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{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!


{Unfake Wedding Feature} Sarah & Tony, The Prequel


Lyn, Becca, Sarah, T30SB. Photo by Kelly Rashka.

I wish I could remember when I first found Sarah’s blog, My San Francisco Budget Wedding (now known as My Inconceivable Life). I do know that when I found it and started reading, I immediately left a comment saying something like, “Where have you been this whole time?” I felt immediately connected to her style of writing and loved her DIY-heavy approach to her family-centric wedding. We became fast blog-friends. I loved that she and Tony grew up in the same era that I did and would let their “I ♥ the 80’s” freak flags fly. It’s a tough row to hoe, being a huge fan of the 80’s. Not everyone holds the same passion for The Dead Milkmen, Siouxsie & The Banshees or Rancid as us 80’s lovers do.

Over the course of the next year, I would meet Sarah as well as other blog friends, make her hair toy for her wedding, sponsor a photography contest on this blog that she decided to enter at the last minute and lost by *this much* and then attend her wedding, not in San Francisco as originally planned, but in Tucson, AZ. Who knew?

For those of you not familiar with Sarah and Tony and their amazing story, here’s a quick recap: They dated seriously in high school and parted ways as most teenage couples do. Tony married and divorced. Sarah married, had 2 kids and divorced. Twenty years later, they reconnect on Facebook. Both originally from Tucson, Arizona, conveniently Tony is in San Diego while Sarah is in Orange County. They decided to meet.

Their story is one of the single most real-life romance novels I’ve ever read. I can’t read her old posts without tearing up. Remember that heart-wrenching love you had as a 14-year old girl? Remember that giddy feeling that kept you up at night, listening to your romance-music-of-choice (Depeche Mode’s Somebody [dude, the ORIGINAL emo band] was a personal fave). Remember the passion that seemed to take over your soul, before wisdom and experience kicked in and kept you from behaving like a total douchebag? Yeah, they got to go back to that…and stay.

However, all good things do not come without a price tag and Sarah and Tony had to pay mightily to see their dream through. Painful divorces, sick family, job changes, moving…all of it seemed to come at them all at once. As cheesy as it sounds, love persevered.

I’m making this Unfake Wedding a multi-parter because like me, Sarah is all about the details. This wedding was so personal, so lovely and so untraditional in so many ways, that you couldn’t help but be moved be the whole experience. I was honored to be a part of it and feel the same way about sharing it here.

But before I let Sarah tell her story, I’ve got mine.


When me, Sarah, Tony, Becca and Lyn all met, it was really odd. I mean, how often does someone you’ve never met invite you to Disneyland, to stay at their house and just hang out for the weekend? And who accepts that kind of invitation?

Sarah did.

Me, Lyn and Becca do.

Meeting these ladies was one of the best decisions I ever made. Going to California last January was the shot in the arm this freshly-unemployed chick needed.

After that fun experience, we got invitations to Tony & Sarah’s wedding in San Francisco. I was really excited to be a part of their wedding day and I wanted to take The Candyman and maybe take some time for us there. He’s never been to San Francisco and I want him to experience the great things about that town. But then, just a week or so after getting the invitation, I get an email from Sarah about how they were changing everything about their wedding. Not just a quick venue or date change, but the whole city. From San Francisco to Tucson.

SCREEEEEEEEECH! Wait, WHAT? Frantic email to Sarah of the areyouokayohmygodwhatsgoingon variety. Sick mom, no choices, decisions made. Boom. Just like that. Like most things thrown in her path, Sarah seems to take a minute and just sort of look at things and then she makes some smart decisions very quickly. This isn’t to say she doesn’t freak out over things. She does, but never in a way that’s regretful, which I think is so important in life. Never regret, but learn. Always.

Sarah is self-described as one who doesn’t make friends easily. I don’t think she gives herself enough credit, but who of us do? When she tried on her wedding dress for us that night after we’d come back from Disneyland, exhausted but wired, drinking wine, she confessed she had no bridesmaids and that we had been, in terms of girlie-support, her cyber-bridesmaids. As a bridesmaid, I tend to take myself very seriously. I have a duty to fulfill. Hearing her say that suddenly made the experience we were sharing more important. I think we were all touched by her honesty and how vulnerable that statement might have made her feel. I know I would have felt insecure as hell.

A few weeks before her wedding, I emailed Sarah, including Lyn and Becca, telling her that we wanted to help as much as we could with all the bullshit that a DIY-heavy wedding includes (there’s lots of schlepping, set-up, tear down). There was a THREE PAGE LONG to-do list sent back. Right on. This is on like Donkey Kong.

Coordinating the cybermaids was no easy feat. I am in North Carolina, Becca is in LA, Lyn is in Santa Barbara. We coordinated flights (Becca sent a spreadsheet organized in  low to high cost vs. most time spent with the bride/friends options. Very helpful.) to meet in Phoenix, then rented a car, driving the 2+ hours to Tucson, timed to be there precisely when the rehearsal dinner started. That would have been PERFECT had Lyn’s plane not be delayed for a gazillion hours. We got there just as the last stragglers were departing the rehearsal dinner. No one had started cleaning up, they left all the food out, covered and warmed for us. Sarah saved the last few glasses of a VERY nice bottle of wine to share. She gave us beautiful Chinese tea sets and sets of chopsticks in DIY chopstick sleeves. The atmosphere in their home and backyard was just lovely. Beautiful lights strung across the yard. Long tables set up cafeteria style, but warmed with candlelight, friendship and that anticipatory buzz that comes along with planned, life-changing events.

We didn’t stay long. We still needed to find the hotel, check-in, get settled. And it was 11pm Tucson time, nearly 1 am East coast time. I was running low on fuel. But no, once settled in the room, Lyn would have none of it and busted out her travel whiskey. I cried “Uncle!” after just one and headed off to bed. Becca and Lyn stayed up, misbehaving.


Lyn's Bag-o-Whiskey.

The next day, we got half-way ready and out of the house to Sarah’s. We ironed, tucked, zipped and laughed. There were kids everywhere. As someone who doesn’t have kids or spend a lot of time around kids? Children can be worrisome. I don’t want to accidentally drop an f-bomb. I don’t want to make them cry. I want them to get out of my way. Sarah’s level of calm with her kids was like, fucking amazing. She’s like the freaking Zen Kid Master.


Lyn and Becca zipping. Photo by Kelly Rashka.

Once Sarah was dressed and pretty, we cybermaids busted ass over to venue to set up. Her mini-van was packed to the max with crane mobiles, egg crate flowers, cake stands, gallons of Sangria. Everything was labeled and we had The List. We divided and conquered. Becca and Lyn took the outside; hanging mobiles, setting up the PA, table decor. I took the inside; dessert tables, guest stations, more mobile hanging. Her family took care of the bar and liquor stuffs. Sarah-and-Tony-063

Lyn, contemplating crane mobile transportation and mini-van extraction. Photo by Kelly Rashka.

We left the venue to head back to Sarah’s to change. We seriously had 15 minutes to get dressed and do hair and make-up. I’d had my hair up all day in these weird clips in order to keep it scrunched up, so that it would look good. It’s my version of walking around in rollers. I mean, I went to Jamba Juice with my hair piled on top of my head, looking like a warrior Amazon woman.


With Lyn, watching Sarah getting her hair did. It looks like I’ve got may hair in a banana clip. And I ran around the city of Tucson like this. All day. Nice…. Photo by Kelly Rashka.

Anyway, my hair ended up looking good for once, though it was flinging all over the freaking place whilst I boogied down later that night. Meh. I have a lot of hair. I deal with it.

We got back to the wedding venue in plenty of time to tweak. Move that cake over here, straighten those escort cards. Sadly, at this point, Lyn was feeling like a bag full of assholes. Something, whether the whiskey the night before or the Arizona tap water she was chugging (we warned her to stick with bottled!), Lyn was starting to look a little peaked. Pale. Clammy. Lacking in all aspects of her usual snark. She sipped ginger ale and ate lightly, until it was cake time. I suggested a little hair of the dog and surprisingly, she perked up some after a cocktail. She was feeling well enough to get her dance on by the end of the night.


You’ll learn more about the wedding in the official feature.


After we packed up the reception and got back to the hotel, we were exhausted, but we’d had such a wonderful night. We dove into the snacks from her OOT boxes.


My arty OOT box photo op. LOVE my luggage tags!

The next morning we dragged ass back to Phoenix, running late, literally running to catch my flight. No time to say proper good-byes. Quick hugs all around in the car rental return garage. Not nearly the ending to something I watched grow over the last year.

But what I know is that it’s no ending. We’ve promised each other things for the next time. Money is tight for all of us. We can’t just willy nilly jump on a plane like we’re a Kardashian and meet up some place fabulous and have a fabulous girl’s weekend. No, it will take timing and planning and effort. And it will be so worth it.

Next up? The actual feature. Check back, I promise Tony and Sarah’s story is incredibly special.


{Unfake Wedding Feature} Emy & Kevin…and Susie?

I love how things work in Blog Land. Back when I was wedding planning and actually reading more than I was writing, I was reading through some comments on SMP and found one I thought was funny. I clicked on the name and it took me to the blog The Allison Wonderland. It’s not a wedding blog, or a style blog or a design blog. It’s just a woman, Susie, writing about her life and antics with her husband Chuck. And she’s fucking hysterical. The goofy shit she and her husband do together remind me a lot of me and The Candyman. I started to comment on her blog and we sent each other emails professing undying blog-affection for each other.

It’s been three years (WHA?) since all that and we still read each others’ blogs. Some of her IRL friends wander over here from time to time as well. One of them recently got married and sent me an email, inquiring abut a feature. Not long after I got that email (it was like, minutes), I got an email from Susie. I want to share what she wrote, mostly because it’s sweet and a really great post-wedding bridesmaid thing to do!

One of my best friends, Emy, got married in October. She and I have been together since we were 15 and 16 and skipped church together for the first time. It was love at first flee. Before she was engaged all she ever talked about was how she wanted to be an "unfake" wedding on your site. Then when she got engaged that's really all she talked about. She loves your blog and has read it ever since I put a link on my blog - how long ago was that? 2009?? :)

I have to try and make her wish come true. Her wedding was wonderful. It was simple, perfect - and perfectly Emy. The pictures tell the story so well (nothing like the classiness of a Bride doing pulls off a Patron bottle :) They did a sort of ski theme subtly (with lift ticket place cards and mountain table numbers). They had a photo booth - a Washington standard now and their favors were personalized Jones soda bottles.

The wedding was in Issaquah, Washington, at an old mansion the city owns. She was married in a tent under a sea of white, gray, and light blue lanterns. We bridesmaids wore gray with fabulous sparkle shoes; Emy's dress was simple and she went for the vintage veil. Maybe my favorite part of the wedding  was that us bridesmaids are a really tight knit group of friends who have been clumped together for a decade plus. We've all lived together, been in each others' weddings, and love each other unconditionally. If I didn't at least send you a few of her pictures, I feel like I wouldn't be doing our friendship justice.

 How could I NOT post this right?

Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of Emy & Kevin!


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

Yes. And then we hit the after party in the hotel bar with our friends.

T30SB Commentary: You. Are. So. Young.

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

Photographer   Amy Walton Photography

DJ/Band   Wave Link Music, Inc. – Chris Klein

Reception Venue   Tibbetts Creek Manor

Planner    Day of Planner Susie Allison, my multi-tasking bridesmaid

Guest Hotel    Hilton Garden Inn, Issaquah

Flowers   Roxy Jobs, a family friend and florist.

Dress   La Belle Reve / Casablanca Style #1965

Hair/Make-up   Sorella Salon and Spa

Tuxedos/Suits   Jensen/Kreitzer Clothing (Groom’s Family Business)

Catering   Pyramid Catering

Cake   New Renaissance Cakes

Photobooth   3-2-1 Foto

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Who was your favorite vendor and why?
I could write every vendor down multiple times for this, but if I can only choose one I would have to say Sorella Salon and Spa. I felt so comfortable and confident on the day of the wedding knowing that my hair and make-up looked great, it was the confidence boost I was hoping for. Jacquelynn Woodward and her team also did the hair and make-up for my mom, mother-in-law, and bridesmaids.

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

Four out of five of my bridesmaids are married so I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, what I didn’t, who I liked, and who I didn’t.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

Eight months.

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How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

Invited 150, 135 came. (Yeah, tell me about it…)

What was your budget ?
I am so fortunate that my parents paid for a majority of the wedding, so out of respect and to prevent backlash from my frugal husband, I have to decline to answer. I can tell you it was more than a Hyundai but less than a Mercedes.

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

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Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?
We were right in the middle! (Would that make it a Chevy?)

How large was your bridal party? 
Five beautiful bridesmaids and five awesome groomsmen.

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they? How much did you spend?
We created personalized Jones Soda bottles – on the label photo we are holding up the date of the wedding. We rented a photo booth, so I felt the take home pictures were also a favor.

Did you include any special family traditions?
No – I don’t think we were aware of any.


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What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

I thought the venue opened at 12pm and the high school brats working thought we didn’t get in until 1pm. I am a very punctual person by nature, so I jumped off the nice, calm bride cliff once I saw our caterers, florist and other vendors sitting and waiting. The jury is still out on who was correct. I started drinking tequila in the parking lot to handle it (or rather, not handle it).

T30SB Commentary: I have always said that champagne is the best “turn that frown upside-down” elixir. Or tequila. You know, whatever you’ve got on hand.

What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

The guest list. I hear this all the time but I didn’t think it would be so hard. After our list was final and the small venue was picked we were asked to invite about 20 additional people from out of state who were “invite only and won’t come.” Well, they all came! It was a major stressor the last few weeks trying to figure out seating, etc. but it worked out. I could have said no, but I felt obligated. To be fair – I think it’s an honor that 135 people wanted to come to our party…

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?

My new brother in law. The parking lot tequila made it up to the groom’s room and I think that’s all I need to say about that.

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?
The photo booth. I’ve experienced these at other weddings and they are the most fun! Young and old, people love them! The photos are sweet, hilarious, and inappropriate - I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?
My mom asked us to take dance lessons, so six of us went together to private classes. I was expecting to get out on that floor like the next Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Kevin was so nervous and had a buzz, so all of that went out the window by the end of the 1st verse. Oops!



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What did you love that was also the cheapest?

The wedding flowers. They were better than I ever expected. They are in the cheap category because I was able to buy at wholesale price and have a family friend put them together (totally cheating, I know).

T30SB Commentary: Hey, if you’ve got an “in” in the business who is willing to assist? Man, take advantage of the offer!

What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

My brother – usually he’s a prankster but on this day he helped set up, he helped make beer runs when we ran out, he played maintenance guy and security guard, he stayed to clean up, and he never made fun of his baby sister. I can honestly say this day would not have happened without his help. Ladies, he’s single…

What was the funniest thing that happened?

My 91 year old grandpa was tearing up the dance floor ALL NIGHT. We are talking J Lo, Britney, Chris Brown, ACDC. He stole the show and I loved it.



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What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

The toasts. During my dad’s toast he thanked his parents for being there but gave a special mention to my mom’s parents and Kevin’s grandparents who were not. Kevin’s grandmother had fallen ill the weeks leading up to the wedding so it had been hard on his family. My dad is not a sensitive guy by any means, so this was unexpected and extra touching for everyone.

Did you DIY? What parts?
My BFF Susie and I put the table numbers and escort cards together (the cards were ski passes and the table numbers were named after Ski Resorts/Mountains- an ode to Kevin). The ceremony programs, menus, etc. were all DIY. I made the pennant banners and they were used in the soda bottle photo, our thank you cards, and strung around the venue.

And though it’s not DIY, we were able to work directly with Kevin’s parents to rent the tuxes/suits and some of the decorations. They own clothing/gift store in Oregon – we were so lucky to have their help!



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Where did you go on your honeymoon?

We went on a mini-moon to California, but we are travelling to the Bahamas this spring for a “bigger” trip.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

The guest list issue was so irritating because the venue was tight on space. If done over again, I would think carefully about the lists, where the wedding would take place, and be firm on decisions.


Congratulations Emy & Kevin!


{Unfake Wedding Feature!} A Michigan Lakeside Family Retreat!

Happy Monday, everybody. Did you make it through the Oscars? Did you understand Angelina Jolie’s ridiculous pose that she was immediately mocked for (LOVE)? Were you bummed for Clooney (I was) and happy for Meryl (I was)? Did you want to smack ABC for their crappy red carpet coverage (I did). Anyway…

Anyway, let’s start the week off by relaxing a little lakeside. I love the casual, laid back vibe of this Mecosta, Michigan wedding. I love how the bride gets comfy in the summer heat. I hope you love it too!

Welcome to the Wedding of Debbie & Shergo!


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


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

Photographer   S.C. Photography

DJ/Band   iPod and speakers, ceremony was two musicians found on Craig’s List.

Reception Venue   Family lake cottage in Mecosta, MI

Flowers   Purchase din bulk from Horrocks Market and arranged by the bride and wedding party/family members.

Dress   David’s Bridal, Style #VW9768

Hair   Natural Beauty Salon

Tuxedos/Suits   Macy’s

Catering   Father of the Groom!!

Cake   Mother of the Groom!!! (I hit the wedding Jackpot!)

Wedding officiate – Cami at A Wedding Minister for You.

Who was your favorite vendor and why?

My groom’s parents! It’s amazing that my new family wanted to play such a large part in the wedding.




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

I chose vendors that seemed relaxed and professional.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

Less than a year.

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

I gave my in laws invitations to distribute so they didn’t have to come up with a guest list. I’m not sure on the amount of invites that went out but it was probably close to 150. Sixty-two guests came to the wedding.

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What was your budget?

My husband and I felt comfortable spending $5000. Our family graciously paid for much of it, but I’d say overall maybe $8K or $9K was spent.

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

Not the engagement ring, but the wedding bands and the honeymoon were.

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Were you over or under budget? By how much?

I have no idea…

How large was your bridal party?

Six. Two bridesmaids, two groomsmen and two flower girls.

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they?

Small jars of candy, and flip flops.

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

The groom couldn’t find the groomsmen's’ pants. I told the groom where I last saw them, and if they were not there then the groomsmen could wear whatever they came in. The pants were found an hour later, in the place I last saw them.




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What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

I wouldn’t call it a crisis but learning to let others help with wedding plans. It was harder than I expected to let go of control.

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?

The heat.

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

The magnum bottle of Veuve Clicquot that my husband sabraged.

T30SB Commentary: I read this and was all What the hell is SABRAGED? Little did I know, it’s the act of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre. Look at the cool shit you learn in Unfake Wedding features!


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What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?


What did you love that was also the cheapest?

The hammock and the porch swing. Already at location!





What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

People on boats and jet ski’s DURING the wedding ceremony!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

My groom said that when our 2 year old flower girl Ella reached the end of the isle she emptied the remainder of her basket and loudly declared “All Done!!” And then on the way back up the isle she began picking the flowers up and putting them back in the basket. So Cute!!

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

Bride: Mother of the Bride toast: “When children find true love, parents find true happiness”. Groom: When he saw me.



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Did you DIY? What parts?

So much!! The invitations (the ink rubbed off on while in the mail!), wedding yard sign, flower bouquets and arrangements, wedding card box, music play list, wedding veil. The things we didn’t DIY I really tried to buy off Etsy as much as possible!

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Sandals Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

I’d buy my daughter a better quality bracelet that my husband and I presented to her in the ceremony. The one I bought already broke!

Congratulations to Debbie & Shergo!



{Unfake Wedding Feature} Takara & Mike, Spelling it Out in Style!

Mike and Takara have always loved playing board games and especially Scrabble. So when the time came for Mike to propose, he thought what better way then to ask her during a game of Scrabble. She immediately say YES and they promptly started planning the festivities. When discussing the overall design with their planners, they both mentioned how important the game is to them. Their designer went to work and came up with a beautiful and fun design that focused on their relationship and their love of Scrabble.

Now, I’m going to throw a caveat in here for all the industry people who might see this post and roll their eyes at the Scrabble theme. Is it the newest, hottest “theme” out there? The answer is no. But you know what? This theme was clearly important to them. It means something to the couple. You know what else? I can pretty much guarantee that the guests at this wedding thought it was clever and cute and meaningful to Mike and Takara.  There’s been some backlash in this part of the wedding world….brides apologizing to photographers that their wedding might be boring to photograph, or not creative enough. Folks complaining about burlap and Mason jars being done to death. All you people? Please shut up and let the bride and groom do what suits them. Whatever you might have seen before is guaranteed a first time for the couple.

*stepping off soap box*

Back to the wedding on deck…

Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of Takara & Mike!


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


T30SB Commentary: See, see? See how easy it is?

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

Photographer  Cara Dee Photography

DJ/Band  DJ Johnnie Johnson

Reception Venue  Griffin Gate Marriott

Planner  Always Planned

Guest Hotel  Griffin Gate Marriott

Flowers  Perfect Posy

Dress  Shop: Bridal Warehouse, Gown: Mori Lee

Hair  Wanda Byrd, Lady Byrd’s Hair Design

Makeup Lavonya Parrish

Tuxedos/Suits  Men’s Wearhouse

Catering  Griffin Gate Marriott

Cake  Tinkers Cake Shop

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Who was your favorite vendor and why?

Our wedding coordinator, Always Planned provided us with such a tremendous and personalized event that there is no way not to say that they will always hold a special place in our memories.

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

After our first meeting with Rayna and Mallory, we felt such a connection that we knew they were right for us. From there it was fairly simple. Always Planned has such a huge list of vendors they work with that they were able to put us in contact with wonderful people that helped to make our day magical.


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T30SB Commentary: How adorable is this picture? Happy bride!


How long did you take to plan your wedding?

The wedding took approximately 6 months to plan, give or take.




How many guests did you invite versus how many came? 

We invited 125 and 100 showed.

What was your budget?

$ 20,000

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T30SB Commentary: For the record, I designed those vases with the bling. Back when I had a job doing that sort of thing.

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

Not the honeymoon, but it did include the wedding bands.

Were you over or under budget? By how much?

Over by 20%.


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How large was your bridal party? 

We had 2 bridesmaids and 2 groomsmen.

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they?

The favors were Scrabble trays and tiles with the names of each of our guests that went along with the theme of the reception.



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Did you include any special family traditions? 


T30SB Commentary: I find this interesting. More and more brides are stepping away from tradition, it seems. Or perhaps I should change this question to include any sort of tradition?

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)? 

While we were taking the outdoor pictures, one of the bridesmaids accidentally stepped on the wedding dress. Luckily, one of the attendants from Always Planned was able to get the stain out.



T30SB Commentary: I love these random photos where you have no idea what’s going on, except that fun is being had.

What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

The guest list! Figuring out how many people to invite because that number ultimately impacted our budget.

T30SB Commentary: I’ll say. I think deciding who gets cut is one of the toughest things to do when planning. No, I take that back. It’s the backlash you get from the people who weren’t invited and/or their friends/family. That part is the worst.

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Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?

No big hiccups on the day of the wedding. Everything went smoothly.



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T30SB Commentary: How cute is that giant Scrabble board seating chart!


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T30SB Commentary: As a rule, I’m not a lover of tall centerpieces. However, I luuuurve the simplicity of this shaded piece!

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

Not that they were a waste of money but the veil, shoes and tiara were a great guilty pleasure given they were only worn a very short time.

T30SB Commentary: I want to address this “only wear it for a day” thing everyone seems to have a bug up their butt about. Yes, you wear it for a day. However as one MOB mentioned to me, the pictures of you in that dress last forever. I look at my pictures (often) and still love my dress and how I looked (minus the fact that I have ZERO cleavage). I think the way you feel by being in a dress you love is part of the wedding day experience. I‘d hate for brides to trivialize that experience based on this “one day” thing. Not that it needs to be the end all be all of your day or totally blow your budget, particularly if the dress isn’t your top priority. I’m just sayin’, it’s more than “just one day.”

What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

Nothing, everything contributed to our special day.

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

The Scrabble tiles that served as table markers.



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What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

Cake in the face of the groom, since we had previously said that was not going to happen.

What was the funniest thing that happened?

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to have any of our own wedding cake!!! Some of our guests had several pieces and we somehow missed out.

T30SB Commentary: WHA? Funny? Planners, PAY ATTENTION! You need to make sure your bride/groom get some damn cake. In fact, they need to be the first who get some!


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What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

Our last dance. The reception was at a close and we had the floor to ourselves and it seemed like we were the only two people in the world.

Did you DIY? What parts?

No! With our schedules we knew we had to have the help of our awesome wedding planners.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

We will honeymoon in Antigua.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

Would have changed the selection of beverage served with dinner and would have moved the ceremony to 6:30 vs. 5:30.


Congratulations to Takara & Mike!