I'll be sharing some of the behind-the-scenes from our wedding that happened in April. This series is meant to give you a glimpse into our special day and hopefully help you navigate your own journey into marriage. When we got engaged I was very lost and in sticker shock while I was trying to navigate how to have the wedding we wanted, not what the industry was advertising at us constantly. I hope these posts give you some tips or pointers on how to plan a budget conscious, thoughtful, and personal wedding day. Or I hope you at least you have fun reading it.
It happened out of nowhere on October 6. We had a fun night planned with friends to see two of our favorite bands - Alvvays and The National. If you have heard Alvvays, their song "Marry Me, Archie" is a song that I sent to Jude pretty early on in our relationship because I thought it was cute and about a girl that didn't want to get married but maybe now she did to this guy. I didn't think much of it, but that's because I'm mostly oblivious when I might get a little too weird with people. During that song at the concert, Jude tapped me and asked me if I would marry him. In shock, I looked down and he was actually holding a ring. It was then that it dawned on me that he planned this and we were engaged!
Pro tip: If you're going to propose to someone during a song at a concert, do it at the end so that you don't have to stand there and WAIT for the rest of the songs to be over so that you can be in shock about what just happened!
Neither of us had ever really given much thought to getting married before meeting the other. That turned out to be a blessing and a curse. On one hand - we had no expectations for our wedding so we had a blank slate. On the other hand - we had a blank slate and no idea where to start.
So we only planned in our heads. We came up with our most wild ideas on our own and had fun thinking about all the things that would be so fun to include - but we didn't start researching or booking at all. We just dreamed for 3 weeks. I highly recommend taking this time to just be engaged WITHOUT planning a wedding. It was so fun to celebrate this in between step together and just have some down time before we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
The Planning Begins
I'm a big fan of an off-the-grid getaway to reset my brain, so we went to The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas! In this case, it was also an excuse to dedicate time to plan what we wanted to do for our wedding. I brought a generic Budget Savvy Bridal Handbook and a wedding notebook I picked out and we tackled each section together. It gave us an idea of what we wanted to include and how it was a lot different than a traditional wedding. We asked ourselves a few questions to really start the process:
What kind of vibe do we want our wedding to have?
What's a reasonable amount to spend that won't make me angry that we didn't just use it on a down payment for a house?
Jude and I both agreed we wanted our wedding to be like a big fun retro summer camp. That meant outdoors, but we live in Texas, so that means a spring or fall wedding, and we didn't want to wait until next fall, so spring it was! We were getting good at narrowing down decisions before diving into the research black hole. We agreed on a pretty arbitrary number, $5,000, and set that as the goal for the budget. By the time we got back home Sunday, we had the whole thing dreamed up and ready to be officially planned!
After we narrowed down our options, it was really just a research game for vendors.
Here are some general wedding planning tips I picked up along the way:
Don't look at Pinterest
There are 8 kajillion wedding articles on the internet about how you have to do XYZ to have the perfect wedding day, or you might fall in love with a $400 star headpiece that you know you can't afford but will look at everyday anyway. So yeah - avoid the Black Hole.
Join ONE bridal group on facebook
At the beginning of the process I was added to a bridal group called BrideChillas. Ideally, a place for relaxed and laid-back people getting married to ask questions and share information. This was a huge help for getting average prices around the country compared to Texas. Mainly, it opened my eyes to HOW MUCH MONEY everything in the wedding industry costs and how lucky I was to be void of family drama around our wedding.
Don't be scared to ask friends and family for a favor
Jude and I knew immediately the exact location we wanted to get married - at our friends' family cabin. We had been there the year before and fell in love with the land. It was a HUGE anxiety to ask one of my friends if his family would possibly let us use their cabin for a weekend. We thought it would be a long shot, but guess what - WE DID IT. Our friend's family was kind enough to let us have the cabin for the weekend and just like that, we had a venue…that we didn't have to sign our lives away for. This was a huge, huge help for our budget, but more than that, it was so special to get to see our actual dream come to reality on our wedding day.
Question traditions and research their background
Oh wow, the wedding industry. I'm so happy so many artists are thriving because of it, but maybe we could do a few more googles about the history behind the traditions at weddings. Most of the wedding traditions were created (made up) in an age that was not exactly well-known for having progressive and equal partnerships. For example, did you know that the top layer of the cake was originally saved to serve 1 year later at your BABY SHOWER because cakes were so expensive and naturally, you'd be pregnant by Year 1? No thanks, we devoured the entire cake to crumbs.
Keep track of your small wins each week
At the beginning it felt like everything was moving at a snails' pace. We gave ourselves a timeline of 6 months to plan the wedding, but a lot of the up-front stuff takes time to nail down. By keeping a weekly journal of all the accomplishments for the wedding for the current week, I was able to concretely see the progress that we were making little by little.
Hopefully that helps any lost souls that are swimming in too many wedding Pinterest boards. I’ll be back soon to talk more about pre-wedding festivities and adding our own thoughtful touches!