Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Maureen + Dave


This letter from Maureen reminds me that planning a wedding doesn't have to make you wanna poke your eyeballs out or stab someone with the nearest sharp object you can get your hands on.

You can have a pretty dress, invitations, a wedding cake, a guest book--etc.--without making it about those things. For example, the cake can crack on your wedding day (um, no joke), and you can solve the problem with a few extra flowers. And, regardless of what The Knot says, you can, in fact, come in under budget.

Thanks for sharing your story, Maureen!

Wishing you and Dave a lifetime of flowers to fill life's inevitable cracks...

Since we are both transplants to the San Francisco Bay Area and are in love with wine country, we more or less wanted to invite our families and friends from all over the country to a barbeque in a beautiful outdoor setting that also just happened to include a short marriage ceremony. The most important part for us was to get our family and friends together in a place where everyone would be comfortable and have fun. A winery was way out of our budget, but we stumbled across this restaurant with a large outdoor patio at a really reasonable price. The only hitch was that we had to use the restaurant to cater the food, but they had a great selection so we found food that was tasty and affordable.

A friend of ours was sworn in as a deputy marriage commissioner for the day and conducted our ceremony for us. Everyone just stood around us and apparently there was traffic noise and a chainsaw started up during Dave’s vows, but we could hear each other and it was meant for us. As part of the ceremony we expressed to everyone there how important their contributions to our lives are. I’ve also included the ceremony script if you want to add it to your collection!

DIY / DIT projects included my veil, the guestbook, the photo-album board, the photo stands on the tables, flower centerpieces and our ceremony script. The guest book was just a cheap three ring binder I covered in paper and put some hole-punched card stock into. We got a Fuji instax camera and people took photos of themselves and wrote us little notes.

We sent email save the dates then my brother (a graphic designer) and I collaborated to make postcard invites. I found a local carbon-free print shop who used 100% recycled paper (www.greenerprinter.com) and they ended up being very affordable and much easier than wrestling with our home printer.

As opposed to hiring a photographer, we asked everyone to bring their digital cameras and purchased a flickr account. My brother has a nice camera and rented a special lens for the day. A lot of folks took photos and we ended up with more than 500 in our flickr collection - all for the cost of a one year account! While we didn't get any "formal" photographs, the candids are awesome and some are hilarious. I would definitely do this again if I had it to do over.

On our tables were plain white tablecloths which were included in the price of the venue and then we found this green Napalese paper with a white flower print that we put in the center of each. The patio chairs were included as well, though I guess most people rent white ones. I really didn’t care what color the chairs were. My mom and I worked to collect a bunch of antique milk/cream bottles and put a few local organic gerbera daisies in each one. The flowers were a great deal - we got 45 for $30 or so. I used beeswax candles in small votive holders for a little ambiance.

I found a $200 dress (new) online that was summery, casual but still looked weddingy enough. Its actually a bridesmaids dress. I found a great local seamstress to do the required alterations. I made my veil out of french net and ribbon that we also used on the cake. I had my makeup done at a counter in the mall for free (included with purchase of makeup), my friend Kristen did my hair and I wore my grandmother’s necklace. Dave just wore a suit and shirt that he had, but since it was so hot the tie and jacket were shed pretty quickly!

Our cake was from a local baker. It was 104 degrees that day and we had my aunt and uncle bring the cake up in their car, but it suffered a major crack on the way. Luckily we had some extra flowers and no one knew the difference! I printed photos from our parents and grandparents weddings and surrounded the cake with them.

My mom contacted all of the people we invited and asked them to make squares for our wedding quilt. It was a complete surprise revealed just after our vows. 20 family and friends contributed squares.


We wanted to spend under (far under) $10,000 and ended up around $8,000, which is a lot for only 65 guests. The food and bar bill really hurt us. But we saved money in almost every other area, so ended up feeling very good about it. What’s most important is that we had a very meaningful and memorable wedding and everyone had fun!

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Unknown said...

Hooray for 09.26.09 kindred spirit weddings! (I'm one too!)
Looks like your day was beautiful.

miss fancy pants (the bride) said...

Great story! Congrats!

megan said...

Awesome. SOOOO nice and relaxed. Must have been an amazing day.

Sara (and other kindred spirits)- I thought y'all might want to take a look at/be aware of a new show (I believe it's on TLC) called Rate My Wedding (or something similar). Pretty much, the whole purpose of the show is for 4 brides to sit around and pick each other's weddings apart, and the one with the least amount of criticism wins a honeymoon.

this depresses me for obvious reasons.

Mui Yen said...

what a great, relaxed wedding. most importantly, you both had fun! i'd love to know where maureen found her dress.

i'm getting married in malaysia in a traditional chinese wedding ceremony and reception and that's anything but small. thanks for the tips and stories, sara!

meag said...

How sweet, I love it! Our cake layers started sliding away and we eventually had to cut it early before one fell off! C'est la vie

Brite Lines said...

Thanks Sara! It was a very fun wedding and our guests are still talking about it so I guess we did something right! I forgot to mention that one thing that really brought Dave and I together before the wedding was to choose our playlist together. We just used an Ipod and some speakers (I suggest backups - ours fizzled in the 104 degree heat!) and it was all that we needed!

Mui Yen - the dress is made by Dessy and its style 2053http://www.dessy.com/dresses/bridesmaid/2053/
I purchased it from tietheknotbride.com.

Flower Arrangements said...

Great story! Reminds me what's most important. Congrats to the happy couple!


Nanda said...

Congratulations you two! I wish we could hang out and swap stories :)We were married in Feb 09. I felt similar inspiration for our wedding, and I love/echo your emphasis on just having The People You Love as the main point of the celebration. Many blessings to you!!!

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