How I Designed My Wedding Invitations

I was scrolling through pictures when I realized that it has been a year since we mailed the invitations for our wedding! In an earlier post, I had briefly mentioned that my mom and I actually ended up creating and printing our wedding invitations. I thought I would share my process in case you were interested in learning how I decided to do them myself and how I did.

After much indecision when it came to our Save the Dates, I ended up choosing a cheaper print, solely to have more room in our print budget for the invitations and all that came with that. Initially, I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted the invitations to look like, but I knew I wanted more than just an invitation and response card. I also knew, as long as it took me to pick the design I wanted for our save the dates, I needed to start the process of designing my invitations early.

Not long after the save the dates were mailed, the search for the invitations began. I started by looking through the real wedding features in my magazines for inspiration and look at online companies, such as Minted and Wedding Paper Divas. I thought I would find what I was looking for on Minted since it is one of the most well-regarded companies in the wedding industry and their designs are truly unique and customizable. This was helpful in figuring out what I didn’t like, but didn’t get me any closer to finding my invitations. Here is what I had decided I liked and what I didn’t:

What I Liked:

  • An actual suite with the invitation, detail card, weekend timeline, response card, etc.
  • Something holding all of the cards together
  • Envelope Liners
  • Traditional wording and design
  • Incorporating my theme into the invitations

What I Disliked:

  • Horizontal design
  • Busy designs that take away from the wording
  • Invitations that weren’t printed on white
  • Lightweight paper
  • Designs that gave the “save the date” casual feel

I decided to book an appointment with a nearby design studio to customize invitations for our wedding. I brought my wedding planner with me for details and inspiration, as well as examples of what I liked and a list of what I had decided at this point that I didn’t. We spent almost two hours looking through their examples, discussing the color scheme and wording of the invitations, if there were any add-ons, such as a details card or banding to hold the cards together, and eventually designing my invitations. However, when I received the quote, (it was over $1,000!!) I was shocked, especially since I only had picked the basic necessities, and opted out of adding on all of the bells and whistles that truly make up the invitation suite. Even though I had budgeted to spend more on our invitations, I still wasn’t willing to dedicate that much to paper products, considering I knew most of our guests wouldn’t keep our invitations forever, and I didn’t completely love what we had designed. I left that appointment feeling a bit discouraged — I knew what I wanted but I just couldn’t put it into words.

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I spent the next few weeks ordering samples from a couple of website and shops that I found on Etsy. After days of scanning page after page, I found a small company that had the simple, but elegant design that I was looking for. The traditional wording took center on the card and was adorned with a wreath at the top, with the couple’s monogram in its center. I immediately ordered a sample pack, with color samples and paper options (kudos to shops who do this — SO helpful!). Once it arrived, I picked out what I liked best and headed to their website to order! However, it was still more than I wanted to spend. While trying to decide whether it was worth spending or not, I headed back to Etsy for one last ditch effort before deciding.

My mom (bless her) had helped a lot, too. Even though I had started the process early, I was getting closer by the day to the date I wanted to mail our invitations. She was the one who ended up finding a downloadable jpeg of a wreath that was almost identical to the ones that were on the invitations that I fell in love with. Considering it was only $3 for the download, I went ahead and purchased it to test it out ourselves. 

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We then made a trip to almost every craft store in a 50-mile vicinity to view their paper selection. We bought several reams of different paper, from creamy cardstock to shimmery pearl, from thick to more flimsy. After collecting various types of paper, we printed the invitations we designed with our initials within the wreath at the top center and our traditionally worded invite printed in a taupe colored font on the different paper options. From there, we trimmed the paper to the 7×9 size that I liked. This was one of the best parts of doing the invitations ourselves because I could physically hold the different types of paper with our actual details printed on them. It was basically a pick-and-choose kind of thing from here!

Once we chose the paper I liked, we then began to design the rest of the suite. Since we had only spent under $50 on the paper, I could definitely now afford the entire suite that I desired. We created the response postcard (an easy way to avoid the cost of additional envelopes!), a details card with the information regarding hotel options, addresses of the two venues as well as a note about children, and a timeline of the day of the wedding. Another paper product that we were about to make was a program for the ceremony that matched the invitation suite; something I definitely would not have been able to do if I hadn’t purchased the jpeg.

 

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Image by wonderful Laura’s Focus Photography

 

Ribbons were a consistent theme throughout our wedding (as a nod toward the ribbon that I was wearing in my hair when Jody and I met) and our invitations were no exception. I knew tying a ribbon around the suite would be a perfect way to hold it all together. We did buy a few different spools of ribbon to test which one would look best. We ended up going with a gold sheer ribbon, which really complimented the entire suite without making too girly, a concern of Jody’s. We also lined our envelopes as well — gift wrapping paper is such an easy and inexpensive liner. I bought an envelope liner stencil and traced it onto the wrapping paper, and then all we had to do was cut it out and then glue it in. So pretty and such a nice little surprise when you open the envelope!

I know that this is a long post, but I would have loved to see someone share their experiences when it came to their wedding invitations when I was finding mine. Once you know what you are looking for, the process really isn’t that difficult, and it ends up saving a lot of money as well. I had budgeted around $300 for paper products, and I don’t think I spent over $100. Oh, and all of that paper we bought to sample didn’t go to waste; we ended up using what we couldn’t return for various wedding related products, including our rehearsal dinner invitations!

 

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Image by Laura’s Focus Photography

 

Even though I don’t plan to ever need wedding invitations for myself again, I definitely anticipate that I’ll be designing more invitations for future events — bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations and probably any type of party for our future children! Designing my own invitations was a great option to not blow our entire budget on some invitation that most of our guests don’t even have anymore, but it really was the best option for me to get exactly want I wanted. Paper is near and dear to my heart and I love the fact that I didn’t have to sacrifice anything I wanted for our wedding invitations.

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Favorite Reception Moments

We celebrated our six month wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve (that happened so fast!!) so I figured there is no better way than to end this series than sharing some of my favorite moments from our reception. While I would love to relive any part of our day, the reception is the one that I most often close my eyes and wish we were back at — surrounded by your closest 100 friends is a feeling that is hard to beat! I had so carefully planned each part of our day, but the reception was a little more laid back and so much fun! This post is a little photo heavy, but I didn’t want to leave out anything!

Jody and I were introduced by our DJ, following our parents and wedding party, and played “Brand New” by Ben Rector as we made our way to the dance floor — I love that we chose a song by Ben Rector because Jody had another song by him, “When She Comes Around” playing when he proposed!

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We made our way to the dance floor and shared our first dance to “In Case You Didn’t Know”, by Brett Young. This is probably the moment that I try to flash back to the most. I don’t remember a single thing from our first dance, expect the look on Jody’s face as we sang the song to one another and spun around the dance floor. We don’t consider ourselves dancers, so it probably got boring for everyone watching but I think it was just perfect. 🙂

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Following our first dance was the father-daughter dance. I was a lot more nervous about this one because I knew the lyrics of the song my dad chose made me cry just hearing it on the radio. We danced to “Tough Little Boys” by Gary Allen. I held it together better than I expected I would, but thanks to my sobbing bridesmaids, and my dad’s sweet words, I couldn’t help by tear up, but at least I held it together better than my mom did, who bawled through me and Jody’s first dance, as well as me and my dad’s.

Cox_0908Cox_0915Dinner came out after, and it was just amazing. I don’t actually remember eating any of it the day of, but the leftovers were still pretty tasty one week later. We kept the food as southern as possible: pulled pork, grilled honey chicken, mac and cheese (with all of the toppings!), seasonal veggies, rolls, and honey butter.

Following dinner, Jody and I were pulled away for a couple more portraits as the sun was setting over the vineyard. As we finished, a number of guests had migrated outside and all cheered as we kissed for one last picture. It was so surreal to have so much support all day long!

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One we made it back into the reception hall, the toasts began. We had asked our Maid of Honor and Best Man to give toasts and they were equally funny as they were sweet. My dad also gave an unplanned toast, which was super sweet as well! They all were so wonderful, filled with words that Jody and I will cherish throughout our marriage. Our wedding video has some clips in it as well, which you’ll be able to see on here soon!

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Our cake cutting wasn’t very long after the toasts. The cake was delicious; each tier was a different flavor. The top-tier was almond cake with lemon curd filling, the middle lemon cake with raspberry filling and we cut into white cake with a strawberry filling. Admittedly, we cut entirely too small of piece but luckily we had some sent with us when we left!

My dad then became the star of the show. After dancing on the table to “YMCA” at my aunt’s wedding 20 years ago (which I was a flower girl in), he brought the dance to our wedding. It was hilarious and everyone enjoyed it, although I was so worried the table was going to collapse!

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Although, we chose to not do a garter toss, we did do a bouquet toss. I chose to toss it to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. It felt like a right of passage to toss my bouquet, especially to a song I listened to endlessly in high school!

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I wanted to spend most of the reception dancing, and I’m so glad that’s exactly what I did! Thanks to our wonderful DJ, the dance floor was full for the entire night. I had so much fun spinning around the floor with my new hubby and family and friend who I’ve known for so many important moments throughout my life.

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Jody chose our last dance of the night with our guests, which was “Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. That may have been the most magical three and a half minutes of my entire life. Having almost every guest circle around us, and dance and sing at the top of our lungs was such a beautiful moment. In a quick turn of my head, I could see every person in our lives who have cheered us on, laughed with us, cried with us and were celebrating the best day of our lives with us. I had to choke back tears as I was overcome with how incredibly blessed we were!

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As our guests lined up for our sparkler exit, Jody and I shared one last dance with just the two of us to “From the Ground Up” by Dan + Shay. There couldn’t have been a better song to end the most magical day to. The wedding was over, but it was only the beginning of the rest of our lives. And with that, as soon as the song ended, we took a deep breath and ran through the line of sparklers, hand in hand, straight into the next chapter of our love story.

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Our Reception Details

Admittedly, as certain as I was that I loved all of the details for our ceremony and cocktail hour, I was still a bit nervous when it came to seeing how our reception design was going to come together. Thankfully, it all came together perfectly, and looking back almost six months later I still love every decision that we made! As I began to plan the details, I really wanted to showcase our theme and colors (rustic, southern romance and blush, champagne and gold) through the details of our reception.  Our venue provided beautiful rustic details throughout the venue, from wooden seating to the barn doors leading into the reception room, so we chose to let those details shine on their own. Our southern details were mostly represented through all of the meaningful and thoughtful details that we included. We wrapped ribbons around each napkin as a nod towards the ribbon I wore in my hair the day that Jody and I first met, our cake cutter was a family heirloom that my grandparents used at their wedding reception, as did my parents and aunts and uncle at theirs, and our speciality cocktail was named “The Honeybee”, which was whiskey and lemonade, a drink Jody and I drank in college as well as a nod to our Alma Mater, whose mascot is a yellow jacket. As for the romance factor, our centerpieces consisted of three pillars of floating candles, plus an arrangement of tea light candles scattered across the tables and on every window sill. Once the sunset that night, the room was glowing from the lights of the candles. My mom even made lace table runners for every table, which had a hint of shimmer to them. Those, with the candles, provided a warm glow that only added to the ambiance of the room.

In this post, you will also see our guest seating chart. I feel that place cards are a little old-fashion, but seating charts are helpful, especially as a guest. Jody and I have been to several weddings where there was not seating chart, and it was confusing to know where we were suppose to sit and what was reserved for family. I made our seating chart from an old, large picture frame with the backing removed, and I couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out. I wish I could display it in our home, if that wouldn’t be weird. We never ended up getting a picture of it, but since we had a buffet, I also made a sign listing the menu items, so guests could see what their options were before reaching the table. This saved on paper menus, but also provided a list of what each dish was for the guests. A big thought on our hearts throughout the planning process was the members of our family that were not able to share our big day with us. We created a memory table, which displayed pictures and names of those who were not longer with us, to acknowledge that while our day was full of laughter and love, we still held those people near to our hearts.

As for some other fun facts: My mom and I also DIY’ed our invitation suite and our favors. I had spent months looking for the perfect invitation that captured the simple but elegant look I desired but also fit into our price range. After meeting with several designers, and endless scrolling through Etsy, I found the perfect little wreath, which was a downloadable design, to head the invitation and be adorned with our initials. From there, my mom and I designed several option with various fonts and paper types until we decided on our favorite. Since we ended up downloading them and printing them ourselves, we ended up saving a ton of money, which allowed me to have the complete invitation suite I desired (invitation, response postcard (so easy!), wedding day timeline and a details card), as well as having all of our day of paper products coordinate with one another. I also wanted our favors to be little jars of jam, which just oozed southern to me as well as a symbolic gesture as Jody and I love to go to brunch. After finding the perfect sized jars and an easy enough recipe, we spent a day the week of the wedding mixing and pour these jams into their own little jar. PSA for all of you who also have this idea, this is a MESSY project. We ran into to a little issue in the process of sealing the jars — when we flipped the jars upside down to seal them, for some reason some of the jams got stuck like that so they only looked half-full! Bless my mom though, who woke up the morning of the wedding to make another batch so we didn’t give our guests these half-filled, pathetic, upside down jars (She really is the best, isn’t she?!). We still laugh about how awful that first set looked!

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The Cocktail Hour

It has been a few weeks since I last shared a bit of our wedding day with y’all so today I’m going to share our cocktail hour! After the ceremony ended, our guests traveled to Harvest Ridge Winery, which was about 25 minutes from the church, for the cocktail hour and reception. Ironically, even though we didn’t attend cocktail hour, it was one of my favorite parts to plan! We loved the location — it took place in the courtyard between the tasting and event room and the production barn. The wrap around patio overlooked the beautiful blooming vineyard, so we decided not to focus as much on decor, keeping it simple and focusing more one the food, drinks, and atmosphere.

While Jody and I took our portraits in the vineyard, our guests enjoyed our appetizers (fruit and vegetable trays, Pigs in a Blanket, Crab Dip, Shrimp Cocktail Shooters, Mini Grilled Cheese) and drinks (an assortment of beer, Harvest Ridge’s wine -Blue Hen Blue, Merlot, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc, Rebel Seed Hoptimized Cider and our speciality cocktail, The Honeybee). We wanted to create a fun and relaxing atmosphere, just as if we were hosting our friends at our home for a summer soiree! We had corn hole boards available, which many of our friends enjoyed, as well as our guestbook to sign, which was a scrapbook of pictures from our engagement photos. As both of us are music lovers, we loved the idea of having live music, so we were lucky enough to hired to entertain our guests with folk and bluegrass songs for the duration of cocktail hour.

I had also seen a really neat idea of having a “Walk Your Story” display at a wedding before which inspired me to create one for our cocktail hour. I wrote a short blurb of each chapter of me and Jody’s love story and framed it, along with a picture of that part of our story. We had them placed as a centerpiece on the tables along the porch. It was a little too breezy that day for them to stand up, but guests still enjoyed reading each little chapter of our story that led us to our wedding day!

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Christmas Gift Guide: For the Newlyweds

Happy Friday and Happy December, y’all! If you’re anything like me, you had planned to be done with your Christmas shopping by now, but if you’re anything like me, you probably aren’t (hey, we tried!). So on this beautiful first day of December, I am sharing my last of my gift guides for this holiday season — for the newlyweds!

Shopping for newlyweds can either be super easy, or a little more challenging depending on what’s left on their registry. You may feel completely out of ideas, especially if you’ve been to more than one of their wedding events this year, but this list includes some other items that may not be on their registry. Of course, taking a look at their registry (most places keep the couple’s registry live for a few years!) is a great place to start.

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  1. Mr. and Mrs. Mugs: If you know the newlywed couple can’t start their day without a cup of coffee, a Mr. and Mrs. mug set is a necessity in their cupboard. These camper mugs are manly enough to make up for the hand lettering — the perfect combination of his and hers!
  2. The Newlywed Cookbook: We received this cookbook last year as a Christmas gift, and I just love it! The book is organized by type of food and occasion, and is perfect for couples look to spend time together in the kitchen. We turn to this book when our date night takes place in our kitchen!
  3. Ring Dish: Every newlywed (or even newly-engaged!) couple needs a special place to put their rings. These ring dishes come in a variety of sayings and make a cute addition to any vanity or dresser!
  4. Monogram Marble and Wood Serving Board: If your newlywed couple loves to entertain, this serving platter is just for them! It is practical enough to use at any type of party and the marble and wood design coordinates with many styles. Plus, the monogram shows the couple that you truly picked it out just for them!
  5. Personalized Wall Sign: Following a wedding, you can never have too many things with the new family name posted around. There are so many options and styles out their to match just about anyone’s design tastes, so you really can’t go wrong with one of these personalized wall signs. Any couple would appreciate a new piece of personalized decor to add to their new home together.
  6. Picnic Basket: Want to give a gift the couple is sure to remember? Gift them with an easy date idea, like this picnic basket. It already comes with flatware, plates, wine glasses, a corkscrew and salt & pepper shakers, so just add a bottle of their favorite wine and voila! They will be grateful for a reason to go on a date and are sure to think of you whenever they use their basket.
  7. CorningWare French Bakeware: Depending on what the couple had already registered for this CorningWare bakeware set is on just about every couple’s list. Durable and built to last, couples can use this set over and over again as they grow into their kitchen. While the first year may include a lot of takeout, they are sure to be grateful for reliable bakeware as their marriage continues.
  8. Flameless LED Candles; Candles are one of my go to’s for making a house feel more like a home and these flameless LED candles are a great addition to any couple’s home. They are battery operated, which makes them safer than real candles, and the realistic flame flickers soft and gently which ups the cozy and romance factor, as well.
  9. Badminton Set: If your favorite newlyweds are like me and Jody, you love games! From yard games to classic board games and everything in between, we just can’t get enough of it! This badminton set would be a great gift for game enthusiasts, or any couple with a little bit of outdoor entertaining space. While it probably won’t be used until spring, the newlyweds will definitely be thinking warm thoughts with this one!
  10. Just Married Ornament: Decorating for the holidays can be expensive, especially when just starting out. Remind the newlyweds of their best day with an ornament that they can add to their tree year after year!
  11. Love Story Journal: I have always been a fan of journaling my life experiences, and I truly believe journaling your love story is a beautiful keepsake. This particular journal prompts the couple through writing how they met, their first date, engagement, wedding, honeymoon, and then every anniversary through their 70th. How sweet to fill this in and be able to pass it down to the generations to come!

 

 

Our Wedding Ceremony

Happy Wedding Wednesday! I’m excited to share one of my most favorite memories of our wedding day with y’all today. Going into the planning of our ceremony, I knew the importance of it, but between all of the decisions and details of the reception, I didn’t realize that my ceremony would easily become one of my favorite memories from that day. There is just nothing to come to the feeling of joyfully becoming husband and wife!

Our biggest wish for our ceremony was to create a service that was just as meaningful and reflective of our relationship, as it was of our relationship with Christ. As I mentioned when we selected our venues, part of the reason we chose to get married at St. Luke’s was less because it was closer than my family’s church, but because it was the church I was baptized in, and spent most Sundays during my childhood. It was the place where I could envision Jody as my groom for the first time, and it sure did not disappoint. When those big wooden doors opened to view my groom at the end of the aisle, I was left completely breathless. Ribbons with hints of blush and gold lined the aisle, along with the words of 1 Corinthians 13, the pews were adorned with hydrangeas and filled with the people that we love most, and my most perfect groom waiting for me to become his bride. It gets me every. single. time.

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We also had asked my uncle, who is a pastor, to officiate the ceremony. It was overwhelmingly beautiful to have someone who was so close to us guide us through vowing our love to one another and before God.

For being someone who has spent entirely too much time watching videos of other peoples’ weddings, I knew from the start that I wanted to have personalized vows. I think it is so beautiful when you can take pieces from your story to make these promises to one another even more special and real. Thankfully, Jody agreed to take a moment to share these vows in front of our family and friends. Because we chose not to share our personal vows with one another until the ceremony, I asked to share mine first. We also chose to repeat the traditional vows to each other — they are just that good! I will never forget the feeling of staring into Jody’s eyes as I made the promises I had heard for so many years, feeling the weight and importance of every word as I vowed to cherish him forever.

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To continue our drive to keep our ceremony meaningful, we chose three readings, all which were read by close family and friends. Our two biblical readings were Ephesians 5:21-33 and Hebrews 13: 1-4A, 5-6B. We found it so important to include what God asks of us in our roles as husband and wife, the desires for our lives together, as well as the life-changing promises that He makes to us, which has an impact on all portions of our lives — including our marriage. The other reading we chose was “Blessing of the Hands”, which speaks directly to our here and now, as well as our desires for the future of our marriage. It also provided a smooth transition to our unity selection — a hand washing ceremony.

We chose to have a hand washing ceremony to symbolize the purity of beginning our lives as one, while cleansing any faults of our past. Our beginning was a fresh start, no longer as individuals, but a journey that we would embark on together for the rest of our lives. We also chose to partake in communion, just the two of us, in remembrance of the love that our Lord has for us, as we both believe that we can love each other only because of the greatest love that He gave for us. We had our pianist play “Sanctuary”, a song we both grew up singing, while we served communion to one another. That private moment for the two of us was unexpectedly one of the most emotional moments for me during the entire ceremony.

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After our first kiss as husband and wife, we walked back up the aisle to “Ode to Joy”, the same song that my parents exited to at their wedding! I loved that we were able to honor both of our parents marriages during our ceremony by using songs that were played during wedding years before. It was such a blissful moment — the chords ringing out, mixed with clapping of our family and friends, while simultaneously realizing that we were officially husband and wife — I would go back and repeat that moment every day for the rest of my life.

 

 

Last Few Moments as a Miss

I shared with y’all last week about how wonderful it was getting ready the morning of our wedding (if you missed it, you can read about it here). After the hair was done, the mimosas had been sipped, and the dresses were on, it was just about time to walk down the aisle. Before I did however, there were a few quiet moments I wanted to have in the midst of the fastest day of my life.

Prior to our wedding, Jody and I planned to exchange letters that we penned to one another along with a special gift we separately picked out. We were careful to keep these gifts a surprise, so we didn’t have any idea of what each person got the other.  In all of the hustle and bustle of the morning, we almost forget to exchange our gifts! While my mom and sister were helping me into my dress, I had one of my bridesmaids deliver my gift to Jody to the room where he and the guys were getting ready. Once we were both dressed, it was time to have a quiet moment to exchange our gifts.

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The only person who was aware of what both gifts were, was my mom.  Just days before the wedding, when Jody had asked her to help wrap his surprise, she discovered that Jody and I purchased the same thing for each other!  She did an amazing job keeping the secret — I’m not sure I would have been able keep the smile down and stay hushed! We both got each other compasses — his for his desk, and mine a pocket – something that speaks to a personal representation of how we would continue to love each other no matter the distance or place, and to always come back to one another no matter the obstacle. To this day, I still have absolutely no explanation for how we both chose the same gift other than our hearts are clearly meant to be one.

I love our expressions when we realized what happened! 🙂

As much as we wanted to do a first look, we mutually desired to save that moment for when I walked down the aisle. However, we still wanted to have a moment together. I knew if I was emotional, he would be the way to calm me down, and I knew I’d do the same for him, if his nerves began to creep up. We decided to hide around the door to my bridal suite, not visible to one another, only touching hands for a few moments prior to the ceremony.  It was a bit more challenging to coordinate as guests had begun to arrive at this point, and me and my bridesmaids needed to be escorted to where we would wait for the ceremony.

With Laura and Rob both in my suite, I heard them give Jody the okay to come close. Similar to anticipation on Christmas Eve, the world stood still as he approached. Just seconds later, I felt his hand slip into mine as I reached around the door.

“Hi babe.”

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My entire body relaxed the second I heard his voice. After the past few hours of anticipation, I was suddenly filled with a sense of calm.  Jody would later tell me his heart raced from excitement during that meeting and never truly settled down, something that he fondly remembers each day.  Every moment of our story had led us to this moment, to the moment when we would “I do”, and to every moment after. I’m forever grateful that we decided to share just a few minutes together. The way I felt when I heard his voice, when he touched my hand, and especially a little later as I saw him at the other end of the aisle, are the moments I hope to hold onto and remember, as if it were yesterday, for as long as I live.

Our Wedding Morning

I’m thrilled to finally share our wedding with you! Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some details from throughout our day, along with my regular lifestyle posts. I’m so excited to relive the best day of my life with you!

The night before, I had set my alarm to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” for 7:30am, with the message “Get up, you’re getting married today!” I had read on another blogger’s wedding recap that she choose to set her alarm to a song to wake up to on her wedding day instead of the default buzzer and I thought that was a great idea! Since I have been a huge fan of Taylor Swift since she began her music career, it was an obvious song choice to wake up to. Of course, I woke up two hours before it was even set to go off to sunlight streaming into my room. Even though it was earlier than I planned, I was so giddy — it was finally my wedding day!

Before I started getting ready to head to the church, I had to take one final look at my vows. I had wanted to have them completed weeks before the wedding, but I could never find the exact words. I knew there was just something missing. However, as I sat there on that beautiful June morning, hours before I became a wife, I finally found the right words to promise to my soon-to-be husband as I envisioned him at the end of the aisle, and for all of the days that would follow.

Before I knew it, it was time to jump in the shower and head to the church. My wonderful hair and makeup team from Shabby Chic Salon were already there, so I slipped into my robe and welcomed the rest of my bridesmaids as they arrived. We sipped on coffee (and eventually mimosas) and listened to all of my favorite love songs as we had our hair and make up done. It was truly wonderful to spend those last few hours as a Miss in such a sweet environment!

Our videographer, Shore Films, arrived around 10:30am, which was wonderful since our photographer wasn’t arriving until later. He got some great footage of our details, and even funny clips, especially after I tried to open my eyes after get eyelashes put on! In the meantime, our flowers arrived — I was so excited to see what Emma Jean of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden had created for me! After I saw the bouquets, adorned with the beautiful monogram ribbons, I snuck down to the sanctuary to get a glimpse of what magic was happening there. I was breathless when I saw the altar; my vision had completely come to life, better than I ever imagined. That moment, standing barefoot in the sanctuary, surrounded by beautiful flowers, might have been my biggest “Oh my gosh, I’m getting married!” moments.

Around this time, Jody and his groomsmen arrived. We had them all gather in the libary on the second floor of the church to try to prevent our two parties from running into one another. The guys enjoyed some time to hang out together, so their getting ready process didn’t seem as rushed. Per Jody’s request, a tray of Chick-Fil-A nuggets was delivered for him and the guys to eat before they started getting ready.

It started to become tricky for us to move throughout the church, so by the time Laura of Laura’s Focus arrive to start capturing pictures, each of our respective parties were confined to our rooms. She greeted me with a hug and we began to start the process of getting ready!

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I had asked my mom and my sister to help me get into my dress and I’m so glad that I did. It was so special to have a few last moments as just the three of us. While we realized I never found anything borrowed (we decided the lipstick was borrowed because all of us girls ended up using it for touch-ups throughout the day), my something old was my diamond, which was from Jody’s mother’s engagement ring, my something new was my wedding dress, and my something blue was a piece of one of my dad’s shirts, with an embellishment that was on the tights that my mom wore to their wedding that we sewed inside the skirt of my dress. This was one of my favorite details from our day!Cox_0061Cox_0100Cox_0082Cox_0120Cox_0116

I had decided that I wanted to have a first look with my bridesmaids. While they had seen my dress once before when we picked out their bridesmaid dresses, I still wanted to share a sweet moment with them. The look on their faces when my sister opened the door is priceless. I love these girls so much!

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I also always knew I wanted a first look with my Dad. I knew the day would be emotional for us, and I wanted to give us a chance to have a special moment before he gave me away. It was also when I gave him his gift (an embroidered handkerchief). I had been nervous for this moment, because I knew that there was a chance we’d be emotional but I’d say we held it together pretty well. 🙂

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Once the first looks were over, it was time for Jody and I to have a quiet moment together before we started the ceremony. However, you’ll have to check back soon to get that story!

MEP to MEC: Bridesmaids Gifts

Happy Wednesday, y’all! Jody and I have been married for 100 days, as of yesterday, and that has put me in a wedding sharing mood. For this week’s edition of Wedding Wednesday, I’m going to share what I gave my best gals for their pre-wedding bridesmaid gift, with the hope that it will serve as inspiration for your big day!

I started thinking about bridesmaid gifts around the same time I was gathering items to give my girls when originally asking them to be in the wedding (you can see what I did here). I wanted their gifts to be filled with things they would appreciate having during the weekend of the wedding, as well as being useful in their daily lives. I love using the various things that I received as gifts from being a bridesmaid — I think back to their happy day each time I use it!  Most importantly, however, I wanted the gifts to be heartfelt and meaningful. Holding the title of “bridesmaid” can be a lot at times: money, coordinating weekends for various celebrations, time off work, travel, etc. With that being said, I am so very grateful that each of my bridesmaids made room in their equally busy lives to celebrate our happily ever after.

Some of my favorite pictures from weddings are of the bride and her friends getting ready.  However, when they have coordinating outfits? Be still my heart!  I knew from the very start of my wedding process that I was going to get my bridesmaids their own robes to get ready in. In June, you never quite know how the weather will be, so, I was lucky to find some extremely light and breathable robes. After spending many hours searching every corner of Etsy, I order these beautiful robes. I was so impressed with the robes when they arrived that I rushed ordered one for myself!

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Monograms were also a given for these gifts. After seeing the idea in a magazine, I knew I wanted ribbons to be tied around all of our bouquets, so I decided to monogram the ribbons as a surprise for them to carry on my wedding day, and then keep after! I didn’t have these wrapped with their gifts because I had the florist tie them on, so it was a fun surprise when our bouquets arrived!

Jewelry has always been something that I’ve never been great at styling so I always appreciate it when the bride gives her bridesmaids something beautiful to wear. I found this adorable set and just knew that my girls would look stunning wearing sparkling gold bracelets with matching drop earrings. The shop I bought them from also personalizes the cards that come in the box with your wedding colors and bridesmaids names! How cute!

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While shopping for a few pieces for our honeymoon, I came across these peony candles. As I’ve mentioned before, my biggest request with our flowers was to have as many peonies as we could, because that is the scent I wanted to remind me of my wedding day. So when I realized T.J.Maxx had exactly five peony candles left, I just knew I had to get them. I hope when my girls burn them now, they remember how grateful I am for their friendship!

Lastly, I added a little something sweet to the bags. When I think of getting ready and celebrating with my best friends, I think of champagne to toast the occasion! Enter champagne gummy bears. I couldn’t resist buying a set of these adorable cubes, and even an extra box for myself! My bridesmaids loved snacking on them throughout the morning as we were getting ready.

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I also included a handwritten card for each of my bridesmaids. I knew the day of the wedding would be crazy, so I wanted to be sure I adequately expressed how extremely grateful I am for each of them in my life. They truly are the best gals!

That’s it! I wanted to spoil my friends, just as they had spoiled me over the previous months, but yet keep the gifts practical and thoughtful. I had so much fun finding these items and gifting them to my bridesmaids. I hope this helps all of you brides if you are needing some inspiration, and if not, I hope you enjoyed a taste of the morning of my wedding. Don’t worry, there is plenty more to come. 🙂

Robes: silkandmore // Monogram Ribbons: GoldandGlamour // Earrings and Bracelet Set: AllureWeddingJewelry // Candles: T.J.Maxx // Champagne Gummy Bears: Nordstrom //

MEP to MEC: Saying Yes to the Dress

I can hardly believe this past Sunday marked one year since I said yes to the dress that I married my best friend in! After a long day of shopping I found my gown and couldn’t have found a better dress to wear as I said “I do”. I haven’t shared many details from that day, mostly because I wanted to keep the details of my dress and bridal style a secret for my husband and our guests. Now that the wedding has passed, I thought it would be fun to share my experience in honor of the one year anniversary of buying my dress!

I’m pretty sure that I have been a devoted follower of the “Say Yes to the Dress” TV series since it first aired on TLC. I have watched countless brides go through the process of picking their dress and have mentally noted every tip ever shared about trying on wedding dresses. With all of this knowledge, I felt over prepared when it came to shopping for my own gown. I knew what style, color and look that I was going for and was confident I would be able to find the dress with little to no stress or heartache. Even still, I knew I was open to trying on each style and silhouette just to be sure.

I decided a number of years ago that I only wanted my mom and sister at my bridal appointment. I tend to be very indecisive and while I’m sure my bridesmaids’ advice and suggestions would be so heartfelt, I knew having more opinions would make the process even harder for me. Because my sister was still in college and had a busy fall due to her tennis schedule, and I had almost every weekend booked with weddings and bachelorette parties, I knew we had a limited window for all of us to experience this together. I scheduled three appointments (yes, all on the same day) at three different bridal salons, mostly just in case I didn’t find what I was looking for at the first two stores. I even brought along my bridal style inspiration board I made to help the consultants understand what I was looking for.

My first appointment was at a little bridal shop in Delmar, DE called Stained Glass Bridal. It was the same shop that my aunt got her wedding gown from, as well as where my sister got her senior prom dress a few years prior. We arrived for the appointment and the very nice employee invited us to help ourselves to any dresses on the rack. While this store didn’t give the one on one attention I was anticipating, it was nice to just try on the dresses to get over the “wedding dress shopping” nerves. I tried on some beautiful A-Line gowns including what I call the “Wendy Dress” (pictured below). I knew after going through the dresses that I had pulled that my dress wasn’t at this store. However, I was a little surprised how much I liked this fit and flare with a gorgeous long train!

My next appointment was at Downtown Bridal in Salisbury, MD. I immediately felt more relaxed as this appointment began, solely based on the face that this store had more gowns than the previous one and my wonderful consultant was truly interested in helping me find my dream dress. After I told her our theme, and that I was looking for an A-Line gown with a tulle skirt, she pulled so many beautiful dresses for me to try on. I also mentioned that I was surprised that I liked the fit and flare at the previous store, so she found a few of those for me to try on as well.

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I absolutely loved this dress. Even though it didn’t seem bridal enough for me, I will be returning for this dress if Jody and I ever renew our vows! It even has a bow on the back. Be still my heart.
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This has “Steel Magnolias” written all over it.
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This dress is just gorgeous. I honestly don’t remember why I didn’t like this one, but if you don’t have the feeling then it must have not been the one!
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I just loved this full skirt (with pockets!) but I’m not the biggest fan of taffeta. Still beautiful though!

Just like the process to find a husband, you may fall in love, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the one for you. 30 some odd dresses later, I still didn’t have the feeling. I had fallen in love with a dress with lace detail at the top, and a beautiful tulle skirt, but even after getting “jacked up” and trying it on twice, I still wasn’t sure it that dress was the one. Between each dress, I had thirty seconds to myself to have my own silent options. I vividly remember standing in the dressing room, completely torn as to why I wasn’t excited or sure that this dress was it. It was pretty, it felt comfortable, and I loved the lace applique across the bodice. But, in my thirty seconds to myself, I looked at my dress and thought “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to get as your wedding dress?”. I knew something wasn’t right. Something was missing, although I wasn’t exactly sure what.

We left that appointment and I was becoming frustrated and disappointed. I knew we didn’t have many other weekends for me to do this with both my mom and sister in tow, and I really didn’t want to drag out the process. I was confused as to what I wanted, after being so sure that the A-Line style was for me. Disheartened, we headed to the last appointment at Louis Marie Bridal.

Even with an hour drive to the next shop, I still felt a little flustered upon arrival. Because we had spent so long at the last appointment, we were late to this one and only had a little over an hour until they closed for the day. Once we met with my consultant, I told her everything that has transpired that day from what dresses I liked, which ones I didn’t and handed over my inspiration board yet again to see if we could find anything. She pulled three dresses, two A-Lines, and one fit and flare. I tried on the first A-Line and liked how unique the top was before it descended into the fuller skirt. I thought it could be a possibility, but still headed back into the changing room to try on the others.

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As I pulled the next dress out of the bag, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is really pretty”. I slipped it on and walked out to see it in the mirror and thought again “Wow, this is really pretty!”. It hugged me in all of the right places, and had a hint of sparkle that was subtle enough to only be noticeable when the light hit it the right way. It showed off my curves, had beautiful lace detail, and had buttons going down the back. It was then that I realized I might be more in love with the fit and flare after all.

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I honestly don’t even remember the other dress I tried on after that one. But I did, and apparently didn’t impress me because before I knew it, I was back in this Serenity Bridal gown, this time to get jacked up. At this point, my mom and sister hadn’t said much in regards to what they thought about the dresses, mostly to not confuse me any more than I already was. But when I put that dress on the second time, I was desperately hoping that they liked it as much as I did. I pulled my hair back and we added the veil, and I turned to my entourage again for an option. As soon as they said they loved it, and could see me wearing this down the aisle, I burst into tears. I had found the dress that I was going to marry my best friend in.

After three different bridal stores in two different states, and over 50 dresses in one day, my road to finding my dress wasn’t what I imagined, but I wouldn’t have had in any other way. I’m eternally grateful to my consultants, Louis Marie Bridal for all they have done for me during my engagement, and my mom and sister for their unwavering support through this experience.

I do want to mention too, it is completely normal to have dress regret. For weeks after I bought my dress, I wondered if I made the right choice, or made a decision solely to get a dress that day, and would I regret my choice on my wedding day. Buying a wedding gown is a huge investment, emotionally and financially, so it is normal to second guess whether you made the right decision or not. I know I struggled with this and I don’t think it is talked about enough. For me, trying on wedding dresses made everything feel real; this was actually happening, you are getting married. Those emotions mixed in with “this is the dress that I’ll remember forever” is a lot of pressure for someone to deal with! But, looking back now, each time I tried on my dress after I bought it, I fell in love with it more and more each time, just like I do each day I spend with Jody. If anyone else is experiencing this remember that you chose it for a reason. Stick with your gut and everything will turn out beautifully. After all, you could get married in your pajamas, while I don’t suggest this, you’ll still be just as married at the end of the day and that is all that matters.

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