A Brides Master List

This is it! This is the list of everything you need for your wedding. Every little detail, every big picture. When I was first starting to plan our wedding, I sat down and typed up everything that came to mind that had to do with a wedding. I’ve since tidied it up a little and figured I would give it to you. It’s a good start for all brides, if you haven’t already done this yourself. I broke it down into categories so it’s easier to keep track of what you’ve already taken care of. You may want to add to/edit and print this list and carry it with you in your wedding planner. You’ll be able to jot things down on it, scratch things off, and look at it while you’re out and about. Good luck, and happy planning!

The Brides Master List

Misc:

Premarital counseling

Wedding invitations

RSVP cards

Thank you cards

Return address stamp

Gift registries

Wedding website

Photographer and Videographer (if you choose to have one)

Wedding night accommodations and reservations

Wedding party gifts

Honeymoon accommodations and reservations (if applicable)

Bride:

Gown, undergarments, and shoes

Leg garters

Earrings, bracelet, necklace

Make-up

Tiara

Veil

Cover-up robe (for getting ready the day of)

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Bridal hair appointment

Manicure and pedicure appointment

Wedding Party Attire:

Bridesmaids dresses, shoes, and desired accessories

Grooms tux and shoes

Father of the brides tux

Groomsmens suits/tuxes and shoes

Flower girl dress and shoes

Ring bearer tux and shoes

Ceremony:

Venue

Officiate

Aisle runner

Flower petals for the flower girl

Ring bearer pillow

Flower girl basket

Pew and front decorations

Unity sand/candle set

In Memory candles

Guest book and pen

Brides bouquet (and a toss bouquet)

Grooms boutonniere

Bridesmaids bouquets

Groomsmens boutonnieres

Father of the bride/grooms boutonnieres

Wedding rings

Vows

Entrance and exit music

Reception:

Venue

Cake (and grooms cake if applicable)

Cake knife and serving set

Cake topper

Plates, napkins, utensils (if applicable)

Toasting flutes

Tables and chairs

Linens

DJ or band

First dance song

Father-Daughter dance song

Mother-Son dance song

Decorations [table runners, centerpieces, balloons, Christmas lights, tulle, disposable cameras, etc]

Party favors

Caterer or food

Card box

Gift table

People to get for Help:

Wedding coordinator (at your ceremony venue or church)

Ushers (for ceremony) and “aisle-runner-puller”

Someone(s) to be at the reception before the other guests

Cake cutters and servers

Someone to take gifts home for you after the reception

Decorating help

Clean up crew (for both the ceremony site and reception site)

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Ceremony & Reception Decorations

Planning the decorations was probably my favorite part of the wedding. I found a website called eFavorMart with decorations, fake flowers, gift boxes, and lots more. I got probably over 90% of our supplies there. And everything is cheap.

To save on cost and on time, our ceremony decorations were very minimal and simple. I tied bows on the aisle end of all the pews and framed the doorway at the back of the sanctuary with tulle. Combined with the aisle runner (which was pulled during the ceremony rather than before) and the unity sand table on the stage, it looked nice and was very simple. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the doorway, but here is a picture of the pews and front of the church:

I got turquoise and lavender colored sashes from eFavorMart, and alternated them on the ends of the pews. You can also see the lace covered unity sand table at the front, and the rolled up aisle runner at the base of the stairs.

 

Our reception was a much bigger decorating task. For starters, the site was way too small for our reception. I was told it had a capacity of 360 people… Maybe 360 people standing shoulder to shoulder and packed in there. Second, there were cabinets, book shelves, a copy machine, and closet doors. Even decorated, it would have looked tacky. So I spent some extra money and went to Walmart to buy king and queen sized white flat sheets. We tacked them to the ceiling in front of the cabinets, in front of and around the book cases, and covered the copy machine. It looked 100 times better! We also draped Christmas lights behind the sheets on the cabinet wall. It looked so good!

From eFavorMart, I ordered satin, pin-tucked table runners in both lavender and turquoise. I also got 3 bolts of white tulle and 3 bolts of turquoise. I used white table cloths, ran the table runners lengthwise on each table, and placed our party favors, centerpieces, and bubbles on top. Here is how it looked at the end. I wish I had a before image!

 

You can see how packed it was in there. In the end, everyone had a great time and we really enjoyed it ourselves. But I can’t help but wish we had gotten another venue!

Party favors don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, but it is a nice gesture. We got 200 2×2 inch favor boxes from eFavorMart, filled them with Hershey’s kisses and hugs, and then tied ribbon around them with bows on top. It was so incredibly time consuming, but we did it and they looked great!

A close up of our favor boxes. I used both lavender and turquoise ribbon to mix things up. You can imagine how long this took!

 

I also made our centerpieces. I got the inspiration off Pinterest, and I’ll post a how-to soon. I got 26 mason jars, hot glued ribbon and bows onto each of them, put clear pebbles in the bottom, filled them with water, and floated floating candles in them at the reception. They came out so good, I saved two for myself and put them on our mantle in our home. You can find lots of other centerpiece ideas both at Pinterest and on TheKnot. It’s worth going through them, there are so many good ideas!

The Reception

The time has come to plan the party portion of your big day, otherwise known as the fun part! Same as with the ceremony, you need to find a venue first that is available on your date (again, this is assuming you are having separate venues). If at all possible, you should visit venues in person and get a tour to see how big the space is and what you’ll be working with in terms of table set up and decorations. You should have your venue booked at least 4-5 months in advance. Here are some questions you need to ask:

What is the room capacity?

Are we allowed to bring in a caterer and/or our own food?

Do you have any requirements concerning decorations such as candles, tacks and pushpins, or adhesives?

Will we be able to set up and decorate the day before the event?

Where are (or are there) cleaning supplies we can use?

Where is the best place to put the DJ? (Look for at least two outlets that can be dedicated entirely to the DJ. A room corner usually works best)

Do you have tables, chairs, and linens?

Keep in mind that you should have a decent gap between the end of your ceremony and the beginning of your reception to allow for pictures (unless you take your pictures before the ceremony. This ruins the whole “groom can’t see the bride before the wedding” but some people do it. I myself was completely against it, even though some wanted us to do it that way). I planned our day with a 2 hour window between for pictures, and we did pretty good sticking to that. We were only 15 minutes late to our reception, and nobody even noticed.

Once you have your venue, seek out a caterer or decide on your foods. We went against all “wedding etiquette” I had found and we had a potluck reception. Small town folks love potluck get-togethers, and for weddings everyone makes their best dishes. You can’t go wrong with that. I asked guests to bring their best finger food to share and our families provided punch, plates, utensils, and napkins. (And of course dessert was also provided – the cake. Duh!) Both of our mothers made a few dishes too. We had so much good food! And it saved us so much money. Caterers can cost thousands of dollars, and in my experience the food is not always that great. You must check with your venue to see if you can host a potluck or even bring in your own caterer. One venue I went to said I had to have a professional food caterer and couldn’t bring in any outside food except the cake. Another venue I spoke to told me I had to use their catering service.

You should book a DJ no less than 1-2 months before your wedding. Most DJ’s don’t fill up for events that early, so this should be a safe time frame. Some people are bound to tell you that a DJ is just an added expense and you’d be just fine playing music off your iPod. No. They have obviously never planned a wedding reception. A DJ does more for you than just hit play on a fancy device. Your DJ should be able to introduce the wedding party, announce reception events when they are going to happen, and keep music flowing seamlessly. They enable you to enjoy your party without having to play host. Ask around to find out if there are DJ’s in your area that people you know recommend, or that have good reviews.

We were incredibly blessed with our DJ, Marc. He wanted to be there a half hour early to set up and be able to play music while guests were arriving, and bought music that we wanted played that neither of us had. Marc met with us on our time schedule two separate times to go over the location, playlists, the reception events, names of the wedding party members, and all the other details. He brought in a few lights, his own table, and all of his equipment. I sat down and made a general playlist for him, and also made him a playlist on my iPad of songs that we already owned that he didn’t need to buy. We paid him $500 for 4 hours of work, and I know he could have charged a lot more. He didn’t charge us extra for arriving a half an hour early or for the music he downloaded.

In addition to having a playlist, you will need to have a typed up copy of your reception flow of events. The events include the introduction of the wedding party, first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, bouquet and garter toss, and cutting the cake. I have posted our events timeline here for you to use if you’d like.

Lastly, decorations. You should begin buying and collecting your decorations at the beginning of your engagement to help save money and to avoid the “cost shock” of dishing a large amount of money at one time. Here you can find some decoration ideas and a little bit of advice. I hope this helps you sort out your reception. I’m sure the stress is beginning to build if it hasn’t already. Just remember to take a deep breath, pray for patience and strength, and maybe take a day or two off from planning. It could do you a world of good!

 

 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

Writing Your Vows

The traditional wedding vows are short, sweet, and to the point for the most part. They get the job done, so to speak. But writing your own vows makes your ceremony much more personal and romantic, and it makes the vows more meaningful and special between the two of you. Your vows are a promise, one that can and should never be broken. They give the two of you a sort of guideline for your marriage relationship.

If you decide you both want to write your own vows, first check with your officiate to make sure they are okay with it (some can be very old fashioned and would rather you not). Then decide if you want to write them together so you’re prepared or separately to make them a surprise. (Making them a surprise can make the emotional factor go way up! So if you really want to try to not be a balling mess on your wedding day, opt to write them together).

Your vows can be deep, personal, touching, funny, lovey, or just plain cute. Let both your personalities direct you. As far as length goes, the longer the better. Whether you go with short or long, just make sure both of your vows are the same length. I was at a wedding once where the brides vows were much longer than the grooms (and by much I mean quite a lot!) and I felt so bad and embarrassed them.

We wanted our ceremony to be close and personal so we chose to write ours. Our officiate told us that guests really love it when couples write personal vows and that we should try to make them as long as possible. I wrote a rough draft of mine, and then together we added or subtracted things for his, adjusted mine, and polished them up as finals. I already had an idea of things I wanted in my vows, but I got online and Googled both personal and traditional wedding vows for some extra inspiration. This is something you should do 1-2 months prior to the wedding. Since getting Andy to do anything wedding related was so hard, I didn’t succeed at getting ours done until the week before.

Here are our wedding vows for you to use as inspiration. We were going for a deep, romantic sense with a little something funny 😉

I Lynda take you Andrew to be my husband. To have and to hold, to trust and confide in, and to love unconditionally more and more each day. I will cherish our union and nurture our marriage both physically and spiritually. I promise to be your faithful, loving wife; to pray for you always; to love you with actions, not just words; to hold your hand in church; to never go to bed angry; to not to steal the covers at night; to let you sleep in on days off; and to go fishing when you ask, no matter how much it’s raining. I promise that I will stand by your side and share your burdens through sickness and health, good times and bad. I will respect you as a person, grow with you, and never give up. I will walk with you through the rest of the journey that God has set before us, from this day forward, until death do us part.

I Andrew take you Lynda to be my wife. To have and to hold, to trust and confide in, and to love unconditionally more and more each day. I will cherish our union and nurture our marriage both physically and spiritually. I promise to be your faithful loving husband; to pray for you always; to love you with actions, not just words; to hold your hand in church; to warm you up when you are cold; to try to remember to put my dirty clothes in the hamper, and always replace the toilet paper roll. I promise to remember this day with love and roses. I promise that I will stand by your side and share your burdens through sickness and health, good times and bad. I will respect you as a person, grow with you, and never give up. I will walk with you through the rest of the journey that God has set before us, from this day forward, until death do us part.

One of Andy’s brothers and his wife gave us a very thoughtful and special wedding gift; something we will always cherish and have in our home as a reminder of the promises we’ve made to each other. They printed each of our vows on special paper and put them in a three-picture frame, leaving a space between his and mine for a photo of the two of us. It’s a nice way to display your vows and give you that constant reminder.

If you find you’re having trouble finding the right words, or if you’re having troubles in other areas of your wedding planning, remember this verse:

 

 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

The Ceremony

You should begin planning your ceremony out early on in the planning process. This takes time and patience, so the more time you give yourself the less stressed you’ll become.

Once you have chosen your date, start looking into venues (otherwise known as locations to non-bridebrained people). Do you want a traditional wedding in a church or are you thinking of an outdoor scene? Maybe a large convention center suites the two of you. It’s entirely up to you. However, I would advise asking both families what their preference would be. Some families will really want you to be married in a church (but if that isn’t your thing, be sure to nicely remind them that although their opinion is valuable to you, it is your wedding and you’d rather hold it elsewhere). Check prices and available dates before you set your heart on anything.

You should also decide if you are going to have your ceremony and reception in the same place or opt for separate venues. We were married in our home church and had our reception in another church’s banquet room. I kinda figured having both in the same place could turn into a logistical nightmare – setting up for the ceremony, then having to break it all down and set up for the reception in a matter of hours would have been hard. But I have seen this done twice for smaller weddings and it actually worked out quite nicely. (For those of you that are going to have separate venues, I have reception planning tips in the The Reception category.)

When you figure out your ceremony venue, determine how long you need it for and when you’ll be able to decorate. We decorated the church the day before the ceremony, when we did our rehearsal. On the day of, the wedding party arrived two hours early so we could get ready there (if you can do this at your venue, I highly recommend it. You’ll be nervous as it is, and being able to just go and get everything done in one place will be nice). The ceremony was about an hour long, so I reserved the church for a 4 hour block just in case.

The officiate, the person who actually marries the two of you, is typically any priest, pastor, or judge. If you live in the state of Alaska, anyone can marry you as long as they go to any courthouse and get the appropriate documents. We were married by a former pastor, now missionary, and very dear friend of our families. You will want to meet with your officiate ahead of time at least twice to go over your ceremony details (such as time, place, ceremony timeline, etc). They also need to be at your rehearsal. Chances are, you’ll be getting married by someone who has done it before, and they will know how everything works and will be able to offer advice. You should ask them when you meet with them if they have any guidelines or conditions. They should also know how the rehearsal works. You might want to appoint or find someone that can help “direct traffic” both during the rehearsal and the actual ceremony. Most churches have a wedding coordinator who knows how to do this. This person will tell the wedding party when to walk and where to stand.

Two important things that take place during the ceremony are exchanging your vows and the unity candle or unity sand ceremony. Decide if you are going to use traditional vows or write your own. If you choose to write your own, check with your officiate to get the okay and give them a copy to approve once you write them. You should write them within 3 months of the wedding, to make sure they’re as perfect as you want them and they’re nicely polished. Also decide if you want to do a traditional unity candle lighting or want to give it a modern twist and go with the unity sand ceremony (or neither, if you’d prefer…). We did the unity sand ceremony. It symbolizes the same “two become one” message as the candle and also symbolizes that you can never be separated. Afterward you’re left with something beautiful and decorative for your home that serves as a constant reminder of your unity (instead of a candle you’ll never light again). Visit here for more information on a unity sand ceremony and how it works.

Our unity sand container and vases, sitting on our mantle in our home. We chose white and black for bride and groom instead of our wedding colors. You can’t see it, but it is engraved with our initials and wedding date. We got ours at David’s Bridal.

The ceremony timeline (order of events) is not something every couple will have to do themselves. Our officiate told us it was entirely up to us, and I ended up arranging the whole thing from scratch. Your officiate may have one predetermined for you. I have posted our timeline here. You can use ours if you’d like or edit it to fit your ceremony style.

We had two “In Memory” candles at our ceremony, so there is a place on the timeline where those were lit by my mother (they were for her brother and my fraternal grandmother). In Memory candles are a very nice way to remember loved ones who are no longer with us who you know would have been there if they could. My grandma was a very wonderful woman who I was close to when I was young. I missed her more than ever in that moment. My uncle was a great, gentle, and caring man who loved my sister and I very much. I would have given anything for them both to be there. If you want to do this, ask both families if there are people who they want candles for. Andy’s family didn’t have anyone. (I made our candles myself. You can see the project in my DIY & Crafts section.)

Decorations and music are the last details you should think about. I have an entire separate post for decorations here as well as where to order everything you could possibly need for cheap. I also have pictures of our decorations and some of the crafty things I did. You can find hundreds of wedding ceremony songs on the internet, and order CD’s if you aren’t going to have a pianist or violinist. Our wedding party walked to ‘Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desire’, my dad and I walked to ‘Pachelbel’s Cannon in D’, and at the end we all walked out to the Peanuts theme song! I had one pianist and one violinist.

*Don’t forget to get your marriage license within the allotted time frame and pick your witnesses. It may seem obvious, but the legal portion of weddings sometimes gets forgotten!

 

 

“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man’. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:22-25)

Wedding Photo Checklist

Here is the checklist of photos I gave our photographer. I organized it by time frame so our photographer could easily go down the list as the day progressed. Feel free to copy paste and print it if you’d like to use it! I hope this helps!

McCarty Wedding Photo Checklist

  1. Pre-Ceremony
  •       A picture of the wedding gown (optional alternative: with bridesmaids gowns too)
  •       Bride & Bridesmaids dressing and getting ready for ceremony (doing makeup & hair)
  •       Bride with mother fastening her necklace
  •       Solo picture of the bride after dressing up
  •       Pictures of bride and bridesmaids all dressed up
  •       The bouquet/shoes/any accessories
  •       Bride with her father
  •       The groom and groomsmen dressing and getting ready for ceremony
  •       The groom with his best man
  •       The groom fastening his tie/putting on his suit
  •       The groom with his groomsmen all dressed up
  •       Bridesmaids and Bride/Groomsmen and Groom praying

2.   At the Ceremony

  •       Pictures of decorations and guests arriving/finding seats
  •       The groom and officiate waiting at the front of the church
  •       The wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen, ring bearers, flower girls)
  •       The bride and father walking down the aisle
  •       The groom when he sees his bride (this one is priceless!)
  •       The father giving away the bride
  •       Beginning prayer
  •       A close up shot of the couples joined hands
  •       Exchanging of vows
  •       Exchanging of rings
  •       Unity sand ceremony
  •       The infamous first kiss
  •       Bride and groom exiting sanctuary

3.   Formal Wedding Photos (both in the church and at an outdoor location)

  •       Bride and Groom with brides parents/grooms parents
  •       Entire wedding party (multiple poses and both locations)
  •       Bride with bridesmaids/Groom with groomsmen (both locations)
  •       Bride with her parents/Groom with his parents
  •       Bride and groom together, close ups too (multiple shots and poses, both locations)
  •       Wedding rings (both in hands and on fingers)

4.   At the reception

  •       The grand entrance of wedding party
  •       Newlyweds first dance
  •       Wedding cake, buffet table, and gift table
  •       Newlyweds at table (with wedding party too)
  •       Father-daughter dance
  •       “Dollar-Dance”
  •       Bouquet and garter tosses
  •       Groom dancing with his mother
  •       Guests dancing
  •       Cutting of the cake (and the smashing it in the face…)
  •       Any toasts that take place
  •       Newlyweds talking with and greeting guests

Choosing A Wedding Photographer

This one might be long, so get comfy. Being a photographer myself, I could go on and on about wedding photographers. But I’ll try to stay to the point.

You should book your photographer 2-3 months in advance to ensure you get one you like, they have an open slot for your wedding, and so you can pay them over time (if your photographer allows this – it is definitely something to try to negotiate).

When sorting through potential photographers it’s perfectly okay to be stingy and nit-picky. This is your wedding, and at the end of that day it will all be over and all you’ll have left will be the pictures that your photographer gives you. You need them to be good ones. I instantly threw out photographers who didn’t have an online gallery and photographers who had never shot weddings. Shooting a wedding is very challenging, and is similar to sport or action photography. You need to be able to predict the next move in order to get the best shots, so having someone who has experience with wedding photography goes above and beyond any other photographer. It is also important to be able to look at their previous work. This tells you their style, their angles, whether they shoot in just black and white or just color (or both, which is a plus!), and what kind of quality their photos are in. Here are some things to look for:

Look for focus – Are the main subjects blurry or off-centered? Is the image focused in the wrong spot or at the wrong depth? (Such as a photo of the bride and groom but the image is focused in the background)

Look for noise – Are the images grainy? Do colors seem blotchy?

Look at poses – (If they’ve shot more than one wedding…) Are the exact same poses used in every wedding? Do the subjects look posed or do they look natural and relaxed?

Look at exposure – Do the photographers pictures have a trending underexposure (or overexposure)? Meaning are the majority of their photos too dark or too bright?

Look at editing techniques – What kind of contrast are you seeing in their work (are the darks super dark and the lights washed out)? Do they add to or photoshop their photos too much? Are their colors over-saturated?

Price is a major concern with photographers. A lot of them think it’s perfectly okay to charge you out the wazoo, but here’s a little bit of the truth. Yes, their equipment is expensive. Yes, the editing software they use is expensive. And yes, sorting through upwards of 1,500 photos (or much more) and editing them takes a lot of hours. But I’ve never met a photographer that didn’t enjoy their work. And there is no reason to get paid a vast amount of money to spent 7-8 hours at a party doing something you love and then going home and sitting on your butt going through the photos. I’m sorry. Not happening.

One of the photographers I contacted wanted $1,500 to spend 8 hours with us, give us a couple prints, and a disc of our pictures. I just about died. I would advise not to spend anything over $1,000 on a photographer, and even that is pushing it. I would rather say don’t go above $800, but getting a good photographer at that price for an all day event can be hard. This is why it is so vitally important to know before you hire if you like their work or not. If you think it’s so-so, look elsewhere. But try not to settle. If it comes down to two or three photographers that are available and that you love, let the lowest price win. [I can not stress enough how important it is to look at their previous work…]

Once you have chosen you photographer, here are some things to work through. Ask them if they have payment options or if they will let you pay them between now and the wedding. This spreads out the cost so you don’t have to fork out that much money all at once. Find out how they give you your photos – do they actually print out prints for you or do they give you a disc with printing rights. All I needed was a disc, so that also helped me choose a photographer. With a disc you can email your wedding photos, post them on Facebook, and print them off cheaply either at home or at WalMart. You should also make a list (or find one on the internet) of specific photos that you want taken. If a photographer isn’t willing to follow this, find someone else. (If you do this…) I would advise making it extremely clear that this is what you are hiring them for. Be sure that they are going to get those photos for you.

Meet with your photographer in person when you hire them. Give them your checklist of photos and ask for some kind of contract or information in writing about the set price and what you will be getting. It may also be beneficial to take your own notes in your wedding planner. I wrote down my photographers name, the hours I was paying her for (1 PM – 8 PM with a 1 hour break, making for 6 paid hours), the time she estimated it would take for her to have our photos ready, and the price/hour she was charging us.

This should make dealing with wedding photographers a breeze for you. I have published the checklist I gave our photographer here. Feel free to copy, paste, and print it if you would like to use it! You may also add to it if you’d like.

 

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV)

Have Your Cake & Eat It Too

Now would be a good time to start putting some thought into your wedding cake (and now being about 5 months in advance, give or take). First, take a look at your guest list and figure out about how many people you’re expecting. This will give you an idea of how many people your cake will need to serve. Then start asking around to get the low-down on bakers. Since we’re from a very small town, all I had to do was jump on Facebook and say “I’m looking for a wedding cake maker, who do you recommend?” and I got a few options. The trouble with only searching the internet for local bakers is you may not always get the truth. If you ask people you know for their experience, you’ll find out what they really thought.

Price is, of course, important in your decision making process, but I personally was more concerned with look and taste. I’ve heard many horror stories of wedding cake looking beautiful, and tasting downright awful. My parents were one of those unlucky couples. My mother told me it was just about inedible and they ended up throwing the majority of it away. The two women that I narrowed my choice down to both made absolutely stunning cakes, but I got a review from one that said her cakes tasted terrible, so I went with the other gal (and oh my gosh I was impressed!)

When choosing your cake decorator/baker, shop around. If you live in a place with lots of bakeries specializing in wedding cakes, make appointments to taste cakes and frosting (and maybe fondant if you are having a fondant covered cake, though most people don’t eat the fondant). Our baker put a thin layer of buttercream underneath the fondant so those who didn’t like the fondant could peel it off and still have frosting. This is something you could ask about or even suggest once you find your baker. Also ask about different flavor options. Many bakeries have tons of unique flavors to choose from, and I’ll bet you they have some you never would have thought of. One of our tiers was a snicker-doodle spice cake with snicker-doodle buttercream frosting, and oh my gosh it was to die for, and it was gone so fast!

Wedding cakes are usually priced by the serving rather than size or number of tiers. Our cake served 88 people (80 people minus the top tier) and cost $352. It was a three tier, square cake with a 12″ bottom, 8″ middle, and 4″ top. Ask your baker about price options and if there are any discounts or deals you can get (it’s always worth a shot). For example, our baker told us that the top tier would be free if we agreed to share with her any professional photos our photographer took of the cake. We did not take this option, though I ended up emailing her photos anyway. She’s a friend of ours 😉

Next comes cake toppers. We chose ours before we ever chose the cake. David’s Bridal has some very cute and fun ones. You can also find cake toppers at Invitations By Dawn, Ann’s Bridal Bargains, Micheal’s, and a number of other places. Choose something that matches you and your fiance’s style or personalities. Our topper was from David’s and had a fishing groom on the top tier with a reaching up bride on the bottom tier. Cutest thing in the world, and was perfect because my husband is an avid fisherman.

When it comes to decorations and cake design, your options are pretty much limitless. I was at a loss, as I had only been to three weddings in my lifetime that I remember and the cake was not number one on my list of interests. So I went to TheKnot and searched through their hundreds of cake pictures, which is where I found ours. I highly recommend this. TheKnot has everything under the sun you could imagine.

One more thing you might think about is having a grooms cake. This can help you save money, and it’s a fun groom-centered reception thing (since the wedding day is usually all about the bride, and the poor groom can sometimes get forgotten). We went to the Carrs Safeway in Kodiak and ordered a cheap $25 sheet cake with a fishing theme design. This allowed us to have a smaller wedding cake like we wanted, and still have enough cake to serve all of our guests.

We opted to save and freeze our top tier for our first anniversary. You should ask your baker for instructions on this process and what they suggest is best for your particular cake. You could also just order a cake the same size as your top tier when your anniversary rolls around. It’s entirely up to you.

If a wedding cake isn’t your thing, you might look into cupcake towers, dessert bars, candy bars, or a small round cake with cupcakes on towers below it. TheKnot and the Wedding Channel websites both have information on these options. Good luck!

Our wedding cake with the David’s Bridal cake toppers. Made by Bakermama out of Kodiak.

Andy’s grooms cake. It was a half sheet cake from Safeway. Half chocolate, half white with raspberry filling.

Photos by Jenna D Photography. Wedding cake by Bakermama.

 

 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

The Wedding Party

If you’re anything like me, picking out someone else’s attire may not be so easy. I actually felt a little guilty telling my girls what I wanted them to wear. Of course I asked them all their opinion of the dress I chose, and told them if one of them didn’t like it we could choose another! I was also extra careful to pick a dress that would flattering on each of them. All four of my bridesmaids had different body types, and this can be challenging when choosing bridesmaids dresses (I feel I nailed this flawlessly, because they all looked so good on our wedding day!)

All of my bridesmaids wore the same dress in the same color. I toyed with the idea of having two of them in the lilac that I chose, and two of them in mermaid, but I decided not to because there wasn’t a lilac color that matched in the groomsman’s vests that we got them. If you use David’s Bridal and Men’s Warehouse, that might be a neat and unique idea for you to use (because they have the same colors). You could also just choose a color, and have your bridesmaids wear different dresses all in that same color. (If you do this, I would advise giving them one requirement: that they’re the same length. Either all short or all long. It just looks neater and cleaner when you’re all up there together.)

My girls and I. We had so much fun with our photographer. Their dress was a halter with a high waist (I think that’s called empire waist?)

The groomsmen are very easy to dress (as awkward as that sounds…). Instead of having all Andy’s groomsmen in full tuxes, which is expensive and unnecessary for a semi-formal wedding, I picked out a shirt/tie/and vest package for them in a [perfectly] matching color. They all had their own black dress pants and dress shoes. Andy was the only one in a full tux. He didn’t care what tux he wore, so I picked him out a two button tux from Jim’s Formal Wear with a tie, vest, and pocket square in the same pattern and color as the groomsmen. The end result of all the boys together looked really nice. I personally think that all of them in tuxes wouldn’t have made for such great contrast and would have been a little overwhelming.

Andy and his groomsmen. They sure are a bunch of goofballs.

I went a little against the grain and had two flower girls and two ring bearers, and it ended up being pretty adorable. I picked out super cute flower girl dresses at JC Penny, and my mother-in-law got little suits for the ring bearers (CUTEST thing I ever saw). The ring bearers wore a darker purple than the lilac, but I think it complimented everything quite nicely. The children’s formal wear was also inexpensive, which is always nice because its highly unlikely they’ll get to wear it again before they outgrow it. David’s Bridal has beautiful flower girl dresses, but they cost as much as some of their bridal gowns. And I’m sorry, I will not pay that much for something they’re going to wear once. (Same story with Men’s Warehouse too, by the way. They have little boy tuxes, but for a chunk of money.)

Our nephews, the ring bearers, in their cute little suits.

Our nieces, the flower girls. I found their dresses in the little girls dress section at Penny’s. $25 a piece.

When it comes to choosing your wedding party, make sure you give it some thought. Your bridesmaids should be your best friends; friends who you know will be there to help you and comfort you and beat down the bridezilla if need be through your entire engagement, no matter how long. Andy and I went against the grain again here and chose not to have a best man or maid of honor. He just didn’t want to, but I didn’t because I had an experience as a bridesmaid once, and all that did was create drama. I didn’t want to subject my girls to that, it just isn’t fair. I did have one of my sisters as a bridesmaid, and Andy had both of his brothers as groomsmen. Just something to think about if you have siblings.

I hope this makes dressing your wedding party a little easier. Just remember to be nice and try to respect any requests from the girls (and the boys, they do count too).

The wedding party together, after the ceremony.

[All photos by Jenna D Photography]

 

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

Gift Registires – Where To & Not To

Oh yes, this time has come. Gift registries can be a serious nightmare, not gonna lie. But before we get into that, I’ll give you some tips.

When we were registering, someone told us to take the number of guests you’re inviting, multiply by three, and register for that many gifts. This gives your guests lots and lots of things to choose from for you two. You should also register at a minimum of 3 different retailers, again giving your guests a selection. We did not register for that many gifts, and we only registered at 3 retailers. We found that more guests purchased from our Bed, Bath, and Beyond registry than our other two (which was fine by us! We love them), but that was also the store we had the most gifts registered for. I think we got more money and gift cards than anything else (which again was fine by us!)

As you probably saw in the Invitations & Save the Dates post, we registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, JC Penny, and Sears. BBB was absolutely wonderful. The registry consultant sat down with us, filled out all the paperwork with us, and even walked around the entire store and scanned items with us. We must have been in there at least 3 whole hours. But it was so much fun. Best part about the BBB bridal registry is after your event, if you don’t get everything you wanted, you can go back and get 20% off anything you buy. We made a killing after our wedding! And got everything we needed for our home together. My advice: GO TO BBB. RIGHT NOW. Okay maybe not right now, but definitely register there.

Sears and Penny’s were not such great experiences unfortunately. For JCP, we drove all the way downtown to the Anchorage store, just to find out they don’t do registries in-store. You have to do it all online. And the lady we talked to was very rude to us. So not all bad, but online registering isn’t as fun and it’s a little harder since you can’t see the item or check it out.

Our experience with Sears was terrible. Downright awful. I never should have bothered with them. Before going I signed up online so I wouldn’t have to do that part in the store. Then when we got there and asked about registering for gifts, the first couple associates we talked to didn’t know what the heck we were talking about, and when we found someone who did they didn’t know where the scanner was. Someone ELSE found the scanner, then no one knew how it worked. I finally got a manager who knew how everything worked, and he helped us set it up and start scanning. Not 10 minutes into scanning the scanners battery died… Oh LORD! I took it back to the counter – where four girls had been standing around chatting and joking so loud we could hear them from the next department – it took me a minute to get their attention, and when I did they didn’t know how to change the battery. One of them actually took it from me and said “What is this? Why do you have this? Who let you have this?” Oh I was furious. I got the manager again, told him what was going on, and after fidgeting with the scanner some more we gave up and left. I was so angry. The customer service was so bad (I’ve been there two other times and gotten the same cruddy service). The other con is their online registry doesn’t make gifts you’ve already received unavailable, so multiple people can purchase the same gift. Which happened to us. Duplicate gifts wouldn’t be an issue if Sears would issue you store credit. No. They told me it would be returned to the original credit card. Meaning the person who purchased the gift would know that we had to return it!

Oh my, that makes me mad all over again just thinking about it! Okay, off my soapbox here. You should think about doing your gift registries right around 5-6 months prior to the wedding, and definitely before sending out your invitations (since you’re going to make those registry cards, right?).  Also, don’t forget to add your registries to your wedding website when you’ve finished! (I found that Bed, Bath, and Beyond and JC Penny’s both automatically showed up on our website. Which was awesome.) Other places to think about registering are Scan Home, Lennox, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, Target, and Pottery Barn. Among many others I’m sure.

If you have a great experience, or a terrible one, please share! (Or vent, whichever you need)

I thought this was an appropriate verse to go with this. It reminds us that God’s light shines through us as Christians, so no matter how mad we are about a gift registry, we should still demonstrate the heart of Christ to those we deal with.

 

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV84)