Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples: Leila of {in the tweeds}

First and foremost, how great was your wedding day?

As far as the day went, like everyone says, it was a total blur and went way too fast – I wish I could have been invited to my own wedding to watch and take it in that way!

How long after your got engaged did you begin planning the wedding?

We got started right away – I think I hit up Barnes & Noble the day after we got engaged to pick up every wedding magazine in print! We were engaged in August and wanted a late spring wedding, so we really had to jump right in. The first thing we settled was the venue, and everything else fell into place after that.

How did you determine the wedding’s budget and who contributed what?

To be honest, we didn’t really set a budget up front. Being new to the whole wedding planning world, we had no idea how much things would cost, so took each component as [it] came and decided what was reasonable to spend (I think vendors charge extra just because “wedding” is associated with a service!).

As far as who paid what, it was pretty traditional: my in-laws paid for the rehearsal dinner, my parents paid for the wedding, and my husband and I paid for the honeymoon.

How did you keep track of your wedding planning (book, planner, Excel, other)?

I’m kind of an Excel nerd (okay, really an Excel nerd), so I had a pretty intense spreadsheet, where I tracked everything from to-do’s to costs to our guest and RSVP list. It really helped keep everything in one place. I also had a binder with pictures torn out of magazines to help me narrow down the look and feel we wanted.

When you discussed the wedding, what 5 things where most important to the two of you?

  1. That we first and foremost focus on the marriage and not the wedding – that this was a celebration of us coming together as one for life and not just a day.
  2. Spending time with our friends and family, all in one place for probably the only time in our life.
  3. That the ceremony was a true reflection of us and our faith.
  4. That the wedding had a cohesive feel from the save-the-dates to us driving away.
  5. That it was FUN!

How did you incorporate those 5 things into your wedding?

1,2 & 3- My husband had to reel me in a few times [and remind] me not to get wrapped around the axle over the little things – that it would be perfect in every way even if the little details stressing me out didn’t get done. Although I didn’t want to hear it most of the time, admittedly it really helped me re-focus on the things most important to us for the big day.

4- I had a good friend who is a graphics designer do all of our printed pieces. We took a swatch of lace from my bodice and used its image to pull together each of the pieces, along with my colors (ivory, navy, and hydrangea blue).

One of my splurges was to have the envelopes calligraphied (Laura Hooper Calligraphy was amazing!) and do a little “logo” of our names that we used on the printed materials as well. As far as style, the wedding was in Charlottesville, VA so we wanted it to have a Charlottesvillian feel – classy and a little Southern. Our printed materials, venue (an old plantation inn under a portico), flowers (hydrangeas and peonies), and music (big brass band) all reflected that.

5 – I think the best thing we did to keep the wedding fun was to hold it on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. That might sound weird, but it turned out SO well – instead of the wedding party getting there just in time for the rehearsal dinner, we could spread it out over 3 days. Charlottesville was a bit of a destination for a lot of our guests, and there is a lot to see and do in Charlottesville (wineries, historical sites, etc.), so we wanted everyone to be able to take advantage of the long weekend there.

To encourage guests to arrive early, we held a “Screen on the Green” on the grounds of the venue the Saturday night before the wedding. We got the idea to do this from the many nights we spent on the National Mall in DC at their summer Screen on the Green showings. We had a projector and screen and showed “To Have and Have Not”, an old Bogart movie. It was a casual time for everyone to hang out, catch up, watch an old classic, and enjoy the beautiful springtime in Virginia. It was SO fun to have a low-stress evening to spend with family and friends.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?

We probably splurged in too many places, looking back on it! The venue (SO worth it though – it was perfect), the flowers, the band, and the bodice of my wedding dress (Monique L’huillier). I wish we hadn’t done flowers as centerpieces – we could have saved a lot there by doing something creative and low-cost.

We saved hundreds and hundreds by having my skirt made by a seamstress instead of buying the one that matched my bodice and ordered a wide double-faced satin ribbon from M&J Trim ($15) instead of the identical Monique L’huillier version ($150). We had a friend do our photography and she gave us a discount. And I had a friend design our invitations, which I then had printed by someone locally on ivory Paper Source paper and envelopes, and assembled myself (including cutting my own envelope liners). Doing this saved us bunches.

Could you share a favorite DIY project (feel free to include a link) from your wedding?

Surprisingly, I didn’t do much in the way of DIY, considering I’m a pretty DIY-y person. But those few months leading up to the wedding were a particularly busy time at work, so I tried not to over-extend myself with too many projects (thankfully!).

I really loved how the pieces of the invitations turned out, especially the “supplementary” one providing directions to the venue and an invite to the Screen on the Green. It was an accordion shape, and my friend who designed the invitations and I collaborated on it.

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Though not really DIY – I liked that we chose to do linen suits over tuxes. The guys were able to purchase their own linen suits from J.Crew for ~$175, about the cost of a tux, but keep it forever! My husband and I picked out different blue ties in different shades and patterns from J.Crew for each guy, matching the tie to their personality [and] he wore an ivory tie with navy stripes.

Could you share some wedding day advice for newly engaged couples?

Make sure you have a go-to “do whatever” person for the day of the wedding. My mom was that for me and I wish she didn’t have that stress!

Could you share your favorite photo from the day and tell us why you love it?

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This was a candid taken right after the ceremony – it was such a sweet moment together right after the big “I DO!”. This is probably my favorite picture from the whole wedding.

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I love the coloring in this picture…and it really just sums up the style of the wedding, showing his linen suit, my flowers, the lace bodice of the top and sable sash, and the casual setting.

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This is a picture of the tent during the reception with the portico where the ceremony took place in the foreground. We had so much fun!

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Thank you, Leila for sharing your impressions on the real feelings and reason behind a wedding day…and a Screen on the Green group activity?!?! What a great idea.

Would you like to ask Leila any questions about her wedding experience? Leave a comment and we'll try to get back with you! For more from Leila, visit {in the tweeds}.