Unfake brides. Unfake weddings. Go on, get inspired. You know you want to.

Are you a bride wanting to be featured? If so, go here and let me know! If you are a photographer, please hit me up via Two Bright Lights or send me an email.



{Unfake Wedding Feature} Multi-Cultural, New Orleans-Style!

I love the look of this wedding. I love that they wore traditional Indian garb yet included the Africa-American tradition of jumping the broom. I love that all of this was mixed with Mardi Gras masks and all that is New Orleans. Sounds like a freaky hodge-podge wedding, right?

Wrong. Check it.

Welcome to the Wedding of Yosef and Nishita!


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

I can’t remember … ; )

T30SB Commentary: Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

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

Photographer – Michelle Dearing, Oeil Photography 

DJ/Band – DJ Shawn, Ooh La La Music Company

Reception Venue – Degas House, NOLA

Ceremony Venue – Degas House, NOLA

Planner  – It was all done by me!

Transportation - Hotard Coaches Inc. (to transport my guests from their hotels to the Degas House)

Guest Hotel – The Frenchmen Hotel, Le Cirque & St. James Hotel

Flowers – Big Easy Flowers

Dress – Indian Traditional

Accessories – Indian Traditional

Hair/Make-Up – Hair by Head Quarters / Make up by the bride : )

Tuxedos – Indian Traditional Menswear

Catering – Degas House

Cake – Swiss Confectionery Inc.

Officiant  Jerry Schwehm

Nirvana Indian Cuisine (I had some vegetarian food catered for my family)

Dinnerware Rentals & Heat Lamps

Henna Artist

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Who was your favorite vendor and why?

My photographer – because she gave us some of the most beautiful photos we have ever seen. I hardly noticed her presence at the wedding and yet she gave us hundreds of shots. She did her job well … There isn’t anything I would change about the final product.

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

No method – just picked a few and went to meet them. If they felt right, I hired them.


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How long did you take to plan your wedding?

It was a destination wedding (we live in New York City) so I took a few months in the beginning to pick out the venue. I visited them with my husband during a trip to see his family and chose the one that fit our taste best. During the course of the year, I researched the other vendors and then towards the actual date I went down to New Orleans with my sister for a long weekend and visited a select few. I hired everyone else and booked them that weekend.

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

Invited about 110, 85 showed up.

What was your budget?

Budget included our hotel rooms and rooms for our parents as well as catering and costs for the Henna night (Indian Tradition where the Bride and all the women get Henna designs on their hands). We wanted to keep it to about $15 K. I think we came in around $18K.


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

No, we got the rings a while ago. I considered this a paid expense.

Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?

Over by about $3K.

How large was your bridal party?

Just one bridesmaid and one groomsmen.


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

Our favors were Mardi Gras masks in purple and teal (we had a peacock theme). We spent about $300 for 150 masks.

Did you include any special family traditions?

Not really. We wrote the entire ceremony - picking the poems and quotes with the help of our officiant. We then exchanged personal vows.

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

I didn’t really feel like there were any crises. I just focused on the fun part and everything else melted away. Though I could have laid off the Hurricanes on Bourbon Street the night before : )






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

I was not completely happy with the arrangement of chairs in the ceremony room. I just had my sister handle it. Also, it was unseasonably cooler than expected and we were having the reception outside. I just ordered a couple of heat lamps the week before from the people I ordered our china and silverware from and that seemed to be good enough for our guests.

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this if you’d like)?

The groomsman. He was 30 minutes late.

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What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

I didn’t feel like I wasted any money. I was pretty economical. But I guess if I had to choose … it would be the flowers. The arrangements were so unique and beautiful.



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

I got candles for the tables and the Degas House forgot to put them on the tables. I also bought table runners and the florist opted to leave them off the table without consulting me. But these were little things … could have saved me a couple of hundred dollars.

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

The masks! They were a hit.

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

My husband’s vows … it was poetry. Very beautiful. He had all the women weeping!

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What was the funniest thing that happened?

The after party at La Maison on Frenchmen Street! It was a night filled with crazy dance moves and me jumping up on my husbands back … revealing my Spanks!!! Thanks to Facebook, everyone was able to join the laughs! I should have been upset but I didn’t care : ) It was hilarious!

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

Just trying to get my vows out. It was all water works!

Did you DIY? What parts?

There isn’t anything I did myself … I just think I hired the right people to execute on my budget.




Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Dominican Republic.

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

I wouldn’t change anything. I think it was a beautiful event and everyone had the time of their lives. I couldn’t have asked for more. Though I probably should have gone to the Degas House the day before and ran through everything with the wedding coordinator one more time! Was not entirely impressed given that I made a special trip down there to finalize the details and some of those details were overlooked. I also may have opted for a more relaxed honeymoon. We decided to go to some remote place in DR that took us about 3 hours to get to in a rental car!! The infrastructure in remote parts of DR is terrible! Instead, I would have just found a nice resort so that I could have relaxed and recovered from a long weekend of Bourbon Street antics.



I didn’t lie, did I? Is this totally cool or what?


{Unfake Wedding Feature*} Stephanie + Cam, California Backyard Style!

*This Unfake Wedding feature is more than just a feature. You MUST come back tomorrow and read to find out WHY!! Trust me brides, you totally don’t want to miss this. Now, back to our regularly scheduled feature….

I love T30SB readers. I really do. I particularly like it when they interact with me, either privately via email or publicly through comments and such. Stephanie contacted me off-line and we’ve been in cahoots regarding this wonderful, DIY heavy wedding feature as well as the super-secret surprise you’ll have to read about tomorrow!

So until tomorrow, read up on Stephanie and Cam’s wedding planning journey!

Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of Stephanie & Cam!


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


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

Photographer  Jessica from One Love Photography

DJ/Band  iPod! Operated by nephew Dustin.

Ceremony/Reception Venue  My mom’s friend Jim’s backyard in Arcadia, California.

Planner  Did not use one! My mom took care of things on the day-of.

Transportation  Cam drove us around in his Subaru

Guest Hotel  Doubletree in Monrovia, California

Flowers  DIY from the LA Flower Market

Dress  Melissa Sweet, “Plum” style from Priscilla of Boston Salon

Accessories  Shoes: Nine West, Necklace: Edor on Etsy, Earrings: my grandma’s vintage diamonds.

Hair  Sarah at The Fox and the Hair

Make-Up  Siuleen Thai, my new sister-in-law, of Splurge Beauty

Tuxedos  Nordstrom

Catering  Wood Ranch BBQ

Cake  We had a selection of cakes from Sweet Lady Jane

Invitations  Wedding Paper Divas

Wedding website and online RSVP service  Glo

Ice Cream Sandwiches  Cool Haus

Rentals  Partyline Events (they were kind of a PITA to work with, but ultimately we had a beautiful setup)

Videographer  Budding filmmaker cousin, Sam Halgren

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Who was your favorite vendor and why?

I have to give a shout out to the Cool Haus team here. By day, the Cool Haus trucks drive around LA, Austin, and NYC dishing up gourmet ice cream sandwiches, and we had hoped to have the truck show up to our wedding! When our venue changed at the last minute (ugh), they were super-accommodating and switched to table service. When they showed up and saw that we also had a tableful of cakes (8 to be exact), without even being asked they totally handled the situation and we had one girl cutting cake while the other served up the ice cream sandwiches. Perfect! Plus, their ice cream and cookies are de-lish!!

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

In making choices, we usually considered whether the business would give us the service or product we wanted, at a reasonable price, in a competent manner. We are pretty decisive people, so it actually wasn’t very hard to choose our vendors. I think the biggest choice was over our photographer, and in that case we just clicked with One Love so it was an easy decision!

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How long did you take to plan your wedding?

We were engaged for about 18 months. I’d say I planned for the first 4-5 months getting the big stuff out of the way, then took a hiatus (albeit a wedding-porn-filled hiatus), and then planned again for the last 6 months.

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

This is complicated because Cam’s extended family was invited by his parents, but we don’t actually know how many of them were invited! We invited 138 people we could count, plus the extended family; we had 86 confirmed attendees and then a number of extended family as well. We planned food and chairs for about 120, and somewhere less than that number showed up. (We didn’t have assigned seating so it was hard to count.)

T30SB Commentary: This is a very cultural fact: Asian families traditionally just show up at weddings and inviting lots of people is totally commonplace. Personally, I would pull my eyelashes out if this were me.


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T30SB Commentary: I adore this picture of the bride and her father. You can tell Dad’s trying not to cry!

What was your budget?

Hah! When we got engaged, we thought we could have a wedding for about $5,000. When I started researching venues and catering in LA, we were quickly disabused of that notion. Our guest list also expanded (doubled, really) over the year we were planning. The budget became $10-12,000. All told, I had thought it would come in around $12,000…but from there we just picked what we wanted from the best available options for each thing.

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

I did not get a new ring (my engagement ring is also my wedding ring), so not mine, but we did include Cam’s wedding band. I included our “mini-moon” hotel in the total, but not our main honeymoon coming up in October.


Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?

I just did the total in Excel: $17,364.81. Ouch. Luckily we paid for a lot of things along the way, so it wasn’t too painful. As you might also deduce, I did not keep careful track of it along the way either! Looks like that puts us over budget by about $5,300.

How large was your bridal party?

We did not have any attendants. We thought it would be awkward to single out just a few of our many friends, and we didn’t expect any of the typical “attendant duties” like showers or dressing help or readings, so we didn’t think we needed to ask people to assume that role.


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

We did not have any favors for our guests. Most wedding favors I’ve seen have been kind of useless, so I decided it would be better to focus on providing a quality experience at the wedding through great food and drink. With an open bar, ice cream sandwiches, and 8 kinds of cake…who needs a favor? ;-)

T30SB Commentary: True dat, sista.

Did you include any special family traditions?

We had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony after our Western ceremony. This was a request that Cam’s family made, and it turned out to be really special. In the tea ceremony, the couple honors older relatives and guests by serving them tea, and in return the couple is offered red envelopes (usually with cash inside) and jewelry. It was so special to be recognized in this way by all of Cam’s extended family.

I also incorporated some special reminders of my grandparents who could not be with us – I wore my grandmama’s earrings, used her hankie in my bouquet, and hung Japanese lanterns that my grandpa brought back for his own backyard parties in the 1950s.

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

I think the biggest “crisis” was that by dessert time, the area where we had the cake and ice cream sandwiches set up was quite dark. We had the food a ways away from the string lights, and we hadn’t really tested out the level of light that there would be at that time of night. My mom and Jim totally handled this problem without me even knowing it was a problem, though – they set up some giant shop lights to spotlight the cakes & ice cream sandwiches, and we were good to go!

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

Oh Lord. By far the biggest planning crisis was our venue situation. Long story… Just about 5 months after we got engaged we thought we had found the perfect venue. It was a beautiful garden setting in the foothills of Los Angeles. We put down a deposit and went ahead with our plans. About 6 months later I tried to get in touch with the woman who we’d rented the garden from (it was her private home), and her phone was disconnected!! Ack! I finally got in touch with her through her son (who was going to be our bartender), and out of nowhere she drops the bomb that she is on some kind of probation from the city and the county for holding unauthorized events, and we can’t have our wedding there any longer. Mind you, this is January and our wedding is in June! She says not to worry, she has another location that we can use for the same price, and it’s even better. We go up to look at this new location, which is a historic home very close to the original venue, and it looks alright, so we say sure. I get invitations printed. We let the guest list grow, because the new venue is bigger. Comes around to March, and we get another call from the garden lady. Now, this new venue has also made it on the hot list for the county, for making changes to their historic structure without permission. We had literally received the printed invitations about 3 days prior, and I was a wreck. Three months until the wedding. Deep breath. Cam knew how frustrated I was and talked to the garden lady, who offered us a venue at her expense for the rental fee, but where we’d have to pay full price for catering and have very little control over setup or food. After asking for a quote for catering, which came out to triple our planned cost, plus rentals at their inflated prices, we said no thanks…which left us without a venue. Thank our lucky stars that my mom’s friend Jim has a big backyard in approximately the same area we had been planning for! We took a quick look (we hadn’t seen it before) and said YES, PLEASE! Venue crisis abated, and I’d say our wedding turned out better for it, too!!

T30SB Commentary: Brides, let’s learn from this. If something like this is to happen, DO NOT trust that vendor a second time, particularly if law-breaking is involved. Because we are so emotionally charged in regards to wedding planning, it’s difficult to take a step back and look at a situation objectively.

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

Actually, nobody was a pain in the ass! Whoopee!

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

The largest line item in our budget aside from food was our photographer, and I originally thought we did not even need a professional photographer! I LOVE our pictures, though, and can’t imagine my wedding without them. They really tell the story of our wedding day, they make me look rather beautiful, and it was so much fun to have Jessica focused on capturing our day. I didn’t anticipate having so much fun with Cam getting our pictures taken, but it really was a special experience (especially the engagement photos and our pre-ceremony couples photo sesh). I’m so glad that we splurged on the photography so that we have a record of when we were young and beautiful (hah!).

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

Honestly, the only thing that felt like a waste of money was the duplicate/corrected invitations that we had to print due to our venue shenanigans. Wish I could have passed on those…but then of course everyone would have gone to the wrong place!

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

So, Cool Haus is so cool that they give a free printed edible wrapper setup for each catering gig! Our friend Erin sent us an engagement card where she’d gotten an artist to do a line drawing of me and Cam (me with a pie, I love to bake; him with a rocket, he designs fuel pumps for rockets that go to space!), and we sent it to Cool Haus to print onto the edible wrappers. It totally personalized the sandwiches and I loved it!!

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

We had kind-of rehearsed the ceremony the day before the wedding, but only very quickly. Apparently, Cam’s dad asked our officiant Ryan, one of Cam’s friends from high school, to add in a portion to the ceremony when we would recognize family who had traveled long distances to the wedding. Ryan had put that into his script, but didn’t tell us. This was intended to happen right after all of our parents and siblings had given their toast-speeches. Well…Ryan accidentally skipped my brother, and started saying “And now, we’d like to recognize our elders…” at which point I said to Ryan, “What about Bubba?” Laughter ensued as Ryan said, “Yes- Stephanie’s little brother is now going to speak!” Cue the jokes about my little brother being an elder!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

Cam’s friend John got a little bit drunky-drunk and grabbed the mic during the reception (during which people were just mingling, we didn’t have a formal program). I don’t know what he was saying, but apparently it was amusing to many people. Every time I ran into him during the reception he made me laugh, too, so generally I would say John was the laugh-inducer at the party!

Coming in a close second was where we signed the official marriage certificate…at the bar! Now we can say we got married at a bar!




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

Instead of readings, we incorporated “toasts” by our parents and siblings into the ceremony. We knew we didn’t want to have a formal program during dinner so that people could just eat and enjoy each other’s company, but we did want to include the voices of our family somehow. We asked my parents, Cam’s parents, Cam’s big sister, and my brother to speak. My dad was up first and his speech basically started the waterworks! He also started the parade of requests for us to have babies…lol!

Did you DIY? What parts?

I enjoy crafts and stuff, so I actually did a lot of DIY!

I made my bouquet with buttons, felt, tulle and wire (a la button bouquet). I also made a matching boutonniere for Cam.

I made a chenille flower for my hair, with a button to coordinate with my bouquet.

The “ribbon” backdrop for the ceremony was a combination of taffeta that I tore into 2-3” strips and regular ribbon, all sewed onto one long piece of ribbon across the top.

Cam’s sister loves to draw and do fancy lettering, so she made all of our menu and schedule signs.

Cam and I used our engagement photos to make a photo book on Shutterfly which we turned into a guest book.

The day before the wedding I went to the flower market to get an assortment of flowers in colors I loved, and then the “girls” (including my mom, Cam’s sisters, and his friends’ wives) all arranged the centerpieces into watering cans and galvanized steel buckets. We did the rest of the centerpieces with several different tealight holders from Crate & Barrel.

Cam was a trooper and prepped 42 poms, once I taught him how. The “boys” (including my dad and brother) fluffed all of the poms for the backyard, and then hung them—MAGIC!

We also DIY’ed our open bar, with Jim’s son as the bartender, which took a big trip to Costco and a lot of calculating…we ended up having way too much to drink, but better than not enough!

It really was a team effort to decorate and set up for the wedding both the day before and the morning of, and then to clean up the next day.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

We took a “mini-moon” for a couple of days to Palm Springs right after our wedding…and then I left for 6 weeks of training teachers in Chicago over the summer for work. Now that things are settling down, we’ve booked our real honeymoon for October to Italy!

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


I’ve thought about this a bit, and I have two things.

I would bring a pair of jeans to the reception! By 10pm, I no longer cared about being “bridal,” I wanted a damn ice cream sandwich. But wouldn’t you know it, my flattering drop-waist corset bodice was a little bit restrictive on the eating front (maybe also considering that my pre-wedding diet didn’t go as-planned)? I wish I could have changed and eaten more than the few bites of ice cream sandwich and cake that I had!

I have since realized that there are several people who came to the wedding that I wish had taken photos with, like a group of friends from college, or my dear friends from work. There is currently no photographic evidence that we were all at the same wedding…so sad. I wish I had grabbed our photographer and had her snap a quick shot of me and Cam and these friends.

T30SB Commentary: Me too. I have very few pictures of me with my besties. Boo. Sad.


Congratulations to Stephanie & Cam!

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for an amazing opportunity, with thank going to Stephanie!! So excited!!


{Unfake Wedding!} Sonoma Style!

This Sonoma, California, wedding falls into one of my fantasy wedding categories. As in, if I could choose to have another wedding where would it be sorta thing. I adore California wine country and would totally want a vineyard style wedding! This one totally fits my fantasy bill! I just love the intimacy and elegant simplicity. I hope you do too!

Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of Gretchen & Tom!


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

I never kiss and tell!

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

Photographer   JC Page Photography

DJ/Band   Grapevine Music

Reception Venue   My friend’s back yard in Kenwood, CA.

Ceremony Venue   My friend’s back yard in Kenwood, CA.

Planner   Laura Stolkin

Guest Hotel   Flamingo Resort & Spa

Flowers   Costco for the centerpieces and French Tulip for the bridal party.

Dress   Le Spose di Gio from Glamour Closet.

Accessories – Haute Bride for hair pieces and custom bracelet.

Hair/Make-Up   It’s a Date at the Powder Room, The owner Jenifer did our hair and make – she was amazing!

Tuxedos   Macy’s

Catering   Brick and Bottle

Cake   Michelle Marie’s Patisserie

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Who was your favorite vendor and why?

Michelle Marie – we still have people talking about our wedding cake! It’s called the “Park Avenue.”

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

My friend who lives in the area picked all the vendors either from past experience (friends or previously worked together). Or, we asked people who they would use.


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T30SB Commentary: sa-MOOCH!

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

I started immediately – chipping away for about 8 months.

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

We invited 140 about 126 attended.

What was your budget?

The budget went out the window – it cost $27,500.00 for everything. I had hoped to do it for around 20K.

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

Not the honeymoon.

Were you over or under budget? By how much?

Over by 35%


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How large was your bridal party?

One adult attendant for each of us and 5 flower girls

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

We did. I spent  $2.40 for each. We decided on a wooden heart magnet with our date & initials on it. I got them from Etsy.

Did you include any special family traditions?


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

We had none—for a brief second during the ceremony the cord to the key board was unplugged but they figured it out within a minute.


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

Amazingly, we had none!

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

None really.  We had an uninvited 20-something friend of a nephew who got a bit too drunk – and we had to send him home in a taxi.

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T30SB Commentary: I love pictures of family and friends toasting..it makes me feel all warm inside!



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What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

The flower girl dresses were $225 each and they were worth it!

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

The favors – no one took any – they were inside and no one went inside!

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

When I walked down the aisle to “From this Moment” by Shania Twain and our ceremony. My sister and Maid of Honor had men crying during her toast.


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Where did you go on your honeymoon?

New Orleans

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

Maybe stat the wedding earlier? Our ceremony began at 5: 30….it goes so fast and people start to leave around 10:30!


Congratulations to Gretchen & Tom!


{Unfake Wedding Feature!} Amanda + Alonso

 I am so excited to feature this Unfake DC Wedding.   First of all, it was submitted by Nashville Photography Team, Chris and Adrienne Scott. I don’t think I ever met the Scotts, but I certainly know of them from the Nashville wedding community. Always good things, the things I heard!

And what’s even cooler is they got married a year before The Candyman and I did – and in the same sweet little Southern chapel, Owen Chapel. Love it! But this wedding is not about them as a couple, or me and The Candyman! This is all about Amanda and Alonso. Check it out!


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

It’s possible.





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

Photographer  Chris and Adrienne Scott Photography

DJ/Band  DJ Mike Blaufeld

Reception & Ceremony Venue  Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, Virginia

Planner  We did not use a planner. I have been a meeting planner for about 4 years and worked as a banquet manager for a year prior to that. My husband is a banquet manager at an elite country club in the Washington, DC area. I honestly believe our combined experience provided us enough knowledge of the industry and vendors in the DC area that we didn’t need to pay someone. We did however use one of my friends who used to be a meeting planner as a day-of-coordinator. Thank goodness we had her because the venues on-site coordinator was non-existent and terrible.

Guest Hotel  Westin Tyson’s Corner

Flowers Growing Wild Floral

Dress  I Do I Do Wedding GownsCasablanca Bridal Style # 1955 from their Fall 2009 collection. The shop actually sells consignment dressing and new dresses. I really didn’t want to spend a lot on my dress, but of course I ended up ordering a new one.

Accessories I bought flat ivory shoes at Dessy. My husband is only a few inches taller than me and I did not want to be taller then him on our wedding day. They were only $30 and I was comfortable all day! I also purchased a ribbon headband from Wedding Factory Direct for $40.00 that I loved and was such a steal!

Hair/Make-Up  Liz Wegrzyn

Cake  Edibles Incredible

Rental Equipment  Capital Party Rentals

Who was your favorite vendor and why?

Well we have two! We love our photographers Chris and Adrienne Scott. They are so incredibly talented and felt very lucky that we had them shoot our wedding. The members of our wedding party and our guests all said how funny and easy going they were. They even showed a slideshow of some of the pictures they took that day. It also helps that they are dear friends of ours and kick-ass people!!! We also really liked our DJ. My husband is Salvadorian and my family is mostly Jewish- which certainly made for an interesting mix of musical tastes! Our DJ worked with us to ensure we had the rock and top 40s for our liking and Spanish music for my husband’s family.





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

Well I probably read hundreds of reviews on Wedding Wire and The Knot for most of our vendors. Some of them we selected based on recommendations or vendors we knew in the area.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

13 months

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

We invited just over 200 guests and had about 150. When we booked our venue, the sales manager told us the room sat 170-, which was perfect for our family and close friends. About two months out we were told the room actually sat 150. That was a lovely surprise! We had to pray that people would say no. Sorry B list, you didn’t get an invite!

What was your budget?

I seriously don’t know how people can have a nice wedding with 150 guest for less $35,000 at a hotel, reception hall, garden, etc. on a Saturday night in the DC area. I like to think I’m a mean negotiator and we still spent our entire budget.

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


Were you over or under budget?

I have no clue- I’m afraid to know the answer.





How large was your bridal party?

We had 5 on each side – it was the perfect size.

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

This was one of my favorite DIY projects! We gave our guests lottery tickets and on the front they said, “We hope you are as lucky as we are!” We spent $165.

Did you include any special family traditions?

Since my family is Jewish (and my husband is not) we had a non-denomination ceremony. It was important to include some traditions so my husband kindly agreed to break the glass at the end of the ceremony. We also did the Horah. It ended up being a great way to get everyone up and dancing and the pictures are priceless!!




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

Oh man - I forget my veil at the hotel when we left to take pictures. My poor mom who was trying to get ready had to go back and get it. Unfortunately, I’m not wearing it any of our first look and bridal party pictures. We also got married outside on the coldest day in November. We ended up having to spend almost $1,000 on heaters, blankets and a hot chocolate/apple cider station the week before the wedding to ensure our guests actually remembered our ceremony instead of how cold it was. My bridesmaids were troopers up there!!

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

Can you believe this one- the chef with the catering company! Since we got married at a state facility, we had to pay an extra fee to use an outside caterer, so we decided to use the in-house company. Our first tasting was fabulous. At the same time we found out that the room only held 150 instead of 170, we found out that there was a new executive chef. Of course we went back for a 2nd tasting and the food was terrible. The new chef was so offended and rude about us not liking his food that we ended up having the F&B Manager cook. I was not having that man around on my wedding day! Not to mention, the day I was driving to our 2nd tasting I got a ticket- that man was bad karma!

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this if you’d like)?


T30SB Commentary: Dammit.





What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

Well I have two things: #1- I spent a lot of money at Paper Source making the bands around our wedding invitations. I loved the paper so much that even though it didn’t match everything perfectly, I had to use it. #2- The chocolate fountain. Our guests loved it and it kept those who didn’t want to dance, mingling and entertained.

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

We loved our escort cardboard and our table numbers!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

When it was time to walk down the isle, I knew I would start crying as soon as I saw my husband-to-be. I asked my dad to say something funny and he didn’t. Fortunately my dad ended up pulling through for me. When our officiant asked, “Who gives this woman?” my dad replied “My mother and I… no wait my mom is dead”. We all busted into laughter. We ended up laughing our entire way through the ceremony instead of crying.




T30SB Commentary: You can just see the fear in her eyes.


T30SB Commentary: The Horah scares the shit out of me whenever I see it. I always hear the Anthony Marentineo character from “Sex and the City” warning Charlotte to keep her legs closed and to HOLD ON!

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

My husband’s little brother was giving his best man speech and just cried. He maybe got out 10 words??? It was very sweet.

Did you DIY? What parts?

Of course I did!!! I can’t image not doing my own projects- it made our wedding much more personalized, plus we saved a ton of money. We made our own invitations, programs, table numbers, escort card board, and envelopes for our favors.



Where did you go on your honeymoon?


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

I loved our wedding and we were blessed to have everything we wanted, but I would probably get married on the beach with our closest friends and family. Keep it simple, candle lit, and elegant.



Congratulations to Amanda and Alonso!

Thanks for sharing your day with us!


{Unfake Wedding Feature} Chicago for $12K! WHA???

*Unfake Wedding Hijack: Thanks to everyone for your wonderful words of encouragement and the kick in the pants I needed in regards to yesterday’s post.

OK, you guys. This Unfake Wedding is so cute it kills. It’s the wedding of a fellow blogger, so that makes the whole thing that much more special. I ♥ blogging brides.

Our bride Marty (not her real name) writes the blog Not The Marrying Kind and like many of us chronicled her thoughts, forays into the world of wedding DIY and included her fiancé A.P. (not his real name) as a part of the planning process. I love how personal this wedding is, how creative and oh, the details…and all on a budget of $12K in CHICAGO – WHAAAA??? That’s right, you read it. These folks threw a $12K wedding in downtown Chicago. Props, lady. Props. So without further interruption, here’s the Unfake Wedding of Marty and A.P! Enjoy!



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

We did…not. We partied so late, and we were so tired from the long, long week that we pretty much passed out. Plus, I may have been the drunken “mother” type and told a bunch of my friends to stay at the hotel because I didn’t want them traveling by themselves late at night. All of my friends were wise enough to take a hike, but one stayed. It would have been pretty mortifying to do it with her in the other room. Even if our hotel room was bigger than our 1 bedroom apartment (with dining room! Madness!)!! Don’t worry. We made up for it on the honeymoon! Smile








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

Photographer  Theresa Scarbrough and Photobooth Express

DJ/Band We’re big music fans, so we made our own playlists for the entire day. Lovely had a sound system that allowed us to play right from our iPod.

Reception Venue  Lovely: A Bake Shop

Ceremony Venue  Lovely: A Bake Shop

Planner  Lovely provided day of coordination.

Transportation It’s the city…we cabbed it!

Guest Hotel  We did not book a block, but we stayed in the Presidential Suite (say what?!?) at The Omni

Flowers We DIY’d our centerpiece flowers, but Pollen Studio made my bouquet. It’s funny because I never even met Lynn. We talked on the phone and via email. She lived a few blocks away from my mother, so on our big day, my mom picked up the bouquet. She did a stunning job, though. She took my inspiration and turned it into my dream bouquet.

Dress  A family friend who is amazingly talented made my dress. It was made to resemble the elusive J. Crew Daphne dress.

Accessories  I wore a pair of pearl earrings my husband gave me for Christmas a few years ago that he purchased from Blue Nile. I also wore a necklace that he gave me on our first Valentine’s Day that was purchased from Etsy. Finally, I wore a pearl bracelet my sister bought me as my “something new.” My shoes were, of all places, from Target. They were the only green flats I could find in the right shade. And I looked EVERYWHERE. Stores here in Chicago and online, too (and for shoes, I pushed the budget limitations). They were comfortable, though, and easy on the wallet, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. I also had a pair of Anne Taylor black wedges and a Calvin Klein black cocktail dress that I was supposed to wear during cocktail hour (see reason why I did not below). I paired the black dress with a cute, little bolero jacket I already had from H&M. Of course, none of this matters since I didn’t wear the damn dress. Argghhhh!! Residual wedding sadness.

Hair/Make-Up Art + Science did my beautiful hair and makeup. Too bad I’m still me and forgot to reapply my lipstick past the ceremony. Oops.

Tuxedos  A.P. did not wear a tux, but he did wear a bespoke suit made by Duchess Clothier. I highly recommend them! You take your measurements at home and pick a style of suit. They have really helpful videos so that you make sure the measurements are correct. His suit fit beautifully!

Catering  Lovely did all the catering except for the bar, which we provided (my brother works in the industry).

Cake  Again, Lovely, Lovely, Lovely. And get this? They did a LOVELY job!

Invitations  I have to give a shout out about our invitations, which were made by a dear family friend who owns Gits Graphics.

Who was your favorite vendor and why?

They were all so truly wonderful, and I really, really don’t want to choose, but I have to give a special shout out to Photobooth Express. From the get go, these guys were awesome. They gave me a discount on the photobooth, which made my photobooth dreams come true. The attendant they had was so cool, and really nice. Plus, we had a REALLY embarrassing accident after the wedding when the bank kindly decided to hold these big checks for almost two weeks that we’d transferred into our account to pay off the remaining dues with our vendors. A couple of our vendors had their checks bounce. I’ve never had a check bounce in my life, so you can imagine my horror at finding out about this while on honeymoon. Photobooth Express was sooooo, sooooo awesome about the whole thing. They told us they’d just wait and redeposit the check. We offered to cover any fees they might have been charged by their bank, and they were so, so nice and told us not to worry about it. I would save up for a year to have them work another party of mine! Really, truly great.





T30SB Commentary: I love pictures like this! Everyone is just so happy!

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

Really, everything started with this image I had in my head of a venue with different types of tables and chairs that I could make even more vintage-y with details. Lovely was an accident. I found it randomly through a post on A Practical Wedding. At the time, they didn’t even do weddings and I was convinced that I was going to have to dust off my old sales skills and go in for the kill. Luckily around the time we got engaged, they officially started hosting weddings and events there. Once Lovely was a go, it was just about filling in the blanks. Honestly, Lovely ended up doing so much; we didn’t have to find a ton of other vendors. We ended up going with them as our caterer, and obviously they did the cake and dessert bar. The only other thing we had to figure out was photography. Initially, we wanted Jeremy Lawson as our photographer, as I’d featured a few of his weddings on my blog and knew he had mad skillz with a camera. Finding Theresa was a fluke, but as I was surfing her blog, I happened onto a picture of her and Jeremy Lawson! We figured it was a sign and never looked back. That seemed to be how I found all of my vendors, really: serendipity.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

We were engaged for a total of seven months, but didn’t start officially planning until five months out. I’d done a lot of research before with my blog and secret searches on the internet, so I kind of had a lot of ideas already of what I wanted things to look like. Our engagement was extraordinarily hard, though, as it was riddled by big life changes and the huge, unexpected loss of A.P.’s mother, plus a plethora of other crises. You can tell I was stressed to death from the terrible acne that was covering my face (not exactly a bride’s dream come true). But it all came together. We healed as best we could and moved forward. And my face even cleared up a bit!

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

Our final number of invites was 75, and we had 64 attend. I think we also threw in some last minute invites to extended family we sort of knew wouldn’t attend.





T30SB Commentary: GAH! I love these centerpieces!

What was your budget?

We wanted a beautiful, vintage wedding in Chicago (the actual city, not the suburbs!) for $10K or under.

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

We included the rings, but not the honeymoon.

Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?

We ended up spending approximately $12K. That did not include the honeymoon, which my now husband paid for as is tradition.

How large was your bridal party?

We didn’t have a bridal party, but asked friends and family to participate in other ways. We had our oldest brothers and close friends give toasts, and other brothers and another friend performed short readings during our ceremony. Also, we had a friend of mine from high school marry us.

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

Yes, we did! I recently posted a DIY with instructions and a cost breakdown for our favors (I included the links down below). On our first date, we made a cake and lit sparklers, so we gave our guests homemade cake mix in mason jars that we covered with a vintage hankie. We then attached a box of sparklers on the back. In the instructions, we explained how this was what we did on our first date. It also fit in well with the location of our wedding: a vintage bakery.




Did you include any special family traditions?

Besides drinking? Just kidding. We didn’t include any traditions, but we had a lot of great nods to our family throughout the wedding. In lieu of a guestbook, we had people sign vintage postcards from all the cities in Florida where A.P. either lived or we visited together. I even managed to track down two vintage postcards of the Schlitz plant where A.P.’s father and stepmother met! Guests then placed the postcards in a little mailbox A.P. made using a vintage mailbox door I bought on eBay. My grandmother was a U.S. Postmaster and the post office used to be in her house (for realz). Growing up, I would play for hours on end in there, filling out old paperwork and getting people their mail. I purposely found a door on eBay that resembled those in my grandmother’s house. Having this as our guest book was our way of including small, important parts of who we are in seemingly insignificant details. We also had objects that were from our families as part of our centerpieces. For instance, we had a small ceramic pitcher painted with gold that was given to my grandparents to commemorate their 40th wedding anniversary on one table and a music box that was A.P.’s mother’s adorned the head table as a way to keep her memory close to us on our special day.

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

This is sooo easy. A.P. forgot his pants and we were an hour late to our own wedding. Reread that. Savor it. Because it’s only funny now. Our plan was to get to The Omni, take some pictures getting ready (all we really had to do was change into our clothes…I’d already had my hair/makeup done) and then head out into the city with Theresa to take some fun pictures. We were going to arrive at Lovely about a half an hour before cocktail hour. I was going to change from my wedding dress into a black cocktail dress and then I would change back into my wedding dress for the ceremony. When we got to the hotel, my girlfriends and I took over the bedroom before we heard a knocking on the door. It was A.P. asking if I had his pants, which I did not. Needless to say he’d left them at our apartment at least 20 minutes away (without traffic). A.P. hopped in a cab and told the driver he’d give him $100 to get him there and back as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I stewed back at the hotel and our photographer took pictures and then pretty much sat around waiting with the rest of us. I was so, so angry with A.P. about the whole ordeal. But when we got to Lovely, a family friend (and the woman who designed our invitations) came up to me and told me I had to get over it because it was all going to go by so fast and I had to enjoy it. I snapped out of it and ended up having a mind-blowing night! It was definitely one of the best days of my life.





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

Both of my crises had to do with invitations (and wounded relationships and the trickery that comes with dealing with them whilst planning a wedding). The good news is that I perfected being the bigger person, so I’ve got that down. That’s worth its salt, I think. The first incident was with family: I have a brother who I am not particularly close to anymore. It’s a really sad thing and it frustrates me on a daily basis, but over time I’ve learned to deal with it. I finally felt like I’d made my peace and could send his invitation with no regrets when we found out that he and his wife had another baby. He never told us that she was pregnant or called us to tell us the baby was even born. It was terrible. And it all happened the week we were sending out invitations. I had to decide if we would invite them. I was not only deeply offended, but also incredibly hurt. In the end, we invited them. Like I said, it’s all about being the bigger person. He came to the wedding alone (his wife and two kids stayed home) and he gave a toast. I did not ask him to give one, but he did. And it was fine. I can’t say it brought us closer or changed my opinion of him, but I guess it felt better having him there and having no drama.

The second crisis was with a friend from college. She’d let a lot of things build up that I didn’t know about and then when it was time for us to send out our invitations, we emailed her and asked for her address. She ended up sort of picking a fight with me (and delaying us getting her invitation out along with invitations for her whole family). It all ended fine and we’ve made up since, but it was incredibly frustrating and stressful and at the time, it felt really selfish and crappy. (PS. The key to dealing with that kind of wedding fiasco was to not re-hash the past and focus on making the guest feel like they were wanted. It worked, too. I avoided a fight and my friend came to the wedding. See? Bigger person.)

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this if you’d like)?

Besides my husband for forgetting his pants? Just kidding. Really, though, no one. There were some not so great moments, like the forgetting of the pants, and a guest who bailed before dinner and another who missed the ceremony and A.P.’s family leaving before we even cut the cake, but all in all, it was still a wonderful day/night! Sure, I wish A.P. had remembered his pants, but now, we have a funny story to tell our kids one day. I wish our guests had gotten there on time and stayed later, but that’s their loss. And they still celebrated with us for part of the time, which is better than nothing. And while I wish that A.P.’s family had stayed longer, I get that everyone was beat from traveling, the big day, and there were young kids involved who were getting sleepy. Plus, one of his brothers came back and danced with us all night, which was awesome. So, there you go.




What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

The photobooth. It was our one extravagance. It was not only totally unnecessary, but it also wasn’t cheap. I got a great deal, but still. That’s money I could have spent on all kinds of things. But I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. We came up with this great DIY idea to put our pet’s heads on sticks so people could take pictures with them. And of course we had mustaches on sticks, because well, who doesn’t love a good ‘stache? People were so creative and some of the most hilarious moments of the evening happened in the photobooth! It was just awesome. I wish A.P. had gotten in there more, but unlike me, he didn’t push through the line. I have to admit I was a bit of a bitch when it came to budging in the photobooth line. Can you blame me?

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

Honestly, I can’t think of one single thing. We worked so hard to stay within our budget and I really attempted to rein in our spending. We were firm in our wants and didn’t cave in for anything unnecessary. So, while I’m sure we went over on some things, I really didn’t feel like we wasted money. Talk to A.P., maybe he has some opinions on this question.

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

I loved our tables, in general. I loved that our table names were skateboarding tricks (a nod to A.P., who used to be an amateur skateboarder). Our centerpieces and our china were all thrifted and were pretty inexpensive. I really wanted our wedding to feel vintage and pretty, almost as if you were getting to eat in the corner of a cute little vintage shop. Each table had a completely unique centerpiece, but had similar elements: vintage trays, glass apothecary jars, little birdies of some sort. Our thrifted china took a long time, and my mother donated an old set of china that really helped, but in the end it was soooo worth it! It was so, so pretty! Lovely did a wonderful job of setting up. They were even nice about the fact that this anal retentive bride gave them a binder with pictures of all the centerpieces and coordinating vintage salt and pepper shakers. Yes, I went there. But they understood (thank God!).





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

My parents dancing. My parents divorced when I was a kid and while we’ve had periods of friendliness, they really don’t get along. They don’t hang out or talk even. Usually family affairs are tricky because it’s all about planning around them. Well, our wedding must have been the panacea for their relationship because during our first dance, I looked over and saw the two of them dancing! Luckily our super talented photographer, Theresa, was right there to capture the look of total shock in my face. It’s still one of my favorite photos. My parents also went on to take photobooth pictures together, and this past Christmas, for the first time in 24 years, I spent Christmas with both of my parents (in the same place!). See? Weddings are awesome!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

A.P. forgetting his pants and his apology afterward. As I said before, A.P. totally forgot his pants and made us late to our own wedding. By the time we were actually getting married, I was over it. I was laughing and having a good time, but you know, I was still sad we missed an hour of the celebration (and all the delicious tarte flambé appetizers we’d arranged for!). During our ceremony, A.P. read his vows, which ended with, “You are my best friend and my one true love,” and then he looked at me, turned to our guests and said, “And I’m sorry I forgot my pants.” It was HILARIOUS! Everyone clapped and whistled and I busted out laughing, which was good because what was in store was a big cry fest (see next question).

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

Our vows. I flopped like a baby. As soon as I got to the part about how he’s changed me, I started crying like a whale. It was ridiculous. The thing is, there were so many giant things I thought were going to make me cry like a fat kid being denied cake: walking down the aisle with my father, our first dance, the whole ceremony. But then, I didn’t cry during any of those things. Instead, I smiled and laughed and had a phenomenal time. But during A.P.’s vows, I could feel the emotion working up, and during my own vows I cried and was a bit of a wreck. I didn’t do the ugly cry, but I did hand my vows to our friend who married us with a look on my face like, “Get these away from me!” I don’t like to cry in front of others, can you tell?




Did you DIY? What parts?

What didn’t I DIY? Let’s see: designed original idea/layout for invitations (then handed that off to our actual designer), our place cards, escort cards/holder, centerpieces, flowers (except for bouquet), favors, thrifted china, photobooth props, cake topper, “guestbook”, my mother has beautiful penmanship and so she did all the writing for the wedding (place cards, favor labels, address labels for invitations, table names, etc.), menu/program (which my mother wrote/designed on a vintage chalkboard I bought on eBay), photo display (though Lovely put it together in a beautiful way), ring pillow (which I based on the design of our invitations), photobooth picture display, and probably other things that I’m forgetting about. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it. I’ve posted some of the DIY instructions on my blog, too (favors, cake topper, escort card stand) for anyone who might be interested.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

We were lucky enough to go to Belize…and it was AWESOME! I’d never traveled outside of Europe and A.P. had never been outside of the U.S., so it was an exciting trip for both of us. We spent the first couple of days on the island of Caye Caulker, which was super laid back and the perfect antidote for my wedding planning hangover. We drank with every meal (not excessively, just chill cocktails), and went snorkeling and walked the sandy roads around the island. After Caye Caulker, we went to Punta Cana, where we stayed at Machaca Hill, a rainforest lodge. That was the real honeymoon! Machaca Hill was so luxurious and the manager, Brian, was so kind. We got to go cave diving, kayaking, chocolate making, and we toured Mayan ruins. We loved our stay there and hope to go back soon!

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

Three things:

1. Okay, first of all, I would have eaten some of the desserts. What was I thinking? It was all I was looking forward to and I barely ate any of it. I got one bite of wedding cake and the filling of half of a mini-lemon meringue pie. What the what?

2. I would have looked harder for wear to buy a veil. I didn’t get that together in time and was a bit bummed it didn’t work out. When else do you get to wear a veil in life???

3. Besides that, though, my biggest redo would be with my dress. I loved my dress. I did. It’s the dress I wanted and it’s the dress I got. But because I hated my body at the time (I’ve gained a lot of weight since A.P. and I started dating), I didn’t once go try on dresses. In fact, the whole thing with my dress was pure luck. I had a family friend who is super talented make my dress based on the J.Crew Daphne dress, but with some slight differences. The friend got sick and got really behind and I basically got my dress less than 24 hours before the wedding. Luckily it fit perfectly and was beautiful. But I was scared and had to create a backup plan. And STILL I didn’t go try on wedding dresses! If I could do it all over, I would go try on dresses. I would also consider something shorter. I honestly don’t know why that didn’t occur to me before. I also would have pushed our family to get involved more on our big day. They were around and there, but missed some fun stuff because they wimped out. Other than that, we really did have the most beautiful, wonderful day. It was definitely one of the best days of our lives so far. We’re I am looking forward to the wedding redux for our 10th anniversary (aka the wedding where A.P. doesn’t forget his pants…)

T30SB Commentary: Pants are good. And you should have called me for a veil. Winking smile



Congratulations you two and thank you for sharing your wedding with us!

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