the wedding chronicles | decisions #25 – #32

for those of you who over the past year have been keeping up with the wedding chronicles, you might have wondered where i went for the past couple of months.  well, i went right into the busiest part of wedding planning, that’s where i was!  as such i neglected my posts but am choosing to catch up now.  and even though we are now happily married (for two whole weeks in fact – wooh!), better late than never.  🙂  thank you for joining us on this journey!

decision #25 – the engagement session

after we decided on our photographers for the wedding, the next step with them was to schedule our engagement session.  now, i originally had no desire whatsoever to do an engagement photo shoot, and many of you probably are asking “why?”  well, i personally have never loved getting my photo taken, and the thought of being dragged around for hours and being placed and posed for lovey-dovey photos by someone we don’t know sounded quite undesirable in all honesty.  however, many former brides in my life told me that my reasons for not wanting an engagement session are the reasons exactly why we should have an engagement session.  come again?

see, everyone’s logic (that i ended up accepting as truth after going through it all myself) was that the engagement session is an opportunity to get comfortable with your photographers and start getting to know them.  after all, they do follow you around your entire wedding day, so developing a relationship with them isn’t a bad idea.  another reason an engagement session is worth the while is because it provides a chance for you and your significant other to get used to being all “lovey-dovey” in front of a camera and having someone there to capture that moment.  okay, i guess i can get on board with that reason as well.  and the final reason?  well, for us it was included in the cost, so why the heck not.

so back in november one early saturday morning we met up with our main photographer lisa at ponce city market.  pcm wasn’t too crowded just yet, so lisa worked with us quickly to take advantage of the typically busy and bustling scenery.  the first several photos on the staircase, as it would turn out, were a bit awkward.  i more so than phillip really didn’t understand how to pose and be cuddly with someone else there, and i wasn’t crazy about the first probably 20 photos in the portfolio, which is exactly what worried me in the first place.

thankfully, though, i’d say we hit a better spot as we walked along the beltline and acted more naturally towards each other.  those photos i could look at all day.

and then we had some more close-up, intimate shots now that we were in a bit of a groove.  i think phillip favored these more than me, but i’ll admit there are several i do like.

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my absolute favorites are from when after we had an outfit change and were now really enjoying ourselves.  mm, what a good looking pair!

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all in all, i’d say that even though i was first very skeptical about the engagement session, phillip and our photographer helped me see the value and fun in it.  and even though i wasn’t too sure about the results at first, i have come to love these high quality results and the sweet moments they captured.

decision #26 – menswear

with only a few months to go, it was time to pick out the men’s attire for the occasion.  so, with a truckload of folks in tow, we headed to the men’s wearhouse in newnan, ga one january afternoon to mark another item off the to-do list.

nowadays the styles for men are almost as varied as for women!  okay, maybe it isn’t that close, but the modern man has a much wider selection available to him than in the past, and although those new hip styles can be perfect in the right setting, phillip knew he wanted to stay more traditional since we would be exchanging vows at his hometown church and then hosting a more formal reception afterwards.

once phillip narrowed it down that far, the stylist helped get the men into the best options available so that we could go from there.  the top three contenders were light grey on white, black on ivory, and black on white.  the light grey was out of the running after phillip put it on, and even though we were having an afternoon wedding for which that color would have worked, it just didn’t quite fit for our vision.  it was then that the debate between ivory or white went on for a good half hour.  now, that might sound unnecessary, but considering how many hours (and days) i took to pick our my wedding dress, i was more than willing to be patient as phillip picked out his wedding day attire.  i mean, it ends up being the most important suit he will ever wear, and when you think of it that way, it’s easy to let him take all the time he needs.  🙂

it truly wasn’t too long before phillip came out of the dressing room and declared what he wanted.  excellent!  i asked if we was certain on his decision and he was confident in his answer, and with that he’d chosen classic black on white with bowtie for himself and classic black on white with tie for the groomsmen and fathers.  done and done!

decision #27 – the ceremony

now, as you have probably already gathered, we chose for the ceremony to take place at phillip’s hometown church in peachtree city, which was perfectly fine by me.  i think i had always wanted our ceremony to take place in a church, and what better place than somewhere meaningful, right?

once we decided that the church would host the ceremony, we had a bundle of decisions to make for it.  for starters, we had to pick two scripture readings, one from the old testament and one from the new testament.  now, the church thankfully had a booklet with some suggested passages, but even still there were several good options.  how phillip and i came to a decision i do not know, because scripture can be so personal and you want to make sure you’re picking something that reflects the appropriate and very emotional tone of the day.  however, we eventually and happily made our choices.

great, right?  well, yes, but then we had to figure out who would do those readings.  ah, yes, another mini decision rolled up into a bigger one!  this one we actually came to pretty quickly, choosing my younger brother clark and phillip’s godson/cousin vincent.  they both hold special places in our hearts, and we were glad they accepted this important duty for this important day.

then after choosing the readings we had to decide what the prayers to the faithful would be and who would read them.  this element of the ceremony i left up totally to phillip, as it is really a true catholic tradition and i knew i could trust his judgment completely.  he put together a personal set of prayers that honored the marriage sacrament, the people there with us, and those who could not attend, and they all would be read by his uncle steve.

one of the final and maybe most important aspects of the ceremony we had to discuss and decide upon was all the music.  phillip is extremely gifted musically and although i may not necessarily be good at music, i most certainly appreciate the best of it.  before we even met with the church musician, i told phillip there were only two pieces of music i cared about:  what would play when my bridesmaids walked in and what would play when i walked into the ceremony.  he and our organist/pianist michael so nicely respected and accepted my choices for those two pieces and then i let the experts take the reigns.  now, i’ll admit that i don’t even remember hearing the music during the actual ceremony, but from what i have been told, it was just perfect.

decision #28 – the photo booth

based on the several weddings i have attended over the past few years, it has become quite common to see a photo booth at the wedding reception, and i’d be lying to you if i said i haven’t had my fair share of fun taking goofy and cute pictures in these photo booths.  they’re great because they give guests something to do and oftentimes provides them a nice way to remember your wedding and a way for you to remember them.

now, when the topic of the photo booth came up in our conversations, phillip and i both agreed it would be fun to have one.  however, based on the budget and other priorities we had for the event, the photo booth didn’t make the cut.  maybe slightly discouraged but not disappointed, my mom and i were actually able to create our own photo backdrop for guests to snap photos in front of during the reception.  i was thrilled with how it turned out because it allowed me to recycle supplies someone else didn’t want and got our creative juices going.  now, i don’t know how many photos were actually taken in front of it, but it added some softness to the room where the reception was and was a huge money saver for us.  i think i’d call that a win-win!

decision #29 – transportation

when i say “transportation,” i’m talking ALL the transportation for your wedding.  not just for you, but also for your bridal party, your family, your getaway.  it actually still fascinates me how much brainpower went into coordinating all sorts of transportation needs for our wedding, and the first for us started with the bride, but of course.  🙂

i cannot tell you how many phone calls my mom and i had in trying to figure out how we were going to get the bridesmaids and us everywhere we needed to be the day of the wedding.  the thing for us was that we had several places we needed to be that day, which is unlike what some couples do in having everything (getting ready, ceremony, reception) in one location.  as nice as that would have been, it was not feasible for us, so we had the challenge of figuring out how to get us to hair and then to makeup and then to the manor and then to the church and then to the manor again.  it’s even exhausting when you just write it out like that!

then you have to figure out the same for the groom’s side.  how is he going to get from the hotel to the church and then to the manor?  and what about immediate and extended family?  but then what about getting people back to the hotel after the reception?  it can get so stressful so quickly!

for us the answer came in the form of shuttles from the hotel that could take guests from the church to the manor and then back to the hotel, and then with the magic of rental cars and uber and lyft these days we were able to fill in the small gaps in between to ensure that transportation was not even a worry the day of the wedding.  every wedding is going to be different, but one big piece of advice i will give is this:  if you have room for it in your budget and if your reception includes alcohol and is not at the hotel where most guests are staying, offer transportation back after the festivities are done.  the last thing we wanted was for an over-served adult getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and finding trouble.  although most folks are responsible enough to figure out their own logistics ahead of time, having the option to offer transportation just in case is a great gesture, at least in my opinion.

decision #30 – gifts

now of course your guests are going to want to give you a gift in celebration of such a momentous occasion, but it is very common (and i’d say even expected to some degree) that you and your fiance will give gifts to your bridal party and your parents.  absolutely all of this depends on the specific situations and relationships you have with each of your parents, groomsmen, and bridesmaids, but if you are fortunate enough like phillip and me, you’ll be excited to find something thoughtful just for them.

i myself knew early on that i at least wanted the jewelry and other accessories for my bridesmaids to be part of their gift.  i also knew i would write them each a personalized note, thanking them for their friendship and support and all that lovely mushy-gushy stuff that goes on between besties.  but about a month before the wedding i got very nervous and knew that i myself wanted to do more for them.  sure, jewelry and a note are nice, but how could i give them something that would really symbolize my individual relationship with each of them and be a fond memento for years to come?  i tell you the truth when i anguished over what to do!  thankfully one day it hit me like a ton of bricks and i decided that a piece of art would be perfect.  i do have a few creative bones in my body and slowly but surely i was able to create what i hope will be pieces that they each keep and that reminds them of our friendship and the joyous occasion related to it.  i loved them and hope they do, too.

in this regard phillip was a bit later to the game.  he agreed a personal note to the men would be the ticket, but what to get them otherwise was a bit of a mystery.  phillip and i brainstormed for days, and just in time he landed on the perfect gift for each of the men specially involved on that day.  how nice that it turned out to be so simple.

in addition to your bridal party, you might also like to get something special for your parents.  i won’t even try to advise you on how to go when it comes to getting parents gifts, because each parent of yours probably values different types of sentiments.  for example, some fathers like to smoke, so a personalized cigar set and cutter might be a great idea.  however, for the father who doesn’t smoke, it would do no good.  if you’re having trouble deciding on what to do for your parents, i highly recommend checking out both pinterest and etsy.  these sites have all sorts of personalized and special gifts that, even if they aren’t what you want, might be the spark to ignite another idea that will work beautifully.

decision #31 – the rehearsal dinner

traditionally the rehearsal dinner really is a chance for the groom and his family to host and have the bride, groom, bridal party, and family to a gathering after the rehearsal.  now, similar to how you pick a venue, so many factors go into deciding where to have your rehearsal dinner.  for us in peachtree city, the three biggest factors were the number of guests, the budget (always!), and then the type of “feel” phillip wanted.  there are only so many places that can fit 30-40 guests in one space at a reasonable price, so phillip and his mother michele really were able to narrow things down pretty quickly.  from there phillip just had to decide if he wanted a more casual or formal vibe for the dinner and what kind of food he wanted served.

we were blessed enough that phillip and his family were able to host a very swanky buffet italian dinner complete with beer, wine, slideshow, and dessert at the loft at due south in peachtree city.  the evening was just fabulous!  there was plenty of space for folks to mingle and visit and the table setup was perfect for slideshow viewing and toasting.  not only those things, but the food was delicious as well!  it really was a lovely way to officially kick off the weekend’s festivities, and i’m only wondering when we can go back for more deviled eggs and bbq eggrolls!

decision #32 – the videographer

within recent years it has become very popular to hire a videographer to capture your big day.  i imagine some couples out there, especially the ones who are very budget aware, might be wondering why you’d need a videographer when you already have a photographer who will be capturing each moment of your wedding.  isn’t it a bit redundant?  i could kind of understand that argument, but as someone who just received their wedding photos, although it was great to see pictures of phillip and i during the ceremony and see pictures of the toasts being given and see pictures of our friends on the dance floor, those are the sorts of moments that are oftentimes only enhanced by being able to capture the movement and audio.  and that, my readers, is why i decided to hire a videographer for our wedding day.  thankfully the price was right for us, and i can hardly wait to hear our voices catch as we recite our vows and giggle at the killer dance moves from our guests.  without even yet having the footage, my very short opinion on a wedding videographer is this:  do it!

decision #33 – the post wedding gathering

i don’t know if this is how it is for all couples, but i consider phillip and i lucky that we were able to at least hug and shake hands with each guest at our reception.  other than that, though, we were pretty much occupied all night, whether it was eating dinner, cutting the cake, doing the dances, or taking pictures.  we really didn’t have a ton of time to just sit and visit with folks, which can sound discouraging when in our case so many of our guests live away from us and don’t see us often.

i personally was getting especially anxious about this fact towards the end of the night when we had to be in certain places at certain times for certain pictures and certain events.  however, i was able to breathe a sigh of relief because i reminded myself that we were having an after-party at the hotel once the reception ended, which ended up being the best opportunity to visit with everyone.  phillip and i plopped ourselves, some food, and plenty of drinks right in the hotel lobby after our getaway was complete and had a great time chatting with old friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family.  it wasn’t anything fancy, just good food and good company, but it was such a treat to see our loved ones gathered to continue the night and enjoy the evening.

why am i telling you all this?  i am telling you all this because if you ever plan a wedding and somehow some way can do so, plan a post-wedding gathering.  it can be the night of in the hotel lobby, at a friend’s house, at your favorite bar in the city.  it can be a next-day brunch or get-together at the family estate.  whatever it is and wherever it is try to plan it.  you’ll love getting to catch up with your guests, hear about the night, and take some of the best pictures of the entire day.  believe us, we know from experience.  🙂

photo credit to aunt cindy. mcdoald’s credit to uncle jeff. 🙂

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