Thursday, January 3, 2013

Making our special day affordable...and a reflection of us!

So we got married back in August. After Jesse proposed to me in April I, being a girl, could think of little else but planning a wedding. My Mom, being my Mom, was right there with me, planning away. For my first wedding in 1996, my Mom was the dedicated wedding planner, and she did an amazing job. Naturally, she was ready to step up for the second wedding.

Of course, I am a very different person now than I was in my twenties. I am more in touch with myself, have a more defined style, and generally view the world from a different perspective than I used to. I wanted to celebrate this wonderful, magical love that Jesse and I share, and I had some pretty specific ideas about how we could do that. Because Jesse and I are partners in every sense of the word, we talked about what we wanted to do on our big day and I took his opinions to heart when planning our wedding

We decided to get married rather quickly. We were sure we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and we didn't see the point in waiting and planning an elaborate affair. We also wanted to get married when the weather was warm so we could take advantage of natural light for our wedding photos. As we brainstormed about our perfect day, we made some decisions:

We wanted to do this wedding on a budget My parents were generous enough to agree to pay for the wedding, and we were so grateful for that gift. Still, we challenged ourselves to throw a wedding on a very small budget.

We wanted a venue that was both affordable and symbolic
We ultimately chose my alma mater, York College of Pennsylvania, where my Dad, my Aunt, and two Uncles are professors. As an alumnus, I was permitted to use the campus chapel and a very nice, window-filled lounge for a very small fee. Plus, the onsite caterer, Chartwell's, has been repeatedly recognized for its commitment to hiring workers with disabilities.

We wanted artificial flowers that would last forever
Jesse has terrible allergies. Plus, I don't see anything romantic about carrying dead cut flowers. My Mom and I researched Etsy vendors until we found a vendor, Kimberly Terry who uses beautiful Real Touch silk flowers to make exquisite bouquets like the ones pictured in the link. We saved money, and we were able to get our flowers weeks before the wedding! I turned two of our bouquets into decorative flower arrangements for our home.

We wanted my daughter, Genevieve, to be one of our bridesmaids to show her that she is an important part of our partnership
My cousin had been married the previous year and Genevieve had these romantic notions about putting on a dress, carrying flowers, and being in a wedding party. We also chose my youngest cousin, Kelly, to be a bridesmaid, which was even more special because Kelly was a flower girl at my first wedding and has always felt like a daughter to me.

We wanted to self-unite in the Quaker tradition
Jesse's family is Quaker. As I was researching officiant options, I discovered that Pennsylvania is one of only two states that permit a couple to self-unite in front of witnesses without a member of clergy or elected official present to pronounce them. We got to pronounce ourselves! And really, this made perfect sense because the day was about us declaring our love and commitment. It wouldn't have made sense to allow a stranger to make that declaration on our behalf. We asked our close family friend Rachael to act a master of ceremonies, and she made the day even more special for everyone who attended. (Rachael is my cousin Kelly's best friend and is like family to me. I am close to her mom and have loved her like a cousin since she was born.)

We decided to invite our guests to share stories and wishes at the ceremony
We loved hearing the stories and warm wishes for our future, and seeing our loved ones stand up to share made us smile. Many people cried, and it was really something.

I wanted to purchase our wedding attire on a budget
I love beautiful wedding dresses but dislike the markup at the stores. I wanted to find a used dress so I could have something wonderful without the cost. We bought the first dress I found - a $150 spaghetti strap beauty I found at a York, PA consignment shop. My hair stylist connected me with her seamstress, who magically made the too-small dress fit perfectly. I found Genevieve's dress at the same shop for $33, and it became the inspiration for the entire wedding party!

Jesse wanted to wear a Hawaiian shirt
We found a pretty turquoise silk shirt at Kohl's for just $18 and splurged on tan linen pants for $45. He looked awesome and set the tone for a relaxed and comfy ceremony.

We wanted to share our day on the Internet
Using various social media outlets, Jesse live streamed the ceremony and archived it on YouTube for our far-away friends. And we changed our Facebook statuses to Married after we pronounced ourselves. Needless to say, Internet connectivity was a must at our wedding!

We wanted a sundae bar
Jesse and Genevieve insisted on a sundae bar to go with the amazing cupcakes my friend Jess made. My parents were unsure at first, but it turned out to be a huge hit with our guests.

We wanted to personalize our wedding music
We filled our wedding and reception playlists with our favorite music. With the help of a good friend, we found an affordable DJ willing to play our music through his awesome sound system, giving our guests the chance to dance! Rock Lobster and Time Warp were big hits with the crowd.