I shared a few photos and highlights from last Saturday’s wedding here.
Now to answer some of your questions:
What did you do for bridesmaids dresses?
There was only a maid of honor. Deanna gave her a color and some general guidelines, and she chose her dress. I think she found it at David’s Bridal.
What did you do for the reception, especially for food, venue, and flowers?
The venue was the fellowship hall belonging to the same church that owned the chapel, so that part was simple. It was just the right size for our group of 150 close friends and family members.
Centerpieces for the table were coke bottle vases with a tulle bow, each holding a red carnation and a small bunch of baby’s breath. They were simple and pretty, and everyone loved them!
For food, we served pulled pork and two kinds of sausage. I asked a couple of family members to bring specific side dishes, and a few close friends to bring veggie trays. They were thrilled to know how they could help. They provided two varieties of potato salad, a green salad, beans, and five veggie trays. We had intended to provide the sausage ourselves, but I asked a friend to grill it for us and she insisted on buying it as a gift.
To keep things simple, I specifically requested that veggie trays be brought fully prepared, with dip, and ready to serve. Since each contributor brought just a single tray, it wasn’t hard for them and it kept the workload on Saturday to a minimum. We also provided tons of watermelon, baby dills, etc. Drinks were sweet iced tea, ice water, coffee, and this punch, which got very good reviews both on the website and from our guests. It was light and refreshing, deliciously fruity but not overly sweet.
What did the bride and groom do for a honeymoon?
Since everything happened so quickly, they decided to wait and do something special for their first anniversary. In the meantime we sent them to the coast for a weekend in a beachfront hotel.
What does he do for a living? Where will they live? How is your back?
I don’t know how much detail about their personal life they want to share, so I’ll skip the first question. Deanna joined him in his home in San Antonio, so they’re near enough for us to see them regularly.
My back is behaving. It’s just sore enough now and then to remind me to get plenty of rest.
How much did you cry?
Not a bit. I cry when I’m mad or sad. I don’t usually do tears of joy, and this was a joyful occasion!
My children want to know who gets D’s bed/space etc
So do mine. I don’t think there’s really any extra space, since she has been in the process of moving out for a while. By that I mean that her possessions have been spread out everywhere in preparation for the grand exit. I think her personal spaces just got absorbed gradually as she emptied them.
Best piece of advice for planning a wedding on a short time table??
Don’t sweat the details. Find out what the bride’s and groom’s priorities are, and focus on those. Make a list right away, so you know what needs to be done early and what can wait. Pace yourself – don’t be afraid to leave the easy things until later as long as you’re checking important tasks off your list.
We started with a guest list so that we could get a rough headcount and secure an appropriate venue. Then invitations went out (couldn’t do those until we knew when and where the ceremony would be!) so that out of towners would have as much notice as possible. After that, we started looking for a dress, because we knew it could take a while to find the right one inside our budget.
Clothes for the flower girl and ring bearer were next.
I had a hard time finding a dress that I felt was flattering in my third trimester, but in the end I found one I really liked – and of course this wasn’t about me anyway!
Food and decorations came together last. They wanted something fun and informal, and we knew we could make those decisions quickly if necessary. I nearly waited too long on flowers, but it turned out the florist had just what I needed in stock, so I was able to get a great deal and didn’t have to order 7-10 days ahead as usual.
Any helpful hints for cutting corners and keeping the cost low?
Accept offers of help. If somebody offers help that isn’t exactly what you need, thank them sincerely and ask if they would be willing to do ___ instead.
Ask for help. I felt very self-conscious about imposing on people, but every time I mentioned that I was hoping we could find ___, somebody piped up and told me how much they would love to help! My sister-in-law called to put me in touch with her mom, who was able to loan us tablecloths, punch bowls and serving trays. We asked to hire a young couple we know and love to play the piano and call the dances at the reception, and they offered to do it for free as a gift to the bride and groom. I asked a friend to grill sausages, and she insisted on picking up the bill for the sausages. We were able to borrow some equipment from our own church, and the church we rented had a well-equipped kitchen as well.
Ask for suggestions and input. This gets your creative juices flowing, and also gets others involved in ways that can prove helpful.
Do it yourself if you can:
- Kaitlyn and Deanna designed the invitations themselves, then we had them printed on ivory cardstock and cut by an office supply store. Ivory envelopes in standard card sizes came from Amazon.
- We couldn’t afford a high-dollar photographer and I’ve seen what the cheap ones get you, so we did photography in-house. We printed out a checklist for the formal shots before, during and after the ceremony, and enlisted a few friends with good cameras to help out at the reception. The bride and groom insisted that they didn’t want or need all the typical and traditional poses, though we did make an effort to cover the basics. What they really wanted is a fun way to remember the day, and I’m confident they will have it! This isn’t a corner everyone would be willing to cut, but it worked for us.
- The groom’s aunt did the cakes, and she did them beautifully!
What wouldn’t you do next time?
The photographer, who probably wants to remain nameless, says that she wouldn’t lose her checklist of important shots right before the ceremony.
I would be more organized about reception photography, which was more important to the bride and groom than the formal shots. I did enlist help from talented friends with good cameras and I’m sure we’ll have lots of great shots, but next time I would assign specific tasks to individual photographers to make sure all the bases were covered (e.g. First person get some nice shots of the food and people eating. Second person focus on the cake table, guest book, and other decorations. Third person take photos of dance, helpers, volunteers, DJ, etc. Fourth person focus on bride, groom and family members.)
I would stick to recommended amounts of food based on the number of people we expect, and I would trust the built-in safety margins. I wanted to play it safe – don’t we all? – and our guests ate less than half the food we provided. Of course leftovers are a grand thing, but we had a lot of food to pack up, haul back to the house and fit into the fridge! More conservative quantities would have been plenty, much easier to clean up afterward, and easier on the budget.
I would keep a more detailed account of our expenses so we can plan more easily for the next wedding.
These are all very small things because overall, we’re thrilled with the way things went!
And I can’t end this without special thanks to two of my friends.
While many of our friends and family contributed in various ways, two friends really stood out. Laralee and Laurie both asked what they could do to help. While I had intended to oversee the meal with help from my older daughters, I asked if my friends could make themselves available while we were occupied with post-ceremony photos. These two dear ladies absolutely insisted that I not plan to work during the reception – they entirely took over on my behalf. When one apologized for being “too bossy” about the idea of me helping out, I thanked her heartily and assured her that her own willingness to step in and take over allowed me to step down without guilt.
Laralee and Laurie and their families made the whole process go better: both had helped with other weddings, and brought a lot of expertise to the table. They helped with planning, asking good questions that hadn’t occurred to me. They helped with set-up, serving, and cleanup afterward. They enlisted help as needed from others and made sure that all the bases were covered. They each contributed some nice touches of their own to the setup and decor. They worked tirelessly to make sure we didn’t. And I’m sure they did a lot that I will never know about.
Without friends like these, I think the wedding would have been an entirely different experience, and I’m thankful to count their families among our close friends.