May 25, 2011

wedding wednesday: plans

Where to begin. In some capacity I knew planning a wedding was a huge deal, I just never realized how much went into it until I was tossed full throttle into wedding plans when I was given a beautiful ring. When Mike and I got engaged I was under the delusion that I'd have a full year to plan a wedding. The more we talked about it [that day] the more I realized we both wanted to get married sooner rather than later. I guess it goes right in tone with Mike's proposal and not missing an opportunity to make this happen. Live each day like it's your last. Oddly enough that wack job of a religious nut that has predicted the world would end this past weekend is now predicting that the world is due to end the day before my wedding. Nice try old fart, I've been saying for years that Hell would freeze over the day I got married so I beat you the punch!

The day Mike proposed we made a trip to the book store so I could pick out bridal HOW TO books. Like I said, I had an idea of what we had to plan for but no idea how much detail goes into getting hitched. Thankfully the wedding section at our local bookstore isn't that overwhelming and choices were few and I really think I purchased the best book to help me out. The Wedding Book The Big Book for Your Big Day by Mindy Weiss
via google
This book has everything. I knew nothing about Mindy Weiss when I purchased this book but she seems to cover all the bases and not just for "BLOW ALL YOUR MONEY ON A BIG WEDDING" style gigs either. She gives sound and proper advice for any bride no matter what her budget. I am SO happy I purchased this book instead of a few of the others I had in my hands at the time. The rest of my money was spent on tons of wedding magazines.

I read through the first few chapters that discussed everything from who pays for what to what all you need to get started. I had a few mini panic attacks when I read the time lines she listed. If we followed them to a T we were way behind schedule. Cue heart beating wildly. When I mentioned these deadlines we were off on Mike went into planner mode.

I'm happy to say it's been less than a month since we got engaged and we are only 5.5 months from our wedding date and we've already accomplished so much. Mike gets all the glory on this! Our biggest issue was figuring out budget. Thankfully we have 2 loving families willing to help us with our wedding so while we are staying completely realistic in our expectations and the cost of things it's nice to know we have support. If we didn't we would be planning a wedding for next year and saving every nickle and dime until then.

We toured a lot of locations online before even considering setting foot inside one. Most of the hotels around here while beautiful, were hugely overpriced and to me a bit cookie cutter. I was trying to think outside of the box. I knew a hotel would be the perfect location for the ceremony, reception and for people to stay but I wanted something different, and more, well, US. We toured a local reception site that would be able to take us for the entire day, we would have full run of the building and it was beautiful inside. Exposed brick, and a lovely courtyard to do the ceremony as well as plenty of reception room. Open catering and the whole 9 yards. The price was right and we loved the location but a nagging voice in my head was saying to look around a bit more. My father said the same thing so the following weekend we did lots of searches and came across the local State Park Resort here close to town. It had what we were looking for, outdoor views, a rustic feel and even better, lodging for our guests to be close to all the action and not have to drive far after a night of partying. We mulled over the typical locations around here, Country Clubs and such, but in the end it didn't feel like us. Neither of us plays golf, or tennis or anything like that. The State Park Resort however, screams Mike and Kelly. Mike being the planner he is set up an appointment for us during the week and we headed out to meet with the woman in charge of events at the location.

Driving in there are lots of tree lined winding roads. We both talked about how amazing it will look in the fall when the leaves start to turn bright colors. The whole area has a very outdoorsy feel to it and as you drive to the resort you pass campgrounds, boat docks, a marina, tons of deer and wildlife and a side road that takes you to lake front cottages. Our jaws dropped as we drove up to the front of the lodge. It's amazing and so pretty. My heart started to beat in fear worrying that we might not be able to afford it. It has just the right amount of outdoor feel without getting cheesy or feeling like you're going to summer camp. But not stuffy in the least which is what we wanted. After talking with our coordinator and walking the grounds and being shown all the areas we had available to us we were sold on the location. At this point I still hadn't had the big talk with my dad about budget so we got our names on reserve on the book and went home to mull it over.

Hands down this was the place for us! We secured the location and our date for the wedding. October 22, 2011. It was exciting to finally have a date! We had been asked since the first hour of engagement when we were getting married and only a week or two later we actually HAD a date to tell people.

via Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge

Once we picked and secured a date and venue my next worry was the photography. The resort handles the food and lodging and we are able to bring in our own booze and vendors for other items. The most important thing to me about the wedding day is capturing the festivities on film [digitally]. Since I was a kid I've always oogled over my parent's wedding album and even though their marriage didn't stand the test of time, all their pictures did. I'm a huge fan of journalistic style photography for weddings. I hate stuffy portraits, even though I will have those taken for posterity, I want the images that show how much fun everyone had during the big day. We will have friends and family in from all over the US and I want to have those memories.

My first choice for photographer sadly was booked. She and her husband will be off doing a wedding in Mississippi that weekend, which made me so sad. I had been dreaming about having them do my wedding for almost 2 years now. My word of advice if you LOVE a photographer or vendor and feel like you NEED them at your big day... find out when they are available and book your dream venue around them. After I got over my disappointment of not having them I was given a few other names by this couple for other photographers and a vendor friend that does sound as well. I finally found the right photographer for us. She has beautiful work and gave us a great price that we could live with. I had no idea photography was so expensive but in the end it's on my MUST HAVE List. We went with - I can't wait to meet her in person and do our engagement shoot with her.

While I said that music is important to me, I think Mike may be more passionate about it sort of like I was with choosing the right photographer. We've been making a playlist for our big day since before we ever go engaged. We have so many songs that mean the world to us that we'd like highlighted on our big day and needed just the right person to make that happen. We didn't want a show boat DJ. I can't stand those types. For birthdays or company picnics or even clubs YES, by all means. At a wedding I want the music to tell the story, not the guy who's about to play the Electric Slide [for the record that is on the "Don't Play" list]. Mike searched high and low for not only the right price but the right personality. You should have heard some of the stuff DJ's were wanting to do at our wedding. One wanted to play games!!! GAMES!! He talked so big about himself like he was just the bee's knees. He actually had a game where you blindfold the groom and make him feel women's faces to guess which is his wife! What the crap? There is no way that would end well! He also talked about how he gets the crowd going and all I could picture was this DJ being a lot like Carrot Top and not what we wanted in a wedding entertainer. Thankfully Mike found a great DJ that does all the important parts of his job and then lets the music do the rest. That is what we wanted and needed.

Mike and I have been going back and forth about music for the actual ceremony. Do we pick instrumental audio tracks on an ipod or sound system? Or do we get friends or family members to play instruments. While we think it would be super special to have our friends play the wedding we also didn't want people to feel obligated to do something for us at the wedding. We really want everyone to come, relax and enjoy the big day. Even our friends that are in the actual wedding party we want them to be as relaxed as possible. In the end Mike and I agreed live music, using classical instruments would be classy and beautiful. Mike did his magic work and he found a cellist and a violinist for the ceremony.

So here we are: Venue, check. Food, check. Photography, check. Music, check. Ceremony Music, check. Lodge rooms booked, check. Add to that Mike has picked out his suit,  and we have a meeting with a florist next week, we have a contact to hire a bartender for our evening, and I bet there is a ton I'm forgetting AND it's only been less than a month.

So this is where we are at. I have picked my color swatches for the wedding and will share that soon. I will be calling a few bakers this week to get quotes and meetings set up for the cake and finally try to get time to go shopping for my dress. I don't think we are doing too bad. I really hope that by our July vacation week we will be able to sit back and now that everything that can be done ahead of time, is done and all the other stuff we will worry about when we get back to our daily grind.

What was your biggest worry, or issue when you were planning your wedding?
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Julia Cates said...

Informative Blog.
Thanks for share.
Wedding Song

Anonymous said...

You're doing great! :) Once you get the big stuff all booked, you'll feel much more organized.

A great resource for me is It sets up your to do list based on your wedding day. So since you're getting married in October, the to do list will be set up by that timeline. Plus there's a great budget tool, an AMAZING guest list tool and even a seating chart tool! :)

Feel free to email me with questions, vent or to just be excited! It's an exciting time!

Anonymous said...

You've gotten a lot of stuff checked off your list early. Super star!

Kristin said...

Way to be lady. You're on a wedding planning roll!

alabamakate said...


my biggest wedding shock was the price of photos and FLOWERS. if you want any cute creative cheaper options def go with maybe a few flowers with other things mixed into the bouquet.

i hate wes & tera were booked! i was hoping you'd try and use them. bummer!
you pictures will be gorgeous! are you designing your own invites? or is darrell doing them from a book?

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