To fully experience our wedding day you need to set the tone with our music. Joe’s #1 responsibility was the music and he knocked it out of the park. It’s probably my favorite part of the entire wedding. Listen here. You will need it too, I wrote A LOT.
If you’re too antsy to get to the images (I don’t blame you) just click play on Holocene below, this was our processional song.
Our wedding day. Just months ago we said I do but it feels like another lifetime. As I write this thousands, probably millions of other lovers have had to adapt their dream celebrations around a global pandemic. We are so incredibly thankful that we were one of the last weddings without a thought to COVID-19. We even made it to Utah and back for our ski/snowboard honeymoon. Up until November/December we had actually planned to ski in northern Italy! We changed our mind when we searched our hearts and made the decision that felt the lightest (a theme during planning). That gut instinct sure was a life saver. I can promise you that we will never take our luck for granted and it makes our celebration that much more meaningful.
Let me start at the beginning. Joe knew he would marry me after only a few weeks of dating but we happily took it slow and made sure to give ourselves and our relationship plenty of space to grow. We definitely joked, fantasized, and discussed being married often and we love how open we can be with each other. When things started to really fall into place and we felt ready we talked about the ring. To Joe’s relief I said I wanted to shop together but I honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted. We had so much fun looking together and having his honest opinion really helped me to decide. Once the ring was settled on I passed the baton and left everything else up to him. My only wish was that I was good and surprised!
We went up to Atlanta last May for the Shaky Knees festival, after he had found the lineup and thought that I would enjoy it better than the heavy metal at Rockville. I had zero suspicion that he wanted to go out of state to a show full of bands he didn’t quite know instead of staying local for all of his favorites…especially when we were saving money to get married. We had a great time and on the last day just before sunset and Tame Impala closed it out he got down on one knee. Space cat tank top and all. He proposed with gorgeous handmade guitar string ring, perfectly sized to me. I was so stunned and elated!! SURPRISE! Turns out the readiness of my ring and his master plan for the proposal didn’t line up so he improvised. I LOVED IT! After we were home and the other ring was ready he surprised me again, coming over and catching me in the kitchen. I got the best of both a public and private proposal, so so so so lucky!
Once we were officially engaged he moved in and we promptly adopted Miss Moira kitten! We also dove straight into planning. We knew we wanted to get married very early into 2020 and that dates were sure to book up, both for me and for venues. At first we threw around what he had dreamt of most, a destination celebration somewhere like New Zealand or Japan. The idea was quickly shot down by friends and family (to my shock bc it’s what I had always talked about!). So we sat with the idea and really thought and felt about what a wedding was to us. What would our wedding be for us? What was important? Who was important? Did we want the photo op of an exotic location or to cross a threshold with our tribe in attendance? The answers came loud and clear and we immediately understood just why people have traditional weddings. We wanted our people! Grandpa and Grandpa are nearing 90 and we really wanted them to share our moment of becoming family with them. Being a part of my brother’s wedding the fall before also made us want to have the memory of all our people in one place, in our honor.
Look, I believe that you should have whatever kind of wedding you want! If your heart is truly calling you to go to the top of a mountain or have a ballroom full of 300 of your closest friends and family DO IT. I would encourage you to search your heart and try to really figure out WHY you want what you want. When thinking about why we wanted to go abroad the answer was surprisingly shallow, we wanted incredible photos and a travel experience. In the end we decided that those things could remain important to us but outside of the context of our wedding day. You gotta do you.
Once we decided to stay local I knew immediately my #1 choice of venue. This little magical oasis I had finally gotten to second shoot at the year before, The Acre in Orlando. I had seen some gorgeous images floating around of open air ivy covered buildings with dreamily reflective antique glass windows, market lights, cacti, and the air of whimsy everywhere. When I finally was able to see it and shoot it in person I had chills. I remember texting Joe “if we ever get married in Florida, THIS is the only place I would consider.” There are SO MANY gorgeous venues in FL, especially in Tampa, but I couldn’t see my own wedding at any of them. Orlando felt like the perfect distance away without having the same issues as a destination celebration PLUS Grandma & Grandpa were right there in Kissimmee. I knew the area well since I had gone to UCF and my bff Laurel still lives on the same street as the venue! Austin & Carlie had also gotten married in Orlando funnily enough, at the Castle Hotel. It just felt right. Lo and behold they were having an expo event in just a few weeks too! We went up with the whole fam plus my friend Melissa to check it out (in the pouring rain). We loved it and I even one the raffle! MEANT TO BE?
So we knew the venue, now for the date to make it official. It’s funny how I had the subconscious belief that YOU chose your own wedding date. HA! I mean I know full well about availability but it just hadn’t actually hit me that we would have to make some real compromises there. Saturday’s were already not an option all spring. Basically Sunday March 1stwas the earliest weekend date they had left. We knew we wanted to stay as close to the start of the year as possible so we could have cool weather and be married asap 😉 We grabbed 3-1-20 and were actually really happy with it! I’m so glad we stayed flexible and were able to keep our priorities for the weather. Another good lesson learned early on.
Date & venue booked it was off to the races! We knew we wanted to keep it small with an initial head count of 80 which quickly exceeded 100 and then thankfully leveled off at 90. We knew right away who we wanted for all of our vendors. First we booked Good Food Catering, cocktail hour, dinner, dessert, and bar down to the detail. We grabbed my newest wedding friend Erica of One Love by Erica to be our planner extraordinaire, spoke to Gayle of Florist Fire about flowers, secretly made arrangements with my past bride Amanda to choreograph a surprise dance, and started the dress hunt.
I went to TOO MANY dress shops. I had found my dress at my first stop, Isabel O’Neils, but I had major fomo and uncertainty. Being in the industry for so long I really wanted to make sure I had a dress I had never seen before, something different, but not just for different’s sake. Oh and it also had to be flattering on my body shape and not 1,000,000 doll hairs. This was surprislingly difficult. I really couldn’t envision the rest of the day or what the bridal party would wear until I knew what my dress was. It was a real lesson in reality and patience. At almost every turn in the planning process this is how it went:
1) First, have some dreamed up idea of a thing or service.
2) Search for that thing.
3) Find the closest to it is at least 4 x’s your budget or that it doesn’t exist at all.
4) Come back down to
earth and make a decision based on what is actually available and in budget.
I do recommend to start from that whimsical place though. Aim high but then try not to get so specific that it limits you. Then do your research, but not TOO much research. That’s where I messed up with the dress. I didn’t trust the perfect dress when it was staring me in the face because I had decided things like “no floral lace & never a strapless”. The dress wasn’t exactly a strapless and it had the coolest most asymmetrical details that I had truly never seen before. It also was super flattering. But I kept thinking….there’s got to be something better, I need to consider ever dress ever made so that I can make my decision. That only caused me a lot of stress. What I failed to realize was just how weird and transient wedding planning is. You are at the mercy of what is actually available and in your budget. For me, it was unrealistic to fly to Australia and try on an $8k dress that I thought I would love because I was stocking it on Instagram. It was also unrealistic that I would magically find something else within my reach but exactly like it. Once I got my head out of the clouds and considered what was actually out there for me I felt so relieved…and excited. We happily purchased Mishka by Ines Di Santo from the amazing women at Isabel’s and excitedly talked about the few custom touches that would make her the perfect fit. Knee slit, hidden zipper, and WINGS! Once that was done we were on a roll to decide the rest of the fashion and details. PHEW! Now it was over budget but at that point it was clear just how important it was to me. I think it’s ok to go over in some areas ONLY if you are sure you wouldn’t be happy with something else. If you know settling will tinge your memory of the day or deflates your excitement for it then it’s absolutely not a good idea. Why spend any amount of money if you are not going to be totally psyched!? You get just a few hours to be on cloud 9, get what you want, within reason. That is different for everyone so you really gotta get in touch with yourself. PS thanks mommy!
Joe’s suit. Deal of the century, especially after we went a bit over for the dress (worth it worth it worth it). We took a day to go out for lunch and start the hunt. We knew we wanted different but we’re sure what. Originally he and I both loved the idea of an emerald suit but….the whole venue is green! We were going to say our vows in front of the wall of ivy, have our first look in front of the ivy covered open patio, and have dinner surrounded by bamboo and cactus. Green on green just didn’t sit well with us. Joe liked maroon suits but I felt we could find something funkier. Thanks to pinterest I found some inspo on rusty or goldish suits and really hoped it would exist and be in budget. We went to Mens Warehouse, Suit Supply, & Bonobo and ended up defeated with margaritas at Bar Taco. Everywhere we had went we were told we would need to go custom and that they didn’t even have those orangy colors. One guy even said “I have been in the bespoke suit world for 15 years, I’m a buyer, and I have never seen that color” as I showed him some photos online. Mmmkay. So over margaritas we looked at theblacktux.com. I knew so many couples that had a good experience with them. To our surprise we did find that they carried a suit in Marigold. Unfortunately it wasn’t available for home try on and the nearest store try on was Nordstrom in Miami. Joe had an idea, what if we go to the Nordstrom here and see if they carry it or can order it? He let his fingers do the walking first and looked it up online. Then he saw it. THE SUIT. It was warmer than the Marigold AND on sale! We rushed over making a B line for the Top Man section. On our way we found the jacket IN HIS SIZE thrown on a random rack. When we got to the right section the suit was nowhere to be found. At the cashwrap looking for someone to ask we spotted the pants….in a crumples pile on the counter…and IN HIS SIZE. Chills! It fit so well and I was able to use my club member perks to have the arms lengthened/let out for free. I told you it was the deal of the century! He considered what shirt and shoes to wear and we couldn’t help but grin!! He looked so handsome and it was such a fun hunt with the best case scenario outcome. From there we were able to settle on putting the girls in black and the groomsmen in this super sexy dark grey tuxedo with satine details (to perfectly match the sheen of his suit).
More to come on the flowers, the dance, décor, and more in parts 2 & 3. Go ahead and take a dive into the PHOTOS!! I have included musings from each part throughout. I hope this trip down planning memory lane helps all the new engaged couples out there as they start the journey towards their own celebration. My biggest piece of advice is to not force anything. Navigate everything one step at a time and let the pieces fit together. You are going to have a lot of reality checks but they can be freeing and not depressing. Do your best at communicating and make sure to gut check your decisions. Seeing how months and months of big and little decisions add up to one incredible co-creative moment will take your breath away. Let the magic happen. If something feels heavy put it down and adapt. Huge thanks to Joe for helping me to never lose sight of “this is supposed to be fun!”.
Ok ok photo time! Ceremony & smoke bombs coming up in Part 2. Enjoy!