I've said it before and I'll say it again. I am officially on the "theme wedding" bandwagon. I know, sounds crazy. But frankly, after seeing dozens of weddings where a theme was so delicately and so beautifully threaded into each and every detail...I'm a total believer that a theme wedding can be absolutely magical. Such is the case with this next little number. A literary themed affair, pulled off to perfection for $13,000. Which is shocking when you see just how many wonderful little touches the bride and groom infused and the pair of Louboutins that started it all. Click here to see even more.
We were engaged on New Year’s Eve, at twilight, outside Windsor Castle in England. Eric proposed first, not with a diamond engagement ring, but with a very sparkly pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. That night was more than magical – and it set the precedent for the rest of our engagement, and wedding. As I began to think of what kind of wedding I wanted, what kind of wedding would best represent our relationship; I began to ask advice of some our already-married friends and family. There was a common denominator in almost all the suggestions we received: do it your way; don’t try to please anyone else; make it about the two of you. And so I began planning a very unique little event, hoping that our friends and family would leave saying, that wedding was SO them!
After our engagement, I stumbled upon a little blog called Style Me Pretty. And so began my blog-obsession; I, like most of you reading this, spent an embarrassing amount of time online, looking at other beautiful weddings, gathering ideas, and noting what details I found to be most important. I created a myriad of folders on my computer for sorting design ideas: flowers, food, décor, photo ideas & poses, fashion & hair, cakes, themes, etc. I used these sample photos to communicate my “vision” with my vendors, especially my photographers, Chelsea & Mack of McGowan Images. There is no one more responsible for the successful outcome of our wedding than those two – photography was a priority for us from the beginning, but our expectations were far exceeded in the relationship we created with our photographers. Chelsea was my sounding board – she listened to and gave feedback on my ideas, helped in any way she could, and kept me from drowning in the final weeks before the wedding. I am genuinely proud of the images she captured at our wedding, and they are all the more special, because they’re the product of a nine-month commitment to a wedding that was uniquely “us.”
Many of the initial decisions I made started with the shoes – I knew I wanted to wear the engagement Louboutins for the wedding, and I knew I wanted them to really be seen. I chose a short dress to feature the shoes, and decided that the dress lent itself to a more nontraditional sort of wedding. And so one personal/unique/nontraditional decision led to another; my bridesmaids were given a color palette to choose from, and encouraged to pick a dress (and shoes!) that they liked, in a style that would suite their personality and body type. We served breakfast-for-dinner at our reception, and then moved the whole party out to the garden for desert and dancing. We chose my grandmother’s birthday as our wedding date; my Dad (a licensed minister) did our ceremony; my matron of honor’s mother did the beautiful flowers (and her father sang the special music), and a friend from work baked the cake. Our friends and family did all setup, decorations, light-installation (including the mounting of a chandelier from Eric’s grandmother’s house), etc. We hired very few vendors that we didn’t have a previous relationship with.
I saw so many other weddings using vintage books as décor, and was intrigued – not by the look of the books themselves, but by the stories within. The first present Eric ever gave me was a copy of Pride & Prejudice, from the Jane Austen museum in Bath, England. As our own story spanned several years, and many different chapters, the idea of “stories” as a theme for our wedding seemed a natural fit. And so we were married, surrounded by our closest friends and families, and by some of literature’s most classic love stories.
Most of our decorations and design elements came from my grandparent’s house and barn. I borrowed boxes of antique bottles, mason jars, cut glass and crystal, wooden candle pillars, and tons and tons of lace doilies. My one “splurge” was the mercury glass - I bought it wherever I could find it, which isn’t so easy between the months of January and October! Our cake topper (vintage penguin salt and pepper shakers) was ordered from Etsy, along with my veil, the custom burlap table runner for the head table, and my bridesmaid’s gifts (custom printed clutches).
I look back on our wedding day with a lot of pride. I’m proud that we were able to do so much with such a small budget (the grand total of our whole event was just under $13,000). I’m proud that we spent so much of our day together (the “First Sight” we did really helped with that). I’m proud of the reaction we received from so many people, telling us that our wedding, was indeed, very “us.” And I’m extremely proud of all our wedding images – they’ll be a lifetime reminder of the fabulous day we started a new chapter in our story together.
It is so inspiring to see the current movement towards a more personal wedding, and Style Me Pretty is a wealth of information for those that decide to do their wedding their way. I didn’t have the budget for a big white wedding, and didn’t feel pressured or disappointed in my decision to host an affair that was truly us. Our day was perfect, not because the invitations were perfectly letter pressed, or because we served the perfect four-course menu – our wedding was perfect, because it was perfect for us.
Photography: Mack & Chelsea McGowan, McGowan Images / Venue: The Belltower Chapel & Garden in Fort Worth, TX / Florals: Classic Flowers & Gifts in Bridgeport, TX / Wedding Dress: Justin Alexander / Shoes: Christian Louboutin / Penguin cake topper: PrettyDarnCute / Burlap Table Runner: TheRufflyOwl / Birdcage Veil: VeilLady / Bridesmaid’s Cluthches: PoppyPunch