I’m officially a married woman! I realize I haven’t written about the weeks leading up to the wedding, but I plan to eventually. Even though our planning of a practical wedding is finished, I feel like there’s still so much to write and talk about. For now, I want to recap our wedding weekend from just over two months ago (I know, I know! I’ve been waiting for our professional wedding pictures before updating this blog!)
If you read any wedding planning forums or ask any of your friends who have planned a wedding, there’s a pretty common theme when you ask them about what happens the weekend that you get married: it goes by fast. Everything goes by fast. I can’t stress enough how true this is. You may have scheduled out 3 hours for getting the bridal party’s hair and makeup finished and think that’s going to go by slowly, but it doesn’t. The ceremony, even at 15 minutes, feels like it’s 5 minutes. Our 2 and half hour reception felt like an hour. Before I knew it, our wedding day was over and I was sitting on the floor of our apartment surrounded by wedding gifts and looking at my new husband thinking “Wow! That was fun!”
Eighteen months of reading, researching, planning, budgeting, stressing, and obsessing was over in just a few hours. And while it went by quickly, I’m so glad that I took some advice I read on a wedding forum about taking a few moments to yourself to take it all in. I would pass that advice along to anyone who may read this: The day/weekend goes by fast, and you and your new husband or wife should take a moment to yourselves to take it all in.
So, here’s a recap of how our practical wedding went down:
The week of our wedding was spent tying up all the loose ends. I created a wedding day of timeline and completely scheduled out the day from start to finish. I grabbed my planning worksheets from A Practical Wedding and I highly recommend their Excel worksheets. Having a day of timeline kept everything running fairly smoothly. It was also a huge, HUGE, help to have my friend, Jennifer, volunteer as our day of coordinator. She truly kept the train on track and there’s not enough words to express my gratitude to her for making sure everything went as planned. I would highly recommend that you have a day-of-coordinator who can be your go-to person to take care of things and make sure you’re on a schedule.
I made sure to confirm all of the details with our vendors a few days before the day of. This helped make sure we had everything organized. I would not recommend waiting to do this just a day or two before your wedding day. I also made sure to provide Jennifer and our vendors with names and phone numbers so communication could take place if needed. I also passed all of this information on to my bridal party just in case via e-mail. I felt good on Thursday evening that we squared all our vendors away, our wedding party knew the day of plan and we were ready for whatever came our way.
Even if that meant a special legislative session. Just 48 hours before our wedding ceremony, our state legislature called for a special legislative session to take place the morning of the wedding day to take care of our state’s budget issues. I think most brides would have probably freaked out, but with the help of the ever so kind and wonderful Senate staff, our wedding ceremony was going to still take place as scheduled. So what if we had 134 extra lawmakers hanging around the Capitol at the time? It didn’t matter as long as Steven and I got married. Because Steven and I are both political nerds, we both thought it was cool to say “so, we had a special legislative session take place on our wedding day.” That “go with the flow” attitude really made a difference in how we handled the unexpected and I would recommend to anyone to have that same attitude during their wedding week.
We made sure to tell our wedding guests to be prepared for parking issues; aside from the security measures in place, parking was the obstacle for our wedding guests. I felt bad about that but when it’s beyond your control, there’s nothing to be done for it. We made sure to put signs out for our guests to follow in addition to the map we’d included in our wedding invitations. To any bride out there reading this, please keep things like this in mind so your wedding guests aren’t left wandering about if you’re at a venue that could cause confusion.
Our wedding weekend began on Friday when my mom decided to treat the two of us to a morning of massages, facials and getting our nails done. There was a spa that was offering a great two-for-one deal and my mom wanted us to have the chance to do that together. An hour full body massage, a half hour facial and getting our nails done was probably the best pre-wedding celebration ever. We both felt completely relaxed by the time we were finished and it was great to spend mother/daughter time together.
Our rehearsal took place in the late afternoon at the Capitol. Steven and his father spent the afternoon setting up chairs and sound equipment for the ceremony. The rehearsal only took about an hour or so to get everyone familiar with where to go in the Capitol, when to walk and where to stand. We opted to have a very simple rehearsal dinner at the same location as our wedding reception and treated everyone to pizza. By having a simple and optional rehearsal dinner, everyone was free to go about their evenings. Two of the couples in our wedding party had to prepare for upcoming vacations beginning after the wedding and one of Steven’s best men became a father for a second time that afternoon. We didn’t want to tie up everyone’s time with decorating or having a long, drawn out dinner. This also allowed me to have an opportunity to spend time that evening with my out-of-town bridesmaid, Laura, and Steven got some time to himself.
On Saturday morning, Steven and I went about our mornings getting ready and preparing to drive to our ceremony site. Dee, our florist, spent the morning getting our centerpieces and wedding decor in place at the Woman’s Club. Mary, who catered our reception, spent the morning getting our food prepared and ready. I scheduled just over two and half hours for our wedding party to get dressed and be ready for pictures. Steven and I opted to do a first look and to have all of our wedding party and family portraits finished before the ceremony so that we could go straight over to the reception afterward. I know it goes against tradition for the bride to see the groom but it made our day go by so much smoother because we did all of our pictures before hand. I don’t regret that decision at all.
While the bridal party got ready, my friends Ashton and Rachel brought over plenty of drinks and snacks for us to enjoy. Jennifer brought over my favorite treats (hot dog pastries from Spring Hill Bakery) and drinks as well. I borrowed Steven’s Bluetooth speaker to play music from my phone. I was almost afraid that I hadn’t scheduled enough time for everyone to have their makeup finished by Karen and hair done by Jessica but it only took right at 2 hours to have hair and makeup done for 6 women. Delia and Maxine, our flower girls, entertained us with being cute. Getting ready was not really stressful.
Steven and I scheduled our first look at 12:30 outside the Capitol doors. We decided to exchange love notes and gifts to each other during this time, too. You’ll probably read on wedding forums that people will say not to do the first look, but not only did it help with timing but I am so glad that we did that. He and I had a few private moments together (well, aside from Mandi the photographer snapping away on her camera) and it put me at ease for pictures. I would also recommend scheduling some time to ‘relax’ before you walk down the aisle. I had a great moment with my mom and bridal party just minutes before our ceremony began. It’s one of the highlights for me.
I would probably also recommend that if you were like me and hadn’t truly experienced an emotional moment leading up to the wedding day, it may be best to let that out before hand. Not that I was purposely trying to keep myself from crying but as soon as my mom and I began walking down the aisle to “Tale As Old As Time” and I took a look at the crowd and at Steven, I lost it. I cried hysterically walking down the aisle. I am not entirely sure what came over me but I was definitely moved by not just the amount of people who came to the wedding but overwhelmed with happiness to be getting married. To share such a great moment with my mom by my side and having that captured by Mandi is probably one of my most favorite pictures from the day.
So, that whole legislative session? The Senate finished their official business before our ceremony began at 2pm, so we didn’t have to worry too much about people milling around where we married on the Senate chamber steps. In fact, several of the Senators joined us by watching the ceremony which was definitely cool. The best moment during our ceremony happened just after I finished reading my vows to Steven. The bell which rings in members of the House of Delegates to the chamber happened the moment I finished reading, and Steven got a great laugh out of the crowd by saying “time’s up!” And with that, we were pronounced husband and wife! We received our guests just after the ceremony and
walked out to bubbles as we left the Capitol building.
Our reception was just a block away from the Capitol and to my surprise, Laura and her sister, Lindsay, decorated our car and drove us to the reception, which was hilarious and fun. We didn’t want a huge blow out party atmosphere for our reception so I think our heavy appetizers, cake and drinks were great for a low-key, chill reception. Steven and I didn’t do a lot of the traditional things like throwing the bouquet and that was perfectly fine by us. We had our first dance to Michael Buble’s “To Be Loved”, ate great food and enjoyed a delicious and beautiful cake. Our personalized cake topper made by our favorite artist, Ian Bode, really made our cake more special. The toasts from Amber, Allen, Thomas and Karen were also a favorite moment from our reception. When I say we hit the friendship lottery, I really mean we have some of the most incredibly thoughtful friends and their speeches were touching. Steven’s dad set up some fun lights and music to play so the kids had a great time dancing. It was nice that our reception wasn’t a huge production and it allowed us to visit with family and guests.
We decided to have an “after-party” at the Red Carpet after the reception so we could enjoy more time with friends and family who wanted to drop by. Steven had to change out of his suit so it could be taken back to Men’s Warehouse but I stayed in my dress up until we came home. Mandi decided to take some bridal portraits that evening and stuck around to get some pictures from the Red Carpet. We had the place to ourselves and our friends went out of their way to decorate it, which was incredibly sweet. We got to spend time with friends before we went home to get ready to leave out to our honeymoon the next morning.
If I have learned anything about planning a practical wedding, it’s that it takes a village. I generally feel that in life it takes having supportive family and friends to get you through the good times and the bad. Our family and friends helped make our wedding day possible and there’s no amount of gifts or words that could truly convey just how grateful Steven and I are.
On your wedding day, you’re going to feel so much love. Not only are you going to feel the love from your new husband or wife, but you’re going to feel so much love from those who come to your wedding; to those who help clear away the tables and load up the car and those who go the extra mile to make the day special, there is so much love.
That is what a wedding is all about – it’s about love. It’s not just the love of celebrating the beginning of a new life with your partner, but celebrating the love of those who love you and support in your journeys together.
Did things go wrong on our wedding day? There’s a couple of things I would go back and change like the volume of the music during the reception and maybe we would have our receiving line a little better organized but do those moments take away from our day? Not in the slightest. Those things didn’t change the fact that I smiled and laughed the entire day.
So whether you’re planning a small wedding without all the bells or whistles or you’re planning a big blow out party, just remember that at the end of the day it’s not about how many tiers of cake you have or the little chalkboard signs or even what your wedding hashtag is (we didn’t even come up with one), weddings and marriages are about love.
Here are pictures from our wedding that really capture the day.