- 3 weeks ago
I just realized I never did a wedding recap! Here we go!
When I think of my wedding, the overwhelming feeling is how stressful everything was. Wedding planning was a confusing endeavor. I never wanted to plan a wedding – my dream was to get married on a beach somewhere in private or on a cruise surrounded by family where everything was planned for me. I chose to compromise that for something that made my fiance and my family happier and I ended up getting married at a waterfall in the PNW…and overplanning everything. There were things I loved about it, and a lot of things I really didn’t. If I could do it over again, there’s a lot I would have done differently, so I hope my experience can help the more ‘do-it-yourself’ brides.
Note – We only had a photographer for a limited time, so the pictures are a mixture of professional and ones from family and friends.
The Wedding Location
We were originally doing a private ceremony, so we chose a location and a photographer we loved. I was looking for something wild and unbelievably green, and when we scouted this location I fell in love. While everyone was supportive, they were also really sad so I compromised on that too and invited immediate family members and closest friends. That came with a lot of challenges. Now I needed to plan a reception in the area, but nothing was in the area – we were in the middle of nowhere. We considered changing the wedding location but after a ton of research and more scouting nothing was working out. Eventually we settled on a gorgeous large home in wine country in a town closer to where people lived. This photo was taken on our wedding day and was the background for the ceremony.
Bridal Look and Bouquet
After a lot of thought I decided to wear a cape intead of a veil. I can’t believe how well it turned out – I got the cape for $30 on amazon! I LOVED my dress, but it was strapless and I’m large chested. The dress lost its structure during the day which led to major boobage. Not great. I did my own hair and makeup and it was just awful. I was going for a bohemian, fairy-tale vibe, but I was rushed, stressed, and emotional and I looked it. I wish I would have paid for a professional, at least for my hair. If you are looking at these photos thinking it’s fine, well I totally fooled you! My awesome photographer kept trying to fix it for me, and there are a ton of pictures I’m not showing you where it looks a wreck! 🙂
Flowers were another story entirely. I LOVED my flowers. I got them from fiftyflowers.com and I would really recommend it to anyone. My mother and I made my bouquet the night before, and I am still getting compliments on how great the flowers were. A good friend of ours also got some dried lavender from her parents, and my sister-in-law arranged them beautifully.
Wedding Prep: The Night Before
My family had all come into town from across the country by this time, and they were an amazing help. My brothers were instrumental in helping get the furniture set up on the patio. My brother rented heaters for me. They were all stringing lights outside and indoors, and figuring out the stereo system. They washed dishes and organized flowers. Where was I? Making my weddings cakes and cheesecake. Making my bouquet. When the work was done I was still so busy and all I wanted to do was hang out with my family and friends who were talking and laughing in another room. Whenever I had a moment I was trying to write my vows, but I was getting so distracted by all the noise. I went outside and it started to rain. I didn’t finish baking and frosting everything until late. My amazing husband drove 2.5 hours round trip to get the frosting I had premade and left at home. I was exhausted and stressed.
The Wedding Day: Ceremony
I hadn’t finished my vows yet. Some of my family members went out to breakfast, and said nothing to me. I was trying to get ready on my own in this huge, gorgeous bathroom while everyone was downstairs drinking wine. I had to ask for breakfast and wine. It was not the way I had envisioned getting ready. My husband left early with some family to set up chairs and decor at the waterfall’s overlook. My best friend was my Man of Honor, and he was supposed to pick up the appetizers that we planned to have after the ceremony but he arrived late and his fiance was STILL getting ready in the bathroom long after he was supposed to leave and pick them up. I was fielding questions and getting calls about the food, the champagne/sparkling juice, who was driving who, where people were, etc and at the same time my hair wasn’t working out and I was trying to get my makeup done. I was completely distracted so we ended up running late…and had a long drive ahead of us. I finished my vows on the drive. When we got to the location, we were in a massive rush. I couldn’t even check to make sure I was looking ok.
This is where I started my bridal walk. I loved this path, which ended in a log bridge right in front of the waterfall. I walked by myself to an accoustic guitar version of The Princess Bride theme song.
We were married by a close friend of my husband’s. I wrote the ceremony, which included several readings and a handfasting. There is a legend in Japan that people are connected to each other by red string, and so we tied each end of a red string to our pinkies at the beginning of the ceremony, and our officiant wrapped the length of it around our hands for the handfasting. We kept our hands tied together as we put the rings on and said our vows.
After the ceremony some of our friends brought a table down to the overlook and set up appetizers and wine/sparking juice. We all toasted and chatted for a little while. This was one of my favorite parts of the day, it was a massive hit with everyone. We took family photos here. Afterward, everyone left for the ceremony and my husband/officiant/and I stayed behind for our pictures.
The Wedding Day: The Reception
We rented a large house on airbnb, and it was GORGEOUS. It was on a hill overlooking wine country. This is where myself, my husband, and my siblings and mother stayed. We rented tables, chairs, and heaters for the patio and used that for our dinner location. Unfortunately, because I had been so late to the ceremony and everything got pushed back, we didn’t get the sunset dinner I wanted. The photographer only had time to snap a couple photos of the venue and some family before our time was up. We had to rush to take photos of signing the papers, which was fine, but we were late for dinner. Which had to start without us. Afterward, we were hoping for some dancing, but most people went home…which was just as well, since everyone seemed too exhausted anyway. We did our first dance, and that was it!
My husband and I spent months purchasing mismatched china, only to find a place that rented it cheaply right before the wedding! So, now I have a lot of china. We weren’t able to decorate the patio because we were taking pics back at the waterfall, but I had drawn up plans and discussed what I wanted it to look like. While it wasn’t exactly right (I didn’t plan on having flowers in vases on the tables) it looked incredible and I was so happy. The cake table was also amazing.
I wasn’t able to have the tables in the configuration I wanted, which was a huge disappointment to me, but it wasn’t worth bothering about. I was pretty bummed when several people ended up not coming to the reception. If we had known that previously we could have arranged it so much better. There was a spot set up for the bride and groom, but it was on the opposite side of where I intended it to be. I wasn’t really happy with the seating – we were kind of separate from everyone, and I wanted to be in the thick of things. But hey – we got some photos from family when it was decorated, and we have another rainbow!
Food Food Food!
We shopped around and found a great restaurant that catered. They were amazing, but because we were so late it was hard to keep the food ready without overcooking it…so the food wasn’t as good as it could have been. There wasn’t a lot of time for dinner – because we were late – and so I felt really rushed to eat what I could. We had a couple speeches during this time. My husband gave an amazing speech for me, which was really hard for him and I so appreciated it. I gave a speech for my husband. My Man of Honor gave a speech…and for some reason talked about an ex boyfriend of mine and this one time I got fired from a job because I called my boss a dumba**. I appreciated the kind things he did say but I am still cringing over it.
And now the CAAAKKEESSS. Guys, I spent MONTHS prepping for this. Months of figuring out recipes, taste testing, throwing things out, sending cake after cake to my husband’s workplace. And this is the final result.
The only thing missing is the cheesecake – this was set out behind the LOVE sign at dessert. It was a New York cheesecake with a homemade blackberry sauce and I promise you it was gone in 10 min. I’m known in my family for baking, and some of my family members dislike cakes but love cheesecakes so there had to be one. I considered making a tiered cake, but I wanted things to feel rustic and homemade. The chocolate cake is a Mexican hot chocolate cake, with cinnamon and chili pepper on a decadant chocolate cake. My husband loves chocolate cake, but I often find it to be too dry and not flavorful enough, which is why I spent a lot of time perfecting this cake. The other is an incredible brown sugar spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans layered throughout. This was another happy moment for me. Even though it was a TON of work and added stress, making my own cakes was so important to me.
A very simple cost rundown:
Wedding Dress $1400 (plus alterations)
Cape and Shoes $50
Groom’s Attire $200
Furniture Rental $400
Ceremony Venue free
Reception Venue $500 (1500 for the entire thing but family staying in 5 rooms for 2 contributed since it was cheaper than a hotel in the area)
If I could do it again, I might not have written the ceremony. It was a lot of work, I barely remember it, and for some reason it all felt less official. The photographer was great, but I would have had her for longer and I would have wanted some photos where I was looking more ‘done’. Remember, I ran out of the car and almost immediately started my bridal walk, and then after the ceremony we were hiking up to the base and top of the waterfall and through the trails. I was windblown, muddy, and in disarray so it would have been nice for a photo or two before that. I didn’t even have a chance to fix myself before walking into the reception, not even a mirror before the pics started coming again. I also would have paid for hair and makeup. It was NOT worth doing it on my own and I probably would not have run late. I would still have done the cakes and bouquet, but I would have done the cheesecake a day earlier and had more help with the flowers. I wouldn’t have gone for a strapless dress. I would have asked to know what was in my man of honor’s speech and I would have chosen another person to get the appetizers.
The ceremony and reception locations are difficult for me. I loved them both, but they came with challenges. I was too stressed to actually enjoy them, but my guests did, and I’m happy for that. I don’t know that I was really happy though. I felt like I couldn’t focus on my new husband or what was going on. Even though I know that’s really common for weddings, I really wanted a relaxed, happy day and night where I was in the moment, and I didn’t get that. But in a few years…vow renewal, maybe?