Alexandra & Jared
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A whimsical waterfront wedding followed by a farm-to-table family-style feast.
Planned budget: $45,000
Actual budget: $55,000
Number of guests: 125
Where we allocated the most funds:
Hands down, the reception venue (food and drinks), décor, photography, music, and the flowers—and it was all worth every penny. We offered a variety of menu items, and ensured all dietary restrictions were met. The open bar was another feature we were both set on having, and the only restriction we had in place was no shots (those add up). Our guests had no problem with this limitation.
dÉcor: My friend James is a wedding planner and he served as my day-of coordinator. He knew the look I was going for—when I walked into the tent for the first time I wanted to cry because it was just so beautiful. He was able to execute each detail flawlessly, and got creative when he needed to. It was a difficult task to make the Rye Tavern more magnificent than it already was, and James did just that.
Photography: These are photos we will have forever, so settling for anything less than Henry & Mac was a no-no for us. We wanted two photographers—one to be with each of us.
Music: We paid for a band rather than a DJ since we are huge live music aficionados. This was an area of the budget that we set aside to cover the cost, as we knew it was the more expensive route. The band was also great, because during their breaks we could request more mainstream songs (Britney Spears, for example) that were not part of their typical set. It was the best of both worlds!
Flowers: Initially I wanted to save money with flowers, but once I saw a bouquet with the king protea in it, I knew I had to have it. The flower is clearly not native to New England, and it had to be shipped in from New Zealand! I was born in Australia, so I appreciated the Southern Hemisphere touch to the wedding. Luckily I have another very close friend who is in the wedding industry and she acted as my florist (best wedding gift ever!). She was able to use her industry discount and sourced me the most amazing flowers for the day. Without her discount and free labor, I am not sure we could have pulled off the look we were going for.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Stationary (save-the-dates, invitations, program, seating chart, and menu). I either made the item or purchased it online when I had a coupon for the site. Sites like Minted, Paperless Post, and Wedding Paper Divas are constantly shelling out coupons, so any time I knew I would be placing an order from a site, I made sure there was a coupon (and free shipping) first. Minted also offers free envelope addressing, which was a no-brainer!
I made the program, seating chart, and menu. All it required was downloading a font I liked online and then I could get to work. I bought craft paper for the programs and menus, and a black poster board for the seating chart. The programs and menus I printed at home, and the seating chart was printed at a local store. It was incredibly satisfying to see everything when it was done, and to know I had literally touched each of those elements.
What was totally worth it:
Without a doubt, the photographers—these are pictures we will have forever, so capturing the day was so important to the two of us. Dana and Zak (behind Henry & Mac) photographed my best friend’s wedding in 2014, and after seeing her wedding photos, I had no doubt in my mind who would be my wedding photographers. They were invisible the entire day, blending in as part of the scenery, and as a result, the photos they captured are priceless and full of raw, unguarded emotions. They captured not only our guests, but the essence of the day.
The reception was also totally worth it, and we loved sharing this spot with our friends and family. The Rye Tavern is a farm-to-table restaurant situated on the most amazing and magical plot of land, and their food is out of this world. We worked with their events coordinator to create a family-style menu that had our guests salivating from the moment they tasted their first appetizer. The cost of the reception included the venue, food, and open bar for the full night (something the guests definitely appreciated). To this day, I still have people talk to me about the truffle fries!
What was totally not worth it:
In all honesty, I don’t think there was one thing that wasn’t worth it. We tried to be selective and practical with every decision we made, and as a result there is nothing I would have changed. All the details were purposeful and recognized by our guests (which was very rewarding).
One thing I will say, though, is that it is not worth it to get stressed out. That takes away from your enjoyment of the process and the day. I can assure you that your guests will not notice the real reason why the bales of hay are stacked in the tent in various locations (absorbing puddles), and they will just think they are part of the décor (I promise they were not part of the initial design).
A few things that helped us along the way:
Remembering to take deep breaths and enjoy the journey. The whole planning process flew by (we had a nine-month engagement), so it was important to remember the whys behind the day. You can really get caught up in the smallest (and silliest) details, so it was important to occasionally take a step back and reflect on the big picture.
In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for help! By delegating tasks, you will save yourself a lot of time and potential headaches. I had no problem putting my family to work—after all, that is what they are there for!
My best practical advice for my planning self:
“You cannot control everything” was my little mantra. I knew there would be bits of the day that might not go as I envisioned them (like, the area under the reception tent was totally flooded three hours before the ceremony, and my dad went over to help bail it out), and it was important to recognize that it would all be okay in the end. If I spent time obsessing over everything that could potentially go wrong, I would have driven myself crazy. No matter what, it would all work out the way it was supposed to. Also, scheduling yoga the day before the wedding was a great idea to get into the right mindset.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
Can I say everything? If I had to pick out my favorite piece of the day, I would say our ceremony, and here is why:
Location: We got married on top of a boathouse overlooking a pond that I grew up going to, and it is a place that Jared and I escaped to many times over the course of our relationship. The boathouse belongs to a family friend, and the view they have of the pond is breathtaking. It was sprinkling on the day of our wedding, and the rain cleared just before the ceremony, leaving a perfect backdrop of mist rising off the water. In all honesty, it was better than a bright sunny day, and our photos clearly show that.
Processional: Jared walked down the aisle with his parents and our dog Ruby (in reality, she led them down the aisle), and I came down with my mum and dad. It didn’t feel right for just my father to “give me away” when both of them have shaped the woman I am today.
Officiant: Jared’s sister was our officiant, and she nailed every bit of the script. We gave her a rough idea of what we wanted and she did the rest. I even had her throw in a surprise Beyoncé reference just to make sure the attendees were listening!
Vows: We wrote our own, and I am so glad we did. It was funny to see the similarities in them—we both referenced our dog, our love for making up crazy songs, our love for each other, and our excitement for the adventure we were embarking on. Jared is in the start-up world (aka he works 24/7) so it was very appropriate when in his vows, he referred to our marriage as a “merger of great magnitude” and stated what I could expect from our “partnership.” It was quintessential Jared, and he had everyone laughing from the start. I certainly appreciated when he reinforced that I “would always be right.”
All the love: Holy moly, it was overpowering, and what an amazing experience it is to be at the epicenter of it! Looking around and seeing the smiles on our guests’ faces is something I will always remember.
Anything else TO SHARE:
One of the best pieces of advice I received was from my mother-in-law. She told me that to this day, she can still remember walking down the aisle and making eye contact with each of her guests as she passed them. It was a way to connect with the attendees and to truly root into the moment. I made sure to do the exact same thing when I walked down the aisle. Seeing all the faces looking at me, smiling from ear-to-ear, is something I will never forget. Make sure you take time throughout the day to step back and absorb everything that is happening—it truly does go by in a flash, so it is important to have those memories to look back on.