Friday, September 10, 2010

Wedding Wisdom Update: 3 Lessons Already Learned

Roses in the garden where we'll have our ceremony
 Since I last wrote about the wedding planning process, we've made a few big strides. We have a dress plan set (more on that soon!), have a location for both the ceremony (a local rose garden, behind the museum where we had our first date) and the reception (a crazy cool space in the East Village of downtown Des Moines), and we've met with our first caterer option. I am relieved to have the venues settled and I love them.

The garden is more formal and traditional in all of it's floral glory, but it's also extremely open to interpretation as far as the flow of the ceremony goes.

The reception venue is rustic modern with exposed studs, beams and brickwork, and the main room is big enough for square dancing and our bluegrass band. Which were both a key part of our decision making process. And we can use whichever vendors we want, we get the keys to the place (so we can decorate!) on Friday morning, and it's walking distance from the hotel where I'm hoping most of our guests will stay.

From all of this, I have learned a few important lessons:

1. Keep it simple. This is partly because I do not want this wedding to be the sole focus of my life for the next 9 months and because it will just be easier for my brain to hold fewer details and decisions. To help me accomplish this, I have a fantastic and highly organized binder broken down into subjects ("flowers", "food", "rentals", etc) and a month-by-month schedule of what needs to be done. It's completely reassuring and I love the feeling of knowing exactly what we need to do when—and checking things off when we finish them!

Wedding binder, the "decor" section

2. No one will know what we don't do. Yes! This golden nugget of advice came from Kimberly and it is seriously my wedding mantra. And it's helpful because there are definitely a lot of voices sharing what we "should" do. But to be honest, I think less can be more when it comes to throwing a good party. As in I'm still not convinced that we need to add more flowers around the ceremony area to define the space. The space is pretty well defined, and it's a lovely garden after all. Maybe that's enough?

3. Be creative and take time to make decisions. After our first meeting with a caterer, the estimate was about $2k over what I had in my budget. Part of that is because of a chunk of change for a "beverage station" with water, iced tea and lemonade, and part is because gratuity and tax are included. But seeing those numbers, and knowing that we have rentals on top of it, is helping me to take things one step at a time.
Do we need to rent $16 tablecloths? Could I come up with vintage linens or kraft paper instead that would be a better use of money? Probably. Do I really want to spend $12.95 per dozen glasses when we could buy a dozen mason jars for less money AND have them to use for storage for years to come? I think so.

There is a fair amount of pressure to sign on the dotted line immediately, but the truth is that we have time, and we plan to use our time to figure out how we can make our day a reflection of us and our loved ones with the funds that we have. I think it helps that I definitely don't have the intention to throw the Best Wedding Ever. I just want it to be Really Fun. And Pretty. And full of Love.

I'm going to be using Fridays for the coming months to share some of our plans, so I hope that you'll stay tuned to that and be ready to offer advice!


  1. Lovely. It will be a beautiful day! You could even sew some table cloths out of gingham or white linen. I'm happy to help! But really, it sounds like you have your priorities straight - everything will naturally fall into place, and you'll be married at the end of it!

  2. I think you're WAY ahead of the game. And Number 2 is priceless beyond wedding planning!!! Trying to grasp that one.

  3. Totally agree with keeping it simple. I found all my vases at a local thrift shop for about 50 cents apiece, and all my flowers came from my mom's garden: whatever was in season was what we picked.

    And true, no one will know what you don't do. You don't have to be perfect. :)

    The rose garden sounds like such a lovely place! Breathe deep on the actual day ~ the scent of roses is such a wonderful accompaniment.

  4. Thanks for the feeback! Brooke we're doing something similar with flowers- hoping to get them from a local flower farm (they have wildflowers). Which is making it hard to choose "wedding colors" since we won't know too far ahead what will be growing, but I kind of like leaving a little bit up to nature!

  5. Yeah! I'm so excited to hear that things are coming together and I'm so glad #2 is working out for you. ;) And you and your little binder!...still to this day I have my wedding binder tucked away in our basement. The binder is brilliant. It was my brain throughout the entire process! I cannot wait to hear more!

  6. Good for you for taking your time and being wise about your decicions! A rose garden sounds like an enchanting place for the ceremony.

  7. Flat bedsheets from the thrift store make amazing table linens. Everyone loved mine. They were mismatched lime greens and light pinks at our outdoor, family-picnic sort of wedding.

  8. Sounds like you've got your head on straight...weddings can eat up every minute of time between deciding to do it and doing it! I'm excited to see yours come together! Yay for rose garden!