After being married for just over three months, have I surpassed the appropriate window of time to blog about wedding things? I hope not, because I still have a couple of things to share! For today, I rounded up all of the vendors that we used, and shared a little bit about our experience with each. This post is a long one, so feel free to skim or use as more of a reference!
First, let me say, The Arbors is a beautiful venue and I’m happy that we were able to be married in such a lovely place. The venue was somewhat of a sore spot from the beginning of the wedding planning process because I had always dreamed of being married at my family’s home in the mountains of Virginia. For various logistical reasons, that didn’t work out, so I shed some tears and got over it. We then decided to look for something near Charlotte, since that would be central location, not too far for our families and friends to travel. The Arbors was the first venue we saw, and we signed the contract the day we went to see it without seeing any other venues.
I don’t want this post to be sour, so for today I will just go as far to say that we were extremely displeased with The Arbors. I shared more details regarding our experience on Charlotte Agenda, so if you’re curious, you can read that HERE.
Dress & Veil
I purchased my wedding dress and the matching veil from Dawn’s Bridal in Lexington, North Carolina. Dawn’s was the first and only place I looked for dresses, and the dress I wore on my wedding day was actually the first dress I tried on! I tried on others, but kept going back to the original. The sample fit me almost perfectly so we were able to buy the dress for 15% off, plus free alterations. My sister, sister-in-law, and best friend all got their dresses from Dawn’s, so that made it extra special.
What would I do differently?
A friend of a friend got married about 6 months before we did and I absolutely loved her dress. I was feeling bold, so I asked her how she would feel about me paying to borrow it. I didn’t hear back from her right away so I went ahead and went dress shopping. Wouldn’t you know that she texted me the very night I bought my dress saying that she would love for me to borrow hers? I do wish I had at least tried it on!
In the end, I loved my dress and I wouldn’t change a thing considering the great deal we got!
Hair and Make Up
Hiring someone to do my hair and make up was definitely a “splurge” in regards to our wedding budget. I knew I couldn’t take several hundred dollars out of our budget when I technically could have a friend do my hair and make up for me, so I decided to pay for this part out of pocket. I did some Googling and read tons of reviews and found lots of people saying positive things about Beauty Asylum. They do hair, make up (airbrush and regular), and they travel to your venue.
I may do a full post on this later, but basically it took a few times to get my hair the way I wanted it. Jessica, the owner of Beauty Asylum, was very patient with me and graciously allowed me three trials to make sure everything was just right. I can’t say enough good things about her!
When we first got engaged, I was planning on splurging and buying this pair of ballerina pink Tieks for my wedding shoes. Your wedding day is a good excuse to buy overpriced shoes, right? Then I realized that it was going to be hot in June and that I should probably look for something open toed. I also knew I wanted flats because I wanted to be shorter than my groom. I finally decided on a pair of champagne Jack Rogers with my new monogram. I loved them when they arrived! Spoiler alert: I didn’t wear them. I must have forgotten that Jack’s take a while to get broken in. They were crazy uncomfortable and I knew I couldn’t last all day in them for the wedding. I ended up wearing an old pair of Jack Rogers from college under my dress, but it’s not like anyone knew! And I still got cute pictures. :) Plus, now I wear them all the time!
I went back and forth on wedding jewelry! When I first got my dress, I had my sights set on a large pair of aqua earrings from Kendra Scott. They were the perfect color and I thought they would be fun and different. Then, I saw photos of a girl who had recently gotten married and worn large, colorful earrings. All I could see when looking at the pictures were her earrings, and I felt like it took away from the dress. Then, I purchased a pair of large clear jewel-like studs by Kate Spade from Nordstrom Rack. When I took them to my dress fitting, they just weren’t right with the dress. My sister and I agreed that I needed something diamond-y and with a silver base rather than gold.
That’s when I discovered that Rent the Runway rents jewelry and other wedding accessories! This seemed like a perfect solution because, honestly, why spend a bunch of money on dangly diamond earrings that you will never wear again? I rented the Kinsington Drop Earrings by Slate & Willow for just $20 (retail price is $145). They were the perfect size and weren’t heavy at all. I felt like they really pulled the whole look together and made my look very “bridal.” At the end of the night I just gave them back to my mom and she stuck them in the mail for me the next day.
When I first started wedding planning I fell head over heels in love with this long, strapless, very pale mint bridesmaid’s dress from Donna Morgan. I went to Nordstrom and tried it on, and had my sister do the same. I l-o-v-e-d it. The problem was… it was $300. I’ve only paid that much for one bridesmaids dress, and while the price tag stung a little, it’s a very versatile dress and I actually have worn it multiple times. I knew that floor length dresses would not be wear-again dresses so in the end, I couldn’t justify asking my girls to pay that much for something they would wear one time.
I wanted to make things as enjoyable and stress free for my bridesmaids as possible, so I sent them a few images that I found on Pinterest that showcased the color family I was going for, and told them to pick any dress that fell into that range. I asked that they wear neutral/nude shoes, but other than that, just find a dress they loved and style it however made them feel wonderful.
Jonathan choose suits rather than tuxes for a few reasons. One, he wanted the guys to have something they could buy and wear in the future. Two, we were going for a more casual and laid back, outdoor vibe. And three, we knew it was going to be hot. Jonathan ordered all of the suits from Jos. A Bank. They’re always having some kind of “buy 3, get 6 free” deal, so they took advantage of that. Jonathan had buttons sewn into all of the pants for suspenders and purchased the suspenders and solid navy bow ties from The Tie Bar. Jonathan’s gingham bow tie was also from The Tie Bar.
I’ve mentioned her on here before, but Amanda of Amanda Castle Photography is one of my good friends from growing up. After college, she launched her own photography business and it has been so amazing to watch her grow as a photographer of the past several years! Going into wedding planning, I knew that photography was the most important factor to me. I wanted images that would part of our family for generations to come. However, when I started emailing with a few of the well-known local Charlotte photographers, I knew there was no way for our budget to accommodate them.
I think Amanda is such a gem because her prices are incredibly reasonable compared to the rest of the industry, but she has all of the talent, if not more. She’s incredibly relaxed and easy to work with, and all of our photos with her felt natural. Amanda even drove to my family’s mountain home to take our engagement photos, which meant so much to me.
When we were looking at our wedding budget I thought, “Eh, we don’t need a video. I’d rather spend the money on something else.” However, multiple married friends told me that they seriously regret not having video footage of their wedding. The more I thought about it, I thought it would be neat to be able to re-watch over the years and something special to show our kids one day. My cousin Sara is a wedding videographer here in Charlotte (Sara Mathis Productions), and while I knew that we could use her, I wanted her to be able to enjoy the wedding, not to feel like she was at work!
After talking, she assured me that she would love to shoot the wedding and I’m so glad she did. She and her husband Taylor are an amazing duo and they did so well capturing the day. On the day of the wedding, they even brought water bottles, gatorade, and Reese’s Cups (my favorite candy!) to make sure everyone was cool and hydrated. We got married on a Saturday, and Sara had our highlight video to us the following Tuesday, just three days later! Jonathan and I loved watching it together on our honeymoon.
She also delivered our complete DVDs in the cutest little box, complete with movie popcorn and candy.
What would I do differently?
One of the add-on services that Sara offers is video coverage of the rehearsal dinner. My in-laws put on such an amazing rehearsal dinner and there were so many heartfelt toasts; Jonathan and I both agreed that we regret not taking Sara up on R.D. coverage!
Our venue offered 3 different catering companies to choose from (you are not allowed to bring in your own caterer), and we heard great reviews about LKN Weddings & Events. Carlyn, the owner, was an absolute dream to work with and we loved her from the minute we met her. She was so kind and drove all the way to Charlotte to give Jonathan and I a tasting at my own home. I guess you’d have to ask my guests, but I thought the food was wonderful. Carlyn made sure plates were waiting for Jonathan and I at our sweetheart table before any guests went through the buffet line and had styrofoam to-go boxes waiting in our getaway car for us when we left.
What would I do differently?
My only regret is that I did not get to taste any of the appetizers! If I could go back, I would ask the caterers to save a couple of each passed hors douvres for Jonathan and me to try. Also, we debated for a long time about how many meats to have. Having only one (chicken) was obviously the more economical option, but if money were no object (ha!), it would have been nice to give our guests a choice.
I met Keeshan from Oak City Audio in college and we have been friends ever since. He’s one of the kindest and most genuine guys you’ll ever meet. He started his DJ business after college, and after he did my friend Caitlyn’s wedding, I knew I wanted him to be my DJ. Caitlyn and Kyle’s wedding was one of the biggest and best wedding dance parties I’d ever been to, so using Keeshan was a no-brainer. I didn’t even reach out to any other DJs.
Stationary was a tough one for me. I couldn’t believe how much quality paper products cost! For starters, Jonathan and I both asked our friends to be in our bridal party with these cute cards from Etsy shop Inklings Paperie. BHLDN now carries them, so I’d like to think that I made them popular. Kidding, kidding.
Since we only had a six month engagement, we figured that we needed to send out save-the-dates so people could mark their calendars. I used Shutterfly for these and was able to use a coupon code. We were glad to be able to use some of the photos that Jonathan’s sisters took of our engagements on the save-the-dates.
Because I enjoy making watercolor prints and consider myself to have decent handwriting, I really wanted to take a stab at making my own wedding invitations. I took a bunch of passes at different invitations, but I’m so critical of my own work, and I always found imperfections. Finally I settled on one creation, even though I wasn’t super happy with the text.
I had a local photographer, Melissa Joy, take photos of the invitation and turn them into a digital file. I thought she did a great job and was really pleased with how they looked in digital form. The hard part was having them printed. I took the file to several different print shops and each time the prints looked absolutely horrible! I’m sure that if I had more time to do some research I could have found something that worked, but I was pressed on time.
I ended up ordering these watercolor invitations from Minted and I absolutely loved them. It hurt me to spend several hundred dollars on invitations, knowing they would just get thrown away, but I really did love them. I also hand lettered every envelope we sent, which was a big time investment.
The thought of flowers totally overwhelmed me, so I delegated this task to my mom. We met with a florist once, but she never got back to us after our meeting. We ended up getting all of the flowers from Whole Foods. Their floral department arranged my bouquet, the bridesmaid’s bouquets, and the guy’s boutonnieres. For all of the centerpieces, my mom simply ordered large wholesale buckets of flowers from Whole Foods and arranged them herself. She did an amazing job.
I found out about Maiden Flower Crowns one day when they took over the WeLoveCLT Instagram account. (See, social media is good for something!) My niece Emerson really wanted to do something “special” with her hair and I thought a flower crown would be a sweet touch. I found Maiden Flower Crown’s prices to be very reasonable and they even delivered the crown to the venue (all the way out in the middle of no where) on the day of the wedding.
I think I have mentioned this before, but my brother is the co-owner of two new cupcake shops, called Smallcakes, in North Carolina (one in Durham, one in Cary). Their cupcakes are the bomb and when he offered to do the cupcakes for our wedding we said heck yes. We chose four flavors: wedding cake, peanut butter cup, banana pudding, and kentucky bourbon pie. Smallcakes also made us a small top cake to cut in to. I was really worried about transporting the cupcakes from Durham to Cleveland on a hot June day, but it worked very well and only a few got messed up on the drive!
The cake topper was from the Etsy shop, Emily Steffen. They had other cute phrases like, “Best Day Ever!” but I chose “Celebrate” because I figured we’d could continue to use it down the road for birthdays and other celebrations. [Edited to add: That was, until MOLD grew all over it. Grrrr.]
What would I do differently?
We severely underestimated the amount of cupcakes that we needed. Our intent was for the cupcakes not to be eaten until we cut the cake, so we figured that fewer guests would still be around that late in the evening, therefore we wouldn’t need as many cupcakes. I should have made a sign indicating that the cupcakes weren’t up for grabs until after the cake cutting, but that is definitely not how it went! By the time we cut the cake, almost every single cupcake was gone. I also thought that folks would only take one or two cupcakes, but I think the majority of our crowd tried one of every flavor. I’m just glad people enjoyed them! Moral of the story: if you’re doing mini cupcakes, order more than you think you need.
My friend Anna is a school counselor, but on weekends, she coordinates weddings with a new side business she started, Linen and Lace. She coordinated my friend Haley’s wedding last year, and because I was a bridesmaid, I got to see her expertise up close and personal. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I wanted to use Anna to coordinate my wedding.
Anna was an absolute dream to work with. She was organized, punctual, and incredibly helpful. She made our rehearsal run quickly and incredibly smoothly, and I didn’t worry about a thing on the wedding day, all thanks to her.
My friend Christin recently quit her job as a school counselor to dive headfirst into what has previously been a side hobby. She and her friend Angie just committed to running Southern Sugar Bakery full time, and they have been so successful thus far. It’s really inspiring to see something that was an enjoyable past time turn into a successful career. Anyway, I knew long before I was even engaged that I wanted Southern Sugar Bakery to make our wedding favors. As I mentioned above, I have been collecting blue mason jars to use as wedding decor for at least 10 years, so I thought mason jar cookies would be perfect. I had Christin swap out the word “Ball” on the jars for our new last name, “Beck.” I thought they were SO cute and they really did taste good.
What would I do differently?
I loved, loved, loved these cookies, but when I look back on how much we spent on wedding favors alone I’m like, dang… that would get me half way to the farmhouse sink I want for our new house. If I were planning a wedding again, I might look into a more cost-effective favor option. I think Southern Sugar Bakery’s cookies would be perfect for a smaller gathering, like a birthday or batchelorette party, that way you don’t have to buy such a large quantity.
I started collecting antique mason jars and various blue and green glass bottles at least ten years ago, always with the intention of using them for my wedding one day. Each one is meaningful because I hunted for each and every one, finding them in antique stores all across the states. Lots have also been given to me as gifts from special people in my life. We used the jars and bottles as centerpieces on the tables and to decorate the large mantle. My mom put together all of the centerpieces and arranged the mantle and I thought she did such a beautiful job.
I made all of the signs at the wedding myself. They were easy DIY projects with slabs of wood, chalkboard paint, and a chalk pen. [Rest in peace, they live in the dumpster now after being infested with mold. ]
The Mr. and Mrs. signs on the back of our chairs came from the same Etsy shop as our cake topper, Emily Steffen. We hung them with twine and my Maid of Honor, Sally, had the genius idea to secure the bows on top with a dab of hot glue. We were so fed up with the venue at this point that we weren’t worried about getting hot glue on the chairs! ;) The navy and white striped ribbon I ordered off of Etsy from Alena Mokhan.
I got my girls striped canvas bags with leather handles that I found at Swoozies. I thought about having them monogrammed, but I know that isn’t really everyone’s thing. Inside I put a Lily & Laura bracelet in our wedding color, a monogramed Comfort Colors tank top (my favorite tanks in the world), and a ring dish that I made following this tutorial from A Beautiful Mess. I told my bridesmaids that there was no need to wear the tanks while getting ready, but they all did, and I thought we got some really cute pictures. I got a tank top for myself with my new monogram and wore it lots on the honeymoon!
What would I do differently?
I thought I was being cost effective by purchasing a few smaller things for my bridesmaids, but every little thing adds up. I probably spent between $50 and $75 per girl. If I were to do it again, I think I might do one higher price point item, like a nice clutch, rather than small items that add up to a high price point.
Jonathan did a great job shopping for his guys! He gave them all wooden boxes with their names branded on the top. Inside he put the suspenders and bow tie that they wore in the wedding, along with an engraved bottle opener and a mini bottle of Kob’s Creek. He also gave them fun socks to wear in the wedding – something that Jonathan is known for wearing daily!
Our venue did not allow sparklers, lanterns, or anything that was not biodegradable. Since Jonathan and I went to rival colleges, I thought it would be cute to use stadium pom-poms for guests to shake as we left. The idea was that they would take the pom pom of the school they supported. I can’t take credit for this idea, though, I saw it on Pinterest years ago. I ordered the pom poms off a party website called Stumps.com and put them in tall galvanized tin buckets that I found at Sleepy Poet antique mall.
What would I do differently?
The only downside to this exit is that it didn’t provide for great photos. Sparklers make for good exit photos because they provide a light source. We only had our photographer for 7 hours, so we had her come earlier in the day as opposed to staying later, when it would be dark. So, sadly, we have no photos of our pom pom exit, but there is a good clip of it in our wedding video!
A few other small details to note:
Flower girl dress: J.Crew
Ring bearer’s bow tie: Etsy Shop MiniScallop
Ring bearer’s sign: Nake Berkus for Target chalkboard, hand lettered by my friend Taylor
Guestbook: Etsy shop Claire Magnolia. Wish we got a better photo of it! You can only see a little corner here, but it truly is beautiful.
Customized fans: Etsy shop Mod Party. They had our wedding hashtag, #becomingthebecks, along with our wedding date on the side. Perfect for a hot day in June.
All profesional photos taken by Amanda Castle Photography.