Hey, hive! Monday marked our one year anniversary, and we celebrated the same way as we did on our wedding day: at Bouchon Bistro. After dinner, we made it a point to take photos in front of the sign, like we do each time. Here’s one version of this year’s shot:
Surprise! At the same time that we are transitioning out of being newlyweds, we are beginning the process of becoming parents. Our son is due in a little over four weeks. We couldn’t be more excited to meet him. (Seriously. Let’s get this baby out.)
Overall, this has been a year of growth for us—as individuals, as a couple, as a family. We adopted Tina, our second greyhound; we traveled both domestically (NYC, Chicago, Milwaukee, Vegas) and internationally (Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Sydney and Melbourne); we bought two new-to-us used cars; we earned job promotions and raises; and we made new friends and spent more time with family. We celebrated the ups, as well as worked through the downs, together. We worked together as a team.
Our wedding day marked a new starting point in our lives, just like our first date did or our son’s birth will soon do. Our wedding day was a meaningful day—but so, to some extent, is every day that we are lucky enough to have together. After all, it’s what you do every day that makes a marriage, that makes it thrive. Remember to hold hands, to go on dates, to talk, to give time and space, to say thanks, to respect one another.
It’s about that time, hive. Our planning is over. Our wedding has passed. Our recaps are finished.
“But what has become of them all?” asked the Mole.
“Who can tell?” said the Badger. “People come—they stay for a while, they flourish, they build—and they go. It is their way.”
-The Wind in the Willows
It’s time for me to go—for now, if not necessarily forever. I’m sure that I will pop back in every once in a while to update you on the major milestones in the Mole marriage. (Holy alliteration, Mole.) Before I say goodbye, I want to say two important things: good luck, and thank you.
Middle left photo by Cashman Photography / Remaining photos by Brian Saculles
Good luck to everyone who is currently waiting for an engagement, planning a wedding, or living together in a marriage. I suppose that luck isn’t quite the right word; relationships, like weddings, require will an effort. It’s no better simply to wish for a happy life than it is to wish for a completed seating chart. So what I will hope for you is empathy, balance, trust, support, and love.
Mr. Mole and I never created a overall budget when we started planning our wedding. Sure, we had some sense of the realistic parameters of our personal finances. This wasn’t going to be a wedding that featured three custom Vera Wang dresses or a nationally known live band. But we never set out to limit flowers to $X or catering to $Y. We decided on what things we wanted and then tried to find the best prices for them.
While Mr. Mole and I both feel really good about how and where we spent our money, neither of us knew exactly how much we spent in total—until I started writing this post. In the beginning of the process, I guessed that we would spend between $15-18,000. Mr. Mole estimated a little higher, at $18-20,000. We were both wrong.
Here’s the breakdown for our wedding budget and vendors, including our Las Vegas ceremony and reception on January 28th, 2012 and our Milwaukee hometown party on February 4th, 2012:
Photo by Brian Saculles
Las Vegas Rehearsal Dinner, Stripburger: $696
Our rehearsal featured salads, burgers, sides, and drinks for 19 people at Stripburger. We joined Lettuce Entertain You’s reward program, so we earned a $40 gift certificate after this dinner. The food and service was great!
Las Vegas Ceremony, Wynn Las Vegas: $3,942
At 8:15 PM, our coordinator started encouraging people to take their seats. We got a lot of compliments on the way that the room and the tables looked, but I can’t take all of the credit. Robbie and her staff at Roots did an excellent job of setting everything up and adding some special touches. We wanted something that was lovely and simple, and we got exactly that.
We arrived at Roots for our hometown party around 7:00 PM. The Cellar felt almost as welcoming as our friends and family members, many of whom had already arrived. The room was warm with the glow of candles and string lights and the smiling faces of our guests.
The room quickly started to fill. The capacity of the Cellar for a seated dinner is 60, and we had 53 guests coming. (We had a 77% acceptance rate on our invitations.)
In hindsight, one of the biggest benefits of deciding to have our destination wedding in Las Vegas was our ability to drive there from Los Angeles. Everything—from centerpieces to parent gifts to favors to hair accessories—was simply packed and organized in the car. We didn’t have to worry about carry-on sizes or weight restrictions or checked luggage fees. The most we had to think about was making sure that my dress was laid carefully, horizontally across the back seat.
It wasn’t until after the wedding, when I was standing in my bathtub, dunking the bottom six inches of my dirty wedding dress in scalding hot water, that I realized it wasn’t going to be as easy to get the dress to Milwaukee. We did the WI->CA drive in July, and we have no plans to ever do it again in reverse. The dress was going to travel by plane.
So here are my tips and suggestions for flying with a wedding dress.
My dress, post- dunk in the bathtub and pre- plane ride
Tip #1: Don’t fly with it.
OK, I know that this tip is kind of cheating. However, if you are flexible with your timeline, shipping your dress UPS or FedEx (or even USPS) can be a great option for the destination bride. Wedding dresses are successfully shipped every day; after all, they need to travel from the designer to the bridal shop! Just make sure you package it properly, ensure it for its full replacement value, and add on tracking and signature confirmation.
You can even arrange in some cities to have your dress shipped directly to a service that will steam and deliver your dress. One such service in Las Vegas that always gets rave reviews on wedding forums is Fit For A Bride.
When Mr. Mole and I were planning our wedding, we spent a considerable amount of time thinking about photography: how much we wanted to pay, what type of package we needed and who we would hire. Now that we are three months into our marriage, we need to start thinking about what exactly we are going to do with the hundreds of photos that we received.
We decided to start by making albums using an online publisher. Our photographer in Vegas offered a professional album as part of a package, but we decided to go the DIY route for a number of reasons. First, we needed our album to be comprehensive and include photos both from our Vegas ceremony and reception and our Milwaukee party. Second, we wanted to have editorial control over the narrative story of the album. Third, we knew that a “consumer album”—as opposed to a professional one—would fit all of our needs/wants at a lower price point. Fourth, we could make multiple copies of the albums and give them to our parents as thank you presents.
Honestly, the fact that Mother’s Day was quickly approaching is what gave me the kick in the behind to design a set of albums for our parents. After reading a variety of online reviews, I decided to go through Adoramapix. (The fact that I found a 30% off code for all square-shaped albums also helped me make my decision.) For our parents, we designed 10″x10″ books with 26 pages in the “Lustre” finish. We just received the books on Saturday, and they are better than I imagined.
This post is dedicated to all of the small things from our Vegas ceremony and reception. These are some of the details—some smaller, some larger—that made the wedding truly ours.
We’ll start with how everything all started: my engagement ring.
That ring was soon joined by two more.
In between the courses at Bouchon, and after we said goodbye to our professional photographer, our family members honored us with some speeches. To be honest, the speeches were not something that Mr. Mole and I thought a lot about during the planning process. We didn’t ask our coordinator at Bouchon about their timing until four days before our wedding—and I totally forgot to ask my father about his speech until the rehearsal dinner! Clearly, though, our family members put a lot of thought and care into their speeches to us. Their words made us smile, laugh, and cry—and sometimes all three at once.
I really cherish these photographs of our family at Bouchon. After all, one of the best parts of a wedding is being able to celebrate with the people who love and support you and your relationship. (So, huge thanks to A, who came through yet again with these photos.)
My father was up first. Now, my father is an excellent speaker. In September, he brought down the house at my sister’s wedding; unsurprisingly, he did the same at mine.
After the end of our cocktail hour at Bouchon, we decided to cut our cake.
Our cake was vanilla with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream frosting. Our wedding dinner package at Bouchon included a two-tier cake with fresh floral decoration. In a series of emails to the events planner, I explained that we weren’t terribly picky about the flowers on the cake: any type of bloom in coral/pink, green, or ivory/white would work. I also mentioned that we love the look of textured frosting. I sent along the following inspiration photograph.
Does it look at all familiar?
We arrived at Bouchon Bistro early, before many of our guests who had stopped to sight-see along the Strip or gamble in the casinos. We first stopped to take a photo outside the entrance to the restaurant. We have done this every time that we have gone to Bouchon—just normally not with the help of a professional photographer!
The private events coordinator greeted us as we walked in and showed us to the Bocuse room, the private room that we rented for the evening. We had dropped off our place cards, centerpieces, and guestbook materials on Friday afternoon, and the staff did all of the setup. They did an excellent job. We were very impressed with the overall look and atmosphere of the space.
After the ceremony—after we were married—Mr. Mole and I made a quick stop back at the hotel suite with my mom and my sister to bustle my dress. My dress had a double underbustle, which was created by tying together a series of color-coded ribbons. It ended up being harder than it looked! The first attempt merely left the back of the dress looking lumpy and misshapen. We had to start all over again. Argh.
Suddenly, I had an idea. Mr. Mole and I went into the bedroom and closed the door. I completely took off the dress, and together we tied up the ribbons as it was spread out on the bed. This technique, while admittedly unconventional, was quick and easy. The bustle ended up looking great. I stepped back into the dress, and Mr. Mole helped me zip it up. Although this might not have been the ideal scenario, I am happy that we got to spend a few minutes alone between the ceremony and reception. It was time just for us, away from the photographer, away from our guests, away from the noise. I highly recommend scheduling a few minutes like this into your day.
While we were in the room, I also decided to change shoes. My peep-toe heels were killing me, even though I made sure to break them in before the wedding. However, what I didn’t anticipate was that our hands and feet would swell in Vegas. (We even had a little trouble getting our rings on during the ceremony!) The roomier Kate Spade flats felt so much better as soon as I stepped into them. My feet felt reinvigorated.
It’s a good thing, too: we still had a lot of celebrating to do! We first met back up with our family in the Tower Suite Bar. Everyone was hanging out and enjoying themselves—well, everyone except Baby Nephew, who was banned from the lounge area for being under 21. Instead, he was happily playing with his Sophie the Giraffe in the hotel lobby.
This was the moment: the moment where we would make our vows, in front of our family and friends, and become married. The moment that I had been imagining in my head ever since Mr. Mole and I met for lunch on a snowy day in a windy city.
Photo by Cashman Photography
Reverend Walter turned to us, and asked us the following two questions.
At 5:00PM, our coordinator at the Wynn closed the double doors that lead to the Lavender Salon. Our ceremony was about to begin. All of our guests were in their seats. Everyone was ready. Everyone was waiting. A quiet fell over the room, broken only by my excited laughter from the hall.
Suddenly, the opening bars of Aretha Franklin’s Bridge Over Troubled Water began to play. That was the cue. The double doors reopened, and Mr. Mole and his mother started to walk down the aisle.
Our coordinator closed the doors again, presumably to build up some anticipation before it was my turn. It’s a good thing she did.
After getting ready, we made our way through the casino. We ended up in a small green space outside the Wynn, tucked away behind the taxi stands. Now, this does not sound like it would be a good spot to take wedding photographs, but it ended up being perfect. The noise of the casino and the Strip and the traffic dulled. It felt like it was just the two of us. (Well, plus the taxi driver who kept grinning and giving us thumbs-up from across the road.)
These definitely aren’t your typical Vegas shots—and we love them for that.