March 2012

Last Year on SuperNoVABride!

by Melissa on March 31, 2012

Here are some of my favorite posts from March 2011!

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As I’ve mentioned a million times on here, we LOVED our wedding venue. But before we found Prince William Forest Park, one of the biggest things that just boggled my mind about other wedding venues and wedding caterers was just how much they charge for alcohol! We had received a quote from one caterer for $39.95 per person JUST FOR ALCOHOL! And not even top-shelf type stuff. Just beer, wine, and booze. We didn’t even want to spend $39.95 per person for food!

Beer kegs

Image Source

But, luckily our venue allowed us to bring in our own alcohol. We just needed to apply for an ABC liquor license through Virginia, which was super easy! We spent $95 for a two-day license since we would be having alcohol at the venue on both the wedding day and the rehearsal the night before.

Our venue did not require bartenders, but we did end up hiring some through our caterer for a couple of reasons:

  1. The bartending services offered by our caterer included not just the bartender, but also sodas, waters, juice, ice, and cups.
  2. The total bartending service was $100/hour. Once we realized that we would have to purchase about $170 in two liters of soda alone (plus waters, juice, cups, and figuring out how to transport all that ice, etc.) we determined that the bartending service would be a very wise investment for 5 hours.

Therefore, the only thing we’d have to bring was the alcohol. We decided on beer and wine. Plus, we also offered coffee, hot water for tea and hot chocolate, and hot apple cider (which was a HUGE hit). We brought our own large industrial coffee urns and insulated cups for the hot beverages.

We were expecting 117 adults and 38 children at the wedding, but we purposely overestimated how many folks would be drinking alcohol at 150, just to be sure we didn’t run out!

This is what we purchased:

  • Two half kegs of beer. We got two half kegs instead of just one big one so that a line wouldn’t form at any one keg. We served Yuengling
  • Seven cases of wine. We purchased 3.5 cases of Charles Shaw Chardonnay and 3.5 cases of Charles Shaw Cabernet from Trader Joe’s. I had read somewhere online that you should limit your wines to one red and one white because it will decrease the chances of you running out of any given type of wine. So, instead of having a mix of merlot and cabernet, for example, we just stuck with the cabernet.

This is what we used for our approximately 6 hour reception (drinks started at 3:45PM, and most folks had left by about 9:45PM)

  • One full half-keg of beer. But that keg was almost completely empty. If the wedding had gone just another half hour, we would’ve had to have tapped the second keg.
  • About 2.5 Cases of Cabernet (28 bottles)
  • Almost 2 Full Cases of Chardonnay (20 bottles)

We returned 1 unopened case of Cabernet and 1 unopened case of Chardonnay to Trader Joe’s after the wedding. Unfortunately, the box of the other unused case of Chardonnay had been unopened, leaving us with 12 bottles of Chardonnay that we couldn’t return. Bummer!

Some Tips and Lessons Learned

  • Always use bottles from opened cases of wine first. We purchased 3 unopened cases of white wine and 3 unopened cases of red wine. For the 7th case, we split it between red and white, so that box was an open box (does that make sense? We just took an empty case box at Trader Joe’s and filled it up half with red and half with white). Since you can always return unopened cases, make sure you use opened cases first!  If you hire bartenders, be sure to instruct them not to open any case until it is needed.
  • Figure out what to do with leftover beer. The place where we rented the beer kegs from would not provide a refund even though the second keg was never tapped (and rightly so). Ask around of your friends, family, and coworkers if they are planning on having any parties or events within a few days of your wedding. That way, if you’re left with a ton of unused beer, they can use it for their event. Better than it all going to waste!
  • Your guests won’t mind drinking from plastic or acrylic wine cups. Seriously. It is OKAY!
  • However, for the beer cups, consider a color of Solo cups other than the frat-party-red. We opted for some lovely autumn color plastic Solo-style cups from Party City. Of course the red color is fine, it just always reminds me of college parties
  • If your venue rental extends beyond your bartending service time (like ours did), make made sure to have your own supply of wine cups, cocktail napkins, etc. (since those were all provided by our bartender, when the bartender left, so did the supplies!). That way guests can continue to drink after the bartender leaves.
  • On a similar note, use your own table or table rental for the bartender to use instead of the bartender bringing their own table. Since we planned on serving alcohol even after the bartender left, we didn’t want the bartender to be taking their own table with them! This way, everything on the bar table could stay put and we would just put out our own cups!

How Much did we Spend on Alcohol

Of course, you can always check out our comprehensive list of wedding expenses, or you can just check out the relevant expenses below!

Expenses

  • $95 – ABC Liquor License for Two Days
  • $398.38 – Two Half Beer Kegs, including refundable deposits for taps and tubs
  • $290.18 – Seven Cases of Wine from Trader Joe’s
  • $500 – Bartending Service for 5 Hours (included all ice, sodas, juices, bottled water, and cups)
  • $90 – 18% Tip for Bartender
  • $55.00 – Estimation of extra cups and napkins and ice we purchased for after bartending service ended. This is an estimation because the cups and napkins for the bar were mixed in with our other purchases of things like plates, napkins, and forks for the cake, as well as the cups for the hot beverages.

Credits

  • -$180 – Deposit returned for beer kegs
  • -$74.44 – Two unopened cases of wine returned to Trader Joe’s

Total

We spent $1174.12 on alcohol-related expenses for our wedding, or approximately $10.57 per the approximately 110 adults that attended our wedding. Much better than $39.95 per person!!

 

What other tips am I missing? Were other folks able to bring their own alcohol to their venue?

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An Intermission [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on March 28, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 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; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10

So I have a bit of a confession to make.

All of my wedding recaps that I have published so far were written within four weeks or so of the wedding. In fact, about 80% of the recaps were written within 10 days of the wedding, including our 5 hour plane rides to and from our minimoon in Vegas.

But, after the recap you read last week, I kind of lost steam. At that point, I had written nearly 22,000 words (or 45 single-spaced pages) of recaps detailing the wedding, including the crazy day before, as well as two days before the wedding.

I just stopped writing them. I kept telling myself to pick up where I left off, to keep writing, but I never did. But luckily, I can use pictures to guide the rest of the reception. And of course, my memory hasn’t faded THAT much in the past 3.5 months!

So, I’m going to take a brief intermission from my Wedding Recaps, put all my photos together along with some descriptions (albeit less detailed than what you have been reading. I know, I know, you’re sad.) and wrap up the wedding recaps for ya!

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Our Wedding Website

by Melissa on March 26, 2012

Creating a wedding website was one of the first wedding-related projects I undertook. Ken is a web developer and would cringe any time we would receive a wedding invitation that included a 40-character long URL to their wedding website hosted at The Knot, so I knew that we’d have to have our own domain.

But, right after out engagement, he told me that he had already registered a personalized domain just for our wedding. How sweet! But now, it was up to me to actually create the site.

I wanted something minimalist and that didn’t require a whole lot of coding knowledge because, while I knew that I could ask Ken any time I had a question, I didn’t want to bother him with it.

I installed WordPress on our customized domain and then found a theme called Adventure that I really liked after probably WAY too much searching. Our website originally included six pages:

  • Home Page – Just consisted of a menu bar and a slideshow of images of the two of us
  • The Engagement – The story of how we got engaged
  • Wedding Details – This page included information about our venue, the date and time of the ceremony and reception, attire suggestions, directions, and information on accommodations and hotel room blocks. We also included a brief story about our wedding venue hunt and how we chose Prince William Forest Park.
  • About Us – Details about ourselves like where we work, where we went to college, and what our hobbies are. This was good so that each side of the family could learn more about us!
  • Registries – Contained links to our registries
  • Contact Information – Our e-mail addresses and a link to our wedding Facebook group (more on our Facebook group in a future post)!

Subsequently, we added two additional pages

  • RSVP Here! – Since we provided an online RSVP option for our guests
  • Wedding Photos – After the wedding, we provided links to all our wedding photos on our website. Then mentioned in our wedding thank you cards that folks could check out our site and view all the photos. (Although we had put all our photos on Facebook, there are a considerable number of folks not on Facebook who hadn’t seen them).

Here’s what our homepage looks like:

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The large photo changes every 3 seconds (in every browser except IE. IE users only see this photo). We had 38 photos of ourselves that would rotate through on the page.For instance, here’s another photo:

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There you have it!

I really, really loved the simplicity of our wedding website. I installed Google Analytics code on the site, and so I could see how many of our guests actually checked the website after we sent out our Save-the-Dates. It was great!

What did you all do for your wedding website?

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Check out Kiss My Tulle Today!

by Melissa on March 22, 2012

Be sure to check Kiss My Tulle today, where I have a guest post tutorial on how to turn wedding gift ribbons into art for your home.

Image 13 - Hanging on Wall (2 - with flash)

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T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 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; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9

I turned to Ken, and tried not to move my lips much as I said, "Oh.My.God. Look at those cakes." Ken turned and looked at the cakes. Then turned back and said to me, "Well, huh, how about that. That’s not even close to what we ordered. Another thing the coordinator messed up."

There wasn’t much we could do about it, so we just continued on. We turned on the microphone while up on the stage and once folks started to notice we were there, they all started to applaud. We welcomed them to the wedding. We told them that if they got too chilly, that they could head to the Mess Hall just about 200 feet away and warm up in there and that we had some beer, wine, other beverages, games, and a photobooth in the Mess Hall. We also pointed out the board games that were on the table next to the cakes, and where the kids table was.

The "dinner" music was playing, but dinner wasn’t scheduled to start for another 45 minutes or so. It was time to mingle with our guests!  The photographers went off to take some detail shots of our rings, bouquets, and lego ring bearer box.

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I LOVE this photo of our rings on top of s’mores ingredients!

 

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I had read in so many different places online that your wedding day, especially the reception, is a complete blur and that it goes by so fast. I was really cognizant of both these issues, so I had made two decisions. Try to be completely "present" in each moment at the reception. For instance, when interacting with guests, I would completely focus on them. Not wave to people in the distance, not worry about how our first dance would go, not worry about our incorrect cakes.

I also made the decision not to drink any alcohol at the reception.

Here’s the thing about me and alcohol. When I drink, it tends to be for relaxation purposes, not for "fun purposes." I become relaxed when I drink (or when I drink too much, I get sleepy and boring), not fun and animated. Like the previous night when I started drinking before the rehearsal, it was so that I could relax. And earlier in the morning at the hotel when I was getting ready, I drank to relax.

There was no more need for me to relax! It was time to have fun! I did get a glass of wine just so I could carry it around with me as I interacted with guests, but I never actually drank any it. I also realized that by not drinking alcohol, perhaps the wedding would be less of a "blur" like many people describe it as.

So, I would definitely NOT describe our reception as a "blur." But there were a lot of things that happened that I can’t necessarily remember the sequence.

One of the first things, I think, remember happening to me after our little introductions is a little girl coming up to me with the card that had our table "number" description. She was sitting at the Betta Fish table! Our description card had told the story about how Ken and I have a fish tank at home, and we even had a betta fish that lived for more than two years. The little girl, who was probably 8 or 9, proceeded to tell me the story that she had a betta fish that lived for more than THREE years!

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This was a really poignant moment for me for some reason. First, the fact that little kids almost always find weddings miserable, and she was just really excited about everything, especially telling me all about her betta fish. Second, the fact that folks were actually reading our table postcards and learning more about us!

I walked around, sometimes with Ken and sometimes without, mingling with all the guests.

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I’m not sure what story I’m telling here, but it looks like a good one!

wedding-day-recap-part-10-supernovabride-10

 

There were already folks making s’mores in the fireplace.

wedding-day-recap-part-10-supernovabride-12

Before I knew it, dinner was ready to be served and folks started lining up for our BBQ buffet. Then my mom came up to me (I think it was my mom) and said, “isn’t the pastor going to do a blessing?” Oh, right. Yep, that was on our wedding timeline! That our COORDINATOR had in her possession. But, oh well. I saw the pastor and asked if he would go up to the microphone and give a quick blessing. So he did.

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Everything was just so amazing. Sure, the weather was chillier than we had hoped, and it was especially annoying because that was the only day below 60 that entire week, but folks didn’t seem to mind that much. They had all dressed accordingly and looked stylish with their jackets. And the kids were running around like crazy, so that was keeping them warm.

Before we knew it, dinner was over! Ken and I hadn’t even eaten anything! It’s okay though, with all the excitement, I don’t think I could’ve eaten anything if I had wanted to!  Plus, interacting with our guests was much more important to us than eating.

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Just got engaged? Get on this shit, ASAP

by Melissa on March 20, 2012

Every time I read an “advice for the newly engaged” article or blog post, I’m inspired to write a similar post too. Except one that actually contains USEFUL information. I ranted about this in my last “advice for the newly engaged” post, but did you know that after you get engaged you should start to develop a guest list? Or determine who you want to be in your wedding party? So, once again, here’s some advice for you if you just got engaged (that you won’t read anywhere else)

engaged-meme

Learn how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, ASAP

Take courses at www.Lynda.com before wedding planning gets super crazy, or sign up for a course at your nearby community college. I am not familiar with Photoshop or Illustrator at all, yet I had to use them countless times for wedding-related things. And if you aren’t familiar with them, let me just say that they are not intuitive and there are some steep learning curves.

Practice communicating your opinion in the clearest, most straightforward and succinct way possible

Look okay, sometimes women have trouble saying no, or outright disagreeing with someone because we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But when dealing with people you interact with during the wedding planning process, including vendors and friends that are helping you, you need to be as clear as possible about your opinions. 

So for instance, if your cake decorator suggests a cake design that you think is hideous, this should NOT be your response:

"I mean, sure, that looks nice, but I was wondering if it was possible because I was thinking more along the lines of something that was perhaps a more coral color than a deep orange. I mean, if the color you’re showing me now is easier, then sure, that would probably be fine though. And, I mean, of course you’re the expert, what do I know about these things?"

WTH? And yes, we DO sound like that sometimes. And that just leaves your cake vendor completely confused. "So wait, is this deep orange okay or not?"

A much better response is:

"No, I don’t like this color orange you’re showing me. I would like something coral instead."

BOOM. Done. You’re paying your vendors folks. I’m not saying be rude to them or anything. But be straightforward and don’t worry about offending them.

Perhaps learn a bit of a crafty skill, such as sewing or calligraphy

This can help you save money down the road, or better yet, open up a host of different options that you might not have otherwise considered for your wedding!

Sign up for travel deal and airfare alerts for your desired honeymoon destinations

Even if you haven’t made a definitive decision about your honeymoon destination, hurry and sign up for travel deals and alerts for any potential honeymoon destinations. For instance, sign up for Kayak and Airfare Watchdog airfare alerts from your home airport to your honeymoon destination cities. That way you can pounce on a great deal if it comes up.  Also, sign up for Travelzoo Top 20 and Newsflash deals. While they’re not destination-specific, there may be a great deal to a city that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of!

Start a blog, a journal, or something to remember your experiences

And keep up with it! Of course, planning a wedding adds an entirely new element of busy-ness to your life, but there will be so many crazy experiences and stories from your wedding planning experience! Make sure you memorialize them some way! Whether it’s a blog that you share with the world, a notebook journal, or a simple Word document, write it down! You’ll be so thankful that you did.

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The Story of Our Engagement

by Melissa on March 19, 2012

Like our wedding venue hunt, I realize that I never actually shared with you all the story of mine and Ken’s engagement! So, here you go!

For more than six months in 2010, Ken and I had been planning a trip to Europe departing in September 2010. We were going to travel in Spain for a week, and then take a week-long Mediterranean Cruise out of Barcelona.

We left for Spain on September 25, 2010 and had a great time traveling all around Spain. We visited Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Toledo (although just for a few hours), and Barcelona. It was gorgeous! In Barcelona, we met up with my sister, her husband, and their 4-year-old son. The idea for the cruise had actually been my sister’s idea and Ken and I said we wanted to go on it too. But we added the week-long tour of Spain ourselves.

Our cruise departed Barcelona on Saturday October 2. Our first port of call on the cruise was Villefranche, France (near Nice on the French Riveira) on October 3.

We disembarked the ship and took tenders to the land, and then hopped on a train/subway thing from Villefranche to Nice. We were walking around, and Ken kept cough-gagging really badly (remember I talked about that on our wedding day recap? And how he coughs when he’s really nervous, excited, cold, or grossed out?). He said he ate too much for breakfast and his stomach was really upset.

We were walking all around Nice taking photographs and we finally approached the main square of the city. Ken said he needed to take a break from all the walking around and sit down for a while. So, we sat on a concrete ledge surrounding a tree. After we sat for a few seconds, Ken told me to walk toward the fountain in the center of the square so that he could take my photo.

right-before-wedding-proposal-supernovabride
As I walked back towards where he was sitting, he was reaching for something in his bag and was getting down on to the ground. It took me a second to realize what he was doing, and when I did, my mind just filled with excitement and my eyes filled with tears.

He said, “I love you, and want to spend the rest of my life with you.  Will you marry me?”

I nodded “yes,” unable to get out the actual word because I was so choked up. He opened a wooden ring box that contained a beautiful sapphire engagement ring.

The next few moments are a blur.  But I soon realized that the ring was still in the box!  So I blurted out, “Aren’t you going to put it on my finger!?”  Ken said, “I don’t even know what hand it goes on,” so I showed him where the ring would go.  It fit perfectly. It was just what I wanted. A sapphire stone surrounded by a diamond band (more on the story of my engagement ring in a future post!)

sapphire-engagement-ring-supernovabrideI was truly, genuinely shocked. We had only started talking about rings and stuff a little over a month earlier, so I never even thought that there would’ve been time to find a ring in that amount of time.

We sat back down and he told me all the crazy stories and secrets he had been having to keep from me. The one about my ring was especially funny! (again, more on that later).

He told me that he thought my entire family already knew. He had talked to my dad about it oh the phone already and apparently my dad had asked if he could tell my mom and sister, and Ken said that was okay. I was all like, “WHAT!!”  I couldn’t believe they knew!

Then a lot of things started making sense. Before every vacation Ken and I would go on, my mom would always ask, “Are you getting a ring? Do you think you’re going to get a ring on this trip?” I would always get so annoyed. But, as I thought about it, my mom NEVER asked me that question before this vacation!

And, it finally made more sense why Ken was cough-gagging. He was nervous about asking me!

Later that afternoon, we made our way back to the ship. I called my mom, and he called his mom. Then I called my grandmother, who is hard-of-hearing and will sometimes pretend to hear what you say, even if she doesn’t actually hear you. That’s exactly what happened during my phone conversation with her.

Me: Hi Gram, I have big news! I got engaged!
Gram: You got a what?
Me: No, engaged. I got ENGAGED (louder voice)
Gram: A what??
Me: ENGAGED! Ken PROPOSED to me! (even louder still)
Gram: Oh, that’s nice to hear you’re having a good time.

After one or two more back-and-forths, she finally hears me. So, she asks about the ring and I tell her about it.

Me: It’s a sapphire stone with a diamond band
Gram: A sapphire???  Why not a diamond?
Me: I wanted a sapphire, not a diamond. He got me what I wanted.
Gram: What color is it?
Me: It’s a blue sapphire. I really like it.
Gram: Yes, but it’s BLUE! (clearly disgusted that it’s not a diamond).

I gave up and we ended our conversation.

We just hung out until my sister got back on the ship a few hours later and I went and gave her the news. She obviously knew it was coming at some point because my dad told her about the conversation with Ken, but she was still really excited when we gave her the news. Then we explained to my four-year-old nephew that I was going to become Ken’s wife. My nephew was quite sad about this, because he had asked me to be his wife on a number of occasions (apparently there is some scene in the Princess and the Frog where someone (presumably the prince?) kisses a girl’s hand and says “Will you be my wife?”

A brief, but kind of funny, side story.

While in Spain, just three days into our two-week trip (Ken had not yet proposed), Ken fell down the steps of a bus and hurt his foot pretty badly.  (Coincidentally, I fell UP some steps at the Alhambra the very next day and bruised my shin badly and scraped up my hand.  Hence the scraped up ring finger in the engagement ring photo above!).

Ken started to sit on the sidewalk right after the fall, but I told him to get up and hobble over to a chair at an outdoor cafe just a few feet away.  It’s a long story, but Ken lost consciousness about 30 seconds after his fall, leading me to believe that Ken had hit his head when he fell.  So, in the middle of a sidewalk in Seville, Spain, I started to scream at the top of my lungs for someone to call an ambulance (in English, no less).  A doctor at a nearby restaurant rushed over as Ken woke back up.  The doctor said that if Ken had hit his head, that we should get him to a hospital right away.  But Ken said he had only fainted and that he definitely did not hit his head and that he had only hurt his foot.

Ken's-Foot copy

Later that evening, after I had calmed down from such a terrible scare, I called my Mom to tell her the story about Ken’s fall down the stairs, including the part about how he tried to sit on the sidewalk after he hurt his foot and subsequently fainted.  Fast forward 4 days, when I was now giving my mom the news about Ken’s proposal.  My mom was very excited, and then revealed that when I told her the story about Ken’s fall a few days earlier, that she thought it was all part of Ken’s grand proposal plan. That he had “pretended” to fall and would get on the sidewalk to propose. She was really excited with the story at that point! But then, she was very surprised at how the story about the fall had ended.  Not with a proposal, but with a loss of consciousness.

Luckily she had kept the secret and didn’t blurt out with a “CONGRATULATIONS” or anything like that! I would’ve been like, WTF?

So, there you have it. The story of our engagement. In another post, I’ll discuss the full story about finding an engagement ring, and all the hoops that Ken had to jump through to find a sapphire engagement ring!

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Wedding Expenses Lessons Learned

by Melissa on March 16, 2012

Well, I started to talk about this a bit last Thursday, but didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself. 

Am I ashamed that we went more than $8000 over our desired wedding budget?

I’m not sure.

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Image Source

Yes, I think it reflects badly on me and hints at some overall irresponsibility with regard to spending that Ken and I have. After all, I set out to have a “budget” wedding! What did I end up spending? Close to the national average expense of a wedding.   Although definitely on the low end of what weddings cost where we live.  

I’m confused.

We self-deejayed. I bought two wedding dresses, both of which were less than $200 each. We had no videographer. No floral centerpieces. No fancy limo (or heck, even bus) transportation. We had no bridal party, which meant no bouquets and boutonnieres for them and no gifts to have to buy them to say thank you. I DIYed my own wedding day makeup.

I was doing everything I thought we could do right to save money. 

Allow me to throw a pity party for second and place blame everywhere but on myself.

Those “average” wedding expenses? I think are drastically UNDER ESTIMATED.  Maybe I’m just being a self-important brat here, but I think there are very few couples that have ever tracked every penny of their wedding-related expenses like thumbtacks for their escort card display, parking fees during their engagement session, and tin buckets for s’mores supplies. But, maybe they do track it. Who knows. Maybe those types of expenses are taken into account when determining the average wedding cost

When I read wedding submissions on wedding blogs, I find it very convenient that their wedding cost “total” is something like $12,000. Or $9000. Really? It came out that nice and evenly? Because our wedding expenses were $23,598.91. This doesn’t just include the “major” expenses.

Like here,

Or here.

Am I bitter that some folks can (or at least claim to) have a budget wedding of approximately $8000-ish, and I can’t even have one for $15,000? Heck, or even $20,000?

Nope!

And here’s why. Despite about $1000 worth of “regrettable” expenses, there is nothing else, and I mean nothing, that I would’ve cut or changed from our wedding. So no, I do not regret our $760 dance lessons or our $87.25 (plus $10.95 shipping) lego ring bearer box. Or renting our wedding venue for three days instead of two or just one. Or spending $490.17 (plus shipping) on some really rockin’ wedding invitations.

Here’s what I really don’t regret. Basically inviting EVERYONE we knew. “They” say the easiest way to keep the cost down for a wedding is to lower your guest list. What fun is a wedding if ALL your friends and family (including their plus ones!) can’t celebrate with you? So, although inviting nearly 300 people was a bit stressful at times, I was so happy that about 150 could make it and celebrate with us. Plus, we were able to keep our costs low on the catering, which allowed us to invite that many people without REALLY breaking the bank. Anyway, we could’ve easily cut our budget without cutting our guest list anyway!

Everything about our wedding really, truly, was “us.” Because we didn’t allow any outside involvement, there was nothing in our wedding that was forced on us. We were cognizant of our expenses. We continued to track them even when we started to go WAY over our budget.

So, while it may seem ridiculous to go more than $8000 over budget on anything, I have zero regrets here!

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T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 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; Part 7; Part 8

The ceremony was over! Ken and I were married!

The photographers had the shot list that we had provided to them, and the started taking our family portraits. She was getting them done really quickly, but unfortunately I was getting really cold. After the family portraits, Ken and I were supposed to have some additional photographs taken at the nearby lake at the venue, just about a four or five minute walk away. But I was cold and was ready to go into the pavilion and warm up by the fireplace. As I write this, now 26 days post-wedding, I kinda regret that decision. I should’ve just toughed it out to have some more photos taken. (Update since drafting this: Ken and I have an absolutely great amount of photos of each other together from the wedding, especially from our first look photos. So although it would have been nice to get some by the lakes, I’m not feeling as guilty about it anymore)

As the photographer was taking our family photos, I noticed that the guitarist was standing around next to the pavilion. I said to Ken in an annoyed and sarcastic tone, "Oh, look at that. It certainly looks like the guitarist is waiting for his check. Where the eff is Lisa (our coordinator) to give it to him?" We wrapped up our family photos and I walked over to the Classical guitarist. I told him that he did a great job, and then asked him if he was waiting for his check, and he said yes. I told him to track down our coordinator or her assistant, the ones wearing the black headsets, because they knew where all the checks were.

Also while we were having the family portraits taken, I could see into the pavilion, although it was distorted through the plastic tent wall siding. There was a HUGE crowd around the television we had set up in the pavilion that was playing an incredible slideshow that Ken had custom made to play a mix of our childhood photos, newer photos, and home movies. I nudged Ken during a photo. I said, "Look at everyone watching the slideshow!" We both had a huge smile on our face. Ken had worked really hard to put that together.

Our coordinator had been on my last nerve for several weeks, and annoyed, rightly so, at the issue with the classical guitarist. But I had been slightly less annoyed now that I had seen how nicely everything looked and how nicely she got everything set up.

Here are some detail shots from the reception:

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I didn’t see the guitarist again, and a few days later the check was cashed, so I guess he tracked down the coordinator or one of the assistants!

It was time to see our guests in the pavilion!

I’ve mentioned before that we managed to plan the wedding entirely on our own without involving or soliciting input from our families. My mom had only a handful of concerns that she ever articulated. One was that she wanted tablecloths on the picnic tables (I talk about that briefly in this post), something that I originally was not planning to do. She had another concern too that was related to us not having a deejay. And that was who was going to "introduce" us at our reception. I had told her that Ken and I weren’t concerned about that. But then as she pressed the issue a little, I realized what her bigger concern was. She herself wanted to be "introduced," and make an entrance into the wedding too. So I had asked Ken if either his stepdad or the pastor could "introduce" us and our families at the reception. He said that the pastor could definitely do it since he had a big booming voice.

So I went to track down my mom and dad so that we could all be "introduced" at the reception. They had wandered off somewhere after we were done with the family photos and when I went to talk to the guitarist. Well, where did I find my mom? In the reception pavilion already warming up by the fireplace! I guess she had forgotten about her desire to be "introduced!"

At some point that day, I had made the decision that I wouldn’t change into my "reception" dress until right before the first dance. I really, really liked my ceremony dress and I just couldn’t quite bear to take it off so quickly.  So, without changing into my reception dress just yet, Ken and I walked into the pavilion. Even with the patio heaters, the fireplace, and the tent walls, and about 140 people, it was still pretty chilly in the pavilion. I was a little worried. I hoped the guests weren’t too cold and miserable.

One of our goals for our wedding was for the guests not to feel "trapped" at their tables like I know I have felt like happens at other weddings. But once I saw people standing around and laughing and interacting with each other, I was all smiles! The cold weather was actually a good thing! It led folks to get up from their tables and congregate around the fireplace and heaters!

Ken and I walked up onto the stage in the pavilion to welcome our guests and give them some info about the wedding, such as when dinner would start and where the restrooms were.  As soon as our guests noticed we were up on the stage, they all started applauding us. It was so fun! 

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But as we stood up there I glanced down at the food tables, which were set up directly in front of the stage. One of those tables was the cake table. I was aghast. My genuine smile was gone. It was more like I was just showing my teeth in an attempt to make it look like I was still smiling.

Our cakes were all wrong.

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