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!

 

Hakuna Matata

It’s finally my “wedding week” and I’m just two days away from walking down the aisle in my favorite white dress. We’ve been very calm and collected this week. Actually, so calm and collected that people have commented on it over and over again. After watching the Lion King production on Sunday, we’ve decided that “Hakuna Matata” is a pretty good mantra.

My favorite pieces of advice that have been shared with us are:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things are bound to happen that are out of your control and little things might happen that won’t matter in the long run. Focus on the day, the moment, and being with the groom.

For me, this is THE big one. I do sweat the small stuff. I have this beautiful vision in my head of our wedding day and a major stressor has been everything not falling into place as laid out in my head. However, I cannot control the weather and currently we have a 70% chance of rain. I will have to make the call tomorrow on weather my wedding will be inside or outside (there might be tears), but in the grand scheme of things, I’m still getting to marry the guy of my dreams and will have ALL of the most important people in our lives in one room for an entire night and THAT’S what is important.

 

2. Focus on the marriage, not just the wedding. A lot of time goes into planning a wedding. Even before the engagement, there were boards on Pinterest with loads of crafty wedding ideas. But the wedding is only one day and the marriage will last a lifetime. So there has to be effort figuring out how you will deal with the little and big things that arise in life. For some this is pre-marital counseling for others it’s reading books (e.g. The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman).

We’ve spent four years together, discussed money, kids, and we’ve already had to have the discussion about moving for jobs. We complement each other. The marriage is our first priority, although the wedding will be amazing.

3. Don’t forget to eat. For this girl, you don’t have to tell me to eat. But supposedly, you get so wrapped up in everything else that you “forget” to on your wedding day.

Not once have I “forgotten” to eat in my life and I don’t intend to on Saturday. PS, we are having the biggest, most Southern meal at our wedding. We will be enjoying it along with our guests.

Jamaica 2010
Jamaica 2010

 

Last minute advice for the bride and groom? Would love to hear it!

Countdown to Wedding: 3 days!

Y’all… it’s almost here. I can hardly sleep from all the excitement. It’s like Christmas, but better. I get to marry my best friend, my favorite guy, and the love of my life in 3 teeny-tiny days. EEEEP!

This past week has been a whirlwind. I am officially off work now and signed off too (occasionally “off work” still means checking email). Last weekend, I made a quick trip to the mountains of Blacksburg, VA for a birthday party for one of my favorite little girls – who happens to belong to one of my favorite bridesmaids and favorite best friends.
photoI also spent one evening exploring a gorgeous undiscovered park in Blacksburg with my mom and a photographer for bridal portraits. Shhh! These were a last minute decision. My groom will surely be surprised.
photo-4My favorite part of being home was spending quality time with the best Paw Paw a girl could have. Sharing little moments with him means so much. We enjoyed a homemade eclair that I brought safely in a cooler with me all the way from Charlotte. We took a walk to look at his fields and the mountains all the way in Blacksburg. We talked about life, the wedding, and my new job. And before I left we spent some time sitting on the front porch. My heart still breaks to think about not having him here with us on this earth but my heart was full of happiness for getting to spend some uninterrupted time with him and steal a bunch of hugs while I was at it.
photo-2After Hollins’ birthday party, I had to scoot back to Charlotte to celebrate the graduation of one of our dear friends from grad school! We have both worked closely with Courtney in the past and are proud of her success. She definitely has the “favorite coworker” award from me!
photo-1And after a wonderful brunch with our awesome friend Jeff who is providing the DJ service for our wedding, we spent the evening watching The Lion King! Such an awesome production – and so fun to reminisce on our childhoods. This was our last major event as an engaged couple and our next big event is THE big one!
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This girl cannot wait!
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8 sleeps!

Today is August 8th and we have 8 sleeps left until we are HUSBAND & WIFE. So exciting. And I get giddy everytime my sweet fiance tells me how excited he is or what wedding thing he plans to work on after work or do this weekend while I’m out of town. I smile from ear-to-ear as we talk about our honeymoon (we might have already checked out from work!). And I love the feeling of everything being completed and us having a few days to truly “sit back and relax.”

And the best news of the day is that the 10-day forecast shows our wedding day being “perfect” as LW said, with just a 10% chance of rain (and perhaps some cloud cover for our guests). Just yesterday I was telling a friend that I hadn’t thought of a contingency plan for our rehearsal which is set to be outside the day before. But alas, the forecast shows 0% chance of rain and a perfectly sunny, 80-degree day. I could not be more excited/relieved/happy. It’s here! It’s almost our WEDDING WEEK and it’s almost our time to say “I do!”

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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

Licensed to Wed!

Yesterday, I spent the day contacting our vendors and making sure all of our contracts were signed and on file and then issuing some stomach-turning, heartbreaking payments. Pretty sure that was my bank account I heard saying, “ouch!” But, somewhere in the middle of that not-so-fun part of the day, my handsome groom came and picked me up to go get our MARRIAGE LICENSE!
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We had to drive to the middle of nowhere South Carolina to get it but the process itself was quick and painless. Afterwards, we selected wines for our rehearsal dinner and then had a celebratory lunch/drink before heading home to spend our afternoon doing other wedding related activities. Just kidding, he did homework and I took a nap. But, here we are just 15 tiny days away from our wedding and we are licensed to wed! And boy are we ready!

And while we’re talking about being SUPER CLOSE to weddings, tomorrow, my sweet friend Valerie is marrying the love of her life! I can’t wait to see their beautiful ceremony and celebrate with this fun couple. Yay, Valerie + Dave! xo
yay

Forever films

We have vacillated for most of our wedding planning experience on whether or not we would hire a videographer. The cheapest quote I was given was $1700 – but most were closer to the $2500 range for a base package. I get it, they put a lot of time into following you around on the big day, and also into editing and making sure everything is perfect before giving you those final discs. But once you’ve paid for venues, catering, flowers, coordinators, photography, and all the million other things weddings require… that extra money seems scary to spend. I talked about this a few weeks ago in this post for Carolina Bride.

My groom does not feel passionate about having a videographer or not having one. I am not sure I feel passionate about it, but I think I might regret it if I don’t. It’s not something we can go back and do, after the fact. I was discussing with one of my bridesmaids yesterday and we talked about how frequently it would be watched… probably only on anniversaries and maybe if our (one day) kids wanted to see it. She made a good point though that it’s “live” and you might not always have the opportunity to interact with folks that are at your wedding, and of course, it’s something you can keep forever.

Family members have also offered opinions, similar to my bridesmaid’s opinion yesterday. Again, I’ve also had people say that they don’t regret it. I’ve had people say that the ceremony was a disaster because the priest kept calling them by the wrong name. I’ve had people say that they love their video and it’s so special. And like Michelle said yesterday, heaven forbid something happen to one of us, but we could play the video to each other like Channing Tatum did in The Vow. (Or we could just watch Channing Tatum in The Vow).

So, I spent Monday negotiating with a videographer for the parts that we really care about being caught on camera and was able to get to a price point that I was happy with and my groom, knowing that I want it, said, “do it.” Love him.

1 month to go – and we are EXCITED!
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Do you have an opinion on hiring a videographer? Please leave a comment & share!

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!
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Under the 50 day mark

We are under 50 days, folks! Time continues to fly by as we inch closer and closer to our wedding day. We were showered with love again last weekend by LW’s Aunt Jill (and other amazing family & friends). shower3shower 7shower1shopwer 8We got big news on Tuesday that our bands have arrived and are waiting to be picked up! Very exciting (unfortunately, our schedules have been crazy and we haven’t gone yet) – but I’m sure they are just as beautiful as the day we picked them out and I know for certain that I can’t wait to put a ring on it!
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We now have our transportation booked for the wedding, shuttle for the guests, car for us. One more thing to check off the list! We are finishing up our invitations and writing lots of thank you notes these days. I had my Bachelorette party this past weekend in Charleston & Folly Beach.
BP1 BP2 BP3 BP4 BP5 BP6 BP7BP10I had an incredible time with my most incredible friends. LW had his bachelor party several weeks ago, so no more bachelor time for us, we’re ready to run down the aisle now! 46 days and counting…

Happy Monday!

The last 60 days!

Monday marked 60 days until our wedding. We could technically get our marriage license at anytime now… but we’ll hold off for a little longer. Yesterday was our 4 year anniversary – our last June 20th anniversary, as next year, we’ll be celebrating August 17th! I still remember being so nervous before our first date (and so nervous at work that I went out of my way to avoid talking to LW face-to-face). I was so giddy afterwards and so sure that I wanted to be with him – lucky me, he wanted the same thing!
anniversaryAnd here we are, 4 years later, wedding planning our little hearts out and working relentlessly on the next big steps of our lives together (more details coming soon!). I love that I have a running & hiking partner, a concert/theatre/comedy show buddy, a travel partner and someone who is always up for a quick road trip – especially to a beachy location, my own handyman, grill master, and a best friend. We have so much fun together and really complement each other with our personalities and special OCD issues. I also love that I got a 2nd dog out of this deal, because those boys, they complete us! bowtiesReady for the weekend and another shower thrown by Aunt Jill (LW’s favorite banana pudding maker!). We are excited to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy SUMMER!

Happy Weekend!