We got married this past fall, on November 11, 2017.
Jordan and I were engaged for 3 years and 2 months, and we have been together for 4 years this upcoming Valentine’s Day. We decided a 3 year engagement was smartest in every way, and we were 100% right!
Our wedding day was created on a very strict budget. We paid our way through; the things we were gifted included our photographers, our DJ, catering, cake, alcohol, and the church + pastor themselves. Otherwise, we bought drinks, the dessert bar foods, every decoration piece, our honeymoon, etc. I wanna say that we spent over double or triple what we were gifted.
The night before our wedding — the rehearsal — was VERY, very stressful. The rehearsal itself took maybe an hour. The dinner was cooked and done by our parents (we also bought the supplies for this), but I was way too anxiety-ridden to even think about eating. After dinner, us + our bridal party spent 4 hours decorating the entire church and reception hall. Yes, the entire wedding was done by us.
It wasn’t easy, but it sure was worth every moment. Every tear. Every breakdown. Every over-thinking session. They were all worth it in the end, because it came together exactly how I imagined. I decided to DIY most of our decor…. (Examples: post 1 and post 2.)
Our wedding wasn’t traditional. It did not cost $20,000, or even $15,000. It wasn’t catered with waiters and bartenders. Every single thing was done by us. We chose the route of buffets instead of traditional waiting; that way, people ate when they wanted to — not at a certain time of the evening. Our parents left our pre-ceremony pictures early in order to pick up the catering, heat it up, and set it up. Then, they set up the alcohol, had to wait for the DJ and baker, etc. Aforementioned, it WASN’T easy, but having the support and help we had was what made it doable.
My biggest recommendation to EVERY bride (and groom) to be: STOP listening to the world and the internet! Your wedding is NOBODY’S day, but YOURS. Make it YOURS. Molding it around a Pinterest wedding, or your friend’s wedding, is NOT worth the stress and tears! DO IT ALL FOR YOU. Nothing is off limits if you want it done. Do it, and get it done. Start as early as possible. This day comes and ends faster than you could E V E R imagine. Unless an expensive wedding is a heavy possibility, leave room for compromise. Leaving the room to compromise opens a whole new realm to possibilities! There’s ways to DIY or “cheaply” do almost anything.
We personally opted out of a videographer, as we both aren’t fans of how we look on video and I cannot listen to myself talk on camera EVER. We would’ve paid thousands and then never watched it! We have enough iPhone videos (which are personal and wonderful) from all different angles to make up for the lack of videographer! Jordan’s uncle also surprised us by recording our ceremony and first dance on his professional camera. If you want to and have to, it is NOT the end of the world to opt out of the traditional. I thought that we would highly regret this decision, but it turns out, I couldn’t have felt better about it. The amazingly stunning pictures tell the story through body language and smiles themselves.
My only personal regrets when it came to our wedding was the time of day we started it, and not having a set schedule for the main events (we didn’t make schedule cards or anything.) We started our wedding at 2pm (our pre-ceremony pictures were from 12pm-2pm), which was good because the sun set at 4:45pm and we needed to have some natural light in the church, but also “bad” because the wedding ended somewhat early. Everyone was out by 6 pm (which was the original “end time” of our wedding anyway) and it felt like it flew faster than it had to! Everything felt almost rushed, because I wasn’t paying attention to time and didn’t realize how fast the hours were passing. At first, I really beat myself up for convincing us to have an earlier wedding…. but it all ended perfectly — with a date to Taco Bell later in the night with our two best friends, and and early brunch the following morning!
All in all, ANYTHING is possible when it comes to a wedding day. I surely did learn that the minuscule details that I had breakdowns about (like how we had a few random chairs because we found out at the rehearsal that we didn’t have enough of our regular ones) really didn’t matter even an ounce in the moment. I learned that a good photographer can solve ANY insecurity that you had about decor or food or makeup or hair. I learned to budget the right way and to really focus on the RIGHT things. With the perfect photographer, food, entertainment and drinks, your wedding will be one to remember. We did a pizza + antipasto bar (which was a HUGE hit), beer and wine tubs, a donut + cookie bar and a 3-tiered wedding cake. Every single food item were personally chosen by us both, and I am SO glad we didn’t go the traditional route with the chicken and salmon, steamed veggies, etc. Everyone had as much as they wanted and virtually everything besides a few donuts and pieces of cake were eaten.
No one cares about the favors (barely any of ours were taken, if anything at all. This isn’t a first either — the last wedding we went to had personalized food boxes and barely anybody took theirs back) or the decorations. Every single person only goes to weddings to HAVE. FUN. Truly, no one cares about your thousands of dollars worth of decor. They just want to have fun. So, make it the TOP priority to be fully there and ready to dance, drink, laugh and smile all night. Low stress, high happiness!
Our photographers: Alberto and Norberto of FlowingColor Photography
Our DJ: Mary Matthews of Encore DJ Entertainment
Our catering: Romeo’s Pizzeria
Our baker: JG Desserts
Our bouquets: Eco Flower (I added additional flowers to them!)
Our cake was a yellow cake with cookies and cream filling! The donuts were actually from the Walmart Bakery, and these were some of the first things to be eaten!
Our pictures were taken at Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown, NJ….
It was 32 degrees that afternoon and I had only a small leather jacket with me. It took about an hour and a half to get the perfect pictures, and although I was extremely thankful for the sunshine, the bitterness made me nearly purple by the end!
Our first dance was to “All The Way” by Frank Sinatra. The truth about our first dance? I almost opted out of it! I hate being the center of attention, and I actually opted out of a father/daughter dance until pretty last minute because of this. I had a few anxiety attacks over just the thought, so during our dance, Jordan quietly sang me the song to make me feel like it was just me and her. It was this moment where I truly felt so happy, and so stress-free.
Jordan danced to “Tough Little Boys” by Gary Allan with her dad, and I danced to “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle with mine. These were extremely special moments for us.
Although my OCD kills me because of how uneven the front of our table cover got, here was a peek at some of our decor! I am so glad my brother got me this tapestry! The perfect addition to a church wedding.
Our guestbook was a globe that Jordan inherited from her late grandfather. We made the pallet sign from wood we got from the garbage, and we found this wooden ladder at the curb by someone’s house….
I made everything besides the Instagram and the Mrs. and Mrs. sign. I was very proud of how beautiful our decor coordinated for an autumnal wedding!
These pictures are very special to me and I am so glad our amazing photographers captured them for us!
My bouquet toss song was “Single Ladies” by Beyonce….
And Jordan’s garter dance was to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard! This was amazing.
Some more unforgettable pictures from the garter dance and toss!
All in all, our day was exactly as we planned….
Most of it was like a fairy-tale; even down to us being late to our own ceremony after having to park down the block from our church because someone took our spot….
Looking back, all of the hours I spent DIYing everything was BEYOND worth it. From my crown to the bouquets and boutonnieres….
I absolutely adored our color scheme, my bridesmaid’s dresses (that they all individually chose themselves), the bouquets I made, etc….
Our start to forever was exactly what we needed: beautiful, fun, free, and loving.
The one thing I hope at least one person learned from reading this post, was that following what everyone else is doing isn’t always the proper route. You don’t NEED anything for your day that you can’t afford; please, don’t go broke over one day.
We followed our own hearts; which took us to a very bright, un-traditional route for our wedding, and we truly couldn’t have been happier. I made my flower crown, we got both of our outfits on discount (AND they were the last in their sizes), we compromised, and we loved every moment. The important thing about your wedding is WHO YOU ARE MARRYING. It’s not your venue, your ring, etc. It’s who you’re marrying and the love you share. I hope everyone finds a love beautiful enough to write about…. because I am so glad I found mine.