Wedding Graduate: Nole!

Our first wedding graduate is Nole, who’s stylish garden wedding I featured way back here. She writes the blog (Oh So) Beautiful Paper, and has just started writing a weekly column on wedding paper goods at Elizabeth Anne Designs. Now, on with the show: Nole’s words on what she learned from planning her wedding, and what she’d like to pass on:
So I’m a bit different from some of the other wedding graduates featured on this series. Unlike most of my blogging bride friends, I didn’t start my own blog until after my wedding had taken place and so didn’t have a chance to share any of my wedding planning experiences before my wedding. If you want to hear more about my planning, I guest blogged over at Elizabeth Anne Designs in December – so check me out there for some additional advice and stories from our little DIY garden wedding.When I look back at our planning process, I think the two factors that made things easiest for us were: 1) having a clear vision of what we wanted and learning how to edit our choices to make sure that we stayed true to our original vision; and 2) deciding to have a small wedding. The latter was relatively easy, but former took a bit of training, particularly during the first few months. I’m a visual person, and so it was easy to get carried away by all the amazing photos and ideas I found on other wedding blogs. We learned to ask ourselves how any new idea or project would fit into our wedding and if it didn’t work, we didn’t do it, which helped us maintain a relatively coherent design and feel for our wedding.
To the extent that I thought about my wedding before getting engaged, I always wanted a smaller, intimate wedding – just family and close friends – and I wanted it during the spring so that I could have lilacs and peonies. My husband and I planned our wedding like a big garden dinner party with family and friends. We wanted to keep things personal, super-informal, and with a sense of movement throughout the afternoon/evening. We also knew from the get-go that we didn’t want a wedding with every minute scheduled and with a specific order of events. Our refusal to schedule every aspect of our wedding drove our caterer nuts, but it really helped us achieve the fun, informal, dinner-party vibe that we were going for. Having a smaller wedding was absolutely essential in maintaining this vision, and I think anything larger than 75 guests would have meant absolute chaos for our wedding.

I realize that having a smaller wedding isn’t always an option for other people, particularly for those with really large families, but we were lucky enough to have a very supportive family that let us do whatever we wanted (including restrictions on the guest list) for our wedding. While also helping us maintain our informal dinner party vibe, having a smaller guest list also helped keep us sane during the wedding. Your wedding day will be completely overwhelming in about ten different ways and will fly by in what feels like seconds (trust me). Even with only 50 guests, I still feel like I didn’t have enough time with all of them, but it would have been exponentially more overwhelming with a larger wedding.And while I’m definitely not trying to endorse the WIC pressure to have a candy buffet or fancy reception lighting, I think it’s worth mentioning that, for us, the details from our wedding ended up being really important to us, both during and after the wedding. Now, with the wedding six months behind us, we’re able to re-live parts of our wedding through the details that ended up becoming some of our most cherished keepsakes.
But when I say that the details were important, I’m talking about the elements that made our wedding a truly personal event. For us, details meant things like our ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), our ceremony programs, our reception place cards and menus, and our Polaroid guest book. With the exception of our ketubah, at the beginning of our wedding planning process, we were determined to avoid most of these things at our wedding. But I’m glad we ended up incorporating them into our wedding, and these details are now wonderful keepsakes that make me smile every time I see them.Two other tidbits that are worth passing along. A few months before we got married, an already-married friend of mine said to me: “Just remember, you’re the only one with the vision in your head of what your wedding should look like. If something doesn’t turn out exactly the way you planned, you’re the only one who will know.” Totally true. Just accept, right here and now, that at least one thing will not go according to plan on your wedding day. But as long as you just roll with it, no one will notice – and your wedding will be wonderful anyway.

And finally, if you’re trying to have a DIY wedding, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a day-of coordinator. Our friends and family did help us a lot, but we made the decision to hire a DOC to help us execute all of our DIY elements. My DOC, Jasmine (who I found via Craigslist), was a lifesaver — she took care of everything. Having a DOC helped ensure that I could relax and enjoy the day.

All photos by Punam Bean Photography

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  • Kristin

    Nole, you’re so amazing! I love reading about your beautiful wedding. AND I have to second the rec. of a wonderful day-of-coordinator. Jasmine is also my DOC. She’s INCREDIBLE!!!

  • nole, your dress is gorgeous! would you mind sharing the details?

  • Definitely let someone take things off your hands day-of. Or sooner. (You shouldn’t be running things at the rehearsal either). But that person doesn’t have to be someone you pay.

    I asked a close friend with a film/theater background to be my wedding “director” and she kicked ass!

  • simply gorgeous

  • Breathtaking. Love the philosophy, the wedding itself, and the photos. An absolute inspiration. You are wearing my dream wedding dress, and I’d love to ask where it’s from.

  • betty lee

    thanks for all the great insight.

    i have seen your photos everytime i visit punam’s site and it’s so nice to have the story with the beautiful images.

  • Meg

    Nole’s dress is from

    East Side-
    100% agree. In fact, your comment is making me think more along the lines of “who could we ask to stage manage?” Which is of course what every wedding needs. My mom told me she *had* a stage manager for a wedding, a freind volunteered to do it as a gift.

  • Exactly.

    Minister accidentally skips ahead to the end of the ceremony. Bridal party quietly panics. Stage manager calmly, *subtly* cues musicians to hold. Sister of the groom reads final poem. SM cues musicians to play. Bride is so blissfully happy she doesn’t even notice!

  • Hi Jess – my dress is called “Claire” by Monique Lhuillier. I actually didn’t buy mine via, but you can definitely find them there or via I found my dress literally by doing a Google search, which led me to a woman in Canada who was selling her daughter’s wedding dress.

    East Side – I totally hear you about the DOC/stage manager not having to be someone you pay, but for me that just wasn’t possible. I didn’t feel comfortable asking someone who wouldn’t have otherwise been invited to the wedding to play that role, and I didn’t want to put any of my friends or family in that role either. I found my DOC via Craigslist, which was a lot cheaper (but still with great results) than going with an established “wedding planner.” Deciding to hire someone was the best decision for me, but I’m not saying that has to be the decision for everyone – if you’ve got talented friends who can play that role, by all means go for it.

  • Nole, my apologies. Meg and I seem to have coopted your comments to go on a (former) theater dork rant. I meant to be seconding the notion that no matter how much you DIY, you’ve got to hand over the reins!

    p.s. Where can I see the polaroid guest book? So. Jealous.

  • OMG yes you so need a D.O.C. This is something I had not thought of on my wedding day. Thank god my photographer was awesome and kind of stepped up and did it. She somehow managed to do this along with help from some family members and still get all of my pictures taken to.

  • Meg

    (oops about Nole’s dress location all! Thought that was the source!) Anyway, OnceWed and POWD are great sources for used wedding dresses, as is Craig’s List and Ebay… I’m just too impatient for Craig’s List and Ebay. But you, you are probably more awesome than me, and more patient.

  • Hey East Side – no problem, I just wanted to clarify so that people understood where I was coming from. And since you asked, I put up pictures of my guest book – just head on over to take a look.

  • so lovely…thanks for sharing…beautiful photos & love the dress…so nice that you found it 'pre-loved'…and i'm excited to check out your blog, nole.