The wedding photos finally came in -- all 1121 of them). Yikes! I promise to just give you a glimpse, but I wanted to chat about our "strategy" with this wedding and what I would and would not recommend as a result of the outcomes.
First -- the entire wedding party (please do double click for a really good look):
I know that I am a little biased, but I think they are an awfully beautiful bunch (my biological children are: the groom -- Joshua, the junior bridesmaid on the chair -- Faith, the groomsmen fifth -- Geoffrey -- and fourth -- Noah -- from the right). Now I also also have a child by marriage -- the bride -- Taylor.
They are also a big bunch. I admit I also had a very large wedding party, so I really can't criticize them for that, but if you can keep your wedding party small, it eliminates a lot of other issues.
What we did and how it worked out.
- We chose a church and reception venue that had a significant meaning for us, in this case my son's (and husband's and other sons') high school chapel, and the commons at the school for the reception. It was nice to not have to get in the car and go anywhere in between the Mass and reception. My husband and I were also married there, so it really felt like home. We also chose a priest who is a personal friend and because this chapel is not a parish, there was no trouble getting permission from our pastor.
Mother of Mercy Chapel at St. Charles Preparatory School
Walter Commons at St. Charles
Because the Commons is not a hotel or reception facility (it is open to other groups for social events, but its primary purpose is for the school), we were easily able to help share the cost. Doug and I paid for the facility and the bride's family paid for the food.
- From our family's perspective (the bride and all of our extended family are Catholic, but the bride's family is not), the Nuptial Mass was the most important place to really focus on details. We paid for a very good cantor, something I think is worth a lot of money. (If you're local to central Ohio, I can't recommend Johnny Steiner enough). His singing of Panis Angelicus was worth all the money we paid him. We kept the Mass fairly simple, but put our focus on a few special touches.
It was a bonus that he was Joshua's choral director while at St. Charles.
My sister-in-law (my brother is behind her), who is also Joshua's Godmother, played Ave Maria by Norbert on the violin during the Mary devotion.
- I made the bridesmaids and flower girl dresses and the bride's veil. Though this was a nightmare some of the time for me, I don't think I would have changed it, even if I had to do all the work again. First of all, the dresses were modest (at least compared to what you find in bridal salons). They were also inexpensive. Each dress cost me about $30 to make. I ordered the fabric in bulk from Joann when it was half price and I was able to use a coupon for the entire order. Unfortunately I have a lot of fabric left over because I was afraid we wouldn't be able to get more and I over-ordered. I didn't ask for the girls to reimburse me, because they are almost all college students and they really appreciated not having to spend $250 for a bridesmaid's dress, that (admit it) they wouldn't wear again. In hindsight, it would have been nice if they had made a $30 - $50 donation to the groomsmen fund because the tuxes were $170 to rent for each guy (and that was the least expensive tux they could get locally).
Yes, that's Faith on the left end -- as tall as almost all the other girls.
- Taylor's grandma did all of the flowers. They were all silk flowers and she shopped every time Michael's or Joann's had a sale and just kept collecting purple, ivory and grey flowers and greenery. I don't know how much she spent, but it was her contribution to the wedding and the flowers looked very nice. I like fresh flowers, especially for bouquets, but I know many brides spend over $1000 for flowers and in a couple days they are dead. For practicality alone, silk flowers were smart. The flowers on the tables at the reception were silk as well, and they had three different centerpieces scattered throughout the room. They also purchased these stands for the bridesmaids' bouquets for the head table -- very pretty.
My husband giving the invocation.
- Many couples pay for someone to set up a candy bar for a sweet take-home treat for guests. The bride's mother did it herself and it cost a fraction of what she would have paid someone.
- We were permitted to set up our own bar because the venue allowed for it. That saved a lot of money that would normally be paid to the caterer. The caterer allowed the bride's family to hire a bartender provided by them, and he poured the beer and sangria, and kept track of how many drinks each person had -- there was a limit. We decided we didn't want to offer hard liquor because we didn't want to have to worry about people getting drunk and driving. The bride's family bought inexpensive domestic beer because that's what they like, and we bought a keg of beer from a local microbrewery that we thought our guests would enjoy. I also made 6 gallons of Sangria, and we offered soda and had a coffee bar, as well. Champagne was purchased for the toast.
- The one disappointment of the reception was the cake. The bride and her mom shopped bakeries and chose a family favorite, which was one of the most reasonably priced at (unbelievable!) over $550. Though they had the cake pictured below (two layers of vanilla and strawberry and one layer of chocolate raspberry, plus a half sheet of white cake, there was not enough cake. I've decided maybe I need to go into the wedding cake business -- $550 for a wedding cake. Ridiculous!
- The kids wanted a DJ for dancing. As it turned out, the dancing was very popular. We had guests who said they hadn't seen so many people dancing at a wedding reception in years. The kids had a really good time, especially the wedding party -- they danced until 11 pm when the DJ's time ended (thank goodness).
Josh and Taylor danced to Stand by Me.
Taylor and her dad danced to You've Got a Friend by James Taylor.
How Sweet it Is also by James Taylor was the tune Joshua and I danced to. Originally I wanted Let me Call You Sweetheart, because I used to sing that to all the babies when I was rocking and walking them, but the DJ didn't have a good version. It was a good thing, because I would have blubbed through the whole thing.
I have one more post about the wedding (I hope you're not getting tired of it yet), and it has to deal with choosing your bridesmaids and groomsmen, and their responsibilities (or what should be their responsibilities)
photographs by The Belgard