Journey To The Altar: Love & Wedding Planning. ♥︎ ✍
Out of me & my group of closest girlfriends, I was the one nominated in the genre of relationships as: “Most likely to get married 1st!” My response at the time: “HAH!”…welllll...long behold (& to my surprise), this statement indeed made it’s way into fruition! I have always known deep down, in the pit of my spirit, that God had a specific plan for me; that he had a special person included in that plan, just for me!… someone who would 1 day become my husband (Oh me! Oh my!)!
When I look back on the past 6-10ish months of my life, it's crazy to think about. It feels like so much has gone on & taken place in such a short period of time (& probably because there has been!) >>> All of which, has been nothing short of A-mazing. Today I sit here & talk (or talk-type) to you as a married woman. Yes, MARRIED (I can’t believe it either!). When I say the word “wife” aloud or introduce my husband as “husband,” it’s like I can hear the words echoing as I say them; an almost out-of-body experience…Hard to explain, but yesss, I am still a newly-wed-wifey & slowly (but surely) getting familiar with what all that encompasses!
With being gone for so long from my blog (aka my 2nd baby, aside from my new hubby ☺︎), I’m uber excited to get back & share with you details from this season-which I’d like to refer to as: wedding extravaganza. I’m going to do my best at squeezing out all the information, tips & tricks for wedding planning by taking you through the process we personally went through as a couple —> planning a destination wedding, on a budget, with not much guidance beyond Google, all in a matter of 6 months! Whether you’re on your way to the altar yourself or maybe have an interest in event planning, I hope you will find something inspirational to pull from our journey to then incorporate into your own life (someway, somehow!)!
We Got Engaged! Where (In the World) To Begin?
After our engagement in South Africa, we were both (my husband & I) SO excited! As a natural organizer & planner I got out my journal ✎ as soon as our bottoms hit the seats on that return flight back home to Chicago! I started to fester up the guest list, envision where we should have the wedding, & figure out how in the world we were going to pay for it all. Too soon? YES! & as you can see most of the doing was involving "I" instead of "we." It was pretty evident that stress was a direct result of trying to get everything figured out all at once. The sign of strain on myself, as well as us two as a couple was enough to motivate me on the fact that this could all wait a few weeks. As mentioned, we whipped out our laptops & did a Google search with the keywords: “wedding planning timelines” & immediately felt reassured to just r-e-l-a-x! Getting engaged was so fresh, & we both knew that the season of engagement was so precious, so brief. We chose to surrender planning (for the time being), & focus on getting back home-with the intentionality of enjoying this new VICTORY! (Queue the fireworks! ❊✺✷)
A handful of “congratulations” & a few champagne toasts later, we were ready to sit down & map out our vision for our wedding! (Eeek!) (Side note: I am so thankful to have a partner who was so flexible throughout this process, understanding, & encouraging to all that was brought to the table regarding our BIG day. This made ALL the difference. Shoutout to you, boo!)
I personally envisioned getting married on a beach, primarily because the ocean ♒︎ is my favorite place to be, but also because I didn’t want to get married wearing uncomfortable high heels…barefoot was the dream ☁︎! We had made a trip to Mexico that previous year where we discovered a beautiful island called, “Isla Holbox.” We knew the first time we visited that this was a place that was truly special, unique, warm, welcoming, full of culture & more!…I guess you could say Holbox captured our hearts ♡ the first time we met! It was, without a doubt, where we felt we should have the wedding. Not only could we be in a place that we adored for the most important day of our lives, but we could open up this part of the world to family & friends who may have never had the opportunity to explore this beauty otherwise!
✭ Chicago-our hometown-is beautiful, but it just wasn’t for us. Yes, it may have been the right place to host the maximum amount of guests, but our hearts weren’t in it & we decided from the get-go this wasn’t going to be about pleasing others, but about what we truly wanted! It was our day (& one day it will be yours one day too!) Although it was a bummer not being able to have all of our guests attend, it allotted us a lot more freedom on the financial side.
May 19th, 2018. We gave ourselves enough time to plan a wedding, to allow our guests to prepare & book their travel arrangements, & overall agreed that this would be the most favorable amount waiting time for us before we officially became husband & wife. We all have our stories, & they will all play out in different ways, but are strong believers in the ideal that: when you know you know. If we were so sure of taking the leap into engagement, why waste any time in getting to the altar if we didn’t have to?! We of course prayed about it, felt peace ✌︎, & knew God would be guiding (& providing $) along the way. Keep in mind ⇢ for a destination wedding, we took into special account the season of travel, for factors such as: weather ☀︎, tourism, booking availability, etc.
We analyzed who we both were as individuals, what we enjoyed, what we stood for, & overall made decisions that brought us joy. Both of us being flexible & easy going, we knew that having a more relaxed-type of feel was our goal, as we wanted everyone to be comfortable & have as much freedom to enjoy the day with us! We wanted to also give our guests the opportunity to be intentional about planning a “vacation” too! Especially, by bringing them to a place where not one of them had set foot before, allowing them to step out of their comfort zone(s) & onto land which was only to be discovered by order of plane, bus, ferry, & finally ⇢ golf cart!
We worked TOGETHER. We made sure to COMMUNICATE, always. We had GRACE for another. We were FLEXIBLE. When things got hard, we utilized the tool of ENCOURAGEMENT! We (for sure) had FAITH throughout it all too! Going into this season, we were both employed in an industry where work was unpredictable, which therefore directly impacted our paychecks making them: well, unpredictable. As a sacrifice, I personally chose to take on a full-time position with a guaranteed salary in order to help save & contribute to our wedding expenses along the way. We worked together on this, bringing what we could to the table! Even though the job may not have been a position I wanted, or one that was going to allow me to better my career skills, I was sure: 1. God called me there for a reason & which I did not take for granted! & 2. I was thankful for the financial blessing that enabled us to get to our final (& dreamy) destination!
✭ Sometimes it takes a little sacrifice to get to where you need to be in life, to get what you desire! The most important part is to have faith, & enjoy it every step of the way, even if it pans out differently than what you would have imagined for yourself!
Making It Work Without the Money $, Honey.
I have always been the frugal type (not cheap, theres a difference!), so saving money & watching my budget has never been much of a problem for me. Saving for a wedding was saving to a different degree of discipline, so we knew we had to put ourselves in a stable position right off the bat in order to make this happen in a practical way. As mentioned, I chose the route of accepting a work position that provided us with more of a predictable salary. Weddings are definitely an expense, BUT no matter what your budget is, I believe it to be possible! As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” During our planning process, a friend gave us perspective & said: “Your wedding is nothing more than a big party; a celebration! Don’t do things to please others. As long as you are happy that is all that matters. It will be over before you know it, so make sure to enjoy every single moment!” Good advice, & oh, did we surely follow it!
Helpful Money-$aving Steps:
1. ✎ GET A PLANNER! ⤑ write out your intended budget, spendings, etc.! This will only keep you accountable by allowing you to see the bigger picture & overall vision!
2. ✎ RESEARCH! ⤑ others who have gone through similar planning processes can definitely be good mentors for questions, but the internet is always a reliable resource too! Particularly with having a destination wedding we were able to create an online website with information for our guests regarding the trip including all the information they would need to know upon arrival, suggestions on where to stay, activities & entertainment, & even tips on what to pack!
3. ✎ DIY! DIY! DIY! ⤑ If you are creative (or have friends that are), DIY’s are the way to go if you are trying to cut costs. We worked hard during our planning period & basically hand made ALL of our decorations, including the floral arrangements! (granted I was MIA for most of the planning period, but it was WORTH IT!) The best part was everything looked amazing & the final product was a display of creative passion that ultimately magnified who we were/are as a couple!
Highlights From The Big Day!
We were prepared with the mindset that “not everything is going to be prefect,” let alone go “our way.” This is key to truly enjoying your day. In fact, no matter what day it is of your life (obviously it’s more evident on a special day such as a wedding), entering into something with high-to-the-sky expectation is setting a rocky foundation, especially because it is almost guaranteed that things are not going to happen exactly as you desire. Life isn’t perfect, people are not perfect, weather is not perfect, etc! Don’t let the little things that are out of your control rob you of the slightest of joy! Life is too short, it’s better to laugh it off & add it to the album of memories!
OTHER HAPPY ☺︎ MEMORIES:
✭ Seeing our family & friends intermingle in a new place, where there were smiles ☺︎ & laughter, brought JOY to us all! Not to mention, many of our guests made their way to Mexico for our wedding from places such as: Miami, California, London, Germany, & even Guatemala!
✭ During the beginning of the reception, our guests all got up & walked to the beach to see the sunset ☼. This was unplanned in our “itinerary,” but we decided to go-with-the-flow & even got our cocktail hour guitarist to play us our last song to us while we stood in the ocean! (still melting over the thought of this!)
✭ Isla Mujeres was our “mini honeymoon” destination. A new place for us to explore where we met amazing friends along the way, went snorkeling to see an underwater museum, found time to finally r-e-s-t, & even got to see some Mayan Ruins at the Eastern most part of Mexico! LOVE it!
I am SO thankful. Thankful for this day, this moment, these memories. Thankful at the way my husband & I have chosen to do things, especially when they were things a-typical to today’s society. Since coming back from Mexico, every day has been an adventure! Out with the old, in with the new; can someone say YARD SALE?! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring, knowing that I have been blessed to do life with my best friend.
We are ONE!