This post has been a LONG TIME coming. It’s been over six months since my husband and I said, “I do,” and since then, I’ve ended a blog and started a new one and grown a baby for 27 weeks. Life and morning sickness have delayed this post that I wanted to make just PERFECT, because I wanted to do this amazing moment in my life some justice.
Because that day was perfect. As silly and cliche as it sounds, I wouldn’t change a single thing.
This week, we were also featured on the Pittsburgh Magazine Blog in an article about wedding hashtags, so I figured that it was time to recap the big day on my own blog!
So, with that in mind, here is my wedding day from my (and my photographer Andria Zutich Photography’s) point of view.
The night before my Pittsburgh-filled, literary-themed wedding was a blur. We had to be at the church at 5 p.m. for the rehearsal, followed by a beautiful Italian dinner arranged by my in-laws at Calabria’s in Pittsburgh’s South Hills. We’d dropped the last of the decor off earlier in the week, so there was no need to stop in at our reception venue, The River’s Club, for a last look. I’m sure our wedding coordinator Michelle also didn’t want to see me again before the wedding 🙂
I shared a hotel room at the Omni William Penn with one of my bridesmaids and my matron of honor, who was almost ready to pop with her first baby. Her goal was to make it to my wedding, so she was excited to be there and not in the hospital. (Baby Aria would wait until I came back from my honeymoon to make her appearance). I drank some champagne before bed and fell asleep without any trouble.
When I woke up the next morning, I was nervous to eat. My biggest wedding fear was throwing up or passing out on the alter, so I had someone run to the lobby to get me a muffin and tea from Starbucks. It was around 7 a.m. when all of my bridesmaids came to my room to get ready.
I started to set out everything I would need throughout my day, including the beautiful bouquets I’d had made by Eternally in Bloom on Etsy. SERIOUSLY, if you’re looking for paper flowers, you should go to Nicole. My bridesmaids’ bouquets were left as plain paper, while some flowers in my and my husbands’ arrangements were dyed our wedding colors.
My bouquet was made extra special with a wooden charm made by BookFiend on Etsy, and a silver charm from the same shop that said:
I’d found this adorable perfume at Anthropologie that came in a book. I wanted a new perfume on my wedding day so that whenever I wore it, I would think of that day. (It worked. I love putting this perfume on when I need a pick-me-up).
I like a good mix of comfort over style, so I chose a Badgley Mischka heel for the ceremony and flats from J. Crew factory for the reception. To be honest, I was so uncomfortable by the end of the night, I went barefoot. It was difficult to put on the flats just to walk back to our hotel!
Fun fact: I forgot to put my garter on, and we chose not to do a bouquet toss, so it’s never been used for anything! I suppose it will go nice in a shadow box one day, when I get around to it…
I’d picked my wedding jewelry out at M.B. Brides while watching a friend try on dresses. I loved the way the floral style went with the unique lace on my dress.
With everything I’d need for the day sitting out and ready to go, it was time to get ready. I’d had my nails done a few days before the wedding and was actually not too impressed by them. I ended up repainting them with a nude nail polish just before the wedding! Somehow, I was still calm. (There was champagne in that orange juice).
I’d wanted something really personal to get ready in, and I fell in love with the men’s shirt style of getting ready shirt. I got this customized shirt at TootleBugsBoutique13 on Etsy.
I have a lot of really talented women in my tribe, including my friend Liz who works at Above All Salon in Wexford. She and a coworker did all of my girls’ hair and gave me this beautiful loose bun.
For my makeup, I turned to my husband’s aunt, who has a makeup collection that could rival Sephora. She did an amazing job of making me beautiful and waterproof!
Speaking of my tribe, here are a few more of them:
My gift to my bridesmaids included these sweet customized mugs (though few of us had coffee that morning) from Twenty8Designs on Etsy (the shop has since closed).
My gift to my husband was a bottle of whiskey that had a custom metal tag that read, “Drink this and meet me at the alter.”
His gift to me included an Erin Condren Planner (which kept me extremely busy on the plane to Europe) and two Alex & Ani bracelets along with a sweet note as to why he chose them.
Of course, the dress was MY main focus of the morning. I’d tried it on so many times before this, I couldn’t BELIEVE that today I would try it on and actually get married in it.
My sister-in-law picked it off of the rack at Exquisite Bride months before, and the moment I put it on, we all knew. There were no sobs, just some tears welled up in my eyes that told me THIS would be the dress I would wear to say goodbye to my Miss status. I was able to make the dress a little more “me” with custom, off-the-shoulder sleeves and a sewn-in crystal belt. Thinking of it sitting the closet of the nursery right now makes my heart ache, but I can’t wait to give it new life when I have it remade into a christening gown or some other collectable. The morning of the wedding wouldn’t have been complete without the “Mrs. Mey” hanger, which I, of course, bought on Etsy.
How did people get married before Etsy?
I had bridesmaids from all over the country, and I wanted to make sure none of them had any trouble getting their dresses, so we opted for these Vera Wang halters from David’s Bridal. They looked BEAUTIFUL on everyone and had the cutest details, like a bow behind their necks and a high slit to show off their killer legs and $10 yellow Payless pumps.
They wore buns in their hair and their own pearl earrings.
We really ended up getting lucky with the flower girl dresses. We had two flower girls: My cousin and our niece. They ended up snagging the same adorable (and sparkly) dress and shoes from Zulily and getting them in time for the wedding. If you’ve ever used Zulily, you know that they have a lot of great products at great prices, but the shipping time is shady at best.
Their look was topped off with tiny bouquets to match mine, and a tiara. Because they were the biggest divas in the entire wedding.
Fun story: My little cousin ended up being a flower girl after her mom told her I was engaged and her reply was, “She’s definitely going to want me to be a flower girl.”
Of course, my tribe isn’t complete without mama! She rocked navy just like the bridesmaids.
From the hotel, we took a SCHOOL BUS (limos are expensive and far less cute) to the church, St. Anne’s Parish. My darling photographer snapped so many nice shots of everyone prepping for the ceremony, like this one of my family:
Mike and his mother.
Mike just looking handsome.
And our sweet flower girls.
I wasn’t nervous at all until I starting sitting at the church, waiting to line up. I was completely ready and excited to get married. I hadn’t forgotten anything, my hair and makeup looked great, my nearest and dearest were all around me. It was just a moment of pure bliss as I realized all of the work and planning was over.
Eventually, we were told to line up, and my nerves mounted as I watched my friends disappear down the aisle, one by one. Soon, I was grabbing my dad’s arm and being told it was my turn. I wanted to soak up every second of it, but I almost felt out of it, like I was floating above myself. I barely noticed anyone in the crowd as we walked, and more focused on not falling. And then, finally, I saw him, and everything just felt… perfect.
I was nervous about fainting or puking, but luckily neither happened. The ceremony was a blur. I do remember that our priest called me “Jackie” instead of Jessica (Our ceremony was obviously Catholic, but I am Lutheran, so I had a friend represent my Christianity in the ceremony by saying a few words. HER name is Jackie).
Because we had no fresh flowers in our bouquets, it didn’t make any sense to get flowers for the church. Instead, we hung photo frames on every other pew (it was a LONG aisle) that held a photo of us growing up. As you walked down the aisle, we got older in the photos. It felt so much more personal than flowers.
We opted out of any optional parts of the ceremony, so it went extremely quick. (Or maybe that was just me, ready to get to the reception.)
Before long, it was, “You may kiss the bride,”…
… And, “I now pronounce you husband and wife!”
If anything went wrong during the ceremony, other than the name slip, we didn’t notice. The church, the crowd, the feeling of being the only two people in the world while we stood up there… there isn’t anything better.
We didn’t have a moment to sit down before we snapped some family photos in the church and it was back to the bus to head to Mount Washington for photos. After that, we headed downtown to snap some photos at the Omni William Penn, Allegheny County Courthouse and Pittsburgh City Council Building. These photos are some of my favorites from the day.
These photos make me swoon! I am so happy that I had such a talented and wonderful friend to capture these moments.
We were all pretty hot and tired when we finished up the photos, and we were SO happy to get to The River’s Club to get our reception started. The bridal party had their own floor with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, so we had our pick of the Pittsburgh samplers we’d selected: Hot pepper and sausage, mini Primanti-style sliders and pierogie kielbasa kabobs.
I made a quick costume change and switched from my veil to the flower crown that my mother wore on her wedding day. Complete with the same dried flowers.
Upstairs, our guests were enjoying the same delicacies, along with our Pittsburgh cookie table.
If you’ve never been to a Pittsburgh wedding, you may not be familiar with the Pittsburgh cookie table. It’s simply a massive table full of cookies baked by every friend, mother, aunt and neighbor you could think of. Some people cater their cookie table, but ours was fully stocked by our friends and family.
Guests were also able to grab their name card, printed on library check out cards.
And yes, I hand typed all of these cards on the typewriter in the photo!
Something we found out after we got back from our honeymoon: We’d put the seating chart on similar cards, hanging in a frame, and a few guest snatched them up, so other guests didn’t know where they were sitting. The downside of a creative seating chart, I guess! Apparently, it worked itself out, because everyone had a seat when we got there.
The cards matched our invitations, made by the awesome Bird and the Beard on Etsy! They are actually a local couple, so I was able to pick the save the dates and invites up from them in person! Jessica is amazing!
We chose a sweetheart table rather than a head table so that our bridal party could sit with their dates. The sweetheart table included books carved into our initials, a banner that paid tribute to Harry Potter, and GIANT balloon letters celebrating my new last name.
The centerpieces included more paper flowers from Eternally in Bloom, mason jars from, yes, Etsy, and old books we’d spent months collecting from flea markets, yards sales, library clear-outs and Half-Priced Books.
We picked the literary theme of the wedding based on our mutual love of books. Themed weddings aren’t the norm, but they are getting more and more popular. Having a theme helped me stick to a vision so that I didn’t purchase every mason jar and yard of burlap that I saw.
Yes, the table numbers are held by tiny typewriters 🙂
After cocktail hour, our guests found their seats and we came up to enjoy the party.
We cut our AMAZING cake from Jennuine Cakes right away. It was designed to look like a stack of books with characters of me, Mike and our puppy on top made by my sister. It was topped off with a banner that said, “Our story begins.”
THE CAKE WAS SO DELICIOUS… that we ended up eating it a few weeks after the wedding instead of waiting the full year. Someone at the hotel staff dropped it, removing the icing on one side and ENSURING that it would be extra-stale in no time. Better stuffed than sorry. A lot of guests asked us who baked it, so it wasn’t just us!
Mike’s brother and my friend Ashley gave beautiful speeches,and everyone enjoyed their choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian. I don’t know why it’s so popular for everyone to tell you that you won’t eat on your wedding day. We were STUFFED before dinner even ended. You just have to make food your priority! Well, and marriage.
With the food put away, it was time for dancing! Here were some of the important songs we chose to dance to:
- Entrance: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness
- Cake cutting: Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
- Our first dance: The Luckiest by Ben Folds
- Father daughter dance: Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle
- Mother son dance: Never Alone by Lady Antebellum
- Mother daughter dance: Best Day by Taylor Swift
- Anniversary dance: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
- Final dance: XO by John Mayer
Our DJ was DJ Dino, and all of our guests commented on how great the variety in the music was. He’s a total professional who we definitely recommend.
We knew that not everyone would want to dance, so we set up board games, a selfie station, and corn hole in the lobby!
The corn hole boards were a wedding gift from our friends Matt and Lesley, and they were PERFECT!
Of course, guests could also enjoy the open bar, and they sure did. The bartender saved all of the coconut run for me once she realized I was ordering coconut rum and cokes. Talk about the VIP treatment!
We wanted a guest book that we would be able to look at in the future, not something that would sit in a drawer. So we got a canvas and had guests sign with sharpies. While it’s not hanging in our apartment yet, we have BIG plans to hang it soon. Once we decide on a wall.
When the bar shut down and the night wound down, it was time to tear down everything! Clean up didn’t take long, but we underestimated how much stuff we had. There was no room in any of the cars for the bride and groom, so a few of our guests walked us back to the hotel, where a pile of gifts, bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waited for us.
We had just enough energy to… open all of our cards so that we would have some honeymoon spending money! We had a flight to Europe to catch in the morning, and the exhaustion and excitement mixed with some awe really made it seem like it was all a dream.
I don’t think we realized we were married until we landed in Munich. And we couldn’t believe we’d pulled off such an amazing event. For someone who had literally spent years and hours on Pinterest planning every last detail, I was so proud of myself that our wedding included so many small, personalized details. Many details that I’m sure I’ve forgotten here and will kick myself for. That’s what editing is for, right?
My best advice for fellow brides is to not feel embarrassed to plan early. I had barely anything to do the week of my wedding beyond getting a massage and my nails done. So many people teased me for ordering things far before the big day, saying, “You don’t need to do that! You have so much time!”
I don’t regret a thing!
The second piece of advice? Don’t forget to look around and really notice the little things on your big day. How your nephew loves the dance floor or how much fun your guests are having. You can’t capture every moment, but try to savor everything you can!
#MeyDay2016 was everything I dreamed it could be and more. And I’m happy to say that the luck from our wedding has carried on. We’ve had a wonderful first six months of marriage, and I’ve had a wonderful pregnancy so far. It may not be happily ever after, but it sure is happily ever mostly! ❤