Our Wedding

The Couple

Since this blog is named "The Happy Married Couple", we figured that you should probably get an introduction to "the couple".  I am Laura - for the first part of this blogging experience, it will be my voice that you hear (read).  I'm a licensed architect working for an architecture firm in the city.  My wonderful husband, Matt, decided to take the plunge and head back to school - very brave of him.  When he is done, he will have his degree in business management.

Matt and I were married on June 19th, 2010.  It was well over 90 degrees - not exactly what we were expecting, there were threats of tornadoes, yet we were baking in the blazing sunshine all day long.  Our family and friends were there & while everything wasn't perfect, it was an amazing day.  I don't think I've ever smiled so much in my life.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

I've decided to share with everyone the long version.. from the night we got engaged through all the dirty planning details.   A big thanks still goes out to our family and friends for all their support & love.  Part of the reason that we are blogging is to share with them our life, even when they can't be near, and keep them as close as possible through this world wide web.

The Engagement

February 19th, 2009 started out as a normal day.  I was at work, Matt was home because he didn't have class that day & we had plans to do an anniversary dinner after work.  It was our three year anniversary.  Little did I know how "special" that day was going to become.  Before the appetizers were served at dinner, we were engaged.

We tried to enjoy "being engaged" for a while, but I'm a planner by nature, so of course I wanted to get planning as soon as possible.  Originally we wanted a fall wedding.  We both love fall & the colors - so that was ideal for us.  However, Matt is trying to finish school, and he would be in school in the fall.  While we could squeeze in a wedding and a long "mini-moon", we would have to delay our honeymoon until winter... which neither of us really wanted to do.. so we decided on August 7th, 2010.  It was enough time to get in a wedding, a honeymoon and a couple weeks of being newlyweds before school started again.  So we started our search for churches and halls.

The Search Begins

Now this is the "Great Recession" mind you.  We got lots of advice "wait until Matt is done with school", "wait until you can save some more money", all solid advice.. but not what we wanted.  We had been together for more than three years.  I was "in my 30s" and we didn't want to wait anymore.  We just wanted to be married.  So we began with a very tight budget.  Luckily our parents had saved and were more than willing to give us support financially for the event.  The average cost of a wedding in my area is $20,000-$30,000.  Our starting budget was around $15,000.  This did not include honeymoon, rings, or other "above and beyond" wedding spending.. but we found out very quickly that this was going to be hard to accomplish.

I started reading a lot about simple DIY weddings.  And started looking into the cost of things.  Some of the bigger costs were: Location, Food, Photographer, DJ & Flowers.  My husband's immediate family is small, but his extended family is large.  My immediate family is small, but extended family is mid sized.  Add in our friends, our parents friends & neighbors & work associates... we were planning on 150-160 people. 

The people count put a limit on us in two ways.  One, we needed to find a reception location that could easily handle that many people.  Many of the locations that we loved were far too small for that number.  Secondly it affected our price per person in the food/ alcohol area.  The cheapest place that we could find in our immediate area was $60 a plate.  If you do the math, that could mean up to $9,600 for the food & alcohol alone.  We knew that we had an uphill battle ahead.

We exhausted the options in our area, and decided that while we could afford to get married in a beautiful church near us, we couldn't afford to have the reception here.  Where we wanted to have it we couldn't fit or we couldn't afford.  So we moved the reception about 20 miles outside of the city - making it a little awkward for our guests... which we didn't love.  When we found the hall that we were going to have the reception at, they didn't have our date available.... One big blow after another.

As of the day we talked to the manager, there were some dates in May, later in August & in September.  There was one day in June that someone else was interested in, but they hadn't booked yet.  After a treacherous two-day wait, we were granted our ideal date at the hall - June 19th, 2010.  The 19th is a pretty significant number for us.. our dating anniversary, our engagement & now our wedding!  So we had a date and a hall & a church (so we thought)... let the planning begin.

The Planning

There was so much to think about... invitations, guest list, centerpieces... where to start.  I got a planner and it helped to walk me through what to do when.  I wanted to get things done early, so we started making decisions.  The colors that we had originally selected were; Watermelon Pink, Dark Cherry Red & Persimmon Orange.  It was something that was sort of fall in color, but still vibrant enough to be summer.  Well after months of planning with that scheme, we realized that it wasn't going to work.  If we had been able to afford big luscious bouquets of flowers in all of those colors for centerpieces, we could have made it work.. but everything just ended up being red.  The cake bakers couldn't make the exact red we wanted.  The dresses we liked only looked good in the red.  And what shoes go well with those colors... red?  So we scrapped it and went simple... I was going to be wearing a shade of white, he was going to be wearing a shade of black.  White, black & green was popping up in popularity - so that was the scheme.

In a story that is way to long for even the internet, we were ousted from the beautiful church that we had planned to get married at - just 9 months before the wedding.  We chose a second church and were forced to move to their new church, further away a mere 5 months before the big day.  So we were on our second date, second city, second color scheme, and third church.  Ladies - there is a downside for planning a wedding that is 16 months away TOO far in advance.  Things change.. a lot.

So I was on a mission to find the best deals for everything.  I refused to spend $75 for each center piece.  I wouldn't spend $1500 on a dress.  I wanted fun invitations & I wasn't willing to spend over a thousand dollars to get what I wanted.  So began the quest of the DIY bride.  I decided to make the following:  the invitations, the fan programs, the escort cards, the table numbers, the bar lists, a menu for each seat, two sets of luminaries - one spelling out our last name, the other mr & mrs, the favors & more.  Below you'll see examples of each.  But before we get to all of the DIY I'd like to show some of the things that we didn't do & left to the professionals.

Dressed to Impress

My mother and I found my wedding gown in the third store that we looked in, on the first day of dress shopping.  It was in a wonderful small boutique that was packed full of prom dresses, tucked way in the back with maybe 30 other wedding gowns.  It was the third one that I tried on at that store & while I didn't cry, (mom did) I didn't want to take it off.  It was the most unique dress I had ever seen.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

It was much more difficult to find dresses for my maids.  They lived all over the place, none are the same body shape, and I didn't want to strap them with a dress that the would never use again.  I really tried hard to find something that everyone would like and everyone could wear again.  So I started with a simple request... black and cocktail length.  It was still a chore to find one that everyone liked, but eventually the ladies and I settled on one.  If I had the chance to do it all over, I probably would have let them choose any floor length plain black dress they could find, or maybe do one that was a little more flowy.. but alas, those ladies still looked amazing.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

The men were dressed in black tuxes with a thin, light grey pinstripe.  Matt loved the tux, and I wanted him to really love what he was wearing.. so it was one of the easiest decisions we made.  His groomsmen were all over the country too - so it was a little bit crazy - but it worked out in the end.  The groomsmen had dark grey vests, while Matt wore a light grey one, and all of them wore the same light grey, dark grey, silver & white ties. 

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

The bouquets that we carried down the aisle weren't exactly what I was expecting, but they were still big and beautiful!  My maids had on their black dresses and carried green and white bouquets.  I wore my Ivory gown & carried a white and Ivory bouquet. 

Photos by Lauren Clifford Photography

The groomsmen wore green button mum & green rose boutonnieres, while Matt had a white rose with a green mum.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

The flowers at the church were done by one of the church members.  The were beautiful.

We couldn't go overboard with the flowers for the hall due to our budget, so we did alternating center pieces.  We alternated between tall, black, eiffel tower vases with two green hydrangea and greenery & short, black glass vases with three green hydrangea and greenery.  The hydrangea didn't open up the way that I would have loved to have seen them, but they were beautiful none-the-less.

                                                      Photo by                                                       Photo by
                                      Lauren Clifford Photography                              Family Member

The Invitations

I must have looked at thousands of pictures of invitations online.  After days and days of searching, I finally happened upon a photo of an invitation online that I thought merged both of our styles.  It used a pattern of really ornate medallions.  It wasn't floral, it wasn't too whimsy, it wasn't super feminine - which was important to Matt.  So I hand drew a medallion that was very similar to the one on the website to use for our invitations.  We had wanted to use pocketfold invites, but the one online wasn't exactly what we were looking for.  So I used a similar concept for the main invite, but changed the side pocket inserts completely.

I made all of the cards in Photoshop & after a HUGE printer error, wound up having them printed at a printer that was local to my mother's house.  The printer quality wasn't exactly what I expected, but we needed to get the invites out, and at that point it was good enough.  But the work wasn't completed yet.  We still had to hand cut all of the individual cards. 110 invites - 5 cards per invite.... you do the math.. that was a lot of cutting!

Personal Photos

I don't want to show the whole invite - for various reasons, but these are a couple images of the outside of the pocket fold & the pocketfold inserts.

The Programs

I saw a picture of a program & I knew that I could make it.  It had 5 almost "petals" filled with information and grommeted together.  These petals unfolded into a fan. 

Because it was the middle of June & the church was not air conditioned, I figured that these would be perfect.  I had a lot of left over paper from the invitations, and while they would take a lot of time & even MORE cutting - I thought they would be perfect.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

We made 80 of these fans.  Again at 5 pages a piece, we were talking about 400 petals.  We then had to punch a hole in all 400 pages so that we could connect the petals.  Originally I wanted to use these eyelets - so that they were super sleek... but it turns out that our JoAnn's only carried one size of them... so after all 400 pages were cut and punched, we found out that the eyelets were not thick enough to hold 5 pages.  The back page would just pull off.  So in a last minute effort, we used brads to hold the programs together.  Not as stylish, and they didn't move as smoothly, but it was a similar effect.

We used 120 lb paper for each page, and after they were completed, I would have still recommended using something thicker.  The fans were a little flimsy, and didn't offer much air current on a super hot and humid day.

The Menu

I am a vegetarian, so it was Matt's job to pick out most of the menu.  I knew we were having a baked lasagna as one of the three main dishes (my mother requested that it be a white lasagna for many reasons), but the other two dishes were up to him.  Because we couldn't do a lot in the way of table decoration, I decided that it would be nice to dress up the tables a bit.  Chargers would have set us back at least a dollar a piece... but there would be a bread plate, no?  So we decided to have the napkin hang over the table, have the bread plate placed on top & would top the bread plate with a menu.  This way people could plan their meal & beverage choices before they headed up to get them.

The effect turned out to be very elegant actually & I'm glad that I spent the time to make the menus.  I used more extra paper from my invite project - a green textured piece covered with a white smooth page and adorned with a medallion.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

We also made two bar menu's for the bar area.  It showed our signature drinks, as well as available beer, wine and spirits.

The Escort Cards & Table Numbers

We still had left over paper, so we decided to make square escort cards.  All lined up, they turned out to be beautiful.  I loved the effect.

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

I wanted the table numbers to be a little bolder than the rest of the signage - so I went with a brighter green for the sign as well as an enlarged abstract medallion for the background.  I really liked the way these turned out. 
Personal Photo

The Luminaires

One of the finishing touches were the luminaries.  I had seen these online & once again, I knew I could make them.  So I headed off to JoAnn's for some thick scrapbooking paper.  I found several cool patterns in black and green. 

Photo by Lauren Clifford Photography

The luminaries were 5 sided rectangular boxes - the top was open.  I made these boxes out of the scrapbooking paper.  On the front of each luminarie I cut out one letter.  I then took transparency paper & sanded the back of it.  I glued one opaque transparency sheet to the back of eacg letter.  The last step was to add battery operated votives, and they were perfect.  I made 12 of these, but they were so easy I could have made dozens.  It was a great project.

Overall we loved planning, DIY'ing and enjoying every minute of our wedding.  We think we pulled off an affordable, simple, classic wedding that we will be reminded of every time we look at these photos.  And we hope that you enjoyed sharing in our wedding with us.


  1. Hi. I simply love your orders of service - they are amazing. How did you cut out each petal? Just by cutting around with scissors or did you have a punch?

  2. Sorry it took so long to respond & thank you for the compliment! I haven't checked comments in AGES! I used scissors, unfortunately. I sat there and cut all of them out, one by one! We had a hold punch for the brad that we put in to hold them together, but that was it!