16 June 2011

Wedding week, day four: when not to DIY

With all the “I” and “me” in the last post about wedding DIY, you might be wondering what Mr. P was doing. Shouldn’t he have been helping build the cake stands or monogramming the napkins or printing the invitations?

No. He should not. We wanted wedding planning to be a happy event and that meant his contribution to DIY was to ask me how it’s going and rub my back and bring me a glass of water. If he stamped a “P” slightly askew on our napkins, we were both going to be upset. Me, because it’s crooked, and him, because his future wife is freaking out over a crooked “P” on one of hundreds of napkins because she is crazy.

But Mr. P was actually quite busy planning our honeymoon (I did NOTHING) and still extremely involved in the details our wedding. He had plenty of ideas and opinions, and he did a lot of legwork because of the simple fact that I do not make phone calls. It’s a pathological fear. Look it up in your DSM. Ok, telephobia is not in the DSM but it is on Wikipedia and that is basically the same thing, right?

Phone calls came into play for contacting those who did the things that we could not (or were afraid to) DIY. It’s one of the first rules of DIY: Know when you are in over your head. For those things, we bought into the Wedding Industrial Complex and hired some vendors. Sadly, a lot of vendors were surprised that it was the groom phoning them and that they had very little contact with the bride. And then we were surprised by their surprise. That's just how we rolled.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about our vendors here because they are part of what made the wedding great. Yes, weddings are expensive, and hiring these people and their talents were by far the largest part of our budget. But they were worth it, and the process of hiring them was something that Mr. P and I did together. Team P! We shopped around and got lots of value for our dollar, and when it came to the wedding day, they delivered. So while I may have had my cheapskate moments of wondering whether we could self-cater our reception or have a talented friend take our photos, I am so glad these people were a part of our wedding.

I’ve already mentioned one of them, Ryan Sweeney Photography. All of the rehearsal and wedding photos I’ve shown thus far are his work. But he also spent several hours with us shooting our engagement photos:

Holy moly, how romantic, right? Those are the fountains in front of the courthouse in Nashville and their erratic pattern required a quick trigger finger. He also framed this incredible shot:

If you aren’t a Nashvillian, you may not appreciate that this has both a historical landmark (Ryman Auditorium) and a modern skyline icon (the AT&T “Batman Building”) in a single shot. And as you’ve already seen, our wedding day photos are amazing:

While we have some friends who are incredibly talented with a camera, paying a professional was definitely the way to go. Having amazing photography was one of our priorities in the budget, but it also meant we didn’t have to worry about our friends not getting to enjoy the party we were throwing.

Speaking of a party, it’s not one without great music. For that, we can thank Spangler Entertainment. Though I briefly considered going the iPod-hooked-up-to-speaker-system route, I knew that with our limited reception time we wanted a real person managing it with an eye on the clock. Spangler bills themselves as “reception coordinators” and by golly that is exactly what they did. Notice the emcee with his iPad telling him exactly what we wanted to do at that minute (first dance, as indicated by me passing off my bouquet):

I know it sounds lame to say that Spangler kept our reception “on task”, like the reception was a classroom with a hardcore outline of “The Student Will” goals. But that was important to make sure we could do everything we wanted, like my bouquet toss-slash-vault landing pose:

And in between they kept the dance floor full, playing the music we personally picked out on their website. Just so you know, any time I show a photo of the dance floor, my mom likes to remind everyone that the room was much darker than it appears and our photographers were sneaky so that is why she looks ridiculous. But let's be honest. She was just having a blast dancing with Mr. P.

It’s also not a party without delicious food, and we can thank Chef Christopher Catering for that. Their food was delicious and excellently priced, and the operations manager Josh was fantastic to work with in advance and on the day-of. For instance, Mr. P and I actually ate at our wedding. We'd heard that the bride and groom never get to eat, but nonetheless they sat us down and served us plates from the food stations:

Sure, a few people sat and chatted with us, but I am rude enough to eat while they talk so it was fine by me! They also kept our glasses filled, which is why I look like a lush with my glass of wine in every single photo, but it was great for the toasts:

And the funnest thing to me was the fruit carving. We chose to serve fruit because… well, every wedding has fruit, right? People like fruit. But what we didn’t realize what that Chef Christopher’s fruit station involves a monogrammed melon. No really. I was taken aback when Josh asked what we wanted our on melon, but that’s their thing.

If you don’t remember, that’s the monogram that I stamped on our napkins. Fancypants, right?

I’m sure there were things here and there that I didn’t hear about because shhh don’t tell the bride everything is falling apart, but from my point of view the wait and bar staff did their job well. Chef Christopher’s company allowed us to purchase our own alcohol ourselves, which was excellent because I wanted to serve wine from my favorite local vineyard:

Chef Christopher’s group also served up our cakes despite the fact that they didn’t make them. Mr. P and I did DIY the “groom’s cake” with cheesecake we purchased ourselves. But for the main event cake, we worked with Juanita at Dulce Desserts.

Lemme tell you some things about our cake. First of all, I had nothing to do with picking it out. Like wedding dresses, I rejected almost every idea I came across. It was Mr. P who knew what he wanted and suggested textured buttercream icing. At first I was unsure but he quickly convinced me after finding like, the two photos in existence of what he had in mind (seriously, it was that uncommon). I hear textured buttercream is über trendy right now, but let me state for the record that it was Mr. P’s idea first.

However, we were not super willing to spend a lot on cake if we didn’t have to – when we budgeted out our priorities, cake wasn’t one of them. So we tried Publix cake, and it was okay enough, but we weren’t convinced they could execute the icing idea we had. We hoped to find someone who, one, was on board with the textured buttercream, and two, had delicious icing. This was harder than you might think. I went to a bridal show around the time we needed to find a baker and spoke to literally five bakers in a row who were snobby about their fondant. I would explain that we just didn’t want fondant and they would all say “But you haven’t had our fondant.” No. You are missing the point. I already do not like you. I am not going to hire you. Thanks anyway.

Then I went to Dulce Dessert’s booth. Not only did Juanita and her assistant immediately understand exactly what we wanted, they were excited about it. And furthermore? Their buttercream icing was amazing. I mean it is seriously the best icing I have ever tasted. As we walked away, my maid of honor whispered, “Yeah... that icing? That was in a class by itself.” Agreed, lil' C. AGREED.

So our cake ended up being bit more expensive than we planned because it wasn’t a grocery-store cake after all, but that’s okay (we were merciless deal-hunters for literally everything else). Juanita worked with us to make sure we were getting the best deal for us, including bartering our cake stand. And the luxury of a boutique bakery, I gotta admit, was pretty fun. When Mr. P and I visited the shop for our tasting, we selected some of our favorite flavors from her list – almond cake with lemon curd, and chocolate chip cake with strawberries and chocolate ganache, if you are wondering. She’d served us a plate but didn’t have those particular flavors on hand, so I tentatively asked if we would have a chance to try them before committing to them for our wedding. To which Juanita said “Of course! These are just your choices for the second tasting.” SECOND TASTING. Is there possibly a more magical phrase than second tasting?

The other delightful perk was that we didn’t have to freeze our top tier for this week’s first anniversary celebration, because Juanita makes each of her couples an anniversary cake. Mr. P and I have both been excitedly anticipating this cake for months. Turns out there IS a more magical phrase and it is ANNIVERSARY CAKE.

You’ll note our cake was pretty simple, decoration-wise. Just some hydrangeas provided by our fantastic florist. How was that for a smooth transition, eh? I am getting good at this blogging thing! Except maybe when I point out my segues.

Flowers were a bit of a frustration. I knew I wanted them, but not many, because they cost a LOT and then like two seconds later they are all wilty and sad. Consequently I wanted them to be simple and inexpensive. Hydrangeas are simple, and beautiful, and fortunately in season in June. So I was very, very close to being ballsy enough to DIY them. I even visited the very nice people at the wholesale flower shop a few times. I only needed four bouquets! Oh... plus our mom’s bouquets. And boutonnières. Like... NINE of them, when you count our dads and ushers. Oh yeah, and our flower girl needed flowers. And what was that about how hydrangeas can be a little temperamental, especially when it is ninety degrees outside? Like it was on our wedding day?

(photo shamelessly stolen from my bridesmaid)

So I remembered that first rule of DIY and reluctantly went to see our coordinator’s recommended florist, Judy at Granny’s Flower Shop. Now, the meetings with other vendors were fun, but the meeting with Judy was one I truly enjoyed. Maybe it’s because Judy was a fellow parishioner at our church? Or because she loved chatting about local theatre and what to see in Italy? I don’t know. I just know it was one of the few times I actually felt outside the Wedding Industrial Complex. In any case, Judy didn’t seem offended by my general apathy toward flowers, was very sensitive to my unwillingness to pay a lot, and even took me into her cold rooms to pick out the perfect flowers for our moms’ bouquets (a flower very unromantically named “stock” but with one of the best scents):

After meeting with Judy, she sent me an itemized quote. When I got it, I actually clapped. And squeeeealed. And called Mr. P to tell him that we found a non-evil florist who wasn’t going to repossess our first-born child to cover the cost of wedding flowers! So yeah, Judy is a catch. (I should know because our altar flowers? Not Judy. A different florist required by the church. DID NOT LIKE. Will not say more.)

I should mention here another inexplicable opinion of Mr. P’s: he really, REALLY wanted orchid boutonnières. Judy warned they were more expensive - when we met I was all, "Yeah, what's cheap? Roses? Sure, roses." But in the grand scheme of things, it was like twenty extra bucks for the orchids, and the groom got His Special Day (shoutout to my approximately four readers that remember how much I abhorred the “special day” phrase).

So those were the people who took on the wedding tasks we couldn’t do ourselves. I think of them as my DIY fairies. Like in Cinderella! Except they don’t work for free.

Although we did get a little help from our friends. The first is our transportation. We were far too practical to hire a limo, and besides, Mr. P's car matched our color scheme (I may be cheap but I can obsess with the best of them). So I’d like to thank Mr. P for taking in his car to get detailed so we could drive away in style. But I’d especially like to thank our bridal party for either preventing others or restraining themselves from trashing it up (they only hung a “reserved” sign):

And our wedding was documented by our videographers – that is, Mr. P’s uncle and cousin who were willing to spend the evening watching through a viewfinder:

Not only that, but they made us fancy edited DVDs of the whole shebang. Awesome, right? But it will take a whole separate post to talk about how fantastic our families really are... come back tomorrow for that!


Richard said...

Love the "Wedding Week" memories.
Thank you for this wonderful anniversary gift to us. Wishing both of you many, many more joyous days. Love, Mom Ann