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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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« {Unfake Wedding Feature} Sarah & Tony, Part II | Main | {Unfake Wedding Feature} Sarah & Tony, The Prequel »

{Unfake Wedding Feature} Sarah & Tony, Part I

If you missed the Prequel to Sarah and Tony’s Unfake Wedding, you can read it here. I’ll keep this intro bullshit short since I already wrote my part. Now it’s Sarah’s turn. 


Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of Sarah &Tony!


The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you?

You betcha! You don’t wait 22 years to marry your high school sweetheart and then skip the wedding night. Our venue required us to end the reception by 10:30, so we were home nice and early, and our kids had a sleepover with their cousins. We had decided to skip renting a hotel room since our house was so close to the venue, and I am really glad that our first married night was spent in our house. Somehow that made it extra special.

Please take the time to tell me all the vendors you used.

Photographer  Kelly Rashka

DJ/Band  Mariachi Alma Tucsonense (ceremony and cocktail hour music); our personal playlists, enhanced for dance-ability using Ask the DJ software (rehearsal, dinner and dancing).

T30SB Commentary: Best wedding music EVER.

Ceremony/Reception Venue  Tucson Botanical Gardens

Ceremony Venue Planner  The Tucson Botanical Gardens event coordinator, Cassandra, was wonderful to work with.

Transportation We used Tony’s Mini Cooper!

Guest Hotel  Embassy Suites Paloma Village

Flowers  We did not have live flowers, but DIY’d flower substitutes.

Dress  Marine blue Teri Jon evening dress purchased off-the-rack from Saks.

Hair/Make-Up  Margarita GoDiva

Tuxedos/Suits  Tony’s suit came from Nordstrom, our son’s outfit came from Dillard's. They bought their matching shoes at Payless Shoe Source (Tony’s shoes cost $4, and I don’t even want to think about the conditions under which $4 leather shoes were manufactured).

Ties  The Tie Bar

Flower Girl Dress Girls Dress Shop

Bride’s and Flower Girls’ Hair Accessories TruLu Couture

Rings Rambling Rose Estate Jewelry, Old Towne Orange, CA

Bride’s Jewelry  Azure Treasures

Groom’s Cufflinks & Tie Tack Sherry Truitt

Bride’s Wrap Silk Siren

T30SB Commentary: Silk Siren’s work is amazeballs and the photography simply does not do it justice.

Flower Girl’s Shoes  Sketchers “twinkle toes” sneakers.

Invitations  Plantable paper from Of the Earth (we printed our own invitations), design of invitations and RSVP postcards by Lizzie and Isaiah from Love Your Way.

Catering  Acacia Catering

Rehearsal Dinner Catering  Shlomo & Vito’s

Bartender Vicky Randall

Linen Rentals  Special Events Linens

Desserts  Nadine’s Bakery

“Guest Book” Framing  Aaron Brothers






Who was your favorite vendor and why?

I don’t think I have a specific favorite vendor. Everyone we worked with helped us in such a great way. I would hire them all again in a heartbeat.

Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

No. We luckily bumped into fantastic vendors like a pinball in the arcade. We picked the venue because it was beautiful, and our daughter loves it. The venue required us to use the caterer. The event coordinator for the venue recommended the bartender and the linen rental company. I was already familiar with the bakery. One of my many blog friends, Mouse, recommended our photographer, and our photographer recommended the stylist. We found our rings when we were out junk-shopping one weekend. My mom had heard and loved the mariachi band, so we hired them for her. Tony had a specific style of jacket in mind, and we happened to see something that would work in Nordstrom, and I happened to have about $270 in reward credits, so we bought his suit there. Of course, we used TruLu Couture for the hair accessories because I knew her.

T30SB Commentary: Friendors can be a blessing or a curse. I’m always terrified to do work for a friend, but I’ve been very lucky so far! If you are a bride and are lucky to have a Friendor in the wedding industry, do yourselves a favor and pay them somehow for their services. I gave my Friendor wedding planner a framed oil painting I found in Viet Nam that, for some reason, spoke to me of her (she’s from Singapore). Do something to pay them serious homage for their hard work. I think my “payment” to my Friendor only scratched the surface of the debt I owe her for her magnanimous gift to me and The Candyman.








How long did you take to plan your wedding?

The wedding we had is not the wedding we planned. We spent a year planning and crafting for a wedding. Our plan was a destination wedding in San Francisco, in which we would rent a Victorian in the Alamo Square area of San Francisco that was large enough to house us, including my two kids, and all of my family, including my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law and niece and nephews. We had reserved the fourth floor gallery of City Hall and a classical guitarist for our ceremony; then we planned to take all of our guests on a rented party cable car back to the Victorian, which would be set up for a dinner party at which we planned to serve Chinese food from our favorite San Francisco restaurant and an assortment of cakes and cupcakes. After we had everything planned and had mailed our invitations, we learned that my mom could not travel due to her health. Since the whole idea had been to give my family a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a vacation together (I was 11 years old the last time my family traveled together), we knew we could not have the wedding without my mom there. After Tony and I talked about the situation together, and then with our kids, we decided to cancel the wedding and move it to Tucson, which is the city where Tony and I grew up and where my entire family still lives. I spent one day canceling the San Francisco wedding. At that point, I was in a daze, worried about my mom and other family and job-related concerns, so I no longer had time to spend days or weeks researching venues and vendors. The day after I canceled all of our San Francisco contracts, I picked a new date and signed contracts with our venue, the caterer (which is the required caterer for the venue), a local mariachi band my mom loves, and had sent an inquiry to the photographer. About a week before all of this happened, I had already accepted a job that required us to move back to Tucson anyway. As a result of moving and switching jobs, we did nothing for the wedding for the next five months, until I realized that our invitations needed to be mailed and that we needed to get cracking on a new to-do list. So, we spent a year making crafts and planning one wedding, and we spent 2 months planning the wedding we actually had.







How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

Because we had space limitations and budget worries for the San Francisco plan, we initially invited 45 people to our San Francisco wedding, expecting that about 28 people would show up. We did not invite a lot of Tucson people because of the cost of travel. In fact, we did not invite my beloved aunt, who is my mom’s older sister because we knew she would not be able to manage travel to and walking around in San Francisco. When we moved the wedding to Tucson, we had more space and expanded the guest list, but we knew we would lose some people who could not to travel to Tucson. We ended up inviting 87 people, and 45 people came. We did not have any no-shows who had RSVP’d.





What was your budget?

We didn’t have a set budget. Our goal was to have a relaxed, informal but still pretty wedding for the least cost possible. The San Francisco wedding plan had several high cost items (City Hall, cable car and Victorian rentals, photography, tourism/travel) that meant that we had very little budget for any of the pretty things like décor or even a wedding dress. Frankly, the whole plan was turning into a budget nightmare. When we moved the wedding to Tucson, we were able to eliminate almost all of the high-cost items from our budget (no more accommodations and travel costs, no separate ceremony and reception rental costs, the photographer’s rates were half the cost of the San Francisco photographer, no need to rent transportation, the band was less money, etc., etc.). As a result, our total costs for everything -- including money we could not recoup from the San Francisco planning -- ended up somewhere in the range of $12,000 to $14,000, but that was spread out over nearly two years.

Did you include rings and/or the honeymoon in your budget?

The total costs includes everything: all the rings, our honeymoon and family moon, the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, photography, attire for all four of us, décor, favors, band, music, food, drinks, desserts. It’s all in there. Our rings were (relatively) inexpensive because my rings are antiques, which cost substantially less than new retail rings. One thing to note, however, is that some things that would otherwise have cost money were free-to-us. For example, we have a lot of crafting and art tools and supplies on hand. We had friends who were married shortly after we were engaged, and they gave us all of the votive holders, LED candles, and other miscellaneous décor, which saved us a bundle. I own a minivan, and my dad loaned us his hand truck so we didn’t need to rent a van to schlep the supplies. Tony owns a cute little Mini Cooper, so we didn’t rent transportation for us. My brother loaned us the sound system for the reception, and he served as our officiant (no officiant fees). Our blog friends sent us a lovely gift to help us pay for our photography after we lost the photography contest, and the artwork for our invitations, RSVP cards and thank you notes was a wedding gift.

Were you over or under budget? By how much?

I can’t really say because we did not set a specific budget goal other than “free is always better than not free, and if it’s not free, what’s the cheapest way we can do X?” When we started wedding planning, we had more wiggle room in our budget, but by the time the wedding rolled around, my salary had been cut in half, which meant that things were really tight. Since we did not set a specific budget number, we were happy that everything together we had cost less than half of what the San Francisco wedding alone would have cost.




How large was your bridal party?

We did not have a traditional wedding party. My daughter and niece were flower girls, my son was supposed to be the ring bearer, but he chickened out at the last minute, so he walked up the aisle with Tony and waived a Yay! Flag, and one of my nephews stepped in as ring bearer. One sister-in-law was our reader, and my other sister-in-law was the official Kid Wrangler. One of my brothers was our officiant (ordained for free by American Marriage Ministries), my other brother was my witness, and Tony’s friend Karen acted as Tony’s witness.

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they? How much did you spend?

For our San Francisco wedding, we had made wooden luggage tags that we had planned to use as favors and escort cards. To make the tags, I did a photo-emulsion of a vintage travel poster on one side, decoupaged our guests’ names and phone numbers on the reverse side, stained the entire tag using a “Golden Oak” color to age it, and then applied several layers of polyurethane until there was a thick, protective poly coating. We finished them with a sturdy luggage tag cable. The tags came out great, but we didn’t have tags for all of our guests because we had expanded our guest list when we moved the wedding. The tags took many weeks to complete, and I just wasn’t up to major craft projects after we canceled the first wedding, so we gave the tags we had to our friends and family privately. The costs for this project included the unfinished wooden tags (from Save-On Crafts), 12 sheets of 8 ½ X 11 cardstock, brown-toned paper, Elmer’s washable school glue, Modpodge, Golden Oak furniture stain, a foam paintbrush, polyurethane, luggage tag cables, an Epson inkjet printer, and Photoshop. The only things that we didn’t have on hand were the wooden tags, brown-toned paper, and luggage cables. I think we spent $25 total and made 75 tags.

In honor of our venue, which is a botanical garden that teaches sustainable desert landscaping and farming, our invitations and the inserts in our Out-of-Town boxes were made out of plantable paper, so our guests received a “favor” of wildflower seeds with our paper products. We purchased the papers (backing paper, 8 ½ X 11 sheets, envelopes, vegetable-dyed “bands” and a vegetable dyed twistable rope-like paper for tying everything together) and printed everything on our home printer. I addressed the envelopes by hand, and we used standard-issue postage. We spent about $4.25 per invitation, including postage, with a ton of leftover paper and envelopes that we used for other projects.

During the week when I was busy canceling our first wedding and making arrangements for the replacement wedding, I folded origami butterflies in the evenings using some beautiful papers that I had purchased on our last trip to San Francisco. I made little antennae out of some old acrylic paints and fishing line that we had on hand, and then I hot glued the butterflies to stick pins (I spent about $5 on a bag of 100 silver stick pins) to make corsages. We had plantable flower paper leftover from the invitations, so I tore the paper into small pieces, wrote each guest’s name on the paper using an art pen to use as escort cards, and we attached a butterfly corsage to each escort card. Since this project was done using all leftover materials except the stick pins, I have no idea how much it actually cost per favor.

San Francisco City Hall does not allow you to throw anything like rice, bird seed, or flower petals following a wedding. They also do not allow sparklers. We therefore decided to make Yay! Flags using natural colored fabric mini-flags we purchased from Oriental Trading and iron-on transfers. We made our designs in Photoshop and printed the transfers on our home printer. Since we already had the software and ink for the printer, our costs were limited to the transfers and the flags themselves.

We made Out-of-Town boxes that had 1 bottle of water, a travel package of Tylenol, a travel package of Excedrin, a biscotti, a brownie from a local company (Fairy Tale Brownies), a bag of baked chips, a tourist guide from the Visitor’s Bureau (free), a map to the wedding locations (airport, hotels, our house for the rehearsal, and the Botanical Gardens), and a letter from us. We used tissue paper that I had on hand in our wrapping paper box to line the boxes and decorated the boxes with butterfly and hummingbird stamps using a black ink pad. For guests who hadn’t received their luggage tags yet, we included the tags in the box. I think we spent about $5 per box, but we only had 10 boxes to make, so it was totally worth it.

For the kids, we purchased little goody boxes and filled them with party toys and trinkets. The total cost per box was $2.

Since the kids were too little for the butterfly stick pins, I pulled out some sippy cups that I had leftover from a birthday party. The cups (purchased years ago from Oriental Trading) are the kind that have paper inserts so that the kids can decorate them. I wrote each child’s name on the paper and decorated the paper with the butterfly stamps. This was a no-cost project because I had the materials on hand.

For the kids, we also had a piñata that I filled with candy. The piñata cost $20, and I spent about $7 on candy. Totally worth it.

I have a collection of milk glass candy dishes. We served butter mints in the candy dishes on each table (I left the lids at home so they wouldn’t get broken). We tried to make the butter mints ourselves, but they didn’t turn out, so I ended up buying a gallon-sized box of them from Amazon. I don’t remember how much this cost.

We decided to do the 1001 crane project. To display the cranes, we assembled them into 10 mobiles of roughly 100 cranes each. At the end of the wedding, we sent guests who wanted a mobile home with one, keeping two for ourselves (one for each of our kids). I don’t know what this cost, but we spent about six months completing the crane mobiles. The supplies included: origami paper, pre-formed pressed board wreaths with holes pre-drilled, beads, fishing line, and hot glue. You can see the instructions for this project here.

Finally, our wedding was the week before Halloween. On a last-minute trip to Michael’s, we purchased three tubes of neon bracelets that were on sale for safe trick-or-treating. Each tube cost $1 and contained 25 bracelets. The neon was a huge hit.

T30SB Commentary: I ♥ my luggage tag. The Candyman uses his too!

Did you include any special family traditions?

We wrote our own ceremony, so we didn’t include existing family traditions, but it was important to us to include our children in the ceremony in a meaningful way. Tony said vows to the kids, and we included a family sand ceremony.


You’re going to have to check back to see the final installment of Sarah & Tony’s wedding! You’ll not want to miss any of their amazing DIY details, nor the gooey romance that is Sarah and Tony!

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Reader Comments (13)

What is a "sand ceremony"?

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMom

Ohhh I have been waiting for this... and it did not disappoint!!! Sarah, you looked SO gorgeous and everything seems to have come together perfectly!!!! Can't wait to see part II.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa

@Mom - a sand ceremony is where the the bride and groom traditionally poor sand from separate vessels into one. The sand is often times different colors and when poured together, can never be undone or separated. It symbolizes a permanent togetherness.

It's also a keepsake for after the wedding as the resulting mixture of colors is usually very pretty.

January 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

Louise, thank you so much for letting me know my silk was featured on your blog ... and for your lovely comments! I'm honored to have played a small part in this beautiful story. I remember receiving a photo from Sarah of her stunning blue dress with a request to design and paint a silk wrap to go with it. I am totally thrilled. I do many custom pieces for wedding parties and often wonder where my silks travel to....and this is a wonderful end to the story.....or rather.... beginning!!!

I'll definitely be looking for the "final installment" :)

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSilk Siren/Lynn Meek

Holy wow. I talk too much. You should have told me to edit this down.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

@Sarah - No way. Love it all.

January 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

I have to add that I just love the black and white photo of the woman sitting on a wooden bench hugging a little boy. Her face isn't really visible, but her body language speaks volumes! It took a talented photographer to get this shot.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMom


January 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie

SECOND OF ALL - SARAH! You look beautiful! Tony looks dapper! The children look cheery! OH SHIT IT'S A PERFECT WEDDING.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie

@Lizzie - Sarah did look stunning. Her eyes are freaking incredible, as is her rack. Both are quite impressive and I'm full-on jealous of both! :)

January 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

I can't believe you're discussing my rack.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Lots of people talk about your rack, sweetie. It's impressive.

January 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

I'll chime in about the eyes and rack. Woot woot!

Sarah wants to punch me now.

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlyn

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