August 8, 2020 – The best day of our lives
I won’t go down the road of the world wide pandemic and that chaos, but instead focus on the idea that we got to have out day and it was perfect in every way.
If you don’t know our story, Patrick and I met on a dating app, Bumble, like so many do now. Our first date was at a golf course, The Brickyard, here in Indianapolis in August 2017. Since then, golf courses have become a special place for us and something that we enjoy doing together. Fast forward to July 2019, when Patrick proposed on the 15th hole of Stonehenge Golf course in Crossville, Tennessee. It has the most beautiful view and the tee box (where he proposed) is set back and secluded in the trees. Most perfect morning EVER.
After he proposed, we were both giddy about the wedding and dreaming up what our day would look like. We wanted the wedding planning process to be organized and to eliminate as much chaos as necessary so we could enjoy the fun of it the best we could. I wanted to share our story on wedding planning and things to consider as you may plan yours (no matter how big or how small). For many this is a daunting task, but if you take it one thing at a time, it really isn’t so bad, I promise you!
Where to start
After we got back to Indiana, we worked through a budget and our guest counts to see where we were at and therefore what size venue was needed for us. The budget and guest count depicts everything. I mean EVERYTHING.
We created an email address specifically for the wedding. This way we both had access to it and important emails didn’t get lost in the latest JCrew Sale promo. With using Google, you have access to Google Drive, also your friend. Within Google drive I created an excel sheet for our guest list with the following tabs:
- Bride Last Name
- Groom Last Name
- Rehearsal Dinner
The tabs allowed parents and ourselves to review who needed to be on our list as well as collect the Invited guest name, their plus one, mailing address and email. We could also confirm and share the rehearsal dinner guest list with those that needed it for guest counts and what not. Having names and mailing addresses in the same place was hugely beneficial for all of the invitation and thank you notes that you will in fact be mailing out.
And a second excel sheet for planning purposes with the following tabs:
- Budget: With the breakdown of what percent should be spent in each category (i.e. Venue, F&B, Attire, Vendors, etc.)
- Detail Planning: This was used for vendors such as the band/dj research, detail purchases, bridal party gifts and more.
- Venue: This was used during the vetting stage of what venues we wanted to book tours at and to lay out the costs, capacities and who their caterer was.
- Photographer: The was used in the vetting stage as well to document as we reached out to each photographer, their availability and fee.
- Florals: This was used for both vetting and the planning phase so we had laid out what florals we needed to ensure no one got left out.
- Attire Details: This was mainly used for myself as I made appointments with different bridal stores, but also to organize what else I needed for myself such as jewelry, undergarments, shoes and even getting ready attire.
- Wedding Party: This laid out who all was involved in our wedding day (with contact information) as well as laid out the order in which the bridal party would be paired.
- Family Photos: It makes it much easier on the photographer if you can have a list of the family photos you so desire. This allowed us to lay it out in an order for us to review and also share with the photographer.
While all of this is not completed right off the bat, laying the foundation is oh so important. At this phase you would be working with the budget tab and the guest list document. Then the planning process begins!
I believe with all things a MOOD board is the best first step when it comes to the cohesive style of your day! This helps lay out the style, vibe and experience you are looking for in an event (or this could apply to decorating a room or defining a business).
I pulled together images that reflect our style. It helps put context to your thoughts and organize them moving forward. I even used this piece to share with our florist, decorator and furniture vendors as a starting point. People in these positions understand aesthetic and putting together a visual of where you are going helps them be on the same page as you!
I used a simple word document saved as a PDF for this. To gather those images to begin the creation of this board, Pinterest is a great starting point. You can view my Wedding board here for inspiration!
After we knew our direction with the budget, guest list and style, we could move forward to the venue. I knew venues got picked over quickly but HOLY COW!!! We weren’t expecting a 13 month engagement, but in the end it was perfect. We loved our date and August is a magical month for us.
We knew we wanted a Saturday wedding to help with those traveling in for the wedding and everyone all around with everyones schedule and the balancing of family and work. That limited us. The first venue we viewed, the Biltwell Event Center, we knew was our spot. We looked at a variety more to make sure we weren’t settling and ended up narrowing it down to two locations and in the end ended up selecting the Biltwell Event Center as our perfect spot!
We defined the venue feel as ‘home.’ It had the brick and the wood elements that feel like home and we could invite our friends and family into our space to celebrate and have a meal together.
Things that were important to us in deciding on our location were as follows:
– Customer Service: This was the most important piece to the puzzle, even above style. If the customer service at your venue is sub-par, it’s only going to get worse once you sign on the dotted line and you need your venue to be available for communication and be invested in your day.
– Space: We needed space for the guest count but also we wanted it to be a bit more spacious if that makes sense? We wanted space for people to move around and not feel on top of the table next to them (ended up being extra important for 2020). We also wanted space to fit our guests personalities for the night. Not everyone wants to be on the dance floor. Having space to fit personalities so they can truly enjoy themselves was important to us.
– Aesthetic: Obviously we needed the space to fit our style. But also, the space just needs to have the ability to ‘fit’ your style. We are not industrial people when it comes to our aesthetic, but the Biltwell had the core of what we wanted and we could transform the space into a less industrial and more us style pretty easily!
– Price: Price is more than just price. What comes with that price? Evaluate what the venue price actually is. Does it include tables, chair, a stage, lighting, how many hours can you have the space, how flexible are they with you in storage, etc. A cheaper upfront cost does not always make it cheap, so exploring what comes with that cost is key or your other costs might actually end up higher!
With our venue, they also had an in-house caterer that was phenomenal. We did our research on that factor as well since they were a part of the venue and they did not disappoint. We had a full quote on venue and food before we signed our contract so that there were no surprised and additional stressors that we had not considered (extra fees are always there and we wanted to know what those fees were).
Photos are important to me. Beyond the memories, this is your only take away from your wedding. I had a desired look for my photographs and didn’t want to cut corners on who our photographer was. This does not mean you have to go with the most expensive photographer. This means you are looking for a photographer who knows their stuff, can easily blend into a wedding environment, has a portfolio that shows your style and has great communication.
It is also a great idea to book your engagement session with your photographer to get familiar with them and also let yourself get comfortable in front of the camera so it takes the pressure off on your wedding day.
We chose Danielle Harris Photography. The communication was the BEST. We loved her style of photographing and trusted her and her processes to ensure our photos were not only amazing but safe (technology is a crazy thing).
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your photographer!
We wanted a one stop shop for all the things… Wedding information, Registry, RSVP
I did my research and loved Zola. Clean look and we could add everything we needed here including the meal choice when guests RSVP’d. One of the greatest compliments I got in the whole process was the organization and communication and Zola was a key piece to our ability to do this.
Through Zola we made our registry (can include great options like Crate & Barrel without having to set up so many registries) and only added one other, Amazon. It was seamless and easy and honestly, we got the best feedback from our guests on how easy it was. Highly recommend.
There are so many amazing options out there when it comes to designing and printing your wedding invitations and save the dates. Your wedding website, venue or photographer might have coupon codes for some of the big places, so be sure to ask, but you can also check out Etsy, someone locally or do your own!
I chose to design my own. I had never designed any printed items before but this was something I was excited to tackle because I could perfect it and make it exactly what I wanted. I used my MOOD board we talked about earlier to begin my design. I also gave myself some grace (ok, a lot of grace) in the designing process because I’m not a pro and it was going to take me some time.
I actually started in reverse…. with the wedding invitation.
I wanted our wedding invitation to be the key design for our day and let everything else branch off from it. While I didn’t finalize the design until close to the invitation mailing date, I created the basics of it first so that our save the date could be complimentary.
I adored them both and in the creation of these pieces birthed our ‘wedding logo.’ I had no intention of creating a ‘logo’ for our wedding, but it allowed something so simple and personal to stretch throughout and personalize it all. The logo ended up being added to……
- Bar Menus
- Guest Meal Menus
- Card Box
- Entry Door Mat
- Petal Toss Cones
- Photo Booth
- Wedding Dress Patch
- Floral Bouquet Ribbon
- Thank You Cards
- Guest Book
- Gift Tags
- Decorative Tiles
- Table Runner
It was the perfect addition that let everything tie together in such a subtle and perfect way. Moral of the story is that giving your self some time, grace and creative freedom allows for magic.
Florals & Decor
I’m a floral girl. I love the style, the textures and the beauty that florals can bring to a space. Choosing your florist that has a strong attention to detail and sees your wedding as a piece of their own is SO IMPORTANT. I cannot stress how having someone committed to bringing magic to your day changes everything! We used Robin of Wedding Lady Indy. We had several sit downs with her to discuss vision, budget and what we were looking for. We chose Robin because of her commitment and attention to detail. I don’t think you can get that from anyone else like we got from Robin.
If prep and vision isn’t your thing, find a vendor who will help you visualize this (Robin can and does). I did my homework before our meetings and cam prepared with these documents.
Having this visual took off a few steps and let us jump forward in the process. From these visuals, Robin could transform this to a real life application of our desires and our budget.
SHE DID MAGIC.
This is something I was able to put full trust in Robin with. These pieces were important to me and set the mood for our wedding, but with complete trust in her, I could step back and let go of all of it without a care in the world knowing it would be done and be done right.
Extra Venue Details and Vendors
Like I said in the beginning, our goal for our day was to have the feel of ‘home.’ With any home, there is indoor and outdoor space, both of which the venue had, as well as the brick and wooden structures that sealed the home vibes. What we did need to add was drapery, furniture and the details that make the space feel like home and not just a house. Robin pulled so much of the details together, but two big things that were missing were the drapery and furniture. We found two vendors that allowed our vision to become reality. Atmosphere’s installed drapery down the center isle (which is also where the kings table would sit for the reception). The drapery softened the space so perfectly around the brick and wooden structures that existed. Then, Roots, brought in the furniture. Roots was an ideal vendor because when I sent them our MOOD board, they got it. They knew how to use their assets to enhance our style. We added a few seating areas with furniture, rugs and accents to allow our guests to feel at home and relaxed throughout the evening.
His & Hers Attire
This is a big one. You want to feel fabulous on your Wedding day.
I chose two locations to schedule appointments in search of my wedding gown. I had the BEST experience at the Wedding Studio. Such amazing people and calm and special experience. I did end up finding my dress on that day and used a local alterations business to get it to fit as it should.
After I knew my dress I could jump into the details of shoes and jewelry. Our style the whole way through was Modern Classic. I searched online and had several pieces sent my way but this is ultimately what I settled on.
As for Patrick, his one thing was that he didn’t want to wear black or navy. He wanted something different. We had decided that we liked the deep maroon/crimson/plumb accent and decided having him in that color as a pop was PERFECT! We are both people who don’t like to do things that everyone else does, we like to be different. Long story short and to cut down on the drama, we had everything selected for him and groomsmen and April 1 was the deadline for all things measurement that we had set…. And then March hit. Everything shut down.
We ended up finding the most amazing men’s attire vendor, JBenzal. The quality and alterations cannot compare to anyone else and the customer service practically had me in tears from what we had gone through.
We ended up getting Patrick’s custom suit from JBenzal and would order it one thousand times over again.
Groomsmen suits and dad suits were also selected and altered from JBenzal. We didn’t want to run around from other locations, but wanted to keep it local after all that had happened and we knew that we were in the best hands. Complete trust in the owner and could put it out of mind and considered done and done well without another thought!
Being in our 30’s getting married, I think some of our priorities have shifted compared to what we would have done at 25.
The bridesmaids aged from 30-38 and as I have gotten older, I want less stuff and less crap and more luxuries and experiences. Therefore, I settled on providing hair styling and a sweet pair of slippers for each girl for the morning of the wedding. Every girl wants to be pampered (and being in weddings gets expensive), so to feel beautiful and get pampered all in one is a win.
When it comes to parent gifts, there are so many cliche items that flood the internet. We are practical give givers, so little luxuries that can be used/worn after the wedding but have sentimental value were perfect in my book.
I have a March birthday, as you know, so have the aqua birth stone. I got myself a Kendra Scott bracelet as my something blue, but felt like my mom and I having something matching that represented me and my wedding day for her to have and wear was sweet and special and wouldn’t just collect dust.
As for my dad, I found the perfect tie clip and had it engraved with my handwriting. Simple, sweet, practical and not just extra fluff for the drawer necessarily.
For the men, Patrick provided the shirt, tie and pocket square… again, being in a wedding is expensive, so how can we help them out and give them things that can be used beyond a singular day. We decided against flowers for the groomsmen (always smashed and just getting them on is a hassle), so a bow tie and pocket square from Tie Bar was perfectly fitting.
Again, practical and how can we help everyone in our gift giving!
Our Wedding Book
You don’t invest in a big day with all of the time, money and memories and not preserve it, am I right!? Best day of our life, hands down. For this season of life, we have a small wall in our home pretty much devoted to that day (because you can after you’re first married), but that wall won’t remain like that forever, so a book is a must! After research, we decided on Artifact Uprising. Their reviews were stellar and allowed for what we were looking for – thick lay flat pages with a hardy, but beautiful cover. This is an investment piece. This is something I will hold dear.
Our Vendors (Indianapolis Based)
Photographer: Danielle Harris Photography
Venue: Biltwell Event Center
Catering: Hoaglin Catering
Wedding Cake: Cakes by Donna
Florals & Decors: The Wedding Lady Indy
Drapery: Atmosphere’s Indy
Furniture: Roots Rentals
Wedding Dress: The Wedding Studio Greenwood
Grooms Suit: J.Benzal
Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie
Groomsmen Suits: J.Benzal
Band: The Doo Band
Hair: 4% Salon
Makeup: Victoria Menale
Embroidery: Carrollwood Embroidery
I hope this is helpful in your own wedding planning! It’s a big task, but it is also sooooo much fun! Creating your vision, meeting amazing vendors and experiencing the greatest day of your life. None of it is worth the stress. I hope your day is just as perfect!