A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part III: The Planning

The Guest Book

Dave and I didn’t really care about a traditional guest book, but I did want to remember everyone who was there on our special day. While searching Etsy, I found an awesome idea for a sliced log that was signed then varnished to seal in the names of the guests.

I had my Dad find and cut a piece for us, and then Dave and I used a woodburning tool to etch in a tree of life with a Celtic knot as well as our names and wedding date.

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We had the guests sign with Sharpie paint markers, which I later went over with a regular Sharpie as they started to fade before we could seal the log correctly. Our guest book is now a cool piece of artwork that hangs in our living room, and I absolutely love it.


The Guest List

This was the most difficult part of our wedding, hands down. Dave and I wanted (and could only afford) a small and intimate wedding, so we decided on only immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) and close friends. There are several members of my family I consider immediate family, and I invited them as well.

We got a lot of heat about our small guest list, and some people were downright mean about it. Even my parents were a little miffed that I did not invite some of their siblings. It was one of the biggest stressors when planning the wedding, and Dave handled it much better than I did.

However, in the end, we got to speak to every single guest at our wedding, which was exactly what we wanted. I have never begrudged any relatives or friends for having a small wedding to which I am not invited, and I know those who love me best understood why we wanted to keep it small.

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What I learned: no matter how big your guest list is, there will always be someone upset that they weren’t invited. Do what you want. And who knows, even if you haven’t invited someone, they might show up anyway! (Happened to us. No further comment).

The Music

I just happen to know this really great band that consists of my brother and two of my best friends, John and J.D.

Though two of them were in the wedding party, we desperately wanted Solace to play the dancing tunes and asked if we could go back and forth between them and Ipod music so they would still have time to enjoy themselves. They agreed to learn a few new songs, which have now become some of my favorites, like “Ballroom Blitz.”

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I paid each of the band members $75, which was much less than they deserved. However, they were friends (and family) and probably would have done it for free. Still, I wanted to compensate them for having to haul all their musical equipment to a new state as well as set up and take down.

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Dave and I used an Ipod to play our music during the ceremony. We didn’t want any of the traditional wedding songs (surprise, surprise) and finally decided on:

“All I Want is You” by Barry Loius Polisar (from Juno) for the bridal parties entrance. This was such a fun choice and perfect for the mood we wanted to set.

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“The Blood of Cuchulainn” by Jeff and Michael Danna (Boondock Saints theme) for the groom and bride’s entrance. (Dave walked up after the bridal party with his parents, followed by me with my dad). I love this song, and I get even more sentimental at the beginning of The Boondock Saints.

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“All You Need is Love” by The Beatles for the exit.  Dave doesn’t love The Beatles as much as I do, but we both adore the movie Love Actually where this song is showcased during a wedding. Perfect way to leave.

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First dance: “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes

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Father-Daughter Dance: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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Mother-Son Dance: “Always, In All Way”s by Kenny Loggins

The Food

Standard wedding fare in Wisconsin is fried chicken, beef tips, mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls. Dave and I agreed wholeheartedly that none of this food was going to be served at our wedding. Foodies through and through, we decided to have a pig roast.

10-01-10 (485)The pig was roasted outside during cocktail hour, then shredded and served by the kitchen staff along with the rest of the food including: salad, bourbon chicken, roasted dill potatoes, candied carrots, and rolls. We asked for a few changes: an extra veggie dish for our vegetarian guests and for a different sauce for the carrots (I loathe candied carrots and they offered a different sauce on the menu). There was also chef’s choice of mixed hors d’ouevres served during cocktail hour.

The Drinks

When Dave and I were living with his parents, we decided to open a bottle of their wine one night and felt really guilty as soon as we did. The wine was so good, we were sure it was an expensive bottle. His parents laughed and told us it was cheap wine, $4 or $5 a bottle. We enjoyed it so much that Dave’s parents bought a bunch and we served the Dona Sol during dinner.

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Open bar? Yes.

The Cake

We didn’t have one. Dave and I like cake but didn’t love it well enough to shell out hundreds of dollars on one. Instead, we requested assorted desserts be served alongside coffee, and to this day, I regret the fact that I didn’t get to taste any of the delicious desserts that were there. Chocolate covered what? I miss you!

The Vows

Since the ceremony is the main event, I didn’t want it to be too short. Dave and I decided to do two sets of vows at the judge’s suggestion: we would each read our own vows to each other, then do the traditional vows.

I wrote my vows months in advance and constantly reread and tweaked them. Dave wrote his a few weeks before the wedding and stole the show.


To wanted our ceremony to have a lot of meaning specific to us, so I asked our wedding party if some of them would be willing to read some poetry. Books are some of my best friends, and I wanted them to be present. Our friend Dan read “Prayer for a Marriage” by Steven Scafaldi. Our friend Emily read “The Orange” by Wendy Cope. And our friend Saoirse read an excerpt from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

They were all absolutely perfect.

The Photographer

We just happen to know an awesome photographer…Dave’s dad. He was a professional photographer for thirty years before he became a culinary arts instructor, so he was the natural choice. Barry also had a friend come help him out to focus on reception pictures so he didn’t have to snap photos all night. Together, the two of them did a fabulous job. I don’t think Photoshop was used on any of the pictures (especially since I was handed a dvd the morning after), and we still look drop dead gorgeous. Either that, or I only hang out with really attractive people, which may just be true.


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