In honor of receiving our professional photos back this week, I thought I’d share a more detailed rundown of how I put together our small wedding.
One of the guiding principles of planning this event was cost. Although I knew we’d be throwing down a few thousand dollars to make this happen, I don’t believe in the exorbitant price tag that comes with most weddings. Considering we only had a party of 27 people, the per-person price is a little high, but overall I’m very happy with the money that was spent.
The first and foremost decision made was the venue and catering. I ultimately went with Calhoun’s on the River because their banquet rooms have a great view and their catering is reliable. I didn’t want to take a chance with some half assed catering company whose food I’d never tasted before. Plus one of their rooms was the perfect size for both ceremony and reception for about 30 people.
Once we had that settled, there were a few other must-haves that had to be set up and reserved for the specific date and time.
The photographer was a big priority for me. Sub-par photography (like my own) makes me cringe. And if there is one occasion that it’s worth springing for, a wedding is it, right? So I shopped around, got recommendations, and went with Stephen Bridges. He did a fantastic job at a reasonable rate.
Another early task was to get the invitations designed and out the door. I went with an Etsy seller formerly known as Sunshine Printing Company, now reinvented as Card Candy. I needed to select an out-of-the-box design since there wasn’t enough time to have anything custom done. And I couldn’t just swallow my sense of good taste to choose some cutesy-poo crap in lavender with a tulle bow. I demand good design. Even in a rush. And I heart these invitations.
We also had wedding announcements printed in the same style (but with a photo) for my parents to send out after the wedding. Since it was such a small affair, the announcements would let the extended family and circle of friends know.
So next was this pesky little issue of what to wear. A proper bridal gown was never part of this picture. It’s simply not me, plus do you know how much those damn things cost? So I bought three inexpensive short party dresses, and agonized over my selection of which one to wear. One was from Banana Republic, and the other two were from ModCloth. I’m happy with the stripey little Modcloth number I chose, along with a classic white cardigan from J. Crew.
And Danny didn’t wear a tie. Why? Because he didn’t want to! Who cares? He looked good in a fresh new Fred Perry shirt and black pants. This is as dressed up as we get, folks.
The last truly crucial decision was who would officiate our ceremony. Ye ole internet led me to Chaplain Patterson, who was a true professional. He conducted a customized civil ceremony and understood our out-of-the-ordinary wedding arrangements.
Once all that was taken care of, it was on to the fun/unnecessary stuff. This is where it becomes apparent that I like to make things harder for myself. Keep in mind that I had less than 3 months to plan ALL of this. Yet, I had to make sure there was some personality to this whole thing, all in the details.
Out of nervous energy, I started making hundreds of yards of paper garlands to decorate the room with. There were several different iterations, mostly done with a 2′ circle punch from the craft store.
The colors were black, white, and apple green. Lesson learned that “apple green” is not a standard color. There are at least 10 different shades of green in play here. I was also kind of going for a sort of country-style picnic theme, even though it was indoors in February.
I randomly became attached to a black and white gingham pattern. You know, like a picnic table, but classy, right? My gracious mother made table runners for all of the tables, which paired nicely with the mason jar floral arrangements.
I’m glad I decided to have a florist do the arrangements. It was just nice to have this one thing all taken care of and neatly delivered to the venue. One less thing I had to think about that day. I had them put together 12 mason jar arrangements with miscellaneous white flowers.
Contacting that flower shop also made me realize how stupid expensive bridal bouquets are. I started wondering if I even wanted one. Considering it sits on the table for 90% of the night, it seems pretty stupid. But when I found the Etsy Seller, Handmade Collectibles, I thought a felt bouquet would be an interesting and different way to have a bouquet.
We got a totally awesome cake, too. Magpies is the go-to place in Knoxville for amazing cupcakes and unique wedding cakes. They’re expensive, but really incredibly delicious. We got a small standard celebration cake, and it was MORE than enough for our small party. It was red velvet cake with white cream cheese frosting. We ate the leftovers for days afterward, and there’s a piece in the freezer to eat on 2/18/13.
The “D&A” cake topper was handmade by my sister, Jessie. And the knife we used to cut the cake was engraved from my parents’ wedding in 1980.
We also set up a little reception table with a card box (also courtesy of Jessie), the favors, and a “guestbook” of river rocks for everyone to sign.
The favors were little mason jars of sugar and spice nuts that I made from this recipe the weekend before the wedding. I’ve made these before for holiday gifts. They’re super-easy and always a popular favorite. It took longer to tie those goddamn little cloths on top of each one than to make the nuts. Yes, they look so cute and homespun, but please REMIND ME NOT TO TRY THAT AGAIN.
But here are the nickels and dimes. My parents paid for the great majority, to which I am very, very grateful. But me and Danny covered about $1200 of the total cost. This list is pretty all-inclusive, but does not include all of our guests travel expenses or any of the honeymoon.
- Venue & catering: $2,247
- Photographer & all digital originals: $1,311
- Invitations & announcements: $209
- Rings: $375
- Amy attire: $276
- Danny attire: $143
- Chaplain: $150
- Marriage license: $98
- Cake: $188
- Makeup (started from scratch since I didn’t own any): $152
- Hairdos for me and Jessie: $118
- Mani/pedi (why not?): $63
- Florist: $328
- Felt bouquet: $75
- Misc. supplies for decor & favors: $277
- iTunes supplements to playlist: $56
- Dog boarding (got them out of our hair for a crazy weekend): $148
- Friday night party for out of town guests: $188
- TOTAL: $6,402
Objectively, that total number makes me a little crazy to think that it was all for just one day. But ultimately, it’s still so much less than a standard wedding. Plus it all went into one really fantastic day for both of us and our families and friends.
So now you know what I did with the past three months. Now you know why I didn’t make any progress on the house, or post anything on the ol’ blog-eroo. Excuses! I love ’em.