By Guest Bride Blogger Madeleine Hill
August 13, 2011
Justin Trails Farm, Sparta, Wisconsin
The summer has flown by, and here it is, almost the end of August, the wedding is already old news, and I’m a married woman. Although stressful at times, it was an incredible weekend, filled with lots of love, celebration, and delicious food. But I certainly understand now why most people opt for a honeymoon directly after . . . to take a deep breath and relax! For the last three months I’ve focused all of my energy toward planning this event, with lots of help from my husband and family, and now that it's all said and done, I’ll share my final ideas about pulling off an almost entirely “do-it-yourself” wedding.
Thanks to all of our family and friends, who really came together and pitched in, our celebration went off without a hitch. The whole weekend flew by in the whirlwind of activity, from the bachelorette and bachelor parties straight through to the Sunday brunch. It took a team of helpers to keep everything organized and fairly on-time, but the wedding was better than I could have imagined.
The farm setting was a big hit, and luckily the weather cooperated almost the entire weekend. From the beautiful landscaped gardens, to the 10-foot tall corn fields and the rolling woodland hills, the natural landscape was ideal for a picturesque Midwestern ceremony. We were even married under a full moon. Having the extra acreage was perfect for setting up yard games, entertainment, a spacious buffet, and allowed everyone to wander around and explore the surrounding environment. Thankfully the skies were clear so we could have our ceremony outdoors under the century-old oak tree and we were able to set up one long table for 60 people without a white tent overhead. The communal table is a great way to bring all of the guests together to share in the small, intimate dinner. Plus, 64 feet was a giant blank canvas to allow my floral creativity to flow, and designing the centerpieces was a lot of fun.
I chose to do a series of different centerpieces to cascade down the middle of the long table. From tall vases with curly willow and big sunflowers to low compact designs, I tried to do enough variety of styles to keep the eye interested. I wanted the flowers and colors to compliment the environment, so our August farm wedding was filled with sunflowers, kale, coxcomb, black-eyed Susans, hypericum berries and deep purple dahlias. If you want to create your floral arrangements and are getting married in the summer, keep the local farmers’ market in mind. I ordered most of my flowers from a local grower at the downtown St. Paul market and found the prices less expensive than the wholesaler and far cheaper than ordering bulk from a flower shop.The quality of the blooms also rivals those flown in from South America and Thailand, so think local for your next event!
We were lucky to have so many talented people in our lives, it really came in handy when planning the reception. My mom, with the help of family and friends, catered the reception. It was a ton of work, but with that said it was so meaningful to serve a meal that represented our individual childhoods and hometowns. Friday night before the wedding, our families gathered in the kitchen to prep the food for the next day, it was truly a team effort to come together and make it a memorable dinner. And the food was much tastier than any catered event I've been to! In addition to the foodie friends, we also had a set of talented musicians serenade us during our ceremony and reception. Paul's uncle played a Beatles compilation on his guitar for the processional and after dinner, my dad dedicated a few songs to us, along with a couple of sing-alongs to get the crowd involved (and even managed to make Paul the lead singer of his favorite Old Crow Medicine Show song). With the right instruments, a few amps, a microphone, and willing musical participants, we were able to enjoy about 40 minutes of live music. And our guests raved about how wonderful this part of the reception turned out!
There are tons of arguments for and against a "do-it-yourself" celebration. In our situation it turned out great and with a small enough guest list it was totally doable. Everyone's participation made the event that much more meaningful. To make it successful, be organized, make lists, delegate tasks to your trusted advisers, and remember that you must be open to last minute changes and minor imperfections. Scale down your list, instead of trying to do million things, focus on making the important stuff shine. I tried to put a lot of energy into the details, but ran out of time to finish every little task. It's important to remain calm and go with the flow, your attitude can make or break the mood, so remember that the most important details are the people around you.
Photography by Will Krause