Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples: Whitney Thaxton

Whitney Thaxton a good Twitter friend of mine who I harrassed talked into starting her own blog (the upcoming The Wood Table). Whitney is a newlywed living in Portland (Put A Bird On It), Oregon. During her wedding planning process, she and her husband wanted to honor the people and events that had made them the people they are and had supported them through the years.

Whitney Thaxton a good Twitter friend of mine who I harrassed talked into starting her own blog (the upcoming The Wood Table). Whitney is a newlywed living in Portland (Put A Bird On It), Oregon. During her wedding planning process, she and her husband wanted to honor the people and events that had made them the people they are and had supported them through the years.

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Whitney remembers her wedding as "…super fabulous! Since Stephen and I made sure to keep the focus on this day being the first of our marriage, I think it was a lot easier for us to keep our priorities straight. It was full of light, love, and plenty of happy tears and was heavily influenced by our community of friends and family… To have so many people there who had nothing but unconditional love for us made it even more special. And now I’m getting all weepy again just thinking about it!" Read on for an exclusive interview with Whitney Thaxton of The Wood Table and her "Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples"…

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

Calm DressFluff
Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Honestly, I had been planning it since our first date. Yes I was *that girl* who had been planning her wedding day back when I used a pillowcase for a veil and Winnie the Pooh as my groom. I’ve always been entranced by weddings and the importance of the day. So I had been collecting ideas and inspiration all along and once we got engaged just took the steps to start actualizing them into a cohesive vision. I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. The great part is that Stephen was just as heavily involved as I was and our wedding was really an expression of us – not just the bride’s desires.

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

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

As a couple who had been living together for almost a year before our engagement so when we decided to get married we wanted to do it on our own terms. So we sat down, took a look at our monthly budget, our savings, and our projected income for the next year and came up with a figure we felt we could work with. We then tweaked it as we allocated funds for different areas of the wedding. While we did pay for the majority of our wedding ourselves, Stephen’s parents were (freaking awesome!) kind enough to pay for our photography as a wedding gift and my father did contribute some money, as well as invaluable day-of set-up services for his Type-A daughter.

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

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

A monster Excel spreadsheet that we inherited from Stephen’s older brother. He had created it for his wedding several years ago. Plus a lot of sticky notes. I am the Sticky Note Queen. I also had a folder that I kept all of our important contracts in, as well as an email address dedicated to wedding correspondence so I could keep track of every interaction I had with a vendor - just in case anything fell through the cracks.

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

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

  1. The Ceremony: It’s what the day is all about, after all.
  2. The Photography: Hubby is a photographer, so this was incredibly important.
  3. The Food: How many complaints do you hear about yucky wedding food? We did not want that to be a drawback of our wedding.
  4. The Budget: Since we were paying for it ourselves on a shoestring, we wanted to adhere as closely as possible to the numbers we had set for ourselves.
  5. Honoring our Community: Marriage does not exist in a vacuum and we wanted our guests to feel just as important on our day as we did.

How did you incorporate those 5 things into your wedding?

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

  1. The Ceremony: We were sure to select an officiant who had values similar to ours and was willing to work with us to create a ceremony that was uniquely us. We had readings from Plato (Origin of Love, which one of the Best Men recited from memory during the ceremony) as well as Shel Silverstein (Hug ‘O War). We also incorporated quotes about love from Bob Marley and wrote our own vows. Stephen’s vows were especially wonderful – I have a soft spot in my heart for Winnie the Pooh, whom he quoted. We were sure to include the guests by having them pronounce us married and we also had a salt ceremony (more on that here).
  2. The Photography: Stephen was in charge of finding a photographer and asked people he had worked with for recommendations, which is how we found Lauren Brooks. She is the former studio manager of where Stephen works and I was just blown away by her work. It was the biggest chunk of our budget and was worth every penny. Her second shooter is her husband Lincoln Barbour, who is an incredibly talented photographer in his own right, and we are so happy with our photos. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a professional wedding photographer to capture your memories. Do it, do it, do it!
  3. The Food: Since Portland is such a great area for food, we had plenty of options to choose from. Since we were going for a more laid-back vibe with our wedding, we selected our favorite local barbecue restaurant to cater our wedding. Not only was Russell Street BBQ the most affordable option, but Leslie their catering manager let me pester her constantly with questions and changes. It’s locally-sourced, well-made food and they were able to accommodate our vegetarian and gluten-free guests as well. Two thumbs up! We had tons of leftovers and we are still getting compliments about the food.
  4. The Budget: When it came to budget, we checked and rechecked it constantly. We had weekly meetings about it - every time we made a wedding-related purchase we kept the receipts in a folder and were sure to enter it into our spreadsheet. Being anal-retentive about your budget pays off – we able to take a longer honeymoon than we originally planned on due to our careful planning.
  5. Honoring our Community: We incorporated them into the ceremony by having them pronounce us married as well as having them declare their support for our marriage. We also made special mention of how communities support and help cultivate marriages, and we in turn made it part of our ceremony to declare our support to them as well.

Did you register for gifts and was it a good experience?

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Dudes, registering was EXHAUSTING! We registered at Crate & Barrel as well as Bed, Bath & Beyond. Stephen and I were silly enough to think we could do it all in one day and hoo-boy, were we wrong! We got through C&B pretty quickly, but BB&B is so full of options that we just had to split it up. All in all, I really liked having a registry for those people who expected to have one to purchase off of. There were some people who I knew weren’t huge fans of registries, and got us gifts they felt we would enjoy and that made us perfectly happy as well! Honestly, having them at our wedding was gift enough.

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

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Communicate, communicate, communicate! This is an equally exciting and stressful time, so don’t lose sight of what’s important – your partner and building a life together. Fighting over whether or not to have a candy buffet at your wedding is silly. You won’t remember the argument after the wedding day is over and is it really that important? The wedding is just one day. Your marriage is for life.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Photography and my dress. Oh goodness, my dress. I had originally purchased a dress I was kind of in love with, at the first store I went to. Big mistake. I ended up going to another salon just to poke around and found a dress I loved even more - which cost twice as much as the dress we had already purchased and was hanging in my MIL’s closet. After many tears (BTW, wedding planning can bring up emotions you didn’t even know you had) we were able to rework the budget to purchase the second dress and I was able to sell my first one to a lovely woman who actually got married recently and was beautiful in her dream dress.

We saved on our venue. Since we got married in a public park, our venue cost was around $350 for 9 hours. We were also able to score free shoes for our groomsmen through a friend who worked for Keen and that was an awesome surprise and gift for our men.

What specific cost surprised you (pleasantly or unpleasantly)?

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Definitely the food. We had budgeted about $2,000 altogether for food and drink and were able to come in just under $1,000 with careful planning and selective purchasing. Since we did so much research prior to the wedding, nothing was really an unpleasant surprise – we were willing to pay more money for the things we wanted because we understood we were getting a service for things we were essentially custom ordering, and as freelancers, we understand how many of our vendors do their pricing.

Could you share a favorite DIY project from your wedding?

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Our guest bench and my purple crinoline. I could not have been more excited about my purple crinoline (dyed in my MIL’s washing machine according to the directions on the box) especially when paired with my fabulous green shoes.

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

The hubby actually gets all the credit for the bench. While I may be a crafty little vixen, I am most definitely NOT handy. So after several trips to Home Depot and a couple of hours on the porch, he created an awesome unfinished bench that we set out as our guest book for our lovely guests to leave a message on. It now lives in our bedroom at the food of our bed, and every time I see the messages of love and well wishes I get so happy! And a little weepy. . . but it’s well established by now that I’m a crier. : ) Luckily our photographer assured me she likes Ugly Cry Faces because I had PLENTY to go around.

Did you use any tutorials or downloads from other websites/blogs while planning your wedding?

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Not really. We did get the idea for the guest bench from Mrs. Sand Dollar at WeddingBee but other than that we pretty much flew by the seat of our pants! Oh, and we did use the ubiquitous pom tutorial from the one and only Ms. Martha Stewart.

Did you have to handle any tricky or delicate issues while planning your wedding and how did you cope with them?

Bridesmaid bouquets 
Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Not going to lie, there was some family drama on my side. My mother passed away many years ago and my biological father was not invited to the wedding – my stepfather, whom I consider my father, walked me down the aisle. I did receive some grief for not inviting my biological father but it was not from people who attended (or were even invited to) the wedding.

Also, some people questioned my choice not to have a moment of silence in remembrance of my mother but doing that was not something I think she would have wanted. I chose to incorporate her memory in other ways – one of our colors was lavender, which was her favorite flower, and the color of the tie my father wore. My sister also carried a bouquet of lavender and some of the flowers in my bouquet were from the garden she had planted under the window of my room in my childhood home. While we may not have made a point of mentioning she was not there, it would have been silly if we did – I firmly felt her presence and love that day. She was there in her own way.

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

Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Try to slow down – everyone says it goes by really quick and they are absolutely correct. I am also a big advocate of doing a first look. Getting pictures out of the way early as well as getting to spend those first few special moments with Stephen before walking down the aisle was amazing. It relieved a lot of the nervous energy I had, and it was nice to share a few kisses and “Ohmygodwe’refrigginggettingmarried!” moments before everything really got swinging.

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

First Look 
Image Courtesy of: Lauren Brooks

Wow, just one? I must admit, I’m a total slut for all of our wedding pictures. There isn’t a single once I don’t adore. However, since I can only pick one (siiiiiigh), it would have to be this one, of us right before our first look. For me, this was the big moment before the day really began, and it was the first time Stephen would see me in the dress that he had heard so much about (it had caused a fair amount of drama). In that picture, I can recall my thoughts exactly, and it is the frame where all my anxiety melted away. It was just the two of us, and it was the start of our Next Big Adventure.


Thank you, Whitney! I loved how you discussed the importance of communication in planning a wedding (and that photo of you with your head on Stephen's shoulder and holding your Maid of Honor's hand – freaking slayed me)! Be sure to follow Whitney on Twitter and visit her upcoming blog! Would you like to ask Whitney any questions about her wedding experience? Leave a comment and we'll try to get back with you!

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