Our Not-So-Big (But Wonderful!) Wedding

Lee Chapel- June 23rd, 2007

Who loves My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Meee! It's been years since I've seen it, maybe I'll add it to the Netflix queue when Thane's not looking. Conan can wait.

Anyway, guess what today is? June 23rd- our wedding anniversary! We're celebrating four years of wonderful wedded bliss, praise God. He's been the rock of our relationship since the very beginning, and we go back almost nine years now! So what better way to celebrate the day than to take a little stroll down memory lane. Here are some photo highlights from our big day as well as a few I mean lots of money-saving tips. You know me, I'm frugal to the core and our wedding was no exception, ha. Which is not to say we went dirt cheap on everything, but it was by no means over the top- partly because we were working with a limited budget (who isn't?), and partly because I was planning it all-by-me-onsie in less than four months while working two jobs (60+ hours a week). And since I didn't have time to fool with planning every little detail (like party favors), I cut a lot of the non-necessities and saved time and money. So, maybe this can be of help to some of you yet-to-be-wedded!

Our wedding was simple, traditional, and low-cost. We only had about 100 guests in attendance (hence the "not-so-big" reference). But I'm sure that some of the same cost-saving principles can be applied no matter how you're planning your own nuptials- big or small, traditional or non.

Getting ready
The bridesmaids dresses: Notice the girls are all wearing black satin but in different styles. Rather than choose a specific dress for each of them to purchase, I just had them wear whatever black dress they'd prefer. That way they got to decide how much or little they spend and got to wear what they wanted. Since not everyone has the same budget or body shape, it was a way to give them flexibility.

My dream dress...it was love at first sight.

My dress: Ahhh, I'm still in love with it! It's a Rena Koh (not that I expect anyone else to know who that is). But anyway, remember me mentioning working two jobs? Well I worked full time as a graphic designer and part time as a bridal consultant. Long story short, I interviewed for both, but got hired at the bridal boutique right before getting hired at the design firm. So, without intending on it I ended up with two jobs and didn't want to quit either of them. As soon as I saw this dress, I knew it was the one. Even though it was pink. (I ordered it in ivory, obviously. Although I did consider the pink version for about a milli-sec).

Anyway, having the part time bridal gig worked to my advantage. Not only did I have a blast getting paid to help women try on gorgeous gowns, but I had instant access to all kinds of great deals and discounts. So, money saving tip #2- work hard and be resourceful! I could have quit the boutique job, but hanging in there yielded big savings opportunities despite the really grueling work schedule. Back to the dress- I saved $1000 with my employee discount. I borrowed the veil, so that was free. The seamstress did my alterations for free, and I got a discount on the invitations as well. That being said, I realize that most women aren't going to have the advantage of working in bridal shop while planning their wedding. But there's always other ways to get similar discounts, like buying a dress off of the rack. That'll save you big time. As well as asking what the store can do for you if you just can't afford the dress of your dreams. Independently owned boutiques are often flexible on pricing- they'd rather make the sale at, say, a 10% discount, than no sale at all.

My bouquet
The Flowers: I wanted white peonies. But they were out of season, and they would have cost somewhere around $15-20 a stem to be shipped down from New England (where they were in season). So I opted for white roses and hydrangeas, the next best option. I still got the full, fluffy look, but at a fraction of the cost. I also supplied the toffee colored ribbon that I found at Michaels. I'm assuming that saved us a little bit as well.

On the way to the chapel!
Notice the bridesmaids have single roses rather than bouquets. I liked the idea of this simple, romantic look (sometimes less is more!), and it saved a lot of mula.

The Venues: Use your connections to your best advantage. We used Thane's as well as his parent's alumni status for our venues. I originally looked all over Northern Virginia (our home town) for a church and reception hall. My own church was too big and impersonal, I wanted something more romantic...same story with the reception halls. Plus, they were all booked out for June Saturdays (I only had three months and 28 days to plan).

So Thane suggested Lee Chapel, on the campus of Washington & Lee where his parents met. It was funny, I had never even noticed it despite the fact that it's right next to VMI (Virginia Military Institute) where Thane went to school. I guess I was always too busy googly-eyeing him to notice the other surroundings. But there it was, and it was perfect! And it was all possible thanks to alumni status- same with VMI's reception hall which was only a short walk from the chapel. Both were not only more beautiful and unique, but also more affordable than the options in Northern Virginia. So we ended up with a "mini-destination" wedding in Lexington, Virginia, about two and half hours from home. And I can't imagine having found a more perfect place.

Decorations: Choose venues that are beautiful "as is" and therefore don't need a lot of extra decoration. And pull on your own creativity and resourcefulness. The inside of Lee Chapel was stunning all by itself. It was all white with ornate windows and detailed wainscoting-style trim, sconces lining the walls, and espresso colored woodwork on everything that wasn't white. So we got away with just a couple of flower arrangements on the stage.

Look at that dreamy groom...
For the aisles, some of my family members got to together and made ivory ribbon and tulle bows.


My Grandmother even found a huge bolt of the same toffee colored ribbon I used on the flowers on clearance. So that, along with the same tulle, went on the front doors of the church and the railing leading into the entrance of the reception hall. Unfortunately I don't have any close-ups, but you can get a little glimpse of them here...

Thane & Rhys, brother and best man.
Ceremony Music: We had a live trumpeter and pianist for our ceremony music. For free. The trumpeter was a VMI teacher that Thane knew who only charged $50 but never actually cashed our check. And the pianist was the wife of Thane's pastor in Lexington, who married us. We have been so blessed to know so many wonderful people. A big thanks to them!

The photography: I didn't try to skimp on this one. One great thing we did do though was to request digital copies of all of the photos. Even though our photographer used film, she was able to transfer it all onto CDs and gave us total rights for only $50 extra. So now we can print our wedding photos anytime, anywhere. I've framed and hung a lot, but I have yet to make our album. One of these days...maybe for our five year anniversary.

Look at my mom's face, on the right- cracks me up every time!


The reception: Held in Moody Hall- VMI's reception hall- which included indoor and outdoor space. The cost was only $1000; much less than the $4000+ price tags on the generic country club halls in Northern VA.

Let the outdoors do the decorating for you! Veranda seating offered a beautiful view of VMI's parade field and barracks. Praise God for perfect weather that day! Here's the view...

The table centerpieces: To rent the most basic table decorations from the florist (just a small vase with a single hydrangea in it), was going to cost $35 a table. I wanted something a little more unique and not nearly as costly. So, with the help of the family, we made our own table decor. We used a mix and match assortment of champagne glasses, small white candles, and round mirror bases that were lent to us by the baker for free. As you can see, we placed the candles inside of two of the glasses, then set the third glass upside down and placed a candle on the stem. All of the glasses were either pre-owned by family or bought for very little at thrift shops. The hydrangeas were a complete surprise to me- they came from my aunt Joan's garden, how perfect was that?! So, our table centerpieces weren't the three foot tall drop-dead gorgeous floral masterpieces that I would have loved (like our buddies Lindsay & Steve had, I wish you could see them!). But they were soft and romantic and wallet-friendly.

Table centerpieces
The food: Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, but we had various buffets set up around the reception hall inside and out, including a pasta station. I really have no clue what it looked like, or even how the food tasted, since Thane and I didn't eat any. I never thought we'd be like all the other couples who didn't get to try their own wedding food, but yep. We were. Oh- I know most people won't go for this, haha- but we didn't serve alcohol. Nada. Not for money's sake, but it did save us a lot!

Our Cake
The cake: French vanilla cake with a chocolate mousse filling, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting. It sounds better than it was, I'm a chocolate fan. We should have gone for an all chocolate cake, who says you have to do everything traditional? But it was the classic, elegant look that I wanted, and we saved about $50 by opting for buttercream over fondant.

Party favors: There were none! That was one of those pesky details that I just simply didn't have the time nor desire to plan out. So, we didn't have any of the little champagne bottles or rice (we weren't allowed to throw rice anyway, since the reception hall was a historic building and didn't allow it). And that definitely saved a little cash. Although, another surprise to me, my Grandmother brought a ton of little "wedding bells" and set them on each table. So we were entreated to many kisses throughout the night, as the bell ringing tradition requires.

Rhys tries out his bell... Yep, it works!
The music: My dad has a great sound system (he's a drummer), so he brought it and hooked it up. Thane and I made our own play list and recruited my cousin Justin to do the announcing for us (he has radio experience and loves that kind of thing). He did a great job and of course made it super special and personal. So, since we didn't have to hire a DJ we saved $1000.

The Sweetheart Table :)

Transportation: In lue of a limo, we used the valiant Yukon. Not super classy, but practical. And looking back, it's very special. After all, it was what Thane picked me up in for our first date! And many many more over the years.

That's a lot of dress.

Here's another thank you to all of the wonderful friends and family that shared our big day with us, and for all of your love and support! Now that I'm looking back, I'm realizing how big of a role everyone played in this event. So when I say that we couldn't have made it happen without you all, I mean it! Thanks again, and we love you!

Ok, just one more picture!

Thane wasn't crazy about this little photoshoot, but the photographer insisted.

So what about you guys? Did you come up with any creative ways to make your day special without breaking the bank? Any funny memories or outtakes during your wedding? Any disasters that you laugh about now? Who designed your dress? Haha, I can talk weddings all day long!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
-Genesis 2:18-24


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...