January 6, 2014

Our Wedding: Planning, Decorations, and Details

Oh, planning a wedding...

I thought at one point that I would like to be a wedding planner, but now I'm not so sure. Although, I do think I'd be better at planning someone else's wedding rather than my own. I'm not a very good decision maker and so I never wanted to make a final decision on anything...

We were engaged on 5-30-2012 and we picked a wedding date of 9-21-2013, so we had well over a year to plan the wedding. Turns out, having a long engagement isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to planning. You feel like you have all the time in the world, until you don't. Long engagements invite procrastination, and then you end up rushing anyway.

The one thing we didn't wait too long for was picking our venue. That decision was pretty easy. St. Louis in June is FULL of brides and grooms, everywhere you go you see wedding parties, especially in Forest Park. When Tyler came out to visit me the first time, we spent a day in Forest Park and counted fourteen different wedding parties!

We wanted something a little more intimate and secluded. I'm a huge nature lover so an outdoor ceremony was really important. One of the first places we thought of and looked at was Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton, IL. We loved it! It was pretty, reasonably priced, and very laid back. We looked at some other places but ultimately decided on Pere Marquette. A huge plus was that it has rooms and cabins available for all the people who were coming in from out of town too.

We got the venue booked over a year in advance and Tyler and I spent our negative one year anniversary weekend there spying on other weddings.

{  September 2012  }

I used Pinterest to get some inspiration for the wedding (of  course) but I ended up coming up with some ideas of my own that I was pretty proud of too!

The venue is an old lodge with big wooden beams and stone fireplaces. And I was planning on wearing my boots with my dress. So a more rustic wedding was a no-brainer.

The DJ, photographer, and officiant were all big decisions that we put off longer than we should.

When we got engaged one of the first things I started planning was our ceremony. I wasn't really writing it myself but I was doing research and finding examples that I liked and then started putting pieces together and editing them to fit our personal preference. It wasn't until after I had created something that I really loved that I realized a lot of officiants may not want to use a pre-written ceremony. I wasn't really sure how that worked at all.

By the time I got around to contacting officiants most of them were already booked for our date. We ended up finding a couple who did weddings and we had a sit down meeting with them where we got to know each other a bit and then began crafting our ceremony together so that it would be extremely personal. They took the ceremony I loved and added even more personalization by including our love story as well.

I loved that we knew exactly what the ceremony was ahead of time because it was really impossible to focus on what Rev. James was saying in the moment.

Our photographer was stellar! Stephanie Bannon Photography! Not only did she take fabulous photos (as you will see all throughout these wedding posts), but she was so great to work with too. The day of the wedding she knew what our schedule was supposed to be, and she kept us on track. She made sure everything happened when we wanted it to and she caught everything on camera. She took charge of the situation when she needed to, but always accommodated our wants and needs.  She was on top of it! We are thrilled with the resulting pictures too!

The DJ was my biggest disappointment. He wasn't bad, but we had met with him and given him some songs so that he could get a feel for what we were going for, but apparently we didn't click. It wasn't what I had hoped for but it worked and it certainly wasn't bad. We could have put a lot more effort into constructing the lists we gave him, but we didn't put very much time into it. So we got what we got. People danced a lot and that's all that really matters!!

I wanted a peach, blue and green color scheme. Somewhat similar to this...

I looooked for decent peach bridesmaids dresses, but peach was not an easy color to come by. Eventually, I changed the plan and went for navy blue bridemaids dresses instead. Once again we got the dresses from David's Bridal. Although, I wasn't pleased with my experience getting my dress, I do think they are a great place for bridesmaids dresses if you have maids who live out of town. They are easily accessible anywhere so everyone can try on their dresses and get them ordered and altered without any hassle.

My bridemaids wore these dresses in Marine and got to wear whatever pair of cowboys boots they wanted.

{  David's Bridal  }
{  They were all BEAUTIFUL and totally rocked the dress and boots look!  }
For bridemaid gifts, I ordered these adorable navy chevron totes with burlap pockets (purchased custom on Etsy from Urban Scarfs). I gave each girl an adorable copy of Jane Eyre (from Anthropologie). On the inside cover I wrote a note to each. This was a really special gift idea to me because there is a quote from this book that I read in the ceremony right before my vows. I made sure to mark it in each book.  <3 I also included a set of navy blue earrings (all different) that the ladies could wear for the ceremony if they wanted to.

I let my flower girl choose her dress and accessories as well, and they came from... you guessed it.. David's Bridal also.

We ordered the boutonnieres and corsages from a local Schnucks florist, but the bouquet and reception flowers we ordered in bulk ourselves from BloomsbytheBox.com. This meant that we had to make our own bouquets the night before the wedding in our hotel rooms, but I think  they turned out fabulously!

My flowers were made up of baby's breath, peach stock, and light blue delphinium. The bridesmaids carried baby's breath. And the reception flowers were made up of the above mentioned flowers as well as caramel garden roses, and peach spray roses.

For the ceremony we also had potted mums as decorations up by our arbor and by the entrance.


I am lucky to have an awesome family who put a lot of effort into the decorations for us. My dad is very handy and a skilled wood worker so he was able to make a lot of the wooden pieces I requested.

My dad and uncle built our arbor out of young trees complete with grape vine hearts on the sides. True talent there! I went thrift store hunting for some old sheets that matched our colors, my mom made them into strips and then we hung them from the back of our arbor as our backdrop.

Between the ceremony and reception we had a cocktail hour planned and in the main lodge we set up games for our guests to stay entertained. We had bean bag toss, ring toss, custom puzzles with our pictures on them, and skeeball. My dad made the skeeball, bean bag toss, and ring toss games and he and my sister custom painted them with our wedding colors and theme. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of them in the actual venue. But here are the prep pictures.

{  Skeeball before it was all painted up - - I still haven't gotten to try this!  }
For the reception we had slabs of wood for the centerpiece base, branch candle holders, and branch slices that I used to wood burn table numbers on.

I went thrift store shopping to buy up lots of vases to complete the centerpieces. All the different vases made each table unique. We also had burlap table runners.

Light is a big thing for me (hence the name of my blog). It can really set the entire mood of an event, so it was important to me to have great lighting. We went shopping for clearance Christmas lights and stocked up on a bunch of large bulbs. My dad and uncles rigged a way to string them through the room and they turned out to be amazing!!

{  Burlap hanging behind the head table to cover up a room partition  }
We had a few different stations set up in the reception room. We had a s'mores bar, our gift table, and our cupcake table. I made chalkboards to decorate and label the different areas. Some chalkboards were wooden, and other were made from old windows (tutorial here).



As favors, we gave out mini maple syrup jugs (unfortunately not our homemade stuff) that I ordered from New Hampshire.

I must give a shout out here to the awesome families and friends that we have. As we were getting ourselves ready, our families were working their tails off to get everything set up and they did a BEAUTIFUL job. I cannot tell you all how much we appreciate it! I remember getting back to the venue at about 1:30 (ceremony was to start at 4:30) after getting hair and makeup done and checking on the reception room and seeing that not even all the tables were put up yet by the staffers. Our families and friends totally transformed the room in less than 3 hours! I'm sure they were stressing, but they didn't let it show. And everything was PERFECT! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can't say it enough!

As the bride I had to stay in the cabin that I was to walk out of for the ceremony. It was a completely different building and I felt very helpless. I knew everyone else was working to get everything ready, but all I could do was stay in my cabin and peer out the windows at everything going on. Hoping that I'd done enough preparation work to have it all come together okay. It turned out better than we'd ever dreamed!

It was a totally surreal experience having all of our planning come to a point. It really didn't feel real! But I'll get to that in my next post about the ceremony!