Our Wedding

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Should any new bride-to-be care to hear from my experiences, I hope this will help. I know everyone wants to be original and all, so I certainly don’t expect anyone to do what I did. Nonetheless, we were very fortunate to have the connections that we had that drastically lowered the cost of the wedding, so I hope this will encourage you to really consider who you have in your life that is willing to go the extra mile for you with the talents they have.

I am not ashamed to say that Pinterest was a huge influence on the planning process. To be a product of the culture doesn’t always have to be dreadful, and I was grateful for the network that helped me in the creative planning.

I had been thinking about my wedding since I was four years old. When I got to be about twenty or twenty-one, I began to discover several wedding photography blogs and Pinterest and then proceeded to seriously make notes for my own wedding. I didn’t get engaged until two or three years later, so I had plenty of time to put together what I wanted and tweak it as needed for the other half. I am blessed to have found someone whose style and interests matched and complemented the themes I wanted: a southern farm wedding with an ode to music, literature, and travel and vintage, antique, and homemade touches.

We followed the economically consistent trends of DIY, which exhausted a lot of backs and knees, but was worth it in the end. More than wanting to save money, I wanted everything from the invitations to the thank yous to resonate more than just a personal touch, I wanted the whole event to be personal. We pulled from our friends and community connections, and I was left with such awe at the talent possessed in the ones so close to me. It left us both feeling that not a single detail was expressed without true affection behind it.

save-the-dates

One of the nice things about the save-the-dates is that you don’t have to send them to everyone – only the ones you absolutely want to come or know will come. Naturally, this does not include everyone on the list, so it makes for a much cheaper endeavor. I found an idea on Pinterest that involved a tri-fold piece of craft paper with twine attached to either side that had been placed in the fold so it would tie a knot as the card was opened. We purchased two packs of 50 sheets of craft paper (each on sale for 40% off) to be cut into thirds. The printer, ink, and twine were complimentary of our dear family friend who helped me by designing the print, and my mother and my sisters put them together. We made the envelopes from the craft paper with glue sticks we already owned, so the total cost of our save-the-dates was about $7 for the paper at Hobby Lobby plus the postage. That’s pretty unbeatable.

location

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There was no question in the location of the event. My aunt lived on the same family land as my parents, and she has a beautiful lake and gazebo right outside her front door (well, just a short walk, anyway.) There are two large oak trees facing the lake, and nothing but trees and grass all around. All it took were a few golf carts and hay trailer to chauffeur the guests who would have to park at my parents’ and then we had a free venue!

invitations

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The worship leader at our church is rather gifted in graphic design, so I knew I wanted to go to him first. I told him I wanted the colors to be green and white (my colors were green and brown), and that I wanted a tree as the backdrop. It didn’t take long at all before Jay had a tremendous design that I just fell in love with. Even better, one of our very dear friends had an amazing employee discount at the local printer and wanted to gift us the invitations and RSVP cards! We were blown away at how the blessings just kept pouring in. And as for the RSVP cards, I had to incorporate my love of words, and so we made our guests reply with some lit-libs.

wedding party

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Neither one of us wanted a big wedding party (too many opportunities to hurt someone’s feelings). Since he has two brothers and I have two sisters, we decided that was that. His three youngest nieces were our registry attendants, his only sister performed a reading, and my only brother escorted my mother. It was blessedly simple and refreshingly easy. It was especially nice when it came to buying our bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts because we could spend more on each one for something unique to them.

dresses

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Two weeks after we got engaged, I went with my sisters and mom to a bridal shop about an hour away from home. We were just going to look, to see what was available, and to try on a few to see what would look good. I lucked out with the first dress I tried on from the $99 sale rack. For just a little brag, I have some pretty amazing shoulders, so a halter dress was inevitable. Simple, silky, and just a spot of bling where it gathered on my left hip bone, and it was all I needed. Instead of a veil (I always knew I didn’t want a veil, if anything at all) I opted for a birdcage, which fit perfectly into the southern wedding theme we were planning.

My mother, ever the seamstress, made the dresses for my sisters, each with a different pattern that they picked out, and we had a very generous and gifted church friend make the birdcages for my sisters.

gifts & favors

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Regarding our gifts – we didn’t want any. Sure, we had a few wish-list items, but we knew that registering would only result in us getting a bunch of stuff. And we didn’t want stuff. We had towels and sheets and plates and forks. We didn’t want stuff. The basic reason is that I‘m trying to make my life one that doesn’t accumulate things, and so we just wanted money. 

You can imagine that did not fare well with the more traditional folks in our lives, so we compromised. We registered at Belk and a gift shop in his hometown. And on the shower invitations, we announced where we were registered, but the wedding invitations included only that we were accepting gift cards and that we were very fond of homemade gifts. And we got things. A lot of nice things, for which I am grateful that we compromised. But we got a lot of money too!

For the gifts to the family, we gave my parents a porch swing and his parents concert tickets. The porch swing was made by one of my husband’s guitar students who is 95 and creates such things with beautiful craftsmanship.

We decided that I would take care if gifting to the women in both our families and he would take care of gifting to the men. This was what I was most proud of. I made gift baskets for his sisters and nieces, and not only that, I made the items in those baskets. With the help of others, of course. I included hot sauce, spiced pecans, lip balm, sugar scrub, soaps, candles, and rice packs. My mother did the majority of the work on the rice packs, and we all put in the effort for the soaps and sugar scrubs, but my brother made the hot sauce. It was very important to me that my appreciation for our family was personal, and I wanted it to be something I would put a great deal of time into, as the entire wedding required a lot of time out of our loved ones.

Our favors were also some things that were unique to us. As a proper writer, reader, and knitter, I make tea drinking a regular necessity for my day, so we ordered some peppermint tea from a quality herb store and we had Jay design a logo for custom guitar picks. Simple, but special.

And as for an extra touch, we put together some very small gifts for the family’s rooms. Some pecans grown in our own backyard, water from Waukaway Springs in Clarke County, MS and bottled locally in Columbus, and the current issue of Catfish Alley, our local magazine. Yay for keeping up with the local things!

flowers

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Again, in wanting to be cheap, I had hoped I could rely on friends’ yards and the roadside for all our flowers, but there were too many people who said I did NOT want to do that, so I compromised again, and what a good decision! We ordered flowers through a professional for the boutonnieres, corsages, and bouquets, but for the centerpieces and the chuppah, we picked a bunch of Queen Anne’s Lace, honeysuckle, gardenias, and magnolias, and we borrowed a bunch of ferns from other friends. We lucked out with a pastor’s wife and good church friend who had the best eye for floral design. We also had family take care of the bouquets and boutonnieres, so we were able to cut some costs that way as well. I had collected wine bottles and canning jars in which we gathered flowers and candles for the centerpieces, and some bottles were hung from the tent with ivy. Thrift store hymnals and books were used for food risers, and we tore some pages out to set with the centerpieces.

ceremony & music

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Our pastor is also a great friend, so there was no discussion on who would be the officiant. It wasn’t just that he was our pastor, and the pastor of the church where we met, it was also that he was our friend. Same with the music. Drew was the only reason that we were able to meet in the first place, as he was the one who recruited Justin to play with him. Also, he is a friend who crazy talented. It was a true treasure to be able to continue the trend of wedding aspects that were personal to us. Friends, not strangers. Bestest touch of all – my daddy built the chuppah out of cedar from our own land.

cake

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My cake was made and decorated by one of the sweetest classmates I had in Creative Writing at the W. Three Peacocks Cakery owner, Jenni Mitchell, went all out to create the best flavor combinations: butterscotch, peanut butter, buttercream, butter pecan, and every possible cake and frosting pairing. Jenni put a great deal of care into this creation, and I like to think I gave her the opportunity to experiment with more recipes 😉

food & rentals

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In order to keep things as simple as possible, and in order to get away before it was too late in the day, we decided to have a 4:00 wedding with a reception of heavy snacks. Again, we had friends and family chip in to provide simple veggie & fruit trays, cheese & crackers, and sausages. Friends and family took care of set-up and refills. And the best part was that we got to borrow our dear friend’s Peter’s Pottery dishes for serving – pottery that is handmade in Mississippi and absolutely gorgeous. Linens, tables, and chairs were rented from a local downtown business, Rex’s Rentals, and we owned some more tables and burlap cloth that we used, and we borrowed hay bales for extra seating. The food tables were old doors we had lying around that we rested on more hay bales and we made the cloth napkins ourselves. Through a friend of our friend, we were able to use additional doors and barrels, and other decorative pieces such as the bird cages, windows, and other things were also lent to us by our friends. And the best part was that our guests were greeted with a lovely surprise! A neighbor farmer offered homemade ice cream from the back of his tractor and covered the whole cost!

photography

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Having excellent photography was perhaps the most important aspect of my wedding to me. More than the flowers, dress, food, etc., I wanted quality work that would document all the details I knew I wouldn’t remember. Unfortunately, finding a photographer who would be able to accomplish that was well beyond our budget, but we lucked out yet again, because talent likes to surround us. My husband’s niece is a tremendous artist who generally does graphic design, but she also dabbles in floral design and photography, and is rather accomplished at both. There is just no way we could have gotten a better deal than someone who cared about our day as much as we did.

My best advice to anyone planning a wedding is USE WHAT YOU’VE GOT. Accept the generosity that is waiting to meet you, and through that, you will learn what is most important. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a free venue, family photographer, or floral talents in friends, but chances are, you’ve got more than you think. We were not only blessed to be able to borrow as much as we did and get things for free as much as we did, we were also thankful we got to keep things as local as possible. Every detail of the wedding was something we were able to accomplish ourselves, use the talents of our friends for, or use a local business for. You don’t have to travel far to find the best ingredients for your day. You just need to remember to make it yours.

And finally, what they all say is true. It doesn’t matter what happens, your dream day will end in you getting married to the one you love. You probably won’t remember the details over which you stressed so much, so remember that, and hopefully your planning will go a bit easier. Learn to treasure the small things like the heirloom handkerchief and brooch and the best friends taking care of all the details from chapstick to errands. We would not have had our day the way it was without our church and dear friends giving us a morning brunch, driving the guests to and from their cars, and raking hay to cover up the rain’s attempted interference the day before. It was all rather grand and humbling.

You can find more photos from our wedding here.

All photographs were taken by Sara Beth Cobb for {nimblee}

Invitation and RSVP design by Jay Armstrong

2 thoughts on “Our Wedding

  1. I was so honored when you asked me to make your wedding cake! The opportunity to grow and learn and experiment was the best part. Thank you for being supportive, creative, understanding, and laid-back! You were the kind of bride I hope to always work with! 🙂 I’m so glad Three Peacocks Cakery was part of your big day!

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