Whew! What a whirlwind of events it’s been since Will and I said “I Do” back in February 22, 2020. Those were simpler times for sure. Two months ago our biggest concerns were guest lists, centerpieces, and alterations; fast forward to Will losing both jobs, sheltering in place, and watching the world both come together and fall apart amid this unprecedented global event. Not exactly what I thought newlywed life would be like, however we are extremely grateful for our blessings and hopeful for the future.
I delayed posting the wedding content I had been planning for so many months because it seemed like the wrong timing. The last thing I wanted to do is be insensitive to how current events are affecting my friends and followers. Now that we’ve all been “quarantined” for about a month and it will likely last through spring and possibly into summer, I thought it might actually be a nice distraction. I’m also part of a lot of big wedding groups on Facebook where thousands of brides are having to plan their weddings around the pandemic, or are recently engaged and just beginning this process and don’t know where to start, a few of my personal friends included! I want this post to be helpful, uplifting, and at the very least, stress-free fluff to distract you from the news for a little while.
Planning, Guestlist, and Venue
Let’s dive right in! From day one, Will and I knew we wanted to have a very small wedding with just family and a few friends. The first step of wedding planning is usually the guest list because that determines a lot of factors like venue, food, and alcohol. We ultimately decided on a guest list of about 40 and had a little over 30 people in attendance. Small weddings can be tricky because you don’t want people to feel left out, but expanding your list by just a few extra people can quickly have a domino effect. So who should you invite to your small wedding? The way we approached it is asking ourselves “who would I be heartbroken about if they didn’t come? Who do I see myself celebrating with when I envision my wedding? Who has been supportive of our relationship and happy for us?” Once you have those people down, there will inevitably be a few guests you will need to add on because it’s the right thing to do (i.e. family you’re not super close to but your mom is). This is totally fine as long as you stay true to your vision and what you really want. If your parents or fiance get too carried away with adding guests to the list, try to redirect them to the original plan of having a small wedding and meet them somewhere in the middle. As with many other aspects of wedding planning, other people’s opinions and suggestions can become really stressful. It’s important that you make your vision very clear from the beginning and put your foot down when necessary. This is your day and you and your fiance are the ones who make the rules. Letting someone else make too many changes to your guestlist affects a lot of elements of your big day and sets the tone for the months (or years) of planning to come, so I recommend being firm now!
Once you’ve more or less nailed down your guest list, it’s time to find your venue! You want to book your venue before anything else because many venues have different policies you’ll need to consider. For instance, you don’t want to book a caterer and then find your dream venue only to find out they require you to use a caterer from their preferred vendor list and you’ve already put down a non refundable deposit with someone else. A close family friend offered her beautiful home for our ceremony and reception, so we got super lucky with our venue! This was also a great option for us because we were able to supply food and alcohol ourselves which is cheaper and makes more sense for a small wedding like ours. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a “backyard” wedding (even if it’s not actually in the backyard)!
The next step for us was the dress! This is because your choice of dress will guide other choices. If you go with a boho gown, that could lead to a bouquet of sunflowers instead of roses. If you go with a ballgown, you might decide that having pizza isn’t formal enough. You basically design the wedding around the dress! Some people actually get the dress before the venue so that the venue better matches the dress and therefore the overall aesthetic. The thing about wedding dress shopping is, you may think you know what you want, but you don’t! Okay, maybe you do, but seriously try to keep an open mind when trying on dresses. I always envisioned myself in a big poofy sleeveless ball gown with a rhinestone bodice. I ended up choosing a dress that had lace, sleeves, and not a single rhinestone. Trust the process and when you know you’ll know. My dress was of course from Eleven Bridal￼! I’ve been modeling for them since they opened their doors in October 2018 and have sung the praises of the owner Taneka many times! She is the sweetest person and has the best selection of plus size bridal gowns sizes 12-32! Eleven Bridal is the only plus size bridal boutique in Tennessee and they have gowns on the rack so you can actually try on a variety of styles that fit on your body. In the past I’ve tried on a gown at other bridal shops, and they have nothing to choose from for plus sizes. Your only option is to try to squeeze into something that doesn’t fit and try to envision it as the dress of your dreams. It’s ridiculous! You can read my blog post about my amazing experience at Eleven Bridal here!
My appointment this time was for real which was even more exciting than modeling gowns! I brought my mom, aunt, Gaga, two best friends and my sister, and we sipped prosecco and had the best time! I felt like a real princess in my dress on our wedding day, and Will said that seeing me for the first time during our “first look” was his favorite part of the day because I “looked like an angel”. By the way, if you’re debating on doing a first look: DO IT. I was worried revealing my dress to Will before the ceremony would make walking down the aisle less exciting, but it was the best decision! Will and I were both nervous so a first look helped calm our nerves. Then we were able to get some portraits out of the way which alleviated a lot of stress later on. It was comforting knowing my soon-to-be husband loves my dress and is excitedly waiting to see me again. Along with the dress of my dreams I wore my mom’s veil which was super special to me, earrings from Dillards (on clearance for $12!), rhinestone sash from JJ’s House (only $15!) and silver glitter sneakers by Kate Spade and Keds (found at Goodwill for $8!). You don’t have to spend a ton of money to look like royalty: even my dress was 50% off and only about $600. After alterations, the total for my bridal look was only $785 yet I felt like a million bucks!
Will and I worked with local goldsmith and jeweler Todd Michael of The Goldsmith’s Bench to custom design my engagement ring and wedding band. Last summer our designs and plans became a reality, and Will presented me with the engagement ring of my dreams! It’s a pear-shaped natural pink sapphire center stone with a diamond halo and diamond band in a white gold setting. It’s nothing like I’ve seen in chain jewelry stores, and it’s more beautiful than I could have imagined! When it was time to design a wedding band to match my engagement ring, working with Todd again was a no-brainer. Not only is he incredibly kind and pleasant to work with, but he has the knowledge and experience to really deliver pieces that will last a lifetime and exceed all your expectations. After looking through a few different designs, we fell in love with this tiara design that features three more natural pink sapphires, diamonds, and white gold, and curves to fit my engagement ring perfectly. I love how unique and personalized my set is and I think it’s so stunning and so “me”. It’s dainty enough to add an anniversary band in the future and I know that Todd will be our family jeweler from now on. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else for custom jewelry! The Goldsmith Bench is the best!
Roses of all colors are my favorite but I am a fan of flowers in general, so I went into selecting flowers with a really open mind. I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and found that February floral arrangements often include roses and calla lilies. I fell in love with the red rose and white calla lily combination, but from there I wasn’t sure where to go! I’ll be honest, flowers can get super expensive and I was intimidated by the prices of most florists and started to worry that anything other than a bouquet would be out of our budget. I attended the Tassels and Tastemakers event in the fall and spent the whole night admiring the gorgeous floral arrangements. After looking at the vendor list, I found out that the flowers were from FiftyFlowers, a website that offers wholesale flowers. I checked out the site and loved the selection and prices, so I contacted FiftyFlowers and proposed we collaborate! I partnered with the FiftyFlowers team to document my experience as a DIY bride and I’ll be posting a blog post dedicated to that experience! Navigating the FiftyFlowers website was super easy and affordable, and I was matched with a floral expert who helped walk me through every step! The fresh flowers were delivered right to our door, along with step by step instruction for how to care for and transport them. My mom, mother in law, and bridesmaids helped me with the centerpieces, I made my bouquet and my bridesmaids’ bouquets, and I sent some flowers to my bakery to include on our cake! It was a group effort but it really paid off and saved us thousands of dollars!
I met Q of the mother-son duo bakery The Peanut Butter Sucker at a photoshoot for wedding vendors and we hit it off right away! I was excited to partner with Q and his mom Shawn because their work is exceptional and I’ve never had cake that was so beautiful and also tasted so good! We brainstormed ideas together and I decided I wanted a three tier white cake decorated with red roses and white calla lilies from my FiftyFlowers shipment and topped with a golden cake topper. We had a cake tasting and it was a total blast (be on the lookout for a blog post all about this process)! It was hard to choose which flavor cake, filling, and frosting because every single option was so delicious. We ultimately decided on one tier of coconut cake with mixed berry filling, one layer of chocolate cake with cheesecake filling and the top tier foam for decoration, and then covered in white chocolate buttercream frosting. Since we only had a guest list of 40 people we didn’t need three tiers of cake, but we loved the look of a three tier cake, so the foam top tier was a great solution. Our cake was absolutely gorgeous and was a huge hit! We took leftovers home and ate them for breakfast the next day because it was so yummy! My experience with other fancy wedding cakes was that you had to sacrifice flavor for design, but that wasn’t the case with The Peanut Butter Sucker. It was both scrumptious and gorgeous, elegantly decorated on a lovely cake stand from The Wedding Plate and displayed on a baby grand piano!
The Wedding Plate
I’ve worked with Lisa from The Wedding Plate a couple of times over the past year, and she is such a joy to collaborate with! She has the most unique collection of vintage china, glassware, silverware and more! Lisa is great because if you have a super clear vision of what you want she’s totally fine letting you call the shot, but if you need more guidance she can pull pieces from her collection that really make your event come together! This time around I was unsure of exactly what I wanted, so she helped me make selections that would compliment my cake, flowers, and color palette. We went with ivory china plates with gold trim, gold silverware, crystal goblets, and an ivory cake stand with gold trim and a scalloped edge. She also included a champagne bucket, serving trays, and china teacups! My bridal shower was the weekend before so I was able to use some of the pieces for my shower as well. Lisa’s pieces add production value to any event and every little detail makes all the difference! My Bridal shower and wedding reception were so elegant, and I think The Wedding Plate played a huge part in taking them to the next level. I’ll post a blog post soon with more details about the beautiful pieces we used for my birthday party, bridal shower, and wedding reception, and why I’ll never host another event without The Wedding Plate!
If you know me, you know I love a good drink! I’m a prosecco girl myself so I love to celebrate with bubbles! At a blogger event back in October I had a Bravazzi for the first time and I was in love! Even my best friend who doesn’t like soda or alcohol loved this hard Italian soda! It’s that good! When it was time to decide what beverages to have at our wedding reception, we didn’t want to spend a fortune on several different types of alcohol trying to make everyone happy, but we wanted everyone to have a good time. We needed a crowd pleaser and Bravazzi instantly came to mind! When I reached out to the Bravazzi team, not only were they excited to collaborate for our wedding reception, they also offered to sponsor my bachelorette party! My girls and I pre-gamed with Bravazzi in our hotel room the night of my bachelorette party, and then again the next day at my bridal shower and again at my wedding! It’s officially not a celebration without Bravazzi! My favorite flavor is blood orange, but grapefruit is a close second. I am putting together a blog post with fun Bravazzi recipes and details about how Bravazzi became my go-to party drink of choice!
The Glam Squad
Like any bride, I wanted to look my absolute best leading up to the big day! I had to call upon my absolute favorite beauty pros to achieve the ultimate glam look! Leading up to my wedding, I had two much needed facials at Ritz Med Spa. I had a dermapen and microdermabrasion to really get my pores clean and all the dry dead skin off. Ritz Med Spa is amazing because their team is made up of skilled medical estheticians who are trained to heal your skin and achieve your long term skin goals! I’ve had so many facials that smelled pretty and felt nice but didn’t really do much to help my skin. I was so stressed and run ragged leading up to the wedding that my skin was breaking out and dehydrated. My esthetician Christy at Ritz Med Spa improved the quality of my skin and I wish I had made the choice to go sooner!
If you’ve known me for a while you know I’ve been blonde for most of my life (my natural color was strawberry blonde at birth and dirty blonde since I was two). I’ve only ever experimented with other colors a few times over the years, and each time it was extremely short lived, but 2020 is a new era for me and I decided to make a big change and go red! The only person I could possibly trust with this big of a transformation is Jessica Turner! She is an expert colorist and specializes in blondes and vivid color. She helped me achieve a very natural ginger shade that compliments my skin and it’s so perfect! My mom and I were both a little nervous about me having red hair on my wedding day since it was so new but after a month and a half with this incredible dye job, I can’t imagine myself any other way! Jessica is seriously talented and there’s nothing she can’t do!
Choosing a hair and makeup artist for the day of my wedding was anxiety inducing because I’ve experienced some makeup artist disasters. If you’ve ever watched my YouTube video about my MUA horror story then you know (and if you haven’t you can watch it here)! I knew that there was only one person talented and reliable enough for the job, and that’s my friend and colleague Nichole Lim! I first met Nichole on the set of a photoshoot where she did the most incredible ice queen look on me. I loved spending the day with her because she was a beam of light! I was super excited to work with her over the summer on a TV pilot and we got to know each other more and became good friends! I work so much and rarely make new friends so it’s the best feeling to connect with a woman in the film industry and know that there is someone in the set that you trust and who will keep you laughing! Nichole is truly a joy to be around! We worked together on a third project, our award winning short film I.S.F.L., and she remembered everything about my dry skin, watery eyes, stubborn hair, and general anxiety and was immediately prepared with a facemask, hairspray and essential oils. She’s a pro so I’m not surprised, but I knew that I didn’t want anyone else touching my face and hair the morning of my wedding because I knew I would be so stressed. Nichole brought her calming energy along with her talent and skill! Nichoe made me feel absolutely gorgeous and brought to life my vision of how I wanted my new husband to see me on the most important day of our lives. Nichole is the real deal and there’s no better HMUA for your big event or film set!
There’s so much more I want to say but this is already the longest blog post I’ve ever written! I will be posting a blog post every day this week with details on each brand partner so if you’re a newly engaged bride, you’re going to want to stay tuned! My inbox is always open so if you have any questions about my vendors please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message and ask away! I’m also working on a big blog post about our honeymoon to Paris, France, and Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Netherlands so be on the lookout for some helpful travel content! Stay safe babes!