Our wedding happened on Saturday and I am so happy! Here are the sneak peeks from our photographer.
I'll post some of these individually when I'm talking about various elements in the recap below.
I underestimated how nervous I would be. The week leading up to it, I was a frantic mess. There were so many last-minute things to do, I felt like I was constantly going. And then the day of, I was excited, but since our venue was DIY and we didn't have a plannecoordinator, I just felt the pressure of so many moving parts. For the most part, it all came together, but it was nerve-wracking. My husband (!) felt the same.
To me, the best part was the ceremony.
There was a moment right before I walked down the aisle, where the bridesmaids and groomsmen were behind all this greenery and I could see the white chairs with everyone seated, and everyone had flowers, and the string musicians were playing and it was all just so rich and lush and full and beautiful (and I thought I am so glad we got the string musicians
). Our venue had a max of 100 people but some would have had to stand, so our final number of 78 was perfect - everyone had a seat but it still looked full. My favorite compliments about the wedding were the (several different!) people who told us it was the most beautiful ceremony they had seen/heard, and I'm proud of it - I think it struck the right balance of personal and ritualistic. His father walked him down the aisle, and both my parents walked me down. His sister walked down with his father's wife, placed a single white rose on an empty chair for their late mother, and officiated. SIL was awesome - she was a perfect mix of funny and serious and lots of people commented on what a great job she did. Aside from her welcome/intro, we wrote the whole ceremony ourselves. My husband is a published poet and I am ABD in English lit and taught it for years, so expectations were high, but I think we pulled it off. We printed a found poem
that is fragments of poetry about love through history and attached it to the program, which SIL/officiant referred to in her opening; we had one of my friends read a selection from Wendell Berry's "Poetry and Marriage"
and a bridesmaid read Denise Levertov's "About Marriage."
(Seriously, if you are looking for selections, read these, they are so beautiful!) We did a wine ceremony. We read structured affirmations to each other (e.g. we each answered "What everyone knows about you is [x], but also, [y]" and other prompts like it) and then the vows we wrote together for the ring ceremony.
My friends and family were amazing. My mom, dad, FIL, and SMIL went an hour and a half or so early to set up decor alongside the caterers (who set up the tables, chairs, bar, and centerpieces), and did a beautiful job. My friend who loaned us the sound equipment was basically the sound guy and kept things running smoothly. I had been nervous about people dancing with no DJ and just the Spotify playlists I put together, but it was great - our photographer told us we had "the BEST playlists!" and I think almost the whole wedding was on the floor for "Uptown Funk" and just about every couple for "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You." My bridesman was a great MC, introducing the speeches and formal dances. And of course my sister-in-law was an awesome officiant. And it was great hanging out with my bridespeople and SIL
on the day of - we basically took over a salon in town, they let us have champagne and a private room, and it was just really fun.
The koozie favors were a surprising hit! I mean, a lot of people didn't take them, but a few of our friends were all "these are such a good favor! So useful!" Our rule about putting our names and dates on a favor is that if it's a thing you might have a company name on, it's fine - so I think it passed that bar.
Also, I loved my eucalyptus head wreath! The florist did a great job with it. I had planned to take it off after the ceremony, but ended up wearing it all night.
Things that went wrong:
- It rained all day, which sucked. We had an indoor wedding largely because we know Michigan weather in fall is unpredictable, but it meant we couldn't take outdoor photos on the grounds of the botanical gardens or really make use of the fall color. We snuck in our first look outside before it started again, but that's it.
- The cocktail hour was supposed to be in the Conservatory, where we had the reception, but apparently our point person at the caterer didn't communicate well with her team and they set up the bar in the reception space and failed to move the ceremony chairs. Which meant that everyone sort of hung out in the lobby between the two for cocktail hour, which is like a gift shop/front desk with some tables and chairs. Not ideal.
- The speeches were really long, and the caterers waited until they finished to start serving dinner, even though I had wanted them to serve it during speeches. The high school friends contingent of the groomsmen were supposed to give a speech at the rehearsal dinner, but one had to come in the day-of and another's flight was delayed, so they did it at the wedding, along with my bridesman as an MC intro, my MoH, his BM, my mom, his dad, and my dad, almost all of whom went longer than the 3-5 minutes we said. This pushed everything later - dinner started around 8pm (luckily there had been plenty of appetizers before, and there was salad and bread on the table, but still) and formal dances weren't until almost 9pm. Our photographer was AMAZING in adapting, though - we were only supposed to have the second photographer for 5 hours, but she ended up staying the whole 7 (3-10pm), and said not to worry about the money.
- Our first dance was ridiculous. We had taken dance lessons and loved them, but forgot everything we learned once we were up there.
I think my biggest mistake was not making an info sheet for the caterers. I made them for my parents/in-laws for setting up, my friend for the sound system, my bridesman for MCing, but the catering point person just seemed so on top of things from our walk-through that I didn't fret too much about them and considered it handled. It wasn't a disaster or anything, but would have been better if they had had some key bits of info. Budget breakdown:
|Expense ||Details ||Cost |
|Venue ||Botanical gardens ceremony (Conservatory) & reception (Auditorium) spaces, tables and chairs, parking ||$2450 |
|Catering ||Appetizers, salad, plated dinner with two entrée options, three sides, beverages, and pies for dessert; dishes, flatware, glassware, equipment and other rentals; servers, bartenders, cooks, managers, tax, fees ||$4778 |
|Alcohol ||3 cases of Bell's Two Hearted, 1 case Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, 2 cases Miller High Life, 2 cases Sam Adams, and 8 bottles each of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and 12 bottles Champagne ||$697 |
|Photography ||7 hours of two shooters, engagement session, rights to all photos ||$2500 |
|Music ||Violin and cello duo and sound equipment for ceremony (reception music was a Spotify playlist and borrowed sound equipment/mic from a friend) ||$375 |
|Flowers ||Bridal bouquet, bridal head wreath, 4 bridesmaid bouquets, groom's boutonnière, 8 boutonnières for groomsmen, bridesman, fathers; 3 corsages for my mom, his stepmom, and his sister (officiant), white rose to commemorate his mom, loose eucalyptus for tables, tax and delivery ||$430 |
|Decor ||14 geometric terrariums and succulents for centerpieces (terrariums on top of two books, surrounded by eucalyptus) and card box; guest book; string lights; signs ||$450 |
|Dress ||Custom top from Wear Your Love and Lulu's dress altered to make a skirt ||$495 |
|Suit ||Express charcoal jacket and slacks ||$130 |
|Shoes ||Custom bridal shoes ||$110 |
|Ties ||From thetiebar.com - 7 for groom, groomsmen, and bridesman ||$147 |
|Hair & makeup ||Hair & makeup for 7 people (me, my mom, 4 bridesmaids, and SIL, who was our officiant) ||$750 |
|Paper ||Save-the-date magnets, invitations, RSVP cards, envelopes, postage, programs, seat assignment cards, thank-yous, all from Vistaprint ||$400 |
|Ceremony props ||3 copper goblets, decanter, wine for wine ceremony, and gold shawl for officiant ||$120 |
|Favors ||Personalized koozies (bartenders used them on the beer bottles to pass out) ||$115 |
|Marriage license ||In Michigan ||$20 |
|Insurance ||Required by venue ($1 million in coverage including liquor liability) ||$185 |
|Babysitter ||For the 5-month-old of a groomsman and his wife and the 6-month old of one of my friends, in an adjacent room to the venue rooms. We limited this room to breastfeeding babies only - 2 bridal party members traveling with toddlers hired their own babysitters off-site, one of which we helped find. ||$120 |
|Hotel room ||Top floor downtown suite for the women to change in while the groom and groomsmen were at our house, and where we stayed on our wedding night ||$230 |
|Transportation ||Two six-seater SUVs to drive both parties to the venue ||$92 |
|Gifts ||Personalized pocket knives for groomspeople, personalized leather notebooks for bridespeople, frames to be filled with family wedding photos for parents ||$350 |
|TOTAL || ||$14,944 |
I didn't know whether to count our rings
- if we do, my rose gold and diamond vine band was $400, and his custom white gold band (which has the same leaves as my engagement ring) was $800, and my engagement ring (emerald and rose gold with accent diamonds) was $750. We also had an awesome rehearsal dinner the night before for the wedding party and immediate family in a private room with an open bar (which was super fun!), but I don't know the exact cost since my FIL paid. I would estimate about $1300. We also went on a mini-moon to a resort on Lake Michigan for two nights, which was about $500 for lodging and food. So if you add in the rings, rehearsal dinner, and mini-moon, the total is more like $18,500. Guest breakdown:
- 78 people
- 46 (59%) flew in - two from Europe!
- 9 (11%) drove 3+ hours
- 23 (30%) local
- 42 (54%) bride's side
- 36 (46%) groom's side
- 3 (4%) bride family
- 15 (19%) groom family
- 33 (42%) bride's friends
- 20 (26%) groom's friends
- 5 came (and traveled!) without their spouses (their choice - all were invited)
- 3 changed their accepts to declines within a week of the wedding
- 2 no-shows (locals)
- 65% invitation accept rate. Considering it was a flight away for 75% of invitees and not to a cool destination locale, this was unsurprising. We have both lived all over and got married where we live now, where we have both been grad students, so all the locals were grad school friends, and our local accept rate was 90%.
Our venue was beer and wine only, so we wanted to make sure we had good
beer and wine. We got two of our favorite local Michigan craft beers, and then two mass-market beers. We got 32 bottles of wine, 2 reds and 2 whites. But I think we may have overestimated beer drinkers and underestimated wine drinkers! My dad told me later that towards the end of the night, the caterers were worried they were going to run out of wine, and he told them to add another 10 bottles. It's unclear whether they did, or how they would've gotten it since we provided the alcohol. And we have 9.5 bottles left over! 9 of which are the Chardonnay and Cab. So I'm sort of confused, but it seems like they might have ordered an extra 5 Chard and 5 Cab but only needed 1 of them. Anyway, assuming they did order the extra 10, here's our consumption stats:
|Type ||Bottles bought ||Bottles consumed ||Bottles left over |
|Bell's Two Hearted (IPA) ||72 ||34 ||38 |
|Miller High Life ||48 ||25 ||23 |
|Sam Adams ||48 ||18 ||30 |
|Atwater Vanilla Java Porter ||24 ||12 ||12 |
|Chardonnay (Bogle) ||13 ||8 ||5 |
|Sauvignon Blanc (Beringer) ||8 ||8 ||0 |
|Cabernet Sauvignon (Bogle) ||13 ||9 ||4 |
|Merlot (Beringer) ||8 ||7 ||1 |
|Champagne (Cook's) ||12 ||6 ||6 |
So if you calculate that each bottle of wine is 5 drinks, that's 250 drinks consumed. At 78 people, that's about 3.2 drinks per person (though not everyone drank). We calculated for 4 drinks per person, but just didn't realize how many more would drink wine than beer - it was 65% wine and 35% beer, when we calculated about 50% each. Anyway, we're glad to have the extra wine and beer, all of which are what we drink regularly anyway, especially the Two-Hearted, VJP, Chard, and Cab! So we're set for months on booze.
Hope that monster summary was helpful! We're so excited to be MARRIED!