November 2011

T-2 Days, Part 1

We left off in our previous post when the movers had finished unloading all our items at our campground wedding venue!

We had several hours before family and friends would start to arrive that evening. Since the campground had several heated cabins that Ken and I were offering free-of-charge, a handful of adventurous folks would be staying there.  We had initially asked family and friends (and our day-of coordinator) to arrive early on Wednesday to help us unpack and get other things done, but about two weeks before the wedding, we realized we would get a lot more done uninterrupted and with no one else around.

We were expecting some handymen to arrive at 3:15 to help us with a few manual tasks so we had just a short amount time to get other things set up until they arrived. Ken set up the deejay equipment in the Mess Hall (we purchased two sets of deejay equipment, one for the pavilion and one for the Mess Hall) and it started without a hitch. I started unboxing things and setting up our helper stations. Ken seriously got the deejay equipment set up within like five minutes, so he started playing music when the movers were still unloading stuff. The first song to play was “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas. And that song got us (and the movers) really pumped! We had music play for the entire rest of the evening.

On one side of the mess hall, I set up the helper stations.

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On tables on the other side of the Mess Hall, I started stations labeled as “ready for coordinator” to indicate things that would be ready to be set up on the actual wedding day by our day-of-coordinator (somehow I never took any photos of the “ready for coordinator” tables).

The handymen arrived right on schedule at 3:15PM. We needed them to rearrange twenty 400 lb tables in the pavilion, our reception site. We also needed them to hang string lights from the pavilion ceiling, not a a task that Ken or I wanted to tackle and risk falling from a ladder a few days before the wedding. Ken and I took turns supervising the handymen in the pavilion and getting other things set up and organized in the Mess Hall.

We were getting things set up very quickly and everything was working great!

The handymen took a while longer than we expected, but it was fairly complicated to string the lights from the pavilion rafters. Also, the bulbs on the string lights were SO fragile, that several of the bulbs broke. Luckily we had extra bulbs though. One of the string light sets broke and it took some troubleshooting to figure out what was wrong with it. Initially we thought it might have been the extension cord or the outlet, but we finally discovered that the entire string was just completely broken. It wasn’t a big deal though, we had plenty of other strings. Funny enough, I had purchased those string lights from another couple who had gotten married at the same venue (our caterer also catered their wedding, and gave me their contact information). And that couple had purchased the lights used from ANOTHER couple who had gotten married at the venue.

(Useless fact: I purchased the lights from the couple – well, just the husband, on the day of the DC earthquake. He told me where he worked, which was just two metro stops from my office, so I went to his office to buy the lights. After buying them from him, I grabbed some lunch and went back to my office. Literally just as I sat down to eat my lunch, the earthquake hit.)

There was zero cell service at the wedding venue. Zero. We tried both AT&T and Verizon phones and there was no luck. But, we discovered that we could send a text message if we stood in one particular place near the pavilion, but you had to send it like five times before it would finally go through. So, Ken and I both texted our families with the phone number to the landline in the Mess Hall (since the landline wouldn’t allow long distance calls, texting was the only way to let them know the phone number).

A few hours later, my parents called to say that they had arrived at the hotel, but they probably were just going to stay there for the night and not come to the venue. I’m not sure what time that was, but it was probably about 7:30. I was kind of pissed. They said that my grandmother didn’t want to come to the venue. But, Ken and I said that we were hungry and asked if they would pick us up some food. Our original plan was to bring a frozen pizza with us and cook it in the industrial kitchen at the Mess Hall. But we had forgotten the pizza at home. So, my parents ordered a Domino’s pizza and finally came to the venue and left my grandmother at the hotel.

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The industrial kitchen in the Mess Hall

Family friends (a woman and her adult son) also arrived very shortly after my parents arrived with the pizza. The family friend was going to help make the rehearsal dinner on Thursday night. Both she and her son were staying at the campground. Luckily they both also have a wood burning fireplace in their house, so they were able to get the fireplace roaring in the Mess Hall very quickly, which was a good thing because it was getting chilly in there. About two hours later, my sister, her husband, and her five year old son arrived. By that time, my parents and our family friends were already hard at work at our helper stations:

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There will be one more post detailing the T-2 Days until the wedding. Look for it next Wednesday!

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Over the next few weeks (er, months), I’m going to dedicate an entire blog post to each topic listed below. But, for the quick and dirty rundown, this is what I would’ve done differently:

Planned it in a much more compressed timeframe

We were engaged for 13 months for a few reasons 1) We wanted a fall wedding, and since we got engaged in October 2010, we knew there was no way to have a Fall 2010 wedding! And 2) All the books and wedding magazines tell you it takes a year to plan a wedding. Now hear this. There is no reason a wedding takes a year to plan.

I recommend planning it over the course of 4-6 months. Why? By the time our wedding approached, I was starting to become annoyed about it. I just wanted it HERE. Month after month of spending money. And it becomes all anyone ever asks you about – “How’s the wedding planning coming along?” While the wedding was, of course, joyous, those last six weeks leading up to it were brutal. We were done with all major do list items that could be done, and time just dragged on and on. I started fantasizing about my post-wedding life and planning all sorts of post-wedding projects. Be flexible with your potential wedding dates and find a venue that that has availability within six months, and BOOK IT. You won’t regret it!

Not hired a day-of coordinator

Well, let me back up a second. We had an awesome venue (actually, it was a campground) that we were able to start setting up more than two days prior to our wedding day. If I had a traditional venue that only allowed a setup on the morning of, then I probably wouldn’t regret hiring a day-of-coordinator. However, if you are organized, have a clear vision, the discipline to execute it, and a firm timeline, the coordinator will just add more hassle to your life by asking you stupid questions. Umm, why yes I do know what I’m giving guests as favors. And yes, I know I should have all my bins and boxes labeled when I come to the venue. There will be a more in-depth post in the next few weeks about why I HATED having a day-of-coordinator. HATED.

Had a dress custom made.

I had a very clear vision for what I wanted my wedding dress to look like. But I was never able to find it. As a compromise, I established some key criteria for my wedding dress. I was offered my grandmother’s wedding dress (I talk about that in the same post), which I considered having cut and made into the dress I wanted, but I ultimately decided against it. While I liked both the dresses I wore on my wedding day, I still would’ve liked to have worn the one I had envisioned all along.

Here is a sketch (ahem, a very crude sketch) I made early on in the wedding planning process of how I envisioned my wedding dress. Tea length, v-neck, with 3/4 length sleeves. And apparently some weird ruching thing on the waist!

(Update! Now that we have our wedding photos, I completely take this “regret” back. My wedding dresses looked phenomenal and were so perfect for our casual autumn campground wedding. So, this regret was short lived!)

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Used those slower “interim” months to take care of the more “boring” details

If you do decide to drag out your engagement for a year, there’s a period of time in the middle when you’re kind of in a lull. You’ve booked your venue and other priority vendors, but you’re not ready to book other things or start buy decor that will just clutter your house for the next nine months.  What would I classify as the more “boring” details? In my opinion (and I realize others may be different!) things like the ceremony readings, ceremony music, making iPod deejay playlists, and designing your wedding program could’ve all been done much earlier than I did them.

Not spent so much time looking for things online

Look, we all want to save money on our wedding. But seriously, if you spend 3 hours researching the best prices to buy table runners and you save yourself 15 bucks, was it really that worth it? After hours of researching something and delaying decisions in hopes of finding something better and/or less expensive, I would feel just so completely unproductive.

Not invited so many people

This was one of my bigger worries. In fact, it tied with “weather” as the “Biggest Stressor” in my wedding superlatives post. In the end, we invited 287 people. Way too many. I have no idea how that happened. Both my parents are only children, and therefore I have no aunts, no uncles, and no cousins. Ken has a bigger family, but not huge. Our venue had seating for 160 people. With extra table rentals, we could probably fit another 50-75 people comfortably.  But, of course, that adds significant costs. So, we were relying on a very high “regretfully decline” rate in order to not be packed in our venue like sardines. I’m a little ashamed to admit that with every RSVP regret we received, I breathed a little sigh of relief!

Not used people we knew as vendors

Our officiant was a long-time friend (and pastor) of Ken’s family. Our day-of-coordinator was a woman from the neighborhood that owns a concierge business. While everything worked out great in the end with the officiant, even after some initial hiccups, he was not the most responsive guy. About a week before the wedding, we were worried that he never submitted the paperwork he needed to officiate a wedding in Virginia (because he’s a pastor in Maryland, he needed special approval to officiate a wedding in Virginia). And he wasn’t returning our phone calls, which was really worrisome.

We also knew personally our day-of-coordinator, and I have a feeling that I would’ve been much more comfortable with someone that I didn’t know. Someone that I could say to, “No, that’s a terrible idea,” and not have to worry about facing them after the wedding. Because, frankly, she had too many terrible ideas and I never told her outright they were terrible because I knew I’d still have to live in the same neighborhood as she does.

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Wedding Recap Wednesday will Resume Next Week

by Melissa on November 23, 2011

Hi all, I’ll resume my wedding recaps next week since I know this is a busy travel week. I have nearly TWENTY PAGES of recaps ready for you all. But don’t worry, it won’t all come in one post!

Happy Thanksgiving. Gobble Gobble!

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Our Strategy for Selling Used Wedding Items

by Melissa on November 22, 2011

Ken and I rented practically nothing for the wedding. We realized almost right away that we could purchase things on our own significantly cheaper than buying them. For instance:

We wanted patio heaters in case our wedding day was chilly (it was!). To rent the heaters from a party rentals company, it was $150 each. To buy them from Costco it cost $139.99 (and free shipping). Hmmm, $10 cheaper to BUY something instead of renting it? And we actually get to KEEP it or SELL it? No brainer there. Same thing for table linens. $11 each to rent the brown rectangular linens we wanted for our tables. I found them online to purchase for $8 each.

Now, we have a boatload of used wedding items to sell. This makes me so happy! I purchased a lot of used wedding items myself, mostly via Craigslist and the Weddingbee Classifieds, although there are a lot of other great sources out there.

Now that the wedding is over, what is our strategy for getting all of this stuff out of the house (and maybe a few extra dollars in our new joint savings account?)

Organizing

We were VERY organized prior to the wedding. All our boxes and bins were labeled and like items were together.

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Getting things home from the venue was an entirely different matter. Obviously the day-of-coordinator’s goal is to get everything picked up as quickly as possible. Therefore, now we have centerpiece vases in the same boxes as tablecloths, and photobooth supplies in the same boxes as leftover paper plates and silverware. Therefore, our first order of business will be to get everything organized into bins and boxes again and label them appropriately.

Decide what to keep and what to give away for free

Some items that we purchased for the wedding may be useful for future, non-wedding parties. For instance, we bought large industrial coffee pots for our “hot beverages bar.” Two of the large 100 cup pots were found by my mom for $25 each in a Penny Saver ad. I bought an additional smaller coffee urn at the last minute from Amazon when we decided to have apple cider too. I gave one of the coffee pots away to a family friend that helped a lot in the days leading up to the wedding, but I’ll probably keep the other two. They can come in handy for other large parties and gatherings, which Ken and I (and our families) have very often.  We’ll separate the items we want to keep.

Other items will be best donated or given away for free. For instance, I bought huge boxes of of creamer packets for our “hot beverages bar.” The box was only like 8 bucks or something, so it’s not worth returning. But I figure some shelter could use it, or heck, I could even bring it to work and put it in the kitchens so coworkers can use it.

Clean, Launder, and Organize Further

I’ll clean and/or launder things like the tablecloths and put each one in individual packages like a plastic grocery bag or sealed baggie. For instance, although we have about 45 tablecloths to sell, someone may only want to buy 20 of them, so I want to make sure I can just grab 25 without everything else getting disorganized and unfolded.

Photograph items.

Now that the items have been organized, cleaned, and laundered, I’ll take photos of the items I want to sell, probably using my DIY lightbox, which I talked about in a previous post. I can also post photographs from the wedding itself to illustrate how that items were used during the wedding. For instance, I bought some boring, unfinished wooden crates from craft stores. Then I draped them loosely with fabric to create height and dimension on our cake table.

Create a free website to list all the items

Weddingbee, Craigslist, and other online classifieds definitely have their limitations with regards to posting photos. What some Weddingbee sellers have done, which I have found incredibly useful, was create one “for sale” post on the classifieds, and then quickly list the items, but then include a link to a website, like a weebly site, that includes all the photos and descriptions of the items. Then when an item sells, they just update the description to say “SOLD.”

Attempt to use Craigslist to sell items first, then transition to sites like Weddingbee classifieds

Nearly all the items that I purchased used came from Weddingbee sellers. And Weddingbee is great, because you have a captive audience of brides and brides alone wanting to buy used items for weddings. However, I cannot begin to describe how much I hate the post office. Every time I go, no matter what time of day, the line is always SO long. So, the idea of having to ship all sorts of different items across the country makes me shudder. Therefore, I’ll try to sell things locally first, then transition to other methods where I may likely have to ship items. I’ll probably list things on Craigslist three weekends in a row before I transition to other sites.

Timing

Right now, we’re on our minimoon. By the time we get back and start to get things cleaned and organized, I’m guessing it’ll be at least a few weeks until things are ready to sell. And frankly, who’s going to buy used wedding items during the holiday season? Therefore, I’ll wait until after the first of the year to start listing the items on Craigslist. And that will probably work out for the best anyway, because so many people get engaged during the holidays and may start looking for things right away.

 

That’s it! Our strategy for selling all our used wedding items. I’m anxious to find out how much money we can make back by selling our items!

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We’re on our Minimoon! [and Happy Thanksgiving]

by Melissa on November 21, 2011

Hi all, Ken and I are on our minimoon this week. We arrived in Las Vegas yesterday and have been having a great time. I have a few posts scheduled for this week but won’t be around very much for comment moderation.

If you recall, we decided very early on that we did not want to go on a big honeymoon right after the wedding. In fact, that sounded more stressful than relaxing!

But then we decided that a minimoon would be a great idea, so we contemplated some of our options, and then subsequently decided on Las Vegas!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! We haven’t even been married for two weeks yet, so I’ve barely had time to even think about the holiday season!

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Wedding Superlatives, Part 1

by Melissa on November 18, 2011

Over the course of our 13 month engagement and wedding day, we certainly had our more memorable moments. Here to commemorate those moments are some yearbook style-superlatives!

Most likely to make Emily Post cringe: Printed labels on our invitations. Yep, we did it. Mail merged our invite list and printed out labels. Granted, they were printed onto lovely kraft wraparound labels, but I think we still broke a major etiquette no-no. Oh well! We wanted to make our entire wedding planning experience actually enjoyable. And handwriting 113 envelopes would not have been enjoyable.

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Most Surprisingly Worth-it Expense: Dance lessons. Ken and I were not comfortable at all dancing. So, we’d avoid dance floors like the plague when we’d go to a wedding or holiday party or something. But, you know what, I think that’s just because we were always afraid to get out there and try. Back in April, we started ballroom dance lessons. Ken was apprehensive, but I asked him to at least keep an open mind. Can you believe that we both actually loved it! It’s so NICE to actually feel comfortable on a dance floor now. The lessons were expensive, but well worth it!

Most offensive to herbivores: No vegetarian option at our wedding. None. Well, I guess if one can survive on garden salad and coleslaw they’d be okay. But our buffet was one big BBQ meatfest!  Mmmmm. Meat.

Most asinine idea we considered: Renting a Coke Freestyle Machine. Ken saw one of these in Firehouse Subs a few months back and loved it! So, we explored options to rent them. Of course, we only considered it for about 30 minutes after we realized that it wouldn’t be feasible, but still, that would’ve been some cool shit at our wedding.

Biggest stressor. (a tie!)

1.  Inviting too many guests. The venue had picnic table seating for 160 guests. With extra table rentals, we probably could’ve fit another 40-50 people comfortably. So, how many people did we invite? 287! That’s right. Two Hundred and Eighty Seven people. No idea how that happened. I have a very small family. Both my parents are only children, which means I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins. Ken has a bigger family, but it’s still not huge. I didn’t even realize we KNEW 287 people. And you know what else? There were other people I still wanted to invite. This was a huge stressor for me and sadly, I actually breathed a little sigh of relief every time someone RSVPed “no.” I was worried about space, parking, and the huge added cost of renting extra tables and chairs. Luckily we only had 147 RSVP!

2.  Scheduling an outdoor wedding for November. November weather in the DC area tends to be quite pleasant. But of course, there are always cold days here and there. In fact, just two weeks before our wedding, DC had its first October snow in nearly 30 years. Temperatures in the days preceding the wedding were nearly 70 degrees. But our wedding day? 56 and windy. When we realized that it would be that chilly, we stressed the entire duration of the 10 day weather forecast. We ended up having it outside, and yes the wedding was colder than we would’ve liked, but, we knew it was a risk!

Most likely to have offensively bad breath: Realizing I forgot my toothbrush when I checked into hotel the night before the wedding. Yep, no toothbrush the day of my wedding. I used Ken’s. I know I’m married to him and all now, but still, there are some things you just should never share.

Most unplugged: No internet, no cell signal at the wedding. We rented a campground at a nearby National Park. The National Park had no internet and not even a sliver of a cell signal. For this very plugged-in couple, our wedding was completely unplugged!

Best excuse for a guest not attending the wedding: Attending U.S. Citizenship ceremony. One of Ken’s friends from college had been going through the U.S. citizenship process for the last 15 years. On November 11, our wedding day, the friend was attending his U.S. Citizenship ceremony! 15 years in the waiting! (Oh, and he had refugee status, so he was “fast tracked” for citizenship). Runner up: Due with baby (2 different couples!). Although Ken said that’s not nearly as cool of an excuse because people have babies all the time. Earning U.S. citizenship is much more difficult.

Most likely to burst an eardrum: Controlled explosions at Quantico the day before the wedding. Our wedding venue was just a few miles from Quantico, VA near the Marine Corps Quantico base. Little did we know that there was munitions training scheduled the day before the wedding. So every few minutes, we’d hear this loud BOOM! Hilarious, and I’m glad it wasn’t actually on our wedding day!

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Over the next several weeks, heck, probably the next several months, I will recap our wedding wedding week through a series of posts I will publish on Wednesdays.  Here’s your first full recap, starting Wednesday November 9! Check out all our wedding recaps here.

Wednesday November 9 – The Story of Our Movers

On Wednesday November 9, we were able to check into our venue, Cabin Camp #5 at Prince William Forest Park. We had rented the venue for three nights so that we would have plenty of time to get things set up and organized for our Friday afternoon wedding.

One of our fairly last minute decisions was to hire movers. We had about 75 boxes of stuff that needed moved, as well as other odd shaped items, like chalkboard sign A-frames and wooden stake signs.  We already knew that we needed to rent a U-Haul truck to move everything all in one trip. The truck itself was going to cost us about $20 plus $0.99 per mile. Since our house to the venue was 48 miles roundtrip, we were looking at about a $70 expense. We figured it might be a worthy expense to pay a bit more and have someone actually move the stuff for us, that way we weren’t exhausted by the time we actually arrived at the venue.

guest bedroom wedding stuff

Wedding stuff in our guest bedroom. We actually had to disassemble the bed months ago to fit it all in there


Wedding Stuff by Front Door

Electronics equipment for the wedding ready to be moved by the front door (this is only a small fraction of the electronics equipment we used at our wedding). The helmets stay.


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Even more wedding stuff in our breakfast nook in our kitchen

After researching a few moving companies, I called College Hunks Moving Junk, and they ended up being GREAT. Seriously. I called them less than a week before we needed moving services and they were able to accommodate everything. They charged $124/hour plus a $124 flat fee that included things like the truck and packaging materials.

Our campground check-in time was 3PM, so we asked the movers to arrive between noon-1pm (they required a 1 hour window).  I used Wednesday morning to run some last minute errands.

Wednesday Begins! T-2 Days till the Wedding!

Wednesday morning, we woke up at 6:10AM, our normal wake-up time on a work day. I had mentioned a few days earlier that I had a last minute idea to decorate the mess hall at the campground, using this as the inspiration. So first, I went to the fabric store and purchased about 40 yards of muslin and about 30 yards of tulle.

After the fabric store, I went to Target to buy some gladware containers, some apple cider that we were going to serve at the wedding, and a few cleaning supplies for the campground, like lysol wipes. Actually, “some” apple cider may be an understatement. I bought about 12 gallons of it. Then, I went to Home Depot to buy a push broom, anticipating that there might be a lot of leaves in the pavilion that we’d need to clear out.

While I was at Home Depot, the movers called to say that they were about 30 minutes away. That was at 10:50AM. While I appreciate that they were running early, it was problematic for us. 1) Ken was still getting things packed for them, and 2) Since our check-in time wasn’t until 3PM, we had to be careful. We didn’t want to arrive at the venue at like 1:30 and then have the venue groundskeeper tell us we couldn’t start unloading for another 1.5 hours, especially paying movers at $124/hour. So, I just told them flat out that that was way too early for us. They were understanding and said they would wait to arrive until later.

I wrapped up at Home Depot and headed home. I had to do a few last minute seating chart rearrangements, and while I was working on that, the movers arrived right at noon. It was GLORIOUS. Ken just showed them the guest bedroom that housed most of our wedding stuff and they started moving it. I continued to work on my seating chart while they did all the work! Already the movers were a great investment.

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They finished loading the truck at around 1:45, and we headed to our campground venue. I drove ahead of them so I could check in with the campground host, and Ken followed the movers in a separate car to make sure they didn’t take off with all of our wedding stuff.

We arrived at the venue around 2:20PM. I was a little worried because we were early, but luckily we were able to check in with no problem! As I signed all the check-in paperwork, the movers started unloading all our stuff into the Mess Hall.  The movers were done by 3PM.

Let’s recap this. Truck loaded, transported, and unloaded by three professionals in 3 hours. It probably would’ve taken Ken and I at least twice the amount of time to do that. Plus, we weren’t exhausted by the time we got to the venue. In fact, we were quite relaxed! That was a great investment of $496!

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That’s me, starting to arrange things after the movers left!

Next recap post will be a continuation of Wednesday November 9, T-2 days!

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Here are some things that I needed (er, at least wanted) during the week of my wedding, but didn’t have handy because no one ever told me I’d need it. I hope this helps you when planning your wedding!

Water. Copious amounts of water. Seriously. The week of your wedding, you’ll probably be wrapping up some projects and running some last minute errands. Nervousness and excitement may affect your appetite. The least you can do for your health is stay well hydrated. Carry around a huge bottle of water with you everywhere. Keep bottles in your car, in your purse, keep a nalgene clipped to your purse, do whatever you have to do. Stay hydrated. It will also help keep headaches at bay and will also keep the bloat away on your wedding day.

Gladware, baggies, and plastic containers. Shitloads of them. Your caterer will likely have lots of leftovers for you. And you’ll probably also have lots of cake leftover. We had both. Our cake leftovers were provided in cardboard cake boxes (which would make it dry out fairly quickly) and the catering leftovers were provided in HUGE aluminum pans. Both were useful for transport, but not as longer term solutions.  Before your wedding, make sure you purchase tons of large gladware containers as well as a mix of sizes of smaller containers. You will also be able to give away containers of leftovers to guests still in town.

Easy-to-make meals. Make sure your freezer is filled with easy-to-make (but healthy) meals in the weeks leading up to your wedding. We used a lot of frozen foods we had on hand, like fish sticks and chicken nuggets from Trader Joe’s, and other food items like grilled cheese and soup. This were great and helped us avoid the typical day-to-day chores that are typically a part of daily life.

A small notebook and pen on your person at ALL times. Multitasking sucks. And so does realizing you need to do something but forgetting about it five minutes later. So, when you’re in the middle of doing something but remember another task that you need to complete, just take out your small notebook, write down a reminder, and continue on with your current task. The Wednesday before the wedding, I purchased a few of these notebooks and kept one for myself and gave one to Ken. We did a great job making notes and reviewing them later on. We also used them to remind ourselves of other things we had to discuss with each other but we weren’t in the same room at the time.

Sleeping pills. (Disclaimer: Ken seriously disagrees with me on this one and would be afraid that people would oversleep for their wedding). I’m not a big proponent of sleeping pills. That’s probably because I am a very sound sleeper. And perhaps it’s because when I do have trouble sleeping, a glass or two (or three) of wine is enough to send me to sleep for hours on end. However, I did not sleep well in the three days leading up to the wedding. Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night were fitful nights of sleep. With the exception of Thursday, falling asleep was not the issue for me. Staying asleep, however, was problematic. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and then find it impossible to fall back asleep. It would have been great to have gotten a great night sleep the night before the wedding, especially considering all the craziness of that night. So, in hindsight, I should’ve asked my doctor if she recommended anything in case I had trouble sleeping before the wedding. Maybe she would’ve said, “no way.” But, it’s just something for others to be aware of!

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The wedding was on Friday! It was AMAZING. My grandmother remained in the hospital, which I was very happy about, knowing that she was well taken care of, even if that meant she missed the wedding.  Here’s a sneak peak of our ceremony:
I wanted to give you all a quick recap. Let’s start with what went wrong on our wedding day.

What went wrong on our wedding day

The cake. Our biggest disappointment by far. Terrible, and not at all what we ordered. But, in the grand scheme of things, if the cake was our biggest disappointment, that’s fine by me. At 6PM on Thursday night the bakery was calling our coordinator asking us again what we wanted, even though we had spelled it out very specifically on our contract that we sent to her more than three months ago. (The bakery was the only vendor we had found through the coordinator). The bakery is very reputable and has great reviews on Yelp and Wedding Wire. They will not be getting a good review from us. However, apparently the cupcakes were delicious, although Ken and I never had a chance to have one. 

The officiant forgot to sign our marriage license. Oops. He left a bit early and didn’t realize he had to do it (since he typically officiates weddings in Maryland only). He has five business days to send in the license to our county, so we aren’t too worried. Ken’s stepdad sees the officiant every day (they work at the same school), so he’ll get the paperwork today.

I lost a sixpence coin in my shoe. We had a sixpence coin that had been in our family for generations. My great grandmother, grandmother, mother, and sister, have all worn it in their shoe on their wedding day. The ceremony time was fast approaching, and my sister said she’d go find some tape so we could tape it in my shoe. I said no, that’s okay, it would be fine. By the end of the night, I realized it was gone. I am SO FUCKING MAD AT MYSELF. I have a good idea of the general location where I lost it. We were taking our “first look” photos outside, and a bunch of leaves got stuck in my shoe. I took my foot out of my shoe and shook the leaves out. We went back to the area on Saturday morning to look for it, but it’s such a huge area, and we weren’t able to find it.  I may buy a metal detector and go back next week to look for it.  But, I still can’t be sure of where I lost it. (Update: We found it! We purchased a metal detector and went back to the venue the week after the wedding. We found it within like two minutes of looking for it! Ken remembered almost the exact spot where I was standing when I shook the leaves out of my shoe! So relieved!)

I forgot to bring my personalized wedding hanger. I was so excited to have pictures of my dress taken on that hanger. We had given an extra house key to our day-of coordinator so that she could pick up anything we forgot. I asked her if she would pick it up, then I would just have the photographer take photos of my dresses as I changed into my reception dress.  She picked it up, but when it came time to switch dresses, I wanted to change so quickly that I forgot to tell the photographer. Bummer!

Video footage (semi) fail. We had Ken’s brother-in-law use Ken’s HD video camera to take video footage at the wedding. The footage cut off at our kiss! Ken is much more disappointed about this than I am. We had, after all, made the decision more than six months ago not to hire a videographer. So the fact we have ANY video footage is fine by me!

Not getting enough sleep. We were both so tired on Thursday night, the night before our wedding. Then everything with my grandmother happened and I was wide awake. A mix of nervousness, worry about my grandma, and mulling the chilly weather led to me getting about 90 minutes of sleep the night before the wedding.  Luckily I wasn’t too crazy tired and was just going on adrenaline. But, I definitely would’ve preferred to get more sleep.

Biggest mixed reviews:

Our day of coordinator. Our venue LOOKED amazing, so in that respect they were great.  They also got things cleaned up very quickly. However, there were a few important things that a coordinator should take care of that she didn’t do automatically (like making sure our vendors got their checks, or that the officiant had signed the marriage license!) There will be a more in-depth post about this at a future date. 

The weather. It was chilly! Of course, the days immediately preceding and following the wedding were in the 60s. However, folks dressed appropriately and the fireplaces became an excellent area for folks to congregate. But, the weather was sunny and the foliage was beautiful, so we can’t complain much!

No-shows. We had 143 people RSVP. However, I think far less than that actually attended. Ken and I actually took photos of our guests at the beginning of the ceremony! (More on that later). When we counted the guests we could see in the photos, we only counted 87 guests. I think there were significantly more than that at the reception, but still, annoying.  Many of no-shows, however, were Ken’s cousins. One of Ken’s cousins had just had a baby via scheduled C-Section two days earlier. On Thursday night, she had been transferred to a different hospital after some complications. So, many of Ken’s family had to be with her.

Biggest Hits

There were just so many hits that our guests mentioned to us, I’ll just list them quickly here and talk more in detail about each at a later date! 

  • Seeing family and friends we hadn’t seen in a long time!
  • Our flashlight favors for the adults and glow toys for the kids!
  • All the festivities we had set up for the kids. The parents at the wedding told us how thankful they were for this! One couple told us that “if the kids are happy, then the parents can have a good time!” The kids were happy indeed!
  • LED lights sewn into my reception dress. I was so excited to find a tailor willing to do this! I had it revealed right as we started our first dance!

  • S’mores and games
  • Uniqueness of our wedding and venue
  • BBQ food. Delish!

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On Wednesday, we had movers come to take all our wedding supplies to our wedding venue. Wednesday was the most perfect day. I set up our helper stations and by the time family and friends started arriving, I put them right to work! It worked out absolutely beautifully. I’ll post a bit more about Wednesday after the wedding, but let’s just say that we could not have planned that day any better. 

Of the folks that arrived on Wednesday were my mom, dad, and grandmother. I think I mentioned one other time that my grandmother has not left her home state of Pennsylvania in decades. To say that she was a nervous wreck was an understatement. She’s 87, and while she has a few elderly ailments, she’s in pretty good health and her mind is still very sharp.  But she was shaking uncontrollably, which we assumed was nerves about being away from home.

On Thursday morning, before I left our house to go to the hotel and venue, my mom asked me to bring a thermometer. My mom had called my grandmother’s doctor about the shaking and the doctor said that maybe she had a fever.

I decided to go to the venue first and have my parents meet me there. My grandmother was almost unrecognizable. Her knees were buckling as she walked, she looked gray and ashen, and she was talking kind of funny. She took her temperature.  103 degrees!  For an elderly person, that is extremely dangerous. She refused to go to the doctor. There was an urgent care facility not far from the hotel, but she wouldn’t go. So finally, I started scream at her. “GO TO THE DOCTOR. DO YOU THINK I WANT SOMETHING TO HAPPEN TO YOU ON MY WEDDING DAY!?!?!”

After some additional coaxing, she agreed, but said she had to go to the bathroom first.  While in the bathroom, she fell. She wasn’t making any sense as she talked. I called 911 right away from the wedding venue. They told us to make her as cool as possible since her fever was so high, so we took off her jacket and put cold bottles of water on her neck.

The ambulance arrived not long after we called 911. She was refusing to go to the hospital. I never knew this, but apparently if someone refuses to go to the hospital, the EMS can’t take them. Once I found this out, I said, “What my grandmother wants doesn’t matter. My mother has full power of attorney and will make the decision for her.”  (I later found out that this is also not always entirely the case that a power of attorney can force someone into the hospital).

The EMS personnel were great and convinced her to go. My mom and dad followed the ambulance to the hospital. They were at the hospital all day, and even missed our rehearsal.

Doctors learned that my grandmother had a urinary tract infection, which they said can cause a lot of trouble for elderly people. After a few additional tests, doctors said that my grandmother was a “heart attack waiting to happen” and recommended that she be admitted.  My grandmother was apparently sounding better after getting treatment at the hospital.

Here’s the part where I get furious with my family. THEY CHECK HER OUT OF THE HOSPITAL. Now, I don’t want to sound cold hearted. But I would have been LESS worried about my grandmother if she was in the hospital on my wedding day, than if she was at the wedding or at the hotel by herself and worrying that we were going to have keep a close eye on her. I begged my family to let her stay in the hospital.  But they thought it would be best to just leave first thing Saturday morning after the wedding, and take her back to Pittsburgh to her own doctors and hospitals that are closer.

But, by about 8PM, my grandmother and parents were back at the hotel. My parents missed our rehearsal ceremony and rehearsal dinner. Not to toot my own horn, but I was a real trooper. I wore jeans, a Semester at Sea t-shirt, and a black windbreaker as my rehearsal dinner attire. My wedding dress stayed in the back of the car all night because I never made it to the hotel (my original plan after I spent some time at the venue

All our other guests and family left shortly after the rehearsal dinner, which was good because Ken and I needed to wrap up some last minute projects. We finally left the venue and got checked into the hotel right around 11:45PM. We were exhausted!!

We were laying down and probably just about to doze off just before 1AM, when there was a frantic knock on our door. It was my dad.  My grandmother had fallen in their hotel room and they needed help to pick her up.

I had a few emotional reactions which all happened in rapid succession.

1) Oh goodness, she fell!
2) Wait, we can’t help her up, we might hurt her even more or hurt ourselves. Did you call 911?
3) Why did you come all the way down here to tell me instead of just calling? (they were 2 floors up)
4) Then, silent anger over the fact that they had checked her out of the hospital a few hours earlier.

We went up to their room, and my grandmother was on the floor. 911 had told my sister not to let her get up. She was weak, and she had messed herself. After a lot of convincing, EMS took her to the hospital around 1:30AM. For the second time that day.  I was furious with my family, and I was very open about it. There was a lot of crying and a lot of emotion.

I had my selfish moment. I told my mom and dad, “I NEED you at the wedding tomorrow. I NEED you to be there at 3PM when I walk down the aisle.”

My mom and sister followed the ambulance to the hospital and my dad stayed behind so that he could get some rest. But he moved to my sister’s hotel room because their room smelled really bad after my grandmother’s accident.

It’s 6:18AM on my wedding day, and I slept for maybe 90 minutes. Some worry, some anger, mostly nerves and excitement. Surprisingly, I’m not tired. I’m going to shower in a bit, get things ready for the day, paint my nails, and then the hair stylist arrives at 9:45AM to start doing hair.

Ken just left for the venue to get last minute things set up he has to do. He’ll be back this direction around 9AM to get a professional shave and to take a shower. I hope he doesn’t run late!

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