Engagements

Weddings

Meet Chelsea. Corporate-America dropout, lover of all things old and firm believer in loving without counting the cost. 

MEET Chelsea

It’s been 2 months since Kyle and I said our vows. It’s still fresh enough to shock me in some moments! And so, with such little time in this new role as a wife, I haven’t much to offer in the way of matrimonial advice. Sixty days, however, has been enough time for me to reflect on our wedding and all of the preparation that made it the beautiful day that it was.

Planning a wedding can be stressful at times, but it should also be fun! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, pressured or discouraged, let this blog post be a place of rest for your weary heart and mind. Being 60 days removed from my wedding, I can honestly tell you, the stress I felt was all for naught. Even thinking back, I have to laugh at myself for the silly details I was so anxious about.

It’s easier said than done, but I hope you can take my unnecessary worries, as well as the list below, and make a point to enjoy your engagement. Instead of spending hours on end, scrolling through Pinterest (guilty!) I pray that this blog post will inspire you to leave more time for the preparation that will last. That is, understanding and reconciling your values in the spiritual, financial, communication, child-rearing matters of life. This type of preparation is far more important than your color scheme or centerpieces. But more about that later.  We still have to plan the wedding, so without further ado — let’s get into the list!




Lesson One: Pinterest – savior or mortal enemy?

Let me start by saying, I love Pinterest. It’s a great platform for finding inspiration quickly for literally anything you could think of.  While planning my wedding, I loved organizing boards for each section of the event; from my gown/accessories, to my invitations and flowers, and everything in between. I spent many hours, both at home and at my cubical where I should have been working, eagerly scrolling through Pinterest seeking out the bouquet, dress, or table setting that screamed my name. I basically found all of my inspiration for each detail on Pinterest and loved how everything turned out.

However, with as much good that came from the platform (and others like it), like anything, some bad came, too. Feelings of entitlement, jealousy and discouragement slowly arose with each flick of my thumb. I started to justify the way-over-budget invitation suite, feeling I deserved to have the most perfect things on my one big day. Soon though, reality, and my financially conscious Fiancé, stepped in. We couldn’t afford the most expensive of everything. My wedding wouldn’t look exactly like the ones on Pinterest, or in magazines, or on Instagram wedding inspiration accounts. That’s where the jealousy and discouragement set in. I wanted the picture-perfect wedding – we all do! And that is a good thing. But not at any cost. Which brings me to lesson number two.

Bottom line: Use Pinterest and other resources to get inspiration. But don’t allow it to create a spirit of envy or discouragement within you.



Lesson Two: More money doesn’t mean a better wedding

I believe that the details matter. The beauty of your union deserves beauty in design. The decisions you make together – from color palettes & invitation design to your ceremony music and table settings should be a reflection of you as a couple as well as the significance of the occasion. Any wedding elements that evoke the true, good and beautiful are an opportunity to experience the heart of God and the purpose of the union you are undertaking. Desiring a beautiful wedding is a good thing! The most important things in life deserve our best resources.

That being said – I also believe in being a good steward of the resources we have. Which in this case is comprised of spending within our means. Each couple will have a different budget. Some may have some help, and some pay for the entire wedding themselves. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how much you should spend on your wedding. Just like there is no magical number which makes one wedding beautiful and another, not. It took me a while to accept this lesson, thanks to the reasons listed in Lesson one, but I can tell you with certainty that my wedding was beautiful. We didn’t spend a fortune, but we did invest in the things that were important to us. Photography and our ceremony music were the two things we wanted to be really special. So those items are where we started, and then we budgeted around that.

So, take a deep breath. Decide what is really important to the two of you. Can you choose a less expensive version of that invitation suite that would be just as beautiful? Can you live without florals in every corner of your ceremony or reception space? Do you want a band, or maybe top-notch food?

Bottom line: No matter what Pinterest, your friends or the wedding magazines tell you, you can have a beautiful wedding at any price point. I promise.



Lesson three: Day of Coordinators are the best thing since sliced bread

We hemmed and hawed for two months about whether or not to hire a day of coordinator. We were only having a 60 person wedding, at a very small venue with seemingly little to set up.  For a while, we didn’t think the investment would be worth it. We reasoned that we could ask our family or friends to help set up and break down.

Thank God we didn’t persist with that line of reasoning. As we got closer to the day we realized just how much there was to setting up and breaking down, even for a little wedding. So we decided to book Marino Made Events for our day of coordination. It was, without a doubt, the best decision we made in the planning process.

When the day came, we were able to spend intentional time with all of our friends and family without an ounce of stress about the logistics. Neither us nor our friends or family were running around on our wedding day setting up tables, making sure the food came out on time, or announcing the cake cutting. Krysta and Annie from Marino Made Events are not only the kindest human beings, but made sure we were prepped for the day beforehand, set everything up, coordinated each moment, then broke everything down. It was all flawlessly executed without even a thought by us or our guests. You simply can’t put a price on peace of mind like that.

Bottom line: hire a day of coordinator. Trust me.



Lesson Four: Use your network

At first glance, this lesson sounds contradictory to the previous. It isn’t. Allow me to explain why.

There are certain aspects of a wedding day that I learned were great places to use our network. Using the gifts and talents of those who we know, and love was not only a time and money saver, but it was another way to add personal and intentional touches to the day that made it more uniquely us. Here are the ways we used our network on our wedding day:


Stationary design and printing

A dear college friend of mine graduated with a graphic design degree and at the time of our wedding, was working as a freelance graphic designer in New York. I reached out in hopes that she would have some time to help design our save-the-dates, invitation suites and menus. Luckily, not only did she have some time, but she went above and beyond to help us. From the design, to colors, to printing options, she did it all. It was such a blessing and we loved every single thing she produced for us. If you want to check her out, follow her on Instagram!


Envelope Addressing

When it came time to addressing our stationary, we called upon another person in our network. My Mom! Her handwriting has always been flawless and when I found out how much hand calligraphers’ cost, I immediately knew where to turn. Don’t get me wrong, custom calligraphy is gorgeous and such an art. Had we had the budget for it, I would have gone for it. Thankfully though, my dear Mom was willing to sit down and hand address 60 something envelopes twice; once for save-the-dates and once for invitations. They came out great and it was completely free. Other than a little extra love and thanksgiving for Mom.


Our First Dance Song

Another important piece of our wedding day was our first dance. I heard the song “Flesh of my flesh” by John Lucas one day and fell in love with it. I played it for Kyle and he agreed – it was our song. We thought about just playing it over the speakers at the reception, but then remembered we had a very dear friend who was a talented worship leader at a local Church. So, we invited him and his wife out to dinner and asked him if he’d be willing to play the song for us at our first dance. He generously agreed. We paid him in dinner and a nice bottle of whiskey. While we could have paid for a band the entire night, it wasn’t on our priority list. Our first dance though, was. And it was ever more beautiful for us because a friend who helped nurture our relationship also contributed his God-given talents to our first dance as husband and wife.


Officiant

It sure helps to have a Priest in the family. My older brother just so happens to be one and was able to be the officiant at our ceremony. For us, the ceremony was the highlight of the day. So, having him, a person with authentic knowledge of our story and love of us, speak and pray over our vows was absolutely invaluable. God blessed us immensely.

Bottom Line: Who do you know? What gifts and talents do they have? How can you incorporate your community into your wedding? Don’t fret if you don’t have as many as I listed here. Do what you can with what you’ve got. It’s all you can do, after all!



Lesson Five: Do not compromise what you want for what is ‘normal’ or ‘expected’

As brides, we are abundantly aware of what the ‘normal’ wedding looks like today. Thanks again to lesson one, the wedding industry, and perhaps our family and friends. We are expected to invite who people tell us to invite, have the same floral design as the trendiest magazines and throw a party that has people talking for years. As I said before, Pinterest and other platforms are great for finding inspiration, but they should not limit you or prevent you from having the wedding traditions you want (or don’t want) to have. Here are the areas where we deviated from the ‘norm’:


The Guest list

Kyle and I knew right away that we wanted a very small wedding. As we began making the guest list it became clear that we would have to make some tough decisions. While some of our family wanted us to invite more than we did, we stuck to our guns. We wanted an intimate gathering where we could look each person in the face and thank them for being with us. We weren’t trying to be exclusive, just intentional. I understand that sometimes this may not be a possibility, out of respect for parents who contribute to the wedding costs. But if you think a smaller wedding is for you, don’t feel guilty!


The Wedding Party

While we have an amazing, loving and supportive group of lifelong friends, we decided to forego having a full wedding party. We (really I) worried that we might hurt some feelings with this decision. More than that though, we wanted our ceremony to be uncomplicated and distraction-free. We wanted the entire congregation to be present and prayerful during the ceremony since it was the most important part of the day. We felt that a long procession of men and women and a wall of people standing alongside us would distract from what the two of us were doing – vowing, in front of God and our loved ones, to love one another for all the days of our lives. Instead, we had only a Maid of Honor and Best Man to be the official witnesses of our vows. They stood with us only at the moment we exchanged our vows and sat for the rest of the ceremony.


Dancing, Garter throwing/Bouquet throwing, etc

For some couples, it’s the livelier parts of a wedding, the dance floor etc. that they look forward to most. If that’s you – that’s awesome! For us though, the dancing wasn’t something we were all that excited about. We were really looking forward to breaking bread, drinking wine, since our wedding was at a winery, and mingling with our loved ones. As such, we didn’t have a DJ or dancing at our wedding, aside from our first dances (ours, Father-Daughter, Mother-Son). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that our guests would get bored and leave in the first hour. I couldn’t picture a wedding without the typical dinner to dancing transition because that’s all I was ever shown. Oddly enough, the opposite of what I had feared happened. The majority of our guests ended up staying an hour later than we planned because we were all having so much fun! The stress I felt was all for naught.

Bottom line: choose the wedding traditions that are true to you and that honor the beauty and goodness of your marriage.



Conclusion

So there you have it. Five lessons I learned planning my own wedding. I hope this empowers you to create a wedding that is intentionally and beautifully you. I pray that you don’t let wedding planning steal your joy. I pray that you prepare more for your life together than for the one day that all the stress you’re feeling will be for naught. Promise 🙂

For more wedding inspiration, planning advice and explore more of the blog and follow me on instagram!



The Creative Team

Photographer – Rebecca Tripp Photography

Bouquet Florist – Jeffree Starr, Central Market

Cake – Stein’s Bakery

Catering – Times Ten Cellars

Reception Venue – Times Ten Cellars

Ceremony Venue – St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

Hair and Makeup – JM Glamour

Day of Coordinator – Marino Made Events

Dress – Mikaella Bridal

Dress Alterations – Margo West Alterations

Veil – Smitha Menon Bridal

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5 lessons I learned planning my wedding

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