The Story Behind My Wedding | How I Created A Unique Traditional Wedding | Stillwater, Minnesota
In the last five years, I’ve been to more weddings than I can count. I’ve been everything from the photographer, the bridesmaid, the maid of honor, the personal attendant, the guest… and in September, I was the bride.
You guys, being the bride is SO much fun. I thought that because I had been involved in so many weddings, that I would know exactly what I wanted from my own when the time came. But when Josh and I got engaged and I started going through my Pinterest board… I realized that wow, there are so many ways you can get married and make it unique. I got a little overwhelmed by it all.
This blog post is all about how to focus on the things that really matter to you - the rest is just noise.
How We Decided Stuff
One of the first things Josh and I did was each decide one thing we wanted to spend our money on and really do well. For me it was photographer (obviously) and for him it was the DJ. Besides that, we were both pretty open to whatever else happened. But we knew that we wanted to have a traditional Catholic wedding and we wanted as many close family and friends to be there as possible.
Traditional weddings can be seen as cookie cutter or planning your way through a checklist and can often be described as weddings with a strict timeline, 200-300 guests, a church + venue, seating charts, a bridal party, a big dinner, bride and groom “games,” and a grand entrance/exit.
This type of wedding is getting a bad reputation these days because they feel scheduled, not unique, and most of all - stressful. Josh and I knew that we liked elements of traditional weddings - like getting married in a church, a bridal party, and the big dinner - but we wanted nothing to do with seating charts, the garter toss, and the Chicken Dance.
For us, having some sort of outline to our wedding day helped us feel less stressed about filling the time and making that time meaningful. But that doesn’t mean that’s less stressful for everyone!
I think one of the bigger reasons people are ditching the traditional wedding route is because they feel it is too limiting - and so many people are gravitating to the smaller weddings or elopements because their stress comes from family dynamics, the pressure of big parties, and the attention all of that brings to the couple.
And wow, I can totally relate - the last thing I ever want is to be the center of attention.
But for Josh and I, getting married in a church and having a full guest list was really important to us. We couldn’t imagine starting our lives together in front of all the people that got us to where we are. We both have really great support systems and so we felt comfortable having the big party as a celebration and thank you to everyone we love - and we both know that this is a rare thing, and we’re so blessed to have these people in our lives.
Putting Your Own Twist On It
While it might feel that “a traditional wedding” is limiting, it actually allowed so much freedom in decision making. Since we knew that our ceremony would be traditional, that meant I didn’t need to plan vows or readings. Instead, I could focus on the little details - like intentionally picking the programs, our flowers, who was in our bridal party, and the music. We wanted every element of our ceremony to reflect who Josh and I are as a couple, growing into a family.
One of my bridesmaids created the art for the cover of our program, which symbolized the day we were getting married on (Sept 29 is the Feast of the Archangels) which was really special to Josh and I. Our music was all from Gaelic roots because Josh and I are both super Irish, and that culture was a big part of our lives growing up.
Our venue was a refurbished greenhouse near where my parents live, and the owners are really close friends of my family. I wanted the space to feel open with natural light, lots of greenery and candles - almost like an elegant fairyland. It was amazing.
We took photos at my parent’s house, where I grew up, on an 80-acre apple farm. Our photographer even got a shot of us with Rio, my mom’s horse that we’ve had since I was a little girl. I know I will treasure these photos for my entire life, especially since they were captured on the fields I grew up playing in the mud and riding my pony bareback in the hot summers.
Our wedding rings are both heirlooms from Josh’s grandparents, which is an amazing gift his family gave us.
I completely designed my own dress from scratch, because I couldn’t find anything I liked in all 8 bridal stores that I went to. The process was SO much fun, and it really allowed me the freedom to design my dress with the kind of day I had in mind - I wanted to be able to dance in it, I wanted to be protected from any sudden cold weather (#Minnesota) and I wanted a sexy low back. Boom. Done.
My Biggest Piece of Advice
Weddings are stressful, and they will be no matter what way you slice it. Stress doesn’t always mean a bad thing, as long as you’re focusing your energy on the right things to be stressed about. I stressed for three months over what our invitations were going to look like. Huh?!?! Why did I waste so much energy on that, when I could have put more time into other things?
Whether you want the big party or an adventurous day with just your spouse-to-be, your wedding day can be anything you want it to be. As you plan your wedding, talk to each other about what’s important to you and what you want to remember on your wedding day. And, as things get stressful (because they always will in some capacity) go back to the things that you’ve talked about or written down and find peace in that you get to start your life with the most wonderful person, and everything else are just tiny details.
These are things I used (or wish I had used) during my wedding planning process. Feel free to email/DM me if you have any questions!
Qapital - This is an incredible app for saving money towards specific goals, whether it’s your wedding fund or your honeymoon fund. It stores the money in the app itself so you aren’t tempted to spend it (a big one for me, heh) and you can cash yourself out whenever you’d like! The first week I used it, I saved $100 without even noticing.
Forever Bride Podcast- This is an amazing podcast for discovering local vendors (from venues to make up artists to food trucks), hearing their advice for brides, and getting smart on fun wedding hacks. Plus, Ashley (the host) is incredible and will tell you everything you need to know for planning your wedding - both locally and in other states!
Anomalie - I touched on this company a little bit earlier, but I used Anomalie to design my own dress because I couldn’t find anything I liked in stores. I had complete control over the design, the fabric, the beading and the lace, and they sent me photos of each stage during production. It was one of the most fun, creative experiences I’ve had.