Several times in the week or so since we received our wedding photos, I've sat down and struggled to put this post together. I couldn't figure out what the mental block was, until now.
There are over 600 gorgeous photos of a day that you truly had to be there to understand. As I've tried to narrow down the images and my thoughts, it really can only be summed up as: you had to be there to believe it. Our October wedding was so much more than we could have hoped for. It exceeded every expectation. No matter how great the photos or how eloquently I write about them, I'll fail to adequately describe the beauty and joy of it all. You just have to trust my word on that.
For now, I'll try to share the highlights. Indulge me when I come back later with subsequent posts of details, because I guarantee you I will.
All photos by Emily Moseley, with second shooter Nick Key.
For as caught in the details as I was during planning, I was oddly calm the morning of the wedding. Knowing our ceremony wasn't until 6:30 pm meant I slept in, had breakfast, sat around and drank coffee until the afternoon. Seeing as I'm normally the anxious one and Steve is calm and collected, it was quite a role reversal as he was nervous about getting his vows right. He's not one for the lime light. Spoiler alert: He was amazing.
Steve and I went to the hotel together, but got ready in separate rooms. We didn't have a wedding party, but I did have friends around while I got my hair and makeup done by Sara Drury. Steve grabbed food with friends and got ready with family.
No surprise, Sara did a great job on my hair and makeup! I had a lot of fun with her during our trial. I purchased several combs, vines, and other things for my hair and she helped me find which style would work well for my short hair. There are limited options with short hair when it comes to wedding or formal styles without adding extensions (which I didn't want to do). This loose half up/half down ‘do was the right balance. I loved the hair vine across the back. The veil tucked right on top of it, and since I was only wearing the veil during the ceremony, it easily lifted off to reveal the vine – extra sparkle for the night! I also loved the makeup with the plum Lipsense. Thank you, Sara!
I started getting anxious as I got my dress on and realized we were more crunched for time than I had anticipated.
It was lightly raining and really windy, but we went to the rooftop of the Brown Hotel anyway because I couldn't resist getting photos up there! Big props to my photographers and videographer who rolled with the weather, and my very long veil whipping in the wind.
I will dedicate a full post to this dress because it's worth it. I found it in record time at Couture Closet in La Grange, KY (just outside Louisville.) It is by Ashley & Justin Bride, and is nude with an ivory matte sequin overlay. Being a plus size bride, I didn't want to settle on what I was able to wear. It is pretty much everything I dreamed of, and more. It felt traditional, but still glamorous, and I'd never seen anything quite like it. If you've followed me on Instagram the past several months, you've seen me rave about Couture Closet. They have sample sizes up to a size 30 in store, and have curated a gorgeous collection for brides looking for all styles.
My veil and earrings were also from Couture Closet, both by Sara Gabriel. Alterations were by Melissa Luther Lennie, who is amazing. I had concerns about being supported in a strapless dress, having the front gape open while moving, or being way too tight in the back, but not fitted enough in the waist. She worked her magic and was so lovely.
One of the things I knew as soon as we started wedding planning is that I wanted dark and moody colors for the fall – nothing pastel or subtle about my flowers or accessories! Over the years of taking outfit photos for this blog, I've learned that accessories can really give a lot of variety to a look. I joked with my photographer: “I have props!!!” One of the “props” was a faux fur stole from Amazon in a deep merlot color. I wasn't sure how it would turn out with the full look together, but knew I could return it if it ended up not looking right. Turns out, it was pretty perfect.
Steve's not pumped about how his tux looks here blowing in the wind, but let me tell you – it was SHARP. He had it custom made by Crittenden Rawlings in Midway, KY and it is impeccable. He's excited to wear it for years to come, and I'm excited that it means we have more reasons to attend black tie events.
We chose The Brown Hotel as our venue for a few reasons. First, we loved its downtown location in our new city of Louisville. It's a local landmark, and has been since it opened in 1923. As soon as you walk inside, you feel like you're somewhere special. Second, we were able to have both our ceremony and reception there. At first when searching online, we thought it wasn't the right fit for our group of 55 people or so. All the photos we saw were of their Crystal Ballroom, which is just as grand and opulent as it sounds. But, the large room would have swallowed our little group. Thankfully, we went to tour it anyway and were thrilled when we saw the Bluegrass Ballroom. We had the ceremony in that room, with cocktail hour following in the adjacent South Lobby while the room was then flipped to our reception space. Couldn't have been easier for our guests. Third, we wanted incredible food and drinks for our guests. Having eaten at the English Grill before (actually went there when I first met Steve's parents), we knew their food was divine. We got so many compliments on our food, when oftentimes wedding food can be forgettable. “You win best wedding entree,” exclaimed one guest, who particularly was smitten with the cabernet braised short rib of beef with red onion marmalade and cabernet jus. But the most important reason we selected the Brown Hotel is that they were so easy to work with. You wouldn't believe how many venues wouldn't return my calls or emails. Meghan with the Brown was a joy to work with. She was professional, detail-oriented, responsive, and an overall lovely person. A venue can be the most spectacular thing you've ever seen, but if they are difficult to work with, it magnifies the already stressful situation of planning a wedding. We just so happened to have a gem of a venue combined with a gem of a venue manager. Thank you, Meghan.
There are basically no words that could describe how stunning our florals and decor from Rose & Thistle were. I audibly gasped when I saw my bouquet, and then gasped again when I walked into the ceremony area for photos. And truly, there are no photos that can do these justice. I received so many compliments on them throughout the night, and in the weeks that followed. I was also grateful for the generous incorporation of magnolia leaves, which remind me of my mom. In addition to the floral design, Elizabeth with Rose & Thistle also coordinated the napkin rental, draped backdrop and specialty linens for our sweetheart and cake tables. I told her what I envisioned and she went above and beyond. Thank you, Rose & Thistle.
In the moments in my hotel room while I was waiting for the go-ahead from my day of coordinator, Courtney Burge, I got incredibly emotional. It was quiet, I was alone in this big poofy dress waiting to get married to the (!cheese alert!) man of my dreams. It was like a wave of gratitude crashed over my head, and I had all the feels. When I got the sign to start making my way down to the ballroom, I was a bundle of emotions. It wasn't nerves, but it was a crazy amount of butterflies and heart eye emojis in my head at once. I got in the elevator to head downstairs with a lovely couple, who were like “congratulations! Did you just get married?” I was like: “um, I'm on my way now. I'm getting off the elevator and walking down the aisle.” They were so nice, and it was a good laugh. I got to the South Lobby and waited for the final go-ahead. It was the longest 120 seconds or so of my life! I heard the string quartet, Highland Chamber Players, playing “When I Fall in Love” and I knew I was up next. I made my way to the doors and when they opened up and I heard the beginning of “Make You Feel My Love,” my eyes welled up immediately. The room was beautiful, I couldn't believe we made this happen, and that I was marrying such an amazing man. I tried to remind myself to walk slowly, but it was all a blur.
It is no surprise that I cried during the ceremony. Our friend Colene Elridge officiated the ceremony for us, and it was beautiful. It was important to us that the ceremony was personal. She shared stories about when she first heard me talk about Steve with our group of friends, and what she's seen of our relationship since. My friends Elizabeth and Anne shared readings. We wrote our own vows, and I'm so glad we put them in vow books that we can keep forever.
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour while Steve and I took more photos. We had a full open bar, but also selected a signature cocktail, The Bluegrass Belle, featuring local Jeptha Creed vodka. There were passed appetizers as well.
You know how I mentioned earlier that I loved props and accessories for photos? One of my favorite DIY projects was this faux leather “Mrs. Keeping My Last Name” jacket. I'll have a full tutorial on it soon!
While we snapped away outside, major work was done inside to transform the room into our reception space. It was a coordinated effort between the staff at The Brown Hotel, Rose & Thistle, and Courtney Burge. Draping came down, tables came out, florals were rearranged, and chairs moved. I need to take a minute to talk about how big of a role Courtney played as day-of-coordinator. Without her, the day wouldn't have happened without me having a meltdown (or four). I handed everything off to her and she ran with it. It's probably one of the biggest reasons I was so calm the morning of the wedding! Courtney had to haul a carload worth of items from my house, from my DIY signs, sequin tablecloth overlays, table chargers, programs, menus, and even a floor fan to place under our sweetheart table. She took all the elements and executed flawlessly, worked with my vendors, and broke everything down and returned it all to my house the next morning. It's crazy to me that it isn't her full time gig, because she is a complete pro.
Another DIY that I'll cover soon is our menus that I designed to go on top of our charger plates. I was thrilled with how they turned out. I love when functional things are also pretty.
When the room was transformed, we came in and had our first dance to “Beyond” by Leon Bridges. Steve said this was his favorite part of the day. It was a highlight for sure!
Guests were served dinner, and then it was cake time. I saw this cake when scrolling through Louisville wedding images on Instagram, and knew I had to hunt down who made it! A lot of Insta-stalking later led me to Louisvillicious Cakes. This buttercream and brushed gold cake is accented by sugar magnolias. YES – SUGAR! They were gorgeous, and honestly a couple of them are sitting in my refrigerator right now. No idea what to do with them, but I can't bear to throw them out. The best part? This cake tastes as good as it looks… maybe even better? The three tiers were carrot cake with cream cheese; Italian cream with hazelnut; and white cake with strawberry. Flavor packed, not too sweet, and the perfect texture.
For our guestbook, I wanted something that we didn't hide away in a box. So, being the bourbon loving Kentuckians that we are, we had a quarter bourbon barrel head engraved with a design I made. I loved the monogram from Shuler Studio on Etsy, and I put some text around it. The bourbon barrel was from Joanna Tate Monograms on Etsy. When we got back from our honeymoon, we sealed the wood and signatures and will be hanging up in our home.
I'm not going to put photos of all the dancing on here, because I don't want my friends to get mad at me. But, I must talk about it.
There are few things that I love more than doing the Wobble and Cupid Shuffle at a wedding. Leading up to the wedding, I told our DJ, Kyle Sadler, that I'd probably be the only one dancing like a fool because it's a small wedding and I didn't think we had a ton of dancers. I. WAS. WRONG.
Once the first dance song came on, I pretty much did not stop dancing until it was time to close down. And so many people danced, and danced, and danced some more. I twirled a ridiculous amount, because that's what you do when you wear a dress like this. As each song was about to wind down, I'd say “phew, ok, I'm going to take a break for this next song, grab a drink, and talk to people. But it never happened. Song after song was amazing, and it never stopped. It's probably the most fun I've ever had. A friend summed it up best on Facebook:
Best wedding DJ EV-ER goes to that of Mrs. Emily Ho!!! Exhausted from dancing my ass off the entire night. Like the “Hi I graduated in ‘99 soundtrack.”
Which, seeing as I did graduate in '99, is 100% accurate. Major love to Steve also, who despite hating fast dancing, gave the Wobble a mighty good effort. I loved that so much. Thank you, Kyle, for the non-stop great music.
The final photo prop was this heart shaped biodegradable confetti from Etsy (affiliate link). I didn't want to do a grand exit because we were staying in the hotel and it didn't make sense with our small group. But I love sparkler and confetti photos so I thought we could give it a try. I think we succeeded!
On the final note of photos: I must express my gratitude to Emily Moseley. She took my photos for years for this blog, and I couldn't imagine anyone else taking our wedding photos. I find being the subject of photos to be really awkward, which is ironic considering how many photos I've been in for this blog. With Emily, it's always like hanging with that chill friend who happens to be snapping photos. And obviously, she is a friend. But man alive — she's talented.
When we were on the plane to our honeymoon destination, I kept saying how awesome the day was. Steve and I were both thrilled with how it turned out, how much fun we had, and how special it felt. But I had this dread in the pit of my stomach about photos. As I mentioned earlier, we were crunched for time on photos, which is entirely my fault for not building more padding in. I had envisioned all of this time setting up formal shots and portraits and such. But instead, we walked around on the rooftop, hugged and kissed, and tried to wrangle my veil in the wind and rain. We grabbed a few photos with Steve's family as guests started to arrive. (Sidenote: I escaped through the kitchen and up to the room in a service elevator to hide!) During cocktail hour we went on the street and hugged and I played in my moto jacket and threw confetti. Posed and staged shots were far and few between, and I feared she and second shooter Nick Key didn't get a ton of photos. Not because I thought they did a bad job, but because I was kicking myself for not building in more buffer time. Steve tried to soothe my fears by saying how we both still had our outfits and we could take more photos if we wanted. I argued it wouldn't be the same after the fact.
On one of the days of our honeymoon, Emily posted a few teaser photos to her Instagram. As soon as I saw them, I cried with happiness (it was kind of embarrassing, TBH) because I realized she did get the shots in her own way. I spent hours on this post trying to figure out which photos to use because they're all so beautiful, and when I see them, I can feel the joy and energy from the day. A million thank you's aren't enough!
Update: Wedding Video is here!
(I suggest watching in full screen if possible)
Having a smaller wedding, we weren't sure we wanted to hire a videographer to capture the day. It was out of our budget, and I knew we'd get good photos, so why worry about video? We weren't having the typical wedding party, huge fuss with getting ready, speeches, crazy band, etc – all the things I normally see in wedding videos. And honestly, I was worried about video for a really vain reason that's pretty sad coming from a blogger who preaches body positivity: what if I didn't like seeing myself at different angles? Since I have so many photos taken of myself regularly, it is easy for me to overlook unflattering photos. But video is something entirely different. Nowhere to hide!
In July when I was looking for more wedding inspiration, I came across a wedding video on the Couture Closet Facebook page that made me cry. It was a stunning curvy bride and the video captured a lot of emotion. I decided at that point that I really wanted video, so I started researching videographers.
The thing is, in so many of the highlight reels of vendors, I saw a lot of stunning brides, but none that looked like me. Then I saw a video of a wedding on Bryan Starr Cinematography‘s site – he had featured a plus size bride and it made me look at even more of his films. His work was stunning, and he had a package that was fewer hours, edited in a highly stylized way. This meant that I didn't feel weird about missing some of the traditional elements in a wedding video. I actually wasn't going to reach out to Bryan, because I figured he was booked solid already and also because I was trying to talk myself out of spending the money. But with each video of his that I watched, I knew I had to contact him.
I am so thankful that we spent the money on video. This is a day that we couldn't recreate, and Steve and I are both thrilled at how beautifully it turned out. It captured the emotions and the details. Watching the first minute or so, I felt the excitement in my chest, my nerves with taking photos, the crazy emotion of the ceremony (the tears!) and one of my favorite moments, walking outside with Steve while guests enjoyed cocktail hour. Bryan was so chill the whole day, I didn't even realize he was there much of the time. The last thing we needed was another camera in our face, but he managed to capture everything we wanted.
Thank you, Bryan, for squeezing our wedding in, and for creating something we'll treasure forever. We appreciate you.
And to those of you who made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you. I got messages leading up to the wedding from people who followed me for a few weeks, all the way to the beginning 9 years ago. So whether you've seen me through the years at my lowest lows or are just joining in now for the highest of highs, I appreciate you.
Full Vendor List:
- Dress: Ashley & Justin Bride from Couture Closet
- Veil and earrings: Sara Gabriel from Couture Closet
- Tuxedo: Crittenden Rawlings
- Venue: The Brown Hotel. Ceremony and reception in the Bluegrass Ballroom, cocktail hour in the South Lobby
- Floral: Rose & Thistle. She's based in Lexington, but does events across the country.
- Photography: Emily Moseley with second shooter Nick Key
- Videography: Bryan Starr Cinematography
- Officiant: Colene Elridge
- Day-of-coordinator: Courtney Burge
- Cake: Louisvillicious Cakes
- Ceremony musicians: Highland Chamber Players
- DJ: Kyle Sadler
- Hair and makeup: Sara Drury
- Invitations and programs: Minted (more details here)
- Alterations: Melissa Luther Lennie
- Uplighting: Rent My Wedding