It was a beautiful, small, non traditional wedding, followed by our Honeymoon in Ireland, and then two separate receptions. One for Husband Jon's hometown, and one for mine. We both have huge families, and many people who simply cannot travel out of state. So we thought, maybe naively, that we would bring the celebration to them. That led to a 3 week long whirlwind of careful coordination, complicated emails, and Jon and I having a wonderful time but complete exhaustion.
Finally, the whole adventure is over and I'm collecting my advice for future brides who want to step off the traditional path like i did.
1) Create a separate joint email account. Do this before anything else.
- If you decide to go to a Wedding Expo, or venu open houses, have a separate email. I don't know if they collaborate, share, or sell email addresses, but somehow I ended up getting on a harassing email chain for renting SWANS. 43 emails about renting swans. REALLY! Despite repeated requests to remove me.
- Besides, sites like hotmail and gmail are common and free!
- Give it a password you both will remember. You can also set up mail forwarding so you see it in your regular inbox.
- Probably about 80% of the decisions won't matter in the long run. You are not going to keep a shrine of your place settings in your home for the rest of your lives.
- Partners in crime can get the impossible done. Divide and Conquer.
- I asked Jon what tasks he wanted to be in charge of. And though my Type A personality was just itching to take it back when he didn't complete it six months early...i learned to trust him...with a couple of reminders.
- And he totally did an awesome job.
- He kept me sane. It's so easy for someone to get sucked into traditions and all the amazing ideas pinterest plagues you with. He would be gently honest when i was biting off more than i could chew.
- Everyone wants a Chrismahaunikwanzaa card. It was the easiest way to get mass information without it being directly "i plan to invite you to my wedding"
- You can do shutterfly picture holiday cards for about 80$. Or general holiday cards come significantly cheaper.
- Use address labels to save on the hand cramps.
- We printed out a mass short letter detailing the events of the year, including the engagement, slapped it on the back and called it good.
- And we got over 150 addresses. Put it in a shared excel file and used it when it came time to do the wedding invites.
- Bonus...we got several back that year from our loved ones. :)
4) Plus Size Wedding Dresses and alterations
- David's Bridal is not your only choice. While nice...the sales people don't listen. They bring their top sellers...even if it's something you specifically say you don't want. I stated flat out...NO BALLGOWNS and yet somehow ended up trying on 5 ballgowns. My sister called around and found a few other stores who had better options and comparable prices. Ultimately, I was not a DB bride and all the happier for it.
- It's hard emotionally when they try to squeeze you into their only sample that's 4 sizes too small. It's hard when you see your back fat squeezed into a corset. It's hard when the dress you fall in love with looks horrible on you. You need people who understand what you're going through and have felt the emotional roller coaster that is body image.
- In-house alterations are way more expensive than a normal seamstress. But, make sure your seamstress knows how to work on wedding dresses. I got lucky, one of my best friends has made some custom wedding dresses and did a wondrous job customizing my gown.
- We went into this assuming we would pay for everything. We didn't ask for any handouts and it may have been that attitude that led to our families graciously offering to take on some of the larger items.
- We also didn't take advantage of anyone's generosity. Even when the money was someone elses, we worked hard to reduce the cost and not give into temptation. I even managed to wheedle down a 900$ dress to 635$. Then my mom refused to let me pay her back.
- Some people can DIY. Some people can't. Sometimes DIY ends up being more expensive and more stressful than you anticipate.
- There will be unexpected costs: you need a buffer. You can be as detailed as possible, but you will forget some things tiny things like boutineer pins or gel inserts for high heels. Something will come up, or prices will change or you'll change your mind.
- We still went over budget. As time went on, we got more lax on weeding out the cheapest option. Or it was last minute and we just didn't care anymore.
- I refused to pick "wedding colors" thinking it would make everyone's life easier and happier that they could wear whatever they wanted.
- But what it led to was confusion: things i didn't expect depended on this very important question (sarcasm): Your invites, your center pieces, your bouquets, boutonnieres, shoes, cake, and thank you cards should match! (whoever came up with that...needs to be slapped)
- I think if i did this again, i would suggest a color range (like warm colors or jewel tones)
7) Postcard RSVPs:
- Either in black light pen or handwritten before it goes in the envelope...write the name of the person you're sending it to. We had over half come back with no names, and if not for the black light pen...i would NEVER have know who had RSVPd or not.
- Don't forget to put a picture on the back. Seems obvious, but in the midst of everything else, i forgot. Thankfully my friends and family took it as room to draw something for us. Laughter ensued.
8) Have a digital invite too
- Create a digital copy of your invite, and set it up so RSVP info (like emails) are hyperlinked. This is a digital century, and many people plan their lives on their phones and computers. This will save you time in the long run. Plus the last week or so when everyone's like "who, what, where, when, how"? (And they will...right up to less than an hour before the big day) you can just email them a new copy.
- Our pictures and video were phenomenal. There is no way we could have done it ourselves anywhere near that well.
- This is where we put the bulk of our money...even though we did the smallest time packages possible.
- We recorded our ceremony so we could share it with the extended family and just have our immediate family there for the big day. Pixel Dust Productions was amazing and even managed a fast turn around.
- We also picked a photographer who was proudly displaying a plus size bride picture. Several photographers told me capturing plus size brides was the same as "normal" brides. (rude much?) But Melissa Miksch was phenomenal.
- These are the items we will treasure. And so it was worth it to get the best quality possible.
- I'm a tomboy. I rarely wear makeup and if i do, its just eyes and lips, no foundations, bronzers, contouring, and blush. But, there was no way i was spending 600$ to have someone do it for me. If I can learn the tricks, so can you. But practice a lot.
- You don't need department store brands but go to the makeup counters to learn how to do it.
- I went about seven times, then bought drug-store brands and brushes and then practiced a few times a week for months!
- Use primers, and blotting papers liberally.
- My favorite new trick is a foundation blending brush (pic). It allowed me to get full coverage, with minimal foundation. Apply foundation streaks in each area with a paddle, then blend to death with the blender. Also...i have oily skin. So the brand of foundation i choose was Maybelline Dream Matte Mouse. As long as i blotted occasionally...it stayed in place, it didn't cake or run, and it looked great until the end.
11) Bring flip flops if you're wearing "pretty shoes"
- Beauty is pain right? My shoes must have been gorgeous cause they hurt like hell! It wasn't the heel so much as it was the balls of my feet despite having gel padding there. My sister/MOH was dangling them like a carrot at the final shoots.
- Standing on grass was a pain! my heels sank right in. Thankfully, my father had wood and cut me a small plank to stand on. Wish i had thought of that for the other ladies.
12) People are R.U.D.E. and you will need Allies.
- The biggest thing i can suggest is surround yourself with allies. Those people who have seen you at your worst and still love you. The people who will tell you what you honestly need to hear, not placate you. The people who can take over for you at a moment's notice. And the people who can listen without judging.
- People started telling me I HAVE to do this or that, they question everything and cram tradition down your throat.
- I was informed that this person was going to be in my bridal party 5 minutes after the proposal. (uh...no.)
- I was chastised for wanting to wear white
- told i had to have to take Jon's name or the marriage was doomed,
- and down right insulted that i wasn't skinny enough to wear that dress.
- It was bad. Every day I got inundated with questions, people being nosey or impertinent, or just mean! it got to the point where i posted this on my facebook
- I asked myself every day, why is this socially acceptable? How dare these people? and who the fuck are you???
- I should also note....this was VASTLY disproportionate to what Jon had to deal with. He had a couple of people ask him a few details and let it go. I got probably 99% of the grilling.
- So fellas, when your fiance says "people are pissing me off"...do NOT dismiss it as her being over sensitive. People are probably not treating you the same.
- Jon has been especially good for me in that he takes my gigantic anger balloon and just deflates it. When I cried, he listened. When i railed, he agreed that most of the time i was not overreacting. (sometimes i did...ok a lot towards the end). Just being validated that i was stressed and getting bombarded with hurtful remarks helped so much.
- He would remind me over and over that we didn't have to do anything these people said. What mattered was that at the end of the day we would be married.
- Then he would kiss me and remind me that he loved me.
- Also a big shout out (in no particular order)
- to my BFF/Seamstress Stevie for also being a wonderful sounding board and coaxing out the numerous "F them"s and being there for my emotional well being.
- despite ending up in the emergency room
- My sister for helping with research, coordination, and putting her haggling skills to get some amazing deals for us.
- Jon's Sister-in-law for taking over the bouquet assembly because i just couldn't handle any more
- Our parents going above and beyond to help with coordination and opening their home to strangers
- Jon's brother and my sister for throwing a fun filled bachelor/ette party
- Jon's sister and boyfriend and my brothers for pitching in on anything we asked
- Jon's nephews for being awesome kids.
We are not traditional. But our wedding was uniquely ours. From the fairy lights in my bouquet, to the dearly departed pictures on Jon's boutonniere, to the traditional Lei's we wore, to the Xbox achievement unlocked sign we had the minister display during our first kiss. It was perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. Our families combined and welcomed each other with open arms. Our two receptions were a whirlwind of fun.
I hope that these bits of advice help make your wedding day a little easier. If nothing else, know that your wedding may not be what the wedding industry, other people, or tradition wants. You are the final authority, not a bride magazine or pinterest. But your wedding should be all about what matters most to both of you.