Picking a Venue. It’s Like Choosing a University.

When I first set foot on Radford University’s campus, I knew it was the perfect school for me. I was comfortable, the scenery was serene, and the people were amazingly helpful. I could picture myself walking to class and never wanting to leave campus.

Choosing a venue was not as simple as choosing my home of the past few years, which was surprising. I always knew I wanted to get married at a vineyard… or so I thought. Where you may picture yourself saying “I Do” or dancing the night away may be completely different from where you actually end up and I learned that over time, stress, and even a few tears.

The biggest struggle that I hit during the venue tours was when I realized that my family just does not have the monetary capability to contribute to this aspect of my wedding. It took me a while, but I realized that just because we can’t afford the fancy barn surrounded by a breath-taking, mile-wide view of mountain ranges, doesn’t mean I’ll end up getting married by a dumpster serving whatever was thrown out that night. (Fact: I really did tell Ian, my fiance, that that would happen a few times… okay 7 times).

After looking at two venues that I knew we could work with and one that Ian and I both fell in love with but just couldn’t afford, Ian mentioned his aunt. She and her husband had just finished renovating an old farm house, literally three houses down from his parent’s house. We took a trip to visit her and when we brought it up, she INSTANTLY said yes! Finally, a weight was lifted off of our shoulders! The three of us walked around planning out everything and I could finally envision everything perfectly. I never thought I would be celebrating my marriage in a backyard, but now I love the idea.

Honestly, it never crossed my mind until just now: Why did I ever want a wedding venue that costs thousands of dollars and is going to be used by other couples over the years? Our venue is free. Our venue is unique. No one else will have the same exact scenery in their wedding pictures. Besides, who cares how much you paid for a venue? All that matters on the day of your wedding is that you get to start a new life with an amazing person and will be surrounded with love and celebration by those who mean the most to you.

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One Gown, No Cap… Yet.

If you asked me what I most look forward to during wedding planning, my immediate response would always be, “DRESS SHOPPING.” Some brides wait months before they start trying on dresses, but me, I dove head-first into a pool of white as soon as I got the chance. Most people would say I’m crazy for purchasing a gown so quickly, but when you know, you know.

I visited multiple boutiques, from high-end to consignment galore. The very first dress I tried on, I fell in love with, but my credit card couldn’t stand to be swiped for a piece of fabric that would only be worn once.

I decided to check out a small shop called Church Street Bridal. Their goal is to offer brides new (have only been tried on), low-cost, designer gowns, while giving back to the community. Church Street Bridal sells gowns from Kleinfields and other well known designer shops, and the proceeds go toward a domestic violence prevention center.

Church Street had a wonderful selection of dresses with an equally wonderful staff. I tried on around six gowns, but just didn’t feel that WOW/bridal factor. I fell in love with the prices but just couldn’t fall in love with a gown.

After going through so many dresses, but still only thinking of that first $1,100 perfect dress, I was starting to feel defeated. When I say defeated, I mean it in the sense that I would never be able to afford a dress that I could fall in love with. I didn’t want to be forced to settle.

After a couple of weeks of moping, I discovered this interesting device called, “The Internet.” You know that thing where billions of answers to sad people’s problems can be found? I simply searched, “Consignment wedding dresses Roanoke, VA” and out comes the answer to my problem! I was directed to a Facebook page for “The Newfangled Bride,” an upscale consignment boutique. I clicked through every album they had, checking out some of their selection, then I noticed their profile picture. The gown was PERFECT. So, I set up a date with my mom when we could meet in Salem to shop. My sister and brother-in-law even joined in on the fun!

Once we arrived at The Newfangled Bride, I noticed the shop was quaint and the wedding dresses were right up front so I was immediately drawn to them. In no time at all, this bubbly woman, Ruth, comes up to help sift through the assortment. We even found out that she sold my sister her wedding dress when she worked at a different boutique! That had to be a sign of good luck.

I was ecstatic when I found the dress from their Facebook page and immediately tried it on. I walked out, stepped in front of the mirror, and nothing. I felt nothing. I didn’t feel bridal. I didn’t feel sexy. I didn’t feel comfortable, and everyone agreed. I was starting to feel like I would never find my dress and that scared me.

Ruth came in with another gown and told me to try it on, so I slipped in and she zipped me up. When I walked out I didn’t feel excited to look into the mirror, instead I was nervous, apathetic even. I looked at myself in the dress. I LOOK HOT. For the first time in almost 12 dresses, I didn’t even think about gown number one. All I could see was myself walking down the aisle, all eyes on me, but most importantly, Ian’s eyes on me, LOCKED on me. I looked at my mom, sister, and brother-in-law and asked their opinion and sure enough, we came to a consensus and I was putting down a deposit (honestly, it didn’t happen that fast, I didn’t want to get out of the dress. I would’ve worn it home if I could!). The best part about the dress? I didn’t have to compromise on the look or the price! I stayed under my budget of $600, which made me glow with happiness.

I never could have found this dress without the help of Ruth and the team at The Newfangled Bride. A bride-to-be should never have to spend a fortune to gain the confidence to feel beautiful when it comes time to walk down the aisle to her groom.

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For anyone that’s interested (which should be all brides-to-be near Salem, VA) here’s the information for The Newfangled Bride:

107 W Main Street Salem, VA

540-389-1010

http://www.thenewfangledbride.com

I found the (wedding) gown! Now all I need is my cap and gown for graduation.

Wedding Planning: Freshman Status

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He popped the question and I burst into tears. It’s the normal reaction to this action, but I’ve literally been dreaming of it since I was a little girl so I call my tears “special.” I’ve been with an AMAZING man for the past four and a half plus years and still had no idea that this was coming. People look at me funny when I say that (mainly because I used to constantly tease him about it), but real-talk, I didn’t see it coming!

My boyfriend fiance proposed on the beach right after a family dinner. The sunset was perfect, his proposal was flawless, and I even got pictures!

After all of the hoopla and fun-in-the-sun at the beach, we returned home where I INSTANTLY started planning our perfect day. I bought tons of magazines, put together a homemade planning book, and permanently turned the TV to “Say Yes to the Dress” (that was nothing new). I couldn’t tell if my cat, Twix, was more interested in the wedding planning or my cheese dip, but I like to say she helped get the planning process going.

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Creating a wedding planning binder has been a saving grace so far. It’s where I keep track of EVERYTHING.

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Wedding Binder Recipe:

Supplies

2-in Binder

8 plastic dividers with tabs

Extra paper dividers with tabs

Computer paper

Pretty colored pens/markers

Scissors

Tape

Magazines– LOTS of magazines

How To:

I chose to have eight different sections in my binder, including: my timeline, contacts, the guest list, attire, the reception, photography, and contracts. I also have sub-tabs in some of these, but I’ll go into that later.

Before any of my tabs I have a master list, which is basically a condensed list of key information such as the wedding date, colors, officiant, caterer, etc.

 Timeline: this tab is basically the home to my checklist. As soon as I complete a task, it gets checked off and I no longer have to stress over it!

Contacts: Any important person or business (caterer, venue, etc.) is mentioned under this tab. It’s a reference page to email and telephone numbers so I will always know how to get in contact.

Guest List: Between the two of us, we have around 150 guests to invite. Soon I’ll be adding in addresses so I’ll have a go-to list while addressing Save the Dates and invitations.

Attire: This is my favorite tab! After I went through countless magazines, I took to cutting. If there is a wedding gown I love, it goes under the subsection, “Bride.” I also have a “Bridesmaids” as well as a “Groom/Groomsmen” sub-tab.

The Reception: This tab features subsections including “Venue,” “Decor,” “Food/Cake,” and “Music.” Once I visit a possible venue, all of the information I collect is hole-punched and slipped under the “Venue” sub-tab. The same will apply when I visit with caterers and cake bakers as well.  Though I haven’t started anything in the “Music” sub-tab, it will be a HUGE help once I start. If I hear a song I want played, I’ll be able to write it down and know exactly where it’s at!

The photography tab is basically a hand-held Pinterest board. It’ll serve as inspiration; If I ever see a photo I have to have taken at the wedding, it gets pasted in the photography section.

Contracts: This section is going to be a big help once I start making arrangements with vendors. By keeping them together in one spot, it will make things much easier.

Staying organized throughout this process is going to be my main objective. Between classes, two jobs, an internship, and wedding planning, I have no choice but to become slightly OCD.