Wedding Reflections

 When I log onto social media these days, I see more and more posts, Tweets, and updates about wedding plans and preparations as "wedding season" fast approaches.  Reading everyone's statuses that share their happiness (or displeasure) surrounding their upcoming nuptials, has me feeling very nostalgic for August 10th, 2012 - the date of Matt and I's wedding, 4 months before we were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City temple.

 As I read the aforementioned posts, I always reflect on our civil ceremony: the fun, the laughter, and how utterly wonderful it all was!  Although, sometimes I can't help but ask myself: would I change anything?  I doubt it, but that's what I hope to re-examine in this post.  I hope to break down my own wedding experiences and share some insight.  Maybe some of the things I will share here regarding my wedding and the planning process will help all of you brides-to-be in your wedding preparations!

**Please know that the thoughts and suggestions that I share are my own opinions and are not meant to offend anyone!**

 I rolled these two into one category because these are two of the first things that I needed answers to once Matt popped the question.

Matt and I went back an forth on setting a date - he wanted August, I wanted October (I secretly just wanted to incorporate Halloween colors and skulls somehow...).  Ultimately, he won.  From April (when we got engaged) to August, we had a total of 4 months preparation.  I panicked at first, but it was truly a blessing in disguise.  You see, having a short engagement means that you can't second guess your choices.  It also saved my sanity... and my parents' and Matt's sanity as well!  I can't imagine what last-minute changes or flip-flops would have been made if I had a whole year to plan a wedding!  I'm also an incredibly impatient person, so I wanted our wedding to happen YESTERDAY.  My parents often say that, in retrospect, 4 months was the perfect amount of time to plan a wedding... and they're so right!  Just be sure, no matter how short or long you have to plan your wedding, you take a step back and enjoy the chaos and fun of this once-in-a-lifetime event!

Wedding budgets can be a complicated issue.  As a young couple, we weren't exactly prepared to fund a big expense, such as a wedding, on our own outright.  Even though Matt has always been a saver and certainly had a nice nest egg prepared for our future, he and I both felt it was necessary to ask if our parents would help us out.  Thankfully, my parents were very generous in paying for the majority of the wedding, while Matt's parents paid for the traditional responsibilities of the groom and his family.  I suppose having the bride's parents pay for the wedding is fairly traditional, but I have noticed what seems to be an increase in couples (specifically older, more established couples) paying for their own wedding.

Picking out colors was the part of the wedding planning process that took the longest and was the hardest for me.  Since it was not an October wedding like I had always imagined, orange and black  with a Halloween-ish "theme" were out - don't worry, it would have been a classy Halloween wedding!!!  Black is my favorite color and so timeless, so I knew I wanted that in the mix somehow.  But when I saw a beautiful wedding featured in The Knot magazine that featured coral and turquoise as the colors, I was torn.  Ultimately, purple (my second favorite color), black, and gray/silver were named "official" wedding colors.  And, of course, rhinestones.

Fun Fact: Even though we didn't chose coral and turquoise as our wedding colors, we honeymooned to a resort in Mexico named "Ocean Coral and Turquesa (Turquoise)."

Okay, when I said picking the colors took the longest and was the hardest to choose, I lied.  The venue, without a doubt, took the longest to secure because we didn't know where we wanted to be married!  Our civil ceremony was definitely going to take place in Pennsylvania, but whether it would be in State College or around my hometown was the real question.  First, we decided to have the wedding in State College.  We looked at a few venue options and chose one that would have both the ceremony and reception outdoors.  While this was a wistful and romantic idea - a summer wedding under the stars with the reception under a white, lighted tent - the fact that summer weather in Pennsylvania is entirely unpredictable was not something my control-freak self could deal with.  Also, the fact that there was a wedding scheduled at our venue the next day and the bridezilla wanted to have her rehearsal DURING our wedding (and the venue director was going to allow it!) really steered us away from State College altogether.

Finally, we decided on Wynding Brook Golf Club - an incredibly beautiful golf course and banquet facility near my hometown with an amazingly accommodating staff and gorgeous views.  This was the PERFECT place for a few reasons:
  1. Provided the options of having the ceremony and reception indoors or outdoors.
  2. The cost could NOT be beat.  Almost EVERYTHING was included for an eighth of the price of the State College venues.
  3. Close to home; easy for my family to see and help decorate

Fun Fact: On the day of our wedding, it was forecasted that there would be severe thunderstorms and terrible wind.  While I was at my grandparents' house getting ready that morning, it began to sprinkle but then stopped completely and turned into THE most perfect day ever!

This was a no-brainer - Target, hands down.

Target makes registering for wedding gifts super fun and easy.  There is also an online account that makes it easy for you to log in, edit your registry, and see what people have already bought you!  But you can't beat the fun of going together as a couple and choosing the items yourselves.  Matt and I enjoyed a night of browsing Target - a store I usually can't pay him to go in - with a scan gun and a mission.  We loved scanning things we hoped to own to begin our lives together. Although, I think someone enjoyed the process a little too much...

While putting together a registry is fairly straightforward, there are a few things to remember:
  • Think of the budgets of the people you hope to invite.  You never want to have guests feeling awkward if they look at your registry and can't afford anything!  The Knot provides some helpful registry tips, one of them being to have a bunch of different items at a multitude of different price points.
  • However, if you truly want something... put it on there!  Go ahead and scan that KitchenAid stand mixer or that Dyson vacuum.  You never know!
  • Have fun!  Think practically, but it is okay to lose yourself a little bit in the fun of the situation!
  • It's okay to still think plain old cash is the greatest gift ever.

My philosophy here: K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple, Stupid. 
Figuring out who to invite to your wedding can cause some tension, but it really shouldn't.  I won't go into too much detail about the structure of the guest list, but I will say to make compromises.  I would have liked to suggest setting a number and sticking to it, but that's pretty impossible, as Matt and I found out.  And don't feel pressured to invite that friend of a friend who keeps liking your photos on Facebook - that takes it a little too far - but invite family and friends you genuinely know and want to have share in your special day.

Picking out invitations can be a fun process because you can request free samples of high quality invitations from many online invitation sites.  In the end, we found invitations at Michael's that were much cheaper, but we had to print/make them ourselves.  My mom and I spend hours on those stupid, yet beautiful, invitations and I KNOW no one but me and a few family members has kept them.  Oh well... My suggestion: get something classy, yet simple, but don't break the bank on them.  I loved our invitations and it was fun doing it together with my mom.

Ahh, this is the part I had dreamed about for so long... aside from the actual wedding, of course: THE DRESS!  I am so glad I was able to share this fun, albeit quick, experience with my mom and both of my grandmothers!

Originally, I wanted a tight-fitting, lace mermaid style dress.  And I was going to get that perfect dress no matter where I had to go!  I had a whole day planned out - we were going to hit this bridal boutique in this town, then drive here to this boutique, then across the state to this other one... it was shaping up to be a looooooong day.  We even packed a cooler with water and snacks!  When we got to the first bridal boutique, I was able to try on a few of the lace mermaids I thought would fit the vision I had in my head.  Each time I put one of those lace mermaid dresses on, I'd cringe.  I looked like a huge lace doily!  Me and the women of my family all decided that they are pretty dresses, but would be more flattering on someone taller than 5' 3".  I'd say I tried on about 5 or 6 dresses before I found "The Dress."  The Dress stood out to me because it was so simple compared to all the other lace contraptions I was trying on previously.  The Dress was a strapless, poofy ballgown with a huge bow on the back with a rhinestone accent.  It had a sweetheart neckline and some rouching, which flattered my not-so-voluptuous chest.  When I tried it on, it fit like a glove!  It barely needed taken in, but it was too incredibly poofy to maneuver around in.  The seamstress was able to make some adjustments where she took out a few layers of tulle, cut down the massive train the gown had, and also had some small, detachable straps to please Matt.  One of my favorite things, besides the bow on the back, was the fabric - it felt like butter!

Since I loved the bow so much and I had straps added, I chose to keep the jewelry simple - just my wedding ring and a pair of dangly, sparkly earrings.

In regards to the other accessories I chose to wear with the dress, I wanted to keep them simple as well.  I chose a flowered hairpiece instead of a veil, and some ivory, low-heeled shoes with rhinestone details.  I also found a set of gorgeous lace garters with tiny rhinestone accents on Etsy.  I chose to keep the smaller, simpler one and toss the larger one at the reception later.

Except for my hair, this part was all kind of a done without a clue as to what I was doing.

I did my own make-up, but I am so grateful to know an amazing cosmetologist named DeNiess with Color Addiction who has been doing my hair for years.  She was so kind in providing her services for my wedding day!  We did a test run a few days before the wedding of how I wanted my hair to be.  I always pictured my hair down in curls, but with the bow on the back of my dress and the straps I had added on, I knew having it up would be best.  And it was!  DeNiess worked so hard to give me the hair that I wanted for my wedding day... and it stayed the whole time too!  Looking back, I'm glad I didn't wear it down because it would have collapsed into a flat and sweaty mess in a moment!

Choosing rings was fairly painless - I picked out the ring I wanted, and I bought him a $10 eBay ring.
No, seriously.
His ring was under $10 on eBay and he has a few different sizes/metals to keep up with his changing ring sizes (thanks, wrestling season!) and tastes.  Right now, he's wearing a fairly durable silver eBay ring, but when we exchanged vows, he opted for a gold band.  He'll get a "real," higher quality ring after he is done wrestling.  Guys are so easy...

Me, on the other hand, fell in love with my ring at Gordon's (now Zales) at the Nittany Mall.  Matt took me to the mall one night after one of our many talks about marriage and BAM! I found the ring.  And he listened! :)

The groom is essentially responsible for 2 things:
  1. Getting a tux
  2. Getting to the wedding on time
I'm just kidding, but everyone secretly knows its a little bit true.  Matt and/or his family were responsible for his tux, the flowers and my bouquet, the rehearsal dinner, and the honeymoon.

Looking back, I so desperately wanted Matt to wear a black tux with silver tie/vest... and he did!...  but he wanted to wear a gray tux with purple accents to our civil ceremony.  He ended up wearing the gray tux for our sealing and looked as handsome as ever in both!  While I'm so glad he wore the black tux for our civil ceremony, I realize him wearing the gray wouldn't have been the end of the world.  Give your guy a little credit and let him wear what he wants... unless it is camo, then you take charge!

 I chose to make a brooch bouquet after I stumbled across a few beautiful pictures on Pinterest.  Since my dress had a huge rhinestone bow on the back, that also fueled my desire for a brooch bouquet.  I was able to make the brooch elements myself out of some thin wire, floral tape, jewelry making tools, and brooches/rings/jewelry I was collecting.  It was a long process, but fun to do it myself.  When I met with the florist who was doing the family member flowers and my bouquet, I didn't think the brooch bouquet would be an option - they claimed they had never seen or done one before.  Thankfully, they were willing to try it and it turned out pretty good. 

As you can see, I chose ivory carnations (gasp! carnations?!) as the background of the brooches because they were the simplest flower that highlighted the brooches the way I wanted them to. 

The ceremony/reception flowers were simple purple, lavender, and white petunias hand-grown by the Amish lady down the road.
Again, I'm serious.
And they were BEAUTIFUL.
The ceremony flowers were grown in hanging baskets, so we could accent the aisle and the "alter."  The reception flowers were grown in individual slots, then mashed together in short, square vases and finished off with a think rhinestone ribbon.

 Choosing a photographer was another no-brainer, but there were some hiccups that had us panicking for a short while.  I have always been OBSESSED with Tara Betz's photography skills with Antiquity Photography, and fell even deeper in love (if that was possible!) after I saw how beautiful our engagement photos turned out.

However, Tara was unable to photograph our wedding due to some health concerns (and is in great health today with a beautiful baby girl!), but thankfully Heidi Erika stepped in on short notice and gave us some gorgeous photos to remember our wedding day by.

As for a wedding video, Matt and I had an amazing friend, Rachael, from our church put together a video for us.  I was going to put the link to our video on here, but its saying I need some kind of password to view (Rachael, help me out here! haha).

Fun Fact: Something Matt and I did that was unconventional was seeing each other before the wedding ceremony.  We decided it would be nice to have that private time to ourselves to see each other, take photos, and ride together to our own wedding.  And it really was sweet! 

Here is where I begin to have some strong-ish opinions about weddings:
wedding parties are pointless.

I originally was going to have 3 of my closest college friends as bridesmaids, and Matt would have 3 coaches/teammates as his groomsmen.  Scheduling conflicts, distance, Disney internships, and the Olympics (yea, the freaking OLYMPICS) interfered with all of those plans.  So we did away with all of the wedding party nonsense, and we still got married anyway!  People thought I was crazy and going against tradition, but I have to say - it was a heckuva lot easier and one less thing I had to worry about.  It certainly would have been nice to have Matt's coaches there, and I would have loved to have had all 3 of my college best friends there, but the show went on and certainly no love was lost!
This was a fun little get-together that my mother and grandmothers planned for me.  Normally, it is  supposed to be a surprise, or at least completely planned by those throwing the shower, but me being the control freak that I am, couldn't handle not being a part of the action!

It was a very fun luncheon-style bridal shower.  We played a few different games, which featured prizes from Bath and Body Works, and debuted the wedding cupcakes (secret: these were actually part of the 3 dozen test cupcakes we ordered!).  I was so grateful for all of the women who came and celebrated this fun time with me!
I am so against these types of things, you have no idea...

Thankfully, Matt was never subjected to the "stereotypical" bachelor party (nor would he have chosen to participate), and my "bachelorette party" was a weekend away at a spa in New Jersey with two close friends.  We went shopping, blacklight mini-golfing, and out to eat.  Now THAT is a party!
 We had our rehearsal dinner at Olive Garden in State College - my absolute favorite!  This was actually the first time I met Matt's family (other than his parents and brother) in person!  Since he comes from such a big family, it was a touch overwhelming and loud, but so incredibly fun!  He and I played a game a dinner which his aunts and mom set up that quizzed us on how well we know each other.  With each right question, we would each get a dollar!
This was one of those things I never really thought about - transportation to and from our wedding.  I wasn't really the type to roll up in a stretch limo, bass bumpin'.  And I certainly didn't want a horse-drawn carriage.  Thankfully, my grandparents (which is a correction from my earlier post) arranged a nice surprise of a Lincoln town car to take us to our ceremony... with a very sweet and polite driver.

After our ceremony, to make the drive back to our house in State College, we rode off into the night in my black 2003 Toyota Corolla.  Hey, Rolla is what we rode in on our first date after all!

We decided to have the ceremony outdoors, weather permitting, just beside one of the last holes of the golf course (thankfully, there weren't many people on the golf course that day).  I had made trifold programs that had a funny/sarcastic twist on them for people to read while they were waiting for the ceremony to start.  My dad walked me down the aisle to music we had picked out a few weeks before, specifically A Thousand Years by The Piano Guys.  Both of out dads played a part in our ceremony - my dad said the opening prayer, and Matt's dad gave an awesome speech.  The branch president of our church officiated our ceremony. 

We had decided to write our own vows to one another.  I was actually fairly nervous to read mine to Matt, even though that isn't in my nature.  As fate would have it, our branch president forgot to allow us to exchange our written vows to each other!  It wasn't a big deal, kind of funny actually, and gave us something nice to do on our first wedding anniversary! :)

The reception was a blast, but went by entirely too quick!

After our receiving line outside, we and our parents lined up outside to be announced to the guests.  I absolutely love Matt's face in one of the pictures we have - he has this huge smile/laugh on his face and I'm looking at him with the same expression.  Its cool to look at that photo and realize the excitement and happiness we both shared over the beginning of our lifetime together!

I must admit, Matt and I's wedding probably wouldn't have taken shape as quickly as it did without Pinterest!  I got so many ideas off that darn website...

Our favors were DIY favors of Hershey Kisses with a sweet poem attached.  Matt and I had the chance to make these together!

Our "guestbook" was, again, something I had gotten an idea from on Pinterest.  All I had to do was go to Michael's to get the supplies and sit down to make the darn thing!  It took longer to make than it probably looked... trying to fit all those balloons on was certainly the hardest part.  But now, we have our guestbook framed and hanging in our bedroom.  I see it everyday and am reminded how blessed we are!

 At the reception, we kept some of the stereotypical traditions: the bouquet/garter toss, the "whoever-has-been-married-the-longest-keep-dancing" game, and the father-daughter and mother-son dances.  However, since we didn't have a wedding party, there were no formal toasts.  We also opted out of having a money dance.  Actually, I should be honest, Matt was trying HARD to have this go through, but I vetoed it.  Now that I look back on it, what would have been the harm?!  Oh, and no cake smashing.  I absolutely HATE when that happens at weddings!

I think the most fun was watching everyone doing something I hate - dancing!  A few of Matt's teammates were hardcore riots on the dance floor, and most of his family and mine are great dancers!  I truly do hate dancing with a passion, but it was fun to just let go and enjoy the chaos of our wedding reception!  It can be overwhelming to realize that all of the people in attendance are there to celebrate you and your husband being married, but they are!  Because they love you!  They don't care if you're a great dancer or not!  My one tip surrounding receptions is: Make sure you take time to thank each person face-to-face and truly enjoy their company!
 When we chose Wynding Brook as our venue, we accepted the terms and conditions that stated no outside food or drink would be allowed (with the exception of the cake and favors).  Hey, that just made it easier for us!  My mom and I met with Amy, the manager of Wynding Brook events, and I told her what all I wanted on the menu.  For some reason, I've always loved those little potatoes in a creamy buttery, garlic sauce with parsley, so they HAD to be on the menu.  I'm not entirely sure what all was on the menu because, truth be told, I didn't eat much of it!  There was so much excitement, so many people to talk to that I just never got around to enjoying my dinner!  What I do remember is that it was a buffet-style and there were a few different low-key menu options.  I remember telling Amy I never wanted a snooty menu with 6 different courses and food you can't even pronounce.  I wanted simple food that everyone was going to love: grilled/baked chicken, corn, mac & cheese, green beans with almonds, etc.  I think I remember saying I wanted a "classy version of barbeque food!"

Since we are Mormon and don't consume alcohol, we would not be paying to have the bar open for our guests that night.  However, since there were guests who would enjoy that type of refreshment, the bar was still open to them and all they had to do was walk out of the hall doors and into the classy bar area... they just had to pay on their own.
I'm not a terribly big fan of traditional wedding cake, despite how pretty some of them look, so we took the cupcake route instead... and I am SO glad we did!  They were perfect!  We had 3 different varieties: banana, carrot cake, and chocolate peanut butter filled.  However, we did want something to ceremoniously cut into, so Linda Hill added in a chocolate/peanut butter filled square tier at the top!  We purchased a cupcake stand off the internet, spray-painted it black, then added the rhinestone accents!

One thing I wish could have been different about the cupcakes is the taste test.  On all the wedding shows that are on TV now, you see brides and their grooms or mothers taste testing a multitude of different cake flavors.  Unfortunately, Linda charged us to have the types of cupcakes we wanted to try... and we had to buy a dozen each.  Yea... so we pretty much had to be set on those 3 flavors.  Since Matt was away at the time, my mom, my grandmothers, and myself tried them (after shelling out the $$$ for them) and enjoyed them.  I do remember the test batch having a slight "milky" or "cheesy" smell, so I did have her change the icing to be more of a whipped buttercream.

Fun Fact: One our 1-year anniversary, my parents brought Matt and I our second cake tier, which is supposed to be eaten on your 1st anniversary.  Since we didn't have a big enough freezer, my parents kept it in their basement freezer.  When we tried it, my mom and I (and secretly Matt too) noticed a hint of jalapeno flavoring which was NOT how we remembered it tasting.  Turns out, in my parents' extra freezer, my dad had been keeping some of the vegetables from his garden... one of which included jalapenos!  Oops!  Oh well, it was just cake...
This was planned completely (well, almost...) by Matt.  Again, my control-freak nature just had to let him know what I wanted/expected.  I don't see why I was so worried, he planned an awesome honeymoon!  But that is a post for another day...

All in all, Matt and I's wedding was amazing.  Truly, deeply, seriously amazing.  The only major thing I wish I could have changed was the amount of work my parents, especially my mom, did on the day of.  I feel so bad looking back because I know she was stressed out trying to get all of the last minute details put together.  She was the one who, after getting ready, left to go set up the ceremony space.  I don't even think she was there when Matt and I saw each other for the first time before our wedding!  If I could, I'd turn back time and have someone who is a close friend and who is willing to set up and take care of all the minor details that my mom was troubled with that day.  It wasn't fair, but I still hope she realizes how grateful I am for all of the work she and my dad put in to this wedding.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, I love you!

Whew!  Okay, so that was a pretty long and comprehensive summary of Matt and I's wedding. I hope that what I just spent 2+ days writing may help someone (or at least make someone laugh...) in some way.

I am so glad that many of my friends and acquaintances have found the person to share an eternity with!  I know that there is a "lid for every pot," as the saying goes, and those who haven't found their lid yet will certainly in the time that is right for you!


Anonymous said...

It was a beautiful wedding Lauren. And by the way, about the invitations; I have this thing about keeping wedding invitations so you at least have one more person who kept it :-), they were beautiful too. (I have the program with it still too.)


Lisa Hemrick said...

This brought back so many happy memories! The invitations and the centerpieces were a challenge...but so worth all the time. Thanks for sharing this. I wouldn't change a thing about the day. (Secret - Gram M. was responsible for the limo :-) Love you!


Jen said...

Wow, such beautiful photos and write-up of a lovely day. So glad we could be there for it!