Looking back on *the* wedding

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So, as you would all know, back in October 2013, Alex and I got hitched. It was pretty darn awesome. A fair bit of my inspiration came from an amazing website called Offbeat Bride and as they had a section for submitting your wedding, once it was all done and dusted, I jumped at the chance.

Well, they published my wedding on the 17th February! Yay! I couldn’t have been more excited. I was really thrilled to share both my experiences and my handy tips for other Offbeat Brides and to let them know that when something screws up, it really isn’t the end of the world.

The only issue I had with the submission is that they chopped a fair bit out – and understandably so, I do have a tendency to waffle. But, me being me, I saved my submission details just in-case it didn’t get published. Now that it *has* been published though, I feel that I can share the entirety of it with you all!

Sadly though, this post is without the awesome pictures. If you want to see the “wedding porn” (as they put it) you can view all 964 images in all their glory here:

The Wedding on Imgur

So, without further ado, here goes!

Wedding highlights

Our wedding was relatively random. Alex and I had been together for over 12 years and engaged for 5 when I thought (more, decided!) that it was time to make it official. Was rather strange how easy it was to decide to just “get married”!

Alex is not a social person, so I immediately knew the guest list would have to be small. That, and we just couldn’t afford a big wedding. So it was whittled down to immediate family and our one closest friend each. This left us with a guest list of 20 people – not to many and not too little. I remember calling and booking the restaurant.

I didn’t want a white froofy wedding (or as my mother puts it “The giant white meringue”), so the first thing I planned was my dress. Had a rough idea of what I wanted, just needed to know where to find it. Went hunting for Australian corset makers and came across Gallery Serpentine – and found the dress of my dreams. After getting fabric samples, the colour scheme was picked – black and red.

Alex wasn’t that interested in helping with the wedding planning that really wasn’t his scene. But I wanted to make sure he had some input in the wedding so that it wasn’t totally foreign to him on the day. He had total say as to what he was going to wear – he picked it all, the shirt, the pants, the tie, and especially the shoes. I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible as he’s somewhat socially phobic, so if wearing comfortable clothes would make him feel at ease, I was totally cool with that.

We also removed the standard “You may now kiss the bride” spiel and modified it to suit us:
“Now, ordinarily this is the part where I say, “With the power vested in me…”, but this is no ‘ordinary’ ceremony. So…
Jess and Alex, congratulations! Achievement unlocked! You have now obtained marital status – your reward: Alex, you may now kiss the bride!”

Our cake was another thing that Alex had a massive say in – he and I are both Minuscule fans (http://minuscule.tv/index_en.html). So that became the theme for the cake. A friend of mine from work does cake-making on the side and agreed to be my cake maker, with some assistance from myself. 26 hours, lots of love and a huge array of insect critters later and we’ve got a stunning wedding cupcake tree!

I wanted to make sure we were represented in everything, so there were a few touches that made this wedding uniquely “ours” – the songs we picked for the ceremony were from our favourite bands: Beautiful by Apocalyptica, Love Love Love by Unwritten Law and Decoherence by Insomnium. I don’t think the guests realised what they were listening to, but we did, and it certainly meant that it had significance for us. I’m also a MASSIVE Lego fan, so I wanted to include Lego in some way – and did that by giving away custom designed key rings to all the guests with our names and the date engraved onto them.

I saw a post on Offbeat Bride a few months back regarding different types of bouquets…and saw a lollipop bouquet. I was in heaven. I *knew* that’s what I was going to have. I had already organised custom candy as our wedding favours and spoke to the shop I was getting it through to have my custom red and black lollipops made for my bouquet. They were amazing – still are, as I’m still eating my way through them!

I made sure to budget as well as I possibly could – I sourced a number of my items online (including my dress) and made a few of the items for the wedding. The hand made items included (other than the cake!): the cardbox (which I’m now using as our “wedding keepsake box”), our handfasting cord, all the wedding signage, my bouquet and the two table centre pieces, the packaging of the favours and the home-printed fingerprint tree.

Meaningful moments

Planning it all was very meaningful. There were a few things that were extremely special to me. I made our handfasting cords myself. There were three individual braids braided together – one braid signifying Alex, one braid to signifying myself and the other signifying the wedding day. Each end had charms that had meaning to both Alex and I. While the handfasting ceremony was very quick, the cord is one of the more precious items that I’ll be keeping from the wedding.

Danielle’s mother has known me for a number of years and, unbeknownst to Alex or I, wanted to do something for our wedding. As an Italian, she wanted to do the traditional bomboniere, so she spoke to Danielle and got our colour scheme and made up our bomboniere. She also provided absolutely adorable ladybug bubble blowers, which tied into our theme *really* well! Danielle came to our house to help me get ready bringing all of this with her, and it was such as surprise – and it meant so much!

To tie in with the theme, I wanted to make sure that even my socks matched – so I have to say I got a little teary when I was going through my drawers and found a pair of knee-high socks in black and red that my Dad had bought for me when I was 15. I knew I had to wear them. They were perfect…and now they hold extra meaning to me!

Our vows were also extremely memorable and special to us. We wrote them ourselves and they very nearly made us both cry in the middle of our ceremony. Our vows:

Alex, please repeat after me:
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, Alex take you, Jess to be my lawful wedded wife.
Jess, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you. I love you for the fact you fell in love with me: introverted, disorganised, spontaneous me.
I love you for your patience with me, and trying to add structure to my chaotic existence.
I promise to be there through the good and rough times, to remind you the world isn’t ending when something doesn’t go as planned, and to always be a shoulder to lean on.
I promise that I will always love you, no matter how many times you make me late for things, no matter how many times you get obsessive over where the something is placed, or when you get upset at me for not taking your organisational spreadsheets seriously.
I promise that I will always support your Lego addiction as long as you support my random obsession of the moment.
More seriously, I promise to always be there for you, to love you unconditionally and be there for you eternally.”

Jess, please repeat after me:
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, Jess take you, Alex to be my lawful wedded husband.

Alex, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you. I love you for the fact that you fell in love with me: 16 year old, blue-goth, psycho-princess me.
I love you for helping me with all those jumping puzzles I can never do, for being patient and understanding when I get in one of my moods, and always being able to make me laugh.
I love you for replacing the lyrics to every song we know with ‘Jess’, for understanding me when we speak in our “couple grunt language” and for being brave enough to get in the car with me when I drive.
I love you for pandering to my insane Lego addiction, for tolerating my spider-rat hysterics and for taking me on random trips to Movenpick.
I promise to be there through the awesome times and the sulky times, to always pick up your socks, and to always be your player two.
I promise that I will always love you, no matter how many times you forget to pay the Telstra bill, scold me for my consumption of chocolate, or stack the dishwasher the wrong way.
I promise that I will always laugh with you at awesome YouTube and LiveLeak videos, to cry at soppy movies because you don’t, and to share in all your adventures – most of which I’ll be dragged into anyway!
More seriously, I promise to always be by your side, to love you unconditionally and to be your best friend for the rest of our lives.”

Biggest challenge

As the wedding was so small, it meant that keeping things under control was relatively easy. We did have a few minor hiccups along the way – the rings were a MAJOR issues (I devoted an entire blog post to the ring saga: http://girl-germs.com/?p=267 )

The rings were the only major issue we had before the wedding, but on the day we had two minor stuff-ups. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to do my hair and makeup, which meant we ran over by about 30 minutes. This made us late to the ceremony – it was only due to Alex’s “creative” driving that we weren’t even later. It’s as this point that I should say that sitting down in a corset for 45 minutes (which is how long it took to get to the ceremony from our house) is not something I’d recommend – they really aren’t designed for car seats! Running late though wasn’t as bad as I thought because the ceremony was so short that we made up time in regards to the reception. The venue were fabulous about this and were really understanding – I think they were used to weddings running a little “over time”!

The last screw up was with our photographers – my grandmother and godfather. They usually work out of the Gold Coast region, and had made the trek all the way to the Sunshine Coast hinterland for my wedding, with all their cameras…minus their battery packs. So our photographers had no cameras. Luckily, my mother runs a community newspaper and so she has a number of cameras that she uses for her newspaper photo shoots. She was able to lend these cameras to our photographers in order for me to get some great photos on the day. I was also lucky enough to have 8 other people with cameras taking photos, so I ended up with an absolute truckload of images – nearly 1000. Some of the candids taken by others have turned out to be the best – my favourite is the image of me flipping the bird and the look of pure shock and horror on my mothers face! I’m getting that thing framed!

Funniest moment

Planning the wedding including a few amusing anecdotes:

Letting Alex know about my plans for a wedding was…extremely amusing. I walked into his study and said “Hun, I’m planning a wedding!” and he looked at me, completely innocently, and said “Oh cool! Who’s?”. He was dead serious. The look on his face when I said “Ours” was priceless.

When I said I wanted to book for a wedding, Di (the events coordinator at Birches) asked me how many people: “Are we talking 50? 100? 150?” When I told her that there would be 22 people, including 3 children, she laughed a warm-natured laugh and replied “Darling, that’s not a wedding, that’s a dinner party, we can *definitely* fit you in!”. Was brilliant!

The “formal” photos were also amusing…for everyone else. Smiling almost non-stop for hours on end is close to torture for me. Alex described it as “photo fatigue” towards the end where I looked like I was ready to murder people in some of the photos. We did have some fun times during the formal photos though – my best friend Danielle really knows how to make me laugh and managed to get some real smiles out of me, as well as a few laughs. Let me just say, laughing in a corset can be rather painful!

Ceremony

Our ceremony was pretty simple and straightforward – an introduction to the ceremony, a reading (from my Nana), a brief history of our relationship (considering it’s been over 12 years!), the vows, a very short ring ceremony, another reading (by my best friend), our handfasting ceremony, “kiss the bride”, signing of the register and certificates, one last reading by the celebrant and then presentation to friends and family. It was all over and done with within 30 minutes.

None of Alex’s family are big on public speaking, so the readings would have to be done by my side. The Pam Ayres poem “Yes, I’ll Marry You My Dear” (with a few minor edits to make it relate better to us!) was read by my Nana and Robert Fulgham’s “Everything I learned I learned in Kindergarten” was read by my best-friend and Alex’s “little sister”, Danielle. Having these two lovely ladies read at our wedding was a big deal.

Our handfasting was included because I was pagan for a period of time during our relationship and I loved the symbolism of the binding of the hands. Alex had no problems with the handfasting rite, as we made sure to keep it non-religious.

Lessons learned

If someone offers to help, take it. You can’t control everything – even if you’re OCD, and anally retentive like I am. I tried so hard to be super organised, I tried to make sure everything ran according to my spreadsheets (that wasn’t just in the vows for giggles, I had 14 different spreadsheets relating to the wedding).

Don’t get me wrong, organisation can go a long way to helping you plan your big day with minimal stress, but you can’t do it all alone. The least you need is someone to bitch to when things aren’t going as planned.

Plan for contingencies – I had my “Oh Shit” kit ready to go with everything that was listed on this site, and a few extra bits and pieces I’d thought of along the way. In fact, my oh-shit-kit is still sitting in my car because I’ve found that it’s extremely helpful just in every day going-to-work scenarios when something goes wrong.

Listen to advice – you don’t always have to do what other people say, but certainly listening to their advice and opinions may be helpful. I have a colleague at work who is very loud and gives his opinion on EVERYTHING, so I was inclined to ignore what he was saying when he butted in on a conversation I was having with a friend about my wedding. I ended up listening to him, as his wife wears corsets for formal events, and he mentioned that it might not be a bad idea to buy an extra top just in case I couldn’t sit for long stretches in the corset. Best. Idea. EVER. I did end up getting changed into the top because I just couldn’t sit properly or eat in the corset.

Make sure you know what you want – airy-fairy ideas are great and all, but if you don’t have a concrete idea of what it is you’re after, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Pinterest can be really helpful for this, it certainly helped my hone down my list of needs and wants.

BUDGET WELL – you’d be surprised what you can do if you plan your budget carefully. Our wedding was just over $6700, including the few days we spent away in Montville for our mini-honeymoon. While we did have a very small wedding, this could have easily been blown out of proportion.

Vendor links

Wedding location & reception location: Birches Restaurant
Celebrant: Rebecca Griffin
Invitations: Zazzle
Corset, skirt and reception top: Gallery Serpentine
Makeup & Hair: Rachel Heyes
Brides tophat with veil: Dark Pony Designs on Etsy
Brides shoes: Converse Australia
Brides shoelaces: Ebay
Brides chainmaille jewellery: Eternal Elf Creations on Etsy
Puzzle Guestbook: Planetasierra on Etsy
Lego Keyring wedding favours: Brick Printer
Candy wedding favours & lollipops (for the bouquet): Candy Addictions

Following on from the lessons learned of that post (because I was somewhat limited in what I could put in) I started making a longer list of the lessons I learnt as part of the process of planning a wedding and getting married, with this list being compiled over the last few months and including things I didn’t even think to add to my original post. Some of these things I did mention, but some I didn’t even think of until well after I’d submitted my post to Offbeat Bride. So, this is my list of “Thing I learnt from planning my own wedding”:

Accept help – bit of a no-brainer. I have to say, I’m really happy I did let a few people help me with my wedding. If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get everything done in time. Not only that, but some of the things that others did for me turned out *way* better than if I’d tried to do them myself. Seriously.

Your dress is not the be-all and end-all – don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED (and still do love) my dress. But it’s not the centrepiece of the day. It doesn’t have to cost you thousands. It doesn’t have to be fitted and re-fitted and re-fitted again to get it “just right”. If that’s what you’ve done, that’s cool – I’m not knocking you. But for some of us – the clothes we wear, while we want them to look fabulous, are just clothes. If they get food spilt on them, or a child stands on the hem, on your shoes tear the lace lining…it’s not the end of the world.

Shoes don’t matter, especially if they’re hidden – for the love of all that is holy, this is one piece of advice I want to pass on to every god damn bride out there. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! My wedding was only a few hours – and I was so thrilled that the shoes I was wearing were insanely comfortable. And, to be honest, most of the time brides these days are wearing gowns that go down to the floor…so who cares what shoes are underneath?

Jewellery can be cheap and still look amazing – if you follow the vendor link for my chainemaille jewellery you’ll see how cheap it was. It was CHEAP. All my jewellery cost me less than $100. And it looked amazing. Still does. Not only that – it’s as light as a feather! I could’ve kept wearing it all day (in fact, I forgot I was wearing the bracelet until I went to sleep that night!). I was so thrilled with the jewellery I got, I will definitely be going back and buying more.

Enjoy the experience – don’t think of it all as stress – if you don’t take some time out to enjoy yourself, it will all just go by in a blur and you won’t remember your day at all. I made sure that I had some time to just sit and be happy, without someone trying to take my photo or forcing me to smile (trust me, after smiling for a gazillion photos, they’ll need to force you because your face will *ache*). It was worth it. It helped me cement the memories I have today of our wedding day.

Have something to look forward to AFTER the wedding – post-wedding blues is a real thing – I didn’t think I’d be affected by this, but I really was. After it was all over, I felt deflated…strangely sad…and somewhat empty. All this work, all this effort – and it was all over. Having something afterwards to look forward to (not just your honeymoon!) makes things a bit brighter – especially if it’s something you have to plan for.

Have back-up plans – no matter if you think everything will go perfectly, it won’t. No matter how much you plan for things, something will go wrong that you didn’t expect. It’s just the nature of how things work. Just be prepared for it. If something can have a backup plan – make a backup plan!

Oh-Shit kit – my “Oh-Shit Kit” was a great idea. I only needed to use one thing from it (the emergency stash of Glucogel Jellybeans) but that in itself was enough to justify its existence. As mentioned above, it’s still in my car to this day and I’ve found it incredibly useful.

The smaller the better (personally) – I loved that our wedding was so small that I was able to spend time with each and every single person who came and know that they were there for Alex and I because they truly wanted to be there. I also have to say, it meant that paying the bill at the end of the day was a much nicer experience than if we’d had 50-100 people to try and feed.

You don’t need a wedding party – We had no bridesmaids. No best man. No flower girls. No ushers. We didn’t see the point. Our wedding was small enough that everyone who was there *was* the wedding party! Don’t feel you need to follow tradition. Also, I have since been told, my best friend was very happy not to be a bridesmaid as she didn’t want to wear a hideous dress 🙂

Small details can be fun but don’t get bogged down – some of the little things of our day meant the most. For example, the ladybug bubble blowers were a total surprise and we’re totally amazing! But be careful not to think about *all* the little things too much. If you get bogged down in them, you can create too much work for yourself and then it all becomes too stressful. Just be sure you know your limits, know what you can accomplish and set out to do that…and don’t over-extend yourself!

The day is not just about you – it’s also about him – BRIDES! LISTEN UP! THERE ARE TWO PEOPLE GETTING MARRIED! I was honestly surprised by how bride-focused the whole industry was, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. I want to make it known, loud and clear, that there are two people involved in a wedding and he has just as much right to have a say in how the day will go as you do. If you’re not paying attention to him or letting him have his say, then why the hell are you getting married in the first place?!

Hens parties/bucks nights – not necessary – we didn’t have a hens night/bucks party. We had a joint outing, early in October, to see one of our favourite bands play (Soilwork) with two of our close mates. It made for an awesome joint outing and I found it more memorable *because* we were together. I also don’t go for all the hens-night nonsense, with sashes and tiaras and all that junk. Really, not my cup of tea. If it’s for you – great. No judgement. It’s just not up my alley.

Speeches – not necessary – No one needs to give a speech. I think we had one brief speech moment from my Mum, but that was about it. There was no need to stand on ceremony, there was no need for embarrassing stories, there was no need for anyone to say how happy they were for us – they’d already told us, and we knew! So if speeches aren’t your thing, don’t worry. You don’t need them.

Have a run list, it’ll save you! – Seriously, it will. Give it to someone who you trust, so that someone else knows how you two want your day to run. They can help wrangle people for photos, and poke the caterers if things are going slowly. It also means that you can plan a “Let’s escape” time…

Thank you cards aren’t optional (I discovered) – As much as I’m against tradition, this is one that I found out is *not* optional, in any way. If someone comes to your wedding or gives you a wedding present, they need a “Thank You” card. It’s just the done thing. I had all the women in my family hounding me for weeks after the wedding asking when they were going to see their card…finally caved in late December. So glad I got that out of the way so they can all leave me alone about it!

Making the cake was the most fun I’ve ever had in an art project – if you can be involved in your cake, do. It was SO. MUCH. FUN! I’ve never had that much fun on an art project and it took weeks of planning, but it was amazing. And the finished product really did stun everyone – meant that all those hours working on it were well worth it. I also think it made it that much more special to have had an involvement in making my own cake!

Handmade things can be fun and meaningful and awesome – while I said not to get bogged down in the little things, having some involvement in making things for your wedding can be really awesome and make those things have so much more meaning. A few of the things for my wedding were made by me – my bouquet, the table centrepieces, the cardbox, our handfasting cords, the signs, the gift bags…I really loved having small touches in the wedding that I’d had a hand in making!

Family only offer advice out of love – don’t be hurt by it – this is a big one. If a member of your family disagrees with you over your plans for the wedding, or thinks something won’t work, or outright hates your ideas, don’t hate them for it – it’s coming from a place of love. They just want your day to be awesome and they truly don’t mean to hurt you with their ideas…they just might not have the same ideas as you. Take the advice, smile politely and mention that while you’re grateful for their advice, it’s your day.

Shit will happen – and it isn’t the end of the world! – this is the final piece of advice and there’s nothing that I can say or do to prepare you. Shit WILL happen. Things went wrong for us on the day. We were running late because my hair and makeup took too long. We beat my parents to the venue, which means none of the setting up had been done and everyone was waiting while we set up – and I had to help setup in the end anyway just to get it all done quickly! I broke a nail getting out of the car – luckily my oh-shit kit had a nail file in it! My photographers forgot the battery packs for their cameras, so we had no professional cameras for them to take photos with. During our ceremony, the venue forgot we were there and started playing their normal restaurant music over the speakers…music which neither myself nor my other half liked AT ALL. Was a bit sucky, but we moved on.

And while all of that happened, it didn’t diminish the fun of the day. It didn’t dampen our feelings for eachother. It didn’t ruin the moment. They’re now fun stories I get to tell about our wedding day – stories that I’ll get to tell to work mates, to friends, to family; that we can all laugh over. And that’s the biggest point – don’t take yourself too seriously, laugh and above all HAVE FUN!

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