How We Crafted a Lively Ski Lodge Wedding Weekend

Imagine your favorite family vacation mixed with that one Christmas episode of Newhart. Plus s’mores.

Addie, Managing Director of a Fitness Company & Skully, Coastguardsman

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Imagine your favorite family vacation mixed with that one Christmas episode of Newhart. Plus s’mores.


Planned Budget: $20,000

Actual Budget: $18,825 (including site visit, travel, and mini-honeymoon)

Number of Guests: 39

Where we allocated the most funds:

The venue took up the largest part of our budget. We live in Florida but really wanted a winter wedding, complete with snow. So we chose a small town in Vermont that I vacation in regularly. We found a ski lodge that could house, feed, and host the wedding all on one location. They organized all the rentals, handled the bar, baked the cake, and cooked all the meals. Since it was a destination wedding weekend, we wanted to host our guests as much as possible. We paid for the rehearsal dinner, welcome celebration, wedding reception, and Sunday breakfast. The guests paid for their rooms. We chose a venue that made all the meals in house using local ingredients; we chose menus items that were easily scalable for the rehearsal dinner and non-reception meals to cut down on costs. Since we planned the whole wedding from a distance, so choosing a venue that covered all the bases was paramount. We couldn’t have asked for a better venue. When a snowstorm cancelled many flights after the wedding, the lodge honored all the discounted room rates for those stuck three extra days. They even let us have access to their kitchen to cook our meals.


Our second largest (and frankly, most important) wedding budget item was our wedding planner Kelly. Hiring a wedding planner seemed like one of those things that only people with large budgets can afford to do. And like a good photographer, they are a large portion of the budget. But choosing to spend our money on a wedding planner instead of a different venue or a photographer was worth its weight in gold. Who cares if you have a world-class photographer if you spend your wedding weekend crying in the closet from the stress? You can’t Photoshop a breakdown out of your pictures. So in the spirit of keeping my sanity, I hired a wedding planner. Kelly was organized, patient, and more creative than me. She took my vaguely formed ideas like “Newhart-like, but using this paper pattern, and a bit like your eighth grade dance, but with cashmere and in the winter” and turned it into a gorgeous nostalgia filled, vintage winter wedding.

Hiring a planner meant that I could fully concentrate on the creative tasks of my choosing, but that our table numbers would also look pretty nice. She organized the rentals with the venue and spent the night before the wedding stringing up twinkle lights from the rafters while I hung out with family and friends. It was DIT, but with people who were contractually obligated to help. I did most of the crafts before we got to Vermont; she put it all together. She was able to take our budget and give us the wedding that we wanted and pay herself out of it. Pro-tip for choosing a wedding planner: choose one who says “look at all this money!” when you tell her your modest budget.


Where we allocated the least funds:

We intentionally divided our wedding budget in to two categories: dollars and cares (or f*cks). Every item had a value of money we wanted to spend and cares we wanted to give. Because, like money, we only had so many cares to give this wedding. It’s impossible to care about everything in your wedding even if it’s important; so we devised a system to parse out how much we cared about something as well as how much money we wanted to throw at it.

The item that got the least amount of money was my bouquet. I handmade it from paper. Now I cared A LOT about how it looked and it took upwards of six months to build. It cost about $25 of actual money but about thirty percent of my wedding cares. The thing we cared the least amount about was the cake. He just wanted it to be white. I just wanted it not to be chocolate. Our caterer made a delicious carrot cake with maple cream cheese frosting and we didn’t have to think about it once.

What was totally worth iT:

Writing the ceremony ourselves. We spent hours and hours crafting a ceremony that was both traditional and reflective of our true selves. We wanted a ceremony to represent who we are now and honor the choices that brought us together. It emphasized that a marriage is a choice (well a series of choices) that two people make every day. I have been married before so it was important that every word we said was something achievable. We had a fairly traditional ceremony order but included readings and phrases that reflect our geeky nature. My vows included a quote from Buffy, our community response was “So way we all,” our introduction as a married couple was Star Wars and Star Trek based. Because our friends are our family too, we asked three friends in different phases of life to give readings that reflect that journey. We both loved being single so we were careful not to use phrasing that emphasized marriage life as an absolute goal. Overall, the ceremony was my favorite part of the whole weekend. Everyone just sobbed through the whole thing, including us.

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What was totally not worth it:

Worrying about things we cannot control. We worried about the guest list. Did we invite too many people or too few? Would people think it was an imposition to ask them to fly out to Vermont in the middle of winter? It turned out that some people we thought absolutely would come, did not with no explanation. And some unexpected guests moved heaven and earth to make it there. There’s no way to predict who will come to your wedding so it’s better to just accept the yes’s with joy and let the no’s roll off your back. The absolute right people were present for our wedding. By the end of the weekend, we were all family.

I worried that my more traditional family wouldn’t get our wedding; that they would think it was too feminist-y, too late ’90s boy band-y, too nontraditional. My dad loved not having to walk me down the aisle. In his words, “You are not a goat. I cannot give you to anybody.” His parents fully support our hyphenated last name. The ring bearers were delighted that they got to toss something down the aisle like the flower girls. No one minded that we got dressed together, walked each other down the aisle to Metallica, gave temporary tattoos as favors, or that we rather obviously avoided the use of man and wife throughout the ceremony. One our favorite parts of dinner was instead of serving ourselves cake, we cut cake and served it to each set of parents.


A few things that helped us along the way:

Carefully budgeting our cares like a money budget. Most wedding budgets and blogs tell you to just not spend money on things you don’t care about or that you have to spend the most money on the things you do. We found that not to be true for us. Something I cared about deeply didn’t cost us much money and some things that I didn’t care about at all were kind of expensive. So we assigned everything a dollar amount and a cares amount. Having the perfect soundtrack for the whole day? Huge cares, little money. So we spent several weeks building the perfect “Getting Ready Jams” playlist. Skully very much cared about his suit, but we ended up buying it at H&M for less than $100. Rentals? Couldn’t care less, but people still need napkins. Sometimes not caring also meant not spending a lot of money. Allowing myself to limit how much I could care about things kept me sane. Also, it totally justified the “throw money at your problems” that inevitably happens during wedding planning. Fun fact: we ran out of cares before we ran out of money.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Weddings are a time capsule. Trying to be timeless is an exercise in failure. We spent a great deal of energy crafting an experience so that when we look back at the photos or video, we think, “Damn, that was fun. Clearly the 2015 me had a great time.” Embrace the nostalgia; don’t fight it. Use vendors who are transparent with their pricing and let you change your mind. Be as laid back as you can. Get dressed together. Watching him put on his finery was one of my favorite parts of the day. While your wedding doesn’t have to have a theme per se, a particular look or feel helps tie things together. We picked a song, a fabric swatch and the expression “like that one Christmas episode of Newhart” (it was a reminder that things will go wrong and nobody knows it’s Plan B unless you tell them), and based all our decisions off whether it matched any of those three things. Also, if you are planning a wedding in January in Vermont, just buy the travel insurance and accept that you will be snowed in. It will make your life easier.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Skully: Having a private dance after the ceremony when we could think about the huge thing we just did.

Addie: Our impromptu first dance before the ceremony. Having all our favorite people in one place. S’mores.

Anything else:

Winter weddings aren’t for everyone. Guests with children may not be able to leave school. No one is on summer vacation. If you are in Vermont there is the very real possibility of a blizzard. But there is something both magical and comforting to be married amongst friends in the snow. It’s like a party inside a cashmere sweater—with champagne.


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  • Caitlin

    There is just so much hapy here! Love it!

    • Caitlin

      apparently I was smiling too much and forgot how to spell

  • Sara P

    Your dress! And that flower bouquet! It’s all so lovely :). Congratulations! (and I think I’m going to borrow that great advice about budgeting “cares”)

  • Amanda

    Your actual implementation of “cares given” on the budgetting spreadsheet is genius. We employed a similiar method but didn’t actually put it down on paper and, I’ll tell ya, the putting it on paper would’ve helped us. At a few different times we foudn ourselves spending so.much.time. trying to come up with cheaper solutions for things we didn’t care about before re-realizing, “Wait a minute, I don’t care about this AT ALL and now I’ve spent the past 3 weeks obsessing over it, let’s just make a decision and move on.” We must have had that re-realization about 10 time.

    Also, your dress is ROCKING! Such an enviably gorgeous wedding all around. Also, SMORES?!!?!? Wow.

  • kate

    ok 2 things:
    1) i neeeeed to know where those earrings are from. i love them.
    2) budgeting f*cks to give = GENIUS. so so good to make it really concrete. totally adding to our spreadsheets this minute.

    and finally, everything about this is so gorgeous and radiates fun, makes me wish i was there!

    • Pretty much everything but my dress and the stole I already owned. I did a deep dive into my jewelry box for anything with pearls. Shoes were my second most comfortable pair of 6 inch stilettos. No special bra. Regular old Spanx.

  • VKD_Vee


    Addie, so very happy for you – this is all *stunning*! I could make a list of everything you *nailed*, but it would go on for ever (starting with… “how do you get your hair so sexy?” and probably ending with “THAT DRESS THO!”). However, it’s especially great to see the paper bouquet from days Happy Hours gone by so beautifully featured for the “real deal”.

    All of the congratulations to you and Mr. Skully.

    • I actually owe my hair zen to you. Remember months ago that talk about curly hair? I finally made peace with my Blackness I guess and stopped relaxing my hair. I just decided to channel Diana Ross circa 1981 and go big. My real hair + curling iron= win

      • VKD_Vee

        Really? Ohmigosh, that’s amazing!! Going natural was one of the best, but scariest, decisions I ever made. 6 years later, it’s still a journey I’m figuring out but it makes me feel a lot less like eight year old VKD (desperately wishing she had blonde, barbie hair) and more like… Um… Solange? Angela Davis? Foxy Cleopatra?

        I actually can’t believe THIS is your “awkward transition phase”… NOT FAIR!!!

        • Owning Black hair is a thing. I work on it every day. But i figured if you were brave enough for it then so was I.

      • Kara Davies

        Big hair don’t care! YES!

  • Elizabeth

    “The item that got the least amount of money was my bouquet. I handmade it from paper. Now I cared A LOT about how it looked and it took upwards of six months to build. It cost about $25 of actual money but about thirty percent of my wedding cares.”

    This is exactly where I am! I don’t have a money budget for flowers, but I love them, so I decided to make it my major project for the wedding. Your bouquet (and your entire wedding) looks so gorgeous. I’m absolutely thrilled for you. :)

    • Elizabeth

      Also totally JUST NOW realized that you are the same Addie from Happy Hour and I’m even more thrilled! In my head Addie = purple dress and ponytail. Ha!

    • It’s totally worth it. My bouquet is going to spend the rest of it’s life in vase in our living room. It’s a permanent souvenir of the wedding.

      • Elizabeth

        <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 etc.

  • jubeee

    Wow, that dress is so hot! What a gorgeous wedding, you both look incredibly happy!

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  • Lulu

    I am in love with this wedding, in equal parts because of how beautiful it is and how beautiful your perspective on it is.

  • Alynae

    All the things. I can’t requote your whole post back to you. So just “…” to them all. WOOOOO!

  • Love your hair! I also have mixed hair and I’ve been struggling to find brides with the same texture and same vintage-y look. Would you mind sharing how you did it? I keep hearing about Curlformers…

    • This was #lazygirl hair. Style the curls as usual. Took sections of hair and just used a 1″ barrel curling iron and a lot of hair spray. Deep part on one side and bobby pins on the short side to keep it pulled back. I had these grand ideas for a glittery comb but couldn’t find one I liked.

      Of all the things I stressed about, my appearance wasn’t one of them. Who has ever seen an ugly bride? Nobody, that’s who. I borrowed heavily on that thought.

      • You’re the best.

      • Jules

        For the record, you looked beautiful. Did you do your own makeup? Cuz, wow. (Or: you have really nice skin!)

        • I did do my own makeup. Make Up Forever Primer gives the illusion of nice skin…which is almost as good as the real thing.

    • VKD_Vee

      I got curlformers off of Amazon for my wedding (mixed here!) and it was kind of a bust. The YouTube tutorials (all five million of them) that I watched made me think it was going to be awesome, but it just… didn’t… WORK.

      • Good to know! I’m trying them out soon… I did flexi-rods and got a 50s vintage look but I was hoping for barrel curls… trying to go no heat. So we’ll see! Thanks for the heads up :)

  • Annie

    I LOVE THIS. We are doing the opposite (escaping Chicago next Jan for a little NOLA loving), but still want exactly that: a weekend with the 30 or so people we love the most in this world.

    There is so much love in those photos. Just so much.

  • Kelly

    What an awesome wedding! Love it all, especially budgeting f*cks to give…genius. Also, that bouquet looks amazing!!

  • Lawyerette510

    Yay Addie’s wedding! I remember seeing a few pics in Happy Hour, and this post is such a treat! I especially love the advice about budgeting f*cks as well as dollars! Not to mention your approach to focusing on the vibe, oh and your ceremony and loved ones’ reactions to it. Not to mention how incredible you both look. The outside shots just slay me!

  • Jules

    Maybe it comes from growing up in a place where 95F is a cooler than normal summer day, but I love winter and snow (at least temporarily). I love red barns. This sounds *awesome*. Congrats!

  • This wedding is giving me LIFE. OMG.

  • Chelsea

    We obviously need a transcript of your vows.

    • These were my vows:
      I love you. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re the one. (Spike to Buffy alert) You love me when I least deserve it; because that’s when I really need it.

      Because I love you….

      I will make a home for us wherever we are. Your people will be my people. And as long
      as they aren’t playing against each other…your teams will be my teams (Patriots fan marrying a Seahawks fan…in January)

      I will ask for help. I promise to try to cross the bridges in our lives before setting
      fire to them. I promise to stay put, to fight through our challenges rather
      than run from them. I promise to build a future with you. And if what we build
      doesn’t work anymore, I promise to tear it down and start over again…with you.

      I promise not to resist change; because we WILL change. We will change interests,
      geography, cars, and favorite gelato flavors. But my love for you is
      unwavering. I vow to honor and respect you for all that you are and will
      become, taking pride in who we are, both separately and together. Above all, I
      will give you my love freely and unconditionally. I pledge this to you from the
      bottom of my heart, for all the days of our journey.

      • Kara Davies



      • Suzanne

        Seriously, AAAAAWWW! I would have been in tears too.

  • addiez

    Ah I’m absolutely loving this. I have to ask – where was the venue?? I also have a special place in my heart for Vermont.

    • Mountain Meadows Lodge in Killington. Practically perfect in every way.

      • danEllie

        When you first wrote Vermont, I thought, couldn’t be, but then I saw the picture in front of the fireplace :) my partner and I got married there in May 2012 and the team was wonderful. Glad they’re still killing it :)

  • “You are not a goat. I cannot give you to anybody.”

    YES. Best dad ever.


    • he’s pretty awesome.

  • Eenie

    This looks like a lovely wedding with lovely people. The advice to add a f***s given column to the spreadsheet is genius. I feel like it would really bring you back to earth when you fall down the WIC rabbit hole.

  • Charley

    Super love all of this. The dancing! Your bouquet! Your dress! His suit! (Can’t believe it was from H&M, now I know where to send my boyfriend next time he’s grumbling about suit shopping because your husband looks great in his). Congratulations to you both.

    • The tailor we took it to for a bit of fitting was super encouraging about H&M suits. He said they were perfect for the semi occasional use. Very good fit and not expensive.

  • FancyPants

    Alternate reality wedding dream- Right here!!! Winter wonderland- right on!

    Looks just beautiful and happy and FULL!

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing, Addie!
    Your wedding planning advice is….very timely for me and super appreciated. (Perspective check and f*cks to give=…dwindling!)

  • Sparkles

    This wedding is just full of wise. And fun. And lots of wise.

  • Sahinur Akter

    Really practical wedding.i love this wedding. nice photography with nice picture.thanks to share with us.

  • clairekfromtheuk

    Hot dayum but you guys are good looking (and look ALL THE HAPPY in every. single. photo)

  • what a beautiful couple and a beautiful day. congratulations!

  • AGCourtney

    I. Love. This. Wedding.

    Oh my gosh, where do I start?! – the fur. Have to start with the fur, that looks fabulous. YOU look fabulous. And I absolutely love that you cut cake to give to your parents, that is such a beautiful tribute to the people who raised you. <3 And I may have to borrow that idea of budgeting cares as well as dollars – that is just genius. I'm planning on making paper flowers myself and am excited to see yours turned out so well. I love when weddings clearly communicate just how awesome the couples are. This looks like the funnest party I've ever seen.

    Enthusiastic congratulations!

  • Wow! Congrats, Addie! I was so excited to realize this was your wedding! It looks like an absolutely fabulous wedding weekend, and you guys look absolutely incredible. I love your suggestion about budgeting your cares too and hope to remember that ideas should I ever need it. So happy for you both! I wish you all the best! (And the DIY temp tattoos look really fun too!)

  • Suzy

    So stunning and congrats to you both! I am also starting to plan our winter wedding in Breckenridge, CO and this just sums up exactly what we’re envisioning (smores and all)! I definitely need to add the f*ucks given to the spreadsheat asap!

    We are also hoping to go small and wondering what extra touches helped make it special for your guests? We are thinking hot tubs Friday night (after most people arrive), free time for snow activities Sat, dinner at our big rented home that night, wedding ceremony and dinner Sunday night and we’ll host a brunch for everyone before they head out Monday.

    Also, did you use the same space for the ceremony (love the fireplace, ours is beautiful too…hello no need for decorating!) and dinner? I am a bit hesitant on hiring a planner but I may for that one component because we’ll need help turning the area from ceremony in to dinner, back to some dancing before the big party heads downstairs to keep the party going. Any advice on that part of the night would be great!

    Thanks so much!

  • A very beautiful couple and a wedding, I can only congratulate.