I feel like many of you have been begging for this. Here you go: vendor picks and the big day.
And forewarning, this is going to be a very looooong one.
Where to start?
To answer the number one question: YES this was planned alllllll along. I have the emails to the dress shop to prove it ha ha!
I’ve never been one for big weddings. Not judging anyone and what they choose to do, similar to childbirth, it’s your life (and your money): do what makes you happy. My family has always known this about me and for years, my mom has always said to me, “I don’t care if you elope, just please have me be your witness.” When we got back from our trip to Mexico last February, both my sister and mom asked if we had eloped. Nope, wasn’t even engaged.
The idea of eloping and throwing a surprise wedding had come up in the past, with the beau and with girlfriends. Frankly, I’m shocked that none of them caught on sooner or questioned some of my quick planning, but then again, I really ghosted a lot of people the last month and a half in fear I’d slip. So when our engagement came last October, it was an easy decision for us to settle on a “wedding” date and count backwards, knowing we’d have to sneak in the surprise before then.
Only our vendors and officiant knew what was about to go down. We invited our closest family members – siblings, parents and grandparents – to our “engagement dinner” at Peck’s Arcade. There were 11 of us total in the room. I know for elopements the hot topic is not everyone being involved and here’s my response: that’s okay. If a family member is going to “punish you” for not including them, they aren’t being very supportive of your love and desire for intimacy. Do I wish my grandparents and Uncle were present? Yes. Was I going to sacrifice my surprise to get them there? Unfortunately not. If I wasn’t going to let my mom in on the secret, I wasn’t going to spill the beans. I knew we’d be throwing a party in May and am personally still looking forward to having every single person we invited there to celebrate.
We chose Peck’s Arcade because it was in downtown Troy and we heard they had really good food; neither one of us actually ate there prior to the big day nor could we choose the menu that evening. And oddly enough, we were both pretty okay with the unknown.
Back in October when we chose May to be our “wedding” month, I knew I had to move fast for a dress because they typically say it takes 6 months to have the dress made and finished with alterations. I needed it in 3 months. I wanted to support small business as much as possible, so I chose to visit True North Bridal in Chatham, NY. I remember having to call the owner, Katee, and explaining to her, okay, if my mom says May, just shake your head: I need February! She was a breeze to work with and was a huge help when it came to rushing the dress’ arrival. My mom and sister were there and I tried on probably 10 dresses but chose the first dress I picked up off the rack and tried on: a Daughters of Simone Lilah gown.
Flowers: there was only one person I wanted to design my wedding bouquet and that was Colie, the Flower Scout. We met with her a couple of times to discuss what we wanted but the beau and I were both pretty laid back: we wanted a garland on the table and a boutonniere and a bouquet all with whites and deep reds. That’s it. We didn’t have a choice of flowers or a specific look: I knew whatever she made would be fabulous and perfect. And they were. Last minute I had asked her to decorate our cake and she was on-board; that too came out better than I could have imagined.
Our cake was a vegan vanilla naked cake filled with vanilla frosting and fresh strawberries. Sarah, formally of Xs to Os, oh so kindly made it for us – thank you Sarah!
I’m trying to think of other details we needed to solidify for February 25th: my shoes! Sooooooo, they aren’t vegan. And I had a hard time making that decision but I’m human and make the best decisions I can on a daily basis. I searched and searched and searched for a long time for a vegan replacement but just didn’t love any as much as I did this pair of Swedish Hasbeens. I justified this purchase because I’ll forever get to wear them, paired with jeans, dresses… everything! And I already have worn them a number of times happily… and guilt free. I chose red for a pop of color – thank you Lauren for helping me with this!
Something old: our first toast was done using Taylor’s parents’ champagne glasses from their wedding thirty plus years ago.
Something new: the pair of quartz earrings I purchased from Annick’s.
Something borrowed: the pair of Spanx I wore under my dress (no, I’m not kidding – thank you Maryann!).
Something blue: I had my seamstress sew in the tail of a Smurf stuffed animal – it use to be my Nanny’s.
My engagement ring was made by an artist from Kingston: Rebecca Peacock. It’s absolutely me and I wanted to support her some more and asked her to design our wedding bands. It was wonderful meeting and chatting with her in her studio – there’s something special about knowing the person who physically makes something for you, something you’ll be wearing everyday from here on out. My mom was with me when we picked them up the first time (we had to have them sized again) and I was so nervous she’d catch on by how fast everything was coming together… she didn’t.
Our officiant was my close friend, Phil. We’ve only been friends for a short amount of time (well, 6 years) and he’s been supportive since day one. He was even on our first date! He was the BEST
officiant friend a couple could ask for. Besides writing our vows, he made sure his car was fully stocked with water and mints – he was our driver for the day – and he even bought me a clear kitty umbrella so that I could venture out in the predicted rain. And he ran some pre-wedding miles with me the morning of. Kicked my butt!
Lastly, but surely not least, our photographer! DiAnna Marr of Our Two Hearts flew in from Denver, Colorado to be a part of this surprise. When I first reached out to her, I didn’t realize she was living in CO and felt silly that I had reached out to her without figuring out that little detail. Turns out, she grew up here and still has family local, so she was happy to travel east to visit. [She took all of the fabulous photographs in this post.]
Okay, now that you know all of the vendors / little details, on to the big day…
The week prior to our wedding, I realized our birth certificates had been thrown out during the move. Whoops! I was upset and freaking out a tiny bit, but the beau mailed in an application for a duplicate and I took off from work to visit the Town Hall. They both came with time to spare and the day before the wedding, I met the beau on lunch at the Troy City Hall to get our wedding license. The employees were shocked we were there so last minute – we had a good laugh telling them the story.
Leading up to the big day, I didn’t have any nerves. The night prior when I kissed the beau goodnight, I made the comment “when we wake up tomorrow, it’ll be our wedding day.” Instant nerves! I was mostly concerned over how everyone would react. I ran with Phil, took a quick shower and before I knew it, was headed to Jean Paul for hair and makeup. I was sweating so much I was so nervous! I must have calmed down toward the end because when someone asked me where my bridal party was again, I noticed I was back to sweating. Ha!
When I got home, Phil was drinking a beer in our living room and Taylor was upstairs showering. I immediately made myself a mimosa and hung around with the photographer until we heard the beau holler down… his shirt was wayyyyyyyy too big. I ran upstairs and there was the beau, looking like an episode of Seinfeld. We had a good laugh – there was nothing we could do – this was his only white shirt. Once he was dressed with his vest on and hair did, I decided to get into my gown. The beau was there to zip me in and I remember turning around and looking at him and he had this puzzling look on his face – “why were you so worried?” he asked? “You look perfect.”
Swoon. See – and I know this is a sensitive topic for all brides – I’m not in the best shape as of right now. When I got engaged, that was an instant thought I had – “if only I looked like I did a year ago (when training).” I kept thinking to myself, okay, I’ll start working out now and I’ll have X amount of days to be ready. Well, weeks kept ticking by and nothing had changed in my life. In January it kind of clicked: I’m getting married whether I’m 130 pounds or 150 pounds and guess what, I’m pretty happy right now at 150 pounds. I told myself that regardless of how my body looked on my wedding day, I wanted to FEEL happy. I can tell you that I couldn’t stop smiling that day and it shows in our photographs. Ladies who have yet to get married: I’m not telling you to be unhealthy, I’m telling you to be happy. And if your arms aren’t toned, guess what, no one cares.
End little rant. We were dressed, drinking mimosas / beer / wine (a whole slew of bevvies) and it came time for us to figure out a game plan. I knew I wanted photographs taken downtown prior to the surprise because it was suppose to rain. But first! I had to write a little note for my dad to read. See, everyone thought they were showing up for our engagement dinner and the plan was to show up a little late. This note would be read prior to us entering to give away the surprise and kind of let it sink in before I walked in in a wedding gown. We decided to have my dad read the card because he wasn’t going to have the opportunity to walk me down an aisle. It was short and something along the lines of “(Please read out loud) Sorry we’re running a little late, there’s been a slight change in plans. We’re getting married – tonight!”
As we were walking out of the house, I noticed that our neighbor’s daughter, Emily, had drawn a starting line on our sidewalk. I thought it was the PERFECT shot: we were at the starting line of our new adventure together. It’s one of my favorite shots of the day and I can’t wait to print it out to hang in the house.
We drove downtown and decided first to take photographs at Peck’s Arcade before everything went down. I feel like I saw every single person I’ve ever known during those twenty minutes; it was fun and exciting but we were TERRIFIED that a family member would walk around the corner. Phil had to break into our house because I had forgotten the beloved kitty umbrella and as we were standing there waiting for DiAnna, I felt like I was going to freak out. We finally hopped into her car and turned the corner… and there at the light passed the beau’s family and I could have SWORN his sister saw me! Instant panic.
We grabbed some shots under the Green Island Bridge near the TroyBot mural and then headed over to Second Street, where I was living when we first met. We shared our first kiss outside of that apartment, so it was only fitting that we return. Next up: the surprise!
We easily found a parking spot and I instantly had to pee. I thought I was going to pee my pants, frankly. We sent the photographer and Phil into the place to make sure everyone was there and little did we know, they had all been there just moments after we had left. Perfect timing. We walked over and the rest really is a blur. I know Phil walked in asking for my dad, my dad read the card and we walked in to some pretty shocked family members. The one person I remember the most was my sister in the corner, hands on her cheeks, mouth open, and tears running down; I ran over to give her a hug (she admits to not like surprises). I remember a TON of questions:
- was this planned all along? YES!
- are you pregnant? NO!
- what about the dresses we bought? Well I’m wearing mine again so feel free to wear ’em.
- was this planned? YES!
- are you pregnant? Can I have another glass of wine?
- what’s for dinner: We don’t know.
- (me) can we get married?!
- my mom to my sister: I can’t believe you wore pants to your sister’s wedding!
I don’t know if people thought we were already married because I walked into the room in my dress, and together, but we weren’t and we got married right then and there at the end of the table. After sealing it with a kiss and a toast of champagne, we all sat down for a delicious meal. Really, not stressing about every little detail including the menu was kind of perfect. Also to note: the weather was kind of perfect on this day (I know, I know, can’t control that detail). It was 65 and sunny and SO STORMY while we got married / ate… I heard rain on your wedding day is good luck <3
After our meal, we decided to head over to our favorite brewery, Rare Form, to have a beer. My parents joined us despite the rain and long ride home, and it was a wonderful time. A couple of beers, more champagne, shots of whiskey (my parents had left before that – ha!) and before I knew it, we were walking to The Ruck for one last beer and hot fries. Yes, I ate hot fries on my wedding night and it was phenomenal. Phil even got a shot of us sitting where we sat over five years ago on our first date – I don’t think those college kids liked the idea of moving, but they’ll do anything for a gal in a wedding dress.