...a breakdown of how things went
Location: LDS Chapel, multipurpose room
(outside of the church, photo by Ashley Custer)
The gym is never a place where you ideally want to have your reception, but it worked for us mostly because of the cost being free! We had to do all the decorating ourselves which was tough. I'm no event coordinator and I had never decorated a gym for an event and on top of that tried to make it look classy. It wasn't very difficult arranging times for us to get into the building and they already had all the tables and chairs and some kitchen goods like a punch bowl we were able to borrow. Plus in the church we were at they had hooks that made it easy to string up the plastic waves across the ceiling. It was also nice that they had a pretty decent sound system and lots of free parking.
(throwing the bouquet, see ceiling decorations, photo by Ashley Custer)
We got a lot of our decorations at the Party Store including the long plastic sheets we used to decorate the ceiling, the twinkle lights, and table cloths. This worked out perfectly and a lot of people thought it was silky material. The plastic was so much less expensive than material. The vases (or votive candle holders) for the centerpieces were bought from Family Dollar and we got the ribbon from Wal-Mart.
Catering: Bittersweet Catering
(catering, photo by Ashley Custer)
Bittersweet Catering in Alexandria provided the food. I didn't get to eat a lot of if myself, but the stuff I tried was good and we received lots of compliments. We just ordered a lot of hors d'oerves which was perfect. It was pretty classy for what we were going for. If you wanted to be more classy you could put the food onto nice serving dishes, but we were pretty casual.
Flowers: Sylvain's Florist
(photo by Katharine LeCheminant)
The bouquet was nice, but not what I had ordered. I had ordered pale pink and white ranunculus with white peonies and I got bright pink roses, white ranunculus, and bright pink and white peonies. It looked good and luckily it didn't look bad with my bright turquoise theme, but it's not what was in the contract and I would have preferred all ranunculus instead of the roses. When I asked her about this after the honeymoon she said that she forgot, which is really strange and unprofessional. The boutonnieres and corsages were correct in color, with the pink and white ranunculus so I'm not sure why she would make the bouquet different than the other flowers I ordered. The most frustrating thing was that the ranunculus along the edges of the bouquet kept breaking and falling down, looking ridiculous (you can see in the picture how the flower is hanging down on the bottom right), which I noticed in pictures happened before we took the bouquet out of the packaging it was in. I broke off a couple of them so they weren't hanging down, but it didn't really solve the problem. A few of the boutonnieres were all dead looking not long after they put them on.
I also ordered the loose ranunculus from her for the centerpieces and I had ordered 6 pink and 8 white and received 14 white and no pink. When I asked her about this she said she had made sure there were 6 pink, but obviously not because there weren't any. She was really cheap though and pretty nice so I didn't feel too bad about it.
Cake: Cakes by Design
(photo by Ashley Custer)
The cake was just as I had wanted it. I had designed it and gave her a little drawing and she made it exactly the way I asked. The flowers she used (pale pink and white ranunculus) were beautiful -- better than the florist. The cake itself was tasty too and we got lots of compliments on it.
Music: DYI, friends
(pictures by Ashley Custer)
I came up with the music and downloaded it onto my I-Pod into playlists and had my cousin push play and control the volume. It worked fairly flawlessly except when the DJ got distracted talking to people. I got compliments on the music selection and everyone loved the dancing. This takes awhile, but you have a lot of control over it.
We had a friend emcee and he did a great job!
For the ring ceremony music we asked Albert's coworker to play the piano. He's a great pianist so it went beautifully. There is a girl in our old congregation who is really excellent at playing the violin so we had them play a duet of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It's one of my favorites and they played a version I had never heard before. The only thing I forgot was to pick someone to lead the music. Totally slipped my mind. Luckily my good friend Jackie jumped up to help.
Attire: friend, JCPenny's
I actually borrowed my wedding dress from a friend of mine (Maren is also a blogger). I saw her wedding pics on her facebook page and asked her where she got it. She then said I could borrow it if I wanted and even let me alter it a little. It pretty much fit me perfectly except that it had never been hemmed. We're the same height but because her husband is pretty tall she could get away with wearing really high heels. However this would not work for me since Albert and I are the same height. It worked out great! It looked beautiful and I don't have to worry about bringing it with us every time we move. I got my shoes from Payless.
Albert already had his tux. He bought it for pretty cheap at JCPenny's. He says it's actually cheaper to buy a tux than to rent one and he's worn it several times since I've known him. He then bought an new vest and tie to match also from JCPenny's which looked great.
Dress sash: Ribbon Trade
I saw on theknot.com that someone had made sashes out of nice wide ribbon that was the same color of turquoise that I wanted. The dress I borrowed originally came with an olive green sash so I wanted to get one that would match my silver and turquoise color scheme. I requested a sample since the turquoise color they had on-line wasn't the same color I saw in the picture and the sample was the same color that I wanted. It was really nice ribbon and came in a timely manner. It was expensive because I had to order a big roll of it, but it would work well if you could use the ribbon for other things, like bridesmaids' dresses or something, but since I was the only one to use it, it was a little less worth it. I still have a huge roll of it. I guess this will be nice to have since I won't have the dress to look at. I got lots of compliments on the sash saying how it made the dress pop out even more. I think it helped tie everything together with the colors too.
Alterations: Fashion Dream
The woman who works there was very professional and really knew what she was talking about. I had no idea what I needed. I put on the dress and she went to work and even explained why I needed to do somethings, plus I think she had fairly reasonable prices. Besides hemming the dress, she brought up the shoulders and put in a pretty complicated bustle. I wanted a bustle so it wouldn't drag on the ground the whole time and I could wear it at the actual temple ceremony (you have to have your dress bustled). It worked out really well wearing it for the ceremony and made it a little more special than wearing a regular white dress. I had to wear a little jacket with it, but it was still fun.
Hair: Rachel Frederickson
I was glad that I had someone to help me with my hair on my wedding day. I thought about just having my mom help me, but when the actual day came she was so stressed out trying to get herself ready that there would have been no way she could have done my hair too. Rachel put little pearl things in it too and it was fun getting it done by someone who knows what they are doing. It wasn't that much money either. I also had her highlight my hair and trim it a few weeks before.
I had talked to Rachel about doing my make-up too, but I ended up doing it myself. I bought new concealer and tinted moisturiser from Sephora for my engagement pics and picked up some new long wear lipstick and water proof mascara from CVS just-in-case. It looked natural and worked out ok. I suppose that it depends on your skill level whether or not you want to do this for your wedding. It would be nice to have someone else do it, but at least if you do it then you'll know you'll look normal.
Invitations: DYI, Target
We looked at getting our invitations done professionally, but realized it was sooo much cheaper to do it ourselves. We bought cute invitations at Target for $.50 per invitation, including an envelope and RSVP card and envelope. The cheap professional ones start out at $1 not including envelopes and RSVP cards. We looked at Wal-Mart and a few other stores and all they had were plain looking invitations, although they were cheaper. I'd recommend going to Target because they have cooler looking invites even if they are a little more expensive.
Albert has access to a nice printer at work and lots of time on his hands so he graciously took one for the team and printed each one out including putting on all the addresses on all the envelopes. They looked really nice and lots of people were surprised that we did it ourselves. It helped that both of us our experts in the admin field and are good at formatting. I looked through hundreds of invitations and different wording and we took a little bit from a few different ones.
Since the wording we wanted to use was really long we opted to have the reception part of the invitation (the actual invitation part) right aligned to break it up a little. It was fun getting to choose how we wanted to word everything and making it look nice. The tough part was putting on all the ribbons and stuffing them all which we also did ourselves (Albert did most of it I admit)
Engagement Photography: co-worker
(photo by J. Mann)
Albert's coworker who likes to take pictures said he would take our engagement pics for free. We went to the Jefferson Memorial, Botanical Gardens, by Roosevelt Island, and a spot along the Potomac. This was fun and we were able to get a lot of shots. We went out twice in order to get more options and get some pics with the cherry blossoms. It was also stressful since he didn't have any experience in posing people. We didn't know what to do and Albert had a hard time relaxing and smiling. Luckily Albert is good at editing pics so we were able to enhance the pictures we liked. We only really needed one good shot to put in our invitations and we had a few to choose from. We then printed them off at Wal-Mart which took a few tries to get it to the color we wanted.
Temple Photography: Katharine LeCheminant
(photo by Katharine LeCheminant)
Albert's coworker was actually supposed to take all of our wedding pictures as well, but ended up taking a vacation instead, we found out 2 wks before our wedding that we had no photographer. I was freaking out, emailing everyone I know that may have experience taking pictures. I emailed a friend of mine (you can see her blog from mine -- Nancy) who is a talented photographer and takes wedding photos all the time. I figured she would be booked, but she might know another photographer, which she did. She put me in touch with Katharine who grew up in the area and was in town as she was transitioning to move her family to Utah.
Luckily for us she gave us a great deal (since we hadn't budgeted for much for the pictures) and took our family pictures and pictures of just us at the temple. She brought her little sister who is an upcoming photographer so she could practice taking pictures as well. They both did an amazing job. I was really pleased with how they turned out. Unlike our engagement pictures which we only got a few good ones, we liked all of the pictures Katharine and Emily took and the editing they did was fantastic. I wish they could have taken all the pictures that day.
Reception Photography: friends, family
(photo by Ashley Custer)
We were blessed to have a girl from our congregation volunteer, Ashley Custer, to take our pictures for our ring ceremony and reception. She's not a professional, but she did a good job. Combined with the pictures we're still receiving from all of our family and friends who where there we're getting all sorts of great shots. Since Albert taught me a little about editing pictures I've been spending most of my time in front of the computer trying to get them all done...get all the red out of peoples' eyes, etc. It's starting to come together quite nicely. It would have been nice to have a professional to take the pictures, but under the circumstances it worked out quite nicely.
Rehearsal Lunch: Hana Tokyo
(photos from Romy Cortez)
We went to our favorite restaurant for our rehearsal lunch. It's a Japanese Steakhouse in Alexandria and it was a lot of fun. We didn't know how everyone would get along and figured that if no one had anything to say to each other we would at least have great entertainment with the cooks. It worked out really well and even my brother who is allergic to gluten was able to eat, we just had to request no sauce on anything. Albert's mom talked them into giving us a gift certificate so we'll have another meal coming :D
Wedding Rings: Jared's Gallaria of Jewelery
(photo by Tiffany)
We got all our rings from Jared's because they have a great guarentee on their rings and they are nationwide. We aren't sure where we're going to end-up in the long run and need to be able to get our ring inspected every 6 mo. They did really mess up our order. They cancelled our order without telling us and without our permission, but that ended up being ok because they had ordered the wrong metal to begin with! After talking to the manager we finally got our order straightened out and they gave us a gift certificate we used on the groom's ring for the extra cost we had to pay when we re-ordered the ring because the cost of metal had gone up significantly by the time we found out the original order was cancelled. It ended up working out, but it was really stressful. They did let us "borrow" a similar ring in the mean time until our ring came back so I wasn't without an engagement ring. It might have been just a fluke with our salesman since I guess he had a heart attack around the time our order was cancelled and there was some miscommunication somewhere in their store. Still when you're spending that kind of money you expect great service.
Honeymoon: Las Vegas
(in the Mirage, photo by Albert)
We were able to stay at the Grand Desert Wyndham, a timeshare, thanks to one of Albert's coworkers. It was a lot cheaper than staying on the strip and it was bigger than our apartment. We had a kitchen and washer and dryer which was great. We didn't have daily maid service, but we did have a big whirl pool tub. There was a free shuttle that took us back and forth to the strip and we paid $1.50 each to take a shuttle to the grocery store at the beginning of the week which saved us on breakfast and snack food, although groceries there were super expensive.
(our kitchen dining room area at our timeshare...it was huge!, photo by Albert)
For fun we went to three Cirque du Soleil shows which were all incredible. We saw Mystere, Ka, and O. They were all different enough that we were definitely not bored by seeing so many in a weeks time. I highly recommend any of these.
(Albert with an usher from Ka, photo by Tiffany)
We walked around the casinos of course and went on a gondola ride (it's cheaper outside and if you say you're willing to go with other people -- if there's no one there then you pay less and get to go by yourself, we went at night when it wasn't so hot) and up the Eiffel tower.
(on our gondola ride at the Venitian, photo by Albert)
We went to three fancy restaurants while we were there. We went to the Treasure Island Steakhouse, La Fiamma, and Olives. All were good and had great service. I liked La Fiamma with it's homemade pasta and Albert really liked the Steakhouse. For the first two we went early around 5:30 PM before the show and were able to get great corner booths which was romantic. For Olives we decided to go after the show and it was really crowded, which made our experience not as great, even though the food was good...I like it better when I can hear my date.
The most exciting thing we did was go on a tour of the western part of the Grand Canyon. A shuttle came and picked us up and took us to the airport where we took a plane to the canyon, going over the Hoover Dam. We then got onto a helicopter which took us down to the canyon where we hopped on a boat that took us down the canyon. After that we went on a bus to 3 different stops where we could look out at the canyon for the first two and watch Native American dancing and the last stop was a ranch that was kinda fun.