Today we’ve got my dear friends Alex and Bryan. I’m kind of obsessed with them, so be prepared.
How did you get engaged?
In order for our engagement story to make sense, I have to take you back a couple of years to the first time Bryan and I went to New York City together. We were dating long distance – I was living in St. Paul, MN, and he was in Rochester, NY – and in March of 2008, I spent a week and a half in Rochester with him, then we met my family in NYC for a long weekend. On our last night in the city, we escaped from the fam for a few hours after dinner and took a walk to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. We walked around holding hands, talking about how much we’d miss each other, and after a long explanation for why he thought it was the right time to say it, he said, “I love you,” for the first time. It was a really sweet moment, and I’ll remember it forever.
Fast forward to November of 2009; I had moved to Rochester in August and we’d been planning on a little weekend getaway to NYC for the fall. We retraced many of our steps from our first trip, and conveniently found ourselves back at Tompkins Square Park. By that time, I was pretty sure he was going to propose, and he knew I was pretty sure, so he made me sit outside on a bench in the cold for almost two hours before he popped the question. My response: “I KNEW IT!” I’m really great at ruining tender moments.
Where did you get married and when?
After Bryan proposed in November of 2009, we decided there was no good reason to wait forever to get married. We gave ourselves just enough time to plan a wedding without too much stress, and set the date for August 29, 2010. I grew up in Minnesota and Bryan grew up in New York, so we agreed that whoever moved to the other state would have the wedding in his or her hometown. Since I moved, we had the wedding at The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.
The Varsity was my favorite concert venue in college, located in Dinkytown, which is part of the U of M campus. It’s an old building with a great ambiance – persian rugs cover the floor, and there are two raised seating sections with cocktail tables and cool vintage armchairs. The guy who owns it also owns a rustic Italian restaurant called The Loring Pasta Bar which is right around the corner, so they cater events at The Varsity with food prepared at The Loring kitchen and take down the sidewalk on rolling carts. When we were looking for venues, we settled on The Varsity pretty fast.
What was the best part about planning a wedding?
Bryan and I both love opportunities to be creative, so planning a wedding was a really fun chance for us to spend a lot of creative time together. We decided right off the bat to focus our energy on creating an event that was a reflection of us as a couple, and we also made the comfort and convenience of our guests our first priority.
The very best part, in my opinion, was the chance we had to involve so many of our friends and family in the planning and also in the day itself. Our photographer, Matt Lien, is a friend of mine from college, and he’s married to one of my favorite girls in the whole world; check out his amazing work atwww.mattlien.com. Our parents and grandparents were involved in the ceremony, including Bryan’s Grandpa Jim, who married us. Victor, who was the DJ, was a client of Bryan’s from work, and his wife, Andrea, did my hair and make-up. Even the wedding coordinator from The Varsity was an acquaintance of mine from school!
What was your favorite part of your wedding?
Our wedding was unique because we did the ceremony and reception all in the same space, and there was very little reorganizing that needed to be done between the different parts of the day. We started with the whole space set up with round tables varying in size, and had cocktails, wine, and beer available as people arrived. The guests watched the ceremony from their seats, drinks in hand, and then enjoyed appetizers and more drinks which were brought around on trays by servers (who, by the way, were not dressed in their normal banquet blacks, so they didn’t stand out like sore thumbs).
Dinner was buffet style, but the food was way beyond normal buffet quality; to date, it might be the most delicious wedding food I’ve tasted. Instead of having a head table, Bryan and I sat on thrones (yes, thrones) at a tiny little table on the stage, and guests came by and chatted while they were up getting food or once they were finished. The whole night felt so continuous and smooth, and I just loved that there was no down time where guests went un-entertained or unfed between activities.
Advice for brides in the planning stages?
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that one detail is going to make or break the day. Your wedding is an important day, but it’s only one day. Have fun letting your creative juices flow, but don’t stress yourself out. I can honestly say that I had a blast planning my wedding, and the only stress I experienced on the big day was my fear that I’d sleep through my alarm.
Also, don’t buy into the, “It’s my day,” bridal culture. It’s an important day for you and your other half and all the people who care about you as a couple and want to celebrate with you. “All About Me” is a nasty attitude for a bride to have, and it’s really a punch in a gut to everyone who puts their love and energy into making it a special day. When you make decisions about your venue, favors, and food, consider how it will impact your guests – will they feel honored or put out?
Last, weddings are expensive no matter how you slice it, but there are ways to keep the costs reasonable, and finding those solutions were fun for us. We designed and printed our own invitations and programs and booked a venue that didn’t need to be decorated because it was such a beautiful building on its own. Weddings aren’t just expensive for the bride and groom, though. Think of a poor maid of honor: she probably attends a handful of showers, and feels compelled to bring gifts to them all, and of course she has to have an outfit and gift for the wedding. Rather than stuffing my two bridesmaids into $300 dresses that they hated and making them pay for manicures and up-dos, I gave them guidelines for attire and asked them to wear their hair and make up as naturally as they felt comfortable. Check out the photos – they looked gorgeous.
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