If you follow me on social media, you know that Matt and I officially tied the knot a little over a week ago! I wanted to post about it beforehand so badly but was trying hard to keep it under wraps until the day of. We almost made it there until we couldn’t help but to share our excitement. As little rules as people say there are these days around weddings, I have most definitely gotten my fair share of confused glances (and texts) since we let everyone know. I wanted to create a post sharing with everyone WHY we choose to do things this way and to recap the sweet details of our day. Luckily we had our wedding photographer, Madison Short, with us every step of the way to document the best day of our lives.
First things first, I am not pregnant. Everyone keeps asking me this and I have to set the record straight here once and for all. We had always talked about doing a small wedding since we first decided we were going to get married. Of course things escalated and I wanted to have an intimate ceremony but a bigger party as well. Nothing with me is ever simple so instead of deciding on one we decided to do both. As I mentioned in my post before, my health insurance was a big reason for us needing to tie the knot ASAP once we officially knew we were going to get married. The financial incentive for making it official in 2017 was also increased because we bought our house this year. Tax returns, hello. Anyway, we decided that it would be great to have an intimate ceremony with only our immediate family and then we’d have the party/renewal ceremony next summer. That would give us the best of both worlds- getting married, legally, when it makes most sense but still having the time to plan our dream big day.
On a completely unreasonable note, having two ceremonies gave me the opportunity to live out my wedding dreams in multiple seasons. This is ridiculous, I know, but from the start I couldn’t decide between a winter or a summer wedding so now I got both. We set the date strategically in November, before the holidays (and around the health insurance!) so that our immediate family would be able to attend. Matt’s mom suggested that we do it inside of a restaurant so that we wouldn’t have to worry about bad weather. This actually turned out to be amazing that we went with that option because it happened to be the coldest day of the year so far.
LOCATION + FOOD
We chose to have the location be Petit Louis in Columbia, MD, per recommendation from my mom. The food is absolutely amazing and the French theme was chic and right up my alley. We rented out a room that perfectly fit our 17 guests and had room for us to do our mini ceremony right in front of the table. We opted for a 1pm start time so we had our picks from their lunch menu. For food we had stationary cheese plates and a choice of soup or salad to start. The main course had four different French inspired options and for dessert there were three delicious options including my favorites the chocolate mousse and the crème brûlée. They were so accommodating with many attendees being gluten free and one vegan. They made sure to keep all of our glasses forever full with champagne and our wine selections.
One of the reasons why we choose Petit Louis (besides the amazing food and cool décor) was because it is right on Lake Kittamaqundi which is beautiful in the fall. We did our first look out on the pier and had a ton of pictures with an autumn inspired backdrop. Even though it was cold, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Décor is a big deal to me. We were lucky because the restaurant already is very beautiful and has a great fall color palette so we were working with a good canvas. My stepmom, Mona, is a florist extraordinaire so she created two beautiful arrangements for the table, my bouquet , and a boutonnière for Matt. The colors were amazing and went so well with the vibe I was going for.
I also really wanted to have some other little details that show our personalities. We had beautiful champagne glasses and a cake cutting set that Matt’s mom got for us which totally added a personal touch and are great to have at home as reminders of our amazing day. We wanted to have a cake just to cut but didn’t need it to be served to everyone (the crème brûlée was indulgent enough) so we went for a tiny gluten free naked cake from Kupcakes and Co. Matt picked out the cake topper and I thought it was such a perfect representation of our little family! If the dogs couldn’t be there in person at least they were on the cake!
MY OUTFIT + DETAILS
It took me longer to decide on my dress for this day than it did my actual, full out wedding dress for July. I wanted to wear something that would wow Matt but I didn’t want it to be similar to my actual wedding dress. I cycled through white dress after white dress but everything was either too summery or just not me. My mom suggested to go for something gold and at first I was not into the idea. When I thought about it more I fell in love with the idea and then this dress. It was comfortable, not insanely pricey, and actually something that I can see myself wearing again. Maybe for an anniversary date night?
Part of what I always pictured for a fall/winter wedding was having some cozy fur to wrap myself in. I found a few from BHLDN that I liked but wasn’t keen on spending the money on one. My mom remembered that she had a fur stole that was passed down from my grandmother. It was absolutely perfect and was a great way to make me feel like my grandma who I was so close with was there to enjoy the day with us. I also wore her pearl bracelet. Something old and something borrowed. Check.
My grandma was such a huge part of my mom and my life so it really was so special that we incorporated some of her pieces. She always loved fashion so much so it really seemed fitting. My mom surprised me the night before the ceremony with a jewelry box and locket with an angel that had photos of both her and my grandma in it. I, of course, was sobbing and so in love with this gift that allows me to keep these two strong women, who I admire, close to my heart.
My other jewelry was from Kate Spade (earrings) and from Kendra Scott (necklace). These were my something new and something blue. My shoes were also something new and definitely were a showstopper in my opinion. Originally I was just going to wear plain nude heels until my best friend Kelli told me that I should get some killer heels and wear them for both events. Any reason to justify a Badgley Mischka purchase and I am sold. I also choose some new perfume and went with Kate Spade’s Walk On Air which is delicate, fresh and now reminds me of how amazing that day was.
Hair and makeup wise I am pretty low maintenance. No really, I swear. I actually did my makeup trial with my friend Shauna the morning of the ceremony. She always does an amazing job and this was actually my first time getting airbrush makeup done professionally. It lasted from 6am when I got it done until literally 10pm when I took it off. I was AMAZED. Worth the money for sure. Lauren at Dakota Salon is my regular hair stylist so she knows exactly how to make my super fine hair look luscious. She threw some clip in extensions in and we went for a soft, romantic look that was different enough from what I am going to have for the July wedding. It was nice because it didn’t feel too overdone but still made me feel absolutely beautiful.
We didn’t want Matt to be too dressed up but we wanted him to look sharp and feel great. Cue J. Crew. His shirt, pants, and tie are all from J. Crew and not only fit him great but are actually things he will wear again (expect a repeat performance at my company Christmas party). It didn’t make sense to invest in a super nice suit for one day when he already was going to have to get another one for July. Since he wears scrubs to work every day it isn’t like he would get great use out of all of these suits! He really liked what he was wearing and it made him feel confident and comfortable which was the most important thing. He invested in some nice dress shoes from Nordstrom Rack because he can wear these for multiple occasions including the wedding in July! At first we were unsure about doing a boutonnière but Mona made a game time decision to include one and I am so happy that she did.
THE LOVEY STUFF
The whole day was absolutely perfect. Being able to say our vows to each other in such an intimate setting was perfect. I didn’t know how nervous I was going to be to speak in front of everyone! I think it was the whole emotions piece of it that gave me butterflies. Matt’s mom performed the ceremony and it was absolutely beautiful. I think pretty much everyone in the room teared up. We decided to do a first look because we spent the night apart from each other and wanted a moment to just be with each other before everything started. I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around with the most genuine smile I had ever seen. I told him to ‘bend the knee’ because we were joking that I looked like a Khaleesi/ Jon Snow mash up with my long blonde hair and fur. We were cracking up like only us nerdy GOT lovers would.
WHY WE LOVED IT
This way of tying the knot was absolutely perfect for Matt and me. We get the best of both worlds, celebrating in a low key and intimate way but also being able to bring our extended family and friends together to celebrate with food, drinks, music, and a ton of laughs. We wanted to make sure the party for everyone was exactly how we want it to be so we did not want to rush it and move up the timeline of everything. I was so worried that people would be offended that they weren’t invited to this ceremony but that wasn’t a good reason to change my whole plan. We had such a great time just truly celebrating our love and now I feel like we can relax and really let loose when the time comes in July.
Thank you to everyone who made our ceremony so special through planning, attending, and supporting Matt and I through everything. We appreciate everything more than words can even express and we are so blessed to have a team of supportive people in our lives as we begin this new chapter together. As for our family and friends who we didn’t have the chance to celebrate with yet, we look forward to #PickensIDoRoundTwo in July 2018!
I hope you guys enjoyed this recap and I hope this shed some light onto what the heck I have been up to instead of creating content recently. Things will resume to normal now…until round two comes along, and I will continue sharing my planning stories and tips in my new series. I received so many encouraging and congratulatory messages from you all on social media and I appreciate it infinitely. Crohnically Blonde is officially a married woman!
The past three and a half months have been a total whirlwind to say the least. Being engaged is both the happiest and craziest time you can ever imagine. While, in theory, being engaged is between you and your partner, it really ends up being a time where your friends and family rally around you in excitement about what is soon to be the biggest and most exciting commitment of your life.
Now Matt and I have such a funny love story, which you should hear about in our upcoming podcast but we never were going for a fairytale wedding situation… ironic considering the whole Disney proposal thing. Since the day we decided we were going to get married we actually were convinced that we were going to elope on an island somewhere. As things actually started to get real, we realized that we so badly wanted our closest friends and family there and it just wasn't feasible to do the destination thing. So we decided to do a small wedding that was going to be focused on us spending time with the people we loved who were supporting us on our new journey and overall just having a damn good time. That being said we still have about 100 people that we want to celebrate with us which can really add up price wise. Also, as superficial as this sounds, it is the truth; I love décor, I love details, and I like everything in my vision to be just right. This comes with a price tag. Especially after working for a wedding planner in the past, my standards of “the perfect big day” some could say are a bit unrealistic for what cash I actually want to (and can) shell out. With us just buying our first home, my medical bills being sky high, and us wanting to travel the world before starting a family in the next few years, we have been determined to create our perfect big day on a budget that is actually realistic. For the past three months I have been working with Matt and my closest family and friends to plan an event that is going to be budget friendly, beautiful, and so freaking fun.
This is where a lot of my time has been taken up where I would usually be spending it blogging and I was super stressed about my lack on contributions to Crohnically Blonde. Matt (he’s so smart that’s why I love him) suggested that I start sharing my experiences of wedding planning through the blog because there have to be some other people out there that are going through the same thing. Duh. Thank you fiancé. So that is where this series of posts started. I want to share with you guys my planning journey in hopes that it can inspire or help you. Learn from my mistakes and please take my successes and use them for your own big day.
To start off this series I wanted to rewind back to right when Matt popped the question. After the shock and the love and the tears and all of that jazz happened it set in…. I’m engaged, what the heck do I do now?
I definitely thought that and I panicked a little inside. I could not have written this post until I was out of the initial couple month storm of craziness. Now looking back I can organize my thoughts and break down what exactly I would recommend to myself (or any of you) right after you are officially engaged.
First piece of advice….
Don’t immediately share on social media.
I know coming from me who lives and breathes Instagram this may come as a shock. I always thought that I would be Instagramming my ring ASAP as soon as that thing was on my finger. I actually waited until the afternoon the day after to announce our big news. Not a huge gap of time but enough time for us to just enjoy each other and be happy living in the moment. This also gave us a chance to tell our families and our closest friends first so that they would see if before the rest of the internet. Once I posted I was flooded with well wishes online, via text, and by phone call. It was a lot to handle and while I am so thankful, it was nice to have that special time where it was just Matt and I celebrating our commitment. For a short while it is your own sweet, romantic secret.
Figure out if you have a deadline.
Okay, now this one sounds weird but it is really helpful. Is there a certain time that you want to be married by/need to be married by? Example for me: my health insurance was about to be dunzo so I knew the sooner the better. This helped me to craft a timeline of when the actual ceremony needed to happen and helped me narrow down venues. If there was a venue that would be booked two years out, that was going to be a hard no for me (and also most likely out of my price range). If there is a “deadline” per say then that may force you to get a little creative which sometimes can turn out to produce the best events. Knowing that we were setting a date for less than/a year out meant that I had to start booking things almost immediately after returning from our trip (where we got engaged). Now this doesn’t mean to start going crazy and booking every single thing right away but you need to lock down the things that are really important to you so you don’t miss out. That brings me to my next tip.
What are the elements of your wedding that are most important to you and your S.O. For me I know my photographer was #1 and I would take out a second mortgage on my house if I needed to get the one I wanted (just kidding but like am I kidding?). Shout out Maddison Short. Matt’s number one thing was having a really good DJ. Knowing that those two things were so important and “make or breaks” as I like to call them for the big day, we booked these vendors first and actually planned our date around when they were free. We got super lucky in this situation because my sister’s big in her sorority is the wedding photographer I wanted so she was flexible with us and our DJ is one of my college friends who is a professional DJ. Things just worked out here which I couldn’t be more thankful for but seriously if the vendors you want are in high demand (which ours definitely were) you need to lock them down ASAP.
Figure out who your wedding party is going to be and ask them.
I think this is so important to do early on because part of the planning is the fun of bouncing ideas off your girlfriends and also part of the benefit is they help to take some of the stress away. I asked my bridesmaids pretty soon after we got engaged to be in my bridal party and I couldn’t be happier. (There will be a post on how to craft the perfect Bridesmaid Proposal coming up, don’t worry). They will be there to really be invested and help along the way. It also helps to have conversations upfront with members of your bridal party about what you expect from them. For example, my MOH is my sister Amanda. She also happens to be in her last year of college and is totally swamped. Some of my other bridesmaids are getting married, in dental school, and about to graduate high school this year so that can also be stressful and leave little time for participating in the usual "bridal party activities". My best friend Kelly is in my bridal party and while she is not officially the MOH she has taken on a lot of the helpful planning duties. I explained the situation to her from the start and she has been a huge help taking the stress off of my MOH. Being a bridesmaid shouldn’t be a burdening experience so make sure you are communicating and being as open as possible about your expectations the whole way and hearing them out if they say they need some help from other members of the party or your family.
Whether you are on the groom side or the bride side, another perk of asking your party early is that you can start planning the Bachelor/Bachelorette parties early. This means watching out for deals, maybe getting early booking discounts, and planning ahead so the maximum amount of people can come.
Find someone who has been there and done that recently.
This isn’t always and option but I really have found this to be helpful. I have a few friends who have gotten married in the past few years that I have been bouncing ideas off of like crazy. They know those little things that you wouldn’t even think of… I mean, event insurance?! They also have great referrals and I am a firm believer that referrals are the best way to find vendors. There are things that I know from working in the wedding planning business but when you are piecing things together on a way tighter budget, things have to get a little more strategic and creative. That is where utilizing what these friends have done and their experiences can make your life a lot easier. Also, they keep you sane because they know how ridiculous this process can be. It was my married friend that introduced me to Natural Calm, coincidence? I think not.
I am OCD about just about everything so getting organized was one of the first things that I did. I am going to do a whole post on just exactly how I organized things in case you want to use my “model” but however you do it I suggest you make it fun. I picked up a bunch of super cute office supplies from Target to use and went to town. There are so many moving parts to a wedding and more contracts for different vendors than you will ever see in your life so being organized is so crucial. This also helps you to make sure you are on time with payments and not irritating vendors because you realize you forget to cut them that check you owe! Even though I have a Pinterest board (multiple, let’s be real), I also like printing out inspiration photos and collages so I can see everything together. Kind of a waste of paper but that is just how my brain works. There are plenty of actual planners that are specifically for wedding planning which are great if you want a separate book. For me I integrate everything with my Day Designer that I use regularly so I am seeing my upcoming “to do’s” every day and not falling behind. Another tool that I love is the wedding checklist on The Knot. I haven’t exactly followed the timeline of when to get things done (I’ve been early, overachieving AF) but it is a great reminder of little things that I would have definitely forgotten if they weren’t on the list.
My last piece of advice for those few months following your engagement and really up until your day of (and beyond) is...
Don’t forget about your partner.
Things can get really crazy. There is a ton of attention on you from friends and family which is great because they love you and want to celebrate, but don’t forget the reason why you are celebrating. You have to make sure you aren’t getting too caught up in the planning and decision making that you neglect your S.O. When it all comes down to it, the wedding is one, literally one day, of your life. Your marriage is forever so cherish this time that you have before your big day to really remember why you are so excited to spend the rest of your life with this human.
I hope these few tips have helped/will help you all! I wish I would have know all of these tidbits a few months ago! As I said before I can't wait to keep sharing my planning experience with you. You shouldn't just expect the basic bridal blog topics though. I want to touch on some things that maybe aren't the happiest part of the experience because someone needs to put it out there. I'm talking- body image/trying on wedding dresses, managing expectations (and opinions) or those around you, and anxiety of being sick on your big day (chronic illnesses are the ultimate wedding crashers). Of course we will also touch on some lighthearted topics which I'm super excited about to: bridesmaid proposals, choosing a caterer, how to get organized with your planning, and why you don't have to (and probably shouldn't) do everything by the book.
As always, if there is anything that you are excited to hear about, shoot me and email or message on Instagram and I will make sure to add it to a post soon.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.