I wanted to share the details of our wedding planning on the blog in hopes it would help other brides and grooms with their future plans! Matt and I planned almost the entire wedding ourselves, with the help of our venue coordinator, so we wanted to share what we did and learned. We also planned the wedding from 3 hours away, so there were some added challenges with traveling and doing things virtually. We kept things simple and affordable, and it turned out to be the perfect day celebrating with our family and closest friends.
We started calling venues a week after getting engaged, because we had heard how fast they fill up. We confirmed it’s true; venue’s were booked a year to a year and a half in advance. We booked our venue two weeks after the engagement in early June. We wanted to get married in La Crosse, WI since I grew up in the area; we also went to college and started our dating relationship there. We toured four venues in La Crosse, and ultimately decided on The Waterfront Venue. I had always thought I would get married there, so when they told us they had one weekend opening left for the summer season, we jumped on it! We loved the location in downtown La Crosse, there is a beautiful outdoor ceremony spot and reception hall, incredible staff, wedding coordinator, and we could make it affordable to fit our budget. It also happened to be the location that Matt said I love you and proposed to me, so you could say it was our favorite place!
I met with a few different photographers in the Minneapolis area about a month after getting engaged. Their schedules fill up almost as fast as venues, so I wanted to review styles, packages, and pricing before while our date was still far enough out. I had met our photographer Jennifer when she photographed my friends wedding, and I loved her photo editing style, candid pictures, and wedding package. We met in person for a consultation, and we booked with Jennifer in July for both engagement and wedding pictures. You can see more of her style on my previous wedding blog post and at her website, jenniferjanephoto.com.
We took our engagement photos in late October, about 6 months before our wedding. It was perfect timing for sending our invites out, printing photos for the Holiday’s, and it landed in our favorite season of fall. Since we planned a spring wedding, we didn’t want to miss out on taking pictures when the leaves were changing. We scheduled our photos a couple of months in advance on a Sunday, so we could get on our photographers busy fall schedule. The weather was incredible, and we met during golden hour just before sunset. You can view more details of our engagement photos in my previous blog post!
We did our food tasting with the venue in early December, 5 months before the wedding. We tried all of the meals we were considering for the wedding, and narrowed it down to 3 that were around the same price per person. We decided on 2 meals with meat and veggies, 1 vegetarian option and a side salad for everyone. We brought both of our parents along, so they could help us decide and tour the venue. It was such a fun day with all 6 of us together!
We got our Marriage license from the County Clerk’s office in the county we got married in about 3 weeks before the wedding. There are different rules for every state, but there are a lot of requirements for paperwork and timing. Make sure to visit your state or county’s marriage license website to see the requirements. We made sure to get ours within the month of our wedding, but more than a week in advance because it took 6 business days to process. It was difficult because Matt already moved to UT, but he flew back for his Bachelor Party so we fit it in that Friday before! There is a process before the wedding, on the wedding day with witnesses, and after the wedding when they mail you the actual document so you can change your name, etc.
We chose our Florist, Monet Floral, about 3 months into wedding planning, and met with them a few times before the wedding day. We had heard great reviews from other brides and wanted a local florist that was able to deliver on a Sunday. We were able to do a lot over phone and email since we didn’t live in La Crosse, but meeting with them in person was also very helpful. We gave them our vision for the wedding party, head table, and ceremony arch, and our vision came to life perfectly the day of. We were so happy with our choice and we even stayed within budget!
Staying organized was very important to me from the start of our engagement, and I am not a procrastinator when it comes to planning. I started our Google excel doc the week after we got engaged and started brainstorming ideas and our guest list. It was the perfect way to keep Matt and I and our parents on the same page about our wedding plans. The To-Do list tab had a list of things to plan, the cost, and the details once it was completed. This kept our budget in check from the beginning. The guest list tab had all of our names, addresses, table numbers, meal choices, and Yes/No responses. The venue tab had the number of meals, drinks, timeline, add-ons, and total cost for the venue. We had a timeline tab, listing the details of the entire weekend, location for each event, and time of day that we could share with our wedding party. We had a registry tab, photography tab, DJ tab with songs for each dance and our playlist, Ceremony tab with details of bible verses, order of events, songs, etc., and flower details. It was so helpful to stay organized and I was able to capture the total cost of the wedding day. Planning the main events and details in advance made the month leading up to the wedding a lot less stressful!
DRESS & SUIT SHOPPING
Dress shopping was so much fun for both myself and my bridesmaids! I went to Annika Bridal Boutique in Edina, MN to try on dresses for the first time to see what styles I would like. They happened to be having an inventory sale, so dresses off the rack were 50-75% off. I scheduled an appointment at the last minute and invited my roommate and best friend in Minneapolis to join me. We had a blast drinking champagne and trying on absolutely every dress that was in my size off the rack. I didn’t want to limit myself to any style before I knew what they would look like on. I ended up loving styles that I didn’t originally pick myself wearing, like a illusion neckline and short sleeves! Luckily for me, my size is the typical stock size so a lot of the dresses fit really well. However, I fell in love with 2 right away and my favorite dress was the last one. I loved it so much and it fit like a glove to the point that it wouldn’t need any alterations(besides length). The girls and I had the same reaction that it was THE ONE, so I bought my dream dress that day and all under my budget!
For the girls, I knew I wanted our wedding dress color to be perriwinkle (a mix between light blue and lavender). I also wanted the dresses to lay just above the knee and come from a women’s clothing store so that they could try them on and wear them for another occasion. The dress color is hard to come by, so I started looking at places like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and JCrew. I bought a simple classic maroon dress from JCrew Factory that happened to come in a perriwinkle color as well. There was a 50% off sale on their website that day, so I bought all of the girls their dresses for $30 and they were able to try them on after I ordered them. They worked out great for the wedding day since it was almost 100 degrees, and I even bought an extra one for myself!
We found the groomsmen’s suits in Rochester, MN at Knight’s Menswear. They had custom fit suits that you could buy for cheaper than renting at most places, so we went with Navy suits from there. We were also able to find matching ties to the girls dresses.
We wanted to get our bridesmaids and groomsmen simple gifts that they could use again! I ordered the girls necklaces from Etsy that they could wear with their bridesmaid dress and other occasions. I paired it with a card designed by a friend who does calligraphy! For the wedding day, I got them all matching floral robes to wear while we got ready. Matt ordered his groomsmen stainless steel coozies that they used at the bachelor party and can use for other occasions! For the wedding day, he bought their ties that matched the girls dresses.
I created our wedding website on theknot.com a couple months after getting engaged. It was so helpful to have all of our wedding info in one place to stay organized. We posted our wedding day details, wedding party, and love story on the home page for guests to read. On the next page, we added hotel and parking accommodations and things to do in La Crosse, WI. Next, we added Proposal and Engagement photos. After that, we had our electronic RSVP for guests to reply and pick their meal without having to mail anything back. Finally, we linked our Amazon and Target registries for guest to purchase gifts for the shower and wedding. It is a user friendly website for all ages and easy to set up. I would recommend this site to anyone planning an event!
We decided to combine a traditional save the date postcard with a traditional wedding invite into one card. We had a picture on the front announcing our wedding, and the details of our day listed on the back. Since our RSVP’s and details were on our website, we sent our invite out about 5 months in advance for our guests. It saved us a lot of time and money and we were so happy with how they turned out with Vistaprint!
We wanted to keep our decorations simple since our venue was a beautiful space. Our florist handled the ceremony alter/arch with floral arrangements, decorated the head table and half of the guest tables with eucalyptus rings, and we re-used the bridal party bouquets as centerpieces for the other half. Matt’s cousin lent us her glass cylinder vases from her wedding, and we used them for the head table and the guest tables without bouquets. I ordered floating candles from Amazon to float in the vases for the reception. Our entry way was full of engagement pictures, wooden signs made with leftover barn wood and decorated by my coworker, date night ideas on popsicle sticks, and letter boards from Amazon. Our guest book was a shadow box picture frame with our invite in the middle. We saved a lot of money by keeping the decorations simple, and it turned out to be the perfect addition to our venue.