*Another obviously wedding centric post.
I've been thinking about it a lot, so this post is dedicated to all the ways we personalized our wedding.
But first, another disclaimer: I worked for nearly 10 years in the Austin wedding industry as an officiant, day of coordinator, and/or full on wedding planner. I've seen all kinds of weddings. Literally had a couple jump out of a plane and I did the ceremony right after they landed. I've seen small budget weddings and I've seen extravagant weddings (one couple spent $1k on a single floral arrangement that was only seen during cocktail hour and was too big to move!). I've done simple elopements with just a bride and groom and I've had a wedding party 30 people deep and 300 guests. I've had backyard weddings and country club weddings.
And you know what? I loved them all.
My favorite thing about weddings today is there is no formula you have to follow. And I think the best part of that is when a couple brings their personality to the party. I think it is wonderful to get inspiration from Pinterest (or whatever your muse may be) and then put your own personal spin on it.
Me? I sprinkle my personality like glitter - it was all over everything.
I definitely thought about what our wedding might look like even before Rob proposed. And I had pretty much settled on (with Rob agreeing) an elegant Harry Potter themed wedding. And I am positive I could have pulled that off (I was even going to have an owl ring bearer). My only sticking point was I just couldn't find a Dallas area venue that I felt like worked.
There may have even been a minute when I was researching renting a castle somewhere (and I was definitely not limiting myself to US only). But I just couldn't justify that expense and I was afraid it would be too expensive for anyone to come.
And then Rob took me to Maine. And he just beamed the entire trip - Pops Cottage is home for him. It was obvious. And I can't pretend that I didn't fall in love with it too - it is breath taking there.
I mean, are you kidding me? If the ocean had been warmer there, Rob would have never been able to get me to leave.
As the week wore on I just started thinking more and more that a wedding in Maine would mean so much to Rob - and therefore me too. I knew I wanted to explore that idea some more when a few days later Rob was showing me around the compound.
I kid. It's isn't really a compound but members of his family own the last 4 houses on the street so what does that sound like to you?
Pops Cottage is the one that started it all. Some time later Woods Cottage (also known as the Aframe) was built. I think sometime in the '70s, Jerry bought the property next door and built the Lodge, and then a few years ago he bought the property next to that and built his new, current summer home.
Sidebar: while Pops Cottage is operated primarily as a family timeshare sort of thing, they do offer up unclaimed weeks as an AirBnB sort of situation. And as of last summer, the Lodge is available for non-family rentals as well. If you are ever interested in visiting Maine, let me know and I can send you the links (fair warning, they are not cheap but if you have a big enough party, maybe it works?)
Anyway, Rob is showing me the memorial garden between Pops Cottage and Woods Cottage and I look to my right and see this:
And suddenly I could see it all. All we had to do was ask if Jerry and Connie would be willing to let us use the property, how much it would cost, and could we feasibly make it happen.
Obviously they said yes. Then I had to ask Susie and Magan if they would be willing/able to attend a wedding in Maine because no way was I getting married without them by my side.
We had to iron out a few other details before deciding to go for it. The biggest one being budget. Which we made. Then doubled it because everything is SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than it should be. And then we still went over budget.
I do regret (about 5%) not sticking to the budget better. Because we are really having to tighten the proverbial purse strings now. But it was 100% worth it.
I've gotten off topic a little bit. This is supposed to be about personalizing the wedding Suzanne!
Ok - we have our gorgeous location sorted but I just wasn't feeling the elegant Harry Potter vibe anymore. And even though everything was going to be outside, I still wanted it to be elegant.
Fun fact: I once had an older adult co-worker - actually she was a manager, but not over me - (from my Pizza Hut HQ days) that just didn't like me. No matter how I tried. I confronted her finally (it's a big story - maybe I'll blog about it someday) - she didn't try to deny anything and in fact confessed that she had blocked me for several promotions (her words). Why? "I don't know. You're just so elegant!"
If that confuses you, think how I felt. And no, I was never able to get on her good side.
Anyway, I'm trying to figure out the theme/vibe for the wedding. It's elegant. The location feels a little woodland faerie whimsical. So elegant, whimsical...good so far. But where's the fun? What makes it really US?
Geek. Not limiting ourselves to just Harry Potter. But keep it chic - not like a Party City vomited all over everything.
So that's the theme - elegant, whimsical, geek chic. And I immediately knew how to pull it off.
In case I haven't mentioned it before, or you're new here and don't know, our wedding date was an Easter Egg all along.
Back in May 2021 we were coming home from Tristan and Paulette's wedding and talking about all the things we would or wouldn't want at our wedding (no, we are not engaged yet but I did know it was coming). We knew we wanted to go to Scotland for the honeymoon so I looked up best time of year to visit Scotland. According to google, it's best to visit in April or September. We already were planning a February trip so April seemed a bit too soon after that so September it is! I look up September 2022 on my phone and start reading the Friday dates, not because we wanted a Friday wedding but it seemed an easy way to start the weekend.
September 2...September 9...NINE NINE! We both shouted it at the same time and we just knew that was our wedding date. (it's a Brooklyn 99 reference - IYKYK)
Honestly one of the most difficult parts of the entire process was the invitations. I found Save the Dates that I loved - I didn't even have to ask Rob, I knew he would love them immediately:
They are magnets! How cute are these?
But it wasn't the direction I wanted for invitations. I fell in love with watercolor invitations I found on etsy but the cost of having a completely custom design made for us was prohibitive. And I couldn't find anything geek that encompassed all the various fandoms we wanted to incorporate.
I'm not even kidding, I might have looked at a thousand different invitations on every website I could think of. I was getting discouraged. Then one night I was discussing it with Misty over text and within minutes she found the perfect invitation!
Fun fact: when designing the invitation and trying different fonts, I came across this one. The name of the font? Lobster. I mean, I wouldn't have used it just because of that if the look was wrong but I really like it!
To take things a step further in the personalizing, when sending the invitations we used Star Wars stamps (a hint of things to come) and lighthouse stamps on the response envelopes because Rob loves lighthouses and they make him think of Maine.
I chose my color pallet based off my wedding dress - which as you know by now was a dusty blue. Susie, Magan, and I all went dress shopping together and I let them choose dresses they liked and in the color they agreed on - I wanted them in the same color but I let them pick it from 3 options.
The men were easy and overflowing with details. I knew I wanted them in a dark blue suit - we bought our three boys' suits and also wanted something they would be able to wear later. The curveball was when Rob decided he wanted a blue plaid suit - it was unexpected but I loved it. We had a custom suit made for him (more expensive than my wedding dress btw) and we had matching vests made for the groom's party and my boys. So Rob was in all plaid with everyone else in dark blue with plaid vests.
Where's the geek of it? The devil (geek) is in the details my friends!
First I had custom bowties made for all of them - and this is when we decided to assign each male in the wedding party to a specific fandom. Rob was Harry Potter (obviously), Duncan was music (because Rob is a total music geek), Mark was Star Trek, Xander was Doctor Who, Zach was Avengers, and Matt was Star Wars (I didn't dictate his wardrobe as much as the others but he blended well).
And I went back and forth a lot before making my final bowtie decision - there is a plethora of bowties to choose from. But I came across an etsy shop called Subtle Geek and I knew I found what I was looking for. Unfortunately they didn't have all the ones I needed and I couldn't get a response from the shop owner so I found TiedUpBowtiesStore and the owner quickly responded to me. I wanted all the bowties to be a dark blue with small, white repeating icons. From a distance, they would all appear to be wearing the same tie but up close you could see the difference. Geek chic if you will.
Next up was cufflinks. I love a French cuff and thought it brings another touch of elegance so I asked all the men to wear French cuff shirts. I found cufflinks specific to each fandom - all from various sellers on etsy.
Another small detail was the socks - because yes, I had custom dress socks made for all of them.
You might be asking yourself if all of this geek chic is so subtle, why bother? Couldn't I have trimmed my expenses by skipping some of these little details?
Definitely. But it brought me so much joy just knowing they had these touches and I like to think they liked it too. And these all doubled as great thank you gifts.
The final touch for the guys were the boutonnieres. I know Magan didn't like them (toys don't belong in a wedding) and I think Susie had a hard time seeing the big picture but Rob and I loved them! Another etsy seller created custom boutonnieres for the perfect final touch - and honestly cost about the same as a real boutonniere would have except they can keep them! And while I'd be surprised if they kept them intact, I'm pretty sure the mini figs can be removed quite easily.
I think we nailed it.
And here is the entire wedding party:
A quick note on the flowers, as I mentioned before there was not a floral budget really. I found these lovely bunches of faux peonies on Amazon for a very affordable price. They are very realistic looking though I did remove all of the greenery as that was less convincing. I used one small bunch each for Susie and Magan and added some ranunculus corsages I had as well. Wrapped the stems in a coordinating ribbon and it was a perfect posey. I used 4 bunches for my bouquet and added some hosta leaves from around the property for color. And because it is me, I added a glittery ribbon to wrap my stems. All 3 bouquets for less than $50 and the best part is mine sits in a vase on my shelf so I can see it every day (minus the hosta leaves).
Stay with me - there's a lot more.
I have an antique choker that belonged to my grandmother. It's cheap costume jewelry and has little value (other than sentimental). Plus I just think it is pretty. I've only worn it a handful of times - once as an actual choker (to my 10 year high school reunion). I wore it at my last wedding as a headband and Jana even wore it as a hair decoration when she went to prom. And although I wore it to my last wedding I still really wanted to wear it this time.
I decided to check etsy - on a whim - to see if I could find any matching pieces. as I was sure it had been a set at one point and I found one! It had the necklace plus matching clip on earrings and a brooch.
Our friend Caroline makes jewelry so I asked her if she could work some magic for me. I wanted both necklaces to be made into bracelets, the earrings turned into a dangle, and the brooch and any left over bits fashioned into a fascinator. The fascinator should have had a small birdcage veil on it but we couldn't quite get it to work - and I had my hair done at 9am and wasn't going to wear the veil all day - and couldn't attach it once on my head without messing up my hair (which looked amazing by the way).
She also took a sapphire ring I had and made earrings for my second ear holes but it ended up being a bit much with all the other bling so I went with just diamonds. All this took care of my old, new, and blue.
What was borrowed? The stunning necklace. Rob's mom offered it to me and even had the chain lengthened just for me (because I have the neck of a football player). She told me she wore it on her wedding day and I think she said her mother had too. It was gorgeous and I feel so honored to have been able to wear it.
I even had a lucky sixpence for my shoe! Which I almost forgot at the last minute as we were all lined up.
One of my favorite things about the jewelry make over is I now have heirloom pieces for any future daughters-in-law I may have. And when my niece Berlin got married a few weeks ago, she wore a bracelet as her something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
Also did you see how pretty my nails were?
Moving on. Carrying the geek of it all while maintaining elegance was a little trickier for the reception, but we managed. We named our tables after each of the fandoms that the men represented. But I didn't want to do any kind of table signage because let's face it - the tables were already pretty busy. Problem solved by using recognizable icons for the place card holders. Etsy to the rescue again when I found a shop owner willing to create custom pieces for me (at less than $1 each). I had them all done in gold to keep it more subtle. And the name cards were printed with the Lobster font as well.
So to find their seats, I created signs with everyone's name in alphabetical order and their assigned fandom. As far as I know, no one had any issues finding their seats.
And finally, the last geek touches were the desserts. At one time early in the process, Rob had joked about having a bleedin'armadillo groom's cake (#steelemagnolias). I vetoed that but I said he could have a lobster cake. The original idea was for it to look like just one big lobster on a platter but it evolved to this:
Sadly our coordinators neglected to put the sign with it so I don't think many people even realized it was cake! I also think she brought it out to early so by the time we cut it it was starting to fall apart. Yet another #cordinatorfail.
For what it's worth though, it was apple cider flavor and delicious.
And in lieu of a traditional cake, we had petite fours. We had 6 different flavors and each was decorated with a geek icon (one per flavor). For instance the Star Trek one was Earl Grey and the Music flavor was Coachella. They didn't turn out quite like I envisioned but they were delicious.
I know it is difficult to tell, but the dark blue is the Rebel Alliance logo from Star Wars (and the cake flavor was Dark Side - chocolate on chocolate). Light blue is Captain America's shield - I can't remember what flavor but it was good.
I almost forgot about our drinks! Our final final personal geek touch was our signature drink - we had one signature drink and a limited bar (special thanks to Abby for pulling that all off for us). Our drink was my favorite - sweet tea vodka mixed with lemonade and a splash of amaretto. And for our toasts we brought a little Texas to Maine by doing tequila shots.
Footnote: I was about to end this very long post when I remembered this:
These two adorned our dessert table in lieu of a cake topper (since we didn't really have a cake). We also had custom figures made for our wedding party as the fandom they represented. Susie was Hermione (obviously) and I got something else entirely for Magan because I knew she wouldn't appreciate the pop figure. Not that she wouldn't have been appreciative of anything I gave her, but why buy someone something you know they won't love just because it matches everyone else?
Ok - that's really it - I promise. For today anyway. Thanks for reading through to the end.