What was your total wedding budget?
Our total budget was around $20,000
Dress & accessories: $300
Hair & Makeup: $200
Suit & accessories: $300
How many guests did you have?
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
The biggest personal touch was the colors we used. Orange is my (Suzette) favorite color, and turquoise is Brad’s favorite color. (We even designed my engagement ring to have orange and turquoise sapphires included.) Therefore, those colors were our main inspiration. I also LOVE bright colors and wanted to make our wedding modern, bold and unique. Our first dance was to the Avett Brothers’ song “Swept Away,” so that became our theme. Part of the lyrics talk about “whirling and twirling,” so I wanted the décor to have movement–literally. This inspired the use of so many streamers – from the reception to the church to the bouquets and even on the backs of the chairs. Overall, we just wanted everything to be light, breezy, casual, colorful, and fun.
Being a graphic designer, I definitely wanted to be a part of anything “visual” for the wedding. I designed our save the dates and wedding invitations. That was special to me because I wanted them to be unique, just like our wedding and just like us. I also designed the seating chart, the table name cards, and the various posters with quotes that were hanging up at the reception.
Brad and I are big board game players. We aren’t super serious about it, but when friends and family get together, we are always playing games. We are also not big dancers, which is why we had a board game table (and cornhole boards) at our reception. This also inspired Brad’s idea of naming each of the tables with the name of a game rather than using numbers.
There were also personal touches added by friends and family throughout many different aspects of the wedding. My mom, sister, aunts, and friends all helped bake cookies and other desserts. My aunt is a florist, so she created all of the floral bouquets and centerpieces. Brad’s dad is in a brass quintet, so they played the music at our ceremony. My brother handmade several cornhole boards (orange and turquoise, of course) for the reception. Brad’s special project for the wedding was creating his own photo booth (can you tell he works in IT?). My bridesmaids, mom, and nieces all helped make fun props for the photo booth. My mom made all of the streamer wands for our exit from the church. My good friends (who also happen to be co-workers) created all of the streamer decorations at the church, inside and outside the reception, hung all of the lanterns and other decorations, and created the “Swept Away” banner for the cake. We had a ton of help from so many people!
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
Definitely DIY. Or, rather, F&FDYI (Friends & Family DIY). We had many people close to us willing to help, and we gladly accepted it!
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
I would say start planning as soon as possible. We procrastinated on some things, which all worked out, but it added unnecessary pressure to an already stressful time. Also, decide what you and your partner’s priorities are for the day. Splurge on what is really important to you and scale back on elements that are not.
What was your biggest splurge?
Music, catering, and photography. Brad and his family are very musical (he plays trumpet and tenor horn, and his dad plays French horn), so having live music was very important to us. I am artistic (I work as a graphic designer), so capturing the day with excellent photography was my priority. Finding a photographer we loved was so worth it, and the photos speak for themselves! And of course, having good food at the reception was a must. We tried a few caterers and picked the first one we went to. We got many positive reviews of the food, which I appreciate!
What was your favorite detail?
Brad: My favorite detail was all the decorations (and food) set up for the cocktail hour.
Suzette: My favorite details were the cake topper (bees have a special meaning to us) and the table decorations. This is probably where we spent most of our time planning. My good friend helped create the table décor and worked hard to bring my vision to life. He put so much effort and love into every detail. Our inspiration began with the tablecloths, which are not tablecloths at all – they are actually shower curtains!
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
Brad: My most memorable moment of the day was walking into the reception and seeing Suzette’s reaction. Our wedding “team” of friends & co-workers were all standing there, waiting for us. We walked in, and she was so overcome with emotion that she started to cry. I couldn’t stop smiling because I knew how happy she was, seeing her vision come to life.
Suzette: I have so many memorable moments, honestly, but I’ll try to narrow them down to a few. I loved how our “first look” turned out. Seeing Brad for the first time was such a rush of emotions. I knew from that point on it would be a perfect day.
Amy, our photographer, handled that beautifully and captured it so well. Our exit from the church was another favorite – seeing all these happy, smiling faces waving color streamers at us – it was such a joyous moment; you could tell how happy they were for us. Walking into the reception was another incredible moment.
I had worked so much to get all the details ready for this day, but I had to put the task of execution in someone else’s hands, so I wasn’t sure how it would truly turn out. Of course, I trusted my friends and family to pull it all together, but when I walked in and saw the finished product, I was absolutely speechless. I started hugging everyone in sight, and I couldn’t do anything but cry happy tears. It was literally breathtaking.
I think my most memorable moment was our first dance. It was so nice to slow down and take those few minutes to really be together as husband and wife and really connect with Brad. Of course, there were some silly moments during the dance, too (like before we even started, I had to be reminded of where my hands were supposed to go while we danced!)
The song we danced to – Swept Away by the Avett Brothers – has such meaning to me; I love the lyrics. Now every time I hear it, I’m transported back to that day, and it’s hard for me not to get emotional about it.
Photography: Amy Ann Photography • Ceremony Venue: St. Francis of Assisi Church • Reception Venue: Grange Insurance Audubon Center • Flowers: Seifert’s Flower Mill • Bridal Gown: Azazie Wedding Dress • Cardigans: Cato • Bride’s Jewelry: Charming Charlie • Bride’s Shoes: Oka-B • Bridesmaid Dresses: Elyse’s Boutique • Hair: Jennifer King • Makeup: State of Face Makeup by Joy Macke • Men’s Attire: Jos. A Bank Suits • Bakery: Short North Piece of Cake Bakery • Catering: Milo’s Catering • Custom Rings: Jared • Music: Bluewater Kings Band • Cake Topper: ImCrochetInLove on Etsy