Where to even begin? I still find myself speechless at how unimaginably beautiful our day was. I wanted to use this platform as a way to personally reflect on the little details of what made it so special as it was fresh from the day. All the help. All the love.
Long before wedding planning began I knew I never wanted a ‘traditional’ wedding. Traditional in a sense that everyone does the chicken dance and sits awkwardly waiting to be shuffled to the next pre-planned event of the night. No, that’s not us. We’re more the spontaneous, freehearted, no-rules type. I wanted people to feel comfortable like they were just at another one of our farm parties, a big gathering surrounded by those who knew and loved us most and have been there to see our relationship blossom and grow into what it is today and what it has yet to become.
Being one of the last in our friend groups to get hitched we had the advantage of being at/in so many other weddings. What a huge help this was to speed up the process of knowing what would fit us and what wouldn’t! We wanted to keep things low budget (is that even possible when you mention the word ‘wedding’ even to a toilet rental company?!?) and handmade, homemade, or DIY – whatever it took to create a homey and perfect night. And man, did it all come together! Full disclosure, if you’re going to go this route there is definitely a huge dedication of time and commitment to get everything done… but SO worth it. I wouldn’t recommend trying to work on a farming business and do house repairs at the same time though! (ha, ask me how I know)
We had the most phenomenal vendors:
VENUE – Rodale Institute’s scenic location offers so much to choose from. I had originally hoped to have our wedding at my great grandparent’s farm, but after realizing how much more work that would take in a short amount of time and not wanting to make things any more chaotic for my family that lives on the farm and was about to have their first baby, this was the more sensible option! If you’re not familiar, Rodale is an experimental organic research farm in Kutztown, Pa, that fits right in with our lifestyle, so it just felt right being there. Both of our families hail from farms near the area so it was sentimental as well. Rodale allowed us to be at the farm all weekend and have free range of 300 acres. We met their red wattle pigs and our guests could wander the fields up through the orchards if they wished. I of course chose an unusual spot to have the ceremony (by the pond), but Shawn the site coordinator worked with me to make sure it was prepped and ready to go for our wedding. We had several buckets of leftover flowers from the wedding that were donated and traded to Rodale for an event they had upcoming the following weekend, which worked out great so we didn’t need to find anywhere else to take them!
PLANNING- I worked with a day-of coordinator, Ty Howard, of Beauty Marked Events. I consider myself a highly organized person but even if you think you can do it all- get someone for the day-of to be a point person so you’re not the one being pulled in a million directions. Let me tell you what that woman was a Godsend, and went far above and beyond her duties to the point that our guests even commented on the incredible service! Ty and her whole team pour their heart and soul into working with each couple so that the day runs smoothly and nothing gets overlooked.
PHOTO- Then there was our photographers and now friends Jes & Chris of Hand and Arrow Photography who were there to capture every memory as if it were frozen in time for us. This adorable husband and wife duo have been traveling near and far to capture weddings, they have a unique journalistic style that I love. One that doesn’t feel posed because it isn’t. One that tells the story of love. They have such kind souls and I can’t wait to see them again for our one year anniversary shoot (which was included in our package deal!). Every photo you see in this blog is from them, each one more stunning than the last.
VIDEO- This was a must for me. It’s not for everyone, but coming from someone with a photography degree and that worked in video for a short stint, the importance of having quality photo/video while staying in a budget was on my priority list. And it took hours, no days, of research to find the right one. Sam Ramirez works remote traveling all over for weddings so we were never able to meet in person beforehand. Yet, the simplicity of our conversations and his style and ability to work on a package we would be happy with were all I needed. For one guy, he managed to capture so much! The first time we saw our clip, we both teared up within the first 30 seconds, and now we’ll have our day to look back on and feel all those emotions, sights, sounds again for the rest of our lives. Even when we’re old and wrinkly and can’t remember a thing, at least we can watch this touching video and think ‘gosh what a beautiful love story’. SRPhotofilm
SWEETS – I’m so grateful for two families that have generations of famous baking recipies, pies, pastries, cookies… For our dessert table both mine and Eric’s aunts and mom’s made several batches of our favorites to be on display. My sister made my favorite pink champagne cake balls also! We then used The Farm Bakery out of Lehigh for a simple, two tiered wedding cake to cut. The cake actually ended up not being what we ordered, which we didn’t realize until smashing chocolate into each other’s faces, but the bakery owner was so sweet to work with she offered us a new cake for our one year anniversary to enjoy! We also ordered a small amount of mini cupcakes for the wedding that were a variety of unique flavors and complimented the dessert table so well.
FOOD – Boscovs. Guys, it was Boscov’s catering. No fancy sixty dollar plates. Just good, comfort food, buffet style. Pulled pork, roasted chicken, pasta, macaroni, salads of all kind, sauteed veggies, charcuterie boards, fruit plates. They had it all. I used to joke that I wanted a ‘potluck’ dinner but once the reality of how many guests we were having sunk in I knew that wasn’t possible. We wanted our guests to be present with us, not scrambling to throw together dishes of food. What also isn’t possible is the asinine prices for wedding dinners! Did I mention these guys came with a FRENCH FRY CART at the peak late night hours to serve our guests a variety of veggie, sweet potato, and regular fries and all the dipping sauce you could need? Yeah okay, the french fry cart was epic, I’ll give Eric all the credit for that one.
TUNES – Music sets the tone for a party. And when our DJ went from playing the Lion King intro right into the PSU “WE ARE” Chant without us asking to, I knew we made the right choice. When we initially talked with the DJ, I explained not wanting to have everyone cry during the father daughter dance section (I lost my father at the age of 16), Taz was more than ecstatic to play some of my dad’s favorites (Who let the dogs out! And of course Earth, Wind, Fire, & some MJ ) to get our family on their feet as a celebration of life instead. I mean the man could definitely read a room and keep things going alllll night! After choosing the necessary selections for dinner hour and what we wanted our special dances to be to, I left it up to DJ Taz of Silver Sound Entertainment for the rest, and he did not disappoint one bit. https://www.silversound.com/resume.asp?djcode=TKS
For cocktail hour we asked our friend TJ Bebb, longtime musician and local favorite, if he’d be interested in playing. TJ has a heart of gold and beautiful voice, he was more than happy to join us on our day and it was a great surprise for everyone there that knew him! (His usual gigs are regular meetup spots for us, so it was just like another day of hanging out! Love ya, teej!)
Our Dance – spoiler alert, we took lessons! Only about five of them, but it made all the difference for two people who hate being the center of attention. It was FUN! We chose the song “Making Me Look Good Again” by Drake White. It was breathtaking even if we rushed our steps and faced the wrong way at the end, we were in our own little bubble the whole time. The owners of Step by Step dance studio in Scranton have us wanting to come back for a little salsa action someday.
DECOR – This was a huge effort on everyone’s part. First, I knew we would need a few staple pieces that had to be rented since the event was outside on a farm and didn’t include all the regular venue-type amenities, but after talking to several wedding rental companies their prices were astronomically ridiculous. I was lucky to stumble across a newer local business, one we had been to before, that was a long time family run antique store. The store owner’s daughter saw a need for some of their pieces in the shop within the wedding world and began using them as rentals also. Barbie from Knot Too Shabby rentals was able to hook me up with some beautiful antiques for a fraction of the cost including delivery and pickup to our venue! Score. We still go to their antique store to shop for odds and ends to decorate our Farmhouse! Future brides, reach out to your local small businesses, you never know what’s out there. https://www.knot2shabby.net/contact
Our venue provided all of the chairs and tables for the reception, but I did have Knight’s Rental out of Reading, PA bring our ceremony seating and cocktail tables. Again, delivery/setup/pickup was so smooth I barely knew they came and went. http://www.knightsrental.com/
D&S Toilets out of Hamburg, PA set us up with a stellar septic system since the venue didn’t have one present. They were clean, courteous, and left it there all weekend for our convenience. Heck those bathrooms were nicer than the unfinished one in our farmhouse. They are once again a small family run business that one of my cousin’s had also used for his wedding, so I knew they would be a reputable option to go with. https://www.dandsportabletoilets.com/
What about all the little details? Honestly, most of them came from our house, our parents or grandparents, were thrifted, or were made by me! I wanted to use milk vases for simple centerpieces and had an entire box of them from my great nana, but also sourced tons from a hidden mennonite market in my hometown – Lizzie’s, that sold them for .25cents each. Dried flowers and eco-confetti were purchased on Etsy since I didn’t have enough of my own, and they were stuffed into cones that were actually music sheet paper copies scanned from my nana’s church organ music that my mom graciously taped together. Baskets, boxes, mason jars, glassware, picture frames, windowpanes, even the wire chicken and vintage soda crate used for our puzzle piece guestbook were all from our house! (We had guests sign the back of a puzzle piece that was of one of our engagement photos).
Gift favors were individual packets of wildflowers using envelopes with a prestamped template that one of my bridesmaids helped me glue together. The gold and ivory plasticware was all purchased online to match, and linens were rented from an online party rental also.
FLORAL- Oh my. This was quite the project. I knew I wanted to grow many of the flowers but wouldn’t be able to do them all. My best friend and bridesmaid Kate Stoner of Cold Water Flowers was able to be more help than I can ever thank her for. She helped me plan out my growing space, offered advice for flowers that were new to me, and grew all of the Dahlias that we used as statement flowers as well. THEN she helped with the day of setup and with making boutteniers and bridesmaid bouquets with me the night before. It was truly a labor of love. For what we simply wouldn’t have time to put together on site I knew we’d need some backup. It was actually quite difficult to find a florist that would be willing to work with someone else’s flowers and do just a few parts of the wedding. I lucked out with Katie Nelson of Forte Florals. Once I researched forever and found that she had done some ‘DIY Bride’ events and seemed to have the vibe I was looking for, I reached out. Without hesitation she was all for working with myself, Kate, and the venue to create my dream. She was on board with all of my crazy ideas, from ‘green chandeliers’ made out of eucalyptus and kiwi vines all cut from mine and my mom’s home (we used irrigation tubing for the hoops!), to incorporating pheasant feathers from birds we actually hunted and saved for my bouquets. When it was time, Eric and I spent the day and night before heading to the venue just cutting and filling the truck with buckets of flowers. Twelve hundred feet of eucalyptus that was to be used on everything. Flowers for tables, arbors, hanging chandeliers, bouquets. It was unreal and at the same time gave me so much pride in our ability to source and grow our own florals.
WEARING – Dress, clothes, rings. I guess you kind of need them too. Eric used Men’s Warehouse for all of the boys’ rentals. Since his groomsmen were spread all over the states, it was easiest to have them go to their nearest shop and get fitted for the same style. He did get a nice deal out of it for ordering all of the men’s rentals through MWH- his own custom suit! The gents also donned some leather suspenders we ordered online for post-ceremony attire.
Both of our rings came from Etsy. No schwanky jewelry shop. Mine is a combination of pearls and rose gold (the man always knew I wanted pearl- its classy and timeless) and his is a trio of rose gold, elk antler, and an aged whiskey barrel that was made in the U.S.
My dress was something special. I never dreamt I’d get so flashy! In fact, my original plan was a lace long sleeve dress, but once we bumped our date from late September to August, it would be waay too hot for that. The dress was a Maggie Sottero that I had custom draped sleeves added on to. Thats’ a whole different story though, because the shop I ordered it from at the beginning of the year ended up messing things up entirely to the point that I didn’t even have my dress until two days before the wedding! Talk about anxiety. Jewelry was a set of simple drop opal crystals from Sorrelli, a local jeweler, that I later changed into a set of pearls Eric had suprised me with.
And let’s not forget Moose! Star of the day! He’s the goodest boy. I searched all over for a pup tux that would fit and match our wedding colors, and wound up finding the perfect thing on Amazon for 30 bucks a week before the wedding. TGFP. (Thank Goodness for Prime, y’all. ) Handsome puppers.
We never could have pulled all of this off if it wasn’t for the help of our family and friends. Our gratitude for that is endless, I can’t help but hope that we thanked everyone enough for their gifts of time, dedication, and love for us. One of my best friends and bridesmaids Brittney is a hand lettering genius and did all of our signage. Invites were designed and printed by Eric’s sister-in-law Kristen who is an excellent graphic designer. Friends showed up early for rehearsal to put things in place and set up the arbor, tables, and chairs, and steam all those tablecloths. Putting the bar together. The picures.
When it came down to the day – of, everyone was right: it went by too fast. We made sure to take our time and talk to as many people as possible and soak in all the bliss we could. What we’re left with now are so, SO many beautiful memories of our wedding to share together for the rest of our lives. <3