The Tea Leaves and Tweed Wedding, Part Two: The Reception

Last time, I shared the story of our wedding ceremony day. As I mentioned before, we offset a rather tiny wedding ceremony with a larger celebration the next day, so we could celebrate with more of our friends. This was the “big event” day, and the one that had occupied most of my time and energy over the months leading up to it.

We decided to have a brunch reception in the middle of the day, both because we both love breakfast food, and because out guests might appreciate being able to get home at a reasonable hour, even if they had a drive of a couple hours, rather than paying for a hotel room. I was so thrilled to find Adelphi Mill as a venue because it’s beautiful, has two floors of hardwood flooring, and allows renters to bring whatever food and beverage they want. From there, I found a fantastic local caterer who would do waffles (including gluten-free waffles for our celiac guests!): Wicked Waffle.

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The food was our biggest splurge. We made the decision to go with full catering because it meant we wouldn’t be on our own for setup, serving, rentals, and cleanup. The caterer actually provided pretty much everything we needed, other than the tables and chairs already provided by the Mill. Our one stipulation was that we provided coffee beans and tea leaves because Mr. Tweed and I are very particular about our coffee and tea, respectively. We ended up ordering full-leaf tea bags from Rishi Tea and picked up our freshly-ground coffee the day before from our favorite coffee shop, Vigilante Coffee (they even tucked a wedding congratulations card in the box with the beans!).

After our ceremony day, we both went home so we could play with our cat and spend the night in our own bed. I awoke the next morning next to my new husband and smiled. We snuggled for a bit, made something to eat, and then packed up to go to the Mill. We got there about three hours early. I stayed behind to meet the caterer while Mr. Tweed went to get more of our decorations. We also had a friend meet us to help set up tables, which was good because the caterer ended up hitting ridiculous traffic and being late (he made up for it by bringing an extra staff person to help with setup, free of charge). But by the time it was two hours before the reception start, things were underway.

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I made the decision to keep decoration very simple. A single pink silk rose in a white vase on a lace doily sat in the middle of the dark green table cloths the caterer brought to contrast. It was lovely and simple and the centerpiece didn’t block anyone’s view. And, because they were silk flowers, I could take advantage of Afloral’s Black Friday sale and get all our flowers and vases (including those for my bouquet) months in advance. I also made my own bouquet, a boutonniere for Mr. Tweed, two small corsages for our mothers, and a small bouquet for our friend’s daughter, who joined us for the ceremony as a sort of unofficial flower girl (her mother was unofficial matron of honor).

I also decided to wear my original dress for the reception, as it was more suited to dancing than my ceremony dress, and the beautiful floors were made for dancing! In fact, Mr. Tweed’s main job in wedding planning was to take care of the sound system (which we borrowed from his parents) and the playlist (we mostly used songs we had, with a few purchased off Amazon for the occasion). We ended up going to the Mill in our plain clothes and bringing nice clothes to change just before the reception. Since my hair and makeup were the same as the day before, I’d gotten quite good at it and our caterer even remarked at how quickly I’d gotten ready. With the place set up and our clothes changed, we were ready for our guests.

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The reception went so smoothly. We caught up with everyone, drank mimosas, had coffee and tea, and chatted. Then, the buffet opened and everyone got waffles and things. We moved to the upper level, which was set up with tables around the edges of the room and a dance floor in the middle. Once people had mostly finished their meal (with seconds!), we stood up to thank our guests and had our first dance.

Mr. Tweed and I have been dancing together practically since we first met, so our first dance was a fun and special time for us to focus on each other. We did a swing dance to “Hallelujah I Love Him So,” sung by the irreplaceable Eva Cassidy (whom I had the good fortune to see live before her untimely death, and who was one of my father’s favorite artists). We had fun and our guests seemed to love it, so much so that some of them said they were too intimidated to follow us onto the dance floor! But we kept at it, had a few more dances ourselves, and got a nice group up for “Love Shack.”

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And through all of this, my dear friend and head shot photographer, Bill, took gorgeous photos. He even had Mr. Tweed and I join him outside for a few portraits, which were a nice addition to the shots Josh had taken the day before. Honestly, after the first bit of initial chatting, I hardly noticed him taking photos and was pleasantly surprised by how many great moments he captured.

By the time our dancing playlist had worked through to its final song, many of our guests had already left. The few who were left helped us with clean-up (although the caterers handled most of the big stuff). Mr. Tweed and I changed out of our nice clothes. We packed everything up, and then went home to decompress. And the next morning, we met up with a few of our local friends and people who had stayed in town for coffee and pastries at Vigilante, as is our typical Sunday morning tradition.

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A note on budget:

We ended up spending roughly $8.3k for the whole weekend. Roughly $4.3k was catering (including cash gratuities for each staff person), with $1.5k for our two outfits (including the fact that I got two dresses!). We spent $800 on the venue, $650 on ceremony-day photography, $600 on beverages (sparkling wine, coffee, tea, and water), $300 on decorations and flowers. The remainder was spent on the legal paperwork for the ceremony, plus a little extra for songs we had to buy for our playlist. Invitations we did for free through Paperless Post, and we used a free WordPress theme for our wedding website. I did my own hair and makeup (although I included some extra hair and makeup products in the outfit budget). The Jefferson Suite, plus the luncheon at the tavern after the ceremony was probably less than $1,000 altogether, so our entire wedding weekend was probably just over $9,000.

And thus concluded a fantastic wedding weekend. After the weekend was over, I took a day to myself to relax, return the key to the Mill, and get my post-wedding haircut. Stay tuned next week for the beginning of my posts about our Scottish Honeymoon Adventure!

Photography credits: All photos by William Cornett.

NB: I am not affiliated with any of the businesses linked.

Today Is a Very Special Day

I may not be on social media much today. You see, today I am getting married. It’s been exciting and stressful and wonderful planning this wedding. And I will share details soon, I promise (although not until after our honeymoon). But for today, I thought I’d leave you with my pre-wedding thoughts.

Despite the fact that I’ve been with Fiancé for over five years, and the fact that I’ve been married before, the reality of this wedding really sunk in this weekend, when I put together my bouquet. Something about seeing that little finished bundle of flowers really symbolized all the preparation, mental and physical, that has gone into both this event and this marriage. As I pushed the last pearl-headed pin into the ribbon covering the stems, it hit me. This is it. I’m really doing this.

I’m really doing this again.

When I first got divorced, and even for a while after Fiancé and I started dating, I was adamant that I might never want to get married again. I had already failed at that once, why would I try again? But sometimes the old proverb is right. Although, I should hope that I will follow W. C. Fields this time and only try again once.

And so today will be a flurry of photographs, family, and a very special moment between Fiancé and me, where we take this step together. I can’t wait.

Pre-Wedding Beauty: How I Am Preparing for the Big Day

As readers of my blog probably know, I’m in the process of planning a wedding. It’s coming up, too! Of course, every bride I’ve ever seen has looked radiant and beautiful on her wedding day, but I definitely want to do everything I can to help the “wedding glow.” As an avid follower of skin care technologies, I’m constantly seeing people talk about pre-wedding beauty and ask what skin care products they should be using to get their skin ready for a wedding. So I thought I’d take a bit of time to talk a bit about my beauty treatments leading up to the wedding, and why I’ve chosen what I’ve chosen. Here are my top seven strategies for preparing for my wedding.

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1. I’m not using anything new less than one month before the wedding:

This is rule one, guys. Nothing new, less chance for an unexpected reaction that I’m frantically trying to deal with the week before the wedding. I have made minor exceptions for one-time-use products that I’ve checked ingredients very carefully, but I added my last long-term-use product one month before the big day.

2. I have a strong skin care foundation:

If you’re not like me and have over a year to prepare, start as soon as possible to get a good skin care foundation. I’ve written a bit about it here, but this post is also a great treatment of the hierarchy of what to worry about when you first start overhauling your skin care. Personally, I started my most recent skin care journey over a year ago, and one year is about when I started seeing a major difference in the resilience of my skin.

3. I focused on brightening and exfoliation:

While I’ve been using chemical exfoliants for a while, I had stopped using much in the way of physical exfoliation since I started down my science-based skin care road. But lately, I’ve found that my skin gets a little… off-feeling at times. So I started experimenting with physical exfoliation for times when I wanted my skin to be an extra-nice canvas for makeup. I also still use my azelaic acid three times a week. Plus, I’ve been loving Pixi Glow Tonic, a gentle glycolic acid toner that also has ginseng and horse chestnut extracts, which are both shown to improve skin brightness.

4. I kept up my healthy skin habits:

I drink lots of water and I use sunscreen every day, rain or shine. You know what’s a good way to avoid wonky tan lines? Sunscreen. A good way to avoid dehydrating your skin and looking dull on your wedding day? Sunscreen. Sunscreen is the best aging preventative and the best skin damage preventative, so, yeah, I use sunscreen every day. Plus, I’m using exfoliants, so it’s extra-necessary. And drinking plenty of water and trying to keep up a healthy lifestyle helps keep stress in check, which in turn comes full circle to prevent stress-induced breakouts.

5. I’m thinking outside the face box:

By this, I mean, remember that your body and your smile need love, too. I realized that my love of tea has left me with a decidedly British tooth shade, so I bought a tube of whitening, strengthening toothpaste to try to remove some of the stains. For my body, since my dress has a low back, I’m making sure to use moisturizing and exfoliating lotions there, too (as well as regular sunscreen!). I’ve also started working on taking better care of my nails, keeping them trimmed and filed, moisturizing them, and using a strengthening treatment to seal in moisture and prevent splitting.

6. I practiced my hair and makeup a couple months ahead of time:

I am doing my own hair and makeup because I’m having a low-key wedding, but even if you’re not, it’s not a bad idea to make sure you know what your face looks like with slightly heavier makeup. It’s good to go into an event knowing what you like yourself to look like. I’m actually doing a slightly heavier version of my head shot makeup look for the wedding, since I know what it looks like on me and I’ll still feel like myself. I also practiced my hair so I would know what to tell the woman making my custom birdcage veil.

7. I consulted a professional to guide my efforts:

Right after I got engaged, I realized I was still struggling with breakouts more than I wished I was, so I joined Curology. There, I learned about my personal skin care game-changers and had the benefit of some professional advice. While I haven’t felt it useful to continue my subscription, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

So there you have it, my seven strategies for preparing for a day when I will be gawked at and photographed more than probably any other day in my life (and certainly from closer up than when I’m on stage!). I hope some of my efforts will help inspire you to make your own plan of attack for big-day beauty.

On Wedding Brain and Bridal Solidarity

Last week, I made more progress towards planning my wedding. I met with our caterer and his assistants at our venue and went through the logistics. And we got our license (less than six months away!). It was exciting to see things start coming together, and it gave me an excuse to take an entire day off work and think about nothing but wedding, which is important for a bride planning an event.

Then, I also learned that a coworker had gotten engaged, so of course, I went by her desk to congratulate her. But I also offered her the support of a sympathetic ear if she ever wants to obsess about wedding planning and it seems like everyone else around her is sick of it. Because this struggle is real.

I really never thought I would be *that* bride, the one who was obsessed with swatches and decorations and everything. But here we are. I’ve even planned a wedding before, but it was a much smaller event and took place rather quickly (four months from proposal to wedding). Plus, I was in school at the time, so I didn’t have as much mental free energy to waste.

This time around, I have all the mental energy to waste on it. And I’m planning a more elaborate event. And, of course, second-guessing every choice I make. For example: I recently decided what would actually be my “dream” wedding and it’s pretty far from what we’re planning.

My Dream: We wake up in the morning, put on nice clothes, and drive out to a little vintage chapel near our house, where we can have a simple, humanist ceremony, with whoever is up to join us. Then, we come back to the house and host a big luncheon/open house for friends and family, mostly in our back yard, with the option of squeezing inside if it rains. Simple, classic, and very old-fashioned.

Instead: The only concrete input Fiancé has given in terms of what he wants (it’s his first marriage) is that he wants to have a dance party for his friends. So dancing is a must. Given that, we have to rent a hall. And, honestly, we first met and became close going to dance lessons together, so it makes sense. We dance at everyone else’s weddings; of course we’re going to dance at our own.

So there I go again. Before I devolve into discussing caterers and music equipment, I’m going to stop myself. Wedding brain is real. It occupies prime mental real estate. And I know I’ve annoyed even the most wedding-obsessed of my non-planning friends.

So I’ve extended the branch of wedding brain acceptance to another woman going through it, in the hope that we can support each other. Forming a grand sisterhood of the wedding brain. And isn’t that what support is all about?

On Becoming the Zen Master of Wedding Planning

So I’m planning a wedding. This is not known for being one of the most meditative and relaxing practices. And I’ve been married before, so I have that minefield to walk. As a result, I’ve found myself reading my share of wedding planning websites and message boards. And I’ve noticed that when I respond to threads with advice, my voice is starting to sound more and more like some Jedi-Zen-monk-bride. While I can be a very perfectionist person in my day-to-day life, I’m turning out to be a surprisingly chill bride.

The starting point of my wedding planning philosophy is pretty well summed up in this article. No matter what you do or how much you try to please everyone, someone will be offended and complain about your wedding. So rather than waste energy trying to dance around potential offense, I’ve decided not to care. I’m having the wedding I’m having. I try not to be mean-spirited or deliberately exclusive, but other than that, I’m going to do what I’m going to do.

And that means saying no to things. No, we’re not sending announcements to people who aren’t invited. No, we’re not having a small gift registry just in case someone really can’t bring themselves to show up empty handed. No. Just no.

What I’ve learned from all this is that it is a lot easier to plan a wedding as a self-actualized thirty-something woman than as a mid-twenties student. I’m a lot more confident about saying no to things that I don’t want (or legitimately make me uncomfortable). And the flip side is that I’m finding it easier to say yes to things even though they’re expensive and frivolous. We have the money for it, so I’m going to have my vintage venue and catered brunch with staff to help set up and serve. And flowers. I love flowers. And a photographer to take amazing professional photos at a fair price for his skill and training.

And you know what? This philosophy might look different to you. Staying true to your vision might mean letting your mother have more say because it’s more important to you that she feels intimately involved than to have exactly the decorations you dreamed of. Or it might mean something else entirely. It might involve a church. And that’s okay. The only thing that’s not okay is expecting the world to share and approve of and fund your vision. Also, being mean to people for the sake of being mean kind of sucks. But the are plenty of situations where wedding compromises might come off as mean on the surface. Forgive yourself, move on, and have the event that will make you deliriously happy.

Just remember that at the end of the day, the most important thing is the person you are marrying and the fact that you’re planning on spending the rest of your life together. Just because you have a vision doesn’t mean everything will go to plan. It will rain. Someone you don’t expect may show up. A flight may get canceled. The dress might not come in time. But ultimately, none of that really matters if you love each other. You could get married in a refrigerator box and as long as it’s legal, your wedding was a success.

So for someone who has trouble doing just this, I’m finding it easier to relax about the wedding, comparatively. And I hope any soon-to-be-brides can join in as we Zen our way to our wedding days — bugs, rain, and all!