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 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.

A Glimpse Into My DIY, Vintage Wedding

Before diving into all the phenom aspects of my Big Day, and the hard work to make it happen, I thought I would show a brief overview of the vision and style. As is probably evident, I love all things DIY, so this was a major component, as well as, incorporating vintage-themed aspects. Our colors were fitting for the summer: orange, yellow and pink tones, with an emphasis on coral. But what can explain this all better than pictures – check out the gallery below!

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