There are countless things that we did to make our wedding special, very personal, and very convenient. There were also lots of little details that I didn’t tell you before. I know many of you may be planning your own wedding or event with custom touches like personalized labels for your champagne, wedding favors, and invites, and I wanted to share 10 things out of the ordinary things that we bought/made/last-minute-
1. We bought our own tablecloths.
Tablecloths, of all things, were the only stressing factor in the months leading up to the wedding. I found myself having emotional fits about how the rented 7 bar-height tables needed to presented, and couldn’t decide on a table runner design for the two long tables we built that extended 19-feet in length. All I can conclude is that I probably looked at Pinterest and design blogs too much, and completely overwhelmed myself. Table design and decor isn’t really my thing, nor is decisiveness, come to find.
Initially it made sense for us to rent coordinating round, big ass tablecloths for our round rental tables, but the vendor wanted something like $16/each for the day ($112-ish total), and they couldn’t guarantee that they’d be steamed to lay nicely. It wasn’t enough that I already had some preconceived notion that rental cloths were a weird material, maybe a bad shiny, satiny polyester like all the frou-frou ones at the bridal shows, but I also had repeated nightmares about super wrinkly tablecloths. The horror. I stress about weird things. Like how I have 8 unread magazines on my coffee table that I meant to get through this weekend.
One way or another, I knew we would be spending money on tablecloths and it was worth looking into other options. One solution was to by a whole lot of fabric (I priced my haul at about $75 worth after coupons) and cut my own big circular tablecloths. In doing this, we would be able to control the fabric that the cloths were made of – we really liked some of the heavier muslin options because it came in extreme widths like 108″ and 120″–but would have to do a lot of work to cut and hem each piece.
Alternately, as I stood with an armload of muslin debating this decision at JoAnns, we looked up the pricing of tablecloths on Amazon and ended up finding that I could order the same size tablecloth as offered by the table vendor on Amazon for just $12.99/each. It was a little cost savings, and still a little risky because we weren’t sure if the fabric would be exactly what we wanted (they appeared at the top of the list in my search for “linen tablecloths” but were clearly labeled polyester), but at least we could keep the fabric when the wedding was over and better control its wrinkles. Future occasions, future projects!
They showed up individually packaged, and the fabric was thankfully not repulsive. No sheen, a nice bright matte finish, almost canvas-ish in weave.
We set up them on-site the day before the wedding and steamed out all of the creases with our hand steamer (it took us about 2-hours to do all 7 tables but it looked damn good in the end). The cloth will be great for any number of future projects.
2. I bought my wedding dress on eBay.
My mom and I spent the weekend of her September birthday in NYC dress shopping. During that trip, I bought two conservatively priced J.Crew dresses (with all intentions of returning one to our local store). Did you know that bridal appointments are generally only an hour long? I couldn’t make such an important decision in such a short time. It was actually a very stressed, rushed, and frustrating experience. There was just one little snafu: both dresses were sold to me two sizes too big with the understanding that “all brides need to have the dresses taken in and our wedding dresses run small.” I doubted the consultant’s sizing recommendations at the time–I’ve had the opportunity to buy several bridesmaids dresses and plenty of normal clothes from J.Crew–but when they arrived it was clear that both options were way too big for me (think: total bodice restructuring, $$$). After a lot of back and forth with customer service, I sort of have a hunch that the consultant sold me the sizes she did because they didn’t have smaller sizes in stock anywhere in all of J.Crew. Whomp.
I hadn’t bought anything on eBay (ever) until I found Julia’s best girl dress, but I started perusing my wedding dress options knowing that I didn’t have much time (this was in October). I took a risk and bought one that I immediately gravitated to, another J.Crew dress, this one in my size, a sample dress with tags that was discounted from what would have been its original retail price by about 70%. It arrived in a box the size of a package of Ritz crackers (uh, scary) but it fit perfectly, even to length, and needed no extra tailoring, just a good steaming from my trusted dry cleaners. It was more like what I had envisioned myself to wear on my wedding day, style-wise, and with little stripes of silver and gold it felt really right for a Christmas Eve wedding. (Side note: The necklace is from Madewell and was also a steal of a deal thanks to a Black Friday online shopping excursion.)
3. I got really, really lucky with a hair stylist.
I put off hair details until like, the last possible minute. I kind of forgot about it, really, and, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my usually-ponytailed mess. It didn’t take me long to realize no salons were going to be open on Christmas Eve; I got nowhere with referrals from friends, and nowhere while making cold calls to reputable businesses. There was a lot of begging involved.
I can only imagine that World Hair in Rochester was one of my last options. It’s a fun place, but it’s not a go-to for bridal needs, but a cheap place for a simple cut. Not only were they open on Christmas Eve, they had a stylist available to give me a test run a week ahead of time. And it worked out so well, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was with the finished style that Amanda gave me (I brought her a few inspired photos that I found on Pinterest but let make modifications to work with my current hair length). It held strong until I took the 75 pins out that night, and I’ve been singin’ her praises ever since. (Side note: The clip was $16 at Anthropologie and ties in to both the golds and silvers I wore.)
4. I did my own makeup.
Just call me Kate Middleton. I bought waterproof mascara, but the rest of the minimal makeup I used was stuff I already had on hand. I grabbed Julia’s mirror from our bathroom and threw on my makeup just before the wedding. (Side note: I had to use a Mary Kay eyeshadow tutorial that I had been holding onto for a year. Makeup’s so not my thing.)
5. Mani-pedi, me and the kid only.
And I probably could have painted my fingernails better myself. But it was about the experience.
We did this on a Friday evening, the last available appointment at a spa that I found a Groupon for (man, how cheap do I sound?). The wedding wasn’t until the following Monday, so the tips of my fingernails were plenty ragged down by that point from setting up, but my toenail polish is still (mostly) on today, small miracle, lazy me.
6. I bought myself a cute wine topper.
It’s the Cape Jasmine stopper from BHLDN, it’s as delicate as can be, and it was only $10. I used it to top my personal bottle at the wedding, and we’ve continued to enjoy it since. It was a small price to pay, but I hope we have it as a wedding momento for a long time. (Side note: I tried to order one of the dapper bow tie toppers at the same time so Pete could have a bottle topper too, but it was really backordered, sad face.)
7. I bought everyone else cute straws.
Because, why not. Kikkerland straws yo-yo in price on Amazon, but I only paid $7 for our box of 144. We had about 134 leftover, because who really drinks out of a straw at a wedding?
8. We curated our own music playlists.
I eluded to this when I shared some of our wedding photos, but making our own playlists for the wedding was one of the best things we could have planned. It was something that we organized right from the get-go; we both had running lists of songs that we knew we wanted to include for the reception, tracks that were both in our current collection or could be easily downloaded, songs that made us happy and think of each other. We weren’t setting up a dance floor, but we agreed that we wanted the music to be representative of us and what we like (no Y.M.C.A. or other cliché) and more cocktail party-ish than the get down on it thumpin’ wedding reception.
At first blush, our wedding consisted simply of the ceremony, followed by the reception. When it came time to plan for music though, we broke the afternoon into three parts, three unique playlists:
- Pre-wedding: We arranged an hour’s worth of acoustic renditions of songs that we liked, which started playing an hour before the wedding as our guests were arriving and mingling. Almost all of the 15 songs were by Vitamin String Quartet, many from their various wedding albums. We bought the songs on iTunes; VSQ was the shit, wedding or not I think you’ll be amused.
- Ceremony: Pete was in charge of transitioning out of the first playlist and into the second playlist once he felt most guests had arrived and settled in for our 3PM wedding. The second playlist only had two songs. The transition in playlists was something we discussed with our family at the rehearsal, so they were able to make sure our guests were situated and made sure there was aisle space once the first song began playing. Pete, Julia, and our officiant gathered at the front of the ceremony space to a VSQ acoustic of Here Comes Your Man originally by The Pixies, and it transitioned immediately into a VSQ acoustic version of Maybe I’m Amazed originally by Paul McCartney that my Dad and I walked down the aisle to. True story though, Maybe I’m Amazed was over 5+ minutes and knowing that it would only take me all of 45-seconds to make my way down the aisle, I edited its length myself to around 2-minutes in either Garage Band or iMovie (don’t remember) to make it succinct, and also to make it fade out at the end at an appropriate point in the song. When all of us were at the front of the room, we allowed the music to finish, and the playlist ended.
- Reception: My cousin’s boyfriend was tasked with starting the third and final playlist immediately as we kissed at the end of the ceremony. His timing was perfect, it was a very smooth transition from ceremony into reception. The third playlist was almost entirely from our own collection, and featured our favorites by The Beatles, Cake, Paul Simon, UB40, Weezer, Arctic Monkeys, Bowie, music from the 50 First Dates soundtrack, you name it, we probably had it. We incorporated some Christmas songs too, given the holiday, mostly songs from the Elf soundtrack (rockin’), but no two Christmas songs were arranged to play back-to-back, they were well-dispersed. Our reception playlist was designed to last 5 hours, and it ended just as we started to pack up at the end of the night. If it had looped, I doubt anyone would be immediately noticed.
9. I invested in cake trays. And made a sweet cake stand.
I talked about this once before. It was really nice to have various trays available (both borrowed and new) to display a multitude of pies and cookies. We received a lot of compliments on the logs beneath the cake (I actually forgot at home the morning of the wedding–our friends Erin and Adil took a special trip to our house to retrieve them before the wedding). The bear cake tray will be nice to have for future events too.
10. I bought our invite paper online.
We saved so much money buying our paper on Amazon instead of working through the printing vendors we used. I can’t even begin to estimate exactly how much we still have left, but we’re OK with having leftovers that won’t spoil when the total investment was just a fraction of the price that we might have otherwise paid at an art store or through a preferred vendor. Paper’s an investment, if you want to save a few cents, follow our lead, it was a great experience.