A wedding story (part 3)

I never thought about how much planning goes into a wedding until I started to do it. I thought I was halfway home once the big-ticket stuff in Part 2 was taken care of. But then the details hit me like a hailstorm. Who stands up? What do they wear? What do we wear? Where do we get married? Who marries us? How about decorations? Flowers? Favors? Cake? What to serve the food on? How about a marriage license? A bar? Security? Transportation? As those of us planning weddings know, the list goes on. I'll address some of these major details here, and others in Part IV.

The Wedding Party and Their Attire
"Choosing attendants was easy for me. My sister had to be the matron of honor; there was no question there!"

I had no problem choosing my sister-in-law, Doug's sister-in-law, and two friends to join her. But Doug has two brothers to whom he is equally close, and he couldn't choose between them to be his best man. So he asked a close high school friend instead. His two brothers, my brother and my brother-in-law will round out the party. We will have three ushers, and my niece will be the flower girl.

Then we had to decide on attire. We decided to go semi-formal, with the men in tuxes and the women in tea-length dresses. The dresses will be slate blue and fairly simple. Four of my five attendants sew and happily agreed to sew their own dresses; Ann will make my sister's dress. I got the fabric and patterns on sale, so costs to the bridesmaids will be $20 plus notions like thread and a zipper. They'll wear black shoes of their choice. My niece was the flower girl in my brother's wedding last August, so we can modify the dress she wore with a sash to match the bridesmaids. The men's tuxes will be $50 to rent. Our dads will also wear tuxes, and our moms and grandmas will wear semi-formal dresses of their choice. I ordered matching earrings and necklaces for the women, and we are still looking for gifts for the men and for my niece.

Our Attire
Because we have a large number of male attendants who will be renting tuxes, Doug's tux will be free. We visited Gingiss Formalwear and registered our date. Closer to the new year Doug will decide exactly what he and the groomsmen will wear. He's planning a black cutaway with tails for himself (he never liked the "white tie" look).

One of the first things I had done after we were engaged was to make my veil. I made individual roses and chrysanthemums from ribbon, added some beads and tulle, and hot-glued everything to a headband, attaching the veil with Velcro. It turned out really lovely, at a cost of about $40.I had planned to have Ann make my wedding gown. We had even purchased a pattern and 11 yards of beautiful champagne-colored brocade (on sale). But then a few weeks ago, my personal attendant Becky and I were going to the florist's to choose flowers (more on that later), and we passed a new bridal shop called David's Bridal. After we had chosen the flowers, we stopped in "just for some ideas."

Because I am a woman of size, I thought that I wouldn't be able to try anything on. I figured that David's, like most other bridal shops I had visited, would have dresses in an average size of 8. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Not only did David's have a large and varied selection, including sizes at the upper end of the charts, but there was a salesperson named Lynn Gillies, herself a woman of size, who did a marvelous job. I found the dress of my dreams--really!--on sale for $199, marked down from $600! It's raw silk, creamy ivory and very plain. Becky will tat some lace for the neckline, and I will add a ribbon rose to the bodice to match my veil. I'll have fittings in March, and the dress will probably come in around $250 with alterations and bustling. I can even return the fabric I'd bought originally! It costs a little more than budgeted, but the time savings makes up for the extra $50.

Flowers and Decorations
I had won a drawing at a bridal fair for $300 off wedding flowers from a local florist and was delighted to hand off some of that duty. Becky and I went to the florist, Florals on 50th, and selected the flowers, which will be partial silk, partial fresh. We had already had an altar piece made in silks, and I took snippets of some petals along to match them. The flowers are mostly in shades of slate blue and deep rose. My bouquet is round and full, mostly roses and delphiniums.

It was a fun experience, going through all the books. We'll still do some of the smaller pieces, like the groomsmen's boutonnieres, as well as the table decorations, which will be Erlenmeyer flasks ordered from Doug's lab decorated with ribbon and filled with flowers from our local farmers' market!

The florist will provide another large piece for the church, pew bows, the bridesmaids' bouquets, corsages for mothers, grandmothers, helpers and personal attendants, and a throwing bouquet. It was a big relief not to have to do these arrangements ourselves. But the final cost turned out to be higher than we'd planned--$435 after the discount.

The Ceremony Site
We had initially planned to have the ceremony and reception at the same site, Town Square Park. But as I started to think about the logistics of moving people around and getting chairs from the ceremony layout to the dinner layout, I realized that it would be awkward.

Because we have such a large guest list, many sites would not work. The courthouses have rooms that mostly seat up to 100. Most restaurants cannot accommodate that many people, especially if we are not eating there. Hotels have large conference rooms and ballrooms, but the rent is astronomical--one hotel quoted us $1000 for the ballroom!

We had not seriously entertained the idea of a church wedding, but a friend pointed out a Lutheran church on campus that would likely be more liberal in its policies. I spoke with one of the pastors who indicated that it would be fine to have the wedding there, especially since I had such a strong Lutheran upbringing. We had planned to have a friend of ours who has a license to perform weddings as our officiant, but we will have to see whether that is acceptable in this church. Otherwise, I feel very comfortable having this pastor marry us. The rent is around $200--again a little higher than we had planned, but it solves the problem of where to get married.

So far we'd come out a little higher on a number of areas. But, as I'll discuss next time, I think we'll be able to make up some of the higher costs on savings elsewhere.