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!
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. After 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.
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.
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!
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. I 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. My 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. After 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! And 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!
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!
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.
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!
After freaking myself out yesterday that we only booked the venue for 4 hours and the photographer for 4 hours (neither of which is true)…. I began emailing back and forth with my photographer regarding ideas for photos. We have been pinning some ideas, and I’ve been saving some others that I plan to present her with before the wedding.
But she brought up the first look question last night and my answer was “I don’t know.” Part of me would love to have a few quiet minutes with just LW and to enjoy each other and all the love of our wedding day – but another part of me wants to see his face when I walk down the aisle. Don’t all girls dream about that moment? I know I certainly have…
I stumbled across these gorgeous First Look photos (also – she is kind of making me want to do bridal portraits!). And found these on Pinterest:
I absolutely love the raw emotion in the pictures. I kind of like the idea of a “door” picture where we don’t really see each other but we can at least exchange gifts and hold hands for a moment and quietly enjoy some “us” time.
What are your thoughts on first looks? Should we stick with tradition and wait until that magical moment on the aisle?
Ordered our adorable bowties (yes, he chose bowties! eeek!)
Finished sending out save-the-dates (and got lots of reports of those that have already been received)
Narrowed down our honeymoon options (to specific places, but not one region!)
Figured out what song I am going to walk down the aisle to (I teared up when we were talking about it!)
So things are moving along slowly but surely, still procrastinating on finding a florist, and getting my dress altered. Both of which need to happen ASAP since I had a terrible nightmare about it this weekend. Alas, it was just a dream… and our wedding is not ruined.
A while back, I asked a few friends to share their personal stories of finding happiness, their weddings and their happily-ever-after moments from their big day – so that I could share them on the blog. Today, I’d like to share one of those, Allison & Alex who got married in 2011. Allison is the younger sister of one of my bridesmaids, and also a good running buddy! I love hearing about other’s proposals, and special wedding moments, plus, what a great way to share ideas!
Allison and Alex were both students at Queens University and had the same Chemistry class. They were introduced through mutual friends where we ended up hanging out in the same group and their relationship developed from there.
Allison describes the proposal:
We were going to Asheville for our four year dating anniversary. He had scheduled a hot air balloon ride for that Saturday morning; however, it was cancelled the day before due to the weather. So he had to scramble for a new idea. We were staying at the Grove Park Inn and that first day after a day at the spa, we were getting ready to grab a bite to eat. We had never been there, so we walked out onto a terrace to get a glimpse of the views. Just as we were taking it all in, he mentioned he had something to ask me… I said, Yes!, while crying joyful tears, and the rest is history (as the saying goes) 🙂
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same time of year and venue?
Yes and Yes. Even though that time of year is known for rain (we had an outdoor wedding), the spring flowers and weather down here was worth it.
What was the best thing about your venue?
They took care of everything. We went over stuff once, about how I wanted it to look, and they executed it perfectly. It gave me and the bridal party more time to relax and not have to stress about preparing anything.
What did you splurge on for your wedding that you just “had to have?”
I’d say the food and drinks/venue. It was overall a little more than we intended, but it’s what we wanted. We enjoy a nice dinner/evening out and that’s what we wanted to share with everyone else.
What vendor was the best to work with, and why?
Our DJ, Bill from Z Brothers. He runs the show, and he was so laid back and carefree that it helped us relax and trust that everything would go smoothly.
In 3 words or less, what was running through your head on your wedding day? This is Perfect.
What was the best part of your wedding day?
Walking down the huge flight of stairs while everyone looked at me, but I just stared at Alex (who couldn’t stop crying 🙂
How did you deal with stressors on/glitches in your big day?
I just made do and let them go. At that point, there wasn’t much I could do, and no one was going to know the difference either way. For instance, I had ordered 12 centerpieces from our florist, when we ended up have 14 tables. I completely forgot, but we worked it out by using the Bridesmaids bouquets for the other two.
It was satin, one shoulder, trumpet fit, diamond white, with lots of ruching by Sottero and Midgley. It just felt right and made me comfortable, and feel like a bride. I had a hard time finding what I wanted, and as soon as I tried it on (I was actually by myself when I did), I just knew.
Did you do a first look?
No, and still don’t think I would’ve. His reaction was priceless at the alter.
Favorite part of the ceremony?
Seeing Alex get as emotional as he did. He could barely get the words out. It made me and my heart smile the whole time. Favorite part of the reception?
Our first dance. Alex and I took dance lessons and he was on top of it. When we started, I completely forgot the moves – he had to move me around the whole time and I’m pretty sure our routine was totally wrong, but it was so much fun!
Did you incorporate any personal details into your big day? If so, what and why? A couple – 1. our tables were labeled according to places that Alex and I had traveled together. I think if you travel well with someone, it says a lot about your relationship (because it’s not always easy) and we always have the best times together when we do. 2. we had dessert tables, and each of our grandma’s made their signature or our favorite treats to be displayed and everyone have as a favor. It was beyond meaningful to us for them to take the time and make at least 100 pieces of goodies for our guests.
Open bar, because we enjoy drinking with family and friends.
What was your first dance song?
“Everything” by Michael Buble
Do you recommend having a videographer at the wedding?
I’m not sure. I think it would be nice if you can afford it or have extra money for one, but I don’t think it’s necessary if you have a great photographer. We didn’t have one.
Do you recommend having a planner/coordinator to future brides?
If you can afford it, Yes! I didn’t have one, other than the one that came with our venue (which was extremely helpful). If you can’t afford it, everything can be done just fine – you have to be prepared with what you’re in for though. I didn’t have one and I didn’t realize how much there was to it. There were so many more little details that came up that I expected. I even forgot some things – i.e. Our marriage license until the day before bc my Dad asked me if I had it! Having a wedding planner would help to reassure that everything is done and ready to go with less stress, but at the same time, then it’s all you’re doing and you do fill a great sense of accomplishment afterwards.
Did you have children at your wedding? Why or why not?
No we didn’t, except for our Flower Girl. We did not think that it was a place for children to be there. Our wedding was far from both our families anyways, so we knew it would be harder for travel. But other than that, we wanted to share the evening with the adults in our family/friends.
Thanks for letting me share your gorgeous love story, Allison!