Saturday, January 28, 2017

Wedding Steps

With a few friends recently engaged, I figured I'd share our "how we got married without killing each other" system:

Announcing Our Engagement

First, we called our families and friends.  Those closest to us deserved to find out in person (or via text) before social media.  After we'd contacted those that we needed to, we posted the cliche kissing picture with my ring hand out.  Many congratulatory messages ensued.

Insuring the Ring

Thank goodness for pinterest because I didn't know I had to get my ring inspected, appraised, and added to our home owner's insurance policy (or renter's policy).  I set up an appointment at a local jewelry store and took the information to my insurance agent.

Picking a date

We knew we wanted to get married outside with pleasant weather.  For us, that meant early spring (Feb-April) or late fall (Oct-Nov).  We looked at 3 day weekends and holidays for out of town guests.  We didn't want to take any major holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine's Day, or Thanksgiving).  We considered New Year's Eve until we realized out expensive hotel rooms in Las Vegas would be for our guests.  B didn't want it near his birthday (April) and I didn't want it overshadowed by the first of April because some of our groomsmen have the tendency to take jokes a little too far.  We knew we wanted to get married on a Friday because it was significantly cheaper and that way we could afford an open bar (one of our must haves).  We picked Veteran's Day (11-11) and conveniently, many of our teacher friends already had the day off.

Touring locations

We asked for suggestions from friends and coworkers.  Some venues never got back to us (cough Springs Preserve cough), some were too small for our event (Mt. Charleston), some weren't going to be practical (lake cruise at sunset wouldn't work for seasick guests), some were run down, and some were simply stunning.  We toured a half dozen venues over several weeks, never seeing more than 2 per day.  I went into each appointment with a good 2 dozen questions.  Some venues laughed at my prepared and logical approach, so we knew that wasn't the choice for us.  I took notes during the meetings and refused to commit to anything that day. We thought about hotels nearby and accommodations for guests.  We narrowed our choice down to two different venues.  We were fortunate to be able to take our moms to see both venues and listen to their opinions.

From there, we made a pro-con list about each one....

on massive chart paper.  One of us is way more type A than the other.

Our top two venues were gorgeous, but we ended up going with {Stallion Mountain} because it felt more like us.  The other had a grand ball room and massive staircase, which made him feel uncomfortable.  Stallion Mountain was close to our home (under 10 minutes), had 2 hotels nearby, and was close to the Las Vegas strip for visitors.  It also had a spacious parking lot, security guards, and perhaps the most catering and kind staff I've ever worked with.

We booked our wedding (14 months out) and announced our date on social media...

with the pets of course!

Asking our bridal party

We had a small engagement party over Labor Day weekend so we could ask our bridal party.  I originally wanted a small bridal party, but he kept asking groomsmen so my original idea of one bridesmaid went out the window (which turned out to be wonderful).  I saw my bestie a few weeks before (we live on opposite coasts) and got to ask her in person at the airport.  We decided on asking our mutual friend to be our officiant and I asked her over lunch.  We "popped" the question to many of the other bridal party members at the engagement shower.  I popped the question with cute bags of flavored popcorn.  

B ignored the cute bags I made and asked his boys outside, with beer.  

Meeting with the coordinator

We lucked out with our venue because we had a coordinator handle many of the logistics for us.  We were fortunate enough to have a coordinator for the day of logistics, freeing up my bridal party to spend the morning getting ready, snacking, and enjoying mimosas.  

Picking colors

We went with deep navy, blush, and gold for our colors.  I originally wanted blush for my bridesmaids, but since they were all on the paler side, they looked a tad...naked.  Not the classy look I wanted.  So we had our girls in deep navy and the boys in gray suits with navy accents.  B was in a classic black tux and I had my cream gown.  Navy was a flattering shade (since one bridesmaid was pregnant), but not as harsh as black.  We then picked our theme (slightly rustic, slightly polka dotted, classic, with fun quirky twists).  We wanted our wedding to be elegant, but still reflect us as a couple.  After all, it's a celebration of our love.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC


Since we had a photo booth (one of my must have's), I asked our photo booth rental about book mark strips.  Not only would this tie in my love of reading, but also give our guests a space to save their photo strips.  I typed up "consider yourself booked for our photo booth" and did my own ribbon, saving some money in the process.  I was able to pick up ribbon at Joann's with coupons and sales, which cut down on the cost.

We also did "hugs & kisses from the Mr. and Mrs." favors.  I ordered pink kisses from Oriental Trading, waited out sales for Hugs, and got pre-cut tulle circles in navy and cream.  I ordered custom tags from Etsy because the frustration of hand lettering 150 small tags wasn't worth it to me.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC

Photographer & DJ

Booking these next was crucial.  We got recommendations from friends and our venue, then looked at sample pictures.  Our photographer actually did our engagement pictures (round 2) and was easy to work with, which made a huge difference.

I met with her about a week before the wedding to go over a shot list and create a time frame.  If your photographer doesn't do this, ask.  We spent too much money and time on the wedding for the pictures to be something we just winged.


Honestly, my wedding earrings and bracelet were from {Charming Charlie}, a trendy teen store.  I wanted something fancy and elegant, but I wasn't going to wear them again.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC 

Similar styles at the bridal store were several hundred dollars, but I snagged the earrings and bracelet for $10 each.  They photograph well, held up on the big day, and didn't break the bank. 


For us, these were a low priority.  I went with what was in season and a few colors to save on costs.  I wanted to keep my bouquet, so having a toss bouquet was important (and something I had to bring up to my florist).  We had flowers for our bridesmaids, boutineers for the groomsmen, and corsages for our moms (and his grandma).  We had a good half dozen meetings with our florist and she still managed to mess up the wedding day by arriving an hour late and unprepared.  

The Rest

I tried to set aside an hour or two each week to work on wedding events, but at times, nothing happened for weeks and that was alright.  Having a long engagement meant we could spread out our expenses and not feel rushed to make any sudden decisions.  We could also wait for items to be on sale or use coupons (Joanns & Michael's) for crafting materials.

I asked for help assembling the favors.  My bridesmaids (the ones who were able) came over.  We had a craft night with wine and Chinese food.  

We made sure to still go on date nights and talk about the future.  Our wedding was one beautiful, expensive day, but I hope it's not the best day.  We have the rest of our lives to look forward to and it saddens me when people spend so much time thinking about their picture perfect wedding, but not the picture perfect life they want to build.

Even with the most meticulous planning (because I'm quite type A and own it), things will go wrong.  Our cupcakes had a different flavor frosting (not that I cared).  Our florist was awful (that I did care about).  The rehearsal dinner restaurant couldn't find our reservation (I got a little bridezilla in that moment).  The groomsmen forgot to give B his gift, meaning it wasn't in pictures.  Even with a detailed schedule, things didn't go 100% according to plan.

But at the end of the day, I married my best friend, surrounded by our favorite people, and had a big party afterwards.  That's what counts.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC

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