Jason and I were engaged one week before Valentine’s Day 2008. One week after Valentine’s Day 2008, I had acquired a collection of bridal magazines. I was eager to get planning. Then came the rude awakening…weddings ain’t cheap! I had come to the realization that the weddings in those bridal magazines-the one’s where everyone is smiling from ear to ear as they sip champagne from crystal, while overlooking a vineyard-cost anywhere from 20K to God knows how much!!! Soooo, I got to thinking on how I could pull off a tasteful wedding, without a 20K budget. Hell, I didn’t even have a 1K budget!
The one thing that kept me focused was this: “Jason and I are getting married. We want to share it with our family and friends. We are not rich people, and nor do we pretend to be!” That statement made the whole planning, crafting, and everything else much more purposeful. I wanted our wedding to speak to everyone about who my fiance and I are, what we come from, and how happy we are with what we have. I think a lot of brides-to-be get caught up in the fantasies that are fed to them in magazines, movies, and television. Though, some folks may have the means to throw an elaborate shindig; many people may have just enough for cab fare to the courthouse. The important thing to remember when planning a wedding is the core purpose of the party- a celebration of love and uniting families.
Once I cleared my mind of the fantasy, I all but trashed my bridal magazines, and put my priorities on paper. We wanted a small wedding and good food. I definitely wanted an outdoor wedding, and he definitely wanted it not to be Summer. We live in the South. Summers in the South are sweltering, sticky-hot! We set our date for Fall, which equates to “second Spring” in the Carolinas. Another benefit of a Fall wedding is the better chance of getting the venue you want, and not be double booked. We decided on a quaint garden in our neighborhood to host the ceremony and reception.
Lucky for us, the McGill Rose Garden is less than 2 miles from our home, and easily accessed from the interstate. Second bonus is the miniscule fee to rent the venue for the evening, and the garden was in bloom…more savings on decor! The garden also housed fledgling floral design boutique Nectar Floral Design, owner Karissa Carpenter, was responsible for my lovely bouquet, his boutonniere, and venue booking. Karissa was very accommodating and is a talented floral designer. The venue provided several banquet tables, picnic tables, and had very unique, rustic pieces that were useful for setting up the reception.
Looking at the photos, it looks like a medium budget wedding; but it really wasn’t bank busting. I was lucky enough to have some really creative and talented friends. I can’t tell you how hard we worked. For starters, all of the centerpieces were thrown together minutes before the ceremony. My dear friend Brandy, of A Sensible Habit, came down and threw in her craftiness. Brandy created the labels for our quarter pints of genuine Moonshine (run down from the mountains of Rural Retreat, VA).
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the flowers were bought at a local farmer’s market. The wood chips were cut from the branches of a fallen tree limb. The vases were made from jars of all shapes and sizes,that I had saved all year! I also bought a whole bolt of muslin fabric for less than the cost of renting table cloths. I mean, people were going to spill food and drinks on them, so why pay to rent + damage fees?!
We also saved a grip by self catering. I’m pretty handy in the kitchen, and I’m a little bit of a control freak when it comes food and entertaining. Since we are not pretentious people, I thought that serving comfort food would be fitting for our dinner. Also, seating was really casual- so a formal sit-down dinner would be crazy! I got to brainstorming and came up with a simple menu, with touches of decadence. First off- Truffle Macaroni and Cheese. I have an obsession with truffle oil…I put it on everything(almost). The ingredients could be bought in bulk, and making large batches of mac n’ cheese is not too difficult. The highlight of the menu was the Price’s Fried Chicken. We live in the South, so why not?! It was a hit for sure! We also served braised pork shanks and roasted brussel sprouts.
Another way we saved was by purchasing our beverages from grocery stores and bulk retailers. We served beer, wine and soda. The wine was Trader Joe’s “2 buck Chuck”, in red and white. The beer was purchased at Sam’s club. My friend Dustin provided a couple of cases of his homebrewed Pale Ale. The bottles were custom labeled, compliments of Lauren and Will Puckett. I also made a huge batch of Sweet Tea for the kiddos. And how could I forget the Edible Martinis, fabricated by my brother-in-law, Daniel Urschel. He’s an accomplished chef, out of Albany, NY! Dan first introduced these to us while we visited his restaurant over the previous Christmas holiday. The edible martinis added a unique touch to our cocktail hour.
Our reception also featured a dessert table, which consisted of homemade cookies, rice krispie treats, pralines and assorted candies. It worked out really well. Guests were able to take odds and ends home as parting gifts. Our cake was made by another friend, who at the time, was up starting a baking business. Molly Burris is the owner of Lady Jayne’sBakery. Together we came up with a lovely concoction of Nutella, Strawberries, and almond. The best cake EVER!
This wedding was a lot of work; but in the end, so worth it! My friends really threw their hearts into their contributions. Even the photography was done by friends. All of these beautiful photos were the work of Angela Shea. She really worked it!The wedding was truly a collaboration of friends and family. I think we all felt like it was not just a wedding for myself and my husband; but more like a wedding for everyone.