Weekends are for weddings! If you’re like me, with 9 weddings each year, the weekends are, quite literally, for weddings (attending them, that is). Also if you’re like me, the weekend is a time to think about planning your own wedding. Lots of people carve out a certain time each week for wedding planning (Wedding Wednesday seems to be very popular). It ensures the wedding doesn’t take over their whole lives; however, I find that confining wedding planning to a specific time is too pressure-filled and bicker-prone. I plan my wedding when inspiration strikes. Weekends, in particular, offer the time to let my mind roam and plan my own wedding in a stress-free environment. In this series, I’ll take you through some of my major planning steps – hopefully this will help you plan your own wedding!
Here’s a rundown of all our vendors and venues, as well as why we chose them – there’s so much to think about when picking this stuff!
HOT TIP #1: You’ll notice that when it comes to venues, every place had some sort of historical significance, which is something we were really drawn to when making our decisions. We tried to make sure that every place we chose was either historical, personal, or both. It made the weekend feel less cookie-cutter. For instance, I didn’t care so much about having a “country club wedding” once I realized that our club happens to be the oldest golf club in the country – what a cool lil fact! Try to find some sort of unique fact or personal tie to everything you choose. Let’s say your budget can only accommodate a “wedding factory” type venue: try to choose one that can still offer meaning, like something on the water, for example, if you share a love of boating. Or fill a basic space with tons of personal touches like craft beer and your favorite cake flavor. If you can find some personal link, you’ll look back with fondness.
Bridal Luncheon: The bridal luncheon was held at The Olde Pink House. The restaurant itself is beautiful so my Mom simply decorated with a banner over the fireplace and confetti and tulips on the table that she picked up herself. We chose this spot because it was centrally located and the old mansion is a perfect example of old Savannah architecture.
Rehearsal Dinner: Our rehearsal dinner was at Vic’s on the River. I’ve been going there for years so I knew the food was good (and that they serve blue cheese olives in their dirty martinis, a definite plus in my book). The building was first designed as a warehouse before being used as a shipping company. It was also used by General Sherman and the Union Army as a planning site during the Civil War. The location is great, with windows overlooking the River on one side and Bay Street on the other. When you have guests coming from out of town, it’s nice to pick a venue that shows off the city itself. The location was also important because we wanted something that was walking distance from the hotel and the welcome reception venue, and Vic’s was only about 2 blocks away from each. The best part is that they made everything so easy. You get quite the bang for your buck. I didn’t feel like they gouged us on the food (particularly given the large portions) and they included table linens and centerpieces with the room. The centerpieces they offer are actually gorgeous and unique to each couple.
Dessert and Cocktail Welcome Reception: Because we couldn’t afford to have all out of towners at the dinner, we held a dessert and cocktail reception down the street at Moon River Brewery. If you were immediate family or wedding party, you came to the rehearsal dinner; if you were a non-immediate family, non-wedding party out of towner, you joined us for the cocktail reception. It’s only a block away from Vic’s and about 2 blocks from the hotel so it was easy for everyone to get there. It was also a wink to Albert’s love of craft beer. A big draw was their beer garden because it made for a fun atmosphere – everyone was in a jovial mood to kick off the weekend. Our rain plan was to simply clear the tables and have the remaining guests join us at Vic’s since we had the room reserved anyway. Moon River’s building was Savannah’s first hotel and post office. Like much of Savannah, Moon River is haunted, but thankfully none of our guests got spooked.
Ceremony: Although Albert is Catholic, I was raised Jewish, and it was important for me to have [at least a half] Jewish ceremony and to be married by a Rabbi. In Savannah, only one Rabbi/temple will marry interfaith couples, so we didn’t have many options there. Thankfully, our only option is exactly what I would have chosen, no matter what. Rabbi Haas is totally cool and open to learning all about us so he could customize the ceremony. He was also cool with us having a Catholic co-officiant so we could bring both cultures into our ceremony. The ceremony was held at Temple Mickve Israel, which happens to be the oldest Reform congregation in the country. It is breathtaking. The architecture alone is beautiful and we could not have asked for a better location than right on picturesque Monterery Square.
Reception: With a wedding our size, there were very few places that could accommodate us. We were left with a hotel ballroom (something I did not want), an old railroad depot (which we did want, but they tried to charge us a truly absurd amount), and one of the private clubs. My family holds membership at the Savannah Golf Club so that was the winner for us. It is a beautiful country club (in fact, it is the oldest golf club in America) that serves great food (a top priority for me), and they could accommodate an indoor/outdoor reception. It was also nice to celebrate in a place with family memories – it didn’t feel random.
Hotel: The Hotel Indigo opened exactly a year before our wedding and could not be in a more perfect location, right next to City Market. With lots of out-of-town guests, many of whom would not have a car, we wanted to make sure the hotel was in the heart of downtown. During their renovations, the hotel built in tons of history – the wallpaper in the rooms is made from blown up local artwork, the elevators have wood paneling from when the building used to be a factory, etc. Because our wedding fell at the height of tourist season and during the Savannah Music Festival, no hotel was willing to give a block rate of less than $240/night (not even the lower caliber hotels). I wouldn’t call it cheap, but it was the best rate we could get and couples could double up to defray costs. Of all the hotels at that price point, we thought it would be the one our guests liked best. It satisfied the two biggest needs: convenient location and local charm.
Photographer: I was interested in a photojournalism-style photographer. I was drawn to The Happy Bloom because they seemed to take more candids than some of the other photographers. Sure, I want to look back at some posed photos, but mostly I want us to look in photos the way we truly did during those moments. They also incorporated black and white photography (classic) and use film so they really take advantage of the light. I had an idea of a look that I wanted – bright, light-filled photos – and that’s their specialty. Moody stuff is great on Instagram, but I knew a bright, natural look would make me happiest when looking back on the photos years later. They nailed it.
HOT TIP #2: Think about what these style choices mean. Because our photographer shoots mostly in film, his process was definitely slower. Slower means fewer photos overall. There were fewer pictures of us getting ready or of me in my second dress, for instance. That said, the look of the photos was exactly what I wanted so I was ok sacrificing quantity for quality.
Florist: When I described the look we liked as lush botanical (lots of greenery – a little rustic but no mason jars), our wedding planner guessed I would like August Florals. She was absolutely right. I gave a few talking points of things I liked and Kim came back with a proposal that incorporated all my favorite elements. The florals at our wedding were absolutely stunning. There were even quail eggs nestled into the centerpieces. What?!
Cake: To decide on a baker, I went through my wedding planner’s list of preferred vendors and narrowed it down to those who seemed to have the most interesting flavors. I felt strongly about not sacrificing taste for looks. There would be plenty of pretty things to look at, I wanted something that actually served its intended purpose of being a tasty dessert. Neither Albert nor I are super into sweets so if we actually like a cake, you know it’s good, and we really liked this one. When it comes to cake, I like caramel flavors and fruit filling (not necessarily together) and Savannah’s Hall of Cakes had some really interesting combinations, including seasonal flavors. When I cross-checked their Instagram, I noticed head baker Delaney had a handle on all sorts of styles (ie: it wasn’t all fondant or all buttercream). We decided on their Savannah Blueberry Lemon flavor with Swiss meringue buttercream done in a nearly naked style. We decided not to really frost it because we don’t actually like frosting. For decoration, the naked look can be a little rustic/plain, so we jazzed it up with gold leaf and a few bits of fresh greenery from our florist.
HOT TIP #3: A lot of people nowadays are doing fake cakes. You basically cut into cardboard where a bit of real cake has been tucked for the whole feeding each other bit. Then they wheel away the fake one and cut up sheet cakes in the kitchen. I don’t do fake anything. I don’t buy knock-off purses and I don’t eat knock-off cakes. I would rather save money with a very small cake for ceremonial cutting and then sheet cakes in the back, but no fake cake for me. I also wanted it to actually taste good. Cakes are freakin expensive so it better actually taste good. A painted fondant cake may look pretty in pictures, but I’m not all that fond of fondant. We chose based on taste and then picked a decorating style that wouldn’t compromise that.
Ketubah: I was floored by the beautiful ketubah Karin painted for her and Hart’s wedding. When we got engaged, I immediately knew I wanted her to design ours. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who took notice. So many people liked her work that she has started her own business, Karin Cole Designs, and I am so happy we got to be one of her earliest clients. She was a dream to work with. She ran a perfect schedule and shipped the document from LA to Savannah in packaging that ensured it was both protected and easy to display at the ceremony. The best part was being able to work together in the design process. While Karin can work with templated styles, we went the completely custom route. We decided on a ketubah that incorporated the two most important cities in our lives with the New York skyline on the top and the Savannah marsh on the bottom. Connecting the two are cascading florals in the color and style of our wedding (succulents, eucalyptus, butter yellow ranunculus). Finally, the Hebrew word for team is written on the top because Albert has always said “we’re a team”, and that’s exactly how we wanted to enter our marriage. Of course, a custom ketubah like this isn’t cheap, but it is something entirely unique to us and will grace the wall of our home forever. I could not be happier with the result.
HOT TIP #4: Pick and choose where you want to go big. The ketubah was not the most forward-facing element of our wedding; yet, it was one of the more expensive items. We treated this like artwork that we will have the rest of our lives. Also, in the Jewish culture, this contract is what legally binds us as husband and wife. That means while it might not be the most “fun”, it’s probably the most important wedding piece. Sure, everyone sees the invitations, but they’ll throw them away soon after. We preferred to spend our money on this piece of paper, which will never be thrown away. Another example of give and take: I was also willing to sacrifice the flower budget in favor of the band. Flowers may look nice, but a band affects the actual experience. Not everything needs to be the biggest and most expensive. Think about what is most important to you and put your emphasis there.
Hair and Makeup: Katie Camacho from Salon Aqua did both my hair and makeup and I would use her again in a heartbeat. I went in knowing I wanted two braids going over the crown of my head but unsure about the rest. I didn’t love the back at my trial but did a little research and sent her some photos of things I thought would work with the greenery I wanted to incorporate. Like the birdcage veil, I knew I wanted fresh greenery in my hair ever since I saw my sister-in-law wearing a gardenia in her updo 11 years prior. I wasn’t sure what the final product would look like but trusted that she would do a good job and I’ve never thought my hair looked better. For makeup, I wanted a more natural look since the dress had so much beading. I told her I wanted false lashes and a matte berry lip and let her work her magic from there.
HOT TIP #5: Offer inspiration pictures. I didn’t do this at first because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but also because I was afraid of seeming pushy, like things had to look a certain way. I think I said something along the lines of “I want the back of my hair to be up but not all curls – I don’t want to look like Prom.” That’s great, but it didn’t give the stylist a lot to work with since there are a million non-curly updos. It wasn’t until I sent a few photos that she got the look I was going for. Showing a picture doesn’t mean you have to copy the look exactly. For example, the back of my hair is a simple roll, but the double braided front/top and addition of greenery created a new look. Basically, we mashed together 3 different styles, but those photos gave us a nice starting point.
Fashion: Both Albert and myself wanted to look like ourselves at our wedding, and the same went for our wedding party. Here’s a rundown of all the fashion elements:
- Albert’s groomsmen wore blue suits from Macy’s (ie: didn’t look like rentals) that they have all since worn again. Accessories came from The Tie Bar.
- My bridesmaids each chose their own dress off the rack in a shade of light gray. If I’m remembering correctly, Steph’s came from Bloomingdales, Allison’s was from Revolve, Jen’s was Ramy Brook, Lindsay found hers on Gilt, Rebekah’s came from Lulu’s, and Liz and Kathleen both got theirs at ASOS. Matt got a custom suit from Banana Republic.
- Albert custom designed his suit at L&S Tailors, and I love that he customized it with a unique pattern on the back of the vest.
- My mom wore a black Halston Heritage dress with some killer multi-colored Kate Spade heels.
- My outfit(s):
- Lowcountry Boil: Romper by Aqua (no longer available)
- Bridal Luncheon: Aqua skirt with Alice and Olivia top and Sam Edelman block heels (can’t find links – sorry!)
- Rehearsal Dinner: Three Floor dress
- Wedding Day:
- Ceremony Dress: Theia Caitlin dress, found at Lovely Bride
- Ceremony Shoes: Loeffler Randall Reina Kitten Heel Sandal (no longer available). I didn’t want to wear a super tall heel for the ceremony/pictures because I’m already just barely taller than my beau without shoes. These are called kitten heels, but they’re actually 2.75″, enough to lengthen my legs and lift my booty without towering over Albert. Also, I liked that the wavy edges were fun but free of embellishment, since my dress was entirely beaded/sequined.
- Veil: Noon on the Moon Marisol birdcage. I always loved the look of a birdcage veil. It was actually one of the elements of my outfit I knew I wanted all along and I chose my dress knowing I needed something that would match the vintage look of a birdcage. I loved that this one was super simple (no feathers or anything) but had a few pearls sprinkled on there for a little something extra.
- Reception Dress: Halston Heritage (no longer available) with a deep v, cutouts, and a slight high-low hem
- Reception Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Hopefully I didn’t leave anything out!