My favorite detail from Lauren and Ken’s beautiful wedding? Their “air mail” guest book, with a sign that read: “Only 6 weeks after Lauren and Ken’s first date, Ken departed for the Marine Corps boot camp. With no access to cell phones or email, Lauren and Ken continued their courtship the old-fashioned way – with handwritten letters every day for the duration of Ken’s boot camp.” In lieu of a traditional guest book, loved ones wrote them letters – advice, words of encouragement, stories, etc. – which a friend mailed to the newlyweds throughout their first year of marriage.
Of course, the rest of the wedding is incredibly sweet and beautiful, and you won’t want to miss the bride’s excellent budget-saving tips!
“Not only is St. Peter’s Church gorgeous, but it holds a special meaning for us as couple. We both attended St. Peter’s Catholic schools from K-12 (we are high school sweethearts!) and celebrated many special milestones and moments in St. Peter’s Church. It’s also meaningful for us because Ken’s parents were married at the same altar 45 years ago!”
Your ceremony in three words. Religious, Traditional, Emotional.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? Our ceremony was a traditional Catholic ceremony and incorporated many of the Catholic traditions, including our recitation of the traditional vows, placing roses in front of the Statue of Mary during the Ave Maria, and playing traditional Catholic music during the ceremony.
Guests waved simple ribbon wands as the newlyweds walked out of the church.
What was your favorite part of your ceremony? Perhaps this is cliche, but my favorite moment was walking down the aisle at St. Peter’s and seeing Ken waiting at the end. We dated for 13 years before we got married and stayed together despite his military service, living overseas, living in different states and cities, going to separate colleges, and both growing up from teenagers into adults. It took great patience, trust, perseverance, good humor, love and faith in each other to get to our wedding day. Walking down the aisle after the long and winding road to that moment felt surreal.
Anything else? Aside from walking down the aisle and seeing Ken standing at the end, I loved saying our vows! I love hearing couples read vows they wrote themselves, but for us, I can’t imagine needing or wanting to say anything more than what the traditional vows promise. To love and honor someone through sickness and health, rich and poor, good times and bad times, for all the days of your life? How beautiful! How romantic! How perfect.
“We were so honored to have our garden reception at Kingwood Center,” says Lauren. “The mansion and surrounding gardens are stunning. When we started dating in high school, we spent many of our early dates walking the beautiful grounds, talking and getting to know each other. Ken joined the Marine Corps just six weeks after our first date, and whenever he was home on leave, we returned to the grounds to walk and enjoy the little bit of time we had with each other before he had to return to duty. When we were engaged we knew immediately we wanted to host our reception there as it holds amazing memories for us.”
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We had a very conservative budget but we still managed to have a wedding that was meaningful and beautiful by being creative, being willing to do some of the leg work ourselves, and prioritizing the things that were important to us and finding inexpensive ways to handle the things that weren’t important. Here are some ways we cut costs:
Think about what you and your guests will remember the most. Think about other weddings you have been to and recall what made them enjoyable for you as a guest? And think about what you want to remember about your day – what is important to you as a couple? Are you foodies but aren’t big music lovers? Skip the band and hire the good caterer! It’s better to have a few quality elements that are meaningful to you, than to overspend because you think you need to have the best of everything.
Shop around! I wanted a long, silk veil and the bridal salon quoted me $700.00! I shopped on Etsy and had the same veil handmade for less than $90.00.
We kept our bridal party small. My bridesmaids were my two sisters and Ken’s brother and best friend were his groomsmen. We invited our close friends and family to participate in the wedding in other ways.
We bought all of our alcohol at a local box stores (Costco, Sam’s Club) so it was very inexpensive to buy in bulk, and we were able to return all the alcohol we didn’t open. We kept the selection to wine and beer, but we still had a very lively celebration!
Instead of hiring a DJ or a band, we rented a sound system and asked a close friend to “emcee” the wedding by introducing the bridal party, guiding the guests through the cocktail hour, dinner, toasts, etc. Everyone commented on how personal it made the wedding feel. We made playlists for the cocktail hour, dinner and dancing, and many guests commented on how great the music was and how personal it felt without a DJ.
Find a location that doesn’t need much decorating!
Think about what you might be able to borrow from a friend or relative. Does someone in your family have a beautiful pair of earrings you can wear? Did a friend just get married wearing a beautiful cage veil? Ask your vendor if they can share the name of the couple getting married the week or two before you and get in touch to ask what they plan to do with all of their extra vases for their flowers. Ask if you can buy them for a small fee and offer to pick them up after their wedding. They will probably be happy to make a few bucks and not have to worry about them!
First Dance Song: “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain
What was the best advice you received as a bride? To take a moment to yourselves at some point during the day. Luckily, we had some time between the ceremony and reception when we were with our (amazing!) photographers and could take a few moments to enjoy just each other before we greeted our guests and the evening became a whirlwind. Also, my sister reminded me several times during the planning process that “no one cares about your wedding as much as you do.” She wasn’t being cruel; she was reminding me that our guests and friends and family would never notice or really care about 90% of the details of our wedding that I was tempted to stress over.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Give each other, your loved ones, your bridal party, and yourselves a break. Your wedding will be beautiful and perfectly imperfect. Something (many things!) will turn out different than you planned, but you will feel so euphoric and buoyed by love on your wedding day you won’t notice or care. One year after the wedding, you won’t even remember 99% of the details and things that seem important right now.