Robin + Derek
(July 2, 2019 in Quincy, WA)
Welcome back to the Ivory Blog where we feature our real brides weddings! This blog post describes the writer's vision for their wedding and how it went on the day. The goal of the wedding was to create a getaway for their guests, which they achieved by choosing a destination venue where everyone could stay the night. The overall vibe was described as "Nature Disco," which involved mixing natural elements with pops of metallic and funky elements. The writer goes on to explain how their family members helped with many aspects of the wedding, and how they put together detailed schedules and packets of information to ensure everything went smoothly on the day. The day itself was described as a breeze, but there was some drama when one of the bridesmaids was bitten by a rattlesnake the night before the wedding and had to miss the ceremony. Despite this, the writer remained present and enjoyed the day. The blog post provides a detailed and personal account of the wedding, including anecdotes and observations.
Robin looked absolutely stunning in our Alexa gown by Willowby. This gown is a gorgeous A-line fit with a stunning titanium-colored liner with soft layers of tulle over the top of it. The skirt has gorgeous dahlia motifs with sequin details scattered throughout for a little bit of sparkle. The bodice has a gorgeous v-neckline with a stunning double waistband made of delicate velvet ribbon. The ribbon ties into a dainty bow in the back and a baby train complete this boho, whimsical gown. We love that Robin customized the gown to be a high-low cut and added a gorgeous ruffle trim around the hem for a fun twist.
By our real bride, Robin:
What was the vision for your wedding?
We wanted the wedding to feel like a getaway for our guests. We picked a destination venue with cabins and yurt options so all of our guests could stay the night of the wedding. That way everyone could party late into the night with us without having to worry about driving home at the end of the night which was super important to us. Plus, the next morning we were able to spend even more time with our guests and send them off with a little breakfast and lots of love!
Stylistically, the vision for our wedding was mixing natural elements and textures with pops of metallic/sparkles and funky elements. We wanted it to feel like a dreamy getaway in our own little world. I think we ended up calling the vibe "Nature Disco". My bridesmaids, flower girls, and even officiant wore shoes coated in sparkles, my flower girls threw feathers, and we kept decorations minimal and natural - leaving the gorgeous landscape of the venue to speak for itself. Keeping everything simple and relatively low maintenance made it easy to be happy with how everything turned out!
My mom built all of the centerpieces from thrifted candle sticks and plants, we also bought collections of antique bells to use as place settings/party favors; my aunt put together our ceremony arbor; my grandparents put together arrival bags for the guests; my cousin was my day-of coordinator, and my sister-in-law made all of the desserts! It was very much a family affair which worked out really well. We were so lucky to have so many people offering and asking to help with the wedding, and it was a nice way to honor all of their genuine offers. We chose the photographer and videographer we did because of their portfolio of beautiful work capturing candid genuine moments in creative and profound ways - and they did not disappoint!
How did it go the day-of?
The day-of was truly a breeze. Since I didn't have a wedding coordinator (other than my cousin who acted as my day-of coordinator), I put together pretty detailed schedules and packets of information for our wedding party, immediate family, and anyone contributing to the day-of ahead of time. I knew I wouldn't want to deal with any questions or stress of the day, and doing that really helped me let go of any stress or anxiety I may have otherwise had about the set-up. I knew there were bound to be things that strayed from the packets I put together, but at least I knew I'd done the best I could to help the people that were helping me, and everything else was out of my control.
Something that was definitely NOT on the schedule was one of my bridesmaids getting bit by a baby rattlesnake the night of the rehearsal dinner.. but yeah.. that happened. She ended up having to miss the wedding - but more seriously - spent 5 days in the ICU recovering. As far as wedding day drama goes - I'm not sure you can top that one! The morning of the wedding was a little bittersweet without her - and made us quite a bit more cautious on our wedding day hike with our wedding party. But the hike down through the gorge cliffside did help calm a lot of nerves and set the tone for an epic day. We ran into some of our guests who were enjoying morning jogs/hikes along the same trail which made the day feel even more exciting and personal.
The whole morning was entirely clear skies, but apparently, there was rain in the forecast - so everyone was trying to persuade us to move inside. It took one quick meeting with Derek to decide we would not move the wedding inside - after all, the whole appeal of the venue was the landscape! Ironically, we were expecting it to be a scorching hot day, so we welcomed the cooler weather! As I started to get ready for the day I tried to remain present - to not let any moment go by too quickly but also not to overplay the situation. I got ready with one of my bridesmaids (one of my oldest friends) and my mom while we listened to The Beatles: I did my own makeup and hair (with a few adjustments from my friend) - with no real plan in mind. I wanted to wear my hair just down to keep it low maintenance, but the wind was picking up and I figured pinning it back a little would be a better way to go so.. that's what I did. I wouldn't say it turned out perfectly - but that's not really what I was after anyways. It's worth noting that my bridesmaids also did their own hair and makeup and even though none of us are experts at it, I think they all looked stunning and exactly like themselves!
My mom helped me put on my dress and adjust my veil. She was as cool as a cucumber - almost more so than me, which made it really feel like I was just getting ready for a normal day. There were no real profound words of motherly advice or tears as she sent me into wifehood - just big smiles and calm warm hugs oh and last-minute boob tape application, which was just what I needed.
I didn't really have the time after getting ready to do a first look with my dad, but while I was doing my bridal portraits in the distance, he spotted me from his cabin and called out and waved - which I actually felt was a sweeter moment than I could have planned for. Derek and I did a first look with our photographer before the ceremony with the expansive river gorge as our backdrop. Derek was turned toward the gorge while he waited for me, taking in the grand view and feeling the gravity of the day. When he turned around, he was giddy and anxious to have me take in the moment with him. Of course, he was complimentary and told me I looked beautiful, but the moment that really landed with me was standing there on the cliff with him, taking in the vastness of the view and the day together.
As we prepared for the ceremony, we had all of my bridal party and family lined up right outside the aisle - leaving only me, my "feather" girls, and their mamas in the bridal cabin. The bridal cabin was right outside the ceremony site - so all we had to do was walk right out! Since the room was smaller, I knew I didn't want everyone in there with me at once - and it was a perfect decision. Our feather girls were the sweetest and added such good energy while we waited to walk down the aisle. One of the girls asked me "Are you sure you don't want to walk down before us? I mean - you're all dressed up!". As the guests started arriving, I could see them just right outside my window, and I got a kick out of seeing my family and bridal party greet them - I was like a fly on the wall getting to spy on all the happenings before the ceremony, without anyone getting to see me yet - highly recommend!
The ceremony went beautifully. When I walked down the aisle, I walked the first half alone to my dad. We met at the head of the aisle and then walked down together. I thought it was a special way to have a moment just focusing on my dad, before walking down the aisle where my attention turned to Derek. My cousin's husband officiated the ceremony and delivered a soulful and meaningful speech he wrote just for us. Derek and I wrote our own vows and there were lots of laughs and just an overall easy-breezy feeling. Did I mention breezy? Because it was really breezy! Borderline chilly - but no rain! Thunderstorms rolled into the north and south of us but never touched down - so we had epic, moody skylines with rainbows and lightning, but without the bothersome weather! The ceremony was short and sweet - just like we wanted. And after the ceremony, our guests were whisked away to the reception site via golf carts while Derek, our wedding party, and I retreated back to the bridal suite where we drank sparkling cider (we accidentally grabbed the bottles meant for the flower girls), listened to some 70's funk music, and signed our marriage certificate!
When we got to the reception, our guests welcomed us by ringing the antique bells we had as their place settings/party favors. The sound was profoundly lovely! I spent a long time sorting through antique bell collections my mom had thrifted to pick the perfect bell for each guest, and hadn't even anticipated how pretty it would sound when they were all put in action! We greeted friends we hadn't seen in years, guests who had traveled from all over the world, and newborn babies we hadn't met yet. We had signature cocktails - a "Nature Boy" Old Fashioned and a "Disco Lemonade" Blue Vodka Lemonade.
Dinner and speeches were well-done by everyone who participated and was truly one of our favorite parts of the evening - equal parts entertaining, embarrassing, meaningful - you know... all the good stuff. Then came the first dances - my dad and I were up first and danced to "That's Amore" - a song my dad always belted out when I was growing up. We hadn't choreographed anything - or even practiced for that matter - and it turned out pretty great. It was fun and silly, and so "us". My dad - who has struggled with knee issues over the last 10 years - somehow pulled it off without even so much as a limp! Before my and Derek's first dance, our DJ told our "Love Story" (put together by a worksheet he had us fill out prior), while our kid guests naturally just gathered around us like it was story time - definitely a cute moment.
One of the most important parts of planning the reception was the dancing - Derek and I (and our guests) love to dance. So we spent a lot of time curating the perfect playlist (with input from some of our guests), which our DJ executed perfectly! Music in general was also really important to us - making sure there was always music playing to keep the atmosphere alive, and our DJ did a great job of keeping that rhythm going. Our last song of the night was "American Pie" and all of our guests were on the dance floor arm-in-arm, belting it out! It was a moment we hadn't really planned for but definitely one of the most memorable parts of the night.
Unfortunately, we couldn't afford to keep the photographer with us all night, so we decided to set out disposable cameras for guests once our photographer's hours were up. I've always had an affinity for disposable/film cameras, so it felt like another personal touch to add to the experience. Our kid guests got a hold of them first, and ~naturally~ there ended up being quite a lot of selfies - but also tons of photos of the dance floor from their perspective which turned out really cute. We also had a DIY photo booth lounge set up - a linen couch my mom recovered herself, a table with a few disposable cameras, and a disco ball hanging over the scene. The wind got the best of the disco ball by the end of the night - and Derek and I totally forgot to get any pictures of it, but the developed photos of the guests who took advantage of it turned out adorably.
Then we had our send-off again with our guests ringing their bells, waving glow sticks, and blowing bubbles. As Derek and I made our grand exit, we realized simultaneously that we hadn't actually planned for a getaway car! ~embarrassing~ so we just kept running like we knew where we were going until we just happened to run into one of the maintenance guys in a golf cart who kindly whisked us to our honeymoon suite. It was a fun and bumpy ride and our driver took a little bit of a "scenic route" to make it last just a little longer. Another perfect, unplanned experience!
We got to our room, quickly changed into our after-party attire, and walked up to the groomsmen's cabin, where we hosted an after-party for the guests who wanted to stay up a little later. The venue brought all of the leftover kegs and wine to the room for us so we didn't have to worry about more alcohol supply. It was another great way to get to spend even more quality time with our guests. Derek and I walked back to our cabin at the end of the night exhausted but feeling so fulfilled. I don't even remember falling asleep, and I woke up the next morning with "That's Amore!" stuck in my head.
What is your #1 tip to future brides?
Don't buy into the bridal hype. When you get engaged, you become the target for an entire industry of focused marketing. There are a lot of old bridal traditions that need to die, and SO MANY new bridal "traditions" or material items that are hard up with. Of course, being a bride is a fun traditional experience to be a part of, and the bridal industry these days is full of unique and personalized experiences and material items to help you savor the occasion - but don't buy into anything that wasn't important to you before you became a bride. Custom jackets, anything with the word "Bride" printed on it, engagement photos, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, big diamond engagement rings, a beautiful wedding dress, a glam squad for the wedding day, expensive floral arrangements, intricate centerpieces and place settings, a great DJ, wedding photography and videography, a boudoir shoot - the list goes on and on! It's so easy to fall prey to the marketing and to feel bad about not checking a box on that list, or to feel left out by going a less traditional route. My advice would be to make a list of all the things you think you want from your bridal experience. Then, number that list of "things" in order of actual importance to you. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have it all, maybe you'll have to get creative, and maybe you'll have to sacrifice a few things but at least you will have prioritized what you actually wanted from the beginning. In the same way, you shouldn't let your family/friends dictate what you truly want for your big day, you shouldn't let industry do that either.
You'll hear it ad nauseam - "This day is about you.., do whatever you want" blah blah blah. And I do agree (see first advice paragraph above), but it is absolutely no fun to go to a party that wasn't planned with guests in mind at all. Derek and I planned our wedding entirely for our guests - with the setting and colors and food and drinks and music that we wanted. Obviously, our wedding - being destination style and on a Tuesday - wasn't the easiest for all who were invited to come; but for those who were able to come, we wanted to make it worthwhile. We thought everything through as if we were going to be guests ourselves, and I think it showed. Practice focused and sincere gratitude to everyone who surrounds you and helps you along your bridal experience. Try your best to hold on to moments - big or small - with those people that made a difference in your experience, and recount those memories in your thank you's.