Sometimes, the best things come in small packages. Case in point? This intimate Phoenix wedding. From the handwritten notes for each guest to the wine ceremony featuring a bottle bought by the Bride’s parents when she was born to use on her wedding day, this wedding is all kinds of special. And it only gets better from there. Get all the feels, thanks to Michael + Anna Costa Photography, in The Vault!
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From The Bride…Tony and I met when we were least expecting it. I was living in Phoenix at the time, and Tony in LA. One summer weekend a friend and I decided to take a road trip to LA for a college friend’s 30th birthday. I hadn’t seen our friend in ten years, so I was really excited to reconnect. She invited her new boyfriend to her birthday party, along with his two roommates. One of those roommates was Tony.
If you told me that day I was going to marry Tony, I wouldn’t have believed you. He made up a story about being a racecar driver, which I did not find amusing. But by the end of the night he dropped the racecar driver act, and I got to know a very complex, intelligent, and caring man. I was smitten. We all stayed the night at the party, and when I woke up the next day Tony had already left. Naturally, rather than asking anyone for Tony’s number, I social media stalked him.
After I found him I decided to take the risk and reach out. We met up in San Diego a couple months later for our first date and started a long distance relationship after that, which was made possible thanks to our Southwest Airlines credit cards. Our reward miles carried us back and forth for a while until I was ready to take the plunge and move to LA. Once in LA, Tony and I spent a lot of time double-dating with my college friend and Tony’s roommate. And we proudly stood by their side as they married each other a year later.
We were going for a hike down to the beach after work, so I put on my gym clothes- not cute lululemon gym clothes either. I didn’t bother re-applying my morning’s smudged makeup or brushing my hair- why would I??
I’m a planner, so I was talking to Tony about what we were going to have for dinner that night- a frozen pizza and roasted vegetables. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t seem as excited about this as me. I had no idea he was nervously checking his pocket every two seconds making sure the ring was still there. We watched the sunset together and he was noticeably irritated by another couple that was walking close by. I joked with him that it wasn’t our private beach, and to stop being so cranky. After the couple had passed and we were all alone, Tony got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was holding the most beautiful ring I had ever seen and trying to comprehend what was happening. Before I said “YES!” I must have said, “Is this really happening?” twenty times. We celebrated afterwards at a resort on the ocean cliffs with champagne and an amazing dinner that put my frozen pizza to shame. It was the best night of my life, knowing that I was going to get to be his partner forever.
I worked for a catering company in college, so I’ve been behind the scenes in more weddings than I can count. In my experience, the best weddings were small, intimate, and laid-back. I wanted every detail to be unique to us as a couple, and to stay true to the boho-vintage-romantic style that we were going for. This meant a small wedding with just family and close friends in a beautiful, unique setting that was both relaxed and elegant. Oh, and all on a tight budget.
Tony and I had moved to Denver since getting engaged, but all of our family and friends were spread across Arizona and California. I did a Google images search for romantic wedding venues, and much to my surprise I found everything I was looking for at a rustic venue in Phoenix. To save money and more easily secure vendors, we chose to get married on a Thursday.
Planning the wedding from Denver was not easy. I shipped all of the decorations and things for the ceremony and reception to my mom in Tucson, who rented a van and lugged it all up to the venue the day before the wedding. We couldn’t have done it without her!
I think we made it pretty difficult on ourselves by not going with anything ‘out of the box,’ but we really wanted to tailor things to our style. What I’m most proud of is Tony’s fully-custom ensemble. We put together his outfit piece by piece with a very specific look in mind. And we had fun with it too. We went to the custom clothier together and designed the suit and shirt, and even met with a tie maker to create his bowtie (we went to four fabric stores!). It seems crazy, but looking back on the pictures we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. If you have a really specific vision for something, you don’t need to limit yourself to what you see online. It might be a lot of work, but you can get creative!
I felt strangely calm when the day came. You really do feel surrounded by love, like you have an army of people around you ready to take down anything in your way. My Grandmother gave me her mother’s white and blue handkerchief as my something borrowed, old, and blue. I also wore my Great-grandmother’s ring and used her broach in my bouquet. It felt comforting knowing a part of her was with me that day.
Having a small wedding allowed us to do a lot of things that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. We wrote notes to all of our guests, telling them how much we loved them and what it meant to have them there with us. We sealed them in matching little envelopes and stamped their names and table numbers on the front and clipped them to twine strung in a big tree at the entrance, doubling as seating assignments. Our guests loved that special little touch.
My favorite part of our wedding was the ceremony. Instead of trying to rush through it to get to a party at the end, I made a point to slow down and enjoy each moment of becoming husband and wife. My mom and dad walked me down the aisle to “It’s Over” by one of our favorite bands, Civil Twilight. Weeks earlier, we met the band at one of their shows and told them we were using their song in our wedding. The lead singer was so excited. He explained the meaning of the song as surrendering yourself to someone who you love so much that every time you look at them, it’s over, you’re powerless.
Our brother-in-law officiated our wedding and added the perfect mix of humor and touching emotion. We decided to do a wine ceremony, which was a lot of fun. We used a bottle of wine that my parents bought when I was born and saved for my wedding day. Our family and wedding party poured the wine we would drink into a ceramic chalice that my parents drank out of on their wedding day.
We sealed a bottle of wine and little love letters our guests wrote us into a wooden box that Tony made, and promised to open everything on our anniversary in five years. We took turns reciting the vows we wrote to each other, and I remember everything else fading into the background. It was beautiful.
The reception was full of surprises. Tony’s brother gave a very sweet speech that all of the sudden turned into a singing performance by he and his sisters. And then my friends got up and did the exact same thing! They had also written a hilariously clever song and performed it for us, not knowing about Tony’s brother’s plans. We laughed so hard we couldn’t feel our faces!
My advice to other brides comes from my Grandmother, who eloped when she married my Grandfather; they’ll be celebrating their 59th anniversary this month. You don’t need a big, fancy, expensive wedding to have a successful marriage. What’s important is to do what’s right for the two of you-whatever that is. Know that everyone will have an opinion about everything, but this day is for you and your future husband, and that’s what matters.
Photography: Michael + Anna Costa Photography | Floral Design: Fluert Floral Art | Cake: Sassy’s Café & Bakery | Invitations: Poptastic Bride | Jewelry: BHLDN | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Adrianna Papell | Catering: Gadzooks | Makeup: SN Makeup | Hair: Paige Weir | DJ: Ramma Jamma DJ | Bow Tie: HIM Clothing | Venue: Whispering Tree Ranch | Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Decor: BHLDN | Flower Confetti Pops: Thimblepress | Groomsmens’ Ties: Tie Bar | Groom’s Attire: Ratio Clothing | Photo Booth: Clear Choice Photo Booth | Photography Assistance: Drew Brashler Photography | Table Numbers + Signage: Remember November Inc.