As soon as we moved to Illinois, both unemployed and living with Dave’s parents, we decided to get married. So much for waiting and saving up money. Since we were broke, we wanted to do things as cheaply as possible so as not to put our parents out too much. We almost decided to have our wedding at a park until Dave’s dad brought us to a mansion that cost just a little more than the park wedding. We were sold. At the end of May, we picked our wedding date: October 1st and we were off.
I actually wanted to have our wedding in September so as not to be too close to my parent’s anniversary on October 11th, but the coordinator told me the ground would be all ripped up from a Civil War reenactment. 10-01-10 it is!
Our move to Illinois did not go as planned. We were not having luck finding jobs at all; apparently no one was in the market for recent college grads. Dave’s parents were wonderful hosts, and I loved that I got to know them so much better that summer. However, Dave and I had very few friends in the area, and I was homesick for all my friends and family in Wisconsin. The hideous amounts of rejection emails, letters, and phone calls weren’t helping my spirits much either. I decided to move back to Wisconsin in June and Dave would follow me later. A few weeks after I moved in with my parents, I interviewed and got a job working at a hospital registering patients. And finally, one of us was employed.
Dave’s parents and my parents covered the cost of our wedding, and my new paychecks covered all the remaining tidbits. And we were off.
My family is very D-I-Y, so my mom and I decided to make the invitations ourselves. Dave and I planned a small wedding of forty some guests; if we had any more than that, I doubt we would have been able to pull it off as quickly as we did. We bought a box of fifty blank invitations and envelopes at Jo Ann Fabrics, some fancy paper, and started printing and cutting away.
We made a traditional invitation for our family members (I can’t find the entire invitation, but these were the base).
And an embellished one for our friends.
I asked my sister Moriah to hand write names and addresses on the envelopes with he calligraphy skills, and they turned out perfectly. Dave thought we spent too much time on the invitations, but honestly, that’s one of the things I had most fun doing. I love playing around with words and pictures on my computer, so making the invitations was really fun.
I also typed up the programs in the same style as the invitations.
My sister Emily is a wonderful seamstress and had been making costumes for me and my family members since she was in high school. I decided to test out her skills by giving her the ultimate sewing task: making my wedding dress. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, so Em and I drew it up together, then went shopping for the fabric and colors I wanted.
Although brides almost exclusively wear white now, a variety of hues were once popular. In fact, it was only after Queen Victoria got married in white that brides started following suit. Prior to that, green was actually a popular choice, which can be seen in Jan Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Wedding from 1434.
Green is one of my favorite colors because it reminds me of many things I love: nature, summer, and Ireland. I was an art minor in college and was always fascinated by The Arnolfini Portrait (though the dog is actually my favorite part). Also, with as clumsy as I can be, white and I just don’t go together. I chose green.
Armed with coupons galore, Emily and I picked up the materials for my dress for $40. She spent the summer sewing and donated her time as my wedding gift. Though I will admit that I had to lose a little weight to fit in my dress come wedding day (that’s what you get for having a sister who doesn’t like making adjustments), it was everything I hoped it would be.
Since it was a corset-style top, I went back and forth over what type of bra to wear underneath it and tried a bunch of different options, none of which were comfortable or looked right. In the end, I decided to let my dress hold me up, and except for one picture where I’m doing the twist, I didn’t have a problem.
I felt beautiful in that dress and even though it will never fit me again (nor do I want it to), I loved it.
I borrowed a necklace from my grandma to wear with my dress. Although I generally wear silver jewelry, my dress had gold accents, so my grandma’s necklace not only matched it beautifully, but it became my “something borrowed.”
Try as I might, I couldn’t find a new pair of earrings to match the necklace. I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of money, either. After asking my mom’s opinion, I finally decided to wear a pair of gold-accented pearl earrings that my first serious boyfriend gave me for a birthday years before. I wasn’t sure it was appropriate at first, but then I decided “Love is love.” Those earrings were given to me with love, and I am still on good terms with my former boyfriend, so it didn’t seem wrong to wear them to celebrate.
I got my nose pierced just a few months before my wedding day. Though I always wear a ring, I decided to tone it down with a gold sparkly stud for the day.
I spent $20 on my wedding shoes from Payless. I knew they weren’t going to be seen, so I decided to get something comfortable. These shoes didn’t give me a problem all night, and I’ve worn them a few times since. I glued a Irish one-pence onto my shoe for good luck, and it unwittingly got thrown into my “Chel & Dave’s Trip to Ireland” jar.
I was not dead-set on wearing a garter, but I thought it would be fun. Not lying, I kind of wanted a flask garter. I looked for a few artsy ones on Pinterest, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I ended up just picking a lacy white one from JoAnn Fabrics and gluing some blue beads and a shamrock button onto it. Something green and blue! I did not do a garter toss, so this was the only one I had.
I knew from the start that I wanted to wear a tiara. I simply couldn’t see myself in a veil, and I’m sure it would have looked a little strange with my green dress. Dave and I didn’t have a theme per se, but we did incorporate a lot of Celtic accents to our wedding, and I wanted a tiara that matched it.
All the tiaras I liked were silver (of course), but I finally found a gold one I liked that matched my necklace. It was more money than I wanted to spend at $99, but since my dress was $40 and my shoes were $20, I gave in.
The tiara was not comfortable. It dug into my skull and left two bumps on either side of my head the next morning. You live, you learn. At least it looked nice.
Dave planned on wearing a suit he normally wore for job interviews, but his mom insisted she buy him a new suit for his wedding. He picked out a three piece pinstriped suit, and I bought him a cool Celtic tie at Trulley Irish to wear with it. He bought a new black tam to complete the outfit.
In keeping with the Celtic theme, Dave and I chose celtic knot bands from an Irish store in town, Trulley Irish. We did not want to spend a lot of money on wedding bands and thought these were a steal for $50 each.
Unfortunately, I can’t stand wearing the ring anymore. It is a size five and unbearable to wear in the summer when my hands swell up. Dave doesn’t wear his anymore due to the nature of his job. I picked up a new wedding ring at Oshkosh Irish Fest that bears a wonderful resemblance to my wedding band and fits more nicely at a size six.
Dave and I have decided at some point in the future to get Celtic rings tattooed on our left ring fingers, which is something we’ve been talking about for awhile.
The Wedding Party
Dave and I both grew up with close friends of both genders. Because we didn’t want to exclude people based on gender, I decided to have “bridesmen” in addition to my bridesmaids, and Dave had “groomsmaids” in addition to groomsmen.
I am close with both of my sisters, so we decided awhile ago that we would trade off being each other’s maid of honor. Emily would be mine, Moriah would be Emily’s, and I would be Moriah’s. Done. We lost touch with Dave’s original best man, so Dave asked his sister Ali to be his.
We had a huge wedding party compared to the total guest count of our wedding, but we have a lot of close friends and wanted them all to be part of our day. In the end, I had three men and three women on my side, and Dave had one man and four women on his side. Eleven wonderful people in all.
We asked all the women to wear a black dress with whatever kind of shoes and jewelry they wanted, and we asked all the men to wear a black suit. We provided the men with gold ties I ordered online for $2.99 each so we’d have a little matching action going on. Our fathers each got one as well.
In addition to her many artistic talents, my mom has a way with flowers. Initially I was fine with skipping flowers due to the cost but Dave wanted flowers, and my mom thought we could do them ourselves for a lot cheaper than a traditional florist.
She took me on a tour through a wholesale flower shop, and I got to pick out what I liked best with some of my mom’s suggestions thrown in for a good bouquet. My mom, Aunt Dina, and I did the flowers the morning of the wedding (corsages, bouttonieres, bouquets, the works), and my aunt and cousin arrived later to help.
In hindsight, doing the flowers the morning of the wedding was a bit much. I especially felt bad that my mom ended up skipping time to get ready so that she could finish the flowers. However, they turned out beautifully, and we’ve had requests to do more wedding flowers for family members and friends ever since.
The favors were, once again, something I could have done without. I feel that they’re an unnecessary wedding expense. However, since my mom has a tea business, she thought it would be cool to give away loose leaf tea as favors, and I loved that idea. We made up little envelopes with a bag of Warm Hearth tea (one of my favorites) and an Irish saying printed on:
There were hardly any favors left behind. And I got to use the extras.