Unfake brides. Unfake weddings. Go on, get inspired. You know you want to.

Are you a bride wanting to be featured? If so, go here and let me know! If you are a photographer, please hit me up via Two Bright Lights or send me an email.



{Unfake Wedding Feature} January in Napa? Lovely.

Rachel and Dave are a wonderful couple who are from Santa Rosa, California. Their winter wedding (January 27, 2012) proves several things: in Northern California wine country, anything is possible!

The ceremony was quiet and intimate with only family members in attendance. The outdoor courtyard setting was so beautiful as they exchanged vows in front of a gentle, glowing fireplace.

A larger group of friends and extended family arrived later for a casual, fun, and laid back reception. Their decision to have their wedding on a Friday was  a smart move for the budget-conscious couple. I hope you'll see the love and creativity in their wedding!

Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of

Dave & Rachel


The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you?

Yes! And then my hubby fell asleep and I spent 20 minutes taking bobby pins out of my hair!

Please take the time to tell me all the vendors you used.

Photographer   T.J. Salsman Photography

DJ/Band  Canaan Sound & Light 

Reception Venue & Guest Hotel  Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel

Flowers  Groehe Florists

Dress  Brides n’ Maids,  Wtoo by Watters, Style - Zora

Hair/Make- Hair  Hair: Natalie Medeiros, Chop Shop,  Makeup – Flaunt Makeup Artistry

Tuxedos/Suits  Selix Formal Wear

Cake  Giorgi’s Cakes

Who was your favorite vendor and why?

Photographer TJ Salsman. He did an amazing job of capturing the ambiance of the evening. He worked with us on every possible detail and had an amazingly artistic eye. We told him we really wanted the unseen pictures that take place during the reception to be captured on film and he did so. Going through our pictures afterwards we were amazed to see moments he caught on film that we didn’t even know he was taking.




Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

Not really, many of the vendors we chose were based on family and friend recommendations and/or previous experience as a guest at a wedding.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

5 months.




How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

We invited 112, 88 showed.

What was your budget?

We didn’t really set out with a strict budget, we just knew we didn’t want to spend a ton of money. We made sure we bargain shopped and compared prices amongst different vendors.

Did you include rings and/or the honeymoon in your budget?

They were included in the overall scheme of the entire wedding planning.

Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?

As I mentioned, we didn’t have an exact budget. Total, we spent under $15,000 for everything,rings and honeymoon included.






How large was your bridal party?

We each had one attendant and a ring bearer

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they? How much did you spend?

Yes, we had small black boxes with our names and wedding date embossed on them. For 100 boxes full of candy: less than $120.

Did you include any special family traditions?

No, but we did have a remembrance candle lit at the reception for our family members that were no longer with us.

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What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

Didn’t have one! We woke up together, exchanged our wedding gifts with each other , I went to the grocery store for some last minute snacks to have in our room that night and then we started our pre-ceremony stuff such as hair and makeup.

What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

Three days before the wedding my florist called me in a panic because the flower mart didn’t have enough of the colored calla lilies I wanted. I told her as long as they had enough of that color for my bouquet and the boutonniere then she could have free-will to pick whatever other color would match for the rest of the bouquets, boutonnieres and reception decorations. The calla lilies she picked to compliment the original color were amazing and in the end it looked even better than just having the one solid color.

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?

I personally didn’t have any problems. But my soon to be sister-in-law missed her original flight and I know my husband was worried she wasn’t going to make it.





What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

I didn’t waste any of my money!

What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

See above answer!

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

My hair piece. I found a beautiful feather and rhinestone fascinator on Ebay for under $20.

What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

That the venue opened up the bar early for our family free of charge since our ceremony went much quicker that we anticipated.




What was the funniest thing that happened?

My 2 year old nephew who was the ring bearer serenaded us with a song after his mom (my sister) gave her matron of honor speech. That, and the fact that he stole the dance floor the entire night.

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

Neither of us are criers, but the fact that our ceremony was just us and our families allowed it to be super intimate.

Did you DIY? What parts?

Some: I purchased all the vases and did the reception set up and my friend made a card box that mimicked our favors.

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Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Cancun, Mexico.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

Nothing! It went according to plan and guests are still telling us how much fun they had!



Congratulations to Rachel & Dave!


(Unfake Wedding Feature} Krystal & Aaron Are Modern in Minneapolis

Let’s just jump right in on this Unfake Wedding. No dilly-dallying this morning. We’ve got weddings to recap!


The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you?

T30SB Commentary: It appears I’m getting the silent treatment….again.

Please take the time to tell me all the vendors you used.

Photographer  Lace Hanky

DJ/Band  Not satisfied with our vendor.

Reception Venue Spill the Wine

Guest Hotel  The Depot Renaissance Hotel

Flowers  Molly Robertson

Dress  Posh, Dress by  Lila Couture

Hair/Make-Up  Hair by  Nicollete Konecny, Make-Up by New Reflections Salon

Tuxedos/Suits Men’s Warehouse

Invitations/Stationary Stelie Designs

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Who was your favorite vendor and why?
Lace Hanky! Pictures were one of the most important things to us about the wedding. We
wanted lasting memories that were beautiful & captured the day. We felt so comfortable
& confident with Lacey, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result! he pictures by far
exceeded our expectations. She made it so easy on us, and we couldn’t have picked a better
team to capture this time in our lives. Their shots were amazing! Very talented team!


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Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

Many were either friends, or recommendations from friends. That made it really easy! Aside from that, we devoted the most time & focused earliest on the elements that were most important to us. We made a priority list at the start of planning, and this really helped us keep things into perspective along the way.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

About 8 months.

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How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

We invited about 100 and had about 80 attend.

What was your budget ?

Between $10k-$50k.

T30SB Commentary: OK, I give brides the option to share their budget with readers…or not. It helps brides understand the cost of weddings and visualize what a certain wedding may or may not look like in the city where the get hitched. However, if I had the opportunity, I’d give this bride just a little shit for giving such a huge range. It’s like the difference between buying a 2009 Kia Optima and a 2011 Porche Boxter.



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Did you include rings and/or the honeymoon in your budget?


Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?

We went over a little, only by 5%





How large was your bridal party?

Five bridesmaids, 3 groomsmen, 2 ushers and1 ring bearer.

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they? How much did you spend?
We donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of Aaron ( the groom’s) dad, in
lieu of favors.

Did you include any special family traditions?

When we wrote our ceremony program, we included elements from our parents’ ceremonies. In addition, one of our mom’s created garters, the ring bearer pillow and purse out of her old wedding dress and included some special touches to represent Aaron’s late father. We now have these pieces in our family and a new tradition to carry forward.

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What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

I had a huge blemish on my chin the day before the wedding. The day of, it looked horrible. My makeup artist did an amazing job, and our pictures look great, despite this. Instead of fretting
and pointing it out to everyone all day, I just focused on the day and all the other WAY more
important things going on.

What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

Initially, we wanted to do a destination wedding, planned 6 months after our actual wedding. When we decided to move the date up 6 months and have a more traditional wedding here at home, I was floored by the number of things I needed to do and know…. immediately. Since I have watched many of my friends get married, and I am a little older, I had some pretty strong ideas already. This made it easier to jump right in. Instead of going to wedding fairs and looking at magazines to get ideas, I just went right to the sources and checked availability. The internet is wonderful!

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?
I honestly can not name one! Everyone was so great, and the day was so much fun!


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What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

My dress! I really wanted to save money on that and was totally prepared to find something simple and affordable. Once I tried it on, I loved the style and the way it looked. All logic and will power went out the door! I couldn’t really get it out of my mind and reluctantly gave in. But I love it!

What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

The DJ. We were really dissatisfied.

T30SB Commentary: I feel you, sista,

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

My shoes and jewelry. I borrowed my shoes from a friend and found beautifully jewelry at local bridal shop that was going out of business. I got a smokin’ deal!



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What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

I had an idea of what the ceremony and reception would look like (all held at Spill the
Wine), but when we entered the venue and it was all set up, it just looked beautiful! I didn’t
expect to have that reaction to the venue set up. It was nice!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

One of our ushers was in charge of the music for our ceremony. He was supposed to play a specific song at the close of the ceremony, but had some difficulty with the iPod. A few awkward moments passed while we all stared at him. He finally got it, and we were able to head down the aisle.

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

The beginning of the ceremony really seemed to choke everyone up. Unsure if it was the song (Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love”) or if it’s a usual reaction at wedding ceremonies, but there were several tears and sniffles. Of joy, I hope!



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Did you DIY? What parts?

A few things- We asked a friend to get ordained and marry us. The three of us (my friend, husband and I ) wrote the ceremony. We also purchased all of the decorations and created a photo guestbook. We made gift bags for our out of town guests with some of our homemade wine.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Kauai, Hawaii

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?
It was a great day! The only negative was the DJ. He was horrible.


Congratulations to Krystal & Aaron!


{Unfake Wedding Feature!} A Michigan Lakeside Family Retreat!

Happy Monday, everybody. Did you make it through the Oscars? Did you understand Angelina Jolie’s ridiculous pose that she was immediately mocked for (LOVE)? Were you bummed for Clooney (I was) and happy for Meryl (I was)? Did you want to smack ABC for their crappy red carpet coverage (I did). Anyway…

Anyway, let’s start the week off by relaxing a little lakeside. I love the casual, laid back vibe of this Mecosta, Michigan wedding. I love how the bride gets comfy in the summer heat. I hope you love it too!

Welcome to the Wedding of Debbie & Shergo!


The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you?


Please take the time to tell me all the vendors you used.

Photographer   S.C. Photography

DJ/Band   iPod and speakers, ceremony was two musicians found on Craig’s List.

Reception Venue   Family lake cottage in Mecosta, MI

Flowers   Purchase din bulk from Horrocks Market and arranged by the bride and wedding party/family members.

Dress   David’s Bridal, Style #VW9768

Hair   Natural Beauty Salon

Tuxedos/Suits   Macy’s

Catering   Father of the Groom!!

Cake   Mother of the Groom!!! (I hit the wedding Jackpot!)

Wedding officiate – Cami at A Wedding Minister for You.

Who was your favorite vendor and why?

My groom’s parents! It’s amazing that my new family wanted to play such a large part in the wedding.




Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

I chose vendors that seemed relaxed and professional.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

Less than a year.

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

I gave my in laws invitations to distribute so they didn’t have to come up with a guest list. I’m not sure on the amount of invites that went out but it was probably close to 150. Sixty-two guests came to the wedding.

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What was your budget?

My husband and I felt comfortable spending $5000. Our family graciously paid for much of it, but I’d say overall maybe $8K or $9K was spent.

Did you include rings and/or the honeymoon in your budget?

Not the engagement ring, but the wedding bands and the honeymoon were.

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Were you over or under budget? By how much?

I have no idea…

How large was your bridal party?

Six. Two bridesmaids, two groomsmen and two flower girls.

Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they?

Small jars of candy, and flip flops.

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

The groom couldn’t find the groomsmen's’ pants. I told the groom where I last saw them, and if they were not there then the groomsmen could wear whatever they came in. The pants were found an hour later, in the place I last saw them.




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What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

I wouldn’t call it a crisis but learning to let others help with wedding plans. It was harder than I expected to let go of control.

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?

The heat.

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

The magnum bottle of Veuve Clicquot that my husband sabraged.

T30SB Commentary: I read this and was all What the hell is SABRAGED? Little did I know, it’s the act of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre. Look at the cool shit you learn in Unfake Wedding features!


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What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?


What did you love that was also the cheapest?

The hammock and the porch swing. Already at location!





What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

People on boats and jet ski’s DURING the wedding ceremony!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

My groom said that when our 2 year old flower girl Ella reached the end of the isle she emptied the remainder of her basket and loudly declared “All Done!!” And then on the way back up the isle she began picking the flowers up and putting them back in the basket. So Cute!!

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

Bride: Mother of the Bride toast: “When children find true love, parents find true happiness”. Groom: When he saw me.



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Did you DIY? What parts?

So much!! The invitations (the ink rubbed off on while in the mail!), wedding yard sign, flower bouquets and arrangements, wedding card box, music play list, wedding veil. The things we didn’t DIY I really tried to buy off Etsy as much as possible!

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Sandals Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

I’d buy my daughter a better quality bracelet that my husband and I presented to her in the ceremony. The one I bought already broke!

Congratulations to Debbie & Shergo!



{Unfake Wedding Eye Candy} A Mindy Weiss Wedding! 

Not every wedding I get as a feature submission works out. Sometimes I can’t make heads or tails of the questionnaire (you’d shocked at how many folks can’t construct a simple sentence). There are other times when it’s not a fit stylistically. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s an option I get to reject a feature on the wedding marketing platform where I recieve submissions. It’s like the nicest way to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Sometimes I get weddings submitted where I’m all, “Holy craptastic wedding overload!”

I fear posting the ‘holy craptastic’ weddings. I’m afraid to send out my quirky questionnaire to the fancy pants people with the fancy pants weddings.  I shouldn’t be, but I am. I mean, what if the cool girl with the super-pretty wedding doesn’t want to play with the crass girl and her effed-up sense of humour?

I have an answer. I have the solution…. Avoidance.  I can post the occasional Unfake Wedding sans questionnaire, right? I don’t even have to go there. I don’t have to chance rejetion of said questionnaire. I can simply post the photos. Y’all can swoon, drool and share with me my wedding envy, right?


So in celebration of my fear of questionnaire rejection, I’m proud to present a Mindy Weiss wedding! I. Am. So. Fancy.

Photographer Joy Marie Photo

Event Planner  Mindy Weiss

Flowers  Mark’s Garden

Venue  Xanadu Estate, Malibu

Dress Carolina Herrera

Band West Coast Music

The Couple Amber & Rufus

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Even holy-craptasic-Mindy-Weiss weddings can be filled with love, right? That bride looks way in love. And we ♥ love up in hea.


{Unfake Wedding Feature} Sarah & Tony, Part II

Welcome to Part II of Tony and Sarah’s wonderful wedding. Make sure you catch up and read the Prequel and Part I if you’ve missed it. Let’s jump right into the ceremony and reception, OK? Oh, and the detail shots. LOVE me some detail shots!




Please note the official wedding notebook covers.


The ring-bearer totally got handsy with mom, who was reciting (from memory) from The Velveteen Rabbit.

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

Our family and friends (thanks, Louise!) helped set up the venue before the ceremony. Since this was a DIY wedding, we had loaded my minivan with (a) all of the alcohol, sodas, waters and juice boxes for the night, (b) all of the décor, and (c) my dad’s hand truck. The day before, Tony and I had made about 8 gallons of Sangria (here’s the recipe we used) to serve during the cocktail hour. The Sangria was in two 5-gallon coolers. My dad had loaded up the hand truck with cases of wine and the two coolers of sangria, and asked me where they went. I was in a hurry, so I pointed toward the bar area that was set up in the herb garden, and for some reason, he accidentally picked up one of the coolers by the lid, spilling four gallons of sangria all over the patio where the ceremony seating would be. Luckily, we had more than enough of everything (we over-bought and were able to return nearly $600 worth of beverages the week after the wedding). The patio was cleaned off, and since we didn’t have an aisle runner, nothing was amiss.

What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

We had quite a few hurdles during wedding planning, but the biggest one by far was my mom’s health crisis. Perversely, this ended up being a blessing in disguise. About three months after we canceled the wedding and moved back to Arizona, my mom’s doctors informed her that her leukemia was in remission, which meant that the fluid that had filled her lungs in early April was a side-effect of a medication she no longer needed. As a result, we were able to have my entire family at the wedding, including my mom and my aunt, as well as other friends who could not have come, and we had a wedding that was much easier on our budget.



Sarah got blocked! Her brother literally had his hand between their faces!



Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this if you’d like)?

Honestly, I probably was. Because we had chosen a venue that required us to be in charge of everything and we didn’t have room in our budget to hire a coordinator, Tony and I spent the week before the wedding schlepping all over town to complete last-minute chores. When the wedding day rolled around, I was tired and cranky. I snapped out of it by the time we drove to the venue, but the morning was not fun.

T30SB Commentary: Whoa there, Sarah.  If by morning you mean before we got there, then maybe. Otherwise, you were a doll. I think the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day was one of the venue minions. We weren’t allow to start setting up until 4pm, or something like that. We had no time for shenanigans. At ten minutes after 4pm, the venue people didn’t have the tables out so we could start seriously setting up. I inquired within to get the tables going and I got ATTITUDE from some lady about start up times, etc. She was pretty bitchy. I pointed to the clock on the wall in her office, raised my eyebrows and said, “YOU’RE late. Hop to.” I got a little more attitude, but I also got the tables, stat. 

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

Just weeks before we canceled the San Francisco wedding, I found a collection of 20 black-and-white antique travel postcards from San Francisco. We had the postcards double-matted and framed in using archival acid-free mats, to use as a guest book. The frame is HUGE. Even though the frame had nothing to do with a desert garden wedding, we loved it so much that we decided to use it anyway. Our daughter signed it four times, and her friend misspelled “marriage” as “mariage.” We have the frame hung over our mantel in our living room, and it makes me smile every day.







What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

For our San Francisco reception, we had collected a large number of teapot and tea cup sets and chopsticks. Our plan was to serve hot tea with dinner and then give the sets (washed, of course) to our family and friends at the end of the trip. We ended up giving the tea sets as gifts to our wedding helpers at the rehearsal dinner, but I wish we had not purchased them. I would have liked to have had that money available to buy gifts that were personalized for the people who helped us.

What did you love that was also the cheapest?

I loved all of our crafts, and its so fun to see the butterfly corsages in the photos.






Oh my GOD, I love these last two photos. Sarah with that knife and Tony DYING for some cake. Love.

What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

The sangria spill was a bit of a shocker.

T30SB Commentary: I didn’t witness the Sangria Incident, but I smelled it before it saw it. Hello to 4 gallons of alcohol marinated fruit! After it was cleaned up, there was no smell. When I saw the mess, I said, “For the love of God, please don’t tell Sarah!” Then they told me she already knew and I had to shrug it off. Can’t cry over spilled Sangria.

What was the funniest thing that happened?

Our ceremony had many funny moments. When I reached the altar, I asked my son if he wanted to stay up front with us, and he hollered, “No! I’m playing with Zack!” Then he made a mad dash back down the aisle, where my sister-in-law (the Kid Wrangler) caught him. While my sister-in-law was reciting the two readings, her son walked up to join her. Then he started doing yoga poses all around her, until he ended up laying back and kicking his foot up her skirt. Tony cried during his vows, and without even thinking about it, I leaned in to give him a kiss (because, c’mon!), and my brother poked his finger between us and yelled, “Not! Yet!” I wrote about a couple of other funny moments here.

T30SB Commentary: The kiss block was excellent. I also loved the brother-officiant notebook liners: one side was the Star Wars movie poster pic and the other side was “Weddings for Dummies.” And the kids, oh the kids.  Kids were everywhere!




What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

About 20 minutes before the ceremony, the kids were busy playing and the adults were off greeting guests and finishing the set-up. I sent the photographers off to get photos of details and guests arriving. I grabbed Tony’s hand, and we quietly wandered through the back area of the gardens. We found a secluded spot where we read our vows to each other before we had to say them in front of everyone. Then we spent the next ten minutes or so sitting quietly together on a bench. We could hear people arriving and the buzz of the wedding taking shape, but nobody saw us until Tony tried to sneak a soda from our bartender. Our photographers caught us sharing a soda, but those 15 minutes alone right before the ceremony are my favorite part of the day. When my brother found us a few minutes later, I was calm and ready.

T30SB Commentary: Tony reading his vows, hands down. Couldn’t hear a word of what he said, but the look on his face made me choke up all the same.

Did you DIY? What parts?

Did we DIY? Ha. Hahahahaha. Yes. Practically everything. We planned and coordinated the entire thing, including the rehearsal dinner. I made my bouquet out of vintage enamel brooches and a bath toy. The kids and I made the “flowers” for the flower girls’ bouquets and for the tables out of egg cartons, old buttons, and floral wire. We made the Yay! Flags, 10 origami crane mobiles, origami butterfly stick pins and extra origami butterflies to scatter around the guest book and dessert buffet tables. We made all of the signs. We designed and made our save the dates and invitations (twice). We made the escort cards and out-of-town boxes. We made our playlists for the rehearsal, dinner and dancing music. We wrote our ceremony and vows. We ordered, picked up and returned (unopened) all of the drinks (if you don’t think that’s DIY, you try lifting cases and cases of wine, beer, champagne, sparkling cider, soda, water, and juice boxes in and out of a minivan 6 times in three days). We made 8 gallons of sangria. My mom made the ring pillow. We thrifted the cake stands and milk glass vases. For our San Francisco wedding, we also made decorative chopstick sleeves (we ended up giving the chopsticks away at the rehearsal dinner). We did so much DIY that I’m certain I have forgotten a project or four.






Where did you go on your honeymoon?

We couldn’t afford a traditional honeymoon, but thanks to frequent flyer miles, required travel for business, hotwire, discount City Passes for San Francisco, pre-existing annual Disney passes that were about to expire and plenty of ingenuity, Tony and I were able to spend four days in Chicago together over Veteran’s Day weekend, and we took a week-long driving trip with the kids up to San Francisco, with a stopover at Disneyland on the way there.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

First, I would make sure we had a good sound system for both the ceremony and the reception. Second, I would skip the complicated destination wedding plan altogether. The coordination and expense for both our guests and us were hellish. Even though the reason we canceled our wedding was scary, when we switched the wedding so that it would be happening close to home, everything became infinitely easier and more affordable. We would have been much better off if we had simply started that way instead of wasting time and money on an unworkable plan.

T30SB Commentary: Agree on the sound system. It was SO HARD to hear. Advice to future brides: considering a PA system? When in doubt, GET IT. Best to be well-heard than not.


Congratulations to Tony, Sarah, Bean and Bug!*

*Sarah, I hope I did you proud with this. It really was an honor to feature it.