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{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.

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