wedding planning details
choosing our date, location, + time
Before we had even gotten officially engaged, we had decided on Saturday, June 19th as our wedding date. It was the soonest we could have the ceremony, and it was right after school got out for our siblings and family members who work for the school district. We also knew the approximate time of day we wanted to get married before actually getting engaged – sometime in the evening. Everyone settled pretty quickly on 5:00 so that everyone would be ready for dinner afterward and people who have plenty of time to mingle before it started to get dark.
Choosing the location proved to be a much harder task that deciding the date and time. My mom and I spent hours looking for the best venues that wouldn’t cost a fortune. We found a few that fit pretty much exactly what we wanted, but they still cost a couple thousand dollars that I thought (in the back of my mind) could be spent on something else. After a couple weeks of shopping around, Nick and I were over it; we had always wanted a simple wedding that didn’t cost a ton of money and was also small and intimate. We had thought about a backyard wedding before, but we decided to ask our parents what they thought about it – since it would be one of their backyards. They were more than fine with it, especially since finding a venue seemed to be causing the most chaos in all the planning, so we decided on Nick’s backyard since his parents have a lot of property. It turned out to work perfectly, and it was a great choice for us. (:
picking our wedding party + attire
Since Nick and I wanted a simple, small wedding, we decided to stick to just family members and our two best friends as the wedding party. Our brothers were his groomsmen, and our sisters and my best friend, Alex, were my bridesmaids. Nick’s best friend, Jeremiah, is someone we are both close to, so we chose him as our officiant. One of Nick’s nieces was our flower girl, and my youngest cousin was the ring bearer.
Everyone in our wedding party was invited to wear whatever they wanted for the ceremony (as long as it fit within our color scheme), and this was definitely one of the best choices we made! Everyone’s outfits coordinated but didn’t look too matchy-matchy, which is exactly what we wanted. (:
curating the guest list
Our wedding guest list started out as 40-50 people and eventually grew to almost 75. At first, we were being pretty picky with the guest list because of gathering restrictions and the fact that we didn’t have a venue for the first few weeks of planning. But once we landed on getting married at Nick’s parents’ place, we knew we could host more people, so we expanded our guest list.
sending out invitations
Luckily, I knew what kind of invitations I wanted, and they didn’t have pictures directly on them, so I was able to order those pretty soon after we got engaged – which was great because it took a few weeks for the seller to make and ship them. However, I still wanted to send a picture with the invite, so we weren’t completely off the hook. We didn’t get around to taking pictures for the invites for a while, and we didn’t want to pay for a photographer, so I ordered a $15 tripod from Amazon and figured that along with my phones’ Portrait mode would do the trick.
The first day we took pictures, we got some cute shots, but I wasn’t “in love” with them or anything; I thought we could get better ones if we tried another day. So a couple weeks later, Nick took me to a bike path that had some really pretty views and we set up the tripod there. We got some really cute shots, but the last one is the one we fell in love with (shown below). As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one we would be using.
finding the perfect decor + choosing our color scheme
We found our color scheme on Pinterest (it was called “rosy sunset”), and all of our decorations were either things our parents already owned from previous events or items we bought from Target, Hobby Lobby, and Amazon.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on your wedding, I would definitely recommend checking out those three stores mentioned above. We found plenty of lighting, cute balloons, and much more from those places, and the best part was that everything could easily be reused. In fact, some of our decorations will be used in our room at our new place when we head back to Iowa, and the rest can be used when we have more room in our own apartment or house. (:
One more thing – we bought tents from eBay instead of renting them because it was much cheaper, and we got our florals from Safeway (MUCH cheaper than any other place we considered), so be sure to shop around! You’d be surprised at how much people upcharge for wedding-specific items. Another thing that helped is a ton of our family members chipped in to help put things together, so we could not have done this (especially on the tight budget we had) without them.
rentals + catering
These were the two most expensive things we had at our wedding, but they were necessary. We rented all of our tables and chairs and also had pasta, salad, and garlic bread catered for dinner. Even though it was a little pricey, we still got pretty good deals on both by shopping around – and they were both worth it.
setting up a website + registry
We used theknot.com to set up our wedding website and registry. It was an extremely convenient site to use (plus it’s free!), and it has a ton of resources – a checklist, venue shopping, a countdown, registry linking, and so much more!
Since I was still at school in Iowa with my family back home in Washington until a couple weeks before the wedding, I didn’t get to go dress shopping with my family. And because I wasn’t sure what I wanted and I also didn’t want to spend a fortune, I decided to start looking around online. I ordered a few dresses from a couple different websites to begin with, but I didn’t love any of them. I went back for a second round and was lucky enough to find “the dress.” It was nothing super fancy, but it was comfy and casual and gorgeous; it made me feel so pretty, and as soon as I saw myself in the mirror, I couldn’t help but smile. The only person that saw me in my dress before wedding preparations was one of my roommates who was in the room while I was trying on each dress. (:
We didn’t have a lot of money or time to plan a crazy get-away, so we opted for something more our style. We went out to a bowling alley with our families, ate pizza, laughed a lot, and then watched a wedding movie in Nick’s parents’ backyard that night. Afterward, Nick and I went our separate ways and stayed the night with our best friends. (:
the night of the wedding
The wedding ceremony and reception was so much fun; everything went smoothly and was an absolute blast. It was so amazing to have all of our family and friends show up and support us that day. The night portion, after we left, was also super special to us. We spent the night at a fancy hotel, opened a few cards and gifts we had snuck from the party, and talked all about how perfect the day was. That was definitely one of my favorite parts of the entire day because it was just the two of us, soaking in alllll the memories we had just made.