Monday, June 5, 2017

14 tips for wedding planning

It's been 7 months since our wedding. 7 months since that day that I had dreamed about for so very long.  Hard to believe, yet so much life has happened since that day.  As much I think about writing about marriage I've been wanting to a wedding wrap up post.  When I was planning our wedding I was that person that asked advice, read magazines on wedding planning, and really wanted help from those who had gone before me.  One of the first things I did when I got engaged was email a handful of my closest friends who had gotten married in the last 1, 5, 10 years and asked them to tell me a few things they loved about their wedding that they woulnd't change, and a few things they would do differently.  This helped SO much!  I took their advice and ran with it.  And so i wanted to type out a few things I learned from my season of wedding planning for those who are in this season, know someone who is, or just interested!

1. Before you start planning spend some time as a couple dreaming about what you want your wedding to look like.  What is the vision for your wedding?  What are the top 3-5 things that are priorities to you?

2. Write down your top priorities and then start really thinking about how you want those to influence your wedding.  For Dustin and I we knew our wedding would be big.  We wanted the freedom to invite a lot of people, so that immediately took out quite a few venues that we liked but weren't big enough for our wedding size.  We also knew we didn't want  a long engagement so that impacted looking at venues and vendors that were available in our time frame.
3. Keep an ongoing to do list.  For me google sheets really helped.  This way I could keep multiple tabs with different to do lists and I could share it with Dustin and my mom so that we could all see the same thing.  

4.  Try to map out a timeline for the said to do list.  So much is waiting on vendors and other people but as much as you the more you plan ahead the better.  We were engaged 5.5 months, which at the time felt like forever but looking back we had to race to get a few things done.  

5.  Date your fiance.  It was so easy for me to be in wedding mode all.the.time so Dustin would sometimes say to me, "let's not talk about the wedding tonight" This was hard for me at times, but really we needed to have fun, and keep dating through this process!  

6.  Pre-marital counseling.  Best thing ever!  To be honest I knew this was important, but when we were thinking through it I felt overwhelmed about how we were going to do it.  We met with an older  couple on staff with Cru who had been longtime friends/mentors for Dustin.  We did coffee together on Thursday mornings for about 2 months.  It really became a time I looked forward to and we learned so much!  We had to really protect this time in a crazy season, but it was so worth it!  

7.  Don't make it about the money!  OK yes money is super important, but weddings are expensive!  I could get so consumed with how much everything was costing and how stinkin expensive weddings are.  What helps is to set a budget and then decide how you want to spend that budget.  I had to let go of things I originally wanted, because other things were more important and it all wouldn't fit in the budget.  That's ok!  We spent a lot of time praying and thinking through it all and just made it work.  I realized things that originally were important to me became less as the planning went on.  Everyone kept telling me it would all work out and it really did! 

8.  Have a candy bar and a photo booth!  For as long I can remember I wanted these 2 things at my wedding.  My parents thought I was crazy at first, but they were willing to oblige to my request. And it was SO FUN!  Photo booths are just fun!  It reaches all generations and it gives people and opportunity to take pictures and be silly together.  our wedding was a reunion of sorts because so many family and friends came from different seasons who had not seen each other in awhile.  It was fun to see people from these seasons gather in the photo booth together for a silly pictures!  plus our photo booth company made an album for us so that we got a copy of every picture taken with notes from our guests.  Do research on photo booth companies, because different companies will offer different services, but really I highly recommend it for a fun addition.  We used Little Red Photo booth and they were awesome!  Candy tables are also super fun!  We bought all our candy from Sams and then just collected little containers from thrift stores.   We bought baggies from party city and made stickers on vista print. It was the perfect little "make your own party favor"  

9.  One of the best pieces of advice i received was "don't try to do stuff yourself" Yes we wanted to add some personal touches that we did ourselves, but hiring out much of the wedding was the best thing ever.  I knew I wanted my mom to be the mother of the bride on my wedding day and not running around coordinating food, decorations, or anything.  Knowing that other people were handling the day of logistics was the best feeling ever.  We really got to enjoy the day and didn't have to worry about a thing!  

10.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  I had so many people offer to help me. I learned pretty quickly that I needed to write those names down and take them up on it:-)  From simple errands, to little logistical things several of our friends were SO helpful especially day of!  

11.  Be ready for your wedding a week before.  This might have been one of the best pieces of advice I received and I really tried to do this.  I might not have been ready a week before but by the time my bridesmaids arrived on Thursday I wanted to be done.  And pretty much we were!  This made the days leading up to the wedding SO fun.  I was able to just relax (for the most part:-)) and enjoy time with our families and wedding party.  Those days with my bridesmaids specifically were incredible.  I made a point of trying to make it as relaxing as possible for them (as much as wedding weekends are) and just enjoy the reunion and celebration that it was.  

12.  Remember this is your wedding (and your fiances) Everyone has lots of opinions and YES listen and take notes, but at the end of the day if you are like me don't stress about what everyone else thinks.  There were certain things that Dustin and I decided that probably wouldn't have been other peoples first choice, but our family and friends were respectful and at end of the day it just dosen't matter what everyone else thinks.  And it's going to be great no matter what because it's your wedding!  

13.  PRAY!  We made a prayer plan for our engagement season and personally and together really fought to spend time praying through this.  We prayed for the logistics, we prayed for the friends and family traveling, we prayed for our relationship during engagement, we prayed for marriage. And prayer is a beautiful thing.  As we prayed it allowed us to release things, to cling to the Lord, and to be united together. We were able to see the Lord work and be a part of his story and plans!  We watched the Lord answer prayers and he really blessed us with his presence.  

14.  When the day comes just have fun!  Yes everyone says something will go wrong.  And yes it probably will, but don't stress about that.  Just do all you can to plan, give it to the Lord, and let go!  It will all work out and you want to enjoy your day.  I can honestly say Dustin and I truly enjoyed our wedding day.  Yes it was a blur in many ways, but we soaked up every minute, went with the punches, and had the best day of our lives!

I know everyone's dreams, visions, finances, and plans are different but I hope some of this will help if you are that person in this season.  I loved my wedding and am thankful for the opportunity to plan a day that meant so much to Dustin and I!  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The End of the Night: Leaving the Reception

Leaving our reception at nighttime surrounded by friends and family holding sparklers was one of those things I always thought would be so magical!  
Although in some ways it felt like a giant blur, it really was so special!  

Dustin surprised me with our leaving car!  He loves old cars and was able to rent a 1936 Packard.  
It was an incredible car to leave our reception in.  The driver even drove us around downtown Birmingham before dropping us off at our bed and breakfast!  
 We left that night so excited to be married!  We spent the next 2 days at a bed and breakfast downtown before flying to the Dominican Republic for a week! 

Our wedding and reception was everything I had dreamed of wanting.  It was such a perfect day and really so much fun!  Everybody says your wedding day goes by fast and that was definitely true, but I feel like Dustin and I both soaked it in.  We treasured the moments and took it all in as much as we could. I love how everything turned out and I love that so many friends and family were able to celebrate with us! 

Almost 6 months later it is still surreal to me that we are married.  we loved planning our wedding and feel so incredibly thankful and blessed to have the wedding that we did! 

Thank you Nolen Photography for capturing all these amazing photos! We will re-live this day through these photos for years to come!  

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Reception Highlights: Part 3

We were so blessed to have SO many friends and family come from all over the country to our wedding!  Although it felt like a whirlwind and our time with people was so little, it meant the world to both Dustin and I to have so many people who have influenced our lives be there to celebrate this important day!  
The Blackburn side of family

The Griffith side of family

The Belue side of family

The Waggoner/Patterson side of family

New York City Friends!

Campus Crusade Friends

One of our favorite things at the reception was a photo booth!  We had a scrapbook made of all our guest taking pictures in the photo booth.  It was so fun and created amazing memories!  

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Reception: Highlights Part 2

My friend Morgan painted a "story board" for us!  We wanted to highlight the important dates in our relationship!  I love how it turned out!

I don't know if you can tell or not by the pictures, but the 3 flower girls LOVED the reception. :-) They partied hard and stayed on the danced floor almost the entire night.  
I love that most of my "OG" Community Group from Redeemer were able to be a part of the wedding weekend! These girls were my family in NYC! 

Our first picture together taken exactly one year earlier at a halloween party! 

We used lace from my mom's wedding dress on the gift table.

Since all 8 of our grandparents are in heaven we wanted them to be represented in pictures.  We decided to frame wedding pictures from our 4 sets of grandparents and our parents to display at the wedding.

One thing I had always wanted at my reception was a candy bar.  We decided to make it the party favor and had little baggies with personalized stickers for everyone to fill up and take home.  From what I've heard it was a huge hit for all the guests!

I love that the Taylor family flew down for the wedding. This family was my 2nd family in NYC!

I think a good time was had by all!  

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The Reception: Highlights

I loved everything about our reception!  
we held it at an old theatre downtown with high ceilings and exposed brick.  We tried to keep it simple, but also wanted it to be decorated with special things that personalized it!  
We served southern food with Chicken fingers, cheeseburger quesadillas mashed potato and sweet potato bar, broccoli salad, and fruit! 
We had so much fun seeing our worlds collide and celebrate with 300 of our friends and family! 
We danced the night away and soaked up every moment!  

My friends Katherine and Josh made this wooden board for us to have people sign at our reception.  It's a keepsake we will treasure in our home forever!  

My 9A roommates from NYC!  


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