Tackling the Guest List

Tackling your guest list will likely take more than one night and more than one bottle of wine. Before you’re engaged (and have set a budget) you imagine your guest list will include your extended families, both of your college friends, sorority sisters/fraternity brothers, a few high school friends, those friends you’ve made as a couple, and maybe even work friends (it is polite to invite your boss).

Once you get a quote back from a caterer, your philosophy on who gets invitations will likely change. At $15-45 a head, your wedding can get exponentially more expensive as your guest list grows. And you will have to reconsider some of the people that might have made your first draft list.

We started with an excel sheet and put our immediate families, our wedding party (and their +1s), and our vendors on the list. While you don’t necessarily need chairs for vendors or invitations, you do need to feed them (although it does not have to be the same food you feed your guests*). We then added extended family members that were a must and our mutual friends. Our list quickly approached 125. We discussed other friends/guests we would like to invite on an individual basis and made decisions to add or leave off of the list. THIS WAS NOT EASY. There were easily a dozen more people we each would have invited but it would have made us go over budget, and also cramped our reception area (they cannot fit over 200 people in there!).

We took several days (weeks) to finalize our list – and even at the near end we were adding people to it. You should look at it as a work in progress (until you have to give your final counts to your vendors). At some point, you’ll consider eloping, having a small intimate wedding, or tossing your budget and inviting everyone you know – and then you’ll come back to reality. Once we made our list, we used it for everything, including invites, RSVPs, seating chart and thank yous (If you do it in Excel like we did, it’s easy to copy the tab and use the same list without recreating data!)!

Even if you have an A list and a B list, don’t tell a “B list” guest that some A listers couldn’t make it, so you now have room for them (had an ex do this to a mutual friend, very tacky – but did give us a good laugh!). There will probably be some guests that you thought were “sure things” who will end up not being able to come – and it will make room for others if that’s how you want to see it. Or it can cut down on your costs.

Just remember that you want people there that you care about and that care about you. You want people there who will enjoy celebrating the love that you have found and your new adventure. It’s not about who your parents want to invite (unless they’re contributing funds!), and it’s not about not hurting people’s feelings. It’s your day. It’s about you (and your groom) and with whom you want to share your special day. Good luck!

 

Bridal Bliss

A week before my wedding, I road-tripped it back home to Virginia to spend some time with my sweet Paw Paw and to have bridal portraits taken. What? Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “You had your bridal portraits taken only one week before your wedding?!” I did. I wasn’t sure my grandfather would be able to attend my wedding and I wanted him to see me in my dress and I wanted him to have some feeling that he saw what others saw at the wedding. I snagged Lynsey Callahan as my photographer and loved spending the evening with her! blanketWe took the photos at Heritage Park in Blacksburg. The mountain views are stunning and the fields added even more opportunities for pictures.
crossedcolor1 I had a few ideas of my own for pictures, but I let Lynsey run with some of her own ideas, too. Your photographer has done this before, so you have to trust them a little. If you have props or ideas, take them with you. If you’ve been pinning Bridal Portrait poses since before you were engaged, print it off and share with the photographer so they can help you recreate the pose.

highlightflowersI usually hate strongly dislike photos of me when I’m not smiling but this one with the flowers is excellent. Heritage Park offered so many options for photos with old barns, fields, ponds and the gorgeous mountains. It was important for me to capture the mountains and fields in my photos. Growing up on a farm was a big part of my childhood and I hold tight to that (a little tighter now). Also, when taking bridal portraits, you should HAVE FUN. After all, you’re getting married!
jumping

Don’t forget about the GIVEAWAY that’s happening this week! A few simple steps and you could win a package full of LOVE!
Happy Monday!

*All photos from the fabulous Lynsey Callahan Photography

The Day Before THE BIG DAY

On Friday before our wedding, I was a mess. I was running late for EVERYTHING and the fact that it was raining did not help. Rain in Charlotte equals stand-still traffic almost always. So I missed my eyelash appointment by 11 minutes. Ran into my dear friend Gean in Sephora and burst into tears. Did some shopping in an attempt to make myself feel better (sale at Lilly Pulitzer? yes, please!). Was then late to my nail appointment with two of my sweet bridesmaids – and forgot to take the polish color that I had chosen for us to wear. r0After manis and pedis, I rushed home to get ready for our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Rushing was the theme of my day.

We had exactly one hour given to us at The Dairy Barn to rehearse. While I was able to see some of the decorations (tables and flowers), the upstairs was not set up so we had to rehearse in a bare room. Oh, did I forget to mention that our wedding got moved inside? You see, the skies opened up on Friday and rained straight through Saturday. Our tables/chairs vendor gave me until 1 pm on Friday to make the final call. I called my husband-to-be at 12:55, sobbing, and asking what he thought. His response?

“I’ll marry you here or there. I’ll marry you anywhere! I’ll marry you on a bus or a train, I’ll even marry you in the pouring rain!”

After deciding not to put a tent over our guests and proceed with the outdoor wedding, I informed all of the vendors that it would be inside. My poor photographer got to listen to me cry twice when she called and we discussed pictures we would take inside. But anyway, I got all of this out of my system before the rehearsal and we had one hour to zoom through how the wedding would go. Pretty simple. The only thing I would do different is actually run through the vows (I recommend this!). On the day of, your mind is swimming with so many happy thoughts and you’re focusing on smiling, saying the right thing, not locking your legs that it’s helpful to know what’s coming and to have heard it before.
r7

After the rehearsal and some running around in The Dairy Barn to set up pictures/signs/chalkboards, we finally escaped to our rehearsal dinner at The Fish Market in Baxter. Not that there was ever a doubt in my mind about it, but it was DELICIOUS.

Afterwards, we went our separate ways (kinda, I forgot my running shoes at the house and had to go grab those!) to get some rest before the real big day. I had a slumber party with my MOH at the hotel we had chosen for our guests and LW stayed at the house with the doggies.
r12
A tiring, tearful, mess of a day turned into a wonderful evening. I kept telling myself to just let it out, and get it ALL out before Saturday. A friend told me of a bride she knew of who let it consume her on her wedding day that it was raining and changing her plans and she regretted it afterwards and I didn’t want that to be me. So on the day of, I was all smiles… despite the rain.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I wore 2 different shoes to the rehearsal. One pewter Jack Rogers Sandal and one Silver Jack Rogers Sandal. Whoops!

Shuttle Shuffle

We hired shuttles to transport our guests from the hotel to our venue and back again after the wedding, thinking this would make everything easier. Thus far, it’s been a headache.

We have them for 3 hours, which is plenty of time pre and post wedding. The shuttle holds 24 people. The headache has been figuring out how to get everyone there without making some folks be there super early. So the Bride (ME!!!) and the bridesmaids will arrive first for pictures and then hide out upstairs in the dairy barn until wedding time. The Groom & groomsmen will arrive next for their photos. Then we have the guests. It’s a pretty even split on family/friends that will be taking the shuttle.

I decided that friends would be better go first and arrive approximately 45 minutes before the ceremony starts. The next group will arrive 25 minutes before the ceremony starts. We plan to have games and water for our guests to enjoy while they wait and of course our wonderful musicians will be set up and playing.

I know it will all work out fine and I’m trying not to stress of this little detail but I cringe at the thought of a shuttle flying up a gravel road at the start of my ceremony carring a quarter of a our guests. But I guess as long as the bride, groom and officiant are there, that’ll do the trick! 9 more sleeps!
keep calm

Groom’s Gift

We are now less than 40 days out from our wedding and all of the little details are adding up. I have so many things left to do (and more that come up every day!). Picking songs, finalizing our vows (and writing my part!), ordering the programs, and still, all of those wonderful DIY craft projects that I have yet to start. One of my biggest “to-do’s” right now is finding a gift for my groom – or at the very least, coming up with the idea for what to buy!

I was pretty set on getting a watch for him with something sweet engraved on the back, and I think that’s a pretty traditional gift for grooms. I know of at least three brides that have given watches to their new husband on the day of the wedding. Searching for this on the internet didn’t really provide any additional insight.
watch

A friend told me she got her husband-to-be an iPad, but my Apple-loving groom already has one. Another idea was luggage for all of the traveling that we will do. Of course, I envision a great big monogram or possibly his name embroidered on a duffle bag, but I fear he might roll his eyes on that one.

So, alas, I am clueless. I have no more ideas on what to possibly buy him that will have meaning and also be of use to him. I know this is a gift that should have more meaning behind it than necessarily the value or practical use of it, but I do love giving practical gifts. Now, I need all the former brides out there to rally and tell me your best ideas for a gift for my darling groom. Ready, set, go!
clueless

The Day I Got Called “Bridezilla”

Last week, I was called “Bridezilla” for the first time in my wedding planning. I might have expected this early on when I made changes to our wedding party (and subsequently lost 3 “best friends” in the process), but not now. I’ve been told by other bridesmaids that I was being too nice and shouldn’t allow for so many opinions and options. When I think “Bridezilla”, I think of this email from a bride to her bridesmaids. This is extreme, and I can assure you, far from any emails that I have sent.

My emails have consisted of dress options, shoe options, hair/make-up options and asking who will be available during the day of the rehearsal for getting our nails done (my treat). I have also mentioned in them how excited I am to see each of these girls at the end of the month and how thankful I am for their relentless bachelorette party planning and shower planning. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by these girls (and my incredible friend, Gean!).

Follow up emails/texts were sent regarding payment of dresses, shoes, etc, but not because I’m some crazy, controlling “bridezilla” – but instead because the payments were late or simply ignored. I would like to think that I’ve covered most of this list of things a cool bride would do. I let my bridesmaids choose their style of dress, I just chose the color and fabric. Find a deal on it? I say go for it! Shoes? I let them send options and offer opinions on the ones I found. We ended up with darling sandals for $25! I provided the option for having their hair and make up done, or doing it on their own. With 6 girls getting ready together, I think we’ll have plenty of hands to help with curls, do’s and make-up!

I’ve tried to limit my communication since I realize that everyone has their own things going on in life and I’ve made it clear that I don’t expect everyone to be at everything. I thought this list was pretty comprehensive of what a bride wants from her bridesmaids, the most important being communication. Again, I think I am lucky with the girls I have chosen to be a part of my wedding and I sincerely hope they don’t feel like I’m a “bridezilla.” At least I’m not requesting everyone do a cleanse before the bachelorette party!

What’s the craziest thing you have experienced a bride or bridesmaid doing during wedding planning? Would love to hear these stories in the comments!

Blogging bride!

Sorry I have been MIA for a few days, I am traveling for work this week through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama and heading back home on Friday (is it Friday, yet?). However, I couldn’t pass up the chance to share this goodness….

My blog went live for Carolina Bride Magazine, based out of Charlotte, NC! You can read all of the goodness here! I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity and it came just one little day after a friend of “the other bride” called and left me a message mentioning that I was selfish. Maybe I am… but I’m also way happier with the way things are now!
option2I’ll be blogging once a week for CB, with step-by-step details on my own wedding through August and then back to being a bridesmaid after that! I would love to hear your feedback on the blog, so leave a comment if you please!

And thanks… for reading and helping make this possible! xox