19 September 2013
Hello, friends! Thank you for your wonderful comments on my last post! I find it so interesting to hear the changes others have gone through post-marriage, so thank you for sharing.
One of the most frequently-asked questions I’ve gotten in the last few months is about the layout of the Sperry tent from our reception. Random, I know (which I why I never posted about it on the front end), but it seems as though there is a dearth of information on the interwebs about tent layouts, so I am happy to oblige!
In addition to the great beauty of their tents, I think one of the best things about the Sperry experience is their online layout tool. I found it by going to the page for my local office, then clicking on “Products” and “design your own event.” No download needed — hooray! You can choose the size of your tent and fill it with any furnishings you have on your rental order. This tool is super comprehensive, and was unbelievably helpful in figuring out, for example, exactly how many 8′ tables we could fit in a corner instead of leaving it at, eh, that looks like it might fit. The tent poles are marked and everything. Here’s the final layout we came up with:
Because I’m a little nutty, I made another version that showed which linens went there, to assist my set-up peeps. That looked like this:
The Sperry tent designer lets you save your layouts in your account for future fiddling, and also lets you export them for sharing and printing. Genius.
People also seem to be curious about what size tent we rented. It was a 32×70′. It ended up being perfect for our number of guests (about 115) — but only because we had a beautiful day, and people and tables could spill out the edges of the tent. If it had been raining or less pleasant and we had had to have the flaps down, I think it might have been uncomfortably tight. If our budget had been flexible, I would have gladly opted for the next size up.
On a final note, one other thing that Sperry did that I loved: after they walked our reception venue with my Mom, they sent over an aerial view of the space with our tent size and shape superimposed. I’m not sure how they do this (Google Maps??), but I thought it was helpful, and it also felt pretty darn luxurious — like they had really done the legwork on prepping for our event.
A few more photos from our reception:
Any more tent questions? Ask away!
4 March 2013
Happy Monday, friends! I’m here with the final post in our wedding series — at least for now :) I wanted to share our budget breakdown, in the hopes that it might be helpful for those of you currently planning.
A little background:
Date of wedding: September 15, 2012
Location: Southeastern Connecticut
Number of guests: 115
Contributors: My parents (43%), John’s parents (33%), John and me (13%), and my grandmother (11%)
I know that pie chart is tricky to see, so here’s the breakdown, from most to least:
33.7% ON CATERING | Includes food, staffing, bar, and tip.
17.4% ON RENTALS | Includes our 32×70′ Sperry tent with string and onion lighting, a catering tent, 15 high top tables, 11 8′ tables, 4 6′ tables, 9 36″ round tables, 2 bar back tables, 45 black chairs, a 16×16 black and white dance floor, four couches, 16 linens of various sizes from La Tavola, 16 basic linens from our local rental company, and a generator. The generator was a last-minute expense (like, the day before the wedding) that pushed this category way up.
9.8% ON PHOTOGRAPHY | Includes Tanja and Tia’s travel but does not include any sort of album.
6.3% ON CINEMATOGRAPHY | Includes a highlight and feature film; Inkspot did not charge us for travel as described here.
5.9% ON LOCATION | Our ceremony venue was free, so this includes use of the O’Neill’s Sea Porch and Sunken Garden.
5.8% ON FLOWERS | Includes 1 bridal bouquet, 4 bridesmaid bouquets, 2 small nosegays for our moms, 2 pin-on corsages for our grandmothers, 8 boutonnieres for the gents, 2 wreaths for the church doors, 21 small to medium centerpieces for the tent, 6 small centerpieces for cocktail hour high tops, and arrangements for the guest book, bar, and gift tablea.
5.4% ON BAND | Includes fee and tip.
4.5% ON GIRL ATTIRE | Includes my gown minus the amount we sold it for, alterations and cleaning post-wedding, my shoes, and half of my veil (I split it with my sister in law!).
2.7% ON HAIR & MAKEUP | Includes hair and makeup for the bride, as well as some subsidizing of hair for 5 others and makeup for 6 others.
2.3% ON STATIONERY | Includes 90 9×18″ custom-designed flat-printed invitations and envelopes, 90 response cards and envelopes, save the dates and envelopes, and postage for all of the above.
2% ON RECEPTION/COCKTAIL HOUR DECOR | Includes the four ottomans and four side tables we purchased from Ikea, all of the silver centerpiece vessels, our cubbies, candles, photo frames, etc.
1.6% ON THE CEREMONY | Includes bell and bow materials, our string trio, travel costs for our pastor, etc.
1.2% ON BOY ATTIRE | Includes John’s tux, tuxedo shirt, dress shoes, suspenders, cuff links, and tailoring.
1% ON DAY-OF COORDINATOR | This was a bit less than usual because Diana is a friend of ours.
.25% ON MISC. DIY PROJECTS | Includes various frames, signage materials, calligraphy ink, stickers for the poppers, etc.
.13% ON OTHER | I actually realized this entire category was made up of ribbon – ha!
Whew! I hope this was helpful! Note that this did not include our wedding bands, gifts, rehearsal dinner items, or our honeymoon or minimoon. I tried to include everything else but certainly could have missed a few things.
WHERE WE SAVED:
– I sold my gown post-wedding and recouped more than 50% of the cost. A designer gown would have been out of the question otherwise.
– I borrowed most of my accessories from friends and family or wore things I already owned. Marget and I also split our veil.
– Paying our bar on consumption versus a fixed price per person was a huge savings for us — over 50%.
– Our ceremony spot was so beautiful that we didn’t feel we needed any additional decor beyond the door wreaths.
– We splurged on custom designed invitations, but saved on flat printing versus engraved or letterpress.
– I made most of our signage with materials I already owned instead of paying someone else to do it. I also addressed our save the dates and invitations myself.
– We opted to drive my car instead of rent a vintage one for the day, and I restrained myself from purchasing custom cocktail napkins.
– We played a custom CD at cocktail hour instead of hiring musicians.
WHERE WE SPLURGED:
– A videographer. SO WORTH IT.
– Having a tapas style reception meant our staffing costs were much higher than they would have been over a buffet or sit-down style, but it was the bedrock of the “feel” we were going for.
– A Sperry tent versus a standard frame or pole tent.
– John’s dress shoes were about six times as expensive as mine (ha!) but because they’re dress shoes and not tuxedo shoes, he can wear them to work, church, etc. for years to come.
– We booked a luxe, large hotel room for Friday and Saturday night instead of staying at our nearby homes. The gals used it to get ready on Saturday morning and John and I stayed in it Saturday night.
Those are just a few examples for each category — I’m sure I could list many more.
One last thing I wanted to say: Weddings are my passion, and I’ve had a vision for my own for a long time. We have wonderfully generous parents that were happy to contribute to our special day, but early on I knew there were going to be costs going above and beyond the usual ones that I simply wouldn’t expect them to cover — namely top of the line photography and cinematography. We spent WAY more on capturing our day than most people would have, and it was important to me that John and I helped make up that cost. I started saving in college for our wedding, and I don’t regret it for a second. (Granted, not everyone knows who they’re going to marry at that point, but I did!) If you think you fall into the same category as me, start saving your pennies now! :)
I’d be happy to try and answer questions in the comments!
P.S. If you’d like to compare our percentages to the “average,” check out this link or this link.
27 February 2013
Y’all thought we were done talking about our wedding, but no — I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve! Since I’ve shared so many inspiration boards over the years, I think it’s only fitting that I show you my own. I know inspiration usually comes before fruition, but I think it’s kind of neat to see where everything started now that you’ve seen where it ended up.
My vision for our classic garden party seaside wedding…
I would describe our colors as a gray ocean blue, navy, blush pink, softest peach, black and white, and the green of our surroundings (yes, people looked at me like I had two heads when I gave that answer), and our style as classic elegance and tradition with a light heart. One of the hardest parts of making everything come together cohesively was managing the balance between the black and the navy, but in the end, I think it worked out beautifully. The words I tried to keep in mind throughout planning were easy and elegant. I wanted the end experience to feel effortless, but intentional.
Tablescape photo by Jonathan Canlas via Snippet & Ink (this is the wedding that inspired my linens!); my favorite cake of all time from my favorite wedding of all time, via Martha Stewart Weddings; Sperry tent flags photo by Cramer Photo via Snippet & Ink
Wine bottle photo by Jonathan Canlas from this wedding (inspired me to work with Magpie Paper Works!); anemone bouquet photo by Stephanie Williams; navy wedding invitation poster by I am Always Hungry via 100 Layer Cake; flowering boxwood bush photo by Katie Stoops from Southern Weddings
Dapper groomsmen photo by A Bryan Photo; bow tie escort cards from Martha Stewart Weddings (these inspired our “belles and beaus” in part); white arrangement photo by Lisa Lefkowitz via Snippet & Ink
Black and white dance floor photo by Abby Jiu via Southern Weddings; dock portrait by Tanja Lippert via Style Me Pretty; tablescape photo by Jonathan Canlas via Snippet & Ink
This inspiration board was a long time coming. I have long admired the ability of photographers like Bryan, Jon, Tanja, and Lisa to capture ease and love in an effortless, classic way, and I’ve long been a fan of the refined and understated editorial viewpoint of Martha Stewart Weddings and Snippet & Ink, and the fun, warmth, and focus on tradition of Southern Weddings. Before getting engaged, I thought it might be hard to sift through the abundance of inspiration available, but in the end, it was pretty easy for us to narrow in on what was right for us.
P.S. Wouldn’t it have been perfect if this inspiration board had been no. 100?? Alas, I came up one short.
26 February 2013
As we drove up the hill from the beach, we could see our guests transitioning from the cocktail hour area to the reception tent in the Sunken Garden of the O’Neill.
As guests approached the tent from the side, they could take a favor, peruse the menu, and/or leave some of their belongings inside the cubbies we had set up, and just inside the tent was a table with our guest book, marriage certificate, and family wedding photos. Let’s take a closer look at all that, shall we?
We opted to spend the majority of our “favor money” on a charitable donation to the shelter from which we adopted our beloved kitties. We did set out homemade popper favors filled with Snickers and Starbursts (two of our favorite candies!) as a small token along with a sign explaining our donation. Yes, those are actual watercolor paintings of our cats — we had them made through this Etsy shop a few years ago, and I scanned them for this special card!
Since our reception set-up was a little unusual — what I termed a “strolling small plates” reception — I wanted to give guests an idea of what to expect right off the bat. Our oversize menu did the trick. To make it, I purchased an old frame at the flea market for $5, popped the “art” out and wrapped it in a textured silk fabric to match our linens, painted the frame, popped the backing back in and secured it with my staple gun, then added the hand-lettered menu cards and bow. Not sure why it was positioned behind the tent strapping, but oh well :)
You’ve already heard a bit about our “Quaker” marriage certificate, but I’m happy to say it worked out great! A quick tip: Definitely plan for fewer lines than you have guests, as many of ours signed as a couple, leaving us with half an empty column on our finished poster.
I also loved our guest book. We printed up cards with six different prompts or questions — “What is your favorite memory of us?” “Emily and John are meant for each other because…” “What has been your favorite part of our wedding?” — and guests could fill out as many as they found interesting. I’m planning to compile them in some sort of book or display as soon as I hit upon a good format!
Our tent was filled with high tops, small round tables and chairs, and two lounge set-ups. Our florist used all of the silver containers we had collected to gather garden-y arrangements of my favorite flowers and fruits, including garden roses, anemones, spray roses, lisianthus, hellebores, jasmine vine, peaches, and crab apples.
Since our reception had open seating, we made sure to reserve three tables on the recommendation of our caterer — one for my Mom’s Mom and her friends, one for my Dad’s Mom and her friends, and one for John and me. It was nice to know we had a designated spot we could retreat to, though I think we sat down for about five minutes the entire night!
Alrighty, now for two details that didn’t quite measure up.
Keeping it real here, folks! It was only when the photos came back that I noticed these two little blips, so happily, they didn’t bother me on the day of. On the left, you see the cocktail tables just outside our tent. This was the inspiration, and as you can see, it fell a bit short. On the right, you see the mini boxwood wreaths on the back of our chairs. I loved them, I just wish that knot had been rotated to the back so it wasn’t visible and the two wreaths matched. Y’all probably think I’m NUTS for even noticing and/or mentioning these teensy details, but I think it goes with the territory of my job!
After our guests were settled in the tent, we made our triumphant entrance to “Ready to Go” by Panic at the Disco (the instrumental part at the beginning). A tip: Make sure you specify title AND artist when giving your song choices to your bandleader or DJ. I didn’t, and we almost had a heavy metal song also titled “Ready to Go” accompany us — yikes!!
Photo above by Nancy Ray!
We moved immediately into our first dance, which was to “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin (hence the title of this series). Our first dance cracked me up. John and I talked about taking some lessons in the months leading up to the wedding, but never got around to it. To make matters worse, we were still deciding between two different songs about two weeks out – the other was “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. In the end, we chose “Beyond the Sea” largely because it is a standard foxtrot rhythm and much easier to dance to than the Jason Mraz song, which is a very quick waltz. After deciding, we watched several YouTube instructional videos (oh yes we did), and practiced a few times in our living room. And that was it! The hilarious part is that we received compliments on our performance the whole night, with many guests assuming we had taken actual lessons! My theory about first dances is that it’s always better to look like you’re having fun (and actually have fun!) rather than be huffing and puffing and struggling to remember a series of moves.
As soon as we exited the dance floor, my Dad took our place to offer an opening toast. He told me he actually wrote it months ahead of time in a stroke of inspiration, and as usual, his brilliant way with words served him well.
Wait staff unveiled the first “course” after he finished — passed one-bite Shepard’s pie mini meals (complete with tiny slices of green bean on top!) and a “trio of tomatoes” station. Other highlights throughout the night included tiny lobster rolls, a trio of fancy mac and cheeses, and a mini “Thanksgiving” meal! We also finally had a chance to hug some beloved people!
Here’s a photo of the three mini meals at our tasting, since we didn’t get great shots of them on the night of:
We spaced our other toasts between the courses. John’s best man and one of our dearest friends, Dan, gave the first toast, which, if you recall, was threaded through our highlights film. Needless to say, he did a marvelous job. My two sisters gave a joint toast, and they also did a fabulous job weaving their specialty (bones and ligaments — one is a physical therapist, the other is a physical therapist in training!) into our story. Fun fact: Our bandleader emailed me the week after our wedding to say that our toasts were the best she had ever heard at a wedding! I can’t take any credit for that, but I was impressed!
Ever since my friend Katharine’s wedding, when she spoke so eloquently, I have wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of having all of our loved ones in one room to say a few words. I had my chance (so did John), and I hope I used it well! I concluded by inviting my Dad on to the dance floor for our father daughter dance.
We chose “Lullaby” by Billy Joel. Billy Joel songs were a huge part of my childhood, and “Lullaby” always tugs at my heartstrings. In fact, I teared up pretty much every time I heard it in the months leading up to the big day, but on that night, I don’t think either of us shed a tear! I guess I used them all up on my walk down the aisle…
John and his Mom joined us halfway through the song. I love these photos of them!
After more dancing and eating, we made a brief pause for our last scheduled events of the evening: our cake cutting and slideshow!
As much as I love a traditional white, tiered wedding cake, we went with something a little less grand — but majorly yummy — for our wedding dessert. It was a group effort! Our caterer made mini hot apple cobblers, chocolate cake “shots” with fresh raspberries, apple cider donuts, and mini fruit tarts (John’s favorite). We also served each of our mom’s specialties – chocolate peanut butter balls from mine, and chocolate chunk gingerbread cookies from his. We also served chocolate glazed munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts as a late-night snack!
Finally, my sister and I made our simple wedding cake — with Funfetti! — so we had something to cut into. I made a garland wreath topper with a little bow on top for a topper, but it never made it to the reception. Though it wasn’t what I was envisioning, the flowers the florist stuck on looked nice, too.
Not sure what’s happening in this photo, but I kind of enjoy it.
After that, all there was to do was dance!
At the end of the night, everyone that was left gathered in a circle on the dance floor for a good old singalong to “American Pie.” Good memories.
Photo by Nancy Ray!
And that, my friends, is the story of our wedding. Thank you again for indulging me, especially with today’s super long post. It has been such fun to share our memories with you along with so many of Tanja’s beautiful photos. Much love to you all!
Photographer: Tanja Lippert / Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films / Day-of-Coordinator: Diana Chouinard of Jubilee Events / Reception Venue: The Sunken Garden at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center / Tent: Sperry Tents / Dance Floor, Chair, Basic Linen, and Catering Rentals: Liberty Rentals / Lounge Furniture Rentals: Rentals Unlimited / Linens: La Tavola Linen / Flowers: Blush Floral Design / Hair and Makeup Artist: Tia Reagan / Catering: A Thyme to Cook / Band: Avenue A / Signage: Em for Marvelous / Boxwood wreaths: Save on Crafts / Ribbon: MJ Trimming / Bride’s Gown: “Brisa” by Christos / Bride’s Earrings: “Toulouse” by Nina / Bride’s Necklace: Blue Nile / Bride’s Veil: Chaviano Couture / Groom’s Attire: Tuxedo by Tommy Hilfiger from Macy’s / Groom’s Bow Tie: Bows N’ Ties / Groom’s Suspenders: J. Crew
21 February 2013
I planned the time between our ceremony and reception very carefully, because I knew we didn’t have much with which to work. First, we sped off as soon as possible from the church. Philip and Tanja rode in the car with us (John driving!), and MacKenzie and Tia followed in their own cars. Second, we took a slight shortcut to our venue while directing guests to the slightly longer route to buy us a little extra time.
The goal was for Tanja and Inkspot to have time to record the cocktail hour and reception details in daylight, before they were enjoyed by our guests. While they worked on that, John and I headed down the hill to our pre-selected tree. Our caterer, A Thyme to Cook, assigned us a special friend for the night, Dina, and if we’re being honest, I’m pretty sure that was one of John’s favorite parts of the wedding! He thought it was the coolest thing. Anyway, Dina brought us a picnic basket of goodies and two glasses of something to drink, and we enjoyed the next twenty minutes or so chatting about the day and sampling our cocktail hour snacks. Perfection!
It was so fun looking up the hill and watching our guests arrive for cocktail hour, too!
By the way, this was their view out to the ocean. Glorious! I could stare at that every day.
Our guests were greeted with raspberry lemonade and prosecco with blackberries as they arrived. We offered a limited bar on the porch, and then opened it up to a full bar once under the tent. We paid our bar tab on consumption, and I think this was something that helped us keep our costs down!
Aside from passed pigs in a blanket with violet mustard (trying to class the pigs up a little), the main gustatory attraction at cocktail hour was our Southern Favorites table.
Though born and raised in New England, John and I have spent the past three and a half years in the South, and we wanted to treat our guests to a little Southern comfort. We served biscuits (with our favorite North Carolina blackberry jam!), corn muffins with honey butter, mini pulled pork bites, and Tex Mex deviled eggs.
The final addition to our Southern table was mini glasses of Cheerwine. For those of you who are not familiar, Cheerwine is a distinctly North Carolina product that is similar to but not quite like cherry Coke. It does not, in fact, contain alcohol, something that confused many of our Northern guests!
Yes, the ink blot on the “L” still annoys me :)
As a side note, I loved our olive branch arrangement — a great choice for something like a bar area, where you want a larger arrangement to make an impact. Greenery instead of blooms = money savings.
Once Tanja and Inkspot had finished with the details, they came to collect us for a few more portraits. We had to scurry to catch the remaining daylight, and I mean that literally!
That’s what I call hustling your bustle!
You may be wondering why dear Philip is sitting in the trunk of a car. To expedite things, Tanja and Tia drove us the short distance from our tree to the beach. Philip had planned to come along to film, but seeing as there was no more room in the 4-door car, he began to demur. The dynamic duo of Tanja and Tia, however, insisted that he ride in the car trunk for the short trip (I should have known something like this was going to happen — they are, after all, the infamous chicken suit duo). Once Philip agreed, they took off at an alarming pace down the bumpy dirt road, all of us laughing our heads off. Thankfully, the trip was short and Philip made it in one piece!
I can’t blame Tanja for wanting to catch the light, because it certainly was magical!
It’s funny how certain photos catch your eye the first time you look through your wedding photos, and other favorites don’t surface until a second or third trip through. The one above was not at all on my radar at first, but now, it’s one of my most beloved.
Now, I’m only sharing this next photo because I love y’all, and I want to make a point.
One of the reasons that I believe Tanja is an artist, and why her photos are so magical, is because she is not afraid to TRY things. And, she works with clients who are willing to try things, too. Not everything she tries works every time, but it’s only when you push the envelope that you sometimes come out on the side of amazing. Sometimes, of course, the trial ends up being a dud, but in my opinion, no duds = no amazing.
All this to say, while the above photo was a bit outside my comfort zone (can you tell I’m more of a smile-y person?), we were game to try and allow Tanja to do her artist thing. She probably hated us a little bit because most of the photos from this pose ended up like the one below, but at least we tried :)
September 15th had the softest, pinkest sunset — I think it was chosen especially for me!
We ended our beach time with a walk along the water, just the two of us. Perfect.
P.S. A tip. I know some people don’t like the idea of plastering their wedding photos all over their walls. If you’re lucky enough to have a photographer who took gorgeous environmental photos, I’d highly recommend them as an alternative! We’re considering enlarging one of these, because they take us back to that moment as much as the ones with us in them do…
Photographer: Tanja Lippert / Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films / Day-of-Coordinator: Diana Chouinard of Jubilee Events / Reception Venue: The Sunken Garden at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center / Tent: Sperry Tents / Dance Floor, Chair, Basic Linen, and Catering Rentals: Liberty Rentals / Lounge Furniture Rentals: Rentals Unlimited / Linens: La Tavola Linen / Flowers: Blush Floral Design / Hair and Makeup Artist: Tia Reagan / Catering: A Thyme to Cook / Signage: Em for Marvelous / Bride’s Gown: “Brisa” by Christos / Bride’s Earrings: “Toulouse” by Nina / Bride’s Necklace: Blue Nile / Bride’s Veil: Chaviano Couture / / Groom’s Attire: Tuxedo by Tommy Hilfiger from Macy’s / Groom’s Bow Tie: Bows N’ Ties / Groom’s Suspenders: J. Crew