Hello, everyone! I am so excited to join the Project Wedding community. In the short time I have been here, I have been completely amazed at just how encouraging, close-knit and helpful everyone has been. I am sure that 9 months from now, when my wedding has come and gone, I will be writing to thank everyone for helping to make my crazy ideas, inspiration and thoughts to become a reality. Now, enough with the mushy stuff... let's get to know one another!
Who we Are:
Occupation: Grant Development Specialist at a State University
Fiance's Name: Drew
Fiance's Occupation: Body Shop Foreman at a Chevrolet Dealership
Little Ones: 3 adorable Furbabies (Jack, Pete, Chelsea); 0 of the human variety
Where we live: In a really cute, but really small rural town in southern Missouri
Wedding Date: May 19
Engagement Date: December 24, 2010
Length of Relationship: 8.5 years!
Since we happen to on a small budget, it has served the bones of the wedding plans and has helped us determine what we can realistically do. I have found that it is really helpful to decide what is most important to us and what isn't. We have an "official" budget of $5,000, but we really would love to stay under $3,000 (this doesn't include rings or the honeymoon). Here is our proposed budget. I think we will come in under on most categories. Numbers in bold are the actual costs/estimates and will be updated as those come in.
Venue- $1,000: $1,000
Photographer- $500: $575
Hay Bale Seating: $400
The Venue has proven to be a challenging part of the wedding planning process for several reasons.
#1: Location. When you live in the middle of nowhere, in a town with less than 600 residents, there are limited wedding venues. The closest advertised "wedding venue" is two hours away and the closest "banquet hall" is probably closer to four hours away. There are also limited rental (tables, chairs, etc...) facilities with the closest about two hours away. So what's a bride to do? Get creative!
#2: Budget. The majority of the places that I looked into are over budget... like way over budget... like twice my entire wedding budget. Eeek!
#3: Preference. We are very non-traditional in our wedding wants and needs. We do not belong to a church and do not want to be married in one. We actually want to be married outdoors, in the beautiful area that we live.
#4: Theme. I really wanted a venue that fit in with my country/rustic feel. Since we live in a very "country" sort of place, you would think this would be easy... but it's not!
With those things in mind, we have went through many different options: parks, national forest, conservation areas, etc... but each had really big issues that STRESSED me out, like no electricity, no tables, no chairs, no bathrooms, no lighting, limited parking, not to mention bugs, poison ivy and allergy causing foliage that will be rampant without abandon in the middle of May. I was almost at my wits end (and had actually considered calling off the wedding and eloping instead) when my fiance, through family connections, secured The Woodpecker Lodge. It is a big cedar lodge that was built by a couple of successful lawyers who had moved away from our area, but wanted a place to come stay when they came back home. It's a venue, it's a lodging facility, it has a bar, it has tables, it has chairs, electricity, rustic decor. It really does "fit" all of our criteria. So without further adieu:
The Woodpecker Lodge
Cost: $1,000 to rent from Friday morning through Sunday night; includes use of all facilities including bedrooms for entire weekend and cleanup on Monday.
Sleeps: 26 people in 8 bedrooms
Features: Seating for 75 people, awesome bar area, catering kitchen, in-ground pool, huge grassy area for ceremony, large parking area, storage areas
(Since this isn't technically a advertised wedding venue, there are limited photo resources...however, there was a gorgeous wedding in May of last year. I stole a few off of the photographer's website which has the venue peeking out in the background, but you can better photos of the venue by clicking here. All photos curteous of R.Brannon Estis Photography)
The whole point of the wedding day is the ceremony, right? That means that this is a BIG deal to me. I just cannot see our ceremony consisting of the traditional words that are spoken at thousands of weddings each day. (no offense to anyone who does prefer a more traditional route) I really want to make the ceremony as unique and personalized we can. So... I have taken on the huge undertaking of writing our complete ceremony...but it's a surprise, so you'll have to wait until after the big day to get a glimpse!
We have also asked a close cousin of my fiance's to perform our ceremony. Since we do not belong to a church and having someone we don't know speak the most important words we will ever hear, just didn't sit well with me. We do need to get him ordained online, though!
So, now onto the "pretties" of the ceremony:
The lack of rental businesses near our area, and abundance of farms, helped us to think outside of the box when thinking about ceremony seating. So instead of chairs, we are planning on using quilt covered hay bales. How cute is this?
Then we will line the aisle with shephard hooks with mason jars filled with wildflowers. Maybe something like this:
And of course, people will need a little help finding the place, so we're planning on having barwood signs along the road like these:
So after the important part, we need to have some fun, right? Heck, yeah! For our reception, we don't have to do a lot of decorating because the lodge is so wonderfully rustic already, but here are the few things we are planning on doing.
Centerpieces- wildflowers in mason jars
Guestbook- My cousin has made a similar painting as this and is giving it to us for a wedding gift. It is super cute! She has painted a big tree on canvas and each guest will put their thumb in ink and leave their thumbprint as the leaves. It will be a great keepsake after the wedding.
Canoe to hold Gifts-
Flowers can get mighty expensive, really quickly! This is especially true when you are dealing with a florist, who will basically laugh when you explain that you need enough flowers for a ceremony and reception and have a budget of $300.
So to cut costs, we decided to forgo the florist and to take on all of the flowers ourselves. We will need flowers to put in mason jars for the centerpieces and also enough for my bridal bouquet. We've decided to order Sunflowers and wildflowers from Sam's Club online. They have amazing reviews, great prices, and they deliver the flowers right to your doorstep. Easy, peasy!
Sunflowers- 80 stems for $85.88 (including shipping)
Assorted Wildflowers: 8 bunches for $52.66 (including shipping)
When we put it all together, I hope it looks a little something like this:
Food happens to be another topic that had me pulling my hair out with a $5,000 budget! We established early on that because we are having a 5:00 pm wedding, it would only be fair to our guests to provide a full dinner so everyone was happy and content while celebrating.
We went through many different catering options and weren't quite settled when my cousins best friend offered to help organize and prepare all of the food as a wedding gift. Her family has extensive experience in the food industry and she currently owns a delivery lunch business in our little town (and has owned a restaurant in the past) which means that she can order everything through her food purveryor on the cheap.
We just finalized the menu this weekend. We wanted to keep it cheap, easy, and likeable so we went with a good old fashioned southern meal. It will include:
Fried Fish (caught by the groom!)Fried ChickenBaked Potato SaladBaked BeansColeslawHomemade Mac and CheeseHushpuppiesBiscuits with butter and honey butter
Now onto the sweets...Since every other aspect of our wedding is non traditional, we decided to throw out the idea of a big, white, fluffly wedding cake. Gasp! Instead we are going to serve a variety of homemade pies and cobbler served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream!!
Just because we didn't want to serve the traditional wedding cake, doesn't mean that we didn't want a cute cake topper. I searched high and low for a cute topper that seemed to fit with us as a couple but they all seemed too generic. So, what's a girl to do? Scour Etsy. After a few hours of digging around, I came across the wonderfully talented MudCards. Seriously, check this woman out! Beautiful, personalized, whatever-you-can-dream-up cake toppers. I put in my request right away and a couple months later I had this beauty in my hands:
*Squeal* I just love it so much! It could be my most favorite element so far! Proportionate to the rest of my wedding budget, $100 for a cake topper is pretty steep... but I totally think it's worth it!
Now that we've filled the plates of all our family and friends, we need something to wash all that goodness down with! We wanted to keep the drink menu fairly simple and unpretentious with a few non-alcoholic staples, beer, and wine. We plan to serve the following:
Non-Alcoholic:LemonadeSweet TeaUnsweet TeaWater
Beer:Bud Light: kegBudweiser: couple cases of bottlesAmber Bock: couple cases of bottles
Wine/Bubbly: (most of our guests only enjoy sweet wines)Blackberry Merlot from a local wineryChardonnayWhite ZinVerdi Peach Sparkletini
And we're going to be serving all these wonderful liquids in mason jars! I've already stocked up on 120 quart size and 48 pint sized (for wine/champagne). How cute will that be?
We are probably going to go with a self-serve bar and to keep from having to have someone on hand, washing the mason jars, we are going to have each person write their name on the glass and keep it for the entire night. We will probably display it similar to the ideas below. (credit from left: Pinterest; Ruffled Blog; Green Wedding Shoes)
My mom makes the best homemade jam and has taken on the task of making homemade jam favors for all of our guests. I hope to make cute little labels, something like this:
Some people may gasp in horror but the groom wants to wear jeans and I don't see why he can't. The whole theme is rustic, country and what is more country than jeans? It is basically all he lives in and like I have said over and over again, I want this whole thing to be very "us." He's planning on pairing them with a crisp button down, black sports coat and boots. Plus, there are plenty of inspiration photos out there that have convinced me that it's a good idea:
When I first got engaged, I had no idea what kind of wedding dress I wanted, so I decided to write down a few key words for what I wanted in a dress: casual, comfortable, natural, unique. Well luckily for me, I came across this beauty on The Limited's website and at a great price!
Also, I plan on wearing cowboy boots under my dress. Gasp! (really all these gasps are getting old! :) ) Look at these gorgeous photos: (credit from top: prettylittleweddings; katie zaboy photography; tumblr)
Such a beautiful dress deserves a beautiful presentation, don't you agree? I also am going to be ordering one of these beauties to display it on. (etsy:einspanner)
I am not a big sparkly glitzy gal, so most bridal jewelry just doesn't seem to fit. I also decided early on that I want to wear a locket with my late father's photo in it. Since he cannot be here to walk me down the aisle, I want him to be able to be close to my heart through the entire night. I have been looking at this beauty: (Etsy)
Easily sunburnt fiance + limited budget + a great love for the outdoors = Smokey Mountain Honeymoon.
I am so excited for this! We taking a little road trip to the Smokey Mountains and are going to relax and enjoy ourselves for an entire week! Yay! We reserved this little secluded cabin just outside of Gatlinburg. (VRBO: Chocolate Moose)
We really want to stay away from all of the toursity elements of the area and just focus on the beautiful surroundings, the wonderful national park, and being together. We might venture into town to get a bite to eat, but seriously, why would anyone want to leave this:
I am lucky enough to have an amazing friend who also happens to be an amazing hairdresser and makeup artist. She was so sweet and offered to do both my makeup and hair as a wedding gift. :)
We had been planning on doing a very different hairstyle before the day of the wedding -- hair down in big loose curls with a braid on the side. We had even done a few hair trials with that style. However, the day of our wedding was windy, I mean staple the tablecloths to the tables windy (true story!), and very hot with temperatures reaching the mid-nineties. It was a hard decision to make to change the hairstyle, since I had prepared myself for big beautiful curls, but in the end I asked my friend to come up with an updo on the spot that I would be happy with. She was so great to work with and fixed me up with an amazing twist on what we had already been planning.
I loved hanging out with them before my wedding. If I can give anyone advice, it would be to surround yourself with calm, fun people before your wedding. Between her, my photographer, the cake baker (photographers sister--who happened to second shoot for her) and my mom, I had a blast getting ready. I was also very happy with my decision to nix the wedding party. Less stress all around.