After sharing our entire wedding recap (here), I received many follow up questions that I am more than happy to answer!
If you are new here, I’ve already shared a few helpful posts from my experience planning our entire wedding without a planner:
You can also read a full interview with Baltimore Weddings here.
How did you handle your invitations?
I am a brand and web designer so not only did I have a vision, but I was able to do some of the work myself. With that said, it is important to know when to hire vendors! Here is a high level of my process including who I worked with:
Start with Pinterest to search for designs and inspiration based on what you have in mind! Narrow it down to 3-5 images to be very certain and direct.
I knew I wanted to keep my wedding decor very simple, so utilizing a crest throughout would not only accomplish that but give us a life-long, unique piece of art! To take it a step further, I also incorporated a venue watercolor to add variety. It’s important to think about what you can use across the board when it comes to your wedding to get the most value out of your purchases!
After I had the idea of artwork locked down, I explored my overall color scheme. Considering the venue and thinking of a timeless color, I wanted to use a blue/gray paired with golds and greenery. I then selected fonts to use across the board so that everything would be consistent.
Working with one of my dear friends and talented watercolor & illustration artist, Hailey Hays, we completed the designs! Please reach out to me directly for her information!
Once I had my suite designed, I explored printing vendors. When planning a wedding yourself, this is one of those areas to pass off to a professional to save yourself the stress and time. Our invitations were printed with Alpha Graphics, a local print shop that was so beyond helpful in helping with all the moving pieces! I found a great etsy shop owner to do some last minute signage printing, too.
I assembled them by hand with my husband and was a great time to catch up and get excited for this big milestone in the planning process! Using the ribbon was a nice, subtle detail that we very much loved! Below, I share all of the supplies purchased to do so.
Since I am so passionate about design, I really focused on the entire experience of opening our invitations without spending way too much money. We got custom stamps and a unique envelope color, so I wanted to preserve the look as much as possible. The best way to do this is to hand cancel your invitations. This means that you ask your post office to allow you to hand stamp them vs. going through the machine. This will preserve the look of your stamps, but note that it will still be scanned in the clear space at the bottom. This was totally worth it for us!
Did you incorporate any DIY decor?
Yes! Below is a list of what I DIY’d. When determining what you should purchase or just do yourself, completely weigh the time, cost, and ability to resell!
DIY Seating Chart Mirror:
I purchased a large mirror from HomeGoods for $40 and spray painted it to match all our champagne accents. I then purchased matching lanterns and candles on sale for $15 total. Our florist incorporated greenery and extra cheesecloth runners to complete the look. I purchased wax seal numbers and printed table cards to stick to the mirror. All of this was much more affordable and most importantly, allowed us to account for any last minute cancellations if necessary! Do not go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a seating chart in case this happens! Luckily, we had none, but I have heard this is very common.
DIY Late Night Snack Bags:
To incorporate Greg’s favorite things, we did late night snacks consisting of soft pretzels and mini cheesesteaks. I ordered to-go bags off amazon, a custom stamp, and ink to add a personal touch!
Did anything go wrong?
Yes! Besides BOTH my husband and I feeling incredibly ill, (if you missed my post, I had terrible migraines and he had the worst cold ever hah) we had a few things that only we would notice! This is all bound to happen as you are working with many different teams to make it all come together. For example, I spent weeks customizing cheesecloth runners with a vendor, and for some reason – they never made it out on our tables! Our cakes that we served were completely different flavors than what we picked out. While I was pissed for a few days after the wedding, no one would’ve known otherwise and at the end of the day – they are just tables and everyone enjoyed the cake! If something pops up, remain calm and focus on having the best day, otherwise you’ll regret it!
Weather is the number one thing that causes anxiety leading up to it! My best advice is to create a plan that you are 100% comfortable with if it actually had to happen. We put tents on reserve to keep all of our locations. On the other hand, we didn’t prepare for it being 85 degrees in September – but we made it work! 🙂
Did you do a first look?
Yes! This is something we always knew we wanted to do for two reasons. First, we wanted to have as many moments for ourselves that day and this was one of them. It was such a special way to just breathe, see the purpose of the day, and reveal my dress that I had kept a secret for so long! We don’t love attention, so this also helped us feel better about getting up in front of everyone knowing that we already checked in with each other on the day!
Another big advantage to a first look is the ability to capture your portraits, including real, genuine moments. First looks typically occur hours before the ceremony, so you’re then able to take your group shots and bride & groom portraits and then enjoy the wedding! Otherwise, you need to build in a big time gap between your ceremony and reception which usually leaves your guests waiting and you rushing through photos.
I noticed you wore your veil to cocktail hour, I’m not sure how long to keep mine on. What made you decide?
I went into my wedding planning on taking it off right after the ceremony! I was told it would be a pain when greeting people. However, because I wanted to save the veil for walking down the aisle vs. Greg seeing it in our first look, it felt like I had it on for 10 minutes and was sad to take it off. I just made a last minute decision to keep it on and am so happy I did as this is where my photographers came in HUGE. They took us out on the dock where everyone could still see us and got some of the most beautiful portraits of the day. So, I’d say consider how much it means to you and how you’re going to capture it!
Was it hard to spend quality time together on the day?
This is something every married couple provides advice on. People harped on it so much that honestly, we didn’t want to focus on that so much. We intentionally built the weekend out to spend time together before everyone came to town, but both agreed to allow each other to have genuine conversations and moments with people that we don’t get to see so often since almost all of our guests flew in. Not putting that pressure on ourselves allowed us to relax, while still making sure we found each other and were present in every moment.
How do I figure out a budget?
The first thing to do is have honest conversations with family and your spouse. Figure out who is able to contribute and how much. From there, prioritize the bigger ticket items and what is most important to you. You don’t want to blow most of your budget on the first few vendors. There are many spreadsheets and resources available to track your spending and payments – we created our own that was entirely helpful to check in with my parents as well as what we as a couple were spending. Vendors also require final payments right before the wedding, so just be prepared to write all those checks at once!
Did you do a registry?
I did not. We have lived together for years and plan on moving into our forever-ish home in the near future. We don’t need a lot of things at this point and I’d rather buy when I know what my space looks like. Instead, we set up a fund for our honeymoon! I highly recommend and you shouldn’t feel tacky asking for cash as many people would rather know that their gift is being put to good use vs. sitting in a basement! For my shower, my mom encouraged me to create a small one for those that wanted to give a gift for that event which is always an option!
What were your honeymoon plans?
Because we planned the wedding ourselves, planning and going on a big trip right after just seemed like a whirlwind. So, we did a mini-moon a few days after the wedding consisting of driving up through Rhode Island to Cape Cod. We had a blast literally just eating and drinking, taking in various views! My husband had never been to Nantucket, so it was really special to take this trip. This allowed us to live in the high of the wedding, crack up catching up with friends that were still hungover days later, and discuss all the memories!
We then planned to go to South Africa this June, but unfortunately are moving the trip due to COVID-19. I’ll share more about the trip when it finally happens next year, fingers crossed!
What did you do with all the decor after the wedding?
It’s funny, we ended up coming home with nearly everything we brought down! Left over napkins, cups, sparklers, etc. – it all adds up! As soon as we got home, we organized what we wanted to keep and what would be sold. Once we got professional photos back, I did a masterpost on Facebook Marketplace detailing each item and its price. Having the photos showing the use of them gives people ideas and incentive to buy! We ended up selling every single item listed and made a lot of money back!!
Choosing my bridal party is overwhelming. Any advice?
I feel ya! There is so much pressure to have a big wedding party and making it even on both sides. Here to tell ya that none of that matters! With zero knock to your friends, each of them are different in terms of the impact on your life. You have some that are more social than your inner circle type friends that you confide in daily – and that is totally ok! Being in a wedding is a HUGE ask on both ends. I kept it to a few of my closest friends and then incorporated many other friends that mean so much to me on my bachelorette. This helps reduce having 1-2 people feeling left out if a majority of a group is otherwise in your party. It’s a lot of moving parts leading up to it + on the day of, so really consider all the factors. If you think someone will take it personally, have an honest conversation with them and more likely than not, they will completely understand as the day is about you. My husband has two brothers, and I have one, so he ended up having 3 more people than me and our pictures all turned out great!
Any advice on how to pick my wedding rings?
Typically you want to use the same jeweler for convenience and use of their knowledge given they created or sold your engagement ring to you. When looking at engagement rings, I was also thinking of what I’d want in wedding rings as I’d be wearing them all together for the rest of my life. Often times, people pick a really cool engagement ring, then struggle with something that fits right. If you can get ahead of it, that is key!
Otherwise, search Pinterest and Instagram with your cut/shape to find inspo. Try on all the things, as you never know what you will like!
I got two eternity bands that match the size of my engagement band that I can switch up! Sometimes I frame my engagement ring, but most recently, I have been wearing the two bands and stacking my engagement ring on top for a different look!
How did you go about picking your first dance song?
Music is something that means a lot to our family and Greg and I as a couple. We had toyed around with a few songs, but I was pressed to turn one of our favorites into an option for slow dancing. One day we were driving, and it just clicked! We absolutely love “This Must Be The Place” by the Talking Heads and one of our favorite bands is the Lumineers, whom have an amazing slow cover of the song! It was a perfect mix of slow to a little upbeat, the lyrics were so fitting, and now is that much more meaningful to us. It has been so fun to immediately go back to that day every time we hear it.
How do I go about figuring out my wedding style?
This is no secret, but Instagram and Pinterest are key! Facebook groups help as well, but my best advice is to start with high level searches and just save images that stop you in your scroll. Then, find common occurrences that run through photos to see what you’re actually into!
I have most of my wedding pinned on my account for you to easily save, as well as the ability to pin any images on my master blog post! Check out the board here.
For me specifically, I focused on staying true to myself and not getting caught up in the wedding industry / trends. I love simplicity and thoughtful accents that go a long way, and wanted my venue to be the focus! With everything else like what people were wearing, etc. I really wanted to focus on what would be timeless while incorporating some trend accents.