the wedding chronicles | decision #12

THE GUEST LIST

based on my wedding planning experience, i think it’s a safe thing to say that the guest list very easily goes hand-in-hand with the venue.  as such this post probably could have come much earlier in the wedding chronicles, but better late than never.  🙂  i think it’s possible to think of it this way:  either your guest list dictates your venue or your venue dictates your guest list.  do we think this assessment is fair?  in my opinion it is because if you are in love with a particular space but it only can hold 100 people, then the guest list is 100.  on the other hand if you and your fiance(e) have humongous families and you know at least 200 people will be there, well then you’re going to need a ceremony and reception site big enough to fit them all, and that requirement in and of itself may eliminate certain locations.  again, sometimes your wedding decisions can be very logical.

as far as things go for phillip and me, we do have larger families and lots of out-of-town guests but also lots of locals since the event is taking place in phillip’s hometown of peachtree city.  so me?  i’m hopeful that most of the folks who received save-the-dates (and have invitations on the way in january) will be able to join us.  for our venues we’re paying for a minimum number of guests, so if at least that many if not a few more show i’ll be quite happy.  with that being said, i have heard from other couples who are recently engaged/married a statistic that about 30% of your guests won’t be able to make it.  well that’s just too bad, right?  but it also is a fact of life and is what it is.  regardless, understanding that a certain percentage of people won’t be able to join you in your big day can sometimes cause a little uncertainty as far as choosing a location.  do you pick a place that will fit a maximum of 70% of your guest list (if we’re going off this statistic) or do you book a venue that will hold 70%+ in the wonderful event that most of your guests can come?  that decision i leave up to you.  we are okay with having a minimum and then, if necessary, paying extra if we go over that amount.  however, if that is not your style, you’ll need to be more mindful about the venue you choose.  make sense?  i think so, too.

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the wedding chronicles | decision #8

THE PAPER

of all the things that i’ve somehow been mostly undecided on, the “paper” aspect of our wedding is the most unexpected.  when i talk paper, i mean save-the-dates, invitations, programs, menus, the works.  it’s interesting because when it came to the venue, the dress, and other things, i (and where applicable, “we” with phillip) have been able to make a decision and move on to the next item on the lengthy to-do list.  however, this one has tripped me up somehow and it kind of cracks me up!

let’s take the dress, for example.  after picking out my wedding dress, i came back to the condo and threw away all my magazine tear-outs that were wedding dress related.  i didn’t want to see something different than what i picked and then start to second guess my choice.  wouldn’t that just be the worst?  why yes, it would be!  so, why can’t we pick an invitation?  well, i’m thinking it might be because we kind of worked backwards in the process, but i’m betting we’ll get it sorted out soon enough.  so, do you want the whole story?  okay, here’s the whole story.

after picking the sites for our ceremony and reception, an easy thing to start doing was looking at invitation designs.  although i would have loved to give a local artist our business, it’s just so darn easy to go online and browse through hundreds of designs and colors.  for phillip and me, minted.com is where we landed to start perusing our options.  it ended up actually being a lot of fun at the start because we got to order free samples of some of our favorites so that we could check them out in person.  when we unfortunately weren’t in love with any of our first 10 free samples, we ordered 10 more.  it’s hard to resist when they make it so easy with those promo codes!  with 20 different samples on our hands, we took them to the venue and, after much deliberation, settled on a design that would work well with the theme of our big day.

that should be it, right?  wrong!  well, we then needed to pick out something for the save-the-dates, which had to be going out soon (six months ahead of the wedding date to be exact per all the magazine articles i have read).  i didn’t want the save-the-dates to be too matchy-matchy with the invitations (i write this as if someone would actually care), so we went with something that was simple but still formally styled for our guests.  i liked it, phillip liked it, so we ordered 100 of them!  they shipped in quick fashion, we addressed each and every one of them and ended up actually putting them in the mail today.  also a good thing, right!  mostly yes.  i say mostly yes because in looking at the save-the-date designs my eyes wandered and were caught by all the new invitation designs i hadn’t previously seen.  heaven forbid we go with the one we already selected!  however, phillip humored me and let me order another group of 10 samples that i just cannot wait to see.  the best part about it all is that we now have the save-the-date design that we can put side-by-side with the invitation to see which ones really suit each other.  perfect!

now, i don’t doubt at all that someone reading this is thinking “really, kelsey?  aren’t you overthinking this whole situation?”  you are precisely correct that i absolutely am!  like many aspects of a wedding day, some of the finer details you spend your energy on likely go unnoticed by the masses.  however, here is the catch:  things that are cheaply done (or done without much thought) are noticed (and usually not in a good way) while things that are nicely done but not typically memorable (like the design of your save-the-dates and invitations) aren’t usually commented on at all.  interesting situation, yes?  i couldn’t agree more!  now, i’m not at all advising you drown your life savings to get the most expensive invitations you can find, and everyone has their own style and budget that will determine what they can and cannot do.  it really should be simple in that you should do what feels right to you and choose something that represents you and your fiance and your wedding day vision.  for me?  i fully admit the pickle i am in over our invitation design is purely one of my own making.  however, you wanted the truth about this whole “planning a wedding thing”, and this is my verison of it.  🙂

the wedding chronicles | decision #6 and decision #7

THE COLORS & THE BRIDESMAID DRESSES

about a month ago my mom and i took my bridesmaids kari, jamie, and sarah out to go shopping for their dresses here in atlanta.  we fueled up with an energizing breakfast at the local flying biscuit and then headed to the salon to see if we’d have any luck.  i was certainly hoping that would be the case considering that sarah was moving back to california and that football season would easily get in the way of scheduling more appointments that worked for everyone.  i’ll spoil things right now and tell you that with a group of supportive girls around me, we made easy work of finding looks that flattered everyone.

tiaras for everyone!

now, before i get into all the juicy details about the bridesmaid dresses themselves, let’s talk about another wedding decision that oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with them:  the wedding colors.  if i’m being honest, my ideas about the colors for our wedding have changed nearly a countless number of times.  first it was oxblood and sage (inspired by a wedding magazine article), then it was pretty yellow roses that caught my eye at church, and then a pale pale green i thought was certainly the way to go.  this was all fine and well until kari, jamie, and sarah all started trying on dresses for me and i realized my color vision was a little off.  although the pale and dusty green i picked out was pretty in my mind, in person it didn’t quite match what i was picturing.

thankfully the salon had rows full of dresses and i was grateful the girls didn’t mind trying on dress after dress.  sometimes that’s what you have to do to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.  plus, seeing a dress on your body can be much different (and sometimes much better) than how it looks on the hanger.  i mean, you might as well try on as much as you can while you’re there and make the most of your time!

when shopping with your bridesmaids for their dresses, here are a few bits of advice.  if you and your girls are anything like me and mine, many of them (if not all of them) have different body shapes.  what this means is that a single style might not work best for everyone.  now, if your vision is for all the girls to wear the same dress, just know you might hit some snags in this regard.  and, if that is the case, it’s extremely common these days for girls to wear different style dresses that complement one another and oftentimes also the bride’s dress (such as the neckline or cut or fabric).  this can help your bridesmaids feel their most beautiful because they’re in a dress that makes them feel comfortable and confident.

next, unless you want everything uniform, maybe entertain the idea of putting the girls in different shades of the same color or even different colors altogether that go with your overall theme and vision for your wedding day.  this one is totally personal preference and all i’ll say about my girls is that they look like perfect angels in gorgeous shades of blush.  🙂

and finally, as mentioned in previous posts of the wedding chronicles, remember that the decision is ultimately yours as the bride.  it is extremely kind to be sensitive to your girls’ preferences and opinions (and i’ve always appreciated when i’ve been treated this way as a bridesmaid), but it is your wedding day after all and that’s what is most important.

the wedding chronicles | decision #2

THE BUDGET

one evening last week i was going through my wedding bag, getting things sorted and paperclipped, when i started to wonder what my next entry for the wedding chronicles would be.  with such a plethora of things i could start planning and describing, i thought it might be hard to choose where to go next, but as i looked through the many piles of carefully categorized ideas, it dawned on me that i had perhaps completely (albeit unknowingly) mistaken the venue as decision #1.  decision #1 truly, i think, should be…that’s right…the budget.  cue the dramatic music!

it’s my general opinion that no one really likes to talk about money, unless they have a lot of it.  i mean, i’m talking millions on millions, and since i’m not in that position, i don’t often bring it up in conversation.  am i the only one?  probably not, so maybe because we don’t usually talk about money i seem to have forgotten to mention it as one of the largest factors when planning your big day.

there are oodles of articles and books written about how to portion the money you have in the most sensible way.  for example, everyone these days says to not skimp on the photographer.  eh, that’s pretty understandable.  i’ll give them that.  however, the different percentage breakdowns you see online or in magazines should, i think, really just be a guide for how you and your fiance/fiancee decide to spend the money.  people also say that you should identify those aspects of your wedding that are most important to you and make those purchases worth your while.  for example, if you want live music over a dj on your big day, be prepared to spend a little more and cut back elsewhere.  or, if a five-course plated dinner is your style, understand it likely won’t come cheap.  i think that if you go into things understanding that wedding services are in high demand and, because of this fact, can charge a premium, you may not be as sticker-shocked as you would be otherwise.

and that brings me to a very honest realization i had early on in this planning:  the typical american wedding is expensive.  let’s say you’re feeding around 100 guests at your reception.  if you go on the more conservative end of the menu, you’re probably spending about $50 per person.  that meal, that one meal right there, is $5,000 of your budget.  yeah, it goes that quickly.  and that might not even include booze!  assuming that’s your thing.

regardless of what your budget is or is not, we must all keep in mind (brides, grooms, and guests, too) that even though the wedding is a large celebration of the vows you exchange with your husband or wife, it truly is a single day in the beginning of a long journey together.  yes, getting married at a castle might be your dream, but it might not be reality.  you might even glow the tiniest bit green with envy as you flip through magazines and shows, seeing couples with unlimited budgets.  however, try not to fret, because at the end of the day your satisfaction with what you can/cannot do will be largely influenced by your perspective on it all.  for phillip and me, we understand that we are spending a lot of money for this event.  we also know we could go over budget and spend more.  and, if we do go a little above, we’ll practice forgiveness because it really is the most special day in our lives so far.  however, i think the way a couple handles their money during wedding planning is a large indicator of how it will be handled in the marriage, and getting off on the right foot, happy with and thankful for what you could afford, seems like a pretty good way to start the rest of your life.

the wedding chronicles | decision #1

THE VENUE

although other couples may take a different approach, i suspect most wedding planning begins with either a date or a venue or perhaps both.  some people want to get married during a specific time of the year; others have had a vision of the ceremony and reception occurring at a certain venue for quite some time.  if either of those factors is at play, you and your betrothed might easily be directed to a specific set of choices to fit into that picture.  however, phillip and i didn’t fall into either of those categories, and here is what our experience was.

first, phillip and i live in atlanta, ga.  known as “the hollywood of the south,” atlanta has grown into quite a diverse and large city.  as one can imagine, atlanta really became an oyster in that we had nearly endless options to meet whatever style and feel we want for our wedding day.  we could easily go urban and modern and luxurious in a high-rise hotel with a view, we could have something more casual at the local brewery, or we could even have a shabby chic celebration in a restored barn just outside the city limits.  do you see where i’m going with this?  in a city like atlanta, having so many options can be inspiring but can also lead to indecisiveness.  so!  my first piece of advise is this:  do your research and decide on your top ten venues to tour.  you might be thinking that ten sounds like a lot, but something to keep in mind is that the pictures you look at online don’t always actually represent the space.  you might come upon a venue that looked like a ten on their website but turned out to be a dud.  or, the flip side, the pictures you saw were only somewhat interesting but then the venue was even better in person.  the takeaway is that giving yourself enough variety but not too many options will hopefully lead to a venue that is a good representation of what you all want.

second, you actually may not know what you want or don’t want until you see it.  unless experienced, this is probably the first wedding you are planning, and as such you likely have no idea how you are going to feel as you go throughout the process.  for example, phillip and i had narrowed down our top option to have the ceremony and reception at the same location but then realized that having the ceremony at a church instead was paramount to us.  we reevaluated our options and ultimately changed our plans.  however, when we signed those contracts and wrote the check, we and our families were elated that we were picking places that would make us both happy.  my advice here is to be flexible, patient, and respectful of one another as you explore your wants together.  you don’t want to rush a decision as important as this one, and choosing a venue is one of the many things that brings you closer as a couple.

something else i have learned, even this early on in the process, is that nearly every decision you make during wedding planning is going to be emotional.  sure, from the outside looking in some choices might seem logical (either option a or option b), but in the couples’ minds, hardly anything is that simple.  considering the fact that your wedding day is probably the most important day of your lives thus far, it’s understandable that you want everything to be perfect.  although i encourage you to fight for what you want, i do see the sense in also not overthinking things, especially the “smaller” things.  maybe i need to write this down and keep it in my wedding binder as a reminder for future decisions…!

finally, as far as choosing where and when to plan your nuptials, i say this:  the space you choose may require you to compromise on other aspects of plans you have for your big day.  for example, the reception site we chose isn’t conducive to serving dinner family-style, something that was originally extremely high on my priority list.  however, as you come across this kind of situation, ask yourself what will be worth it at the end of the day.  did i want us to keep looking for a venue just as close to the church that would also do family-style?  or was i willing to “give that up” for a gorgeous building inspired by the town of glendalough, ireland?  well, the latter ended up being the case, and when this happens, it’s okay.  remember, as they all say, sometimes compromise is part of being married.  what better practice to get than when planning your wedding?  😉

the wedding chronicles

as many of you know, phillip and i have been engaged for about four months now.  not wanting to rush the engagement excitement, we didn’t seriously begin forming wedding ideas or plans until about february.  now, i am not the typical bride in that i wouldn’t say i’ve had a dream wedding in mind since my childhood.  however, i would say i have a pretty strong sense of design and personal style that i would ideally incorporate into our big day.  among all the things every couple wants for their wedding day, in the end a celebration that equally represents phillip and me is certainly the goal.

now, in an effort to begin sourcing ideas that might fit well with our style, i must admit that i have already done my fair share of magazine perusing.  i think my mother, kari, and i went through about ten over the Christmas break just ourselves, and i know for certain that i have two editions of the knot:  georgia sitting in my shoulder bag at the moment.  as i looked (and continue to look) through these glossy pages full of tips and tricks and diy secrets, one thing became glaringly clear to me:  planning a wedding involves nearly a countless number of decisions.  from the venue to the caterer to the photographer and hotel, just thinking about all the things to be done can cause a couple to feel overwhelmed.

beyond the pressure that the modern wedding industry has forced on us (particularly the brides), there is the added sense of anticipation from those who will attend the big day.  we’re all guilty of gossiping about a wedding afterwards (or even during it).  for example, “the colors she picked are so out of season.”  or, “this fish is dry, and the green beans are rubbery.”  or, perhaps, the worst of them all, “this dj is trash!”  yes, we all do it and will continue to do so because, like many other things in life, we often think we can do better on something we have no involvement with whatsoever.

now, i’m not staying i’m excluding myself from the wedding gossip cycle.  we’re all human and it’s something that comes with the territory.  however, this desire to please a large crowd of people whose opinions you value greatly only adds more stress to something that is already so stressful in nature.  although i’d like to put myself above the fray on this one (because i tend to be pretty organized and confident), i know there will be moments when i am subject to it all just like every other person in this position.

so!  where am i going with all of this, you ask?  i’ll tell you exactly where all of this is going.  i am going to document (and count) each decision phillip and i have to make to plan this wedding.  this adventure is two-fold:  first, we’ll be able to quantify, in some way, just how much work is required in planning a wedding these days.  second, i’ll get to celebrate a small victory with each choice we make throughout this process.

i think it will be a joyous, exciting, and unpredictable journey.  so, strap yourself in and let’s see where this road takes us!