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Megan & Marlee’s Episcopal Etsy Wedding


 * Megan, Associate at a nonprofit hospital’s foundation by day, choral singer by night/weekend (with the veil) & Marlee, Etsy shop owner, jewelry designer, and vintage curator (with the train) * Photographer: Robyn Tiffany of lilbirdMemories * Soundtrack for reading: “Sweet Darlin’” by She & Him *

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: Two brides + amazing friends + Etsy + beautiful Episcopal church + cream puffs = magical.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Guests:

Invited: 450 (Sounds crazy, but our motto was to invite “all the nice people we know.” This number also includes +1s for all of our single invitees, which were many. We knew many of the people we invited wouldn’t be able to come, so we planned for 200.)

Actually Attended: 140

Planned Budget:

$5,000 (Down from $10,000 due to unforeseen family difficulties during our engagement.)

Actual Budget:

$6,200 (The increase was all attributable to fees for using the church that our original contact didn’t know about.)

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Where we allocated the most funds: Our venue. The great thing was that since our venue was our church (which is a very progressive place and a wonderful community asset), we felt great about where the money was going.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Where we allocated the least funds: Stationery. We designed our simple invitations in Word as a quarter-page, printed them on creamy cardstock from Michael’s, and hand addressed our envelopes. We took online RSVPs so we didn’t have to send twice as much paper out into the world. We delayed sending out our invites until about a month before the wedding because a) we sent save-the-dates several months back, b) most of our guests were local, and c) the cutest postage stamps were released about a month before our wedding—images of vintage seed packets!

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

What was totally worth it:

1. The time, research, and heart we poured into creating our ceremony. We pieced together two different services (one blessing service from the diocese of LA and the other from the national Episcopal church), used a few pieces of the traditional marriage service from the Book of Common Prayer, and added another component to create something that was historical and sacred, and completely suited us. We wanted the ceremony to be the focus of our wedding, and it definitely was. We received so much positive feedback! The words that meant the most were from two gay couples in their forties or fifties who were so moved that we had an actual wedding, that it was held in a church, and that we were “doing it right” instead of hiding away. We’ve never been more touched by someone saying they’re proud of us.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

2. Having the wedding at night followed by a short reception (our ceremony started at 7:30pm and everything was cleaned up by 10:30pm). We worried that it would feel too short, but it was just right. Bonuses: a) Got to spend all day with our best friends getting ready and not feel rushed. b) Had time to take pictures before the ceremony, and spend more time with our guests afterward. c) We got to go to the hotel at the end of it all and weren’t completely wiped out. Also, homemade cream puffs. Just saying.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

3. Scrapping DIY projects that seemed too time consuming or not fun. We relied on the beauty of the church and our flowers for decorations, and decided the only things we really wanted to create ourselves were the programs (which we loved and were totally worth it), and jewelry for ourselves and our bridesmaids. Since Marlee is a jewelry designer and we didn’t already have jewelry we wanted to wear for the wedding, that made sense for us. (And the bridesmaids loved their necklaces, which doubled as gifts.)

The one semi-exception to this was our dress alterations and cleaning. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to spend money on those things, so Marlee cleaned both our dresses and added sleeves to hers. Since Megan’s wrap dress didn’t need to be altered (best thing ever) and Marlee wasn’t a perfectionist about her dress fit, this was a great solution for us.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

4. Everyone says it, but it’s true—photography. Robyn and Marlee went to college together, so we knew her as a friend first. She is a fabulous photographer and an even more fabulous person. She totally understood our vision, and the photos she took captured the feelings of that day so beautifully. Plus, her rates are super reasonable for the heart and soul she puts into her work!

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

What was totally not: Nothing. If during the course of discussing an idea of something to include or a way of doing something that didn’t feel right, we’d keep editing it until it did (which, coincidentally, led to some of our most awesome decisions). And if it never felt quite right, we left it out. This process worked for us as we can honestly say that looking back, there wasn’t anything we planned that wasn’t worth it. (That’s not to say that one or two of the things we planned didn’t go quite as we thought they would. Case in point: the reception playlist we spent weeks putting together never got turned back on after the toasts. But that didn’t dampen the cheerful, chatty vibe one bit, and now we have an amazing playlist to remind us of what the day felt like.)

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

A few things that helped us along the way:

1. Amazing and talented friends! Seriously! Hair and makeup (we’ve never felt prettier), catering, photography, ceremony music, and flowers couldn’t have been more beautiful/delicious/exactly what we wanted, and they were all done by our fabulous friendors! They were aided and abetted by a friend from church who helped us unlock doors/steam wedding clothes/generally have a successful wedding, a wonderfully helpful friend from college, and Megan’s incredible little sister. Bonus: aside from being amazing at what they do best, our friendors were super duper helpful in every respect possible. Our hairdresser ended up helping our caterer fill the cream puffs, our florist set up the whole reception hall, one bridesmaid and her boyfriend brought champagne as a surprise (we had planned a coffee bar for budget reasons, which we totally recommend), and some of our wedding elves even cleaned our disaster of an apartment while we were on our honeymoon! We have never felt so loved by our dearest people.

2. Most of our guests live within an hour of where we got married (two people flew in from the East Coast and a handful drove down from the Monterey area), so we didn’t have to worry about coordinating anything regarding where guests would stay, how they would get around, or any of the other things couples have to think about when their friends and family are coming together from all around the world. This was huge in simplifying our planning process.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

My best advice to my practical planning self: Trust your instincts to stop planning or talking about the wedding together if it stops being fun. Keeping the planning process enjoyable helped the whole fifteen months of being engaged go much, much better.

Other cool stuff we should know about: We were surrounded by enormous amounts of love the entire day. We got married at our church where Megan has been a choir member for the past six years, and we were so blessed to have the choir sing for our ceremony! On top of the beautiful music, our friendors made everything even more gorgeous than we imagined! It was so gratifying to see everything come together, and to be able to trust all the people we were working with completely.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Having a wedding website was super helpful. We took RSVPs that way, and we were able to give a lot of details on the website (location, parking instructions, etc.) so we didn’t have to over-complicate our invitations. There was a link to our Wanderable honeymoon registry, and we even included a page with information about the status of Prop 8 and why we wanted to have a wedding even though we can’t make it legal yet, since some of our guests had expressed (rightful) confusion over the whole legal situation. We got great feedback from people who hadn’t heard of wedding websites before and were impressed with how easy it made their experience. The website we used (WeddingWire) also had planning tools, which we appreciated. The budget and guest tools were particularly helpful in tracking numbers, allowing us to keep everything organized and consolidated.

We (and our guests) loved our honeymoon registry! Since we were paying for the wedding ourselves on the budget of two recent college grads, we didn’t have the funds to take a vacation. Since we knew we didn’t want to postpone our honeymoon, we took advantage of air miles accumulated from our Southwest credit card and the fact that we live in an absolutely gorgeous state to plan a reasonably priced honeymoon that our friends and family could help us take. This inadvertently made our honeymoon even more meaningful because it was all made possible by our loved ones, many of whom had shared with us fond memories they had of some of the places we planned to visit during our trip.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

APW’s various same-gender wedding posts, along with inspiration from A Bicycle Built for Two, helped us tremendously in normalizing the image of two brides in our heads, but we still felt some confusion over what to do about things that for many straight couples might not be much of a consideration. From choosing what to wear (the same dress? different dresses? how do we know they’ll look good together? should we have veils? yes? no? AAAAAH) to re-envisioning the bridal party, we sometimes felt a little bit like we were starting the wedding process from scratch, without much of a blueprint.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Our wedding actually turned out looking pretty traditional, with a few twists. We ended up with four bridesmaids total (no designated maid of honor—all together they are a dream team!) who all stood on one side (a decision made for practical reasons because of the set-up of the church, and also because all four girls are our best friends and splitting them up would have felt weird), plus a group of four “bridesgirls” comprised of Marlee’s little sister, cousin, and two of their friends. The bridesgirls entered before the bridesmaids and played very functional roles: one of them brought in our rings, one held the oil we used for the anointing portion of our ceremony, and two of them carried in a beautiful garland our florist created to lay on the steps where we stood for the ceremony. The bridesmaids and Megan’s sister passed out programs before the service began, which was wonderful for our guests who were glad to see a familiar face before the wedding (between the five of them, they knew everyone on our guest list). Changing the traditional ringbearer/flower girl/usher roles to suit us and our bridal party was one of the best decisions we made.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Despite a lot of family missing for various reasons (inability to travel, declines due to religious objections, abusive parent not invited, overwhelming struggles with anxiety and depression…), our wedding felt whole. Our guests were exactly the people who were meant to be there, and we were completely overwhelmed by the love, support, and warmth they brought to our wedding.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

We join the ranks of APWers who don’t feel different after their weddings. We knew we were going to spend our lives together the day we realized we were in a relationship (long story), and getting engaged and subsequently married hasn’t changed that. We absolutely loved our wedding and it was so special to share it with our loved ones, but we haven’t experienced even the slightest emotional shift (aside from absolutely loving finally getting to wear our wedding rings). Maybe that will change when we get to make it legal. (Hurry up Supreme Court!)

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Megan: Spending the whole wonderful day with some of our favorite people in the world, and the ceremony music—exquisite beyond belief, sung by dear friends, and perfect for us. Oh, and my gorgeous, gorgeous wife.

Marlee: Everything Megan said, plus the romance and beauty of our day! I loved wearing jasmine blossoms in my hair. Originally it was going to be baby’s breath, but the jasmine was blooming right outside the window of our “getting ready room,” so our hairdresser sent a bridesgirl down to cut some. I’ve been drinking jasmine tea just about every day since. I loved that all of our tight, careful planning allowed our day to look and feel so soft and loose! Perfect dichotomy.

Megan & Marlees Episcopal Etsy Wedding | A Practical Wedding

The Info—Photographer: Robyn Tiffany of lilbirdMemories / Location: Los Angeles, California / Venue: St. James’ Episcopal Church / Megan’s Dress and Bridesmaids’ Dresses: CoralieBeatrix via Etsy (Helpful hint: wrap dresses are awesome if you’re not excited about fittings or having to stay/attain a certain size for a date months into the future!) /Marlee’s Dress: Etsy; she added the tulle sleeves / Shoes, Various Petticoats, Makeup, Etc.: Both vintage and handmade from Etsy, including both of Marlee’s shops / Hair: Coif it Up by Monika Beal / Bridesgirls’ Dresses: Marlee’s closet /Best Cream Puffs Ever, Coffee Bar, Beautiful Fruit Platters: Kate’s Catering (We were her first wedding!)  / Flowers:Kathy G’s Anything But Ordinary

Editor’s Note: Megan & Marlee’s submission was received before yesterday’s DOMA and Prop 8 rulings.

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  • Karen

    This wedding looks like all kinds of fabulous!!! Thanks for sharing your story. I have a logistics question, since I saw the mention of online RSVPs – we are doing the same thing, but I’m not sure how to word the invitation? Something along the lines of “Please RSVP online at http://www……..” or something else? Our wedding website has the RSVPs built into it, so that’s the web address that we need to list. But then I read somewhere that it’s apparently frowned upon to put the wedding website on the invitations…I actually don’t think it’s a big deal and also don’t see a way around it, since it’s obviously important to let people know how to RSVP! Thoughts from either Megan or Marlee, or anyone else who has done the online RSVP thing?

    • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

      I did the online RSVP thing when I got married. I used my phone number and the wedsite, that way people who are not tech savvy had a different option. The bottom of the invitation read:

      RSVP:
      xxx-xxx-xxxx
      http://www.xxxxx.com

    • 39bride

      We wrote something like, “Please RSVP at http://www... or call 55….” It seemed to work fine and nobody commented about any supposed faux pas. Then again, we come from laidback California families, so who knows if that would work elsewhere, haha!

    • ANOTHER MEG

      We are also doing the online RSVP. Our wedding website was on our Save the Dates and it will be on our invitation, probably worded as “Please visit http://www.benandmeg.com for important information and to RSVP” or something along those lines. I also have been to a wedding that did something similar, had it on the invite, and it looked great. As far as I know no one said anything to the bride or her family, or died from lack of propriety.

    • Heather

      We hung a tag from ribbon glued between layers of paper saying

      RSVP
      http://www.wedsite.com

      It worked, though the lack of reply date confused people.

      • ANOTHER MEG

        Reply date… Good idea.We should have one of those…

    • Emily

      We had a separate RSVP card (but no return envelope) with:
      RSVP at http://www…./rsvp or call: In [Country A]: 123-456… or In [Country B]: 234-567…
      I know it sounds direct, but I wanted to avoid “Please RSVP” since it’s redundant. I realise I might get flack for that.

      • Rachel

        RSVP translates to Please Respond so you’re exactly correct, saying Please RSVP is redundant

    • Anne

      I am really leaning toward online RSVPs, but I’m worried I’ll forget to ask something important on the RSVP form!

      We have:

      First Name & Last Name (required)
      Names of other people in your party (if applicable)
      Will you be attending? Yes/No (required)
      Number of adults attending (required)
      Number of children attending
      How many people in your party need a vegetarian or vegan meal?
      Box for misc. comments

      Am I forgetting anything?

  • Rachel

    Oh I LOVED this. It may have been one of my favorite APW weddings ever! (And the She & Him song for reading seriously was perfect.) I keep getting teary when I read this line: “The words that meant the most were from two gay couples in their forties or fifties who were so moved that we had an actual wedding, that it was held in a church, and that we were ‘doing it right’ instead of hiding away.”

    Best wishes to you both!!

  • Marie

    Oh my… Those dresses !!!! you look AMAZING and so happy congratulations :)

  • The Family Jules

    Simply beautiful.

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    What an excellent post to run after the Senate slaughtered DOMA yesterday. :)

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    I can just feel the love coming through reading this. Must have been a magical wedding.

    Also, I love the idea of wrapping up early to be able to go back to the hotel still having some emotional reserves left.

  • Maria

    Ladies – what a beautiful wedding! And your dresses. Oh my. Marlee – if you’re reading and don’t mind sharing – from where on Etsy did you purchase your dress?

    My very best wishes to you both.

    • Megan

      Thanks Maria! While some of the items in that Etsy shop were beautiful, we didn’t have a great experience with the seller and wouldn’t recommend buying from her. Marlee is super awesome at searching Etsy (seriously, she has a magical ability or something) and had been looking for her wedding dress in the vintage section for months before coming across the perfect one. We put up with the seller because it was THE DRESS … if it had been any other purchase, we probably wouldn’t have gone through with it.

      Marlee says she thinks she found it by searching “fairy bride” or “fairy wedding” in the vintage dress category, if that helps. She would also be happy to loan it out … ;-)

      • Tina

        That is THE DRESS. My jaw dropped. :) The whole wedding looks so beautiful as presented here. Congratulations!

        • http://herodesigns.etsy.com Marlee

          Thanks so much, Tina!

  • Katie*

    Love this example of an Episcopal wedding! Thank you for sharing!

  • http://writemeg.com Megan

    Such a gorgeous day. That church! I’m not even religious and that church totally speaks to me. The care and thought put into your wedding was a joy to read about, and I’m totally a paper fanatic myself. Programs are on my must-be-done-soon list . . .

    Congratulations, lovely ladies — wishing you many, many years of happiness.

  • Paranoid Libra

    And now you ladies can go make it legal and that really brings the tears to my eyes. May you feel the love and beauty always in your lives that you felt on your wedding day.

    ….am I the only one that Lesbian weddings seem to always make me tear up? I think it’s probably from the whole to take what Aly Windsor said yesterday on the open thread a little further “fuck you homophobes” we are happy and we are getting married regardless of what you think and we will be awesome at this marriage thing.

  • Shiri

    Oh my god, so beautiful. I had a weirdly tearful joyous reaction to a lesbian wedding in a church, given that I’m Jewish, but it made me so, so, SO happy to see.

    And you two are gorgeous. And I love your dresses. I think I’m a happy mess over here today.

  • http://www.lulamaespecialevents.com Meigh McPants

    Lovely! And to be totally shallow for a sec: Marlee! Your dress! Omg. Love.

    But all squee aside, you both look so happy and it sounds like a perfect day. Way to plan what feels right for you instead of getting trapped into what the WIC says you have to do. Rock on, ladies, and best of luck at a marriage that’s as gorgeous as your wedding.

  • Class of 1980

    This wedding is very very pretty and romantic. Interesting tip about wrap dresses.

  • meg

    I love that we didn’t get a chance to edit out the line “Hurry up Supreme Court.” Cheers to making it legal in CA soon, ladies.

    • Megan

      Thanks Meg! We’re so excited to get civil married for lots of reasons, but a big one is that it will give us the chance to have a small courthouse ceremony with a few friends/family, and we’re totes going to dress up a grocery store cake APW-style! Yessssss.

      • http://cloverandlace.com Helen

        That is what my wife and I plan on doing as well when we can finally get civilly married! Congrats!!!

        Also, I love EVERYTHING about this.

  • Elisabeth

    The seed packets! Yes! K just spotted those and got them, and they are so dang sweet. We mostly sent e-invites, but are sending paper ones to some not-internet-savvy or just sentimental folks. I really loved this. Congrats, M and M.

    • Ms. Cardigan

      I went to 2 different post offices on 3 different occasions and they never had those darn seed packet stamps in stock. I was so bummed, but had to tell myself, “they’re just stamps for goodness sakes!” and bought the wax seal heart ones :/

  • art

    1) just beautiful

    2) i’m not remotely religious, but the image of you two kneeling in the church is one of the most moving things i’ve seen in my whole wedding planning read-the-whole-internet process, particularly after yesterday’s court decisions (congratulations)

    3) i am 90% certain i’ll be ordering my wedding dress from coraliebeatrix but have been a little unsure because my mom’s reaction wasn’t very enthusiastic (not enough sequins? i don’t know…) and because i’ve never tried on one of those dresses, and i’m so happy to see how beautifully it worked here. this might put me at 97%!

    • Megan

      1) and 2) – Thank you!!

      3) Katie at CoralieBeatrix is soooo great and easy to work with! Her wedding line has become even more seriously amazing since I bought my dress about a year and a half ago – the colors, chiffon, lace, and hemline options are absolutely stunning! I wore a petticoat under my dress (vintage from Etsy) that added some volume near the hem of the dress.

      My major challenge with the wrap style was figuring out what to do about a bra. I ordered one of the CoralieBeatrix bandeaus, but it didn’t work for me (not enough support). A week or two before the wedding, we discovered an AMAZING secret: Target sells white bras with pretty lace covering the area between the cups for modesty – so much coverage, and pretty to boot!

      • ART

        awesome tip, thanks! i have been looking at all this bizarre lingerie made to be invisible – weird swoopy bras for low-cut tops with self-sticky parts and clear straps, etc. it’s kind of neat but…just weird. i’ll check out target :)

  • Tamar

    Oh, I just can’t handle how gorgeous this wedding is! I’m in the middle of wedding planning and, honest to goodness, you two planned and had my vision of the perfect one. The beautiful images in the church followed by a community celebration. I just wanted to let you know that you touched my heart. And that if anyone asks what my vision for our wedding is, I’m just going to print this piece out and give it to them.

    Congratulations!!!

    xoxo

    • Tamar

      Also, outside my own selfish desire to steal your wedding, could you two look more beautiful and in love? I don’t think so. I’ve scrolled through your post about 5 times and just been blown away by the love and excitement on your faces. Thanks for making me cry at work! THANKS A LOT. ;)

  • http://www.koruwedding.com Koru Kate {Koru Wedding}

    So lovely & sweet! Congratulations, Megan & Marlee~

  • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

    Beautiful. Stupid beautiful. Amazingly beautiful. Lovely and wonderful. Congratulations to you!

  • elle

    Both of these dresses are gorgeous – and so uniquely different from each other! – but that dress with the train and gauzy shoulder straps just absolutely takes my breath away. I can’t recall the last time I’ve wanted to BE IN a dress as much as I’m dying to get my hands on that one.

    Also, I stocked up on the vintage seed packet forever stamps. Because HELLO. AND I was ridiculously excited to use them on our RSVP envelopes :D

    I second Tamar’s comments above – EXACTLY x 1000.

  • Meghan

    OMG you guys – this is just beautiful. Simply the best APW wedding I’ve seen yet!! I can just feel the magic of your wonderful day. Congratulations you two!!!

  • Stephanie

    I love your dresses!!!! Congratulations!!!

    I realized that church is about 3 blocks away from where I’m moving, so I’m totally going to check it out, since it’s obviously gay friendly! Thanks!

    • Megan

      You should TOTALLY check it out! When are you moving? We’d love to meet you! Choir starts up again in late September … just saying … :-)

  • Sarah

    I LOVE the name Marlee. Just sayin’.

  • ANOTHER MEG

    You two look so beautiful and happy. Congratulations!

    Side note- Marlees’s grin in a few of these photos might be the best thing ever.

  • Sarah T

    Best wishes to you both! Your happiness radiates from off the page!

  • Julia

    First of all, you two look SO GORGEOUS and happy. Congratulations times a million!

    Secondly, and on a more practical note — how the eff did you feed 140 people for less than $6200?! Even if you spent all your budget on food, which you obviously didn’t because you had a beautiful venue and stunning dresses, that’s $42 per person including tax and tip. In LA. How is that possible, and can you please teach me?!!

    • Megan

      Thanks Julia! Hahaha, good question. We gave our caterer a budget of $750 and decided (with her input) to serve cream puffs and a nice coffee/tea/hot chocolate bar. It was totally up to her how many cream puffs to make and still be able to pay herself out of that amount. She ended up making hundreds and hundreds of cream puffs with all sorts of lovely fillings, serving several gorgeous fruit platters, and providing all the coffee, tea, etc. PLUS creating a beautiful tiny wedding cake for us as a surprise!

      So … we fed 140 cream puffs and coffee for $750. Totally do-able, and totally awesome.

      • http://herodesigns.etsy.com Marlee

        On a side note, serving finger food was a great decision. By deciding on creme puffs instead of something messier like slices of cake, we eliminated the need for plates and silverware (which can really add up). We bought a 350 pack of cocktail napkins from Smart and Final for a couple bucks, plus another $20 on coffee cups and stirrers. It was great, and helped our budget so much!

        P.S. Since our wedding started at 7:30 pm, no one was expecting dinner, and everyone loved the food! Also, we came home from our honeymoon to find our freezer full of frozen creme puffs that lasted for about a month.
        P.P.S. Let’s not kid ourselves…they lasted about 6 days. Frozen creme puffs…Mmmmm.

  • Rachel

    The love and happiness radiating off of both of you in your pictures made me a little bit teary. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Dodie

    Congratulations!!! My wife and I were married two months ago. (well, in our hearts married, even though we’re in a civil union state, blah, blah, blah). This post resonated with me so much. Especially that you threw in a tiny blurb about the missing family for various reasons. I’m happy to see that you were able to have such a joyous and full occasion even though!

  • Rachel

    I love this wedding, I keep coming back to it and looking through the pictures over and over. Any chance Marlee and Megan would be willing to share more info about the ceremony they created?

  • Kelsey

    I’m not crying… nope…

    (you two look so happy!! Congratulations!)