Mister Mister and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary this past weekend. I can hardly believe it’s been one year—it either feels like a lot less because it seems like just yesterday we were running around planning a wedding, or like a lot more because of all we’ve accomplished in this past year. Not only did we get married last November, but we bought a house in April and conceived a child in May. While everybody did say, “Oh, wait to have kids, enjoy each other first, blah blah blah,” it was pretty neat celebrating our anniversary at almost 7 months pregnant with Mister Mister’s son.
Since our anniversary fell on a Monday, we had the bulk of our celebration on Saturday. The day was busy for me—chiropractor, haircut, trying to vote and ending up picking up a mail-in ballot instead—but after all that and a nap, we headed down to Anna Maria Island to eat at one of our favorite restaurants from when Mister Mister lived down there, which was also the site of our rehearsal dinner last year.
We also exchanged gifts on Saturday. I got Mister Mister a somewhat sentimental gift to go with the “paper” theme—the book “What I Love About You” by Kate and David Marshall. It’s filled with prompts like “If we’d first met in a comic strip, the thought bubble over my head would have said…” and “One of your most irresistible physical features is…”
At 112 pages, it’s not exactly easy to fill out. It took me two months of slowly answering the questions—some of which I had no answer for so I goofed around, others that were pretty repetitive—on breaks at work. I was afraid to bring it home lest he find it. And while I was feeling sheepish about whether it was a dumb gift, he loved it! Though, he did at first think it was just a regular old book somebody else had written until he started going through it.
For his part, he got me an awesome gift: A print from the Dark Hall Mansion Yellow Submarine ’68 set. We both love the Beatles, and he knows I love quirky art, so this was an amazing gift. The quality is really awesome too, printed on archival paper and numbered. It earned a special place in our hallway, across from our gallery wall of wedding/honeymoon/pet photos.
On Monday (our actual anniversary), we opted to eat out again, but only because I was starving and the meal I had planned to cook that night was supposed to take an hour. So we went out for burgers, and then came back and ate our year-old wedding cake.
I can hardly believe I’m writing this post. Back before I became a blogger bee, I would read these teary farewell posts and, while I was always sad to see these ladies go after following them throughout their planning journeys, I didn’t understand the idea of literally putting off a goodbye post because you didn’t want to leave.
Turns out, I totally get it.
Ah, money—the core of almost every wedding-related conversation and decision. We started fighting over money almost right away, reading through the lists of how much things “should” cost… and how much we were actually able to put away each money. We did not have a wedding fund—nay, even an emergency fund—and panicked that perhaps we couldn’t afford this shebang after all.
Then, as they tend to do, things began to work out. I got a better, and better-paying, job. I picked up more freelance work. Some family members offered to help out here and there. We figured out areas we could cut. But along with all that, priorities changed, and some things came in over budget. Here, then, is the Ladyfingers Wedding Budget Breakdown Extravaganza.
Our original overall budget: $10,000
Venue: $1,950 + $250 refundable security deposit $86 for rental of adjoining gazebo (on county property in adjoining park, so could be rented out to others during our event, unless we claimed it)
Original venue budget: $1,500
Even though there were so many things we were super pleased with, there are a few nagging things I would have done differently if I knew then what I know now. Disclaimer: None of these things ruined the day. Nobody even noticed. The wedding was still a total and complete blast. And we still ended up married — bonus! But here are a few things that, in hindsight, we might have considered a bit more.
1. Having a dance floor. We were adamant that we did not need a dance floor. We initially brought it up to our caterer, mostly because of the way our space was defined. There wasn’t enough room in the main room for guest tables, food, and dancing, but we didn’t want to plan to seat guests outside because we didn’t know what the weather would be like. So instead, we decided to seat everybody inside and have the dancing outside on the deck. We asked about a dance floor, but the price was totally ridiculous. The caterer said we wouldn’t need one, they’d done weddings there before, and it was fine. People would dance. Then, our DJ expressed concern over the lack of defined dance floor. He said people might not dance. I pish-poshed. And it’s not that people didn’t dance, but they didn’t dance in the CENTER, where the dance floor sorta kinda was. They danced over in their little individual groups, skirting the edges of the deck. The important thing is they all had fun, but sometimes I felt kinda lame dancing in the middle by myself. I tried to set the tone, but it usually didn’t catch. There were songs I loved that I sat out because there wasn’t any central dancing. And we don’t have the “Dance Party USA” shots that I love so much from other brides’ recaps — we have some nice slow-dancing shots, and a couple of dancing shots that make it look like nobody was dancing. Maybe we could have swung a dance floor, or rearranged the space. It wouldn’t have been so terrible to have everybody sitting outside. But it is what it is.
2. Been more clear with the DJ about our “big moments” and what we wanted to hear. Our DJ was a friend of one of my bridesmaids, and though it’s not a hobby, it’s not his primary job, either.
There are many things you hope will go “right” on your wedding day, and regrets you hope you’ll never have. In the end, if you have the right attitude, everything will have worked out swimmingly, even if it didn’t work out the way you’d expected it to. This was the case for us: The wedding was perfect. People are still raving about it. The love in those rooms was stunning, and nobody wanted to leave when the night was over.
However, there are a few shining choices that we are especially happy about. What are those things we’re glad we did?
1. Splurged on food. OK, nothing was really a “splurge” in the strictest sense of the word—our wedding budget, minus honeymoon and rings, came in at just over $12,000. But so often, I hear about people spending the heftiest chunk of their budget on photography, or entertainment, or the venue. We had a split that felt just right to us—about $5,500 of our budget was dedicated to the entire catering experience (25% of our total budget). This included a full open bar (which we are so glad we added at the last minute!), food, service, and rentals. Growing up Italian, food was a central part of all of our lives. We could have done pulled pork, or finger food, or a cake-and-punch reception in order to pay for expensive photographs or a first-class DJ. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those choices—and it’s not that we had a fancy 5-course fine dining sit-down meal, either. We had a buffet with chicken parm and pasta, potatoes and veggies. But when we saw full-blooded Italian Uncle Ladyfingers go up for seconds and heard potato enthusiast MOH Ginger rave about the mashed potatoes, we knew we’d hit the jackpot food-wise.
2. Decided against a photo booth, videographer, and any other number of fun wedding “add-ons.” I admit, I did some last-minute digging into photo booth and videographer prices. We had about $1000 left after paying our obligations, so could we pull it off?
When all is said and done, the result of months and months of planning are a handful of snapshots. But although most of my DIY efforts only survive in the form of few remnants rescued for a scrapbook, I look fondly on the nights and weekends I spent creating them, the shopping trips to buy supplies, the excitement and tears (yes, tears), the Internet research, the tries and re-tries, the bridesmaid crafting parties, and more.
Here, I present to you, all our small things: the details.
Our venue’s entrance sign
As the DJ played our last few songs, I saw MIL Ladyfingers going around the deck, passing out our farewell bells. I didn’t really think much of it, until our catering manager went rushing after her, intoning, “Nonononononoooo!” I guess she’d seen the trays of bells and just thought it would be nice to hand them out to people.
Eventually, though, it really was time to ring our bells as we left the venue. Our farewell bells. As in, farewell, because we’re married… and the wedding, it’s over. Just like that!
There was a time when I didn’t want to do a bouquet or garter toss. Something about it felt forced. I think mostly it was because I had been to weddings where very few of the single people—if there were any—were willing to get up there and give it their all. But now, I’m so glad we did, because the tosses represented two of the funniest, favoritest moments of the night.
Mr. Ladyfingers dug away…
One of my favorite parts of any wedding is the grooving and moving and bumping and grinding. We had opted not to have a dance floor installed on our back deck, which I regret a bit. But even though it seemed to me at times as if nobody was dancing, a quick look at these shots shows that they were, indeed, grooving and moving and bumping and grinding.
After dinner, toasts, and cake-cutting, it was time for the kids-and-parents dances.
I had decided on “My Girl” for my dad and me, after some initial confusion.
It was pretty fun, as dad sang a lot to me and twirled me around a bit.
Once we had danced our dance and given out some quick hugs, the main room was opened and seating took place. We were immediately served by our headwaiter so that we could chow down and start making our rounds. Again… god bless the caterer that wants you to eat.
At this point, I about felt like my face would fall off from all the smiling. I read somewhere that when you’re a bride, you should always smile because you don’t want to see that one snapshot where you’re scowling because of the unexpected guest who showed up, or your uncomfortable shoes, or the weird song your DJ chose. So I tried to smile! As! Much! As! I! Could! But then again, it wasn’t terribly difficult to do so, as I had a lot to smile about.
At one of our stops, we asked a couple of our friends about the marriage license situation. “Didn’t you sign it when you got it at the courthouse?” one of the wise friends said.
“Oh yeah,” I said. “We totally did.”
Well… crisis averted.
The girls joined Mr. Ladyfingers and me in the gazebo for a bit, before our catering manager came by to tell us it was time to do the introductions leading up to the first dance. We gathered in the main room—which was the first time I had seen it all put together, so, WHEEEEE!—and then, for some reason, I immediately started worrying that we hadn’t signed the marriage license.
“Do you remember signing the marriage license?” I frantically asked Mr. Ladyfingers. “I don’t think we signed it. I can’t believe The Reverend left without us signing it. OMG WE’RE NOT REALLY MARRIED WHAT WILL WE DO?!?” That was probably the only freak out of the whole day… well, maybe not, but one of the only. Mr. Ladyfingers managed to calm me down, and we all stood around, wondering when one of Mr. LF’s groomsmen would get the memo and find us… only to hear the DJ announcing our first bridal party pair. Quickly, quickly! We paired them up in rapid fire and pushed them out. …
To the tune of the “Rocky” theme.
It’s pretty much one of Mr. Ladyfinger’s favorite movies ever, and what I thought was a fine and fun way to come out to our crowd of adoring fans.
It’s a funny feeling, when you marry the love of your life. All the adrenaline just rushes out of you in one huge batch. Happiness is the only feeling that’s ever existed in the world. Nothing is wrong. Nothing could ever be wrong. You can’t imagine things any other way except the way you feel at this second.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
After we made our ceremony exit and congregated briefly on the deck, we moved to the front of the venue where we gathered in a wooded area for portrait time. Our awesome catering headwaiter took our drink orders and brought us plenty of the incredibly delicious appetizers we had chosen. Thank goodness for caterers who actually make it their job to ensure the bride and groom eat. Eat, we did. (Those caramelized onion and beef stroganoff tartlet things? To die.)
I gotta say, this is one of my favorite pictures from the whole event:
Our ceremony coordinator Christy had instructed me to wait in the bride’s room as the procession unfolded. First, Mr. Ladyfingers walked his mother, followed by Best Man Maverick escorted my dad’s fiancee, down the smaller set of side stairs. Then, my girls proceeded one by one down the aisle while Vitamin String Quartet’s cover of “Transatlanticism” played from the deck.
I fiddled with my bouquet, my bracelet, my bangs, and tried to stand perfectly still while I waited…and waited…and waited.
When we arrived at the venue, the first thing I saw upon walking into the bride’s room were my beautiful flowers, delivered and set up by our florist. I had to take a peek in the main room to see how everything was coming together—SO WELL!—but was quickly ushered back into the bride’s room, hiding away to avoid an encounter with Mr. Ladyfingers. We were not doing a first look, so I’d have to wait until the ceremony to actually see him.
The venue was so quiet and peaceful; the only people there being the bridal party, some family, and our vendors.