Brynn, Grant Writer & Bryan, Nurse
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: It was a melting pot of Art Deco glam, “Midsummer Night’s Dream” whimsy, Irish folk fun, with a dash of ikebana minimalist flair.
Planned Budget: $25,000
Actual Budget: $30,000 (including the honeymoon)
Number of Guests: 70
Where we allocated the most funds
Food and photography. Since the vast majority of our guests had to travel to attend this wedding (from as far away as Brazil!) our top priority was making sure that people felt really well taken care of, and had a blast. Since my husband and I are big fans of fresh, creative food, we wanted to share that with our guests. We also wanted to make sure that the day was well documented.
Where we allocated the least funds
What was totally worth it
Photography, and working with the church to craft a ceremony that was really our own. Neither my husband nor I are very religious, but both of our families are. So, in keeping with the theme of making sure our guests were comfortable (and by extension, minimizing family gossip), we opted to have the ceremony in a church. The tough thing about it was that I am an architecture geek and wanted a space that reflected our old-world tastes, but in Texas, it’s really hard to find a church like that which doesn’t have a giant Jesus hanging over the altar in a macabre fashion. Central Christian was the absolute perfect place for us because it was a genuine Art Deco treasure, but it didn’t have any figural artwork in it. We ran into a couple of minor speed bumps because the church staff was very protective of the historic building, as well as their own religious ideals, but we took the time to talk to the pastor and wedding coordinator about our interests, and were able to find some pretty great common ground. Some things that we really worried they’d shoot down, like having a hand fasting, turned out to be no problem at all!
What was totally not worth it
We definitely wasted money by getting way too much alcohol—although everyone enjoyed the choices and the fact that it was an open bar for seven and a half hours—there was a ton of stuff left over that we either gave away to the event staff, or just returned to the liquor store (for no refund). Also, even though the food was beautiful and delicious, we didn’t feel that we got what we paid for, which was four different “action stations” around the room serving small plate entrees throughout the night. We specifically chose this setup as opposed to a more formal (or stuffy) seated dinner or buffet, because we had attended a wedding with this more cocktail style setup and it was a lot of fun.
The party kept moving all night, nobody was tied to one seat, and we were able to mingle with a lot more people than we had at other weddings we’d attended. This movement was important to us because this wedding not only served as a big family reunion for a lot of people who hadn’t seen each other in years, but also an opportunity for our families to meet each other for the first time. What we got instead of the action stations was a single buffet line up against one wall, with no lighting or heating elements. Despite receiving several compliments on the food, we also overheard some of our guests telling their kids to hurry up and eat before the food got cold. As a result, there was a fair bit of food that got thrown out or given away to event staff at the end of the night. When a third of your budget is the food, the last thing you want to see is it going to waste.
A few things that helped us along the way
APW was definitely a big help, as well as our photographer who mailed us the APW book with some chocolates as a “thank you” after we signed the contract with her. I also read a lot of posts on OffBeat Bride throughout the process. Besides reading material, I would say we had some pretty incredible vendors who went out of their way to support us, and deliver the wedding of our dreams. This includes Elissa R, our photographer, as well as our florist, Kathy Reynolds of K&A Artistic Events. We literally cannot say enough good things about these two phenomenal women. Elissa and I went to high school together, and I’d followed her blog for a couple of years before asking her to shoot our wedding. So I was very familiar with her work, as well as her rave Yelp reviews. Despite this, she still managed to surprise me with her relentless enthusiasm, patience, and talent.
I found our florist on Etsy after my husband-to-be and I had a heart-to-heart about the logistics of having a pretty demanding day job, planning a wedding, and really really wanting to be able to make a whole bunch of crafty stuff myself. The reality was that no matter how morally opposed I was to spending a ton of money on flowers that weren’t going to last more than a day or two—we needed some kind of flower arrangements, and I didn’t have the capacity to make them all myself. My relationship with Kathy started out as just hiring her to do the boutonnières, but with a little bit of nudging from my hubby-to-be, I eventually relinquished control of all of the flowers—which was the BEST decision I could have made. Not only did we actually SAVE money by hiring her, but it cut down immensely on the amount of stress we had to deal with. Another great thing about Kathy’s work is that none of it goes to waste—since she works with primarily RealTouch or dried materials, everything is reusable, and a lot of her containers and props are upcycled from thrift store finds! Believe it or not, the grand total that we spent on flowers was under $1,400, and all of the girls got to keep their bouquets as mementos from the big day.
My best practical advice for my planning self
Delegate, delegate, DELEGATE.
Favorite thing about the wedding
We had a BLAST dancing for at least six hours of our seven and a half hour reception. A lot of people scoffed when they first heard how long it would be, and didn’t think people would stick around for the whole thing. But we put a lot of thought and effort into crafting a party that every single person was able to enjoy. My dearest husband put a lot of time into planning the music with our awesome DJ, Sean Alan. Bryan wanted to make sure that every generation “had their time to shine” on the dance floor, so the music transitioned from ’20s Jazz during the cocktail hour, to big band classics, to Beatles, other early rock and Mowtown, through some limited disco selections, ’80s, ’90s and more modern favorites. Even though I was a little worried that I’d be out cold by 9:30 or 10, when we ended the night with a GirlTalk song, I was so wound up that I almost bolted out into the torrential downpour outside (still in my wedding dress and shoeless) to continue the party a couple of blocks over on Sixth Street! Neither of us wanted the fun to end, and several people approached us later to tell us that it was the most fun they had ever had at a wedding. My brother-in-law actually said that if, in five years, we wanted to get remarried—to each other—he would totally show up. Comments like that made everything worth it.
We had a long engagement, almost eighteen months. Taking the time to carefully think and plan and craft an event that was not only a reflection of us but also was something that all of our friends and family could enjoy was totally worth the long wait to walk down the aisle. Don’t let anyone rush you and pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do, because the last thing you want is a whole bunch of wedding photos featuring frowning newlyweds. At the same time, though, don’t burn any bridges! Bear in mind that a wedding isn’t just for the couple—it’s a communal event—and being able to share your joy with all of your loved ones is really what matters most.