I'm super excited to share today's Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples! It's from one of Kiss My Tulle's long time readers, Robyn Peirce. She managed to not only have a budget-friendly wedding but also stick to her goal to maintain a small carbon footprint and involve as many friends and family as possible! Robyn remembers her wedding day as, "So super rad. Perfect. Worth all the stress of planning."
Read on for an exclusive interview with Robyn Peirce and her "Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples"...
How long after your got engaged did you begin planning the wedding?
We got engaged in March 2011 and hit the ground running hoping for a Summer 2012 wedding (we ended up getting married 9/1/12 due to venue availability). We lost steam for a bit, or rather, we bought a house in the middle of everything so that sidetracked us, but then we went into overdrive for the couple of months preceding.
How did you determine the wedding’s budget and who contributed what?
This was difficult for us. We’re in our 30s and do alright for ourselves so it seemed weird to expect our parents to pay. We wavered on this for awhile but ultimately, many friends provided services for free or very discounted rates (hairstylist, florist, photographers, musicians, officiant, dress maker, bridesmaid gift provider, and wedding planner were all friends), our parents were happy to contribute and we took care of the rest. FreeCycle and yard sales are also your best friend right now.
How did you keep track of your wedding planning (book, planner, Excel, other)?
We made lists. So many lists. And spreadsheets (I LOVE me some spreadsheets). I had a binder because every bit of wedding literature insists that you have one, but I didn’t really use it beyond deciding to have one. We used Google Docs to share with our friends who helped and I used theknot.com for the guest list and seating chart.
When you discussed the wedding, what 5 things where most important to the two of you?
Finding a way to bring friends and family from all over the world together, accommodating everyone’s different needs, and having time to spend time with them all.
Having as many bands and musicians that we love get involved
Leaving as little of a footprint as possible - reUse! Upcycle! Don’t buy new!
Making the ceremony the shortest part of the whole weekend
Not having a traditional/out of the box wedding and/or having the best wedding anyone had ever been too
How did you incorporate those 5 things into your wedding?
We rented an overnight camp that provided cabins, a lake, a tent-friendly area and also accommodations off-site but close by for the ones that needed something less rustic. We opened the invitation to Friday and Saturday night so that we’d have time to see everyone. I spent way too much time on cabin assignments and table seating, obsessing over good combinations of people. (p.s. to anyone invited to a wedding: only RSVP if you plan to show. A decline is A LOT more desirable than paying for you to not be there. Also, if you can help it, DO NOT CHANGE YOUR RSVP. This causes a lot of seating arrangement distress and provokes the inner Bridezilla.)
The music thing was tougher than we thought. Some of the bands and musicians we wanted were either no longer playing or not living in the area. There was also so much other planning that we didn’t have time to coordinate as much music as we originally planned. We considered bigger names but didn’t have a big enough budget to realistically have them play. We ultimately enlisted the help of a friend who also does booking in town and decided on a pretty rad list of musicians. A close friend sang for the ceremony (this song for the way in and this one for the way out). For our cocktail hour a couple that we know and love sang old timey and sweet inspired songs. For the after party we had three of our favorite local bands The Concrete Rivals, Sick Feelings, and Rough Francis. They played on the outside deck of the theatre barn which we decorated with twinkle/string/christmas lights and it was an incredibly awesome show. I’m still nursing an injury from instigating a mosh pit with my brother while the last band played (seriously - I’m seeing an orthopedic specialist next week). Spending my first day as a married woman in the ER and half of my honeymoon in a sling makes for a good story.
This one was hard for me. I got met with eye rolls more times than I can count. I really really didn’t want to create a lot of waste. We did online RSVPing which was a little controversial. We had a simple but beautiful invitation that was just a flat card that our friend designed and May Day Studio letter pressed. Our party favors were completely plantable seed cards. My dress was made from my mother’s dress that she designed and made 40+ years ago. We added very little new materials to it. Our only dress code requirement for the wedding party was to wear something black. I gave a few thoughts on what I would like the bridesmaid dresses to look like (knee length, no sleeves) but encouraged them to wear something already in their closets or buy something awesome that they’d definitely wear again. I insisted on mason jars with paint markers for drinking glasses for the weekend which made everyone crazy. I didn’t want any decor that would be unusable afterwards. We mainly just used twinkle/string/christmas lights that we bought in the few days after Christmas when they go on sale for like 70% off. We worked with a friend and local florist to use arrangements she could easily grow in season and used recycled bottles and mason jars as vases. Since we were there for an entire weekend, there were a lot of meals. Black Krim catered Friday and Saturday dinners but breakfast and lunch were for the most part potluck.
We decided to write our own vows and agreed to keep them to 1-3 sentences each. A close friend was our officiant and he worked with us to plan what he would say and to coordinate walking in and walking out in a way that would speak to who we are and would be as quick and painless as possible.
We aren’t normal, our friends and family aren’t normal, none of us were interested in or expecting normal. A few things to illustrate:
For the ceremony, we had a friend (who also doubled as emcee during the reception) corral our guests via bullhorn to stand on top of a hill facing an arbor that a group of friends constructed and decorated for us. The Groom and his people came up from behind the arbor as our musician friend started playing the song we agreed on. Me and my girls were given a signal via walkie talkie and came up the hill behind the guests from my cabin, in an entourage. They were in a horizontal line in front of me and my parents and kind of busted through the crowd as my body guards and the people parted as we came through. The ceremony was maybe 3 minutes, then our musician friend sang us out.
It was important for us to have a moment alone immediately following so we walked off and took a few minutes while the wedding party gathered for photos and others were directed to go hang out at the Cocktail Hour and listen to Ben and Emily sing, have snacks, use the photobooth, talk about how awesome we are, etc.
At the reception we had Old Granddad on every other table in addition to champagne for toasting. It got rowdy. We expected nothing less.
We didn’t do any traditions like garter or bouquet throwing (I despise that whole ritual) and there were no designated dances. I insisted on cupcakes (my mother made them, she’s incredible - 5 AMAZING flavors: lavender/white chocolate, mango jalapeno, vegan Mexican chocolate, champagne, and bourbon dark chocolate with sea salted caramel) and we had a cupcake/candy buffet in lieu of a traditional cake tower. I love how pretty candy is and I was able to find a lot of really beautiful crystal bowls at yard sales and antique stores.
We knew folks would be hungry late night so we hired our friend’s mom who has a pizza place to come use an outdoor wood fire oven to make late night pizzas for a few hours.
It wasn’t possible for this to be a traditional or out-of-the-box wedding.
Did you register for gifts and was it a good experience?
At first we didn’t want to do this because we don’t need stuff, we’ve been living together for nearly 9 years. We found a really cool site that would allow folks to give us cash toward our honeymoon and only charged the Paypal fee (http://www.weddinggreen.com/). We also reluctantly registered through amazon.com for the people who insisted on getting us THINGS. Both sites are way easy to use and I highly recommend them.
Could you share some wedding planning advice for newly engaged couples?
It seems like you have plenty of time, but you don’t. Start early so you can allow for changes in plan if you need to and you don’t have to rush through or not do something that is important to you. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you HAVE TO do anything. You don’t. (You really really don’t). Do what will make you the happiest even if it means pissing people off temporarily. When your vision comes to fruition, you’ll be psyched and they’ll most likely get over it and/or be impressed. Also, on the flip side, your friends and family want to help more than you can imagine. They don’t mind being asked to be put to task - DO IT!!! Think of any connections you have and USE THEM. We got a lot on the cheap that way.
Could you share a favorite DIY project from your wedding?
Instead of a guest book, Brad’s brother and father turned a closet into a photo booth with a camera set up on a tripod with a trigger and a laptop. We provided some random wigs and props and put up a giant whiteboard in the background so people could write us a note and then take their picture in front of it. This was available 24/7 for the entire weekend and we ended up with over 700 photographs.
Every table at the reception was assigned a Bill Murray movie. We posted a big sheet of paper that listed every table by movie title and every guest name at each table. We hand wrote simple table labels that just said the title of the movie attached to a popsicle stick. So you’d look up your name on the chart and then go find the table with your title on it. To keep people occupied while waiting for food, Brad made a page for each one with a picture and a synopsis of the movie. (We also had a few sheets of Madlibs on every table.)
We totally stole this idea and made it our own:
This isn’t a DIY, but as an interesting Bridesmaid gift, a friend of mine owns Rebel Intuitive, a handcrafted perfumery, and I had her make signature perfume scents for me and my bridal party. She did one on one consultations at my bridal shower and she only charged me cost because she’s awesome. I’m still wearing my scent every day and constantly getting complimented on how good I smell. Brad ordered brass knuckles for everyone in his party and had them engraved with the date of our wedding and a special quote.
Also, here’s what we did with theknot.com website template [for our wedding website].
Did you use any tutorials or downloads from other websites/blogs while planning your wedding?
Okay, after accruing many a fabulous but yet to be tested idea on Pinterest, I tried this and I was mostly unsuccessful. There was a lot of fear and then sharp edges and flaming popping sounds and then more fear. Maybe we did it wrong. Our florist had a lot of old and upcycled bottles for us to use so we still got the same look in the end anyway.
Did you have to handle any tricky or delicate issues while planning your wedding and how did you cope with them?
I had a really hard time asserting my wants and not giving in to other people’s wants. I don’t like to be the bringer of hurt feelings but I had to really stand behind what I wanted and learn to say “No, I don’t want to do it that way” or “I don’t want that at all” which was really difficult for me. But I also had to check in with myself and figure out what was actually important to me and what I was being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn about.
My mother was excited by the “cut and feed” tradition. At first I was opposed to all things traditional and then I reluctantly decided to appease. So I initially wanted just cupcakes but we decided to do a small cake for the top of the main tower. And then I read in a blog somewhere that it was actually a really good segue from dinner to after party. So we did it. And that article was right and it wasn’t a bad compromise and everyone was happy.
Could you share some wedding day advice for newly engaged couples?
People talk a lot about the stress of logistics of planning, but I haven’t seen a whole lot about the myriad of emotions you are going to feel leading up to and the day of and even after your wedding. If the phrase “I’m marrying my best friend” makes you want to barf instead of get weepy, you aren’t alone, I’m right there with you. I never had any doubts or anything like that, but I just started feeling like I was supposed to have these prescribed emotions that I didn’t magically acquire upon becoming betrothed. I panicked when I couldn’t write my vows because I felt like I was supposed to be saying and feeling things that weren’t me. After the ceremony, Brad said it didn’t matter that the words that came out were clumsy and not exactly what I intended, he could see what I meant coming from me to him and that was what mattered.
Also, the whole over-the-moon-newlywed thing? Sure, I’m psyched, and really happy to have taken this next step, but we’ve been together for nearly a decade. What I’m getting at is, everyone is different and that is a great thing and it’s so totally okay to feel whatever you are feeling. You and your future husband/wife love each other and belong together for whatever reasons you know to be true (why else would you put yourself into the Hades that is wedding planning???). Hold onto that, nothing else matters.
Could you share your favorite photo from the day and tell us why you love it?
I love them all but I think the one of Brad and I and our officiant Jacob where we all look a little shell shocked but super psyched captured something really special.
Thank you, Robyn! I loved how you talked about how hosting a non-traditional wedding influenced your planning process and how the people around you reacted to them. Would you like to ask Robyn any questions about her wedding experience? Leave a comment and we'll try to get back with you!
Dress Designer/Maker: Katy Knuth
Cupcakes: My mom, Diana Peirce
Officiant: Jacob Finsen
Hair and Make-up: Jessica Comolli
Friday and Saturday Dinners: The Black Krim
Late Night Pizza: White Rock Pizza
Photography: Chip Allen Photography, Curtis B Johnson Photography, Other snaps by Dan Turano and Andrew Foster
Flowers: Prusak Floral Design
Bridesmaid Gifts: Rebel Intuitive