Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part Two: Checking Off Boxes

Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part Two: Checking Off Boxes

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I am finding flexibility is key when taking on such a crazy task as a December wedding. As in this December. (Yeah, there’s the crazy part. Or sadistic; take your pick of adjectives.) Organization is a close second, but I am finding that the more I am willing to bend with the situation, the saner I will stay.

In all honesty, it is going much more smoothly than I had anticipated. I mean, how in the world I was able to book a Victorian home with less than two-month’s notice is still a puzzle. It may not be what I originally envisioned, but it is a far cry from the cement walls I thought we’d be working with. And really, I couldn’t expect an outdoor wedding to be well received in the dead of December; no amount of layers was going to fix that. So when planning a wedding quickly, don’t settle for something you hate, but be open to the possibilities.

Next, Andrew and I were not sure who we were going to have officiate. I always had a couple of women in mind (one secular and one religious), but neither options were going to pan out. Andrew had a friend with a retired preacher for a dad, but we had never heard him give a sermon or officiate before. I wasn’t  comfortable with my granddad doing it because he is a bit unpredictable in what he might say. Then my grandmother (not attached to the formerly mentioned granddad) offered up the preacher of her tiny little congregation. I had met him several times. He was young and seemingly pleasant. What stood out to my mind is that, once when we were making small talk, he mentioned really liking that indie movie Rachel Getting Married. I had just seen the film and loved it, so he got personal cool points from me. He was also available for our date. I know, this is not a lot to go on for deciding on someone who will have such a role on our day, but hey, time was and is of the essence. So I called him up after discussing the option with Andrew, and man, am I glad I went with my gut.

I was dreading talking to a candidate because I was afraid of how he or she would react to me saying we wanted to write our own vows, have say in what would and would not be mentioned, and were completely against having “obey” anywhere in the ceremony. Turns out, I didn’t have a thing to worry about. He was the first to say that he would say or not say whatever we wanted and that the more personal we wanted to make the ceremony the better. He also reassured me that no one wants that pesky “obey” clause anymore. The he gave me important information about procuring the license. But the best part came toward the middle of our conversation when he mentioned that he had performed a Harry Potter-themed wedding. Now that is a sign if I ever was looking for one! I mean, we are considering Pop! figurines of Ron and Hermione for our cake topper!

I am currently exchanging emails with him to set up possible premarital counseling Skype sessions. And if I may just ramble for a second, I always intended that we would have time for counseling. We may just not have time now.

Fortunate circumstances allow me to go back to my hometown in West Tennessee after Thanksgiving to deal with all this wedding madness. That means Andrew and I will be separated for about a month before the wedding. (Insert sad emoji of your choice.) As if this is not stressful enough, that gives us very little time to sort out our license application. For the couples who are as unaware as I was, the couple getting married has to go to the clerk together to get the license. Also, if a couple wants marriage counseling (which will give you a discount on the application fee), they have to have their counselor sign off on a form that must be presented before they apply for the license. All of this is well and good for most, but Andrew and I will soon be six hours apart from one another, so the chances of having all of those ducks in a row beforehand is not likely. Back to the premarital counseling bit, regardless of the discount, I think it is something every couple should do. So even if we can’t have Skype sessions, I fully intend to break out these questions (courtesy of A Practical Wedding) one evening with Andrew coupled with maybe a box of pizza or take-out. We have had many talks about the future and our values over the past three years, but probably not as condensed and thorough as this in one setting.

Okay, rambling over.

The third box checked of the list is–drum roll, please–I ordered my dress! I have read that it takes forever to find the right dress, but I did not have forever and did not want to spend a fortune. So I got on ModCloth and looked at their special occasion dresses. This little beauty is what I found. Now let’s just pray it gets here on time and fits! I know ordering online without trying the dress on is a huge risk. I read 90% of the current 465 reviews of this dress, picked my size according to those reviewers and their emphatic proclamations of sizing up, and crossed my fingers. Now remember what I said about flexibility being super important in all of this? Well, I think it is fine that I ordered the dress because if a.) it doesn’t fit, b.) I don’t like it, or c.) it doesn’t arrive in a timely manner to figure out a or b, then I will send it back and go on a wild hunt for in department stores and local shops with my mom back home. I am even going to keep my eye out this weekend for a backup dress while we look for Andrew’s attire.

The dress may be a bigger priority for some than me, but I never had my heart set on a particular gown or designer. I am also very fond of paying less than $200 for a dress that I will most likely only wear once. If you, dear reader, are also looking to plan in a wedding in a condensed amount of time, have a less formal style, or just want to save some dough, I recommend hitting up your favorite shopping haunts, online retailers, and big department stores. (Every blog and book I have read so far encourages this for smart shopping!) You never know when a prom dress for 100 bucks may be just what you are looking for.

I know this post is getting long, but I just want to talk about organization for a hot minute. I know what has to be done and am okay at organization but not a master. To pull this off, you need to bring in the masters. Either you are one yourself or you are lucky enough to be friends with one. I have such luck and wish to give a hearty thanks to my friend Steph. She lives about seven hours from me presently but wanted to help me from afar by lending me her powers of organization which are mighty. I mean, she has a planner solely to keep up with the books she’s reading! And after seeing the binder that she sent me priority shipping, I am pretty sure she was a wedding planner in a past life.

This thing has folders, note paper, calendars with to-do lists for November and December, a pocket for important papers, a portable hole punch, and a pouch full of highlighters, post-its, pens, and clips. There is also a copy of the list of she made of everything we said needed to be done while we FaceTimed. And as a bonus, she even sent three bags of dark chocolate to ward away the stress. She is amazing!

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So if you have a friend who is good with lists and scheduling, ask her for help to keep you on track.

Well, I have a whole weekend full of boxes to check off, so keep the love first and…

Keep your fingers crossed for us,


Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part One: The Decision!

Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part One: The Decision!

So Andrew and I have made a crazy, wonderful, stressful choice. At the beginning of November, we re-evaluated how the wedding planning was going. We had decided a couple of months before that we wanted to have the wedding in Knoxville. We were set on next October for a fall wedding. We had a place in mind that was affordable, large enough for our guest list, and full of gorgeous windows. We had a caterer in mind. Andrew had a musician friend he wanted to hire to play. We were ready to start booking. So what was the problem?

First, a lot of my family wasn’t going to be able to make it, and I’m not talking about second cousins or great aunts. I mean my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and basically anyone who wasn’t my mom and sisters. This became increasingly frustrating and disheartening for me because I wanted these people there and could no longer see why we wanted to throw this big shindig if a chunk of people I loved were missing. Andrew does not have as big of a family that he is in contact with as I do, so it was difficult for him to relate. However, I can be determined (read stubborn) to work with a plan, so I tried to continue on with our original ideas.

This brings me to the second issue. The venue we wanted was terrible with communication. They would not get back to my emails half the time, would only answer some of my questions, and could not be definitive about availability. They seemed very unorganized and uncaring about possibly receiving our business. I tried to set up a time to see the place and explained when we were able to come, and the venue replied with dates and times completely opposite to our available times. We then tried to work with them on scheduling by emailing them some more flexible times for both parties, and they never even responded. I quickly told Andrew I would not trust that kind of venue with our wedding, and we didn’t care for or were unable to swing the other options.

The months since our engagement were piling up, and I became almost completely apathetic about wedding planning. Bride magazines and books sat untouched; Pinterest was only used for recipes. The blog was neglected because there was nothing to say. I cringed when we would hang out with people and hear their questions on what we were deciding. “Nothing,” I wanted to cackle. “We are deciding nothing!” Cue the straitjacket, please. Thankfully, I didn’t do that. I would just give some kind of lame answer and move to another subject.

Then in October I made a joke to my grandmother on the phone about just getting married during the holidays while we were back home. She took it much more seriously than I did as I take anything I said then as the ramblings of a desperate mad woman. A couple of days later, she called me with a list of possible places that we could get married at during Thanksgiving. A lot of these places were newly opened or had not had an internet presence, so I didn’t know enough about them to consider them while researching possible venues in West Tennessee. She had done things the old-fashioned way and called the Commerce office and asked around. She then, bless her, called all of the recommendations and asked about prices, occupancy limits, and availability.

Thanksgiving I knew was not possible, but as she told me all the information, an idea of a December wedding formed in my head. I had spent three to four months struggling to make anything work and did not want to go through this for another year. The thought of only a month and half of wedding planning was instantly seductive.

The clincher came when I was talking to my best friend back home, and she told me about a wedding she had attended the week before in Kentucky. The couple had planned on an April wedding, but on a whim, they decided they were going to get married the next weekend. They called my friend on a Tuesday and were married on a Saturday. They ordained a friend and got married in a pretty park. They wore outfits they already had in their closet. Most of their family couldn’t make it either because of distance, so they just had the people who could.

I thought it was beautiful.

And I didn’t see any reason we couldn’t do something similar.

To bring you up to speed, thanks to my g-ma’s asking around, we have put a deposit down on our venue. It is a restored Victorian house in my hometown that I had never considered because a.) I thought it was going to be extremely expensive, b.) have a small occupancy level, and c.) not provide chairs. Now that we are going to have a rushed planning period and smaller ceremony, reason b. is now acceptable and reasons a. and c. were not a problem to begin with. It will actually be cheaper than the venue we wanted in Knoxville. So Andrew and I are having a fifty-person wedding on December 20, two days after our dating anniversary.

And for everyone who says, “They are crazy! That’s not enough time,” know that I agree, but where there is a will there is a way. We feel  a tremendous amount of relief at having a decision to stick to. We have a lot to do, but there are pros to this path we are taking. It has saved a ton of money already. We had to nix invitations because of the time frame, so  all that money we would have spent on stationery and stamps can be put into other necessities.  It’s also been really nice getting to hear and read responses to our news in real-time. Also, because we are short on time, we are sticking with the basics: Venue, minister, license, rings, attire, photographer, and a dessert reception. Without the big reception, we no longer have to worry about catering a full meal. We don’t need to rent a bunch of linens. Since it will be more of a mingling reception, we won’t have tables. This means no centerpieces. So many savings! I can’t

This choice may not be for everyone, but I did not want to forget the love, not just the love that I have for Andrew but the love I have for my family. This is a good compromise on how to honor both of those loves.

From this point on, the blog will cover how we will pull off getting ready for a wedding in less than six weeks. It is possible! You just have to have priorities. And honestly, even if everything doesn’t go smoothly, which I doubt it will 100%, the important thing is that I am marrying my favorite person at the end of the day.

I hope you continue to keep the love first and…

Keep your fingers crossed for us,


The Right Time

The Right Time


Here is Andrew’s new engagement watch! After a couple of weeks of searching, we were finally able to find the right piece for him. Andrew decided on a watch over a banjo. We like this more because he can wear it everyday whereas a banjo would mostly be at home . There were a few contenders, but Andrew did not want a watch with a leather band. Since I am sensitive about animals, he did not want something that was supposed to represent us involving animals. (That kind of stuff right there is why I am marrying the man!) For my part, I wanted something to match my bling. For any other couple looking for a non-leather option who are not interested in metal links, I would recommend looking at Daniel Wellington watches with the fabric bands or go for wooden watches. We saw several of those by brands like WeWood and MEKU.  Those alternative materials were the ones that caught our eyes. However, in the end he chose Skagen. This style of watch is made of stainless steel but doesn’t have the bulky feel of those with big links.He had given up on finding a Skagen men’s watch with rose gold when we were just browsing in Dillard’s and saw this beauty on display. I think it was meant to be.

As for wedding planning, I have been trying to make some appointments to view some places, but not everywhere has been responsive. To be honest, that makes me a bit nervous. I need to get back to reading my wedding planning books as well. Having just seen a wedding this past weekend, Andrew and I feel the need to get our butts in gear.

The wedding was gorgeous by the way! It was held at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum. I will only show a couple of photos to show the venue since it was not my wedding, but they had quite an elegant atmosphere with fun twists like the laid-back food and geeky references in the music and vows. Oh and their dogs were ring bearers! So cute!

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They were married in front of a tree, and then the reception was in a ivy-covered greenhouse. All in all, a good time, as you can see from Andrew’s and my smiling faces!

Keep the love first,


Under Pressure

Under Pressure

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When I became engaged, there were the excited phone calls and texts, congratulations, oohs and aahs at the ring, and a couple of hearty make-out sessions courtesy of my fiancé. I expected that, as I think most engaged couples do. What I didn’t expect, and what I am coming to find out is a common occurrence, was the increase in fighting. After a couple of weeks, Andrew and I became snappier, more defensive, and shorter tempered. This trend continued.  Just recently I found myself sullen and quiet during a trip to World Market when Andrew called my idea to use a globe as a guest book “impractical” and “weird.” But we weren’t arguing just about wedding stuff. We were on edge about everything. There were a lot of heavy silences from him and ugly cries from me. This wasn’t the picture of a happy engaged  couple we had in mind, especially since we were not prone to regularly argue before. If this has happened to you, I am sure you felt as bewildered as I did. After many reassuring talks with friends and a mention or two of this phenomenon in a wedding book, I felt some relief. Wedding planning is stressful. There may be a few who are just super organized or easygoing and would disagree, but for most, this is, of course, a happy time but a hair-pulling one, as well. Suddenly our relationship feels bigger and heavier and full of a bunch of decisions we need to make and haven’t. Throw in the expenses we have been researching, and BAM! We have ourselves a recipe for at the very least some frayed nerves.

So what has helped us soothe those nerves? There have been a couple of things. The first is we worked on communication. I know; duh! But good communication (as in not by raised voices and sarcasm) is harder than it sounds. I have found that timing is everything when it comes to communicating. I can talk about my feelings better if I’ve had a chance to cool off and gather my thoughts. Andrew communicates better depending on what time of day we talk. Right when he gets home from work or when he is ready to sleep are not helpful. I also find that it is best to not avoid the conversation for too long. A couple of hours after the World Market incident, I had time to reflect and explain calmly how his comments had hurt me. He understood and apologized for any offense he had caused, and we were able to enjoy the rest of our day without that anger hanging over our heads for days.

The next thing I would suggest is to take a break from planning if possible. Andrew and I are still over a year out from the season we want to get married during next year, so we have plenty of time. I decided to stop researching and reading wedding planning books for a week or so, and when we’ve had brief conversations about ideas now, it has been lighthearted.

The last thing that I have found to be helping tremendously is to just go have fun! Last weekend, Andrew and I went ice skating with some friends. There was no tension as Andrew held my hand while I clumsily skated beside him, both of us laughing and talking for a few hours. Sigh! Date nights or fun evenings in have been an awesome way for us to remember why we are getting married in the first place:  we’re best friends.

Fear not, fellow or future brides or grooms! If your fuses have become a little shorter with your intended, just breathe and remember that relationships are a day-to-day process. Ditch the wedding talk for a night and go out and get some ice cream, rent a movie, or just take a walk together. You two are in this together.

Try to keep the love first,


P. S. I hope you all have Queen stuck in your heads right now. Dun Dun Dun Dun-Nananana…

Has a Ring to It

Has a Ring to It

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Not always, but generally in my part of the world, engagement starts with a question and a ring. Sometimes the ring that is given is a complete surprise, but I find more and more couples (including Andrew and myself) are going the other route. The giver of the ring is at least getting input from the recipient on what kind of ring to get whether gold or platinum, diamond or emerald, tattooed or no ring at all. Going a step further, the couple picks out the ring together. I think surprise proposals or completely expected ones work. After all, I can understand the hesitancy to choose an engagement ring by yourself. The person you are giving it to is going to wear it for the rest of his or her life! You want him or her to like it! And there is always room for compromise. Andrew did not feel comfortable picking out a ring on his own, but I wanted some element of surprise. In the end, I decided on what band I wanted, but I never saw the setting with a stone. Andrew picked it out, and I didn’t see the two combined until he was down on one knee. Win-win.

There are a lot of things to think about when choosing a ring, especially together, and I’m not talking about the stone cut. First off, do you both even want a ring? Some people are just not jewelry people. I myself can only remember a few brief times when I even wore rings, let alone anything more than earrings. In fact, most of the women examples I know don’t even wear the engagement ring with their bands anymore, whether it is because they do not find it comfortable or it hinders them at jobs like nursing. I just read a wedding post the other day on Offbeat Bride where the husband and wife didn’t exchange any rings because they would never wear one.

Also, some people, women in particular, may not be comfortable wearing a ring because it can symbolize inequality in the sexes or in general. A woman may think of it more as a brand that she belongs to her fiancé or thinks it is unfair that only one person gets a ring/has to wear one. I’m not arguing for or against any particular side, but I also believe you do not have to have a ring to be engaged. My great grandparents didn’t have an engagement ring; they just ran off and got married. Some people can’t afford one, and its absence doesn’t make the couple any less engaged. Do what’s best for you two. Don’t like rings; don’t get one. Or if you want, get an engagement something else! You could adopt a star together, plant a tree, or give something to do with the other person’s passion. I had a lovely boss who told me that when her now husband asked if her if she’d like a ring, she said no, but she would like a bicycle. So he got her a beautiful high quality bicycle, and they still go on cycling trips all over the country every year. It was touching, and more importantly, it was them. Think it is unfair that you get a ring but he or she doesn’t? There is no law prohibiting you both getting rings or cufflinks or bracelets or bicycles to signify your engagement. I still have my eye out to get Andrew a nice watch as his engagement token…or maybe a banjo.

The second question you may ask, or at least one I did, are there conditions you have for your ring or your partner’s ring that have to do with your values. I am not the greenest person on the planet, but I spent most of my time searching estate and antique rings because they would be more eco-friendly. Diamond and gold mining have an impact on the land, so you may not be comfortable with buying a new ring. Estate and antique rings and family heirlooms are awesome alternatives if you still want the sparkle and shiny. (Just make sure you get your estate or antique ring from a reputable source. While we were ring shopping, one jeweler told me that you have to be careful with rings labeled as estate or antique because the original materials may have been changed in various places or replaced.) Finding jewelers that only use recycled gold and ethically sourced materials are another bet, but who is to say you have to use precious metals if you don’t want to? I was acquainted with a couple at one time who used a wooden ring. The groom had crafted it himself, making it super personal and full of love. Wooden, tattooed, plastic, or otherwise, again go with what is best for you both.

I very much wanted to find a ring that was more environmentally friendly and unique, but unfortunately, I could never find the ring during months of searching. As I mentioned earlier, I am not big on wearing rings, so there was a point where I didn’t even think I would find something I liked. (And I hate making decisions. I think I told you that.) There were also some mishaps. I had found a beautiful estate ring online that was the clear winner, but it was sold before Andrew could purchase it. Some things to remember, the great thing about a one-of-a-kind ring is that there is only one. The terrible thing about a one-of-a-kind ring is that there is only one. If you fall in love with one and it is sold or not able to be adjusted to your size, that’s it.

Finally, Andrew insisted that we give up on the internet quest and do it the old-fashioned way. I made a list of jewelers in Knoxville, specifically ones that had estate rings, and Andrew added a jewelers that had been highly recommended. We looked at ring after ring, and I tried on a few hopefuls. Nothing looked or felt right. On our last stop we went to the jeweler he had picked, Markmans. I didn’t have to commit to anything, but he wanted me to try on some new rings because my Art Deco dreams were pretty much dashed.

I would like to tell you that we went in, and I found the perfect 1930s delicate gold band with a small twinkling diamond. I didn’t. In fact, let me tell you that the ring I found was not antique or Art Deco in any way. Which bring me to the third question you should ask yourself: have you tried rings on?

I had made some opinions about what I wanted in a ring, so I told the team helping us what I liked. They were really helpful and friendly, and brought out at least twenty rings for me to critique on my hand. I didn’t like most of the twenty, but what was important is that they would say, “Now I know you said you only wanted a solitaire, but this ring has more of the antique style you are looking for.” Then I would try it on. Since they were the friendliest and gave me the most options to look at, I got a chance to test out what I thought I wanted. Then I tried on my ring.

It was a modern style, two bands twisted together. I had seen similar rings trending online, but this one was a little more subtle than some of the more braided bands I’d glanced at. It was rose gold, a metal I thought looked too pink for my skin tone on the internet but made my hand look warm when I tried it on. There was no diamond or gem in it, but it was meant for a solitaire. It looked dainty and perfect for my small fingers. I would never have looked twice at it online.

When we got home, I could not stop thinking about it. But surely, I didn’t want a new ring! Surely I wouldn’t be lured in by the sparkly! I looked up their site and saw that they were a member of Jewelers of America, which states their stand on ethical and responsible gold and diamonds. I also resolved to ask at the store. It didn’t completely assuage my guilt about buying new gold, but it made me feel a teensy bit better.

Of course after I told Andrew that it was the ring and knew he bought it, I felt sick to my stomach. I felt like I had let myself down, so I made a pinky promise with myself. Because we got a new ring for the engagement, I will either not get a wedding band at all—It’s weird enough wearing one—or  I would only get one if it was recycled.

So my advice is to go try on rings! Even if you have the perfect one picked out online, go to a jeweler and find a ring with a similar bandwidth or cut and see if fits your personality and not just your finger. And do your research. For example, you may be in love with a pearl instead of a gem, but you should know that pearls tend to get loose in the setting and may pop out and that since they are soft they need a lot of care and caution so as not to scratch them. Or you may want to get your fiancé a titanium or tungsten ring, but you should know about the difficultly in removing them in case there is a hand injury.

But most of all, know that you have choices. You don’t have to be traditional with a diamond, but there is nothing wrong with wanting one either. Andrew wanted to get me a diamond, and I didn’t have any opinion on gem color. I could have just as easily loved sapphires, emeralds, topaz, turquoise, cubic zirconia, you name it. It’s your ring! (Or not ring.) Stay true to yourself and your experience as a couple.

Keep the love first,


P. S. This weekend, Andrew had us stop at a Kay Jewelers  to scope out men’s wedding band for ideas. The salesperson convinced him to try on a few, and it was nice to see Andrew feel just as awkward trying on rings as it was for me. When we do some more serious band shopping, a future post may be about getting his point of view on ring shopping.

Bridal Show and Tell

Bridal Show and Tell


Happy Monday! So this weekend Andrew and I were quite busy. We spent most of Saturday watching the TI5 Dota 2 grand finals in the comfort of surround sound and stadium seating that is the theater experience. It was awesome, in case any of you are interested in gaming or are supportive girlfriends or boyfriends of gamers. But that’s not what I am here to talk about. Instead, I’d like to talk about how we spent our Sunday at a—duh-dun-duh!—bridal show. The Knoxville Pink Bridal Show, to be exact.  Now for those of you who are also new to the whole planning a wedding thing, a bridal show is basically set up like a fancy college job fair to showcase vendors near or in your area. The categories of vendors ranged from the expected list of venues, bridal salons, caterers, and photographers to services such as bachelorette party planning, beauty care, honeymoon booking, and photo booth rentals. There was still a lot in between, but you get the idea.

Andrew and I were a bit overwhelmed on where to start. The morning of the show, I looked up tips from multiple sites to help me navigate the sea of information we were about to dive into. I will share the tips I actually used plus a bonus one that I would have used if I owned a printer and had prepared in advance.

First off, get a game plan. I found the show I went to manageable, but I already had in my mind what Andrew and I were interested in specifically. Exposure to venues I may have missed in online searching was the number one reason we were going. I picked catering and attire to be the two subcategories we would want to browse. I think this tip was really helpful to brides going to massive shows.

Second piece of advice (which I got first from a soon-to-be bride at a BBQ), make a wedding email account. Almost every website I looked at had this as a tip as well. I filled out several sheets with my information to vendors, and it was a relief to know that my personal email would not suddenly be filled with ads the next day. It is also is a good way to keep wedding stuff in its own safe place.

Thirdly, since I already knew I was searching for vendors more than anything else, I wanted to be prepared in case I actually found one! I wrote down some questions to ask about prices, deposits, what’s included, outside catering, and any other concern I had. Why not know what you want to ask while you have a representative there face to face?

I was actually very careful about what I filled out because I am wary of SPAM and chances to win some “prize” that may or may not involve going to a demonstration. That being said, I really didn’t need to follow the fourth tip I saw repeated over and over. It was to print out labels with all my information to avoid a pen being permanently glued in my hand. So names, wedding date, address, phone number (which is always optional to give out or NOT), and email address could be conveniently ready as a bride or groom hits the booths.

Now I have told you how I got pumped for the show, but I haven’t told you about the experience. Let’s start with what I liked.

  1. I appreciated that if I had wanted to, they were there in real time to answer the questions I had scribbled down in my pink notebook. I thought that was a plus for any bride looking at any vendor. Unfortunately, I did not see any venues I had not already researched. When Andrew would point out one, I could already whisper the magic words of “not in our budget” in his ear or explain details about it. However, I did get to talk to a salon who had dresses I am already admiring, and Andrew got to talk about buying and building houses with a realtor for future knowledge. We both spoke with an event design company. They had many products to peruse, but I took their card when Andrew and I both admired an invitation sample in particular. They also had me at their DIY décor kits.
  1. The displays! Whether it was a wedding-party fashion show, table settings, or catering samples, it is one thing to see pictures of products and quite another to see, touch, and even taste them. I am a sucker for the sweet little details, so I enjoyed seeing them up close. We especially admired the beer truck!

I pulled Andrew into all three photo booths they had set up to try on funny hats, hold up props, and basically get free pictures of us. Very early on in my research, I had fallen in love with the idea of having a photo booth at the wedding but knew it was probably not a splurge I could justify. I really enjoyed getting a chance to see the quality of pictures the booth produced, the diversity and quality of props offered, and the extras different booths included. At one booth, couples received a jump drive with all the pictures, and at another, a photo book was provided to write messages by a copy of the guests’ printed out photos. I was impressed by the booth that could light up in your chosen wedding colors.

The booths were really popular, and I think they would be a hit at most weddings.  There is a “but” though. I think budget brides like me who don’t want to miss out could easily DIY a photo booth. A lot of the types of props could be found at party stores or be handmade with some inexpensive craft materials, and a background can always just be a wall, a roll of paper, or a sheet. As far as the set up goes, just google DIY wedding photo booth, and you will find a lot of material. At the show, Andrew took a quick look at the first booth and was telling me how he thought a person could rig up a computer or camera to a photo printer to do the same thing. If you have a Polaroid or Instax camera, you would just need a person to point the camera in the right direction.

  1. I liked that, if Andrew and I wanted to book anyone that day or even before the month is out, a lot of vendors were offering special offers and discounts. Each bride was given “Pink Bridal Bucks” that could be used toward participating vendors as well. On the flipside, this can put the pressure on couples to make hasty decisions, and I am glad we are too newly engaged to make any commitments. Still, who doesn’t love getting a deal?

Moving on to cons, I want to be clear that Andrew’s and my dislikes were more about our personal taste and values.

  1. There were special lanterns for the brides but not the grooms. (I guess we should have been prepared for this since it is called a “bridal” show.) The women registering us did apologize, but this is problematic on a few levels. What I don’t like about the wedding industry in general is that it focuses less on the couple and more on the bride. It is no wonder that people make comments about brides dragging their fiancés to these type of things and the stereotype exists that men are not interested in planning. The market doesn’t try to include or engage them! In fact, the show had a space set up for grooms to play Xbox and sit around. First, nice set up, but second, isn’t that implying that the men need a space to hide away while the bride talks to vendors? Or that the bride enjoys talking to complete strangers about something as personal as a wedding? Or that grooms don’t have opinions?

Almost all of the booths were marketed to women. It made me sad for grooms who want to be involved in planning. It also made me wonder what same-sex male couples do in this situation. Neither one of them is a bride, and the services, though still helpful, are not presented in an equal way. This of course is a general problem and not targeted specifically at this bridal show.

  1. We couldn’t see a lot of “us” in most of the vendors represented. Andrew and I were disappointed. We clearly were not the target audience for most of these vendors. Not all the vendors were in our price range, but I saw a handful of vendors who were small budget friendly. They were not the majority, but they were present. I anticipated that. However, I think that we were hopeful to find more nontraditional or indie or quirky vendors. The venues, food trucks, photographers, and bakers I expected to make an appearance were absent. I am sure that there are wedding shows that focus more on what we are looking for; I just don’t know if there are any near us. I will keep on the lookout for one and keep you posted!

With my first bridal/wedding show under my belt, overall I recommend going to one. I think they are especially helpful if you are newly engaged and wanting to see a portion of what is out there or if you are still searching for a specific category. Also, being at the show opened up conversations for Andrew and me. I learned a bit more about his opinions just by listening to him comment on different booths. It is important to remember that he is a newbie to all of this too, so I vote for couples to go to a bridal show to get the exposure and get to brainstorming.

Keep the love first,



Something New

Something New

On the phone with my mother:

“Andrew and I were thinking about having pie instead of wedding cake.”

(I am pretty sure there was a gasp in here somewhere.)

“What?! You have to have cake!”

“But I’ve read a lot of articles that say most of the cake gets wasted. And Andrew and I don’t really like cake that much.”

“But what if people there don’t like pie?”

“But not everyone likes cake.”

“You have to have a cake. I’ll buy the cake.”

These are the kinds of conversations I am having now.

It has a month since I became engaged to the ginger in my life, but I have been in the “pre-engaged” state for over a year. Andrew and I always knew we would get married; we just weren’t as specific about the when. In that limbo, I have made several secret boards on Pinterest dedicated to wedding centerpieces, themes, invites, and the whole lot. I have hunted down venues in my area through Google searches, Facebook stalking, and general luck. Add on top of everything that I am one of those women who has dreamed of my wedding day since I could play dress up, and you would think I have nothing to sweat about, right? The truth is I am as overwhelmed and daunted by the task of planning as other brides.

I hate to make decisions. You should see me stress over a menu. (And I am vegetarian, so there usually are not that many.) Don’t get me wrong. Pinterest dreams are wonderful, but when the wedding becomes a reality, those hundreds of pins suddenly need to be whittled down. I have to choose. And those picture perfect marquee lights or those sparkly tablecloths suddenly come with conditions. Like a (barely there) budget. An ever-changing guest list. The question of whether we should get married near our hometowns or near Knoxville where we moved to less than a year ago. My own sanity, etc.

Before the clamor of congratulations has even died down, Andrew and I already feel ourselves struggling. We struggle with our individual ideas about what our wedding should be, what our families think, and how we are ever going to pull this thing off. With a modest budget and living off of one income for the time being, DIY seems our best bet. But our skills and our friends’ skills are limited. We are in a new town across the state from our families. My best friends are scattered across the country. We don’t know someone with an idyllic backyard to let us borrow. I didn’t inherit a crafty gene so that I can sew my own sheath dress and veil. I don’t have a make-up artist friend or a fiancé with a troop of groomsmen who can build an intricate altar from tree limbs found in the woods. I also suck at baking. Even my brownies burn. What we do have, however, is a handful of people who love us and the love we have for each other. I think that is a good place to start.

So here I am, between a rock and a white cake, meaning two different things. The first is that I want to start this blog to record and invite you on my journey from newly engaged to newlywed. Step by step, I want you to see my mistakes, my breakdowns, my triumphs, and my joy. The second foreshadows the decisions Andrew and I are about to make, from the intimidating question of hometown bash or intimate affair to the great debate of pie versus cake.

So thanks for reading, and remember…

Keep the love first,