all photos by Christina Ward Photography
The only way I can describe our wedding day is to say, it was just so, so lovely. All the details that I had spent time worrying about in the months leading up to it—will the DJ show up?, will vendors have questions for me while I’m off-site getting ready?, will I do that awful smile I do in all the photos?—turned out to be a non-issue (probably with the exception of the smile—of course I did the smile). Everything went off without a hitch. And while in retrospect it did go by in a blink—especially the reception—I still felt like I took it all in, like I was present enough to hear (cry through) my best friend’s toast, happy enough to not care how badly I dance, and aware enough to kiss and hug Daniel a million times.
I have been thinking about how to share our wedding day with you for too long. I don’t know the best way to format it, so I’ve decided to take you through everything I can think of, piece by piece. If I left anything out that you’re curious about, please feel free to ask in the comments and I will answer!
The beginning stages of planning a wedding were so exciting but incredibly daunting. It was so much fun to daydream about all the possibilities. I would thumb through magazines and look at Pinterest for hours. There were beautiful big weddings, sweet small weddings, elegant weddings, charming DIY weddings, indoor venues, outdoor venues, cool eclectic colors, simple yet stunning traditional colors…The first week of planning was spent mostly marveling at other people’s beautiful ideas. I realized quickly that with enough time, money, and effort you can make any idea picture-book perfect, so I had to pin down what I actually wanted and then work from there.
The first big decision was the size of the wedding. Neither of us wanted a huge event where everyone we ever met was invited, so we were deciding between a very intimate affair with just our immediate family and closest friends (about 20 people total) or a medium-sized event with about 75 guests (mostly family with a few friends). The logistics and cost were the main pros of the smaller event, but we decided that we had enough important people in our life we wanted to celebrate with to decide on the 75-person wedding. There was even a part of me that wanted to elope, just the two of us, but I feared I’d regret not getting to experience that walk down the aisle that a lot of us grow up dreaming about.
We knew we wanted to get married in Massachusetts, where we’re both from, but at the time of planning, we were still living in New Jersey. So our venue search took place entirely online. We loved the idea of a more rural old New England wedding in the fall, so Daniel’s father and step-mom suggested we look at The Wayside Inn, an historic 18th century inn located in Sudbury, MA. We looked at pictures and truly loved the aesthetic. It’s quintessential New England, with so much charm and character, and gorgeous green fields and gardens. I particularly loved the Martha Mary Chapel as a ceremony venue. I sent my mom and step-dad to scout it out and try the food. After we heard back with how much they loved it, we decided the book it, despite never seeing it in person. We chose September 23rd, which seemed like the perfect time of year for a New England wedding.
In March of 2017 we moved back to Massachusetts permanently with the hopes of buying a house. We put wedding planning on the back burner for awhile when we found a house we both loved and spent most of the spring working on that. It was at this point that I realized I didn’t care about the wedding as much as I thought I would. I think I loved the idea of having a project but the new house gave me so much to do that part of me was fulfilled. And now the wedding planning seemed more stressful than fun. I wanted to be married, but I no longer cared about the wedding itself. We had already put in a large deposit at the Wayside Inn, but we still considered walking away and just eloping. After a lot of thought, we decided to move forward with the wedding because of the money we already spent and because we knew we’d love the memory and it would make our family happy.
When it came to invitations, I was looking for an elegant floral/botanical design. After spending hours looking at what felt like thousands of invitations, my brain started to melt. Luckily, right when I was about to throw my computer out the window, I came across Citrus Press Co. and found an invitation I absolutely loved.
I waited forever and a day to go dress shopping with my mom and the sad but true reason for that is, I kept wishfully thinking I would lose 10 more pounds. I had spent the summer working out, eating healthy, and although I was proud of the progress I’d made, I didn’t exactly head into dress shopping with the body I thought I would. But when I buckled down and just WENT to Vows in Watertown, the experience wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d expected. I tried on a dozen or so gowns, narrowed those down to two, and ultimately left the store with a dress I absolutely loved. It felt timeless and romantic, with lace and sheer long sleeves, and the best part—it fit like a glove (however, I did end up losing a few more pounds by September, so I paid $300 for alterations two weeks before the wedding. Yikes). The only really disappointing aspect was that the lace tore in the back midway through the reception. It wasn’t a case of it being too tight either—in fact, I’d gotten the dress taken in a week before the wedding—and the rip wasn’t even near a seam. It seems that the lace just was too fragile, and maybe it got snagged by a watch or bracelet mid-hug, or caught by the bag of my chair. It was upsetting that I paid so much for the dress and it didn’t hold up, but by the time I noticed, I’d had between two and four glasses of champagne (they kept refilling!) and barely cared.
My bridesmaids wore White by Vera Wang floor-length, V-neck dresses from David’s Bridal in the color Mercury.
Hair and Makeup
For me, choosing hair and makeup was one of the more stressful parts of wedding planning and that’s entirely because I am flat-out neurotic when it comes to anything beauty-related. I had maybe half a dozen trials during the summer and though I was happy with a few, in the end I knew I could only surrender my hair to someone else. I had to do my own makeup.
Still, I wanted to offer my bridesmaids and mom the option of a glam squad. So I enlisted the help of I Do Hair and Makeup to style their hair, and Trinity Kizer to make them up. All of my gals were gorgeous.
The one thing I did not procrastinate to plan was photography and I’m so relieved about that, because we were able to snatch up the amazing Christina Ward before she was booked full with fall weddings. I cared about the quality of our photos more than just about anything else wedding-related, and spent hours online searching for someone whose style I loved. Christina’s portfolio was bright, timeless, and gorgeous.
She was so accommodating and easy to work with, made Daniel and I feel completely comfortable, and we seriously love how the pictures came out.
Since neither of us are religious, we wanted someone close to us to officiate our big day. I thought of our mutual friend, Justin, who we’ve been friends with for 14 years (we all met on our first day of college!). He’s funny, charming, a natural performer, and we knew would do a fantastic job. Daniel and I wrote some notes about what we love most about one another, along with a short script, and Justin took over from there. He was amazing. We kept the ceremony short and simple, which I think is the way to go.
For the processional, our parents and bridesmaids walked down the aisle to Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Regina Spektor’s “Us.”
My wonderful brother walked me down the aisle, and it was the most special part of the day for me, to the tune of Des’ree’s “Kissing You” by Stringspace.
And for the recessional, we played “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney and Wings. We made sure to start the song right at the 1:16 mark of this version.
Flowers and Decor
We worked with Allison at the Frugal Flower in Sudbury after the Wayside Inn wedding coordinator recommended her. She was incredible. I had an idea of what I wanted when we met with her and she suggested different options based on our preferences and budget. Allison decorated the chapel and reception area and was such a dream to work with, accommodating all of our requests at a very reasonable price.
Thankfully, I have a mom with the most stunning sense of style. Decorating is her passion and I knew she would enjoy picking stuff out and figuring out the best way to set it up, so she took the lead.
I also need to mention that my mom was without a doubt the MOST BEAUTIFUL thing at my wedding. I can’t take how gorgeous she looked.
We booked a DJ just a few weeks before the wedding. At first were unsure if we wanted to have traditional dancing because neither of us are big dancers and we didn’t know how many of our guests were either. But we decided it was probably necessary, so we booked a DJ, Frank Pietroski, using Thumbtack. Frank is an old school radio announcer and did such a great job. He played music for our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.
We gave him a list of songs we definitely wanted to hear and a few we wouldn’t and let him handle the rest. He kept the reception lively and joyful, and we were shocked at how many people danced the whole time.
We decided to do a buffet because a.) it offered the biggest and best array of food, and b.) Daniel and I love buffets. During cocktail hour, we had passed hors d’oeuvres (petite beef wellington, scallops wrapped in bacon, phyllo-wrapped asparagus, cheese and charcuterie…), then sat down for two plated courses (crab cakes and salad), followed by a huge spread of prime rib, roasted turkey with stuffing, crab-stuffed filet of sole with lobster sauce, roasted potatoes, vegetables, and mac and cheese. We were really happy with the food. It was homey New England comfort food, which is exactly what we were hoping for. For dessert, we had two cakes because, well, we live for cake—a double chocolate one, made by the Wayside Inn, and a white cake with white frosting, from my favorite bakery: White’s.
We took most of our pictures before the ceremony but because I was running late (surprise!) we did some more pictures during the cocktail hour. We were introduced when we walked in and did our first dance to Leon Bridges’ “Home.” Daniel heard the song a couple of years ago and thought I’d like it so he suggested using it as our wedding song. We loved the old school sound and wanted to avoid something too overused so it was perfect. My maid of honor Kate gave the MOST beautiful speech (I laughed! I cried!) and then we ate dinner, talked to all of our friends and family , and did some dancing. Before we knew it the night was over.
After so much energy, stress, money, and time was spent focused on this one day, the next morning we felt relieved it was over and happy that it happened. All of it was so worthwhile and now I’m glad we have all the memories from our first day as husband and wife :)