February 2012

Wedding Day Recap, Part 7 [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on February 29, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6

** All photographs in this post were taken by our awesome professional photographer, Debi Parker **

The processional began.

Ken’s Grandmother and Uncle walked down the aisle.


My grandmother would’ve walked next, but she remained in the hospital. So then Ken’s mom and stepdad walked down the aisle.



Then my mom, escorted by my Brother-in-law (my sister’s husband).


Then it was time for the ring bearer and flower girl. I couldn’t believe it. My nephew was as cool as a cucumber.

In the months leading up to the wedding I was pretty much convinced that he wouldn’t cooperate as ring bearer on the wedding day, and I decided that wouldn’t push the issue if he wouldn’t do it at the last minute. I had mentioned a few months ago about how he was scared to be a ring bearer, so I set him on my lap and showed him YouTube videos of ring bearer’s walking down the aisle. His poor little leg started shaking as he sat on my lap. He said to me while watching those videos, "I’ll be too NERVOUS!"

He had cooperated the night before at the rehearsal, especially after we showed him his special Lego box he would get to carry. And then I told him that if he would walk down the aisle, that I had a very special Buzz Lightyear toy I would give him. I also told him that he had to hold the flower girl’s hand because she might get scared (which was total BS, because she was ready and raring to go as flower girl. I just thought it might encourage him to feel like he had an extra special responsibility). But I still had my doubts!

But there he was, standing tall and proud as a ring bearer! He started to walk behind my mom and brother-in-law. But they were following them too closely down the aisle, and I was afraid that the photographer wouldn’t be able to get a good picture of them.


So, I stopped them as they started walking and said, "Hold on for a few seconds." Then, a moment of hilarity. The flower girl looked at my nephew and with a determined look on her face, promptly let go of his hand and marched back UP the aisle towards me. My nephew quickly followed her. Here they are actually walking back up the “aisle.”


After a few seconds longer, I gave them the go-ahead again to walk down the aisle.

As it turns out, they still ended up catching up to my mom and brother-in-law, since my mom was taking her time walking down the leaf-covered path. From my perspective, I couldn’t see what happened when they got to the bottom, but Ken said that my nephew knew he had to walk up to the pastor and give him the rings out of the ring box, but the flower girl walked right up to the pastor with the ring bearer! Ken said it was really cute.





It was time for my dad and I to walk! Holy shit.

I started the biggest giggling fit OF MY LIFE. No kidding. I almost never get the giggles. But there I was, giggling uncontrollably. My dad started to laugh too, but you could tell there were tears mixed in with those laughs. I regained my composure as we walked down the aisle.


You know, it’s really interesting as I write this. Prior to the wedding, there were all sorts of things that I had worried about regarding that moment of walking down the aisle. The hem of my dress getting dirty as I dragged leaves and other outdoor dirt while walking. Feeling the need to look down as I walked because I was worried my dad, who does not get around too well anymore, would trip over a rogue branch or hit a slippery patch of leaves. Worrying that tears streaming down my face would ruin my makeup.

But in that moment, I had no worries. None of those thoughts even entered my brain, not even for a second.



We reached the “council circle” where all the guests were seated "in the round." My dad took my hand and placed it in Ken’s hand. My dad kissed me, and he went and sat down next to my mom.


It was time to get married!



The Ultimate DIY Wedding Venue Supplies Checklist

by Melissa on February 28, 2012

As you probably gathered reading all about our wedding venue, Prince William Forest Park Cabin Camp #5, we were entirely on our own. The park has nothing like an on-site coordinator, or supplies to get the venue ready, or anything like that. So we had to make sure that we were full prepared for everything. If you have a similar, entirely DIY wedding venue, I hope that you’ll find the following checklist useful for things that you should bring if you have a similar venue!

  • Scissors
  • Utility Knife
  • Cable ties
  • String
  • Velcro
  • Wire
  • Scotch tape, masking tape, and duct tape
  • Steamer (to steam wrinkles out of things like table linens)
  • Rags
  • Surface cleaners
  • Power Strips
  • Extension cords
  • Electrical tape
  • Step stool
  • Ladder
  • Thumbtacks
  • Pens and markers
  • Flashlights
  • Pins
  • Notebooks and paper
  • Leaf blower or push broom (especially useful for outdoor spaces)
  • Boatloads of plastic containers to take home your leftovers


#1 Determine your priorities (also known as “pick your battles”)

In my advice for the recently engaged, I told brides that they should identify their lower priorities so that they know what tasks they can delegate during the wedding planning process. Friends, and especially family, of couples getting married should also identify their priorities, but for a slightly different purpose. What purpose is that? PICKING YOUR BATTLES! While you should never push your views on the happy couple, I realize that some folks can’t help themselves. So, instead of making everything a battle, just pick your priorities and express them to the couple somewhat early (but not immediately after engagement). For instance, do you want them to have a band instead of a deejay? Or to wear a family heirloom veil? Just focusing on the major details will help avoid friction. If you stick your nose in every aspect of wedding planning, they’re more likely to ignore ALL your advice and requests.

#2 It’s not personal. Don’t get offended

With #1 in mind, Don’t get offended when your advice or ideas are not accepted. Nothing personal. It’s their wedding, not yours. And if you pull the whole “we’re paying for this so you better listen to us” thing, you’re setting yourself up for a boatload of resentment. Do you really want your son or daughter to bad mouth you behind your back for their entire engagement?

#3 Never, ever speak ill of the future in-laws

Unless if there is some sort of abuse or criminal activity going on, just keep your opinions to yourself. It’s already a stressful enough time without the bride or groom thinking that you hate their future in-laws. So seriously, just keep your mouth shut. Think your daughter’s future mother-in-law has terrible taste? Oh fucking well. Think you son’s future brother-in-law goes a little heavy on the antidepressants? Just keep it to yourself. All it will do is dissuade the bride and groom from confiding in you in the future. Remember, once you say something, it can never be “unheard.”

#4 Offer to help with tedious tasks, like searching for used wedding items on Craigslist

We’ve already covered that you should pick your battles. And that you shouldn’t get offended when your advice is not heeded. Or, maybe they want to plan the entire wedding without any outside help (like we did. Seriously, it was one of our best wedding decisions). But to still show you care, every once in a while, offer to help with something tedious, like addressing invitation envelopes or searching craigslist for used items.

#5 Read recent wedding magazines.

If you got married more than five years ago, do yourself a favor and buy a few wedding magazines the next time you’re at the supermarket. This will help you get acquainted with recent trends, especially in décor and dresses. That way you don’t keep suggesting a large tulle-covered white bird cage from the craft store as a wedding card box.


What else do you think is crucial for family and friends of couples getting married to know?


Wedding Day Recap, Part 6 [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on February 22, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5

The precious few minutes before we headed to the ceremony site were spent looking for mints.

See, here’s the thing. Ken gets this weird gagging cough thing any time he is either A) Really Excited, B) Really Nervous, C) Really grossed out, or D) in really cold weather. Only one thing helps soothe his weird gagging cough. Those little round starlight mints. Since A and B were definite possibilities for the ceremony, he wanted to make sure he ate a mint before the wedding. He even specifically brought an entire bag of mints with him to the wedding venue when we arrived on Wednesday. They had been sitting on the same table in the Mess Hall for the last two days. But in those minutes before the ceremony, we couldn’t find the mints. We looked everywhere in the Mess Hall, but no one found them or remembered moving them.

Although I didn’t articulate it, I was kind of concerned. I realize this sounds very selfish, but I did not want Ken cough-gagging during the entire ceremony. This had been a worry, albeit minor one, for quite some time. Because once he starts to do it, the cough just gets progressively worse and frequent unless he has a mint. But, there was nothing we could do. The mints were nowhere to be found. Ken’s mom offered him a Hall’s cough drop from her purse. He took it in the hopes that it could have the same soothing effect on his cough as a starlight mint. He walked to the ceremony site with the Halls in his mouth. The next time I would see him was when I would be walking down the aisle!

Everyone except me, my dad, and my sister started walking to the ceremony site.  I walked to the restroom with my clutch purse to freshen my lipstick and lipgloss. Actually, the single restroom in the Mess Hall was occupied, so I had to walk to actual restrooms "building" adjacent to the Mess Hall. I put on my lipstick, but somehow it was a different color than the one I had put on at the hotel. As of today (the time I’m drafting), I still have no idea what happened to that lipstick. Once again, oh well. I put on the different color and walked back to the Mess Hall to meet up with my dad.

We started the approximately 400 foot walk to the ceremony site (the council circle, not the pavilion). My sister was taking pictures with my camera as we walked. She also had Ken’s camera on her other shoulder. We had told her to make sure she held both our cameras during the ceremony. We emphasized it as a very important point.



For like the millionth time that day, I couldn’t believe that the day was actually here. I was about to get married. The day had been unfolding beautifully. 

As we walked, my dad started to get really choked up. I just squeezed his arm and said, "It’s a happy day, not a sad one!" He said, "I know. It is a happy day."

I couldn’t believe how non-crying-emotional I had been all day. Considering that I was practically a blubbering mess simply reciting our vows at our rehearsal the night before, I had not shed even a single tear since Ken and I’s joint cry in the hotel very early that morning. The only emotions I had felt for the last 8 hours or so had been excitement with a few jitters mixed in!)

We reached the top of the gentle slope "aisle" that would lead us to the ceremony. There were several folks standing there. My mom, my brother-in-law (who would be escorting my mom down the aisle), Ken’s mom and Ken’s stepdad (Ken’s stepdad would escort Ken’s mom down the aisle), Ken’s grandmother and Ken’s Uncle (Ken’s uncle, i.e., his grandmother’s son/mom’s brother, was escorting his grandmother down the aisle), and my nephew (the ring bearer), and Ken’s niece (the flower girl). The wedding coordinator’s assistant was also standing there. She had on a black headset, a walkie talkie, that she was using to communicate with the coordinator who was standing at the actual ceremony site just 100 feet away.

I started to wonder if the ceremony musician, a classical guitarist, was there. Because at the top of the "aisle," I couldn’t hear any music. In one of my more recent "wedding disaster" dreams, I dreamt that the ceremony musician didn’t arrive until hours after the ceremony. So I asked the coordinator’s assistant. She said that yep, he was there. Funny, I thought the music would be louder. He said he was bringing an amp with him. This might be a good thing. Anytime I would listen to my processional song, Pachebel’s Canon in D, I would cry. So if I couldn’t hear the processional song well, maybe I wouldn’t cry as I walked down the aisle, something I had been afraid of.


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The Story of our Wedding Venue Hunt, Part 3

by Melissa on February 21, 2012

This is the final installment. You can check out Part 1 and Part 2 (I mentioned the reasons in Part 1 that I never talked about our wedding venue hunt on the blog. But now that the wedding is over, I’m spilling all the beans!)

The morning after we discovered Prince William Forest Park cabin camps online, we called their office to see if we could arrange a visit. We were in luck! A group was checking out of the camp that afternoon, so we could come see it at 2PM. SCORE! But of course, I was still trying to keep my expectations in check. 

We arrived at the Park after about a 25 minute drive from our home in Alexandria, VA. We were meeting with a Park Ranger at the building called the Mess Hall. He arrived, and we walked in to the Mess Hall. We were immediately BLOWN AWAY:. We walked into a full industrial kitchen, with walk-in refrigerators and deep freezers.



The dining area of the Mess Hall itself was rustic and beautiful, and there was a huge stone fireplace at one end of the room.


We asked the Park Ranger if they had any catering restrictions. There were NONE. We could use whatever caterer we wanted, We could even self-cater if we wanted. We didn’t need a bartender to serve alcohol. We would just need to apply for a $50 liquor license through Virginia.

Then he took us to see the cabins. There were several cabins with no heat, but those can’t be used in winter. He took us to see one of the four cabins that can be used in the winter. It’s a heated dorm-style room with mattresses and communal bathrooms. There would be room for more than 100 of our guests to stay if they wanted!


Next, he took us to the pavilion.  It was HUGE!  Like the mess hall, it had a large, gorgeous fireplace at one end. We were falling more and more in love with the camp. So many options and amenities, and it was just $540 per night!


Next, he took us to the “council ring” which he said that was a common ceremony space for folks who rented the cabin camp for weddings. It really was a perfect space. There was even a long path that led to the council ring, which I could totally see as an “aisle.”


To take the cake, he walked us back past the Mess Hall and cabins, on to another path, and showed us a gorgeous lake at the Cabin Camp. 


Ken and I were sold! How had we never heard about this place before?

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had read something online that could be a downside to the venue. At this point, we had already decided that we wanted our wedding to be on November 11, 2011 … 11/11/11. This was largely because when we were going to book Glen Echo Park as our wedding venue, all their October dates were already booked. And since we wanted an autumn wedding, and since foliage peaks the first and second week of November in this area, we decided on 11/11/11. 

BUT. Prince William Forest Park had a strict application process. You couldn’t just submit an application and reserve a date. They accepted applications for certain time periods only within particular windows. So for instance, for November dates, we would submit our application some time between March 1 and May 1, and we would be informed by May 31st if our date would be approved.

The Park Ranger wasn’t entirely familiar with the policy, so he told us to call the Park’s office the following Monday. When we called, the office confirmed our fears. 

It was currently January, and we’d have to wait until March 1 to submit an application. They would accept applications for that time period between March 1 and May 1. There were a few reasons they do this, one of which is to maximize the amount of time the cabin camps are booked.

So for instance, if Ken and I wanted to book the cabin camp between November 9-12, but someone else in that time period booked it for November 7-12, it would go to the other person because they were booking it for 5 nights.

This was a big bummer. If we decided to go with this place as our venue, we wouldn’t have a confirmed wedding date until like six months before the wedding. This meant not being able to book other vendors because we wouldn’t have a confirmed date. It would mean not being able to send out Save-the-Dates until after then. (That was another reason why I never talked about my wedding venue hunt on the blog. I didn’t want anyone to know the specific dates we booked the venue for, so that they wouldn’t squeeze in during that same application period for an extra day and bump us out of our desired dates.)

But, we decided it was worth the risk. At that point, the venue was more important to us than the date, so if for some reason we couldn’t get November 11, we would just select some other open date that they had.

We also realized that, although we couldn’t BOOK any vendors until after our wedding date was confirmed, we could certainly research them. We developed an action plan, and we decided that we would identify the top three vendors in each category through interviews. That way, once our wedding date was confirmed, we could go to the top three vendors, and hopefully one of those top three would still be available for booking.  We would have the Save-the-Dates designed and addresses collected and ready to go.

We submitted our application for Prince William Forest Park on March 1. We requested the dates November 9-12, with our actual wedding date planned for November 11. We figured that would give us plenty of time to get things set up on Wednesday November 9 (check-in time was 3pm)  and have our rehearsal dinner there on Thursday November 10 too. All told, it would cost us $1620. That was less money than most traditional venues wanted for just a few hours, with a lot fewer amenities!

We faxed in the application at like 12:01AM on March 1. Then we waited.

And waited. And May 1 came and went. May 1 was the end of the “application period,” so we knew we would find out any day. When did we finally find out that our November 11 wedding day was confirmed?

Oh, at 8:30AM on friggin MAY 31st.  The last possible day they said they would inform us is when they informed us. I guess I should’ve expected that. Just over five months away!
Those waiting months between March 1 and May 31 were really annoying. It was like our family and friends forgot our situation EVERY SINGLE TIME WE TALKED TO THEM. So for instance, two weeks after we submitted our application, my mom asked, “Did you hear anything about the wedding venue?” No mom, they have until the end of May to tell us.” Two weeks later, same question, same answer. My family, Ken’s family, our coworkers, our friends. We understand that they were just anxious to find out the details, but heck, so were we! We were just trying not to think about it so much, which made it really difficult when people were asking us about it every two goddamm minutes.

So when we finally learned that our wedding date was confirmed, it was sweet, sweet relief. June was a busy month for us and we moved quickly! First and foremost, we booked our wedding photographer. Then we sent out our already-designed save-the-dates. We had already interviewed other vendors, like deejays (before we decided to iPod our wedding), videographers (before we realized that they were too expensive), and other vendors.

In the end, it worked out perfectly!


Have you ever gone to Pinterest or Google Images or the Weddingbee DIY boards and searched for “unique wedding ideas?” For instance, maybe “unique invitations” or “unique wedding programs?”

Isn’t it strange how none of it is actually unique? Rather, it’s the same ideas you’ve seen over and over again online? I think the internet needs to learn the real definition of unique!

Here’s an example. Making a wedding program was a very last minute decision for our wedding. For ideas, I searched high and lo for “unique wedding programs.” You know what kept coming up in my results? Those programs that can also be used as fans at outdoor summer weddings. Over and over again. All my search results. Damned wedding program fans. Bah!

Well, I finally developed a fairly unique wedding program. And you know where the idea came from? Well, I’ll tell you about that later.

So where’s a bride to turn to for inspiration when everything looks the same in wedding world?

  • Scrapbooking Magazines, such as Creating Keepsakes
  • Paper Crafts Magazine
  • Martha Stewart Living (not the wedding magazine), Better Homes and Gardens, or other home living type magazines
  • Craft blogs that don’t focus exclusively on weddings. Try Stumble Upon’s “Crafts” category to discover some new blogs!
  • Sewing Magazines
  • Craftster
  • Craft Gawker

The BEST Place to Find Wedding Inspiration

But, better yet. Don’t forget to use your BRAIN for inspiration. Yes, even us un-creative types can tap something amazing and unique when we just look away from the computer and stop looking to others for ideas. My brain is where the idea for our wedding invitation originated. And our Save-the-Date. And the wedding program I was talking about above. I just opened up a notebook and started drawing. Er, I guess that’s what you can call it. Sketching, putting ideas to paper, whatever you want to call it. There are ideas IN YOUR BRAIN. 

Those amazing ideas you see on Pinterest and Stumble Upon? Guess what? At some point, those originated in someone’s head. One person. Well, yes, you say. But that person has infinitely more [insert excuse here … creativity, time, space, money]. But if those people can think of unique ideas, so can you.


One thing I’ve learned while blogging is that people get themselves worked up over the strangest things. One of the most popular posts here at SuperNoVABride is "Asking your guests not to take wedding photos? Are you crazy?" that I wrote in response to a few blog posts I had read. Talk about controversial!

A recent commenter, who agreed that guests should be allowed to take pictures at weddings, pointed out something that was also an issue at our wedding.

So, I’m about to backpedal a little bit. I do have one exception to my argument that you should allow guests to take photos at your wedding.

Do not allow guests to take photos during formal portraits. For some couples, this won’t be an issue. They’re whisked off to a different location to have their portraits taken in between the wedding and the ceremony. While we had our own bride and groom portraits taken before the wedding ceremony, we set aside about 15 minutes after the ceremony to take family portraits.

The location where we had our portraits taken was set back about 20 feet from the path that guided guests from the ceremony location to the reception location. A few overly eager family members tried to take their own photographs while the professional photographers were taking theirs.

Why was this problematic? Well, it only mostly happened with photos with the ring bearer and flower girl, was that they were getting a bit thrown off by all the different cameras and ended up sometimes looking into the wrong camera. In fact, this even prompted our photographer to say in a playful voice, "Hey, look at my camera, don’t look at them," while trying to get the attention of our two-year old flower girl.

So there. I admit there is an exception to my sweeping statement that you should never forbid your guests from taking photographs.

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Wedding Day Recap, Part 5 [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on February 15, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

All photographs in this post are from our amazing wedding photog, Debi Parker

We had arrived at the venue! We parked in the small parking area next to the Mess Hall. I walked inside the mess hall and there were a bunch of people in there enjoying some snacks that our family friend had made. The fireplace was roaring. And there was Ken. Still in his jeans and t-shirt! Quite a few of the folks made playful comments about the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony! Of course, that was silly, we had seen each other all morning and were about to have our pictures taken together.

I said, "Ken! Go get dressed!” He got up right away and went to the cabin where he had put his suit so that he could change. He was back within like 3 minutes. The joys of being a guy. He sat down at the computer we had set up for the photobooth. He said that it kept crashing. The same photobooth that had been working for 2 days straight wouldn’t work, and he didn’t have time to troubleshoot it.

Oh well. We had lots of technology projects, and we came to an agreement long ago that if one of them malfunctioned, we wouldn’t freak. It wasn’t the end of the world. Anyway, it was still partially working. Instead of it automatically taking pictures when someone walked in front of it, people now just had to press a button to get it to take the photos.

Then came the comedic process of 1) Finding someone that knew how to tie a tie, because Ken doesn’t know how, and 2) figuring out how to put on boutonnieres and corsages. Ken must’ve walked to about three male family members before his stepdad managed to tie his tie correctly.





I buttoned the cuffs of Ken’s shirt.



And my dad’s cousin was doing a pretty good job of getting the corsages and boutonnieres on everyone.



I explained to my nephew what a boutonniere is.




We were having a bit of a hard time getting my nephew’s boutonniere on properly, and the photographer even offered to help. The photographer got it pinned on him.

About 60 seconds later, my nephew was tugging at my dress and pointing to his boutonniere. "Melissa, I don’t like this. Can you take it off please?" It was such a cute way he asked. It was like he knew not to make a scene or start yelling that he didn’t want to wear it (although he’s typically not like that in general anyway, he’s a well behaved little boy). I figured there was no need to force him to wear it if he didn’t want it. I took it off of him and set it on a table in the mess hall. 

My sister remembered that I had not yet put the sixpence coin in my shoe. The sixpence is a family heirloom that generations of women in my family had worn on their wedding day. She said she would go track down a piece of tape to tape it to the inside of my shoe. Wanting to get started with the pre-ceremony photographs, I said, "No, just put it in my shoe, it will stay in there just fine."

Ken and I set out with the photographers to have our "first look" photos taken. Although I guess by that point "pre-ceremony" photos probably would’ve been more appropriate, because Ken and I had already had our "first look." The photographer directed us to a good place to have some photos taken.

As we were taking photos, we could see our guests walking down the pathway from the parking lot. We would wave to them, and I wondered if they had ever heard of a bride and groom having their photos taken before the ceremony, because from what I understand, it is a more recent trend (or at least has become more common recently). I couldn’t stop smiling. We actually did a "fake" first look, where Ken stood facing one direction and I walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder and we feigned extra super excitement. We must look like doofuses in that picture (as of the time I’m drafting this section, it’s 18 days post-wedding, and we haven’t gotten back our pro photos yet, so I can’t say definitively that we look like doofuses. Update! We have our wedding photos since I first drafted this, and yup, we look like doofuses)





I could see the pavilion, where our reception was going to take place, but the plastic walls, although they were clear, made it difficult to see the setup and the details. I was so anxious to see the inside! But, there was no time.  It was funny, we had allotted about 40 minutes for first look photos. I would just like to say that that time FLEW by. We wanted to walk to a nearby lake at the venue, probably no more than a four minute walk, but it was about 2:40 at that time, and the ceremony was starting at 3PM. I was determined to have the ceremony start on time. Ken and I had gone to an outdoor wedding on a HOT day back in June that started more than 30 minutes late. We took a few more photos. As we were walking through a grassy area, a bunch of leaves got stuck in my shoe, so I took my foot out of my shoe and shook out the leaves. Here are a few of my favorite first look photos:












At some point, and I’m not sure when, and it might have even been before the first look photos I mentioned the fact that we were going to have the ceremony in the pavilion to protect the guests from the wind (I’m now 21 days past the wedding as I’m drafting this. Happy 3 week anniversary to me). I’m not even sure who I said it to, but I think it was the coordinator’s assistant. No one seemed to know what I was talking about. I wasn’t too worried.

It was amazing. After all the worry and panic earlier that morning, in fact, just like 8 hours earlier, the little things were just rolling right off my back. Photobooth not working properly? Oh well. Ceremony site still not decided? Well, we’ll figure it out.

Nothing else mattered. We were getting married that day regardless of where it took place at the campground and regardless of whether the photobooth was working. 

I mentioned to Ken about having the ceremony in the pavilion. He said no, that he never told anyone that we were having it in the pavilion. I asked him about our phone conversation earlier when he said we should have it in there because it was so windy outside. You know, that conversation when I was barely paying attention to what he was saying? He said that that was never a final decision. I felt kind of silly for a moment because I had even posted to our wedding Facebook group that our ceremony would be in a different location. Oh well!

We wrapped up our first look photos and the photographers headed to the pavilion to take some detail shots. Ken and I headed back to the mess hall to round up everybody. It was TIME.


Groom Not Involved? Don’t get Married

by Melissa on February 14, 2012

Watching the Suze Orman show is a weekend ritual in our household. While I like Suze for the most part, I mentioned one of her more irksome qualities to Ken a few weeks ago.

A female caller had phoned in to The Suze Orman Show and was expressing anger and disappointment that her husband was never willing to participate in and follow the household budgeting efforts. Without skipping a beat, Suze starts asking the caller questions. And I know right where the line of questioning will lead – to a question that basically suggests that the caller should leave her husband. I’ve seen it before on her show several times.

I say to Ken, “You know, that really bothers me about Suze. She suggests divorce at the drop of a hat for the most trivial things!”  To which Ken replies, “I think Suze just realizes it is just indicative of a larger problem that will probably not get better.”

That got me thinking.

If your fiancé is not an involved partner in wedding planning efforts, should you even marry him?

I mean, after all, if your wedding is important to you, and you can’t even get him involved enough to track down addresses for invitations or help you pick out groomsmen gifts, (or whatever the complaint of the day may be) then isn’t that indicative of a bigger problem? The fact that he can’t even pretend to be interested in and excited about something that is clearly important to you? 

Maybe you shouldn’t get married.

Instead of calling into the Suze Orman show ten years from now complaining that your husband won’t follow the household budget, maybe you should just cut your losses now.

I was blessed with a very involved groom, so I can’t speak to this directly.

But what do you think? Should you even get married if getting your fiancé to contribute to the planning is like pulling teeth? Do you think that can be indicative of a larger issue? Will you face problems down the road on topics other than wedding planning?


The Story of our Wedding Venue Hunt, Part 2

by Melissa on February 9, 2012

Part 1 (I mentioned the reasons in Part 1 that I never talked about our wedding venue hunt on the blog. But now that the wedding is over, I’m spilling all the beans!)

After we were totally floored by the behavior of Matters of Taste catering and realized that we had to ditch Glen Echo Park as our wedding venue of choice, we decided to reconsider the Pavilions at Turkey Run. That was the venue where a previous company I worked for held their annual company picnic. We had gone to visit that venue our first week of venue hunting since Ken had never been there before (and since I wanted to see it through the lens of a wedding venue hunter, not an employee attending a company picnic).

Their pavilion rental price was very reasonable, tables and chairs would be included, and although we’d have to use their internal catering service, the prices were very reasonable. We could easily stay within our $15,000 budget by getting married there, even if we had 150 guests.

So I started contacting Turkey Run again and I asked about potential dates. They got back to me and said that all their weekends in late October / early November 2011 were still available, so we could have our wedding day during peak foliage season in a nice wooded setting. Sweet!

It was time to proceed! We wanted to have our ceremony and reception at the Pavilions at Turkey Run. There are three actual pavilions that we would be renting, so we figured we could use one for the ceremony, one for the reception, and one for something else … like dancing or games. Turkey Run was mailing us a contract.



We gave Turkey Run our proposed start and end times. 3PM for a ceremony, with the reception following immediately after and going until 10PM or 11PM. They said that wouldn’t fly. They had a strict 5 hour rental time. There was no getting them to budge.

Ken and I sat down to discuss. Perhaps 5 hours would be plenty. But Ken’s family is full of talkers. They all just like to sit around and talk into the late hours of the night. We didn’t want to kick people out so quickly. We also didn’t want to move the ceremony time to any later in the day, because we wanted to make sure we had natural daylight for the ceremony and wedding photos. But, the food and venue at Turkey Run was so reasonably priced, and we could have so many fun options, like a rock climbing wall and moon bounce. We also toyed briefly with the idea of having the ceremony at a different location so that the five hours would be entirely for the reception, but we nixed it quickly. We definitely wanted our ceremony and reception to be at the same location.

Then Ken said something that changed my entire view point on Turkey Run.

“We’re budgeting $15,000 for our wedding. If we stick with Turkey Run, that means that our 5 hour wedding will cost us $3000 per hour.”

That settled it. We were done. Glen Echo Park was out of the running, and now, less than two weeks later, the Pavilions at Turkey Run was out of the picture. We were nearly three months into our engagement and still had no wedding venue.

The following Friday evening when we were at home, we were both searching online for new options. I was on my laptop in the living room, and Ken on his computer in his home office. I was searching for something like “picnic pavilions DC” and tripped across a search result for Prince William Forest Park.

I browsed quickly through the site, realizing that it was another venue that probably wouldn’t pan out. I had searched for other picnic pavilion rentals in the DC area, but since most of them are tied to the operating hours of a particular park, most of them closed after dusk. And since we didn’t want a morning or afternoon wedding, that wouldn’t work.

But things were looking up. Prince William Forest Park had these entire campground things, called Cabin Camps, that you could rent all night. $540 per night! Holy smokes! That was a third of the cost of the cheapest venue we ever found. There were different buildings, including a pavilion, a Mess Hall, and cabins that could sleep more than 100 people. There was also a lake accessible from the cabin camp!

I showed it to Ken. He started to look at all the details and I could tell he was getting increasingly excited, but was trying to get his hopes up too much because of all our problems finding a venue. He said that we should call Prince William Forest Park in the morning to see if we could come see it. My reaction was a bit more tempered. I was in no hurry to go see another venue that would probably be yet another disappointment.

But, I agreed. I would call the next morning to see if we could see the Cabin Camp. Later that evening though, as we reviewed the Cabin Camp applications, we did realize that there would be one big downside of having our wedding there.  *Spoiler alert: we DID have our wedding there, so it wasn’t a dealbreaker, it just added some worry to our plate!*

More on that big downside in part 3!