What have I, well "we", been up to lately?! Well if the title didn't give it away already: we got married ladies and gents. My beloved bearded man has made us a proud husband and wife photography team as of 3 weeks and 2 days. When we got engaged a year and a half ago I couldn't even begin to comprehend what the life of an engaged woman looked like. I was used to photographing bridal showers and rehearsal dinners. We were used to photographing weddings together. All this knowledge surely would become necessary to embark on the journey to becoming "us" right?
In the first 4 months we had secured a photographer, started making our origami bouquets and my wedding dress, asked our bridal party, got our venue, started discussing catering with a friend, and purchased some preliminary decor (let's be fully honest: A few months into dating Jon my older sister took me out to some antique stores with purpose of locating items for our wedding. In her words she knew he was the one because I hadn't dated anyone in so long -_-* ha, well she was right.) That might seem like a lot, but my younger sister was my MOH, and while we were home we'd work on things together. Add in a super supportive future husband, and wonderful friends and family.
^Now you might be thinking...wait a minute...did she really say: "making her bouquets and WEDDING DRESS..." Yes...that turned some heads! Which leads me to 10 Things About Our Wedding:
1. You can make your own "Say Yes to the Dress" moment
Sometime last year I woke up with a vision of what my wedding dress would look like. It was like a kimono in style in that it wrapped itself around me like a robe. It had long bell sleeves. It was a lace dress in a cream tone. I distinctly remember hearing in my head the sentence "Lady Guinevere-esque meets Pride and Prejudice." I immediately set out to find this dress. My older sister took me out to a bridal store in Petaluma. While explaining my vision to the woman at the shop she explained my "bohemian dress" style wouldn't be hitting bridal stores until the following year. Apparently my olden times dress was before it's time. She sent me off with a few designers that she felt were the style I was looking for. However when googling them my heart grew dismayed. These were not "it." After searching Etsy I found a few hopefuls, but they were a pretty penny higher than our budget. That's when I bucked up and decided this vision was given to me and It begged to be handmade and brought to life. Fast forward to finding the exact amount of lace I needed at a thrift store for the skirt, finding the top portion with the perfect sleeves at a store, and my mom's slip for inside and sewing expertise...and houston...we made a wedding dress. Our labor of love was that dress. It pushed my mom way out of her comfort zone to help me see this through. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. I wanted a dress I hadn't photographed before, and a dress that wasn't going to stifle me or make it hard to sit in.
2. It's a-ok to not have "real" flowers
We held to a small budget for our wedding (more on budgeting later!) That was a small influence as to why we did origami flowers. I could not have imagined having any other flowers after they were all said and done. There was one night during December where we drove to a friends house, put on a Christmas movie and just folded and glued petals with them. I brought the paper to work and folded at the front desk. Instead of buying origami paper, we bought gold wrapping paper (we got engaged during the holidays) and dictionary paper. Jon invested in a small paper cutter...and we went to town folding thousands of 3.5 inch hand cut papers. When it was over Jon and I even contemplated starting an Etsy to sell them. That was however short lived after the project took months to complete.
3. Change is not the enemy: stress is
Jon and I were going to get married in the city we met originally. We had paid our application fee and were just waiting to hear back from them. Well...we waited...and waited. Being particularly anxious I was worried we were not going to get it. One day mutual friends of ours were talking about the spot they got married. They got wed in a small town I had grown up in. Initially I did not want to tour the venue because the YELP and Google page were not up to date and that was peeving ha. Before I knew it Jon and I were scheduling a tour. We did pros and cons for both and realized this venue was: less than half the price of the other, offered room for 150 guests vs. 100, offered the tables and chairs+ an inside reception area vs. an open field only, and had a kitchen for us to self cater. It looked like the ballroom scene from Pride and Prejudice...and my heart just SANG (starting to see a clear winner yet?!) When the first venue finally got back to us (it took like...forevs) we turned them down and chose to not think about the non refundable application cost. At the end of the day walking away from the first venue was way less stressful than staying with the original plan for the application fees sake.
4. Cater to your budget
I had the biggest honor of photographing a friends wedding right before Jon and I got engaged. We photographed her rehearsal dinner the night before. Her family made this amazing huge and tasty lasagna. It left a solid impression in my mind as the best lasagna I had ever had. After her wedding her mom texted me saying "When you get engaged let me know how we can help you!" (seriously, I told you this family is the sweetest ever.) Fast forward to a few months later Jon and I are stuck on the catering. It seemed everywhere we turned the quote for 120-150 was close to or above $3k (ahh.) Then like a light bulb that lasagna came to mind! Texts were exchanged, quotes were made, meetings were had. We didn't look back :) The day before our wedding we went over to their house to have a lasagna assembling get together. I should mention this same friend flew in from North Carolina to come and help prepare, cook, and serve the lasagnas. By far the best ingredient in the food was: love.
5. Let them eat (cheese)cake pies
My husband loves desserts. So I didn't want to deprive him of having a cake tasting experience. On the other hand, I'm actually not a cake fan: unless it's a cheesecake or a pie. We had fun at our tasting and let the shop know we were browsing but had not made a final decision on the dessert. I pointed to a beautiful smaller cake on display and asked how much that one was. Checking his book he said that was a cake for about 50 people and would run around $450. Time out: Weddings be expensive! I knew Jon loved peanut butter and chocolate, and I loved cheesecake and banana cream pie. The thought of making 8 banana cream pies was too daunting so we decided on: 9 peanut butter pies, and 5 strawberry cheesecakes. God even opened up the heavens at our local Raley's because they were having a huge sale on the exact pie crusts I needed. In total it was a third of the cost of the cake for 50, was super yummy, and very Jon and I.
6. Cider vs. Champagne
There is nothing wrong with having alcohol at weddings. I think every wedding we have ever photographed had some form on hand. For us, our venue required a permit fee for alcohol, and since Jon and I don't really have alcohol often we decided to go the dry route: AKA Martinelli's all the way. Regret it? Nope. It helped us stay budget friendly, and our wedding ended around 8:30 pm.
7. Just because you "pinned it" doesn't mean you "need it"
Pretty self explanatory, but it's worth saying. I pinned (on pinterest for those wondering) a ton of things we didn't do and I'm still alive, and we still had the wedding of our dreams. One example was I had "pinned" a lace arch that we would stand under. My mom had sewn together lace panels we had gotten at a thrift store for it. I was certain the tree bows were low enough to have the lace drape over them, despite Jon repeatedly saying that the branches were higher than I realized, and that the wind was not on our side. Well at the rehearsal he was most assuredly correct. I was at a crossroads 2 days before our wedding. I took a few minutes to reflect and realized I had only liked it because I had seen it pinned. It was a pretty photograph of someone else's wedding. The decision was easy after that. We didn't need it, and the ceremony was gorgeous without it. I had pinned a ton of hairstyles and wedding looks, but in the end decided I was going to curl my own hair, and my younger sister did my make up. Easy. Peasy.
8. Accept wedding hand me downs
One of Jon's groomsmen got married last year and he and his wife lent us some of the key elements in our wedding from theirs. We were forever grateful for this! Which leads me to:
9. Be there for family and friends
In the hubbub of DIY, and wedding planning it can be very easy to neglect your bridal party, family, and friends. Weddings are an emotional time for all. The bride and groom are getting ready to make a forever game changing decision. Two families are integrating. Family you may have never met before is all of a sudden planning to visit for the wedding. And then there's your close friends! Your bridal party! I never in my life realized how much delegation weight can be on a bride. At the heart of it, you want to look back at your wedding photos and still have a close relationship with those gorgeous girls standing up there with you. You want to still be hanging out with the guys up there. I stood back on our wedding day and watched all the decor and tables being set by our friends and family. I saw my father in law ironing table cloths like a boss. My small group friends setting out decorations like they were inside my brain but waay better. It was a sight to behold. Chances are this is the first (and hopefully only) wedding you will ever have to plan. That said it's only one day: but these folks are part of your forever. In conclusion:
10. Those married friends of yours were right: the day does go by quick
It's actually only one day you guys. Eight months of planning for: 10.5 hours. I decided early on that what my friends said had to be true so I wasn't going to hide from Jon until I absolutely had to. After all, if the day is going to go by too fast, why not spend whatever time you could with the man of your dreams (swoon). This was actually a very fun decision, and I'd totally do it again given the chance. Somehow when you photograph a wedding it feels like the time goes by super slow. But in the moment you simply blink and you're heading off to the hotel.
In the blogs to come I hope to share our take on wedding traditions and what we did, how a wedding photographer finds a wedding photographer, photographing my sisters wedding, and how we budgeted. Got any ideas? Send em' our way!
xo Amy Marie