We Did

Almost exactly one-point-five years ago, I started this blog and discussed our intentions to plan our wedding, and exactly one year ago (and, ironically, on our third anniversary), I wrote about our decision to be indefinitely engaged.

Today, on the fourth anniversary of our first date, I get to write about our wedding.

(So, I did write the introduction and half of this post when the above was true, but then I put off writing the rest, and so technically none of that is true now.)

Sometime in December 2014, Kevin and I finally agreed that A) we needed to get married (for financial reasons, of course), B) we wanted to get married (for love reasons), and C) we wanted to keep it simple.

We went through several iterations of what “simple” meant and finally landed on a three-course wedding format—one that would please our family, friends, and financials.

And, when we discovered that 2015 would include a Super Pi Day, and also that this day fell on a Saturday, we knew we had to get married on that date.

But it was December, and no one knew of our plans but us.

On January 4, 2015, while lunching with some of our friends at Bangkok Square (best Thai in GNV!), we discussed our wedding date and were disappointed to learn that half of the people at the table were busy on Pi Day. Dismayed, we realized that, if we wanted people to attend, we had to get to work right away. Since I don’t believe in save-the-dates, and since paper invitations would have taken too long (oh yeah, and would have been ridiculously expensive), we used Facebook to invite our friends and an email blast to invite our family and non-Facebook-using friends. Imperfect? Maybe, but we didn’t care; it was cost-effective, and it allowed us to easily track who could come.

Part 1: The Ceremony

Having been to many weddings, I knew that the ceremony was not something that everyone would want to attend, no matter how short we made it. Also—and this is just me being weird—it felt arrogant to expect people to come watch me parade around in a pretty dress and say some fancy things. So, while we told our friends about the ceremony, we let them know that it was 100% optional. To our surprise, many of our friends still came, which truly warmed my heart.

Covered pavilion at Bivens Arm looking toward the seating area.

We held the ceremony at Bivens Arm Nature Park, a gorgeous, free park near downtown Gainesville. Originally, I wanted to get married at Cellon Oak Park, which is about 20 minutes north of Gainesville and boasts the largest oak tree in Florida (though when I drove Kevin there in 2014, the park was closed because one of the tree’s largest limbs had fallen, so who knows if it’s still the grand champion), but it’s devoid of seating, which meant we would have had to rent chairs and truck them out to the site. Since we planned to have a very short ceremony, it didn’t seem worth the cost to do this. While I had been to Bivens Arm before, it had been several years since my last visit. When I Googled it and saw that it provided comfortable seating and a pavilion perfect for a ceremony, I knew it was perfect for our event.

While I was content with the decorous natural setting, Kevin and his friend from work, Lina (who graciously volunteered to be our day-of ceremony coordinator), thought the site could use a bit of sprucing. Together, we scoured Michael’s for cheap wedding decor. I found some amazing owl vases (50% off!), which we planned to rest on our newly purchased bar stools (a gift from Kevin’s parents) from our bar, white tulle (buy one, get one 50% off), and blue and white fake flowers (50% off)—just enough decoration to add a personal touch without detracting from the rustic beauty of the park. And, better yet, after the big day, we had so much tulle left over that I returned one of the rolls to Michael’s, and while we did keep the owl vases and some of the fake flowers as decorations in our house, I sold the used tulle and half of the flowers on Craigslist for $20!

As for the colors, my preference would have been seafoam green (my oddly specific favorite color), but since my sister was my only bridesmaid (actually, my matrón of honor), and since she also had to buy a flower-girl dress and a ring-bearer suit, I told her to pick any dress she wanted in any color (except red) and that would be my color. I wanted the dress to be something she would actually wear again (and not something the bride tells you you could actually wear again but then never do), and though she chose a super fancy floor-length gown, I think she goes on enough cruises to reuse that baby at least once on those fancy-schmancy dinner nights.

For the officiant, well, that’s a funny story that involves me and the Internet and being creepy (or really good at the Google, depending on how you look at it), but we ended up finding the fiance of our wedding photographer, who happened to be a notary and who happened to have never officiated a wedding. But, he did have a lovely baritone voice, and I had no problem gambling on his ability to read words from a piece of paper and sign his name nicely. In the end, he did a great job, and now we’re actually friends in real life.

As for the ceremony itself, it was really important to Kevin and me to write it ourselves and make it meaningful to us, even if it did not adhere to customs or the religious beliefs of anyone other than us. We loved what we came up with; it was traditional enough to follow but uniquely us. Lina, who is from India, told us that in traditional Indian weddings, people close to the bride and groom speak during the ceremony to honor the couple. Kevin really latched on to this idea, so we asked his dad and brother and my sister and aunt to prepare a little something. At first, I wasn’t fond of the idea, but I’m glad Kevin insisted on it, because I think it turned out well and made the ceremony even more personal.

Wide shot of the site.

Our beautiful ceremony venue.

I know everyone says this, but the ceremony really did go by in a blur. Though we spent hours writing our wedding ceremony, it took only a few minutes to complete, and it felt like a surreal, out-of-body experience. But it happened and, in under 15 minutes, we were husband and wife.

After the ceremony, we spent a few minutes chatting with our friends and taking family photos before we headed into the woods for a brief photo shoot of just us. The one thing I regret is not budgeting more time here, as we felt very rushed to get photographs in before heading to our next event, but in the end, our photographer (Tyler K. Reed Photography) got plenty of great shots. (I mean, let’s be honest; how many photos does anyone really need of their wedding day? The answer is not that many.)

Part 2: Family Luncheon

Because all of our family came from other cities (and some from other states), we wanted to do something nice and a little fancy for them as a thank-you (which is why this event was called a luncheon and not simply a lunch). We decided to treat our family to a meal at Francesca’s Trattoria, my favorite Italian restaurant in GNV and one of the first restaurants Kevin and I visited for a date.

This turned out to be the single most expensive transaction for the entire wedding, but it was worth it. The food was great and we had the chance to hang out with our families before the chaos of the party began.

Part 3: House Party

Homemade fire pit and wood benches.

While we always knew we wanted to host a party in lieu of the traditional, formal reception, we originally planned to rent a house or venue and throw the party there. In the end, however, we decided that it would be more advantageous to host it at our house. We had never thrown a housewarming party when we purchased the house, and we thought we could make better use of the money we would have needed to rent a place to make some small improvements to our own abode, like building the bar and adding a permanent, homemade fire pit with benches.

When we first started dating, Kevin (though he swore he never wanted to get married) told me that the best wedding he had ever attended was one that was held in a park and included hot dogs and beer. Having been to many weddings myself, I knew that the real recipe for success/fun was not how cute and clever the table centerpieces and party favors could be (and the last thing I wanted to do was throw the same uninspired, “look what I found on Pinterest,” rustic-chic wedding that every other female human is throwing these days); all we really needed was alcohol and food.

So we rented a keg, picked up some handles of liquor and mixers, concocted a red sangria, and made lime-infused water for the DDs. In honor of Pi Day, we ordered 25+ pizzas from Domino’s and 8 freshly made pies from Publix, and we also served some appetizers/finger foods.

We converted most of the rooms in our house into seating areas to give people different areas to roam. We set up dual beer pong tables on the side of the house, and we had a bonfire going (at least for a little bit) in the backyard. We put up minimal decorations but enough to feel festive, and we had a diverse playlist (curated by yours truly) going while Darren Aronofsky’s film Pi played on our TV in the background. (Looking back, I should have played Life of Pi instead, as Pi ended up being an obscure choice.)

For our guest book, we agreed that we did not want a framed photo, painting, or other physical object that we would then feel obligated to tote around with us for the rest of our lives. Instead, I used Google Forms to create a fun survey, the results from which are more fun than signatures and will last until the sun blows up and destroys the Earth (and thus the Internet). We were also then able to email a link to the guest book to everyone subscribed to the Facebook event for those that missed their opportunity to fill it out at the party.

What I loved most about our party, though, was how generous people were. We had asked our guests to not bring gifts (since we were not throwing a traditional, costly reception); we just wanted people to come have fun with us. Though several of our friends still contributed to our honeymoon fund, others brought us homemade gifts, like a giant jug of cherry-infused kombucha, a pitcher of white sangria, and fried chicken. Kevin’s aunts took it upon themselves to purchase all of our paper decorations and even lit up our driveway with luminaries. These were unexpected surprises and made us feel very loved.

The downside of the party was that only a few people took photos, so I don’t have much to show for it. But the experience was a blast and exactly what we had hoped it would be. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and most of the food and beer disappeared. I’d call that a success.

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The Rundown

Here’s a breakdown of everything we spent money on and our grand total for our wedding. While we missed our $1,000 goal, I’m satisfied with what we spent. In the end, we both agree that it was exactly what we wanted: our friends and family hanging out, having some drinks, and being merry. In truth, I can’t imagine the evening being anything else other than what is was: perfect for us.

  • Marriage license: Alachua County, $94
  • Invitations/guest book: Facebook/Google Forms, free
  • Music: Various playlists curated by us using Google Play All Access, free (though we did pay $30 for a Bluetooth player to have music at the ceremony, and we pay a monthly subscription fee of $8 for Google Play)
  • Ceremony:
    • Venue: Bivens Arm Nature Park, free
    • Photography: Tyler K. Reed Photography, $188
    • Notary: Kody Latham, free
    • Planner: Lina Khan, free
    • Decorations (tulle, owl vases, flowers): Michael’s, $60 – $20 resale on Craigslist – $7 returned tulle = $33 net
    • Bouquets and boutonnieres: Alix Mathia, free
    • Flower girl basket: Amazon, $10
    • Flower girl flowers: Random person’s hibiscus bush on my way to the ceremony, free 😀
  • Attire:
    • Kevin’s suit: Already owned, free
    • Wedding dress: David’s Bridal, $212
    • Shoes: Amazon, free (generously gifted by my mom)
    • Jewelery: Amazon, $35
    • Hair & Makeup: Did my own, free
  • Lunch venue: Francesca’s Trattoria, $351
  • Reception:
    • Venue: Our house, free
    • Snacks and accessories: Sam’s Club/Dollar Store, $160
    • Liquor, wine, and keg: Sam’s Club/Publix, $180 (and we had extra beer, which we delivered to local friends the next day, and tons of extra liquor, which we will just keep for future use :D)
    • Dinner: Domino’s Pizza, $190 (and we had extra, which we donated to a few friends but mostly to our little brother, Tim, who is in college and lives off of pizza)
    • Dessert: Publix pies, $57
    • Decorations, plates/cups, favors: Oriental Trading, free (generously gifted by Kevin’s parents and aunts)
    • Serving dishes: TJMaxx/Goodwill, $50

Total: $1,615

How We Saved Money

Obviously, our style of wedding isn’t for everyone, and I know a lot of brides spend years dreaming up their perfect day, no expense spared. But here are the major ways that we saved money, and maybe future brides will find just one or two of these (rather than all of them) helpful in planning their own weddings.

  • We held the party at our house (instead of renting a venue).
  • We served pizza and pie (instead of serving an elaborate, multi-course meal).
  • We used electronic resources for our invitations and guest book (instead of using paper, stamps, knick-knacks, etc.).
  • We made our own playlist and used our own sound system (instead of booking a DJ).
  • We scoured the Internet for a talented but flexible photographer and then booked her only for the amount of time (and photos) we really needed (instead of booking an all-day, thousands-of-photos affair).
  • We used a notary to marry us (instead of using an officiant). (By Florida law, notaries cannot charge more than $30 for marriage ceremonies, though many do them for free.)
  • We used minimal decorations and fake flowers that we arranged ourselves (instead of buying real flowers and maximum decorations).
  • We used paper flowers for the bouquets/boutonnieres (which we still have and will have forever), and we stole a few petals from a random bush for the flower girl basket (instead of paying for real flower arrangements that die in a few days).
  • We used what we already had (when appropriate) for our attire, hair, and makeup (instead of renting tuxes or having a professional stylist slather my face and hair with products).
  • We uses paper plates and cups, and we raided Goodwill for serving dishes and then filled in the gaps with inexpensive items from TJMaxx (instead of buying high-end dishes that no one would notice).

To wrap up this post, Kevin and I would like to extend a very humble thank-you to everyone who helped make our day special. We couldn’t have done it without the love and support of our family and friends, and we are very grateful to all of you. Thank you!!

We Did: Photos from Our Wedding

Here is a gallery of photos (click to enlarge) from our wedding ceremony, held March 14, 2015 (Pi Day!). Photography provided by Tyler K. Reed Photography.

Say “Meh” to the Dress: What I Wore

In my previous wedding-dress post, written before the wedding, I expressed my dissatisfaction with wedding-dress shopping and my hope that Kevin would love my dress. I’m happy to report that he did, indeed, love what I picked and my makeup—which is saying a lot because, usually, he complains that I don’t wear enough makeup. As I arrived next to him at the end of the aisle, his eyes lit up and he told me I looked beautiful. Mission accomplished.

My dress was from David’s Bridal (hell on Earth), but it was from the store’s party-dress section and is technically not a wedding dress. But when I tried it on and found that it fit perfectly and would require no alterations, and that it was affordable and flattering for my body type, I didn’t care; it was a good-enough dress for me. (You can see even more photos of my dress and our wedding here on the blog.)

Straight-on shot of my dress.

 

Front detail and accessories.

All of my accessories (except for my earrings, which I already owned) were from Amazon. Since the dress had a Grecian/gold theme, I bought a snake armband, though I had difficulty finding one that was more decorative than terrifying. For the plunging neckline, I needed something delicate yet long, so I went with a simple chevron necklace. I wanted a little bit of bling for my hair, so I thought I would try a gold headband. I discovered, however, that this particular headband looked terrible on my forehead (where it was supposed to go) and did not provide the subtle effect I had hoped it would. My mom suggested wearing it on the back of my head and pinning it into place, which looked much less obtrusive, so we went with that.

For shoes, my mom purchased me some appropriately themed gladiator heels that we didn’t know until the last minute were the perfect height for the dress. They were annoying to snap in place, and the heels kept getting stuck in the grooves of the wood planks at the ceremony site, but they were fun and Kevin loved them.

My shoes, which were hidden by my dress but I wore them nonetheless.

Early on, I had decided that my mother and I could take care of my hair and makeup ourselves. Having put one daughter through competitive baton twirling and one daughter through musical theater and competitive dance, she had made up her fair share of faces. Plus, she spent years styling our hair into up-dos for proms and homecomings, so she’s no novice. In the end, I did most of my makeup and hair myself, but she provided guidance and a helping hand for pinning in my headpiece.

Since I had jewelery in my hair, I wanted to keep my mane simple; I just straightened it and pinned the front back into the headpiece. The humidity of the morning caused my hair to frizz a little, but that’s life.

As for makeup, I spent some time watching YouTube videos on wedding-makeup ideas and techniques. Most videos advocated for piling tons of concealer and goop on one’s face to be the epitome of perfection on one’s wedding day. I, however, wanted to keep it simple and real, though I did follow the basic advice and color combinations of this makeup tutorial. I wanted a natural, light look, since we were having a daytime, spring wedding. For my entire face, I started with the present by Philosophy (a clear makeup) and topped that with a CoverGirl foundation + sunscreen in “classic ivory” (which is a nice way of saying, “you’re so pale you’re almost clear”). For my eyes, I used my E.L.F. box of a bajillion eyeshadow colors (OK, so there are only like 50 colors, but it’s more eyeshadow than I’ll ever need), Tattoo Liner (the best eyeliner ever and probably the single most expensive makeup item I own), and some random mascara. For an amateur, I was proud of how it turned out; Kevin was surprised that I did it myself!

Since I was going natural, and because I know how much Kevin loves a girl with lipstick, I decided to have some fun with my lips and chose a “British Red” lipstick.

Here you can see my eyeshadow colors.

Close-up of makeup and hair.

And that’s that! In all, it took me about an hour and a half to get ready, plus about ten minutes the night before when my sister, niece, and I painted our toes and fingernails together. Not having to rush around to a hair stylist and a makeup artist made the morning more enjoyable and less chaotic—and, of course, much less expensive!

 

We Did: Our Ceremony Script

Writing our ceremony together was one of my favorite parts of the wedding-planning process. It was challenging, especially since I had no idea what a wedding ceremony typically includes outside of the whole “I do” thing. Our notary gave us a basic outline to guide us, but we filled in all of the details. We went through several drafts, but in the end, we were pleased with the outcome. Our ceremony blended tradition with individuality; what we had was uniquely ours.

I decided to include this on the blog because A) some people at the wedding were curious about the quotes we used, and B) maybe it will help future brides come up with something a little out of the ordinary for their own weddings.

We do!

We do!

Entrance/Hand-Off

We walked in to “Comptine d’un autre été, l’après-midi” by Yann Tiersen from the film Amelie, one of our favorites and the first movie we saw together.

Opening

Notary: Family and friends, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of Carly and Kevin. In the four years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and they have come to realize that their personal dreams, hopes, and goals are more attainable and more meaningful when shared with each other.

Kevin never thought he would get married. Since childhood, he thought that he was destined to enjoy life alone; he truly believed that if you love something you have to let it go. But I want Kevin and Carly to remember these words from the film Frida:

“Marriage, at its worst, is a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition. At best, it’s a happy delusion — these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they are about to make each other. But — but — when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous and very romantic.”

Readings/Speeches

We invited a few of our family members to share a quote or brief story that reminded them of us. Kevin’s dad and brother spoke, and my aunt and sister spoke.

Exchange of Vows

We decided to keep this very traditional, since the rest of the ceremony was pretty non-traditional.

Notary: Do you, Kevin/Carly, take Carly/Kevin to be your wife/husband? Do you promise to be true to her/him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and do you promise to love and honor her all the days of your life?

Kevin/Carly: I do.

Exchange of Rings

Notary: Your wedding rings symbolize your choice to be bound together. They have no beginning and no end. May they always remind you that the love between you is also infinite, much like Pi, the infinite mathematical constant.

As they exchange their rings, Carly and Kevin would like to share this quote from the book The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman.

“I will love you forever, whatever happens. Till I die and after I die. And when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tightly that nothing and no one will ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you. And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one; they’ll have to take two: one of you and one of me.”

Pronouncement

Notary: By the virtue of the authority vested in me under the laws of the State of Florida, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss.

We kissed. 🙂

Recessional

We walked out to “Dissolve Me” by Alt-J, one of our favorite songs by one of our favorite bands.

Hitched!