Hi LP readers, it’s the LP Branding Manager, Maggie, here to do a guest blog post! This past July, Ben and I got married in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Since then I’ve received a lot of comments in regards to how calm I was on our big day and thus have been asked by many friends and soon-to-be brides how I was able to do so. As much as I’d love to say that my “walking on sunshine” sense of peace and calm came naturally, it was actually quite an intentional effort on my part so I thought I’d share not only some of my favorite wedding DIY’s, planning resources and wedding photos but also some of the ways I was able to get my head game just as strong and on point as our wedding day timeline.
1. Find your “bliss” and use it to set the tone for the day: For me it was 15 minutes of yoga every morning the week of my wedding with a special 30 minute session solo in my hotel room the morning of our wedding. For you it may be a jog, a hot bath, a walk to the coffee shop, an episode of Fixer Upper (ahem, who doesn’t secretly gush watching Joanna and Chip’s adorable banter?) or a few chapters of your favorite Harry Potter book, whatever brings you a sense of relaxation – do it. Clearing your mind and finding even 10 minutes of pure, uninterrupted bliss the morning of your wedding will set the tone for a good day.
2. Pick a theme for the day: No, I’m not talking rustic-barn-elegance or sleek-modern-glam, I’m talking the theme of how you want the day to feel, e.g. celebratory, calm, community-minded, peaceful, joyful, exciting. While picking out the table linens, florals, and centerpieces for the day can feel at times like make or break, they’re really not. After your wedding and as time passes, you and your guests will likely forget the color of your table napkins or the vintage wooden cake stands that you just had to have – but you and your guests will remember how you felt … (and if they were fed…. You definitely want to avoid “hangry” guests).
Like a lot of us, Ben and I have family members scattered across the country and a variety of “friend groups” from our assortment of schools, jobs and extra-curriculars so I wanted our wedding day to be about this rare opportunity for gathering and celebrating. When else was I going to have the opportunity to gather everyone that Ben and I love most onto one dance floor? In keeping with our theme, I put a lot of effort into making the guests feel involved in the day rather than just observers of the day. I did this by having lawn games, a framed marriage certificate that guests signed, framed black and white family photos scattered throughout the venue, and thank you notes at each guest’s place setting.
3. Accept yourself – anxieties, OCD impulses, occasional tears and all: Hosting an event for 150 guests can be a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of expectations and opinions from a lot of different people including yourself. There will be things that go wrong – such as the platters of rice that were left in the oven too long and never made it to our dinner buffet or the tent rental vendor that refused to assemble my rental tent the morning of our wedding because of an ever so minor slope to the lawn of our venue. I found that the more I accepted rather than fought those moments of anxiety creeping in my stomach, the quicker they passed and the less intense they felt. I also tried my best to release as many expectations as I could prior to the day.4. Plan beyond the décor details and address the emotional details as well: Being an only child, I can sometimes feel a sense of responsibility for my parents. A few months after Ben proposed, the reality of transitioning from daughter to wife started to bring up feelings of nostalgia for my childhood and a bizarre guilt for growing up and “leaving” my parents. Being honest with myself and taking time to process these feelings from a place of non-judgement well before our wedding day allowed me to eventually embrace the transition rather than resist it. Journaling and being honest with my best friends were very helpful.5. Involve your family and friends – Don’t be afraid to ask for help: One of the most rewarding aspects of planning our wedding was witnessing what an incredibly talented and generous network of family and friends Ben and I have. One of the most valuable steps I made early on in our planning was identifying my strengths (in my case it was styling and vintage décor), Ben’s strengths (his carpentry skillset), the talents of our friends, and then the areas where we needed to cough up the dough for a professional. The areas where I recognized I needed a professional were DJ, caterer, and photographer. I left everything else up to ourselves and our family and friends. After our wedding day, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Ben is pretty handy with a hammer so he built farm tables for the outside guest seating. My Mom enjoys sewing so she ended up making all of our table runners, table toppers, and napkins. I also get my love of flea markets and yard sales from my Mom so she helped me collect vintage desert plates and vintage silver flatware.My Maid-of-Honor, Jenna, has been color-coding her dayplanner and alphabetizing her tea cabinet since our freshman year French class so she helped me plan my wedding day timeline, make sure I wasn’t missing any details and directed vendors the day of set-up. She’s also an amazing artist so she hand-painted my ceremony welcome and dessert buffet signs. I just so happen to work for an amazingly talented décor and event stylist (ahem, Meg Veno!) so she helped me plan my table settings and arranged several ceremony and reception centerpieces the day before our wedding.A few of my best girlfriends from college are very creative and love flowers so they arranged all of the inside floral centerpieces the day before our wedding. My father is a musician so he arranged and performed a musical performance with he and a local violin quartet as guests arrived and found their seats for the ceremony.My step-father is very involved in his church so he officiated our wedding ceremony.Ben’s uncle enjoys film and photography so he was our wedding videographer for the day. Ben’s parents love their grand-puppies so they coordinated the drop-off and pickup of our two dogs, Gracie and Olaf, so that even our fur babes were able to attend the ceremony.
The list goes on and on. The accidental benefit of involving so many of our family and friends in making our wedding celebration happen (besides the checkmarks on your to-do list that it provides) is that it created a stronger sense of community on our day. By inviting people to contribute their talents, we also unintentionally allowed them to establish a deeper, stronger connection to the event as well.
And now onto a few less deep but just as essential nitty-gritty planning details that I found most helpful:
- Bring your vendors to you: If there’s room in your budget for it, pay the extra transportation fees to have your vendors travel to your venue rather than you traveling to them! Believe me – it’s worth it. The chaos of running to the hair salon the morning of your wedding or finding an extra family member to go pick up your floral arrangements last minute wasn’t worth the extra savings to me. For an additional $100, my hair stylist came to my hotel the morning of the wedding to do my hair as well as my bridesmaids’ hair which allowed me extra time for morning yoga and a sense of calm throughout the day, #worthit.
- Get yourself a binder!: For me, a trip to Staples perusing the many aisles of organization supplies is almost as enjoyable as binging on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. So if you’re planning a wedding and anything like me, you probably already have a wedding binder. If you don’t, go get one! By storing all of my vendor contracts, timelines, décor plans, DIY inspiration, venue layout blueprints, and to-do lists in one place, I saved myself a lot of confusion, second-guessing, and double work.
- Hire a day of coordinator: While it wasn’t in my budget to hire a full package event planner, I did skip an extra signature cocktail in order to afford a day of event coordinator. It was hands down the best money that I spent.
My incredible coordinator, Casey, met me the day before our wedding to do a venue walk through and discuss the exact tasks that she would be handling as well as review the wedding day timeline, vendor contacts and last minute set-up details. Allowing myself to relinquish the control over to Casey on the day of our wedding allowed me to spend my time hugging my family members that flew in from San Fran rather than helping the caterer find the extra wine glasses that mysteriously disappeared last minute.
- Eat, hydrate and then hydrate some more: This one is self-explanatory but never overrated.
- Steal away for a few minutes alone with your partner: Ask one of your bridesmaids or friends to remind you and your new spouse to take 5 minutes alone to step back and observe the wedding reception once it’s in full swing. It was a wonderful moment watching everyone bustling around enjoying all of the hard work we had put into making the day happen. The day truly flies by so it’s so important to stop for a moment and take in all of the happiness around you.
- Prioritize your budget: For me, getting people on the dancefloor was of utmost importance so my big ticket item was our DJ. My dress on the other hand was something I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on so I ended up purchasing it online on sale. Unless you’re marrying into the Vanderbilt family, it’s likely you, too, won’t be able to splurge on every single aspect of your wedding. For me, I wanted that sense of celebration and community on our day so I spent the extra $ to get people dancing and celebrating on the dance floor with a phenomenal DJ. (Side Note: I used this wedding budget spreadsheet from Rose Gold Events and found it very helpful in prioritizing and allocating our funds).
At the end of the day, your wedding day is really only about one thing – making the lifelong commitment of marriage to your partner. Nothing good will come of stressing over the dessert menu. Laugh at yourself, keep everything in perspective and for goodness sake, relax!
Thanks for reading!
Much Love, Maggie
Vintage Rentals: Life’s Patina
Photography: Erin Joyce Photography (Erin was incredible to work with, by the way! I highly recommend)
Violinists: Vivace Live
Desserts: Sweet Dutchess Bakery
Catering: Robert Lindh
Venue: Eicher Arts Center
Groom/Groomsmen: J. Crew
Florals: Rohrer’s Farm & Meg Veno
Wedding Certificate Calligraphy: Danae Blackburn
DJ: Nick Reiner
Invitations: DIY by Maggie!
Linens: Maggie’s Mom, Jean
Wooden Farm Tables: Built by Ben
Event Coordinator: Casey Bond
Videographer: George Timko
Hair: Bristle + Prim