VIRGINIA WEDDING {New Year’s Wedding on a Budget}

As most of you know, I married my high school sweetheart a year ago today {Happy Anniversary, Babe!!}.

This is at my junior prom in 2003…FB didn’t date back far enough, so I had to delve into my earliest webshots account for this gem LOL.
Yes, you’re allowed to laugh.

I figured that since our goal for 2012 is to create more in-depth blogs with real advice that starting with my first wedding design & planning project seemed fitting.  {On a side note, I am only just now realizing that I never blogged about my own wedding–WTH?!–so I am attempting to make ammends here…} I thought that wedding planning would be a piece of cake since i’m a designer…and little did I know that it would only make things more difficult because I wanted to do everything myself to save money {we had a $10,000 budget}.  I had 9 million ideas and zero experience, but with a little help I pulled it off.

Although I was a novice at the whole wedding planning thing, I did a few things right.  As soon as we got engaged we made some lists… The first list was a projected guest list.  We put everyone in tiers based on who HAD to be there and who would invite if we had the space.  We then made a list of all of the different aspects of the wedding and ranked the importance of each one.  For us {or rather, for me…isn’t that how wedding planning goes?}, photography came first because we really wanted the day to be captured by someone whose style we admired.  Dana Duncan Photography was my first choice and she also fit with the budget {score!} so I booked her for about 20% of my budget.   My second most important aspect was the dress…I mean, what girl doesn’t want to look like the hottness on her wedding day?!  I immediately headed over to Pure English and tried some gowns on.  The third or fourth gown I put on, I said “I want this one” in my best needy childish voice.  My mom and sister both loved it…and then we found out the price was about $1,000 over what I thought I would be spending on my dress.  Thankfully, Pure English worked with me and I got the dream dress…even if it was 25% of my budget {I guess I could have stuck with the original neckline and done without the $750 in alterations, whoops…totally worth it though}.

For the bridesmaids and groomsmen, we went with Maya Couture because we wanted everything to be done together.  The girls dresses were a dark eggplant color…gorgeous on each and every one of those hotties.  The girl’s gifts were chunky purple necklaces…

The guys wore black suits and we bought them skinny ties as their gift…as you can see, they’re a fun crowd.

Anyway, third most important aspect was the decor…it’s my job, it had to look good.  My amazingly talented aunt owns an interior design firm and agreed to be one of my mistresses of ceremonies.  She was the biggest help with everything and even purchased some decor at wholesale cost through her business!!  I wanted a classy, flashy, fun decor theme and our wedding was right around the holidays, so I chose to use christmas ornaments for the decorations in varying size and shape clear vases and using lighted branches to add some height.  I bought silver tablecloths online for less than you could rent them {if anyone needs silver…I will rent them to you for cheap!!}, some inexpensive votive candles, and tons of purple and silver ornaments from  I ended up doing all of the floral arrangements too…my first time doing it, saved a crap-ton of money, and they turned out pretty decent….despite the fact that we completely forgot about them until we started taking pictures and the stems weren’t yet wrapped.  We ended up having to quickly tie these bows :/ Ha…..that mistake won’t be made again!

Another important element of the wedding was the food…let’s be honest, I love to eat.  Thankfully, i’ve grown up with good restaurants because my dad is in the restaurant business.  His best friend, owner of O’Sullivan’s Wharf in Norfolk, offered to cater the wedding.  I have no idea how much this cost, but I do know that Joe gave us an amazing deal and the food was phenomenal.  AND a lot of the people from the restaurant offered to work the wedding!  Thank You!!

Once we got a vague idea about the number of people expected we chose the venue.  We are always on the water fishing, boating, or surfing and found Lighthouse on the Cove…a little venue on the water in VB.  We rented LOC for about 35% of our budget (ouch.) and had I looked a little harder I probably would have found a more design neutral space (their dance floor is distractingly 80’s, the murals on the wall didn’t go with my wedding, and the light fixtures are baddd).  We also barely fit in the building with 180 people.  Despite the negatives, everyone loved the place because it turned out being warm that day and it’s got an amazing waterfront view and wraparound baconies.  Let’s move on…

I found a girl who makes cakes out of her home…while it tasted alright, the cake was pretty ugly and uneven {she used icing to even out the inconsistent shape of the cake…and we ended up having pieces with no cake and all icing…}.  Moral of the cake story, don’t just go with the cheap-o; find someone with a good reputation.  She did thankfully end up refunding our money.

We got ready at the Hilton, where Eric and I did our first look on the boardwalk.  It was 60 degrees on New Year’s day, so we did a few pictures by the beach….omg, that ocean wind!!  We changed locations for the rest of the pictures because everyone was so freaking cold and I was purple {so cute…}. Seriously, look at my dead person’s feet in this picture:

 After these pictures we traveled to the second picture location in our stretch navigator donated by my dad’s friends, the owners of Atlantic Coach Transportation {it certainly pays to know people when you’re on a budget!!}.  Thankfully our photogs scouted out the second location, a cute little bridge right across the street from the venue!

For the wedding, we wanted fun entertainment, so we had longtime family friend Lewis McGehee play during the ceremony and dinner and a friend DJ’ed.  {It’s definitely important to create an exact playlist for DJ’s if you’re particular about music!!}  I created the escort card board from a huge piece of MDF covered in fabric.  I then strung all different types of ribbon across it to hold the tented escort cards.  Unfortunately the only picture I have is of the cards full so you can’t see the ribbon.  I made the rest of the event graphics too…the invitations, programs, menus, favor tags, etc.  The only graphics I didn’t control were the water bottle labels…which my dad decided to put out on all the tables…gahhh.  I made the favors a month in advance…who knew you could freeze cookies and they would turn out just as amazing when thawed?!  Finally, I personalized little containers of bubbles for guests to blow as we exited the space.

As you can tell, I actually enjoyed the process…enough so that I decided to do it for a living.  I learned a lot and have continued to learn during every event we’ve done since.  We’re kinda like pros now and Eric even helps me with moving furniture and setting up for events.  Gotta love that man <3

Enough of my novel…here are more pictures from the event :)

Wedding Details Slideshow:

Portrait Slideshow:

Photographer- Dana Duncan Photography
Rob Korb Photography
 Planner/Stylist & Graphics- Style by Design
Hair- Jeff Harris
Makeup- Katie Kiester
Transportation- Atlantic Coach Transportation
Venue- Lighthouse on the Cove
Caterer- O’Sullivans Wharf
Dress- Pure English Couture Bridal
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Attire- Maya Couture
Cake- {i’m going to spare her here…}
Live Entertainment- Lewis McGehee
DJ- Robert Smith