A Fresh Perspective on Wedding Planning

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On September 4th, 2016 Jon and I put it on paper and threw a party like never before. Really that’s all it was. We wanted a wedding that truly celebrated who we are, individually and as a couple, our love for each other, and all the amazing people in our lives as well though!

While I thrive on planning and decorating and cooking and hosting – the list goes on and on – I did not want to give in to the trap of incorporating certain things just because it’s tradition. So much of the culture around wedding planning has, in my humble opinion, diluted what it’s really all about! Two people, committing their lives to each other and their community coming together to celebrate that commitment. All too often that beautiful focus is lost in the sea of invoices, appointments, budgets and fulfilling the never ending list of traditions and expectations.

So, in case you’re curious, here’s how we did it…

Set measurable goals for yourself.

Figure out what your priorities are first. For us, the biggest priority was a beautiful and flexible venue. The prettier the venue, the less we’d have to decorate; the more flexible the rules at said venue, the less money we’d spend trying to jump through hoops. We eventually chose to rent a six bedroom home in Gatlinburg, TN.

Maybe for you the most important thing is the honeymoon, the photographer, or the food. Talk about it and reach a compromise before making any big decisions.

Now you can set goals based on your priorities. Being able to measure your goals is important to being able to hold yourself to them, especially with budgeting. Here are the main goals we set for ourselves:

  1. Keep the budget under $10,000
  2. Spread out the planning as much as possible to avoid stress
  3. Spend more time and less money
  4. Keep attendance under 100 people
  5. Write our own ceremony and vows

We were able to meet all of these goals, and it was all because our community of generous and talented friends and family surrounded and supported us in making it happen.

For our bachelor/ette parties we went out for dinner with a small group of close friends and our two parties met up at one of our favorite bars after dinner. We had a cookout at the venue for the rehearsal dinner. A family friend and one of my biggest heroes came in to coordinate for me and I didn’t worry about a thing! My mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, bridesmaids and friends helped with decorating and set-up, one friend in particular put together all the floral arrangements, and my aunts led the army that prepared all of the hors d’oeuvres. All hail the matriarchy! My brother walked down the street from the rental house where everything was held to ask a neighbor if we could borrow a weed-eater! Other friends of ours also helped according to their own talents: one friend who works for a wine distributor gifted us a case of wine, another (Shane Hunter) did the photography, another did my makeup and help my bridesmaids with theirs, and yet another friend last minute offered to come do videography for us which we were planning to skip altogether!

The most overwhelmingly beautiful thing about that weekend was knowing how much love our friends and family put in to make it happen. It wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful to us if we had simply paid a bunch of strangers to do everything for us. And the most important thing? Everyone had SO much fun! There was way too much food (which both the mothers had worried about) and the kegs and wine ran out just when they needed to haha! We played music off of my computer through a sound system that my brother-in-law loaned us and danced on the patio under lights my dad, grandfather, and brother were able to string up. It was all beautiful. Perfect really if you ask me. 🙂

Some cool things we did that I would recommend for EVERYONE:

  • Rent a house – NOT a “venue” Doing this ended up being about the same price as getting a venue, but we got it for four days instead of one! This also gave us a ton of freedom when it came to decorating, food, and booze. We weren’t limited to a venue’s requirements for a caterer, bartender, florist or photographer which happens often. Talk about a money saver. PLUS we got to stay there the whole weekend.
  • Kegs, cases, and Costco. When it came to food and booze, we saved a ton of money by buying and prepping the food ourselves. My aunts and a couple friends helped with prepping it all, but I planned the menu and specified the shopping list. All in all we ended up spending around $700 for food for the whole weekend, and we had WAY too much honestly. (That price doesn’t including the cake.) While the majority of the food came from Costco, we also purchased some items from Aldi and Gordon’s.
  • Alter your mother’s dress. Yup, I went there. I understand that not everyone can do this, but I only spent $350 for a custom veil and major alterations to a lace neckline and sleeves. And it looked gorgeous. Other than that I spent $20 on a pair of sandals at Target that I still wear and $15 on a pair of earrings at a boutique and viola! I did get lucky because I’m practically a carbon copy of my mom and there were no changes to the size or hem needed, but I’m so glad I did it!
  • Don’t do tuxes. Just don’t. It’s expensive, you have to return them, and they will all be miserable wearing them. My husband picked out the same pair of pants for our groomsmen to buy, asked them to wear brown shoes and a white shirt, and gifted their ties and suspenders to them. It was all pretty simple if you don’t count my husband toiling over what he wanted. ❤
  • Don’t squish all your bridesmaids into the same dress. I think this is just mean… to each their own but… not all women are built the same. I specified the length and color at David’s Bridal and asked them to confirm with me before they bought it just in case I hated the style or something, which I never did. Because I did this, two of my bridesmaids were even able to buy second hand dresses for way cheaper!
  • Buy your flowers wholesale! Everyone knows someone that can throw a flower arrangement together like nobody’s business. And boy did I! I bought all of our flowers at Costco, some online and some in store. Altogether I spent $250 on our flowers plus some small expenses for things like ribbon, floral tape, wire, and foam.
  • DIY people!!! Some things we did ourselves? I made chalkboard signs, wine bottle tiki torches,  and put together our guest book in a gorgeous blank leather book my mother-in-law bought for us. My husband made seed packets for our favors by printing the labels on blank seed packets and harvesting seeds from plants he propagated himself. My father-in-law built an arbor for us that was masterful. My mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and myself all brought decor items and serving-ware from home. My grandmother made a silk flower arrangement for the the foyer. AND we made our own invitations!!! I purchased 200 blank invitations that had envelopes, R.S.V.P. cards, and pretty little silver stickers for $13. My husband painted a watercolor mountain scene that we then scanned in for the background, then I designed the the text and hand wrote the addresses with a calligraphy pen.

There were a lot of ways that we could have done things even more affordably and opted not to, but ultimately I think that we successfully planned and hosted a wedding that we feel genuinely shared our love for each other and  the values we share as a couple with our friends and family. That is what made it perfect for us. Check out the pictures below and feel free to ask questions or share your wedding planning wisdom in the comments!

Cheers!

Shelby

Decor & Venue

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Pre-Ceremony

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Ceremony

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Reception

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Photo Credit: Shane Hunter

 

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Knoxville Local #BeMyValentine

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Photo credit: Shane Hunter

If you’ve ventured to my about page you know that I live in Knoxville, Tennessee; affectionately known as Scruffy City. My fiancé and I just moved into an apartment downtown that we love because we are in the heart of the scruffiness! I like to think that Knoxville has the brain of an entrepreneur and the heart of an artist. There are always musicians playing, artists showing, comedians joking, and always new places opening!

In honor of my beautiful city, I have decided to start a #KnoxvilleLocal series, dedicated to all my favorite places and things to do. I’ll feature a new place/activity every week, giving you locations, websites, and reasons that I think its so awesome.

BUT! Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I won’t leave you hanging! I’ll start with a succinct list of some great downtown date night ideas for dinner and drinks, along with all the info you need to make it happen!

DINNER

Tomato Head Downtown is a great place for a casual date with great vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. They have amazing sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and much more! Some of my favorites are the #13 pizza, the Southwest Salad, the Kepner Melt, and the keylime pie. They also have a great selection of craft beer and wine.

$$ – 12 Market Square

Nama Sushi Bar can be casual or classy, but their sushi is fantastic and the atmosphere is great for conversation and quality time.

$$ – 506 S Gay Street

Babalu Tacos & Tapas is a tacos and tapas bar that just opened on Gay Street. I have yet to visit, but I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun and their food is great! They use fresh and locally sourced ingredients for a flavorful and unique experience.

$$ – 412 S Gay Street

Stock & Barrel is the place for you if you’re looking for the best burgers, fries, and whiskey in town. They also source a lot of their ingredients locally and while whiskey is what they specialize in, they also have a decent selection of craft beer. Things I love here are the Black & Bleu burger, the Deadhead black bean burger, and their fried mushrooms!

$$ – 35 Market Square

Sweet P’s BBQ has amazing BBQ (as you would hope) and a really fun atmosphere! They serve up their soul food cafeteria style and leave you to your whims with their house made sauces right at your table. P.S. Don’t forget to get their mac’n’cheese, it’s heavenly!

$$ – 410 W. Jackson Avenue

Oodles Uncorked has fantastic food, but if you’re a wine enthusiast this is the place to be! They have a great atmosphere whether you’re going out with friends or getting a table for two. If the weather permits, they have a great patio, but either way be sure to try their house cabernet!

$$ – 18 Market Square

Knox Mason has an intimate atmosphere with ample southern charm and modern chic.  They serve all the traditional southern comfort food we know and love, with the gourmet skill every foodie craves. They also work closely with local farms and businesses to source their ingredients locally and fresh! It’s terrible but… all I can think about as I’m writing this is their homemade ice cream haha!

$$$ – 131 S Gay Street

 

DRINKS

Crafty Bastard is a new local brewery in Knoxville that has their own line of fantastically crafted beers in addition to some of Knoxville’s favorites!

Public House specializes in craft cocktails but also has a great selection of craft beers and a fantastic wine list.

Hops & Hollers has one of the largest varieties of beer in downtown, with 32 craft beers on tap and over a 100 in bottles and cans! Their atmosphere is super chill and is a beer lover’s paradise.

Peter Kern Library (known to the locals as the library) has many interesting stories floating around, but following the red light down the alley way to the door is enough to make it feel like a speakeasy. If the atmosphere isn’t enough, the uniquely crafted cocktails are sure to make you fall in love. To read more about the library, check out this article on Average Enthusiast.

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!

-Shelby

Define Love …

For the longest time I thought I had love figured out. If someone asked me how I defined it I would concisely say that it is putting another’s happiness and well-being before your own. In a perfect world, romantic relationships would never be painful, even if they didn’t last, as long as both partners were to adhere to that philosophy; but we live in an imperfect world. We hurt one another and, arguably, especially those we love most. So why continue to engage in relationships which possess the power to overwhelm and injure us in such intimate ways? Because the beauty of love is that love exists in spite of our inevitable flaws. Because, sometimes, the bitter hurt that intermingles with the exquisite and lingering flavors of love, make us desire it even more. Because the electric feeling that pulses through your body as your hands touch accidentally or as you look up to find them looking at you in pure adoration is worth the fear of the unknown, of insincerity, of abandonment. Because love between two imperfect people can be beautiful when you let it.

Cheers!

Shelby