- 3 years ago
I just wanted to share the details of how we pulled off our dream winter wonderland wedding in 6 days in case anyone else is going through something similar. I know I relied super heavily on advice from the Bee for my wedding planning! Sorry this is a ginormous post.
We’ve always wanted a very small wedding- just our parents and siblings. To me it just elevates the amount of love when everyone is so close to you and you have time to spend with each of them individually. I have 41 first cousins and 22 aunts/uncles (before marriages) so this was either going to be a tiny wedding or a gigantic one.
But just because I wanted a small wedding doesn’t mean I didn’t want it to be perfect. The whole planning process was turning out to be exactly the opposite of what I expected my whole life- so stressful, upsetting, boring… I just couldn’t find anything that felt “right” for a venue or ceremony space. I think it’s just really hard to make a small family gathering feel grandiose, and with a whole year to plan I felt all this pressure to make it “special enough”. Not to mention, we weren’t going to get much financial help from parents and just bought a house, so the budget was a major stress source.
Our original plan was to get married on our anniversary, 12/09/18. On Saturday at 11pm, just 6 days before our anniversary, we were sitting around trying to decide what to do to celebrate, and I just blurted out “do you just want to get married?” and he said yes!
We live 2 hours from our parents, who live within a half hour of each other. We decided to have it in his hometown to make it easier to get everyone together and because we have good memories there, but it did mean coordinating from afar. We took Friday off of work to get our marriage license and perform final preparations.
Enter, a week of insanity…
My poor mom had to drop everything and meet me to go dress shopping about 8 hours after I told her the plan. We struck out at all the department stores and wound up at David’s Bridal. Turns out, they’ll let you buy any sample dress and take it with you. The only dress that was in my budget and size was the exact dress I saved the first time I looked at dresses online, 6 months before he even proposed! I ended up loving it so that worked out perfect. It was the Mikado high-low wedding dress SDW0576. $160 and they steamed it for free. I also bought a corset thingy for $70 to keep the girls in check. (Total cost, $230. After the wedding my mom ended up saying she would cover the dress which I really appreciated)
We then drove across the parking lot to DSW and I’m so shocked at the shoes I got after about 4 seconds of consideration, but they ended up being one of my favorite things! I’m totally not a heel person and had threatened to wear flats throughout our engagement, but I figured I had either my dad or husband to cling to all day and you only get married once. Of course, I also had to buy some fuzzy white boots to change into because this is New England in December and frostbite is not sexy. (Total cost, $60)
The hardest thing to find was my wedding band. Turns out all the fancy stores only have wedding bands in size 4 and you have to order anything larger. Oops. We were panicking when someone suggested Piercing Pagoda, yes the mall kiosk. They had the absolute perfect 10k solid rose gold band with pave CZ! Eventually we will have DK make me a band to match my e-ring , but this one certainly suffices for now. DH had already found and purchased his over the summer from Manly Bands. It’s tungsten with a rose gold lining to match mine. He’s a welder so he loved the fact it was tungsten. His ring, $150, my ring, $99 (and it was BOGO 75% off so I got mom some earrings for the wedding too). (Total cost, $250)
All told, it was an extremely exhausting 8 hour shopping adventure sandwiched on either end by a 2 hour drive for me, but so worth it to have everything settled before I had to be back at work.
Next I turned to Amazon for a faux fur cape ($80) which I was nervous about but turned out to be basically everyone’s favorite thing. I felt like such an ice queen
I also got a less intrusive pashmina for the restaurant ($10).
Just when I’d given up, I found a beautiful beaded headband exactly like I was picturing ($15).
Oh yeah, and an adorable bow tie for our dog ($15).
(Total cost, $130 and a few days of anxiety hoping everything came on time)
He hit a super deal at Banana Republic for dress pants and a shirt. He wore his pea coat and a tie that has little keys on it to match my skeleton key tattoo. ($140 total for new purchases)
His mom handled the flowers. I wasn’t even sure I wanted flowers at first- my mom was campaigning hard for a muff. But, OMG, these ended up being the most beautiful flower’s I’ve ever seen, and I’m so glad I had something to break up all the white. The hardest thing was trying to match the ribbon on my bouquet to the green of my shoes, but we did a lot of exchanging pictures and got it just right (although it had to be satin, not velvet). (Unknown price, these were her gift to me)
When we got there Friday to decorate and check out the scenery, I mentioned it would be “nice” to have some bows to put on the ends of the balcony railings and on the greenery. I am kind of a bow fiend. My dear husband took that to heart, which after a fruitless search around our tiny hometown, meant he was up until midnight the night before our wedding with some contraption he found called a “bow maker” making 5 bows out of lace BY HAND. This guy is a welder so I was having a good time picturing him delicately crafting lace bows. I think it was probably good for him to have an outlet for his nervous energy, but it was also really sweet. (Total cost, $40)
The night before the wedding I finally got to take a deep breath and got my nails done with his mom and my mom. It was really nice to finally sit down, I almost fell asleep in the chair. I went with “ice princess” and they came out great! I didn’t really get any good pics but here was the inspiration. (Unknown price, my mom paid for us)
My dad is the true MVP. He is a mechanic and this is his busy time, but he put off work on a customer’s car (with special permission from the customer), drove to pick up my car, drove it home, put on 4 brandy new snow tires as a wedding present, and drove it back to me all while I was getting my nails done. I had desperately needed to get them done but wasn’t sure how I was going to afford a wedding AND snow tires, and lets be honest about which one would have won out.
DH’s friend’s girlfriend is a makeup artist / hair stylist and with sufficient pleading agreed to meet me at 8amfor hair and makeup. I’m SO glad I ended up getting my hair and makeup done, I think it really helped transform “regular old me” into “BRIDE”. I was so nervous because my husband hates “fake” looking hair or makeup, but I stressed over and over again I wanted to look natural and she did AMAZING especially considering there was no trial. ($100 including tip)
The biggest cost savings break we got was using my brother as a photographer. I was sooo nervous to trust him even though he takes great pictures, because he’s never done a wedding. But he did SO AMAZING! I told him we just needed one good picture to frame but he outdid himself. I did specifically ask him not to take pictures during lunch and then asked him to put his camera away after cupcakes so he could enjoy the wedding a bit. (Total cost, FREE! But worth a million words)
My husband’s childhood best friend got ordained by the sketchy internet church so he could officiate his brother’s wedding, so we had him officiate ours as well. It was super awesome to have someone we cared about perform the ceremony and I would definitely recommend that for everyone else. It was actually extra fun since my husband and him were roommates when we started dating, so he remembers the beginning of it all. (Marriage license, $50)
We had the ceremony at his dads house. But to call it a backyard wedding would be like calling the Vatican a “church”. The house is up a huge hill and has the most beautiful views of the mountains from a side pool deck. It was so incredibly generous of his dad and stepmom to open up their gorgeous home to us and I’m eternally grateful! We kept the decorations really simple to take advantage of the beautiful view. His stepmom went out and got us some tulle to wrap around the railings and some nice potted greenery to form a kind of alter. I told everyone I did NOT want a Christmas themed wedding, so we picked green and white as the colors and left the red out. (Total Cost, FREE! But priceless)
We called up a French restaurant that specializes in chocolate and they were willing to give us a last minute reservation for 10, but only at exactly 11:30. So we had to run over to the wedding and then come back later for pictures. The food was INCREDIBLE and so was the chocolate. I even had an amazing dark hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream, in my dress, before pictures. My poor husband almost had a heart attack because I’m a messy eater, but I made it out unscathed. Just as we finished up, my wish came true and it started to snow! Both sides of my family, including bride and groom, have an unreasonable affection for expensive bourbon, so I’m sure the drink bill was quite high but his dad covered it as a wedding gift to us. (Food bill, $350 including tip. My stepdad intervened and covered it which was so sweet of him.)
Once we figured out we were going to have to come back after lunch for pictures, I decided it was a good opportunity to have cupcakes as a kind of after-lunch snack. I didn’t really care for a big wedding cake, but I do love me some red velvet cupcakes. We went out on Friday to a random cupcake place and picked up 18 random flavored cupcakes for the 10 of us, lol. The lady recommended we froze them until we were ready to eat, so we just left them in the car overnight. His stepmom ended up getting us some champagne and breaking out the fancy crystal for a toast at the same time, which was really nice! (Cupcake cost, $50)
We were planning to drive home after the wedding, but ended up getting snowed in. That added an unexpected hotel bill ($140) but some kind strangers covered our dinner bill!
Total time to plan: 6 days
Total # of guests: 10
Total cost: $1540
Our budget was $1500, since we had just received our security deposit back from the place we were renting in that amount and otherwise had completely drained our savings to buy the house. With our parents dropping everything to craft homemade solutions and coming up with some money to help us last minute, we ended up with about $1000 out of pocket and spent the rest on a Vitamix! Thank god for the selfless love of parents, am I right?
6:00: Wake up, shower, eat
7:30: Drive to DH’s hometown
9:30: Get Dressed at MILs house
10:30: Drive to Future In-Laws house- stepdad chauffeured which I thought was a nice touch
First Dance followed by Bride & Dad Dance w/ simultaneous Groom & Mom Dance immediately after the ceremony
2:00 Cupcakes and relax
3:00 People Depart