Gals and guys, get ready to make a whole lot of heart eyes! I might be a little biased, but I’m totally swooning over the photos our photographers from Rachel Joy Photos took on our wedding day. I’ve officially been a wife for nearly three months now and I must say the married life is pretty great. Today actually marks our 5 year dating anniversary and I thought it would be the perfect excuse to finally share our big day with you on the blog, along with a fun wedding Q+A.
Not only have I been reflecting on our big day, but I’ve been getting hit left and right with all sorts of questions and curiosities. Can’t say I blame them. The behind the scenes of planning a wedding is sort of a fascinating thing. You really have no clue just what goes into it until you’re planning a wedding of your own.
HOW LONG WERE YOU ENGAGED? We got engaged on September 21, 2012, so we were engaged for 2 years, 9 months and a handful of days. AKA what sounds like forever.
DID YOU PLAN YOUR WEDDING THE ENTIRE TIME YOU WERE ENGAGED? Yes and no. I was pretty excited to be engaged and Austin and I tried to plan early. We attempted to book vendors and what not, but many of them told us it was too early to know what the rates would be. It was very frustrating – like you have a couple very interested in booking you, why would you take the chance in losing their interest just because you haven’t planned your rates that far ahead. We ended up planning to plan. I planned out everything in categories – really want, want, kind of want, don’t care. I used Pinterest to create inspiration boards and began collecting decor. By the time we could really start some serious planning (about a year in advance) a lot of the small stuff was already taken care of.
DID YOU HAVE A WEDDING DAY TIMELINE? Hell yes. I not only had a timeline for the wedding day, but I also had a timeline for the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the wedding. We got our venue the Wednesday before, so I broke down exactly what decorating we would get done each day, when rentals were being dropped off, what time rehearsal was, etc. You can never be too prepared when it comes to your wedding week!
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY? This is one of the most asked questions I’ve been getting and the answer is yes. Most people would say that they wouldn’t change a thing about their wedding day and that it was absolutely perfect, and of course I feel this way, but there is one thing that I could have done differently that would have made the day go a lot smoother. I wish I would have started getting ready earlier. We cut it very, very close when it came to being ready in time. We only had one hair stylist on site, which also happened to be my makeup artist. With 4 bridesmaids and 1 bride, that’s a lot of work for one person. Everyone’s hair looked fabulous, but there really wasn’t any wiggle room to relax and enjoy the morning. The morning felt very rushed and stressful and it didn’t help that I was a nervous wreck. I may not have shown it, but I’m a nervous type of person and the butterflies I had were intense! When I look back on my timeline for the day, I planned it out so that I could be at the venue a couple hours before the ceremony – to do a run-through of everything to make sure it was all good and finish up any last minute touches, to change into my wedding dress, touch up my hair and makeup, do a voice recording of my vows for our wedding video, have our first look and take wedding party photos. But we ran behind schedule and I didn’t get to the venue until about 45 minutes before the ceremony. That only left enough time for me to quickly change into my dress, have our first look and quickly find a quiet space to record my vows. If I could do it all over again, I would have had our hair stylist come about 2 hours sooner. This would have allowed myself and the girls to relax a bit more that morning. We could have sipped more mimosas, spent more QT getting ready, taken some more photos together and flat out just enjoy ourselves more. I think many people would say that the wedding felt like a blur whereas the morning of did not. For me, the morning felt like a blur and the wedding actually felt a lot less chaotic. So, that’s my one tip for future brides… if you think you’re leaving plenty of time to get ready, add an extra hour or two to that. I thought we would have plenty of time, but as always, things will take more time than you intend they will.
HOW STRESSFUL WAS THE PLANNING? This may not seem like a very broad question to you, but it is to me. There’s so much that goes into the planning that I would almost break it up into stages. Each stage having their own level of stress. I really broke down each stage in all of my Bride-To-Bee blog posts, which you can find here. But for the most part, on a scale between 1-10, my average stress level was probably at a 7! Keep in mind, there were days where I was definitely feeling a 10 and other days where it all felt easy peasy lemon squeezy.
DO YOU REGRET DOING A FIRST LOOK? Absolutely not. Austin and I originally didn’t think we wanted to do a first look. It’s about the only thing we wanted to keep traditional, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized the pros outweighed the cons. For example, the pros: being able to have that special moment in private, getting a chance to ease one another nerves before the ceremony, better opportunities for the photographer to capture our reaction, having him see you and getting those photos when hair and makeup is at it’s freshest, not worrying about taking so many photos together after the ceremony and I could go on and on. I thought the only con about it would be that his reaction wouldn’t be as strong when I walk down the aisle, but it was. He cried both times 🙂 I’ve even been told that some of the groomsmen teared up. Now, that’s a reaction every bride wants!
WHO’S THE DESIGNER OF YOUR DRESS? My dress is Essense of Australia D1672! Obviously, I got it in stripes, but the dress also comes in plain organza. When I first tried it on, I actually was only able to try on the non-stripes version. Fell in love. Went home. Researched the dress. Saw it came in stripes. And felt like it was meant to be! I’m a sucker for stripes. 😉 I added a skinny crystal belt for a little added sparkle!
WAS YOUR WEDDING VINTAGE OR MODERN? Well, at first I was going for vintage, but then a lot of modern touches started working their way in, such as, the striped tablecloths. So, I guess I would have to say it was a good mix of both! 🙂
DID YOU HAVE A WEDDING PLANNER? I did not. My mom and I planned the majority of the wedding ourselves. There’s no way Austin and I could have done it all without her! So I guess my mom was my wedding planner? Lol
DID YOU WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS? Indeed, we did! I was super nervous about writing my vows and speaking SO much during the ceremony. My nerves would have rather repeated after our officiant and only worry about saying “I do.” I’m super shy, so writing something so personal and then reading it out loud on one of the most important days of my life was really overwhelming. Austin and I both felt it was something we should do and that if we didn’t, we would regret it. Quite honestly though, during the ceremony, all I could focus on was Austin. I didn’t really care what anyone else thought or if I choked up.
WAIT, YOUR DAD WAS YOUR OFFICIANT? Yes! We get asked all the time how this worked out for us. Austin and I aren’t really religious, so no one came to mind when thinking of someone who could marry us. I randomly spit out the idea of my Dad being our officiant and it just kind of took off from there. Neither Austin or I could imagine a stranger marrying us, so we were very grateful that my Dad agreed to taking on such a big job. He was absolutely wonderful. I can’t tell you how many guests came up to us and said they cried!
DID YOU LOVE OR HATE GETTING ALL THAT CONFETTI STUCK IN YOUR HAIR? Hello, have you seen the photographs? No, but seriously. I NEVER thought about the confetti getting stuck in my hair, down my dress, or anywhere else. I have no idea how this never crossed my mind, but it didn’t. After we were announced husband and wife and our guests showered us with confetti, Austin and our wedding party kept saying, “oh my gosh, there’s so much stuck in your hair,” while trying to gently brush it out. It was nearly impossible and after about 2 seconds, I was like, “forget it!” Let’s embrace the colorful, fun stuff in my hair.
WHO DID YOUR FLOWERS? We DIY’d them! Kind of. We worked with a company called The Flowerman, where they offer the option to make your own flower arrangements, bouquets, etc. I was mostly drawn to this idea because it saved us SO much money! Sure, it was fun getting together with my family and bridesmaids to make the flowers, but in order for the flowers to stay fresh looking on the wedding day, you have to come in and put them together a day or two before the wedding. There was just soooo much to do, the last thing I wanted to worry about was making all our centerpieces and bouquets. It worked out beautifully though. I brought my mom, aunt, sister, mother-in-law and bridesmaid and we were able to get them all done in no time! The designers at The Flowerman were also very helpful. They teach you everything you need to know and were willing to help if you had any trouble. Our instructor actually helped me quite a bit with the creation of my bouquet. It was getting too big for just two hands to handle it!
WHO WAS IN YOUR WEDDING PARTY? All of our favorite people! 🙂 My maid of honor was my younger sister, Gabrielle, and Austin’s best man was his younger brother, Jeremy. They also happen to be dating each other! My other bridesmaids were a good friend from high school, my best friend from college, my first college roommate and Austin’s step-sister. Austin’s groomsmen were two good friend’s from high school, his cousin and his step-brother. Can’t forget the sweet, little flower girls and darling ring bearers! Two of my cousin’s have little one’s and they were the flower girls and ring bearer and Austin’s nephew was the other ring bearer.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT? I have way too many! If I had to pinpoint one, it would be when Austin and I were back to back before our first look and I could feel him trembling from all the excitement, nerves and tears. I never imagined him being so emotional on our wedding day! It really made me fall in love with him even more. I truly cherish every moment I had alone with him on our wedding day. From the emotional first look to the time after the ceremony where we cooled off in front of the window air conditioning unit with a beer in hand. Actually, that might be my favorite moment. It’s the first moment we truly had alone after the ceremony, and we looked at each other with big smiles, saying to each other, “we’re actually married!”
HOW DID YOUR GUEST BOOK WORK? Instead of doing a traditional guest book, we decided to have our guests stamp their thumbprint on a piece of art that my friend, Michelle, illustrated. The thumbprints look like balloons that are making the elephant float! I love anything whimsy, so this was one of my favorite touches from our wedding day! Guests were also able to write their name or initials over their thumbprints if they chose to.
WHAT DID YOU INCLUDE ON YOUR MEMORY TABLE? The memory table was one of my most favorite parts of our wedding decorations. I really wanted it to be special and memorable. We placed the memory table in a little room that was off to the side, along with our gift and card table. We have five grandparents who have passed away and that we wanted to honor. So, we framed their photos, lit a candle for each of them in their memory and I wrote a special quote on a mirror and hung it above the table. An added touch was the hobo clown statue. Many of our guests may not have realized the significance of this piece, but it was a gift my parent’s bought for me to give to my grandpa when I was a little girl. When my grandpa passed away, my grandma gave it back to us and my mom and I both thought it would be very sweet and fitting to include on the table.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU WEREN’T THRILLED ABOUT AT FIRST, BUT GLAD YOU DID IT ANYWAY? The photo booth and cupcake thing have been done so many times that I wasn’t sure if it was for our wedding. We were going for different and a unique experience for our guests. But when it came down to it, a photo booth is A LOT of fun, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. And the cupcakes quickly became an easy choice. It was either have only a couple flavors to choose from, or have all five of your favorite flavors in delicious cupcake form! A guest favorite was the salty caramel with an adorable mini chocolate covered pretzel on top. 🙂
DID YOU DIY ALL OF YOUR DECOR? Pretty much. There are very few things we didn’t DIY. The only thing that wasn’t obviously store bought were the tassel garlands attached to the big, red balloons at each table. Those could have totally been DIY’d, but my mom and I decided that we didn’t have the patience for them! Some of the tissue poms/flowers were store bought, as well. They shipped flat, but all we had to do was fluff them up.
WHY A CIRCUS THEMED WEDDING? It wasn’t always supposed to be a circus themed wedding. We originally were planning a picnic wedding. I was thinking outdoors, lots of bistro lights, a BBQ dinner, mismatched table settings, very vintage and eclectic looking. The night we got engaged, we had planned on having a picnic at the park, but it poured all day and night. So we moved our picnic inside. That’s where the picnic theme came from. But because we were engaged so long, I had a lot of time spent on Pinterest, where I stumbled upon photos from circus themed weddings. I was IN LOVE to say the least. I’ve always been a huge lover of anything whimsical and that’s exactly what a circus themed wedding was. It was colorful, fun, unique and believe it or not, felt personal to our story. Austin agreed that it was awesome and we ran with it and never looked back. We were very inspired by the movie, Water for Elephants. This I do not regret one bit. I imagine if I got married 50 years from now, I would still want a circus themed wedding.
WAIT, YOU HAD A FOOD TRUCK CATER YOUR WEDDING? Yes, we did! We knew we wanted something super relaxed when it came to our food. I’m not even sure how we came about the idea of having a food truck, but we decided on this back in 2013. It’s actually pretty genius. It works very similar to a buffet, but the food is fresher, hotter, yummier and the guest have more fun with it! Oh yeah, and it’s significantly cheaper. Instead of paying $20-$60 per plate, we paid $16. Being a summer wedding and because we both love Mexican food, we had a food truck called Tortilla cater. They are a lot like Chipotle, but a million times better. Trust me, everyone said so. The only negative thing about having a food truck is that they usually don’t provide drinks or do much other services outside of providing the meal. We ended up having another company called All Occasions cater our cocktail hour, bartend and take care of trash clean up and cake cutting. They were absolutely wonderful. I don’t think we could have picked two better companies to cater our special day.
WHERE WAS YOUR WEDDING? We had both our ceremony and reception at Pine Acres Event Center in LaRue, Ohio. We originally were going to have it in my parent’s yard, but the added on worries of weather, bathrooms, yard clean up, etc just weren’t worth it. We had a beautiful outdoor ceremony, outdoor cocktail hour and then moved inside a barn for our reception. The barn didn’t fit all our tables, so we did have to put 5 tables in a tent that the barn provided and attached to the back end of the barn. It worked out great!
WHAT WAS YOUR WEDDING FAVOR? You know those triangle games that have the colorful golf tees in them that you can find at Cracker Barrel? Well, they remind me of some very near and dear memories of mine from my childhood. Plus I thought they’d give the guests something to do while waiting for their table to be dismissed.
WHO WERE YOUR FAVORITE VENDORS TO WORK WITH? I think Austin and I grew really attached to our DJ, Ryan from Audio-Pro, and our photographers, Rachel and Adam of Rachel Joy Photos. I know that sounds weird. But they were the first vendors we inquired about and we really bonded with them and depended on them. Both of them really helped guide us through the steps of planning a wedding and putting together a timeline for our special day. I think it’s safe to say that we would have been lost without them. 🙂
ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU ABOUT THE DAY? I was definitely surprised at how many people danced. I guess I was expecting it to be like high school prom or something, where no one had the guts to just get up and bust a move! But it totally was nothing like that. Everyone seemed to be on the dance floor having a great time and not caring one bit that we had a photographer and videographer documenting these fun moments. We also got a HUGE surprise from our venue – a firework show! Austin and I didn’t even believe it at first. We thought it was a joke. But people kept coming up to us talking about it and we finally realized it was real life. It was basically Austin’s dream to have fireworks at the wedding, so I was super happy that his wish came true! Words can’t express how grateful we are to our venue for having such an awesome surprise. It was the perfect ending to the perfect night.
WHY JULY 11TH? Haha, if you are our family, you know we went back and forth with dates for what felt like forever. We originally were thinking May, then June, then finally decided on July 11th. First off, #thankheavenforseveneleven is just an awesome hashtag. Second off, on my mom’s side of the family, all of my cousins who have gotten married had July weddings. Keeping the tradition alive just felt right! 🙂
Once again, our wedding photographers AND videographers were Rachel and Adam of Rachel Joy Photos. They are located in Columbus, Ohio, but I’m sure open to traveling! 😉 If you’d like to watch our wedding video (grab some tissues) you can find it here.