes the blog Bettencourt Chase. She's an amazing photographer along with her wife, Lindi. And I'm so excited that she submitted her lovely real bride submission to Not the Marrying Kind. Their wedding was so filled with love and was so pretty (and totally budget friendly). They are both brave, amazing women to get married in a place that does not always welcome same sex marriages with open arms. And they didn't do it to be political or prove a point (although I'm pretty sure they did despite the fact that that was not their intention). They did it simply because they loved each other and because as Helen said, "I just knew that I wanted to know her for the rest of my life." Is that not the sweetest?? I hope you enjoy reading about this lovely, handmade wedding as much as I did!

1. First, please list and link (or provide link for) all vendors since it’s important that we give credit where credit is due (your credit is this post and the fame that will come from it). Remember, anybody you HIRED for ANYTHING gets listed
here. Future husbands/wives don’t count.

Photography: Stephen Ironside of Ironside Photography (http://www.ironsidephotography.com/) and Darby Ironside (flickr.com/dgieringer)

(Everything else, we did ourselves. Flowers: bought in bulk from Sam's Club. Food: made by Lindi, me, my sister and my mother. Decorations and favors: DIY. Music: iPod playlist and the building's sound system.)

2. Did you ever envision getting married? Did you know you would marry your partner right away?

I was never one of those little girls who cut out pictures of wedding dresses and pretended to be the bride during play time. Once I was older and dating, I thought vaguely about spending the rest of my life with those I had the most serious relationships with, but still never imagined my wedding or marriage in any concrete way. Then, I met Lindi. At first, when we were just friends and not romantically involved at all, I just knew that I wanted to know her for the rest of my life- and then, when we started dating, everything just sort of fell into place. Even before we formalized it by getting engaged and then married, we both knew we had a "for life" sort of thing. We bought our engagement rings about eight months into our relationship (and proposed- to each other!- a few months after that) and went from there.

3. What was your engagement like? Did you enjoy being engaged? Did you struggle with the idea of marriage? Or were you all, “I got this”?

We were engaged for 16 months. We moved in together four months after we got engaged and a year of wedding planning and craftiness commenced! Being engaged was a lot of fun, actually. We got to be all giggly and show off our pretty rings and tell people about it. Once I was with Lindi, I didn't struggle with the idea of marriage at all. That wasn't really true of our families, though. The majority of our close friends and family were supportive, but there were several that didn't agree with our choice (mostly for religious reasons, and one or two for age reasons, because they felt that at 21 and 25 we were too young to be getting married.)

4. How long did you take to plan your wedding?

16 months! It was actually a little long, if you ask me. I think 8-12 months would have been better. 16 months meant that things could kind drag out a long time. That might be great for some couples, but I really like GETTING THINGS DONE. That was hard to do that far ahead, sometimes. Honestly, I think we could have planned the whole shindig in about three months.

5. What was your budget (ballpark ranges are fine, too)?

If I had to sum up our budget in a nutshell, that nutshell would say: "As little as possible while still being pretty and awesome!" We were paying for it almost entirely ourselves, and we were poor college students about to go into our last year of university at the time. In the end, we spent about $2000 on the wedding. Here's how it broke down:

Wedding attire (for two brides: dresses- from the formals section of a department store, not a wedding boutique/store, a second dress for me when I couldn't make up my mind, funky shoes, special undergarments, materials for the veils I made): $400
Venue (we rented a community building near where we live): $100
Food (that is, supplies to make the desserts we baked and punch) and dishes: $300
Decorations including material to make tablecloths and new curtains for the building: $200
Save the Dates and Invitations (materials to make them): $100
Bridal gifts (jewelry for each other): $200
Bridesmaids' gifts (pearl earrings) and mother of the brides' gifts: $200
Rehearsal dinner (homemade) for approximately 20 people: $200
Flowers (bought in bulk), mason jars to put them in, ribbon and florist tape for the bouquets: $150
Other materials for centerpieces (wooden frames, photo printing): $50
Favors (photo magnets, Hershey's kisses, little cellophane bags and ribbon): $50
Photography: Free as a gift by our close friends who do wedding photography
Officiant: Free, a family friend
Music: An AWESOME iPod playlist and the sound system already in the building
We opted out of videography, a DJ/band, alcohol at the reception (it was in the middle of the day.)

If we had not had the option of having our two very talented and wonderful friends as our photographers, we would have cut back on other things or saved more to add to the budget to allow for a good photographer. We are both photographers ourselves, and that was one of the most important "details" for us.

6. What was the hardest thing about planning your wedding?

The hardest thing about planning our lesbian wedding in the VERY red part of the country that we live in (that is, Arkansas, with the wedding in Oklahoma). It was rough at times. We had friends and family that didn't understand our choice to be with one another, and several very important people made the decision to not be there with us on our wedding day. It was hard, and sad. However, we had so many amazing, wonderful people there that did support us.

7. What was the easiest thing about planning your wedding?

Choosing each other! Hah. Seriously, though, it might have been finding my dress (though not Lindi's.) I found my dress on accident, actually, when I wasn't even looking for one yet. We had only been engaged for about a month and I was shopping with my mother when I saw the prom section at the department store we were in was all marked down after prom. Never one to turn down a pretty dress, I tried a few on and ended up getting one. I said, why not? It's 95% off and is only $23. If I choose something else later, it wasn't like it was expensive. Anyway, I ended up looking at lots of other stores and dresses (and even buying a second, inexpensive, not-very-wedding-dressy dress) but wore the first one in the end.

8. What was your favorite detail in your wedding? If it was a DIY already on the internerd, do link some instructions, please.

I really loved our guest book cards- they were cream card stock, about 3"x2", with prompts on them like "Love is..." or "We wish for you..." for the guests to write on. I think we actually might have gotten them from the Martha Stewart website, of all places, though I couldn't find the template there when I went back to look. They were a big hit. We went home after the reception and read them all, and it was amazing. I also love that we (along with my sister and mother) made all of the food- over 1000 cookies, brownies, tarts and cupcakes. Lindi and I loooove to bake, so I thought that was really a personal, "us" part of the wedding.

9. How much did your now partner help you with the wedding planning? Did wedding planning affect your relationship either during the planning process or after you got married?

We did it all together. It was one benefit of marrying a girl- at least there were no societal expectations that one of us would hate the wedding planning process and be bored about it all. It was stressful at times (like when the glue ran on half of the magnets we were making as favors, or when our oven broke during the week before the wedding when we were in super baking mode, or when people didn't agree with where we were having the wedding or the fact that we were having a wedding in the first place) but we got through it. There was one very stressful day when everything seemed to be going wrong all at once when we almost just decided to elope, but in the end, I'm glad we didn't. The wedding was worth it.

10. What was the best advice you got as a bride-to-be/bride/married person? (If you got good advice for all three situations, either pick a favorite or briefly explain each. You be the judge. It’s okay. I trust you.)

I think when I discovered A Practical Wedding as a bride-to-be, that was pretty much a gigantic truckload of good advice in the form of archives. I had kind of muddled through all that WIC wedding porn for the first bit of our engagement, and when I found APW, I realized that all that didn't really matter as much as everyone was telling me it did. There are a lot of wise, funny, sane women (and a few men) on that site, in the form of both bloggers (Meg, Alyssa and Lauren) and commenters. I recommend it to everyone I know that gets engaged. As a married person, I really liked this: No matter how mad you are at your partner, always remember that you love them more.

11. How has marriage changed you? For better? For worse?

Even before we were married- actually, even before we were engaged- we both knew that this was it for us. We were all in. Getting married didn't change our relationship in many of the big noticeable ways it does for some people- we were already living together, we were already committed to one another and monogamous, we already knew we wanted to be with one another for life. I think the change was a lot more subtle, personally: a sort of settling in, if you will. More so than that, though, I think that getting married is more of an outward change for us. We announced what we are to our community, and that makes a difference. So perhaps for us it was more of a cultural/societal recognition thing than a personal change thing, if that makes sense.

12. Spill the beans, has marriage changed things in the bedroom? (If you’re shy, be creative with this response. And funny. We likez funzies.)

It actually hasn't changed things all too much for us, really. We were together for several years before we got married and living together for a year and a half of that. I will say, though, that when we are having a "slow" week for the bedroom side of things, one of us may or may not say something along the lines of, "Well, I guess we really ARE old married people now, and we don't even have to TRY or anything..." in a semi-snarky manner. Most of the time, though, our sex life is pretty similar to what is was pre-wedding-day. I will say, though, that I would hazard a guess that any relationship takes more work over time to make things exciting and new even if you see each other every day and sleep with each other every night. That's not really a marriage thing, per se, but more a time thing.

(Also, the night of our wedding, we didn't do ANYTHING. We came home, opened some presents and read our guest book cards, and then fell into bed exhausted. Hah. It's built up to be such a big deal, but we were just SO TIRED!)

13. What’s your favorite thing about being married? Least favorite?

I think my favorite thing is that we've declared ourselves publicly bonded to one another, and it gives our relationship more gravity (in the eyes of others.) Also, even if we argue about something, we know that we are both in this for the long haul. Neither one of us is going anywhere. My least favorite is that our marriage isn't legal- we aren't lucky to live in one of the few states where it would be!

14. Any last words of wisdom?

I decided to give the wisdom out in the style of question #10, hah.

Bride-to-be (or groom-to-be!): Pick the things that are important to you (and your partner) and stick to your guns, but compromise elsewhere. Also, make decisions together! Also, I would advise any nearly newlyweds (or actually everybody, even if you're already married) to try out couples counseling. I think it's a really valuable tool, even if you think you may not need it, and can really strengthen your relationship. I regret not doing it before we got married. We were going to, but the therapist we were scheduled to see canceled our first appointment, and then we had a family emergency and canceled the second, and it never worked out for us to get in there and actually talk to her.

Bride (and groom): Bask in the amazing glow of your wedding day, and remember that this is not the most important day of your life- it is just ONE amazing, important day, and if things go wrong, it will really be okay. You are beginning something important and amazing.

Married person: learn how to fight WELL with your partner, because you're going to fight. Do nice things unexpectedly (like bringing home cake, or cleaning the kitchen, or leaving a love note on the mirror in the bathroom). Also, don't forget to do fun stuff together and be spontaneous even when it's really easy to just fall into a routine.

(Photography by Stephen Ironside of Ironside Photography and Darby Ironside)

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