Wedding Wednesday: Wedding Party

So yesterday after school I had a meeting and then Justin and I had friends over for dinner. No time to blog! Therefore, “Wedding Wednesday” is happening on a Thursday. And in my own little blog world, there is nothing wrong with that. 🙂 So let’s get to it!

Wedding Wednesday: The Wedding Party!

Since the last two Wedding Wednesdays have focused on what Justin and I wore, I decided to keep that theme going and discuss the bridal party!

From day one of planning, Justin and I knew that we wanted our wedding to be FUN — our goal was for the whole day to just be a celebration! Nothing super fancy and stiff because that’s just not us. We wanted our wedding party to be comfortable and happy so we gave them a lot of freedom with their outfits. I did this mostly because I have been in a few weddings and I’ve learned a few things. For starters, while it is a HUGE honor to be part of this special day in someone’s life, it is really kind of annoying to have to shell out $200 for a dress/suit you hate and will never wear again. Nothing against the bride or groom, but if their style is not yours, it’s hard to spend lots of money on clothes that aren’t “you.” In addition to that, everyone in our party was either a young professional just starting a career, starting graduate school, or still in college (a.k.a. BROKE). Our wedding took place in my hometown and many had to take off work and pay for travel just to get there. We didn’t want to put a financial burden on anyone so letting them pick their outfits ensured they not only felt comfortable in what they wore but also spent an amount of money that was comfortable to them.

Here are the results (all photos copyright the incredible Rothwell Photography):

Copyright Rothwell Photography

I absolutely LOVED how everything came together! I’m so glad everyone put some personality into their outfits.

While I was very pleased with how everything turned out, there are some things you should consider if you’re giving your wedding party freedom in choosing their own outfits. Here are my top tips:

1. Give your attendants clear guidelines. For my girls, I told them to pick a knee-length navy dress. Since my family is fairly conservative, I asked that hemlines be no more than one inch above the knee. I did not care about sleeves/strapless/neckline other than to ask that there not be cleavage. I also sent them pictures of dresses I liked as examples and a few of them ended up buying dresses that I sent as examples. SHOW THEM PICTURES! They might think they know what you’re looking for but they could be on the wrong page — make sure they see the type of overall look you’re going for with your wedding.  I also told them to pick nude shoes that they would be comfortable in (flats, heels, sandals, etc) but asked that they not be flip flops.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

For the guys, I asked them to wear khaki dress pants and brown shoes (we provided the shirt and suspenders). I did not care about color or style, although in hindsight I wish I had told them not to wear pants with pleats because that ended up looking a little strange with suspenders. For the tie, I sent them a link to the Bows N Ties website because they organize their ties into color palettes. I asked them to choose a tie from a specific page that they liked and would want to wear again.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

2. Make sure to approve of all outfits . . . I had my girls text me a picture of their chosen dress before they bought it just to make sure it was okay. They were all really willing to do this because no one wanted to stick out by being the oddball in a dress that looked “off” from the party. I didn’t ask them to, but most also texted a pic of the shoes to make sure they got approval. We also approved all the guys ties before they bought them to make sure there weren’t a ton of duplicates or one that clashed.

3. . . . but be flexible with individual styles. One of our ushers felt that he didn’t look quite right in thicker ties and wanted a skinny tie that was not offered on the website we sent. We told him to order one he liked (but just double check with us before buying to make sure the color worked) and felt comfortable in. Be willing to consider all requests, and think about what is really important. You might not love lace, but if your sister picks a dress with lace that she loves and is happy in and it fits in with the rest of the dresses, that might be worth letting slide even if it’s not your favorite. If you feel yourself wanting to control the dresses on a micro-detail level, letting your attendants pick their dress might not be the right move for you.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

4. If you don’t want to give up complete control, consider allowing attendants to choose details. For example, consider a dress that can be worn multiple ways (strapless, one shoulder, spaghetti strap) to let each girl wear what they’re comfortable in. Or allow them to choose their jewelry or shoes even if they’re all wearing the same dress. I bought my girls each a piece of jewelry, but I let them pick it out so it’d be something they’d wear again and again and think of our wedding!

5. Make sure it all “fits” by choosing a few details to keep consistent. Giving too much freedom can look chaotic or keep your party from looking like a cohesive unit. For example, if you just want attendants to wear a blue dress with no other guidelines, they might all wear something totally different and not look like they belong together. I’ve seen weddings where you can’t even tell who is in the party because the outfits are all so different. If that’s your style, go for it! For me, I wanted my party to still look coordinated. I had the girls all in dresses of the same length and the guys in the same shirt and suspenders. While our ushers wore white shirts and our groomsmen green, their looks still coordinated well together! Because there was so much variation in style of dress, shade of khaki pant, and style of tie, the party needed a few key details to be the same in order to “fit” together.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

I hope you have found this list helpful! I had many compliments from guests (and even some people who weren’t at our wedding but saw pictures) on how great our party looked and several attendants commented on how much they appreciated getting to choose a style that they liked and would wear again . . . AND that fit their budget! I highly recommend considering letting your attendants in on some of the decision making — I’m really glad we did!

Previous Wedding Wednesday Posts:

The Suit

The Dress

The Planning

My #1 Advice

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I was feeling polka dots for today’s outfit so I kept piling on the dots! Details to available pieces on Wear page.

teacher outfit blog :: simplifythechaos.comSweater: New York & Company

Blouse: New York & Company

Skirt: Kohls

Tights: Express

Pumps: Maurices

Necklace: Forever 21

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Wedding Wednesday: Begin Planning!

Well, my streak of consecutive days at school over the past two weeks will stop at one, since we had no school again today due to icy roads. I am starting to get really stir crazy around the house! At least I am getting lots of snuggle time with my fur babies!

Wedding Wednesday: The Planning Process

A few days after Justin and I got engaged, I created three different documents on my computer to help with organizing the planning process. Since I am still fairly new to blogging and so not tech-savvy, I was not able to figure out how to upload the actual documents I used to my blog. I originally wanted readers to be able to download each file for themselves if they found any of my documents to be useful; however, actually completing that was beyond my realm of knowledge. I therefore did the closest thing (within my capabilities) and took screen shots of my documents to upload as pictures. Lame, I know. But hopefully it still gives you an idea of how I set things up in case you’d like to set up something similar.

Guest List

The first document I created was our guest list. I actually downloaded my guest list straight from The Knot’s wedding planning website so rather than screen shot my guest list, I’ll just include the link to their list template here so you can download it if you wish. We actually signed up for a wedding website through weddingchannel.com (which is now The Knot) and were able to upload our guest list straight to the site. This made it SUPER easy to have guests RSVP through our wedding website and eliminated the need for RSVP cards. We got an e-mail notification when each guest RSVPed — SO NICE! I highly recommend going this route–it’s simple and f-r-e-e.

**Sidenote: The guest list is one of the hardest things to do. It seems easy enough, but when you have to combine you and your hubby’s friends, family, and all the random extras, it can get big fast. I suggest carving out a significant chunk of time to just sit down and list everyone you even might want to invite. (Justin and I did this on a seven-hour road trip shortly after we got engaged–I wanted to get it out of the way!) Then start to systematically work through and take people out. Don’t be afraid of hurting feelings; it’s your wedding!! And in reality, you simply can’t invite every single person in your life.

A good rule of thumb is to expect about 75% of the guests you invite to RSVP “yes.”

Wedding Budget

Wedding Budget

With this one, I created a spreadsheet in Excel and listed every possible expense I could think of. I categorized the expenses into logical groups (i.e. stationary, reception) and listed all the details underneath. I had an “estimated cost” column to list how much money we were going to budget for each item and then I also had an “actual cost” column to list how much the item actually cost.

I set up the spreadsheet to have a “Grand Total” at the bottom and inserted a formula for the box to automatically update and add up the total in each column so I could easily see if I was under/over budget. This made it SUPER easy to keep track of our money and also helped me see where we could try to cut costs.

Contact List

I cannot stress this enough. A master contact list is an absolute must. It is hard to keep track of everyone’s numbers and information and you will want to be able to stay in touch with your vendors in case you have questions or need to confirm details with them.

Wedding Contacts

 

My master list was super simple. Just an Excel sheet with all the vendors and their essential contact information listed, and also columns to keep track of payments. Some vendors require deposits, others want an additional portion of the payment before the wedding. It’s easy to lose track of who you have paid already and when payments are needed so this is a simple way to keep all the information in one place!

Bonus: Wedding Timeline

Another helpful document to have at the beginning of your planning is a wedding timeline. My sister-in-law gave me a copy of Real Simple’s wedding planner and I used the timeline they had but you can find many online. This was a very helpful tool to keep me on track and help me to know when to do things. Had I not had this, I would probably have had way too many things to do close to the wedding and it would have been stressful. I’m so glad I spaced everything out and had some time to breathe!

I hope you find some of these tools helpful! Feel free to take my ideas and tweak them for your own use 🙂

Happy “hump” day!

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No school, no outfit of the day. Even if there’s no school tomorrow, I need to put on some real clothes!!

Wedding Wednesday: The Beginning

Hey y’all!

So…it is Wednesday night and I just found out that school is canceled tomorrow. AGAIN. We haven’t had school all week due to MLK, Jr. Day on Monday and snow days ever since. Crazy! It’s like a little mini winter vacation. I’ve been trying to keep busy by cleaning (sort of) and cooking/baking. I’m currently in the middle of making some delicious Oatmeal Wheat Bread using a fabulous recipe my friend Leah gave me. It’s so yummy! While the bread was rising, I started flipping through some pics on my computer to pass the time and I came across tons of my wedding photos (It just so happens to be our seven-month anniversary! Whoop whoop!)

Copyright Rothwell Photography
Copyright Rothwell Photography

I just love looking at our wedding pictures! Justin and I got married this past summer and it was seriously the best day of my life. Everyone told me that the day would go by so fast and I wouldn’t remember anything later, but I actually remember so much more than I thought I would. I made a conscious effort to continuously take in the day and appreciate each moment. Justin and I decided from the day we got engaged that we didn’t want to “just get married” but we wanted to enjoy the whole process!  We tried to keep each other accountable to not blow decisions out of proportion and to realize that this was just one day. We knew things would go wrong (and boy they did! I”ll save that for another post) but we also knew that this day symbolized the beginning of our whole life together —we wanted to just have fun and celebrate!!

As I was flipping through these photos, I thought about all the things that had gone into planning the day and I decided I’d like to share about my wedding day on the blog. Just bits and pieces that went into planning (and the day of) that helped me in case it might help some of you! Since it’s Wednesday and I do love some good alliteration (eh-hem Teacher Tuesday!), I think I shall have a Wedding Wednesday from here until my anniversary . . . or until I run out of things to say about it. 🙂

Since I view today as more of an introduction, I’ll just leave you with my biggest piece of advice:

Plan your little heart out. But when friends and family come into town for the big day, STOP planning and enjoy your loved ones.

My absolute biggest regret happened the night before the wedding. All our friends and family were in already. We had the rehearsal and dinner, and after dinner my friends were all there wanting to hang out. Justin and I told them to go ahead without us. Why?? Because we hadn’t finished wedding slideshow. Yup. I valued getting that darn slideshow done so much that I placed it first and foremost. I truly thought we’d just finish quick and have time to go out, but we were up until midnight finishing it, completely missing time with our friends. And you know what? The day of the wedding, it was too light outside to even see most of the pictures. It was totally pointless. Complete fail. I wish I could go back in time and say “Screw the slideshow! Let’s all hang out!” I missed out on a night with friends that I had been really looking forward too because I let myself get stuck on a little detail that I thought was important.

Do yourself a favor. Do what you can in the days leading up to the day, and when the day comes, forget the small details. They don’t matter. If it’s not done by the rehearsal, it’s not getting done. And that’s OK! Create memories with family and cherish time together with friends. This is probably the only time in your life when everyone in your life is together so ENJOY IT!!!

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Still no daily outfit. Because I’m still just wearing sweatpants all day. 🙂