We're less than 17 days away from getting married! I've sat down to write this wedding planning update post no less than 9 times, only to get overwhelmed by the to-do list left to conquer, so I run off to cross something else. It's so many details piling up here at the end. I'm detail-oriented anyway, so it's not a surprise! We've had some house issues lately (spoiler alert: you'll probably see a master bathroom renovation early next year – long story) so between trying to get that repaired, try to get through my work to-dos, and then wedding to-dos, it's list overload right now.
To recap what I've shared so far:
- Our engagement story
- Plus size dress shopping with David's Bridal
- Save the date reveal with Minted
- The bridal body myth – my frustrations with the lack of plus size brides in wedding magazines, blogs, and vendor sites. This is a daily frustration – so much so that I think “I need to write about this!” only to realize I already have.
- 3 month countdown, and why this has been a much different process than expected
Here's what I've been up to:
Disclosure – there are some affiliate links in this post. If you click through and purchase something through them, I will make a small percentage of the sale, at no additional cost to you.
I will never claim to be a DIY bride. There are some things I'm happy to let professionals do. But, there are a few items that I wanted to create to add some personalization to the wedding. I'm not crafty, but I can work my way around some digital designing and printing. So a few things have been on my list: welcome sign, seating chart sign, menus, and table numbers. There may be an additional sign, and also some ceremony programs that I plan on ordering from Minted (where I ordered save the dates and invitations.)
Also, apologies some of these photos aren't the best in this post. They're screenshots from all the Instagram Stories I've done leading up to the wedding, but that means I didn't have time to stop and take pretty photos. I'll have plenty of photos of the finished products after the wedding!
I saw a bride at The Brown Hotel (our venue) use these round menus that lay on top of the charger plates, and I knew I needed to have some! I searched high and low for ones that matched what I wanted, but in the end, designed and printed my own. Here's what they look like on top of our charger plates and sequin table overlays.
Also sidenote: doesn't the food look YUMMY!?! We wanted a nice plated dinner with fantastic food, and the Brown Hotel will deliver. Seriously, I still drool every time I think about our tasting! The cocktail hour food is going to be amazing as well. As will the drinks, including a signature cocktail in addition to the full bar. Eat, drink, and be married!
If people are interested, I'll share a tutorial on these menus and the rest of the projects in this post, after the wedding is over. Make sure to tell me what you want to see – I'll have a lot of time on my hands!!
I got 3 of these gorgeous frames from a bride who used them in her wedding, so the signs I designed should fit in them perfectly. My florist, Rose & Thistle, is going to add flowers and greenery to the frames.
Left inspiration from Pinterest
The table numbers will be inside horseshoe picture frames – a nod to Kentucky. I saw the ones on the left below, and ended up ordering some horseshoe frames from Amazon and spray painting them a champagne color. Thank you to those who voted for some of the font choices I gave on Instagram Stories for the insides! I was in agreement with the majority of people. Stay tuned for the final look – a little more work to be done on these.
Left inspiration from Pinterest
RSVPs and People Management
We invited so few people, that missing RSVPs feel felt like a really big deal. If 12 people haven't responded, that's almost 20% of our total guest list! I made the mistake of not putting in the RSVP date I was comfortable with, and instead put in what online calendars tell you. Problem is: those online calendars don't factor in when other vendors may need final counts (for example, when your florist needs confirmed numbers of tables for arrangements etc). So I pushed myself against a wall and Steve and I had to track down some people. But, all RSVPs are in! We will have about 54 guests.
Having such a small guest list meant we were brutal with our invitation list. I talked about it a little in my last post. In the end, we had about 6 people that were unanticipated declines and while that's zero problem/not offended, that's 6 spots I could have had for others. At this point, I'm not comfortable reaching out to additional friends now less than a few weeks before the wedding to see if they want to come. We could have easily invited 250+ people, so having to fill spots is like picking favorites. When reality, it's the chain of “if I invite X, I have to invite Y, Z + 20 other people.”
You might be wondering: “If you're stressed out about the guest list, why didn't you have a bigger wedding?” It comes down to a couple of key issues. First, we knew we wanted something that was formal, upscale, elegant, and with delicious food and drinks and beautiful decor. Doing that for hundreds of people was just not financially feasible. Second, we wanted it to feel intimate, and not like a grand celebration where we got lost in the mix. We feel better about truly interacting with everyone who will be there.
We've gone back and forth with a unity ceremony of some sort. Unity candle, sand ceremony, handfasting, etc. But, I think we finally decided yesterday to skip it. It isn't a “must have” for us, so why stress out about figuring it out? That's been a huge theme with all the planning: what we want to do versus what we think we should do. Really, it's my hangup, not Steve's. He's so laid back and thinks we should do whatever the heck we want. And he's right. But I get stuck in my head of tradition and etiquette, when really it's a party we're throwing and we can decide the rules! Next up is working on vows and some personalized aspects of the ceremony. We're going to have 2 short readings, but we still expect the ceremony to be 20 minutes or less.
Odds and Ends
There's a list of odds and ends I need to buy or finish before I can relax a bit. But there are also a couple big items out of the way: wedding rings and guestbook!
I'm thrilled with the rings. I worked with the folks at Shelia Bayes to design a band that will work perfectly with my engagement ring. This is a cruddy photo, so you'll just have to trust me that it's gorgeous. Steve went with cobalt for his ring. We also ordered these vow books in our wedding colors from Etsy.
We also have the guestbook on order. It's a quarter bourbon barrel that guests will sign. I knew I didn't want the standard design with the last initial since I'm not changing my last name, but as most Southern girls, I love a monogram. I ordered a 2 letter monogram from Shuler Studio on Etsy and love how it looks. I think I'm going to incorporate it into our thank you cards as well. The design I made pictured below will be laser engraved onto the top of the bourbon barrel, which I ordered from Joanna Tate Mongrams on Etsy.
Hair and Makeup
I had my hair and makeup trial with Sara Drury! I was really nervous about this because I knew I loved my dress, I was having a tough time visualizing what it was going to look like. I took 4 different hair pieces with me: combs, vines on ribbons, etc along with my veil (spoiler, yes there's a veil!) and she worked patiently with me to figure out how to execute what I wanted. I'm thrilled with what we came up with.
Here's the makeup and hair, after 7+ hours!! Apologies for the overzealous use of my ring light. Trust that it's pretty and fall, just as I wanted.
Super excited to say that we finally booked our honeymoon. We'll leave the Monday after the wedding to stay at Excellence El Carmen in Punta Cana. Our room has a private pool, and the amount of time I've spent trying to buy beach outfits has been ridiculous. I'm not allowing myself to buy anything though until I go through my crazy drawers filled with swimsuits. I must try it all on. And only if I don't have what I need, can I purchase it. I've not had a vacation in a few years (since Mexico, really) so I cannot wait to unwind. I'm usually online nearly every waking hour since I deal with clients social media, but this vacay I'm getting help so I can disconnect more than I have in years. Thanks to Carey at Beach Bum Vacations for helping us pick a place. Carey also was helping us scope out destination wedding options when we first got engaged and thought that's what we wanted. She's patient and efficient and it's one part of the planning I was thrilled to hand off.
I asked if you all had questions on Instagram Stories, and I wanted to summarize them here. I've combined several, so if there are still questions or I missed something let me know!
- How do you set up menu templates in your computer?
I'll do a more in-depth post after the wedding, but I designed it in InDesign, prepped the file for press, and used a printer that already had an 8″ round die cut option. I hope to create a template that people can use moving forward, but there are some good round menu designs and options on Etsy as well.
- Do you have a wedding planner or all you?
I don't have a wedding planner, but I do have a fantastic day-of-coordinator who will handle everything for me the day-of!
- What's the music setup?
We'll have a string quartet for the ceremony, and a DJ for the reception.
- Was it hard to narrow down guest list?
100%! But see explanation in the post above.
- How many guests?
- Strapless bra recommendation?
I tried several, but really liked this long line strapless bra, and it's a great price compared to many
- How did you reconcile having a “big” (not in size, but in effort and elegance) wedding for the 2nd time?
There have been many times where I looked at how stressed I was with planning that I thought, “I said I didn't want to get married again! This is ridiculous, what happened?!” And then I get out of my tizzy and realize that what we want at one point in our lives isn't what we want in another. I wrote some about this in this mushy Instagram post from last night. We WANT a wedding to celebrate our relationship (a relationship that is much different from both of our first marriages). We love dressing up and going to parties and we wanted to have our closest friends there, celebrating and enjoying a day with us. We wanted to celebrate our relationship, and having a wedding that was true to us meant doing a fancy thing. Unfortunately, my tastes have gotten more expensive in the 11 years since I got married the first time, hahah!
- Bridal party?
We aren't having a wedding party. So it will be a short processional! I plan on walking REALLY.SLOWLY! With so few guests, it didn't make sense to have people stand up there with us. Plus, we're older and didn't need the bachelor/bachelorette parties, showers, and all the hubbub and stuff that goes into the traditional first-time-around wedding.
- Do you have a lot of family coming in for it?
No, I won't have any family present. This has been a hard topic to cover, because I don't want anyone to think ill of my family, or of me. But we're not close. It's not a personal thing and there's no drama, it just is what it is. I was closest to my mom, and unfortunately she passed away before even my first wedding. There's a list of 50+ other people that are in my life more than my family, and they weren't on the guest list either.
- How do you balance planning your wedding with practicing self care?
If you had asked me this 10 months ago, I would have laughed because how hard can planning a wedding for less than 60 people be?! Answer: Very. It's the same amount of decisions to be made, and same number of vendors to hire, same number of details to manage – just fewer seats and a lower catering bill. I've been way more stressed out than I'd like to admit, but really anyone who knows me knows it's not been a joy-filled process. So as far as balancing self-care, I can't really say I've done a great job of it. In addition to the wedding, we've had a couple major house projects going on (unexpected issues), so I've been trying to work in my home office during loud construction, coordinating with contractors, and then managing client work and wedding deadlines. I will say that Steve has been helpful – or at least has offered to help – but I'm a type-A controlling personality, so I wanted my hands on everything. But the help was there if I wanted it. Hopefully I'll manage this better in the next couple of weeks!
- Budget (several questions about this: staying in budget, cost cutting measures, etc)
I'll be honest and say that I knew the type of celebration we wanted, and quickly realized budget would be an issue. Other than the signs, I'm not really DIYing anything to save money, and the signs aren't really saving much anyway as there are many inexpensive templates I could have purchased for much faster. It came down to wanting to put my stamp on a few things. The budget has been incredibly stressful, because anytime I spend this much money makes me stressed! I know how much we had to work to save this kind of cash, and what it means giving up for a while. We've had so many cash outlays in the past 2 years of home renovation, moving twice, and purchasing a new home. It's nauseating, really. In the end with the wedding, what we wanted costs a certain amount of money, and we had to be okay with it. We are fortunate to have the ability to make our vision come to life with a budget that stings, but is realistic. We'll have to buckle down on spending to build the egg back up as soon as we're back from our honeymoon!
Things we did to cut costs: smaller guest list (even smaller than originally planned), no wedding party, no props for unity ceremony, changed honeymoon plans, DJ instead of a band
Things we did that were important to our vision but cost more (priorities): added more appetizers during cocktail hour, upgraded the bar offerings, added more florals, offered an upgraded dinner selection. We also added a videographer, which I went back and forth on for a while. So you'll get to see the video when it's all said and done!
I will say that Jessica at Budget Savvy Bride has a fantastic site and a book full of resources for helping achieve a gorgeous day on a budget.
Phew! That was a long post, folks. Thanks for sticking with me! What else do you want to know or see? Any tips for me as I head into the 2 week countdown? I'll keep posting progress on some of the remaining projects on my Instagram stories.