Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Making Your Wedding Your Own (Our Wedding, Part 1)

Warning: If you don't like weddings or don't want to hear about one, you may want to visit my blog next week!

For the rest of the week, until our anniversary on Saturday, I'll be blogging about all things wedding. Maybe these posts will provide some inspiration for another bride-to-be, or maybe they'll just be interesting to those who like wedding details.  I originally started this blog to chronicle the wedding planning process, but it just didn't pan out that way. I'm over a year late with these posts, so I better get to blogging!

If I had to have one big takeaway from all of my wedding posts, it would be this:

Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to follow the rules.  

You can have a wedding on your own terms, and it can be wonderful and beautiful.  As I mentioned in my last post, my husband (then fiance) talked me into a wedding. The idea of over a hundred pair of eyes watching me for the entire day made me absolutely anxious, so I knew a couple of things had to take place on the big day:

(1) The ceremony had to feel intimate; and

(2) We had to create a festive environment so our guests would mingle.

Also, because I hadn't planned on a full-blown wedding we added a third requirement:

(3) It had to be affordable. 

I think we accomplished all three of these.  Shawn and let the phrase “modern, yet vintage,” guide us in our planning. We kept many classic wedding traditions and details, but added a few fun and unique elements of our own. This was a true DIY wedding. By doing a lot of the crafting and legwork, I was able to save money and splurge in the areas that gave the day such an elegant feel. My mother, family members and I made most of the d├ęcor including the place cards, out-of-town bags, wedding favors, and headpieces for the flower girl and for me.  I'll highlight a few of the DIY and budget-friendly ideas we used in this post.

Because we live in the DC Metro area, we wanted to have a wedding that celebrated the place where we met and fell in love.  I also knew that many of my family and friends would enjoy visiting Washington, DC and having a true city experience.  Since our wedding ended up being on a Friday evening, many of them took the opportunity to enjoy our Nation’s Capital over the weekend.

We tied the knot at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. 

It was love at first site when we stepped into the Carnegie.  This was going to be our splurge. We looked at venues in May of 2011, and we visited the Carnegie in the hopes of landing the last summer 2012 wedding date that was available. Well, someone beat us to the punch, but we loved the space so much, we opted for a downtown, Friday night wedding. With the date and time of day in mind, I was then able to let my creativity run free!

We did not have a theme for the wedding, per se.  Instead, we tried to think of things that would be meaningful and symbolic to us.  The Carnegie is really special because of its rotunda.  
This pic is great, but still does it no justice. 
Most people who get married there opt to get married in this space, and some of them choose to use circular seating. The idea of being married in a circle, surrounded with the love and support from our family and friends, served as inspiration.  As for wedding colors, I chose a metallic color palette, representing special years in marriage – copper for 7 years, silver for 25, and gold for 50 and used black accents.

Keeping all of this in mind, We set up our wedding website and we ordered our save the dates:

Like I said, staying within our budget was super important, so we used postcards that I made on  The postcard design gave me the chance to show off our pics from my surprise engagement. And then on one of the rainiest days of 2011, we mailed our save the dates:

Life went back to normal for a little while.  Hubs and I moved in together to save money for the wedding - yes, saints, we shacked up ;).  Then the wedding planning got super duper real toward late 2011. I will admit I put school on the back burner for a bit because I turned into a one-woman planning machine. 

It was finally time to find some invitations.  I searched high and low, had my feelings hurt at a high-end stationary store, and scoured the internet for what seemed like months. And then I found The One. Well, it was The One once I got done redesigning it.

The same company also made our lovely wedding programs that are in the background. 
Given the fact that I'm a former high school math teacher who taught Geometry for years and that the rotunda was the focal point of the Carnegie, I ran with the circle idea.  After some searching on Google, I ran across the poem “Marriage Surrounds Two People in the Circle of Its Love.”  We decided to use this line on our invitations. My cousin ended up reading it at the wedding, too.  I also incorporated circles into our invites,  which were designed by an amazing vendor (and fellow Ph.D. student) on, which is like, the BEST website ever for buying cool wedding stuff. After about 40 iterations, Sophia at All That Jazz created these lovelies just for us. Here's a closer look:

She uses this pic on her website!!! 
And, of course, these invites ended up costing a SMALL fraction of what I planned to spend. In lieu of RSVP cards, we had small information cards printed that asked folks to RSVP via our wedding website, so we were able to save even more in postage. In fact, the invites and the info cards were able to be sent with regular postage.  This left room in our budget for some cute little personalized stamps featuring our doggy, Jiggy.  I found a font similar to the ones on the invite and printed all of the envelopes from my home.  God bless my daddy for helping me stuff and seal them all.

Unfortunately, the POTUS and FLOTUS had to decline our invitation; however, they did send their regards: 
Isn't this cool?!?
So that's the story of our wedding theme, location, and invites, but there's so much more to tell. In my next post, I'll talk about our wedding favors and welcome bags - touches that helped to make our wedding all our own. 

Until next time . . . hang on! There are more wedding posts on the way! 

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