Lynn & Justin, Part 2

This morning, Lynn (who wrote a beautiful post about being a Motherless Bride last fall), talked about the emotional realities, and her complex feelings about her wedding day. Now, she’s back, to talk about the logistical realities—what she learned, and what she wants to pass on. She talks about the reality of DIY (I’m now slightly desperate to have her knit me a sweater, which is clearly not supposed to be my takeaway from this post), and no-nonsense tips on everything from ordering food to facials to hairstyles. Seriously people, this is good stuff. So without further ado, I bring you Lynn:

The planning started with a list of things I knew for certain that I DIDN’T care about; my astrologer* says that is the Capricorn Moon in me, but what does she know?  *We live in Eugene, Oregon where saying things like “my astrologer” or “my medical marijuana supplier” or “my tarot card reading revealed” are standard (and completely valid) references.

Primarily these “didn’t wants” revolved around clothing.  I didn’t care about having a wedding dress or matching bridesmaid get ups or warehouse tuxes.   I pictured all of us (bride, groom, maids and men) comfortably wrapped in warm hand knit sweaters, perfect for the fall and completely reusable in everyday ways. I pictured October.  I pictured this exact cake.  I pictured 75% of the decorations able to be thrown right back out into the forest floor where they came from.

I wouldn’t call myself a crafter, but I am creative, and if I picture something I can make it happen.  In October 2009 I started knitting.  I needed four sweaters in one year.  Now, luckily both Maids and Justin are small…very small (and if you are or know a knitter you know the drastic difference between knitting a sweater for a size small guy vs. a size XL guy).  By April 2010 I was still knitting (and suffering from tight shoulders and neck aches) and by August 2010 I was calling in last minute knitting support otherwise we would be walking down the aisle sleeveless.

Who’s idea was THAT…knitting sweaters.

Thinking back, we all would have been JUST as lovely with hand crafted scarves and I would have saved hours, days, weeks, MONTHS of time that I could have used on things like, say, cleaning the toilet (which was so disgusting we needed a haz-mat suit just to enter the bathroom by the end) or actually having time to snuggle, god forbid have sex, with my guy.  How many times he heard, “Scoot over, I don’t have room to knit!” and, “Don’t talk to me, I’ll lose count!” I’ll never know.  And, about a month out from the event I decided that I needed a big party dress ANYWAY (‘cause when would I, a realistic burger&brew girl at heart, ever have occasion to wear one again).  Don’t get me wrong, we all LOVED our sweaters, and every one of us will actually get to wear them again and again and again…but a little perspective would have been helpful in the beginning.

Perspective like, you already have a TON of DIY projects to pull off, should you really add another?  But in all my wedding undergraduate wisdom, DIY = Cheaper (which I found out later is a big bunch of bullsh*t some of the time).  After I chastised myself for spending way too much for ribbon (to make these totally adorable ribbon wands) I realized that DIY does NOT equal cheaper but what it DOES equal is amazing quality time for weeks on end with your best friends, fun giggles with your groom and surprising connections with people you THOUGHT were only casual acquaintances (until they put time and energy into your event that would put the Energizer Bunny to shame). WAY more important than money any day.

And while we are on the subject…money.  You have it sometimes, sometimes you don’t, but either way you are ALWAYS going to worry about it.  If you’re lucky, one of you is the “oh I just MUST have those designer shoes” and one of you is the “can’t we just hook up our IPod” types; because in the end you have just enough of everything.  We set clear expectations on what we would NOT compromise on (wedding photography and yarn quality) and what we were willing to forgo (wedding videographer and rehearsal dinner).   But even with our clear expectations, we still argued (and cried) about money.

Things I am glad I thought of, and want to make sure I share.

Focused on the whole “gathering” aspects of the wedding?  Looking forward to spending time with friends and family who are out of town?  Negotiate with your photographer to spend one or two hours at your rehearsal dinner.  We asked if we could “move” two hours of the wedding day time commitment to the night before for the same cost.  This resulted in more opportunities for those lovely candid family shots and I actually like MORE of them than the reception shots.

Spending a lot of time “setting the mood” of the event with the right ambiance? Have a certain type of music taste?  Check out “top wedding songs” lists…you will be surprised how many of those songs you actually really hate.  Cross off everything you absolutely do not want to hear and create a “do not play” list for your DJ.  This saved us from the Electric Slide and the Macarena which are truly STILL played at weddings nationwide.

Actual tips I wish I had known BEFORE I started planning. (All I can say is TRUST ME, you won’t want to, and everything your hearing and thinking and feeling is telling you I am wrong…but TRUST ME!)

TIP #1 – For God’s sake, drastically under order cake.  What is the worst that can happen, someone doesn’t get a piece of cake?  Trust me, they are not there for the cake. We had 55 guests, our cake “served 40” and we STILL had cake left over! (And it was TOP NOTCH cake).

TIP #2 – Drastically under order food.  What is the worst that can happen, someone doesn’t get seconds on the bacon/cheddar scones?  Trust me, they are not there for the food. We had a buffet-type brunchy finger-foodie spread.  We had way too much food!  Like, kid-you-not, three large coolers worth of leftovers.

TIP #3 – Negotiate with your wedding photographer for a free or heavily reduced rate on a “day after” shoot “in case of rain” clause. We loved our rustic farm setting and were hoping for numerous shots of us around the farm…the rain had other ideas.  Having a lovely indoor/outdoor event in a gorgeous setting?  Hoping for jaw-dropping shots of bride/groom and or wedding party outside?

TIP #4 – Don’t spend a ton of money on 6 months of fancy facials.  You know what actually worked (and what I wish I had known in my teens) cover your pillow with a clean towel every night.  Seriously…clean towel, EVERY night…it has done more for my skin than steams and extractions and steeply priced cleansers…SERISOUSLY!

TIP #5 – Planning on an awesome modern side chignon hair style? Hug 5 or 6 people and remember what side your “meet cheeks” on and make sure the hair style and/or fastener is on THE OPPOSITE.  Otherwise you will be doing one of two things…squishing your lovely updo or forcing everyone to hug counter-intuitively.

Photos By: Anne Nunn Photography

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  • Sarah :: Jackson Riley

    holy crap, you are the smartest woman ever. 2 of these posts in one day? one brilliantly and honestly poignant and rich? the other practical and detail and sanity-saving.

    my word, i’m in awe.

  • You totally rocked my world to day Lynn!

  • Meredith

    LOVE the sweaters. When I saw Part I this morning, I kept thinking “Everyone looks so comfy and warm in those sweaters”

    And clean towel you say? I shall attempt this…

    • LOMO

      Seriously…not kidding about the towel trick. Jus found this tip for me on some random internet site and I still do it to this day. First time with clear skin in 15 years (except when the hormones come once a month). And I’ve done Pro-Active which REALLY helped on my young skin (20-27) but when I hit 29 it was like sandpaper on my face so had to find a new trick.

      • I’m going to have to try this out as well. How long did it take for you to see results?

        • LOMO

          In just a week…for reals!

          It must be something about the oils being “soaked” up or not rolling around in your face goo. I hope it works for you!

          • JEM

            Is this a secret dermatologists keep from us so we keep spending money on them?

            Operation Towel starts tonight!

          • Ha! “rolling around in your face goo” made me laugh and grimace at the same time.
            In addition to face goo, there’s also hair goo there. I learned that when I first stopped using commercial shampoo and my pillowcase got yucky. (Now, 3.5 years later, both my hair and pillowcase are fine. :)

    • I’ve tried it and it didn’t help me, but I think my skin issues have more to do with hormones than with oil and dirt.

      • Ris

        Hey Kahlia! Sorry to hijack this thread… but you quit commercial shampoo? How? Do you make your own, or did you just cut it out altogether? I tried making my own w/ baking soda a while back but it didn’t seem good for my hair, so I’d just resigned myself to buying it again. I’d love to find something else that works.

  • LOVE! Love love love love love…
    especially the bit about photography back up plans.
    and the sweaters – omg, i adore the sweaters.

    • Kayakgirl73

      Jeez– Great idea on the photography back-up plan. Our ceremony and reception were inside but I really wanted outside pics. It rained. The next day was beautiful and we could have down pics of us at least then.

      • How about anniversary photos? Or just-because-we-want-good-photos photos? It’s never too late to get photos taken that you love! :)

  • Pine cones on a string, adorable cake with leaves… Beautiful! All looks very relaxed and FUN! Great tips too!

  • Sarah

    THIS is glorious, smart smart smart advice!

    A lot of it you’d think would be common sense …. but we all need someone to acutally spell it out and remind us from time to time. (Like the hair tip! I knew that! But I forgot it during my planning!)

    Rock on, lady.

  • This was awesome! As another motherless bride/person who wrote a Hard Stuff post on APW, I loved reading your take on the practical side of things! Us sads have funny, intelligent, irrevrent stuff in us too!

    Ok, off my bizarre soap box… I am now very worried about what side I hug on. My dress demands that my “awesome modern style side chignon” be on a particular side. Is two months long enough to retrain my “meet cheeks”?

    • MPC

      Maybe you should wear the dress backwards, instead? :-)

  • Tip #5 is my absolute favorite. I’ve NEVER thought of that, and I’m thinking of doing that with my hair. GO YOU. You seriously rock.

    • When I read Tip #5, I decided: clearly, this is the smartest girl EVER!! Love! I wore my hair in a side chignon with a flower & I happened to put it on the correct side by chance. This tip is brilliant!

  • the pinecones!! that picture makes me want a wedding do-over. and now i also want a new sweater.

  • meredyth

    that is some good advice about the side chignon thing. I am totally planning on doing that and didn’t even think of the possible complications until you mentioned it. The food/cake advice is also useful. I’ve been worrying about food costs for a while now.
    Also, I second the warm cozy look of the sweaters. They are BEAUTIFUL, if maybe a little time consuming. But what a lovely gift! :)

  • Okay, so as a fellow knitter, now I want to know if this lovely woman is on Ravelry, so I can see what patterns she used for those gorgeous sweaters. I am impressed!!!

    • Ditto on both counts. (I’m SeekUp on Ravelry, p.s.!)

      I can’t imagine making that many sweaters for so many people to wear at my wedding. Screw the decor, that ish would stress me out more than anything. Kudos to you, woman, for pulling it off. (And having everyone put them on! Hahaha, I slay myself.)

    • LOMO

      Yeahs! Let’s be Ravelry friends! I’m LOMO

      • They’re seriously gorgeous. Fantastic job!!

        • Sooz

          I’m wolfling on Ravelry. loving the jerseys – I also can’t imagine taking that on as wedding prep! But then, I had knitted tentacles…!


  • YOU MADE THOSE SWEATERS??? ** cue massive envy ** Then again, I live in South Texas and don’t know what a sweater looks like anyway. Nonetheless. I’m in awe. Even with the ridiculous amount of work – they are GORGEOUS.

    And AMEN to all of your advice. Except our dinner leftovers made a great snack on our trip up to our honeymoon location ;) and my coworkers loved the boxes of cake I brought up the next week. And it was still TOO MUCH.

    • We had left-over wedding food (and dessert!) for breakfast the next morning with all of the family that was in from out of town. My mom’s blueberry pie was the BEST morning-after-my-wedding breakfast. We also sent 2 full cheesecakes home with people.

  • Wow, well done. Everything look awesome, and I love the idea of having a wedding sweater. (Even if I think it’s kind of crazy to knit 4 of them, heh.)

  • Definitely could’ve used the cake tip.

    And I love your perspective on DIY. It’s not always time and money saving, but it does have other benefits.

    I’ve also heard of just changing your pillowcase every night. And it makes sense when you think about it that you don’t want to be smooshing your face into the residue from the previous night.

    I knit a scarf for me for our wedding. I’ve been knitting the same sweater for ten years now. So I’m HIGHLY impressed that you knit four sweaters. That’s crazy!

  • Phoebe

    Loved all 3 of your posts! Thanks for the practical tips and reminding me to appreciate my own interrogating mother, not matter how annoying she can be. Also, I’m curious if you got the towel on the pillow tip from reddit?

  • This is such a great wedding. I love it. The photography looks great. Congratulations to the couple and their successful union!

  • suzanna

    LOVE your amazing sweaters. LOVE the pinecones. LOVE the pearls with that dress. LOVE the party pics. LOVE your very helpful tips. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

  • Stephanie


    Those sweaters are so beautiful. You did such a fantastic job on them. You could probably make millions off them. I’m with these other ladies and will stand in line for one.

    Seriously, your wedding photos are lovely. The pinecones were fantastic – I’ve never seen anything like that before. Your advice – amazing and your party dress was “wow!”.

    You write so beautifully and graciously. I’m diying my invitations right now and they are more expensive than just buying them but the time crafting with my best friend is worth every penny.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • I am SO happy for you that your DIYing meant you got quality time with people who did it with you.

    Mine meant that I was alone and lonely a lot. People helped the week before the wedding but until that point it was just me, and I felt a bit resentful about it.

    Your wedding is gorgeous, btw.


    • Rebecca

      I feel for you. I’m currently DIYing a few things in our wedding, and it’s a fine line, for me, between wowing everyone and being lonely. My challenge for myself is to let others in.

  • We are hoping to avoid excess cake by serving it as dessert.

    Both of these posts are great! Thank you for writing them.

  • What a fantastic idea to knit sweaters for your wedding party. I had noticed your bridesmaids sweater this morning but I didn’t even pause to think that you might have made it!

    I may have to suggest this to the next of our knitting group to marry in the fall. :) I checked your sweaters out on Ravelry and just love them.

  • YES to so many of these! My pretty, loose side chignon turned into an almost-falling-out side ponytail not far into the wedding. We had so much cake (a small two-tier to cut and then 2 sheet cakes, 100 servings for 85 people) that we didn’t even have to use the cutting cake at ALL). I had full spreadsheets of do not play and must play songs because I had a specific vision of the vibe I wanted the party to have, so many that I really wish we HAD skipped on the DJ, who tried to ignore my lists anyway unless my wedding-coordinator friend kept scolding him (and played the WRONG first dance song!), when I only hired one bc I gave into the “but you HAVE to, you’ll be too STRESSED to do it yourself” voices.

  • These are amazing, brilliant tips — esp about the side-updo! I totally second your do-not-play list tactic. And I’m quite intrigued by the clean towel on your pillow tactic as well. I noticed the sweaters right away in your first post and thought they were incredibly beautiful. They may have been a pain in the ass, but they are such amazing pieces of work! I am in awe. Great posts, both.

  • Jo

    The tips are amazing and you are just awesome.