This past August I married my best friend. During the process of planning the wedding, I didn’t want to post too much about it and give away all the fun details. Like any good newlywed, though, I’m excited to share how it all came together, photos of the process, and what I learned during the planning!
It was the tiny details that were so much more fun to plan. Deciding on tablecloths and lawn games, dessert possibilities and table arrangements. I came up with ideas and my entire family rose gloriously to the challenge of making them happen. My mom, seamstress extraordinaire, sewed endlessly throughout the summer. Her first project was making a crazy length of bunting, inspired by this Pinterest picture. We weren’t entirely sure where we were going to hang it at the time, but it ended up being perfect for the field we had our cocktail hour in. Next, after we had figured out how many tables were already on the deck of the lodge and how many we needed to rent (making the table situation a happy mishmash of different sizes and shapes), we borrowed as many tablecloths from a newlywed friend as possible and then placed a rental order for cream tablecloths for the rest of the tables. It was only after we began discussing tabletop arrangements, though, that my mom quickly realized the danger of candle wax and the possibility of being hit with hefty cleaning fees for the rented tablecloths if that wax were to drip onto them. Table runners would protect us from that, so my mom immediately began making dozens in a wide variety of fun patterns within my color scheme. She also whipped out half a dozen aprons in the same fabrics for the kitchen and wait staff so that they would look festive.
My dad was in charge of finding the terrific sales. Almost immediately after our engagement, when the planning had just started, he used the after-Christmas discounts to purchase dozens and dozens of white twinkly lights, which we later hung on all the railings of the deck. He and my mom also found a small canopy on sale that we used to cover the food and drink table in the cocktail field. One of my brothers volunteered to be in charge of making lawn games, as he had recently gotten really into woodworking. Throughout the summer, he kept me updated with his progress through cell phone photos as he handmade, then stained, two gorgeous sets of Bag Toss, which we set up in the cocktail field during the wedding.
Right after Vincas and I got engaged, his sister’s mother-in-law, Lynn, (who lives in Chicago and is always planning the most superbly decorated parties) found out we were getting married in Asheville and – since she coincidentally was also planning a wedding for her niece that summer in Asheville a month before ours – offered to lend us any of their decorations. I have to give a HUGE shout out to Lynn for this, because it was a MASSIVE amount of items that she lent us. Buckets of river rocks that she had scavenged and cleaned herself and tall branches picked from their yard to use in vases, glass vases of all sizes, enough silverware for over 130 people, wooden crates and cake stands for the dessert table, small mirrored circles to place under the vases for support, dozens of candle holders, wine glasses, and – most impressively – absolutely gorgeous, patterned china that she had painstakingly picked out over months from Goodwill. Each plate had a different floral pattern and together they looked beautiful. My mom and I were so inspired by her plates (and repelled by the ridiculously steep price of nice looking disposable paper plates in the stores) that we went out to a goodwill the first chance we got and picked up about 130 floral china dessert plates. Since we were in a discount warehouse, they came up to about twenty dollars…which was at least ten dollars less than what the nice disposable dessert plates would have cost us. At this same warehouse, we also picked up dozens of glass vases for the tables, each costing less than a dollar. Enjoying the green turn my wedding was taking, we ended up also finding or making 150 cloth napkins in a variety of pretty colors. I’m not a hard-core greenie, but it made me so happy to know that we were reusing vintage items, as opposed to tossing massive amounts of paper products in the trash.
We had decided early on that we didn’t want or need an American wedding cake, opting instead for the traditional Lithuanian cake, known as a Raguolis. Coincidentally, this cake – which is more like a sweet bread shaped into a spiky tower – is much cheaper, although getting one can be tricky outside of major cities. Thankfully, we had relatives who volunteered to drive it down for us and another relative who offered to make a different Lithuanian cake as well (which came out absolutely delicious!). In addition, my mom planned out an entire table of desserts and mini cakes, many of which were purchased from a church friend’s Italian bakery.
By the time I began planning for flowers, I was nearing the end of my budget. I love flowers, but they do cost a pretty penny for weddings. I did want the reception to look lush, though, so I began scheming of what the least expensive option would be towards filling the deck with as much greenery as possible. I came up with the idea of herbs as decorations for the tabletops. My mom, with some hesitation for the success of my plan, began growing herbs as soon as the weather turned warm in North Carolina. By the time I came home for my bridal shower in May, her entire front stoop and back porch were filled with planters of tiny herbs: rosemary and thyme, multiple types of basil, Rue and peppermint, all smelling so delicious. My mom also keeps a massive garden and filled this with as many flowers as possible throughout that summer in anticipation of stripping the blooms for my wedding. I still wanted bouquets and boutonnieres for the bridal party, however, so I contacted a local florist and requested very loose, wildflower-y looking arrangements. I envisioned my bridesmaids with identical bouquets, all pale cream or yellow, and myself with a slightly brighter bouquet. For the guys we decided that a simple rosemary and wax flower boutonniere would be perfect. I also ordered a head wreath for myself, to wear to the reception. Since Lithuanian brides traditionally wear Rue, I asked for it in both my bouquet and wreath (after double-checking that I didn’t have any allergies to it, of course!). In the end, we were able to get two massive buckets of flowers from my mom’s garden and we supplemented these with another bucket of loose flowers from the florist. We used as many home-grown herbs as possible, although we also picked up some clearance herbs last minute to supplement them. All three buckets of flowers were used with the herbs on the tables. The day before the wedding, some of my bridesmaids and friends arranged these into vases and they looked amazing. My mom was also inspired by this picture and recreated the look on one side of the reception deck with some blue jars and twine.
While the overall look was quite beautiful, a couple of warnings to those who might want to do the same: growing flowers for a wedding can be a little nerve-wracking, especially when remembering how many previous summers were so hot that all the flowers died, so have a backup plan or be prepared to have very few flowers. Flowers taken directly from a garden will also hide many a spider and bug, so just be aware of that. This didn’t really bother me since the reception was on an outside deck (surrounded by a forest filled with bugs) anyway, but others might be squeamish about this. Finally, growing your own flowers is all well and good, but then you also have to think about hauling all those flowers. We had to bring all the decorations and flowers in four different cars (two of them being huge vans) and this was a LOT of work that took the combined effort of most of my family and a good friend. In addition, since the flowers from my mom’s garden could only be cut about two or three days before the wedding (at which point we were already staying at the lodge about an hour away), we had to ask a good friend to go to my parents’ house to cut, load, and bring over the flowers. They took up a lot of car space, too!
Moral of the story: it was a lot of work, but my family and friends are amazing and the end result = gorgeousness.
Up next, styling the bridal party!
The photographs are a mix of candids by family and friends and professional photos by Sarah Rominger