I was so thrilled when Samantha (from Samantha + Kevin’s wedding here in the Fraser Valley) forwarded me her story when she got featured on this blog of the 30 something bride.
My heart filled with happiness when I read this part on her story:
Who was your favorite vendor and why?
That’s a toss up between Angela, our photographer (and longtime friend of Kevin’s), and the Fraser River Lodge itself.See, I hate having my photo taken… with a PASSION. But Angela was amazing. It was like having a friend just hanging out and saying lovely things about us, but discretely snapping pictures the whole time. She made the whole experience comfortable and happy. I never felt self-conscious or “judged” for not posing “properly”. And of course, dear LORD, look at the pictures! She is phenomenal! I love how she captured the happiness and joy of the day… it wasn’t a soulless photo shoot (which, with another photographer, I suspect it could have been)
here is the full story…
I am really, really excited to bring you an AH-mazing Unfake Wedding! The Unfake Bride, Samantha, could have chosen a bazillion blogs to feature her wedding on and she choose this little ol’ blog and that makes me really, really proud. Humble, even! I really love this bride’s attitude and approach to planning her wedding. I’m particularly fond of the Team Dress and Team Tux names. I would love to read some of the planning emails amongst the wedding party! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Unfake Wedding of Samantha and Kevin in gorgeous British Columbia.
Most important question: Wedding night….did you or didn’t you?
We did! It was a close call though. We were beat!
Please take the time to tell me all the vendors you used.
Photographer Angela Hubbard Photography.
Ceremony/Reception Venue The Fraser River Lodge, Agassiz, Britich Columbia
Planner Wendy and Jenna, day-of coordinators at the Fraser River Lodge. Cannot say enough nice things about them.
Guest Hotel Fraser River Lodge… who let our friends camp on the grounds. It was AWESOME.
Flowers Mindy Ambrose, floral designer extraordinaire and our downstairs neighbor, did the “personal” flowers. Team Flower, i.e. my lovely aunts, did the centerpieces.
Dress WToo “Carolina”, purchased from The Wedding Partyin Berkeley, CA (my hometown). Our friend Adam Dickson, who designs for Aritzia, added the shoulder and the wrap-around sash. He also sewed in the coolest undergarment on the face of the planet, the Maidenform longline bra. (You cannot find it in Canada. I drove halfway to Seattle to find the only white 34D in the state of Washington. True story.) Team Dress picked their own blue dresses.
Hair/Make-Up Hair by stylist Kim Eeg, local Agassiz hairstylist. Make-up by my darling cousin and top-notch bridesmaid Katy. If I may plug some products… I highly recommend MAC’s SPF 50 primer, Make Up For Ever’s HD foundation and Dior’s blackout mascara to any fair-skinned bride who is having an outdoor wedding. Especially if she has my unfortunate tenancy to turn bright red at the drop of a hat.
Tuxedos Calvin Klein tuxes from The Tux Store, which the guys really liked a lot! Ties were Perry Ellis, pocket squares from JC Penny.
Catering The Fraser River Lodge. Good sweet lord, THE FOOD. We cannot even tell you how amazing the food was… better than any wedding or buffet food we have ever tasted. It was like being at a seven-star restaurant.
Cake Andrea, wife of Kevin’s second cousin! The cake topper was from my grandparents’ wedding cake. Wedding guests prettified it with leftover centerpiece flowers.
Lighting and Sound My sister Susannah and her boyfriend Mark are lighting designers and lighting/sound technicians by profession. Light and sounds equipment were provided by the Rocky Mountain Sound Company (we have friends who work there), and Susy and Mark did wonderful things with them in the reception hall.
Invitations Our friend Amanda, who did a smashing job!
Honeymoon Island Thyme B&B on Bowen Island.
Mental Health Check and Other Oft-Used Resources:
The Thirty-Something Bride Of course! For providing hilarious essays and a well-rounded selection of Unfake Weddings. This was a huge help with weaning myself off the unattainable Martha Stewart wedding porn.
Who was your favorite vendor and why?
That’s a toss up between Angela, our photographer (and longtime friend of Kevin’s), and the Fraser River Lodge itself.See, I hate having my photo taken… with a PASSION. But Angela was amazing. It was like having a friend just hanging out and saying lovely things about us, but discretely snapping pictures the whole time. She made the whole experience comfortable and happy. I never felt self-conscious or “judged” for not posing “properly”. And of course, dear LORD, look at the pictures! She is phenomenal! I love how she captured the happiness and joy of the day… it wasn’t a soulless photo shoot (which, with another photographer, I suspect it could have been).And as for how the Fraser River Lodge served us, well, let me count the ways… the scenery, the accommodations, the service, the flexibility and humour of the staff, the FOOD (which we cannot stop thinking about)… everything was fantastic. For the price of what we would have paid in Vancouver for a swanky restaurant or golf course wedding, our friends and family had the grounds all to ourselves for the full day and night.
Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?
Oh, definitely. Friends and locals first!
How long did it take to plan your wedding?
A full year. We could have done it under a year, though… it might have been easier that way, less time to second guess our choices.
How many guests did you invite versus how many came?
We invited around 120. 96 came, including the wee ones.
What was your budget?
When we first started planning, our budget was $10,000.
AHAAHAHAHAHA. *quiet sob* (See LA Love’s post on the topic.)
Did you include rings and/or the honeymoon in your budget?
Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?
About halfway through the planning process, we abandoned the idea of budget, spending out-of-pocket as we went in ways that seemed wise and reasonable. For instance, because we’d paid for an already-beautiful venue, we could put money toward a semi-open bar for our guests (i.e. no top-shelf liquor) instead of decorations.
We were very lucky in that we got help from family, both with general contributions and with specific items. My mother bought my wedding dress. My aunt and uncle paid for the flowers (so I wouldn’t have to DIY bouquets the day-of, as I was planning… bless them). A lot of our vendors were friends and family, which also helped… their services were their wedding gifts.
To this day, we don’t actually know what we spent. But it was at least 50% over our original budget, that’s for sure.
How large was your bridal party?
Five people in all. Team Dress: Commander Scott (sister), Lieutenant-Commander Eggleton (cousin), Lieutenant Barone (friend). Team Tux: Commander Cathcart, Lieutenant Walker (friends). Kevin and I were the respective Captains of Team Tux and Team Dress. My mother was the Admiral.
There were lot of silly emails back and forth. As you can imagine.
Did you have favors for your guests? If so, what were they? How much did you spend?
Heck no! Wedding favours — and decorations, and other detail-y things — are the opposite of housework: If you do them, everyone appreciates them. If you don’t do them, no one will notice! That’s what we told ourselves, anyway… luckily, it turned out to be the truth.
We did give gifts to all our family and friends who helped out, though. That was different.
Did you include any special family traditions?
I wore red shoes, just like my mother did on her wedding.
Other family things: I wore my Grandma Ruthie’s faux pearls around my ankle, my Grandpa Scotty’s handkerchief in my bouquet, and my mother’s pearl necklace on my wrist. Kevin wore Scotty’s cuff links (Scotty passed away earlier this year, and Ruthie was too infirm to travel.).
What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?
We made a pact not to stress about anything on our wedding day. Rain? There’s a tent. Extreme heat? There’s water. The flowers don’t arrive? We pick wild flowers and grasses, or duck to the grocery store. Our guests get into drunken brawls? We take pictures and laugh.
None of that happened, thank god.
The closest thing to a crisis was Team Tux arriving two hours behind schedule… they were giving Lieutenant Barone of Team Dress a ride, so her hair didn’t “get did” until the eleventh hour. But everyone handled themselves with aplomb, so it wasn’t a big deal. (Also one pair of Etsy earrings didn’t arrive in the mail until that day, and were rescued from our mailbox by Commander Cathcart. Redemption for Team Tux!)
What was you biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?
The biggest mistake we made was not immediately including my cousin Katy in the wedding party. We had in our heads that we would only include people who we were a big part of our lives right now. Worst idea ever. I blame the pervasive “it’s your daaaaaaaaay” mentality perpetuated by the Wedding Industrial Complex… magazines, fashionable blogs, TheKnot, etc. (To all future brides and grooms: DO NOT make this mistake. Eff the WIC. Family FIRST.)
We came to our senses in the nick of time and invited her to join Team Dress. Luckily, she is the world’s nicest person and signed on as Lieutenant-Commander Eggleton without hesitation.
Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day?
What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?
The open bar, hands down. The whole venue, really, which made our initial budget laughable. But for us, it was all totally worth the money.
What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?
… Can’t actually think of one. Though there were many close calls. Including but not limited to burlap table runners, toy Mini-Coopers (awesome though they would have been), ceremony decorations and sari wall-hangings.
What did you love that was also the cheapest?
Blue vases! We collected close to 80 blue vases from thrift stores for the full year leading up to the wedding. Most paid for a vase: $2 (most were around 75 cents). Then the day of, Team Flower (the aunties, remember?) stuck flowers in and arranged them beautifully in the reception hall, four or five to a table. Kevin, ever the rock star, bought the first five vases to get the ball rolling!
What was the most unexpected thing that happened?
The family photos happened so quickly that it afforded is an extra half hour alone with our photographer.
What was the funniest thing that happened?
Open bar? More money than we can think about without feeling faint.
Drunken friends banging on your bridal suite door at midnight, playing trumpets, serenading you with “When the Saints Come Marching In”? Priceless.
What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?
#1. Our vows. There’s nothing in this world like promising that you will trust, love and cherish each other all the days of your life.
#2. The reception line was amazing… just us and our parents at the reception hall entrance, hugging everyone who came to our wedding. It was incredible.
#3. The best man speech. Wow. He knocked it out of the park.
Did you DIY? What parts?
Kevin DIYed everything: Wine-bottles-as-table numbers, seating chart, seating cards, photo collages for the guestbook table, “Kevin & Sam this way” signs for the road. Credit for the table names goes to Susy and Kevin both… names from Beatles songs.
Oh, he also addressed all the invitation and thank-you note envelopes. Most likely he’ll do all the photo albums, too. Best. Groom. Ever.
Together we arranged Ron Sexsmith’s “Tomorrow In Her Eyes” as a three-part chorale for our processional. Our horn player friends played it beautifully. We created the best dinner-and-dance mix play list on the face of the planet, too (not that anyone noticed… *sigh*).
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We spent four nights at a gorgeous B&B on Bowen Island (30-minute ferry ride from Vancouver). Our itinerary: Eat way to much, sleep, read, hike, lie on the beach, write thank-you notes… and, um, other stuff.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?
I would have let Team Dress wear matching dresses, since that was what they wanted. (Me: No! You are beautiful, unique snowflakes! YOU CANNOT MATCH!)
We also should have had our extended families on the guest list from the start. We made the mistake of thinking budget first, guest list second… as Miss Manners will tell you, it should be the other way around: Count everyone who should be there first, then figure out what you can afford to feed them.
In essence, we learned: Our wedding was not about us, our personal expression, our likes, our hip-tastic style, etc. It was, first and foremost, about our family. Friends and fashions come and go, but our family will always be there… and it didn’t take much to make them happy.
We also learned: Our family and friends are more awesome — more generous and loving and hilarious — than we could have possibly imagined. We still get choked up thinking about how wonderful everyone was.
I truly am impressed with Samantha and Kevin’s approach to their wedding. It was clearly “their own” and focused on family, friends and harnessing what they had accessible to them. Her priorities regarding the importance of family is such a positive inspiration too all of us. A reality check for reals, right?
Congratulations Kevin and Samantha and thank you so much for sharing your incredible Unfake Wedding!
and from me – thank you for being such an amazing couple and such great friends. I am so blessed to have shared in your special day. Thank you!