full ceremony

Here is the full text of our wedding ceremony, a shortened version of which was featured on Offbeat Bride. Parts of it are inspired by others’ ideas from around the web (and I’ve made notes throughout to give credit where it’s due). All the other words are mine. Feel free to borrow for your own ceremony!
Photographer: Keith Lee Studios

Introduction

Today is a celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, of family – and of two people who are in it for forever.

You don’t have to have a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of weird, right? You’re standing on a stage, looking fancy, holding flowers – and being stared at by pretty much everyone who has meant anything to you in the past 20-something years. So why do we do it? The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation and society. We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives – but this one is regarded as one so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others. Why this moment?

Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It’s the great unifier — our one universal truth. That no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe – we know this one thing: Love is what we’re doing right. That’s why you both are standing here. That’s why you all are here to watch them stand up here. We have all loved in our lifetimes – and in this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity.

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shutterfly wedding album

12 x 12 black leather photobook
12 x 12 black leather photobook

We chose to print our own wedding album, rather than have our photographer do so. This saved us some money, but we also did it because it’s something I enjoy doing.

Our agreement with Keith gave us the right to print the photos for our personal use, which was one of million reasons we asked him to photograph our wedding.

shutterfly full page layout
Use the “use as spread” option to get a photo to cover two pages

I have printed many a’ photo book on Shutterfly, but we wanted to go all out with this one. Here are the specs I used to make it as fancy as possible:

  • Lay flat pages
  • Black leather cover
  • Size 12 x 12
  • Clear memorabilia pocket
  • 56 total pages (the base book comes with 20 and you pay extra for each additional page)

Normally, that would have cost $246. We paid $130, thanks to Shutterfly coupons. They always have coupons ( I search for them here – or they regularly have half-off sales that will post on the front page of their website).

10 lay flat (left) and regular (right) pages
10 lay flat (left) and regular (right) pages

The lay flat pages were a must, about double the thickness of regular pages.

I also used the plain white theme – I think it was called “portfolio white.” I think it helped it look a bit more professional.

There were a ton of layout choices, though I ended up using the “customize” option to make the photos larger on most pages. I didn’t want a lot of white space – I wanted the photos as large as possible. It’s easy enough to go in and change the size of any particular photo – and even if you don’t – the regular layouts aren’t that bad.

shutterfly wedding layout

I do wish Shutterfly had an emboss option for the cover. I would have been happy to pay for an emboss, but it’s unfortunately not offered.

In the very back of the book, we added the memorabilia pocket. $1.99 well spent – we put our invite and save-the-date in it so they can stay with the book.

bulk hydrangeas from Sam’s Club

Welcome table
Photo by Keith Lee Studios

We took (what we perceived to be) a risk by ordering our hydrangeas from Sam’s Club. It was absolutely the right decision. It saved us a lot of $$$ – and the flowers looked great.

Cost

I had no idea how expensive flowers could be – especially if said flowers aren’t in season. Hydrangeas were not in season in Missouri in September,. and I’m actually not sure when they ARE in season – probably summer. Anyway, we checked with local florists and, though I don’t remember the exact pricing, I know it was far more than we paid at Sam’s. Which was:

$72.98/30 stems x 7 sets = $532.44 (and free shipping)

The exact item we ordered from Sam’s is here, and the price seems to vary by the day.

Quantity

We had 22 tables at the reception, and we weren’t sure how many hydrangeasgray tablecloths white hydrangeas we would use for each. We had two vases per table, so we figured 5-6 flowers per table. We also needed them for each bridesmaid bouquet, so 4-5 per bouquet. With 210 stems, we ended up with more than enough (not one of the stems was unusable).

We figured we could never have too many flowers, so whatever was left went on tables or other surfaces throughout the reception and ceremony areas. We had more than we needed, but that’s a better problem to have than not having enough.

hydrangeas from sam's clubCare

I had heard hydrangeas were tricky to take care of, but we didn’t have any problems. We scoured the comments on the Sam’s ordering page for the flower and got varying advice about how far in advance to order the hydrangeas. We ended up scheduling delivery for Thursday for use on Saturday. The flowers came wrapped in plastic in a big cardboard box, and each stem had a tiny bag of water attached to the bottom to quench its thirst during the journey.

We filled tubs and coolers with water and placed as many flowers as we could fit per tub. The styrofoam coolers started to leak, so that was a mistake.

Within 24 hours, the flowers looked amazing. They actually didn’t look too shabby right out of the box, but within a day, I think they reached their peak glory. We didn’t take them out to the venue until 6 hours before the main event (and by we, I mean some awesome friends did this for us on the wedding day). It appears that as long as they get plenty of water, the hydrangeas stay happy.

So, they were fine being delivered 2 days in advance. They also would have been fine being delivered 1 day in advance, but I wanted a wider window of time in case they arrived looking like shriveled crap.

Bouquetswhite hydrangeas bridesmaid bouquets

The hydrangeas were a pretty decent size, as you can see from the photos. I know Sam’s has jumbo hydrangeas – but these were jumbo enough for us. We used 5 stems per bridesmaid bouquet, and used pins and regular old ribbon (you can find floral pins and ribbon at Joann’s) to hold everything together. We cut the stems to our taste – they come with crazy long stems that needed to be cut down for everything but our tallest vases.

Conclusion

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.43.31 PMOrdering hydrangeas via Sam’s saved us big bucks. We were lucky to have a place to store them (there were enough of them to cover the floor of a small bedroom) and some friends to bring them out to the venue and arrange them. With a more complex arrangement, I might have preferred a florist’s touch, but bunching together a few hydrangeas was easy enough and ultimately looked great.

anti-gay guests

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.20.47 PMWell, we didn’t have any. At least none that I know about.

Most of our friends are from Arkansas and Missouri, not exactly hot spots for progressive ideals (our friends who came down from Madison more than fulfilled our liberal guest quota 🙂 ) But as I looked out across the reception hall as the dueling pianos pounded out “Don’t Stop Believing”, everyone from the ultra-Catholics to the Agnostics seemed to be having a blast.

They were also all heavily intoxicated, which I choose to see as a sign of a good time rather than evidence of coping with an uncomfortable situation.

I imagine there was some apprehension amongst our guests about what a same-sex wedding would be like, and I suspect there was plenty of gossip exchanged in the lead-up to the event – but on the day of and every day since, no one has had anything but kind things to say.

People congratulated us. They hugged us with what seemed like a little extra oomph, perhaps to convey how much they really meant it. They scribbled sweet notes in our guest book and in cards. One said, “Know that you’ll always have our love and support.” Another, “Words of wisdom! If the shoe fits, wear it! If you come to a fork in the road, pick it up. It could be silver. Love you girls. – Papa” (my 78-year-old grandfather, who boogied at the reception, to the best of his abilities).

When I reflect on how our friends and family reacted – from the moment we got engaged to the moment we exchanged vows – I see a slow but steady progression. It’s a subtle change that is perhaps only discernible in hindsight: Support that was once effortful became effortless.

When Katie’s parents stood beside her, ready to go down the aisle, they were likely much more concerned about tripping along the stony path than they were about being judged. When our guests raised their glasses in a toast at the end of our ceremony, they didn’t seem conflicted about showing such an open sign of support, they just seemed genuinely happy for us. When our friend Chance gave a beautifully eloquent speech about the hard fought battle for equality, the tears in the reception hall came easily.

I suspect our guests will remember our wedding because it featured two brides. But I think they’ll also remember it for the dueling pianos. For the pyromaniac-envisioned fireworks show. For the fried chicken and mashed potatoes served family-style. For the little details and the fun memories that distinguish one weekend of wedding season from the next.

Because when it was all said and done – as much as anyone wants their wedding to be special – I also hope it felt like just another wedding. A day about free booze and abounding love – the easiest thing in the world to support.

 

wedding website

Welcome page, white text links to video page
Welcome page, white text links to video page

We set up our wedding website through Wix – a choice I made because I wanted a fancy factor that WordPress simply doesn’t deliver.

Wix has lots of visually interesting themes. It almost seems like it’s geared toward websites where the style rules over substance. It also allowed me to configure the site for smartphones, since a lot of people are accessing the site for information on the wedding day – and they’d likely be mobile.

Custom URLs

The only mistake I made was paying about $75 bucks for a premium site. I was dead set on having www.katieandmallory.com (I disabled the site, but you can see the screenshots in the slideshow below). You have to have a paid membership on Wix in order to have a custom URL, unlike WordPress, where I can have a free membership but pay a la carte for a custom URL.

The Knot and other services also charge for buying a custom URL (having katieandmallory.com rather than katieandmallory.theknot.com). I really wanted to put our website on the save-the-dates and invitations without the words “wordpress” or “wix” or “theknot” on there. Besides Wix, all the custom URL prices I saw were about $20/year.

In my opinion:

  • Easiest to use and cheap custom URLs: TheKnot and WeddingWire
  • More control and cheap custom URLs: WordPress
  • Most control and expensive custom URLs: Wix

If you aren’t at all familiar with website building, or have very little interest in learning, hosting a wedding website through services like The Knot or Wedding Wire is a good way to go. Another good thing about those platforms is that they pretty much tell you exactly what should go on your site.

Here are the pages I put on our site:

  • About us
  • The Big Day
  • Accommodations
  • Columbia (info about the city where we held our wedding)
  • Registry (I debated on whether to include this, but the consensus among my friends was to include it)
  • Wedding party
  • Video (video my brother made from our engagement pictures)

I disabled the site, not wanting to pay to maintain the URL. But you can see what it looked like in the slideshow below.

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design your own wedding signage

IMG_4508
Our custom-designed wedding signage

It started with a simple project.

“We should pick up some pretty paper and print the name cards for the tables ourselves.”

That was the first step down a long, ink-stained road. Along the way, I clumsily figured out how to work Adobe Indesign, discovered the perfect fancy-but-readable font (Sciptina Pro), and ultimately delivered wedding signage that wouldn’t be laughed off of Etsy.

And it was A LOT of signage:

  • Schedule and shuttle details for hotel welcome bags
  • Seating chart
  • Large welcome sign for venue
  • Ceremony programs
  • Two bar menus
  • Signature drink menu
  • “In memory of” sign for memory candle – ceremony area
  • Name cards for tables
  • Dinner menu
  • Photo Booth directions
  • Directions on where to put cards
  • Two special ceremony signs
  • Hashtag sign
  • Decorative logo for favor box
  • Please silence your cell phones – for ceremony area

I can’t imagine how much it would have cost to have someone design and print all of that. We probably paid less than $200 to print it all at the student print office on campus. The design work was free, obviously – though Katie paid me hourly in kisses and high fives.

I made everything on InDesign, which you can download a free 30-day trial of online. It’s not that difficult to use, especially if you’re only working with text. Watch a couple of tutorials and you can get the hang of it in a few hours.

Here’s a rundown of how I made each sign. You’re more than welcome to borrow wording/design elements for personal use (but don’t steal others’ work and then sell it – that’s just a jerk move). Hit me up if you want the InDesign files I used.

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