Hip, hip, HOORAY, it’s Wedding Week! This week, we’ve covered how we celebrated one year, the timeline of the Wedding Day, how we asked our friends and family to be a part of the experience, and today we’ll be diving into the tiny little bits that made the day so special- the details! Consider this your backstage pass to the WhoWhatWhereWhen of September 21, 2013. You’re thrilled, I’m sure. 🙂
Before you read on, you should know what our goals were going into this. One: We wanted the process to be as stress-free as possible. Of course there was some, as with most weddings, but by the end of it we could look back and say, Wow- that was a fun time. Two: We wanted to save money wherever possible so we DIYed anything and everything we could. Three (and the most important): We wanted people to get to know us better through the experience. It was important to us that every detail would reflect who we are so that by the end of the night, our guests would feel as if they knew us better than when they got there. We wanted them to feel like they are a part of our story- because they are! So with that in mind, here we go…
WHERE: We were married at Shelemiah United Methodist Church and had the reception at Elk Manor Winery , both in the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland.There is a reason (and a story!) for why and how we landed where we did. The Chesapeake Bay has always been a special spot for both of us. Growing up, I spent every summer at my grandparents house “down by the bay”. After we met at college and began dating, Mitch came with us one weekend to the bay and we realized that every 4th of July, my family had been watching fireworks at the same marina that Mitch’s family always docked their boat! Here we are, the first time Mitch came to visit, watching the fireworks at the place we had both grown up visiting:In the end, we figured it would only make sense to start our next adventure there. Elk Manor, our reception venue, had two available locations- the Manor house up on the hill, and the Beach house and tent down by the water. We were all over that water/beach house/dock combination.
WHEN: No, we did not choose the date because of the EWF song… that’s just a happy accident. Actually, the only reason we chose 9/21 is because originally there was supposed to be another wedding at the Manor House that same night and the father of the bride owned a fireworks company. Their plan (as told to us by the venue director) was to shoot off a ton of fireworks from a boat in the water and we figured, hey, why not jump on the chance to be the “other” party who gets to reap the benefit? And so, our date was chosen. The other wedding ended up getting cancelled, so we didn’t end up with any fireworks, but it still makes for a funny story. Even funnier- my favorite numbers are even numbers and growing up I always wanted my wedding to be on an even numbered day. Well, we were married on 9/21/13. Go figure. 🙂
STATIONARY: We chose to save some moolah and do all of the wedding stationary ourselves. The other benefit to this was that we got to custom make our Save the Dates, Invites, and Programs. Remember that bit about the details reflecting who we are? Well, this was true down to the littlest things on the stationary. My mom designed the Save the Dates- she did a watercolor (she’s an art teacher so it makes sense that she can just whip up a design) of a lighthouse to represent the Turkey Point Lighthouse at the bay.
As for the invites, we continued the “bay theme” with rope and wave decals- drawn by mom. Our favorite part of the invites was the return card because we gave guests the chance to make song requests even before they got to the wedding. It was so much fun to see what they wanted to hear and was very helpful when we went to communicate with our DJ about music-y stuff!
The programs were another favorite part of the day… we wanted them to be personal, but more importantly- interesting! We’d been to enough weddings to know that there is a lot of sitting and waiting for things to get started- especially before the ceremony. For this reason, we wanted to give our guests something interesting to look at and read while they waited. And again, to get to know us better in the process. Our programs included the Ceremony Order, some fun facts about the wedding party, some fun facts about Mitch and I, and a thank you to our guests. We heard from many people that it was fun to read some “behind the scenes” stuff while they waited for the Ceremony to start.
THE DRESS: This was one of the most special elements of the wedding for me because I actually wore my mom’s dress! We DIYed a lot of this wedding, but not even my mom and I could have predicted that we would make the dress too… and out of her wedding dress! Here she is, wearing the original, as I’m wearing the new version:
Making the dress might deserve its own post someday, but the gist is that we used the body of it, did some re-structuring, and added some elements to make it reflect me too. Here’s what it looked like when my mom wore it:
And after we finished (now, when I say “we”, I actually mean she did all of the work and I was the cheerleader/observer/pin holder/try on-er) it looked like this:
She did a great job and words cannot express how special it was to be able to wear her dress on my wedding day. I literally could not have had her any closer to me that day.
THE BRIDAL PARTY: The goal with our bridal party and what their attire was to have them get something that they could wear again if they wanted- there’s nothing worse than having to shell out a lot of money for something you only get to wear once. The girls wore mint dresses and platinum (I still don’t fully know what color this is- just ask the girls) shoes and the guys bought gray suits. Will they wear them again? You’ll have to ask them that. 🙂 In terms of jewelry, the girls all had the same earrings, but anything else was their own choosing. We bought the guys matching ties (and fun socks!) to wear. The flower girl wore a darker turquoise (that matched Mitch’s tie) and the ring bearer had gray pants, suspenders, and a navy bow tie. In the end, we loved how it all came together.
THE FLOWERS: Another DIY piece- my mom did all of the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres. She watched a few YouTube tutorials and then just gave it a shot- and they came out great! I’ll have to get her to give me some of the tips she learned along the way. We stuck with mostly whites and greens, but tied in the blue fabric from the table centerpieces. Couldn’t have asked for prettier arrangements…THE CEREMONY: From the beginning, we agreed that we wanted the Ceremony to be focused around worship. We purposely ordered the service to include prayer and worship right after the pronouncement of husband and wife so that the very first things we did as a married couple were to pray and worship alongside our family and friends.
My Aunt Jennie and Uncle Steve officiated our wedding and they did such a wonderful job. We had family members read Scripture and close friends lead worship. I just remember feeling so peaceful- there were no nerves, no anxiety, no worries- just peace. God was at work in those moments and what a joy it was to share that with so many people that we love.At the end, the pastors asked everyone to remain seated after we exited because Mitch and I wanted to come back in and dismiss each row individually so that we could hug and thank each person. This was our version of a receiving line. That way, folks could start heading over to the reception site right away instead of having to wait in line to see us.
During the dismissal process, we had a slideshow of baby and childhood pictures of each of us, photos from our time at Eastern, and a few Engagement shots for our guests to look at as they waited. Again- keeping it interesting and giving them more chances to get to know us and our story.
THE FOOD: We hired a caterer by the name of (well, this is what we called him) Chef Riley. He is a retired police sergeant who decided to take up his passion in life: cooking! Catering Solutions is based out of Philadelphia, his food is awesome, and his philosophy is that people should not have to pay inflated prices for a product just because it’s a wedding. We liked him from the start. 🙂 Riley was a lot of fun to work with and took into consideration our personalities as he worked with us to create a menu for the wedding. We wanted the food selection to reflect us (do I sound like a broken record yet?), so we chose some of our favorites! In the mix was crab dip (holla, Chesapeake Bay), wings (one of Mitch’s favorites), macaroni and cheese (my favorite), and salmon (a top choice for both of us).Neither of us have ever had a wedding cake that left us wanting more, so we chose to go a less traditional route. I love pumpkin pie and Mitch loves apple crisp, so those were our dessert options… and they were a hit! I am still bitter about the fact that I never got to have any more than the bite we fed each other after cutting the pie.We had lemonade, iced tea, water, beer, and wine for guests to drink and later in the night, hot chocolate and apple cider. It was fun to pay some tribute to the season while we were at it. Oh, and the toast? A favorite of ours… sparkling apple cider. 🙂
THE DECORATION: We focused most of our decorating energy on the reception venue because we would be there for the majority of the time. Everything that we used was chosen to reflect elements of the bay. We painted wooden crates white and had them stacked around the tent, gathered TONS of glass jars in a variety of shapes and blue tones, and laced the perimeter of the tent with white Christmas lights.
My mom saw this in an episode of The Middle, so we stole their idea: We gathered large branches, cemented the bases into pots of concrete, and spray painted the branches white. These frosty “trees” flanked the main entrance of the tent.
To highlight the dance floor, we wrapped rope tightly around the four center poles to create a large square in the air and hung yarn globe lanterns that we had made beforehand. As for outside of the tent, we kept it simple (and good thing, because it poured rain!)- a few tables and chairs for cocktail hour with blue vases, baby’s breath, and a few stones to keep them in place.
Along the water, we lined glass jars with white candles for a simple, but elegant feel.
TABLE SETTING: Each table got a white table cloth, a patterned turquoise square of material in the center, and a glass hurricane/vase/lantern with a candle for the centerpiece, and five votive candle holders.The votives were just baby food jars (thanks to the many people who helped to collect them for about a year before the wedding!) wrapped in twine and filled with sand from the bay and a battery-powered candle (no real flames allowed).The candles inside the centerpieces are actually cut, sanded, and painted pieces of PVC pipe (a stroke of genius from my mom), filled with sand and a battery-powered candle. No flames in the tent that night! She even used a hot glue gun to create the “dripped wax” effect… no one was any the wiser!For each place setting, we had a dark turquoise napkin topped with the silverware. Guests’ places were marked with stones from the bay (authentic, no less!) that had their name painted on with paint pen. For the table numbers, we ate, cleaned, and painted lots of crab shells and added glittery numbers.
Each guest got to take a large chocolate covered pretzel (a Christmas classic at our house) home as a favor with a tag that said: “Thanks for helping us tie the knot! Leslie and Mitch, 9.21.13″ How’s that for a nautical/pretzel-y play on words? Hah!
THE RECEPTION: We just wanted people to kick back and have a great time- whatever that looked like for them. If that meant exploring the beach and dock (there wasn’t a whole lot of this due to the rain), chatting with friends and family, or dancing til they could no longer walk- that was cool with us. Both of our families LOVE to dance, so we wanted to give them as much time to get their groove on as possible. We opened the dance floor right after the first dances, even before we ate! Everyone took a break for some food and toasts and then we got right back to partying. We had a blast the whole night and hope that everyone else did too.Whew! That about wraps it up, I think. Hope you enjoyed your backstage pass to the wedding madness… gosh, memory lane is fun. I’ve been listening to “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire on loop while typing up all of these posts… makes me want to get married all over again! Thanks for hanging out today (and the whole week, for that matter)- we’ll be bringing this Wedding Week home tomorrow with our Honeymoon adventure to Mexico! See ya then… 🙂