Wedding Week Day 5: The Wedding Dress

It’s probably a no-brainer that I include at least one post about my wedding dress, so here you are! I absolutely adore my dress – honestly, I was so lucky to find it. Originally, my sister and I planned on re-doing my mom’s wedding dress and I was going to wear that down the aisle. However, last summer I went with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (who was also married this past June to my hubby’s bro) to a local boutique for a $99 dress sale. Formal Affairs is known in Richmond for its designer gowns, so it was a wonder that they were having such an incredible blow-out special. I never expected to find my dress there, especially not the second one I tried on either, but I did, and it was magical!

For a long time, ever since the beginning of the wedding planning process – so forever basically – I decided my preferred style was v-neck, vintage and covered in lace. It was going to be a stretch to make my mom’s dress into my vision, but this $99 find took my breath away by matching all my criteria! The original size was rather large, but it was easily altered to fit perfectly.

Other Bride Essentials:

  • The veil: my mama’s since I didn’t wear her dress. It matched perfectly! Cost: FREE
  • The garter: 2-pack from Hobby Lobby – one to throw and one to keep. Ivory with lace. Cost: $12
  • The sash: I made with ribbon from Michaels and hairpin from Formal Affairs. Cost: $40
  • The shoes: flats from Payless – comfortable and didn’t make me look like an Amazon. Cost: $18
  • The accessories: gold hairpins, pearl necklace, earrings and bracelet polish it off. Cost: FREE

Through my wedding dress experience, I learned a few things:

  1. Determine your preferred style before shopping, or it could take ages to narrow down a favorite
  2. Don’t settle on a dress unless you’re 100% confident it’s the one – then “say yes to the dress”
  3. Be on the lookout for sales and specials going on at bridal boutiques in your local area
  4. End of summer is a good time to shop since it is the end of the busy bridal season
  5. Set a budget and don’t go over – it’s called a budget for a reason
  6. Don’t let size dissuade you, especially a bigger size – it can always be taken in to fit your body

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Day 4 of Wedding Week…and the quirky guest/gift table

The guest/gift table actually came together really nicely – perfectly welcoming guests to our reception. It all started out with wanting an atypical guest book – one that incorporates my love of photos and scrapbooking. This then evolved into creating a makeshift photo booth, explaining how to sign the book and finding other essential decorations to greet our friends and family upon entering the reception hall.

The Guest Book

I bought a small photo album from Michaels with lines underneath each photo slot for guests to write a note. The goal was to have each family write a note and take a few pictures at the photo booth area, then after the wedding I would print them off and add to the guest book. A lot of people caught on to this, but some of the older population may not have been so savvy. However, I framed instructions so everyone would know precisely what to do. I was quite giddy when I found this idea on Pinterest – I tweaked it somewhat though! [Note: I’ll go into further detail about the makeshift photo booth in a later post.]

The Gift Area

In addition to framing photo guest book instructions, I also had a gold picture frame to indicate where presents should go, with “Gifts” printed off in a cute design. However, the cards received special treatment – they were placed in an adorable old suitcase I borrowed from my sister. This is a family heirloom that she used at her wedding as well! To dress it up a little, I added a “cards” banner, crafted from scrapbooking  paper and markers. And then at the end of the night when hubby Aaron and I pranced through our sparkler-lit friends to bid farewell, I carried the card suitcase with me, symbolizing our honeymoon trip (and to be sure we gathered all the vaca moolah)!

HUDNALL_WEDDING_0200

Whimsical Decorations

After the essentials, I included some other finishing touches. First, by repurposing a birdcage with flowers, lace, greenery and of course, adorable feathery birds. I also added flowers from Goodwill to an antique vase. And lastly, I made sure the table included one of my prized tea trays, mentioned in a previous post, complete with teacups and all!

This is just another small example of how to keep costs low and produce a fabulous, yet affordable wedding. It all comes down to the details – so start making a list and pinning all your fav ideas early! If you have any fun DIY guest book or gift table ideas, I’d love to see them in the comment section below.

[Wedding Week Day 3]: Piecing Together the Wedding Party

From the get-go I knew our wedding would not be traditional in any sense of the word, and with that, I wanted our bridal party to stand out in an impactful way. We didn’t ask them to wear cookie cutter dresses or tuxes, rather, each had general guidelines for how to dress and then they could jazz it up however they wanted.

Main benefits of having a mismatched, but coordinated wedding party:

  • Kept costs low, which made our friends very happy
  • Individuality shone through
  • Different body types call for different dresses
  • No time constraints – no fittings, tailoring or last-minute adjustments
  • Perfectly suited our theme by being DIY, unique and vintage
  • FUN – everyone loved being able to pick out what they wore
  • No hassle for the guys – most of them had everything already

The Blushing Bridesmaids

For all my ladies, I asked them to stick within the coral color family and I preferred above the knee with a summery, whimsical vibe. Everyone did a great job of finding their looks! And for several, I shopped with them to help pick out which dresses to wear.

Quick Tip: If this is something you have considered doing, then try to stick with one color palette so that all the dresses are on the same page. I made sure no one dress was glaringly different from the rest. The style and material also play into this. I was very strict about not wanting much pattern or color variation. However, I was partial to lace, so I tried to incorporate that in as many of the dresses as possible. All my friends were so good about checking with me before picking anything out though; I had the final say ultimately. But I never had to say no – talk about girls with good taste!

In regards to jewelry, I asked for all the girls to wear gold, and to top the looks off with nude-colored shoes. These two things were really the only stipulations in regards to accessories though. So again, they could get creative with what they wore. Professional hair and makeup was also optional, because I know some girls would rather not spend money when they could do it even better for themselves. Especially since a lot of them have voluptuous, curly hair, which I can totally relate to! (Four of us did go to the salon though.) Here is how we all turned out:

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The Dashing Groomsmen

The groomsmen were so much easier to coordinate than the bridesmaids, and naturally so! Basically, this is all their outfits entailed:

  1. White button-down dress shirt
  2. Black slacks
  3. Black suspenders
  4. Black dress shoes
  5. Optional: fun colored socks

And that was it! Most of them had these items in their wardrobes, with the exception of suspenders for some. Even though this wasn’t “mismatched” per say, it was a casual, yet formal look and it was easily put together and essentially free. I am so happy with how handsome they all were. Check them out…

If you’re considering this type of direction for your bridal party I would definitely recommend it! As per my intro, it will save you time, money and allow for some creativity. Plus, it is bound to make your friends really happy at how personalized, simple and inexpensive the whole “wedding attire” process can be.

Day 2 of #WeddingWeek: Personalized Paper Products

Buying custom save the dates and invitations is super, I mean outrageously expensive, and it doesn’t need to be. So again, continuing with my theme, I took a very conservative, but personal approach. The save the date was in a digital format, and both the invites and ceremony programs I created in Publisher. This may seem rather basic and boring, not elaborate enough, but it was actually perfect. I was very hands-on, as with any DIY project, and I really enjoyed getting creative with it!

Save the Dates

Since most of our guests are on Facebook, we decided to save some dough and make a FB event for people to RSVP and get more info. This way we could keep track of who hadn’t responded and reach out to them a month or so before the Big Day. In addition, it allowed guests to post pictures at the event! And we used it to update everyone about the change in ceremony location – womp womp.

save the date

Cost: FREE!

Invitations

The invitations I did end up creating myself. These were easily accomplished in Microsoft Publisher – super simple, but really effective. I had a lot of freedom with the layout, wording, colors and size in this regard. I really just “winged it” so-to-speak, first finding a semi-workable template and then tweaking and going from there to customize it. The wording came from a little online inspiration and my own literary flair, ha!

Costs:

  • Design – free
  • Printing – $70 from OfficeMax
  • Envelopes – $11 from Amazon
  • Stamps – $110 (the ribbon made a bump, so each one needed a $0.66 stamp, blah) from USPS

Ceremony Programs

Again, the ceremony programs I made in Publisher. These were also fun to make – with the help of templates I found online, namely Pinterest, and personalization based on our structure and wedding party. We had lots of family involvement, so it was pretty cool to recognize them in the program. Of course, there were some last-minute issues with weather and people not being able to make it, but overall it gave our guests something to read while they waited. I also tried to carry over the theme from the invites into the programs – uniformity, consistency and all that. In addition, I bought a pack of paper that had four colors in the coral family, to fit our scheme, and had them printed on all four.

Costs:

Being creative with all the paper products for your wedding is a fun way to incorporate your individual style, with significantly lower costs than a professional printer. There are more sophisticated programs out there than Publisher I’m sure, but I suggest you go with whatever suits your comfort level and the vision you’re aiming towards. For more wedding planning tips see my first Wedding Week post.

Day 1 of Wedding Week: The DIY Strategy

When I began planning for my wedding, years in advance mind you, I knew that to afford everything it would need to be a budget, DIY venture. Meaning, my goal was to create as many things on my own and to find local wedding vendors that would cost significantly less than larger commercial entities. Needless-to-say, this took a lot of planning and consideration, but I made it happen!

DIY Projects

So basically, I created everything. Pinterest was a major launching off point, as were other wedding blogs that focused on DIY, vintage wedding ideas. And my family was really helpful in the process. However, if you want to take this on be prepared for major dedication and preparation. This was no easy feat – not for the faint of heart I tell you! Hobby Lobby was my go-to store and every Saturday during the two months leading up to it I was frantically running wedding errands and completing projects.

One other huge aid in the planning process was a tangible wedding planning book, courtesy of my mom, which I used to take notes, separate each aspect of the Big Day, plan out honeymoon details and most importantly, add pictures. It was basically a book version of my Pinterest board and all my lists. It is easy to get lost in all the details, so for me being able to see it all planned out gave me peace of mind and a sense of direction. You can see snippets from my wedding book below.

I will dive into more detail in later posts about specific projects, but here is a brief overview of major DIY areas. (I saved significantly by doing them myself.)

  • Save-the-Dates, invitations and ceremony programs
  • Reception and ceremony decor and flourishes
  • Cake stands
  • Sand ceremony essentials
  • Bridesmaid gifts – goodie bags
  • Bouquets
  • Wedding favors
  • Farewell sparklers (instead of bubbles, birdseed or rice)
  • Card box and guest book
  • Makeshift photo booth

The Knot was also a major help in keeping on track with wedding tasks and to-dos. In addition, it gave me a platform for my wedding website (for family and friends to visit prior to the wedding), I could look at other wedding pages for inspiration and the wedding store inspired my DIY direction as well.

Local Vendors

In addition to making most everything, for larger details that required professional help, I referred to friends and local businesses. Below is an outline of what each service was, the cost and what was included:

  1. Cupcakes: made by my friend Lauren – $350 (300 cupcakes, handmade liners and decor/setup)
  2. Photographer: Red Barn Photography, but my main photographer was my friend Rachel – $1,250 (all the high res images and full day of coverage)
  3. Jeweler: Hoppe Jewelers – $500 for my custom-made wedding band (complete with diamonds and 18K white gold) and $130 for my husband’s tungsten band and free engraving
  4. Wedding Dress: Formal Affairs – on sale for $99, originally $700+ (Casablanca Bridal gown)
  5. Reception Food: bought, prepared and served by my mom’s friend Deborah and her family – $500 at cost (buffet style dinner + BBQ from my brother-in-law’s good friend at cost for $360)
  6. Hair and Makeup: The Art of Hair – $90 for both plus a 30% tip
  7. Reception (and Ceremony) Venue: Central Christian Church – (originally the ceremony was going to be outdoors at my parent-in-laws’ house, but rain prevented my dream outdoor wedding), so in total $150 for the sanctuary and reception hall, use of the kitchen, sound equipment, etc.
  8. Chair Rental: L&H Rentals – $240 for 200 chairs + delivery and pick-up (rained-out ceremony meant not all the chairs were used, but some transferred to the reception for extra seating)

By looking local and utilizing your contacts, you can really save time and money in the long-run. Like anything, it may take some creativity and thought, but if you’re on a budget like I was, then YAY, added motivation to figure it all out as affordably as possible! To see more images of how my wedding turned out, you can visit my wedding gallery here.