Our Wedding: The Look for Less

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

It’s been a over a month since Graham and I had our big wedding (we were legally married on April 23 before he deployed). I’ve been anxiously awaiting our pictures from the big day so I could write about it. Because really, how could I write about our perfect wedding without some pictures.

There are so many different aspects to a wedding, and if I wrote one post about the whole thing it would be the size of a short novel. So I thought I would write about the wedding, and then devote separate entries to each of my vendors.

Planning this wedding was an adventure. It was incredibly challenging trying to plan a wedding 800 miles away and alone since Graham was deployed. It was also challenging because I had a certain idea in my head of how everything should look. Specifically the tables. Not being able to let go of small things contributed to many, many head aches. However, once Graham came home from Kuwait, my opinion on a lot of the wedding stuff changed. I still wanted things a certain way, but I learned that some of the small things I had been completely obsessed with were not important.

For months I was adamant that we use real glass dishes, glass drink ware and proper silverware, cost be damned. For months I was not going to be deterred. I needed 120 glass dinner plates, 240 small plates for salad and wedding cake, and enough glasses for 120 people to have beer, wine, champagne and water or tea. Once I finally realized that no one besides me would care if we used real plates, I caved and bought a bunch of the clear plastic ones from Sam’s. I also let go of my “no beer bottle” policy (but I stayed firm on no beer cans). I realized that letting people drink out of bottles would save money on glassware, save our bartender time, and would make cleanup so much easier. 

Once we were finished setting up the tables for the wedding, I realized how silly my obsession with real glass and silver was. Our tables looked stunning. Instead of real silverware (and the cheapest stuff I could find looked really cheap… think public school cafeteria quality) we bought three boxes of the plastic stuff that looks real. And until you picked it up, you could not tell the difference! That ended up costing around $50. I didn’t give in on the glass drink ware, but I eventually compromised. We figured maybe half of our guests would drink wine. So we bought 60 wine glasses, and we made sure that we had one water/tea glass for each person. The glass at each place setting really helped bring the look I was going for together, and we ended up with a lot of wine glasses left that had never been used. We ended up spending around $100 for glass drink ware (not including the crazy expensive Swarovski toasting flutes we had for ourselves). We also abandoned the idea of having a complete champagne toast. We bought two bottles, one for us (I wanted to try pink champagne) and one for our wedding party. Graham’s best friend was the only one who toasted, and we figured every one else could lift whatever glass & beverage they had at the moment.

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

The other big thing I obsessed over were the centerpieces. Centerpieces were a big one for me. Even more important than real plates =) I knew all along I did not want to spend the money on floral centerpieces. To me, flowers are the biggest scam in weddings. They are so expensive, and they’re already dead. To me it’s basically just throwing money away. (I even looked into alternatives for the bouquets, like these cute paper flower ones.) I also knew I wanted something substantial in size. I really can’t stand super small centerpieces on a big table. After many, many ideas, I finally was inspired while I was home for a weekend and browsing in Ikea. I saw these large silver lanterns and could picture it so vividly. I bought one to bring back to Arkansas with me to play with and figure out if it was what I had been looking for. It was absolutely what I had hoped for. So when we were home for Thanksgiving we bought quite a few more. The metal of the lantern looked like galvanized steel, so we bought some brushed metal spray paint from Krylon, spent a couple of hours painting them and they were perfect! We filled them with pine cones spray painted in our colors and white pillar candles, bought at crazy cheap prices thanks to many, MANY Kohl’s coupons and had 12 absolutely perfect centerpieces for about $25 each.

We had planned to sell most of the lanterns after the wedding, but they were a huge hit. So, we gave them to friends and family as a way to say thank you (we had a group of 12-13 people who helped us  make hot chocolate jars and cut out felt flowers for four hours one night). We of course kept one for our home, but the rest all found homes in North Carolina.

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

Favors were important to me, but those were fairly easy. I knew I wanted something that people would actually use and hopefully enjoy. So many of the cutesy favors on theknot.com just were not practical. One little votive candle? A single coaster with our picture on it? Measuring cups? No thank you. I decided early on I would do an edible favor. I had initially wanted to do cupcakes in a jar, but with everything else we were doing, I didn’t want to have to bake 120 cupcakes the night before the wedding. Then I saw little jars of hot chocolate on Pinterest, and I knew that would be perfect. These were a breeze to make, other than tracking down the jars. Apparently there were only two cases of small jelly jars in the entire state of Arkansas. There were a ton in North Carolina, so we waited until we were home to get these. They were so easy to make. Just non-dairy creamer and hot chocolate mix, topped with mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips. These were a big hit too. When made with milk, it’s some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. I made a cute monogrammed insert to jazz up the jar, and then tied a navy ribbon around the edge. They were adorable and looked so cute on the tables.

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

The part of our decor that was the most labor intensive was the felt flower napkin rings. I got a great deal on the navy napkins on Craigslist ($60 for 130 napkins!!!), and decided to add a pop of color with the flowers. These were cute, easy but took FOREVER. I mean, seriously. FOREVER. While Graham was deployed, I spent several hours making them one night and only ended up with 15. Graham and I worked on them for three hours one night, and made about 25. So, a few days before the wedding Graham came up with the idea of getting a bunch of friends and family together and putting everyone to work cutting and tracing and gluing. With 12-13 people working, we spent four hours on it that first night and still didn’t finish. So the next night we had about 6 of us working on them and we finally finished.

I LOVE how they looked on the navy napkin. It made the table look so fun and playful. It was also fun seeing everyone who helped us cut felt actually see the result of their hard work. Our little wedding elves were so proud of their work. And a lot of people took the flower at their place setting home with them. That was really flattering to me. These made a huge difference and they were such a cheap project. It took about 5 yards of felt, which cost us less than $20.

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

Photo by JJ Horton Photography

3 thoughts on “Our Wedding: The Look for Less

  1. AHOP says:

    When I first saw the picture of your wedding cake, it made me smile. I love 'out-of-the-box' thinking – doing things that warm YOUR heart and NOT following the traditional blah-blah just because everybody else has done it that way for the past 200 years – and that's what you and Graham did to make your wedding day so special.

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