Today I'm delighted to share photos of our wedding! We hired the amazing Grace and Jaden Photography, and all photos in this post are theirs. We loved working with them and loooooved our photos--they really captured the candid moments and the look and feel of our wedding. We didn't want forced, traditional wedding photos and Grace and Jaden were more than happy to oblige.
Weddings are notoriously expensive, and it was important to Vinny and me that our money was going towards small, local businesses whenever we could. We are also very active, outdoorsy people with a lot of respect for Mother Nature, so we were very thoughtful about the choices we made to try to lessen the environmental impact of our wedding. Lastly, we've fallen in love with Portland and wanted to help our guests (most of whom were traveling from out of state) understand just what makes this area so great.
With all of those things in mind, we held our ceremony at the Grotto, which is one of very few places in the US where you can get married in the Catholic church in an outdoor venue. The Grotto is drop-dead gorgeous and made for beautiful photos. All of our guests have been raving about what jaw-dropping venue it was!
We did a first look, which in retrospect was a great choice as I didn't realize how nervous I was to see Vinny until I was power-walking towards him! All of my nerves settled once we saw each other and I was able to really enjoy the rest of the day.
I'd recommend my seamstress, Tatyana's Wedding Alterations, to anyone. All of the reviews about her are accurate, in that her home is hard to find, her accent is hard to understand, you feel like maaaaaaybe she didn't really understand what you were asking for, but in the end she does a great job for a very reasonable price!
- Eco tip: thrift/consign/ebay your dress! Some people don't love this idea but it was great for my budget and my eco-friendly values!
For my jewelry, Enclave Gems made me a custom pair of earrings so I could add my own aquamarines (Vinny's birthstone). I made the necklace myself loosely based on a design from Anthropologie that I loved but couldn't afford. I used this smaller moonstone strand, this larger moonstone strand, these aquamarines, these jump rings, these clasps, and this magnetic clasp. I bought my brown leather wedges for our engagement photos and they still look brand new, so I rewore them at our wedding.
- Eco tip: buy local and get something he can rewear. Vinny actually wore his suit for the first time in our engagement photos, but it looked totally different for our wedding just based on his dress shirt and accessories.
Our flowers were designed by my wonderful mom! Although she lives half a country away, I wanted her to be a special part of our wedding planning. We decided to use faux florals for the bouquets so my mom could make them in Minnesota and bring them out. They were so beautiful and people didn't know they were fake unless they literally touched them! We got each piece from Afloral, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby, then my mom worked her magic. Half my bridesmaids took them home with them!
My 'something old, borrowed, and blue' all took the form of a handkerchief from my grandfather, who passed away several years ago. We tucked the handkerchief, which had blue stitching, into my bouquet and it came in handy during my dad's speech! :)
I loved how our bridal party looked together. We gave each bridesmaid a different fabric swatch from Azazie and asked them to just pick a long dress (from any store of their choice) that matched the swatch. I'm under no illusion that any of them will rewear their dresses, but at least they had the option to wear something in their chosen price point that made them feel comfortable and beautiful. From left to right: "Orchid": local bridal shop (similar), "Spa": Amazon (similar), "Jade": Azazie (note: although this is not a maternity dress, it fit my friend's six-month-pregnant belly really beautifully), "Ink Blue": Azazie, "Grape": David's Bridal (sold out, similar), "Wisteria": Azazie.
For their gifts, I made each bridesmaid a custom piece of jewelry using the lost wax casting method I learned from a friend. It was so fun to think up how to personalize each gift to the recipient's style--a lot of love went into each gift! Vinny gifted the boys their ties and a nice thermos.
- Eco tip: Diamond and gold extraction is highly damaging to the earth and the workers extracting them. We tried to alleviate this problem in four ways: used non-diamond stones (white sapphire for my engagement ring), lab-created stones (moissanite for my wedding ring), recycled diamonds (as accents to the wedding ring), and recycled metals (white gold for my wedding ring, rose gold for my engagement ring). On moissanite: it's a lab-created stone that's just slightly less hard than a diamond but with more brilliant refraction pattern that's prettier than a diamond, in my opinion. People don't know it's moissanite unless I tell them, which I make a point to do because I think it's a beautiful stone that helps avoid destruction of natural resources!
My talented husband designed all of our paper goods (Save the Dates, programs, invites, wedding signage...) and his employer (he works at a graphic design/manufacturing company) graciously gifted printing and materials of everything to us. It was a fun process--I'd bring Vinny my ideas of what would look good, he'd put together his spin on the ideas, then we'd tweak until it felt just right!
We decorated the ceremony venue very simply, given the enormous beauty of the Grotto. We lined the aisle with a set of glass lanterns (large and small) which we filled with jade stones, a battery-operated candle (large and small), and the larger lanterns also received a large faux succulent.
Although the Grotto was an amazing place visually to be married, I feel like I have to be honest in my review of them: overall they were the biggest stressor of our wedding by far. Their communication was very poor (I often had to send 3-4 emails over the course of a month before getting a response), and the coordinators they provided seemed intent on throwing up roadblocks rather than accommodations. I actually just found out yesterday that they never filed our marriage license with the county! To be continued on that nightmare... Because of all this bullshit incompetence, I honestly don't know if I'd go through the Grotto if we were to do it all over again.
After the ceremony the entire wedding headed to Urban Studio for the reception. The bridal party arrived in hilarious style, as we rented a bus from Eco Shuttle that ended up looking exactly like a city transit bus! Eco Shuttle was great and affordable.
- Eco tip: cut flowers are incredibly destructive to the environment, especially if they're not local and in season. Instead of floral arrangements, we decided to use potted plants, many of which went home with friends and family at the end of the night, and the ones that didn't are beautifying our home.
- Eco tip: what you don't do is just as important as what you do. Originally we wanted to make coasters like these (#4 in the article), but ultimately we didn't think people would reuse them and they seemed too wasteful so we opted for a simple recyclable escort chart.
- Eco tip: before you buy an item, think about whether it can be reused later. We decided against certain types of fabric for the runners, favoring cheesecloth that will be reused in the kitchen and for cleaning/car maintenance.
I wanted our flower girl and ring bearer to feel special, so I made them little crayon/coloring book/sticker kits. I got these clipboards and added a DIY coloring book using line art from Google, then tossed some crayons in to these spice jars and tied it all up with a ribbon to look cute. Bonus: they brought them with on their flight home to keep the kids entertained.
In lieu of a traditional guestbook we framed this stump print on Etsy; guests then signed the print's mat. The artist creates these stamped prints from slices of fallen logs. This particular tree fell in the Uinta mountains of Utah, where Vinny and I met and spent a lot of beautiful weekends camping.
- Eco tip: put your own spin on traditions to make them work for you. We didn't think we'd ever use/look at an actual guest book, but we plan to hang our print in our house where we can enjoy it daily!
Aren't my parents the cutest??!
I came up with the idea of making these 'dance ambassadors' sashes, which ended up being one of the funniest parts of our wedding. People passed the sashes around the entire party and got people dancing who would normally sideline themselves :)
- Hair and Makeup: I worked with Jasmine and her assistant Amy from Blossom and Beauty. They were great--very sweet, relaxed people with really reasonable pricing for Portland. The bridal fee included a trial, which went so great and really put my mind at ease about how I would look on the big day. Then they came to my house to get everyone ready (so much more relaxing than going to a salon!) and got through my hair/makeup plus 5 bridesmaid's hair and a bridesmaid's makeup all between 9:30AM-12PM.
- Reception venue and caterers: We held the reception at Urban Studio, which is the event space for our caterer Pearl Catering. We researched a ton of caterers and event spaces and Urban ended up being the most affordable and easy option. The space itself is sort of an industrial blank space that you can really make your own. The food was delicious (people told me the Chicken Saltimbocca was the best wedding food they've ever had) and it was very easy to customize and to allow for specialized diets. They were very easy-going and overall very easy to communicate with.
- Rentals: Urban Studio provided most of the dishware (glasses, silverware, serveware) and they offered to arrange for the rest of our rentals, but we ended up using Party Place for our table/chair/linen/special plates because it was cheaper to do so through our wedding coordinator. Party Place was great. For a small fee ($60) they dropped off and picked everything up and they were even able to add on a tent canopy last-minute when it looked like there might be rain during our ceremony.
- DJ: We found DJ Sir Kenneth through our wedding coordinator, and he was very easy to work with. We met with him once briefly at the start of our planning then sent him a list of song requests a few days before the wedding. The dancefloor was packed the whole time and he was just really great and friendly!
- Wedding Coordinator: Last but certainly not least, our wedding coordinator was Kim at Your Perfect Bridesmaid. If I had one piece of advice for newly engaged couples I'd say to factor a wedding coordinator into your budget, because she was hands-down the best money spent on our wedding and I honestly can't say enough good things about Kim and her staff. They say every wedding has something go wrong, but if that happened at ours I didn't know about it because Kim dealt with everything beautifully. Her fee is very reasonable for the amount of work she did. We hired her as a 'day of' coordinator, but the package included several meetings during the planning stage including a meeting with Urban Studio to ensure we were all on the same page. She also set our timeline (which I could probably do myself but it saved me a ton of stress and deliberation about whether I did it correctly) and we received a discount on our rentals through YPB, which made her reasonable fee even more reasonable!