Thanks to the Keeper of the Stars: Before the Big Day

December 6, 2015
My wedding day.

It had taken only 6 weeks to book a venue, plan a menu, organize bridesmaids, send out invitations, create a wedding website, find an amazing photographer, convince a sorority sister to bake my wedding cake, and plan an unforgettable honeymoon.  B had proposed months before (in March, to be exact), and I had already found and purchased my wedding dress that summer, but we never really nailed down the date or where it should be.

Some backstory here: B and I dated for 3 years in two different cities. We had both gone to different colleges, graduated, and started professional working lives living apart from each other.  We didn't just have a date to pick or a neighborhood to select; one of us was going to have to make pretty major changes before the wedding day.

The Planner

First things first, a roadmap! My mom and I stopped at stationary shops and bookstores so that I could find the perfect planner. It's overwhelming how many of them there are to choose from! A lot of my girlfriends swear by Erin Condren planners now and if I'd known about them then maybe that's what I would have gone for. As it was, so many of the planners were huge beautiful binders that were not practical for everyday use.

I picked the Instant Wedding Planner: Get From "Will You" To "I Do!" In Record Time by Jennifer L. I found mine at Barnes & Noble, but this affiliate link will take you to  It had easy task lists and schedules to follow, pockets to store brochures and pictures and business cards, and sections to keep each project straight: cake tasting, dress hunting, venue selection, etc. It was just what I needed without it being too overwhelming.

The Dress

One spring day in June my best friend and maid of honor joined forces with my mom to join me on my quest for the perfect wedding dress.  We were armed with a Pinterest board and a really really small budget, so we started with consignment boutiques. And guess what? In ONE DAY we found my dress! There were tears and hugs and excitement (and some disappointment that I didn't need to try on any more gorgeous dresses).  Before I had even purchased one of those wedding planning guide books I had already checked off the BIGGEST item on the wedding prep list.

I should mention we found an off-white too-big version of my dress at a consignment shop that we were then able to order in my size and pure white from David's Bridal for less. How is that possible, you ask? I have no idea. I will say service at David's Bridal was great while we placed our order, but it was awful after picking my dress up. We made two appointments for alterations that were never honored before my mom finally said she would do it herself. That and my bouquet being wrong were the only truly stressful almost disappointing moments of the wedding planning.

The Date

I wanted an outdoor wedding, preferably under a chandelier hung from a huge tree.  I would have loved to marry on a Friday the 13th for a few reasons: my grandparents, married 61 years as of this April 13th, had gotten something right; my lucky number was 13; my birthday was July 13th; it just made sense.

Unfortunately, Friday the 13ths are rare.  We could have rushed to a November wedding or waited months for the next March.  Spring is a rough season for my now-husband due to allergies, so that ruled Spring out (and who wants to wait more than a year to get married anyway? We were of a mind to just get it done, even considering eloping.)

So somehow we selected the first weekend in December.  Not really a compromise, and definitely not splitting the difference between the two date, but we were impatient.  B and I thought, maybe foolishly, that 6 weeks out would be plenty of time to pull together our families for a small ceremony and celebration and we'd be on our way.  We chose Sunday morning because it was inexpensive compared to booking on a Friday night, and we prayed the weather would be warm and dry.

The Venue

We were extremely budget conscious. We looked for unconventional venues like restaurant patios and greenhouses and thought we needed to stay away from full-service venues to conserve costs.  We almost signed for the Bandit Golf Course in New Braunfels with its gorgeous golf course, fire pit, and pretty indoor/outdoor reception space.  They would have allowed us to bring in our own food and decorations, and the space would have been decorated for Christmas.  It was right in our budget and not too far from family and friends that would be traveling for the occasion.

We were both ready to sign on the dotted line until my Mom's coworker mentioned a restaurant that we should take a look at.

We toured the Oak Valley Vineyard on a November evening 4 weeks out and this is what we saw:

I was hooked. There were twinkly lights, a huge chandelier under the pavilion, a beautiful lawn surrounded by grapevines and rose bushes, and a copse of trees from which my brothers would hang the home-crafted chandelier my mom and bridesmaids would design.

B knew it the moment we walked into the pavilion and saw what I call the Beaty and the Beast chandelier. He pulled me aside and asked, "This is it, isn't it?" It didn't matter that the Bandit was more budget-friendly, or that we had the paperwork in the car ready to go. He saw my eyes lit up and wanted my dream wedding to come true.  We booked that night, and a few days later sat down with their amazing coordinator to select our menu items and put down our deposit for the pavilion, lawn, and room upstairs to act as the bridal suite.

The Website & Registry

B and I set up our wedding website on the Knot and our registry on and Dillards. The Knot was a great resource for tracking RSVPs, providing wedding day details online for guests,  syncing our registries, and afterwards even seeing some wedding photos that used our hashtags.
You can also Create an Amazon Wedding Registry!

The Bridesmaid Luncheon

In keeping with last-minute wedding style, I kept my wedding party small. Just 4 bridesmaids:
two of my sisters, my best friend since 5th grade, and my best friend in college. In keeping with a budget-friendly wedding, we did a lot of arts-and-crafts.

I had spent the weeks since selecting our date visiting Michael's and Hobby Lobby with 40% off coupons to purchase floral decor one or two pieces at a time. We also placed an order for white roses and my bridal bouquet of ivy and lilies with Janal, which was a mini-disaster.

So Saturday morning on December 5th my bridesmaids gathered for brunch and gifts and bouquet/boutonniere/corsage assembly at my parents' house while I was at the doctor with no voice desperate for something that would enable me to actually talk on my wedding day. Shout out to my girls for taking my horrendous mistake of a bouquet and turning it into exactly what it should have been in the first place.

I had selected items for each of my bridesmaids that would make their bouquet unique, like a stalk of puff balls for my sister and a huge poinsettia for my maid of honor (which was then reassigned for my bouquet centerpiece because my beautiful stargazer lily that should have been there wasn't).

On return from the doctor we proceeded to the nail salon for some manicures and then it was off to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

It took an amazing team of women to pull together a wedding in only 6 weeks: my mom, B's mom, my bridesmaids, sorority sisters, the venue coordinator. But we did it!  

Day of reminiscences (and wedding photos by the amazing Kaylee Forbes of Kaylee Mariee Photography) coming soon!

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  1. Wow loved the way you have described your wish for the D day. Indeed it's a very important day and planning under the budget is a big part.

  2. Love how you can feel the love for your venue through your post! So jealous of those lights too!