Update: Check out our two wedding videos in this blog post!
October 26th, 2018… also known as my favorite day of all time 😉 It’s now been a few months since our wedding day, but I got all my wedding photos back and am so excited to share them! There’s also a LOT about our day that was completely unexpected, and I want to make sure I write about it all before I forget 🙂 I very clearly remember the wait for the wedding day, and now here we are! Before long, many years will have passed. That’s why I love blogging so much, it gives me the ability to go back and remember!
I guess the beginning is as good a place as any to start! So let’s go all the way back to October 2017. Chris and I were not engaged yet, but I knew it was coming soon! Mom and I started planning the food, and we decided on Costco pizza! Yes, really 😉 Chris and I love pizza, and honestly, why not?? We saved a ridiculous amount of money, it was delicious, and all our guests raved about it! From all my years as a wedding photographer, I knew that while we had to feed our guests, the food was definitely not the most important part to me. I wanted to focus on making it a beautiful wedding, while making sure the guests had a good time, but the photos were the most important part (other than the marriage, of course 😉
With Chris and I’s personality, we honestly thought about taking our families somewhere beautiful and just eloping. It’d be easier, cheaper, and we were not super excited about the idea of a party that’s all about us. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger on it. I needed a wedding. Mostly, I needed the pictures of our wedding. The pictures of me walking down the aisle, mingling with our guests, our first kiss at the altar… I had a vision of our special day, and it was perfect. I wanted something outside, long reception tables, garlands on each table, lights strung overhead, donuts… I can’t even begin to explain all the tiny details I wanted at the wedding! So we began planning the wedding of my dreams (Chris was the wonderful fiancé that went along with my ideas 😉
We knew that our wedding date would be sometime at the end of October the next year. My first email was to, of course, my photographer and videographer! We talked about dates, and ultimately Chris and I decided to tentatively plan for Friday, October 26, 2018. I always thought I’d get married on a Saturday, but when the idea of a Friday wedding came into play, I loved it!
The next thing I had to plan was our venue. We wanted a simple, but gorgeous wedding outside. Being the end of October, it just does not rain very much here. If it rains, it’s just a little sprinkle, so we figured we’d be good to go! Originally, I wanted to get married in my parents backyard. It’s right on the river, and I thought it would be so pretty! But the more we tried to make it work, the more I saw that it wasn’t going to happen. Their backyard is beautiful, but it is not flat at all, and there’s lots of trees around. Then one day in November, I had the brilliant idea to ask our neighbors a few doors down if they would let us use their backyard! It is huge with plenty of room for parking, completely cleared out, flat as can be, and also right by the river. I sent them an email explaining how I wasn’t engaged yet, but I was hoping to nail down some details as soon as possible. We met for dessert at the beginning of January, and they gave us the go-ahead! I was so excited, and immediately put the official final date and venue on our invitations (that I had already designed months ago… of course 😉
Now that it was our wedding year, I got to work planning every little detail! Tara (our photographer) was one of the first people I told after we got engaged! We booked her almost immediately after finalizing our date. I booked our videographer (DP Weddings) and florist (Blakemore’s Flowers), and went wedding dress shopping! I fell in love with the 10th dress I tried on, and since it was a nearly perfect fit I got to take it home that day! I bought my shoes and earrings, got the guys outfits nailed down, and started looking into rentals.
Since we weren’t getting married at an actual venue, everything had to be bought or rented. We got white plastic plates for the food (honestly, greatest purchase ever! No dishes to wash afterwards, and our guests said they were super sturdy! ALSO, I knew the only time they’d be photographed was on the food table, because I wanted the tables set up with gold chargers), napkins (I found super cheap ones here, in the exact Burgundy I wanted! Trust me, that is HARD), sparklers (I recommend these to all my brides! They last a long time, and are smokeless, which is what you need for perfect pictures!), chairs (wood chairs were rented from MS Events, and the white plastic chairs from CVR Rentals. The wood chairs at the reception were very important to me, but I didn’t care about ceremony chairs, so we went with the cheapest ones!), tables (rented from CVR Rentals), table cloths, silverware (I found super cheap gold plastic silverware at Target, and they looked amazing!! Honestly guys, no one will truly know in the pictures that they were plastic, and your guests won’t remember when they leave!), cups, string lights, and so much more!
I got most of this accomplished in about 2-3 months, and spent most of the summer wishing I had more to plan! There was a lot more to do, but I couldn’t do any of it until it was closer to the wedding. Something that was always in the back of our minds was “okay, but what if it rains??”. I told myself that it doesn’t rain at the end of October here, and we had nothing to worry about. Back in February, I was at a local greenhouse, and I thought “wow, this place is absolutely gorgeous! It would make a great backup venue for the wedding”. But I mostly dismissed it because of all the logistics. Plus, it was completely full of ferns, tables, irrigation, and flowers getting ready for spring! So I put that thought way in the back of my mind.
I had spent a lot of time (and let’s be honest, a lot of money) to make this wedding look exactly the way I pictured it. Outside, under the lights, long reception tables, garlands, all of it. One day, after a long discussion with Kate and Jenny, we came to a conclusion about the wedding. They had been offering me potential backup locations (churches, pavilions, etc.), and I know I was being stubborn about this, but I kept saying “it’s not my vision, it’s not what I picture”. Without sounding like I’m patting myself on the back, I did not turn into a bridezilla this whole time (even though there were definitely days where I felt like it and just cried to mom “I’m a bridezillaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I’m so sorryyyyyyyyyy” 😉 But I did feel an incredible weight of “Emily, you have paid all this money for very specific things that make up this vision, if you go with a different venue, all that money is wasted”. Kate and Jenny asked me “EMILY. Do you want to get married anywhere other than the planned outside venue?”. And when I said “no”, they said “Okay then! You and Chris will get married outside even if it rains. We’ll buy umbrellas, and if it sprinkles, we’ll get wet and it’ll be fine!”.
And that was that! Our backup was to not have a backup. Everything I had planned was planned very specifically around that backyard. Moving the venue (or even putting a tent over top of it) would mean completely changing everything I planned. But deciding that took a huge weight off my shoulders. I was no longer constantly stressing about “should I book a tent? Should I move the venue?”. It was decided. We were getting married in my neighbors backyard, rain or shine. Done deal.
FINALLY we were at the week of the wedding! Even knowing that we didn’t have a backup, I obsessively checked the weather (I’d been obsessively checking it for a year…). On Monday it said that Friday would have blue skies! Sixty degrees! Not a cloud in sight! On Tuesday it said that Friday would have grey skies, a high of 37 degrees, and rain all. day. long.
Commence my freaking out, because this was not a drizzle. This wasn’t something that we could pull out umbrellas and ‘just deal with’. This was rain. Cold, cold rain. I knew that even if I stayed stubborn and said “whatever, we’ll get married in the torrential downpour”, I couldn’t ask that of my guests. And I knew we’d have guests that couldn’t be in the heavy rain, much less the nearly freezing temperatures!!
So here we are, literally three days before our wedding, and I knew we had to change our venue. The worst case scenario had come true, and the rain that never happens, was going to happen. Once we had officially decided that we couldn’t get married in the backyard anymore, I immediately began looking for another option. At this point, I was going to take what I could get. I felt an immense amount of sadness, something I felt terribly guilty about feeling 3 days before I was getting married!! I was so excited to marry Chris, and I knew that I would marry him at the landfill if I had to. But I felt grief for the wedding that I had planned. The beautiful al fresco wedding under lights.
I sent out a plea in a local creatives group on Facebook, asking for recommendations of absolutely anything that was covered. Mom and I called every place we could think of, everything was a dead end. Within 2 hours of making the post, I was in touch with a wonderful woman who owned a barn nearby! We talked on the phone, and I cried when she offered it to us to use. Grateful doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt! I was shaking and sobbing and so so stressed and relieved. I knew that my vision would not come to life anymore, but at least we had a venue – and it was covered! My mom and Chris’s mom immediately got to work and contacted everyone on the guest list, letting them know about the venue change.
Chris, mom, Joelle, and I went that evening to look at the barn. It is a beautiful venue, and the grounds are absolutely stunning! But I again felt a sense of loss when looking around the barn. I never wanted a barn wedding. Honestly, if at the beginning of planning I knew I had to get married in a barn, I 100% would have decided to just elope on a mountaintop! I know that barn weddings can be absolutely stunning, it’s just not what I pictured for myself! But much more than that, I felt stuck. Everything that I had rented or bought or made would not fit in the space. I didn’t know how to make it work! My tables were too long, the chairs clashed, and there were no windows… no matter how much I tried, the vision just wasn’t happening. Mom had even ironed all the table cloths we bought, so we couldn’t just get different tables. I want to reiterate that if I had originally planned for our wedding to be in that barn, it could be beautiful! My sadness was due to my vision crumbling around me, not because of the specific barn. We were so grateful for the incredible extension of love the owners showed us!
We went home that night, and I desperately tried to figure out a way to fit our things in the barn. I wasn’t going to get an aisle to walk down, but at least we were covered. I honestly didn’t know how a single thing was going to go, but we had a place to get married, and I was going with it! While mom and I sat around the table with graph paper and measurements, trying to get it all to fit, mom got a phone call. It was the owners of the greenhouse! Mom had called them earlier that morning (before we heard about the barn), and they were returning her message. They said that they’d be happy to have us come look at the greenhouse the next morning! Mom and I decided that our planning could wait until then, and we tried to get some sleep.
Early the next day, we drove to the greenhouse (which was less than 15 minutes from our house!). When I walked inside, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! Now that it was the end of fall, it was cleaned out and looked beautiful. Light streamed through the opaque tent, and gave everything an even glow. There were tall rows of cucumbers growing beside a completely empty section of the greenhouse, and I just burst into tears. It was absolutely perfect. The owners are some of the kindest people I have ever met, and they graciously welcomed us into their space! Mom and I were absolutely floored, blown away, so humbled.
Wednesday was a much different day than Tuesday. I felt relief, and so much happiness. I could see my vision again. Everything I rented was going to fit. In fact, it was going to be better that what I originally planned. I just couldn’t wait! Once again, my mom and Chris’s mom got on the phone and explained the venue change (I can’t thank them enough for taking care of that!!). I notified our vendors, and we were good to go! I went to sleep that night excited about the next day, full of joy and thankfulness.
Thursday morning we rose bright and early, and took our first load of things to the greenhouse! The owners had spent the entire day on Tuesday cleaning even more, and they even pulled up all the irrigation from the floor!! We just couldn’t believe the abundant blessings that were falling on us. Chris’s family came down, and him and his dad loaded up the truck with wedding things and brought it to the greenhouse. This was the first time Chris had seen our wedding venue! Crazy!!! Then they drove to Charlottesville to pick up the rented chairs, while his mom was busy working on the food for the rehearsal dinner.
Mom, Kate, Jenny, Joelle, my friends Mika & Elijah, and I got to work setting everything up! First we strung lights, which worked perfectly because the greenhouse already had long rows of pipes hanging overhead for the ferns! They even showed us how to lower the pipes so we could hang the lights at eye level! Kate worked on the calligraphy on the mirrors, we set up tables and chairs, tablecloths, napkins, every single little detail.
As a quick side note, that was a major blessing that I never thought would be possible. With the original backyard venue, we really couldn’t set up the day before! The overnight dew would have messed everything up. So I had set all the tables up at our house and taken pictures to show our day-of coordinators, so they could replicate it the morning of the wedding. That was causing mom and I a bit of stress, just because we hated to ask these wonderful ladies to do so much work! It was amazing being able to completely set up the greenhouse the day before the wedding, and leave that night knowing that it was all finished.
Our rehearsal was completely stress free. We quickly got the ceremony planned out, and then ate a delicious dinner that Toby had prepared. As I looked across our wedding space, I knew there was not one single thing that I would change. I loved every part of it. It was just what I had pictured, but a million times better! It’s crazy to think that two days before the wedding, we changed our venue (twice!!), but now I can see God’s hand through all of it. Even when I was crying because I didn’t know where we were going to get married, I knew that it was going to be okay, because Chris and I were getting married. I tried so hard to not freak out, but when 100 people are counting on you and you seem to be plum out of options, it can be stressful 😉
Our wedding day dawned dark and gloomy, but I’d never felt happier! Dad picked up the donuts, and my mom and sisters worked on putting them on skewers while I got pampered. The rain fell outside, but who cared? Ron picked up the flowers and brought them back to the house, and I am still obsessed with them!! And oh what an incredibly exciting feeling to finally be the bride and see my photographers and videographers walk in the door! The whole day just felt surreal. I want to experience it over and over again!
Mom helped me put my dress on, I had my first look with dad, and then we were off to the greenhouse! I stayed in the car while Tara got Chris set up for the first look, and I just remember shaking with excitement! I was READY TO GO! Finally it was time. Mom carried the train of my dress to our first look location, and as soon as I saw Chris’s back I burst into tears. Very, very happy tears, of course 😉 This was another moment I thanked the Lord for my makeup artist, haha! I composed myself and walked towards him, and started crying again when he turned around. I just couldn’t believe that our day was finally here!!
We wrote our vows to each other, and took a few minutes to be by ourselves and read them to each other privately. That is one of my very favorite memories from the entire day. We stood in between rows of cucumber vines and held hands as we read our promises to each other. And of course, I cried when he read his vows to me, because they’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I keep a copy of them in my nightstand, and I still cry when I read them 🙂
We took our bride & groom portraits, bridal party, and family pictures before the ceremony. I planned a lot of buffer time, just to make sure we could get everything done and stay on schedule. We finished all the pictures about 20 minutes before the ceremony (I think… honestly the whole day is a blur ;). Another unexpected-but-major blessing was all those cucumber vines! I loved them the second I saw them, but they also created an incredible ‘curtain’ that blocked us from all the guests. We were able to hide comfortably while all the guests arrived!
Finally it was time for the ceremony! Mom pinned my veil into place, and we all got in line. Dad wore many hats that day… donut fetcher, officiant, father of the bride, and he walked mom down the aisle! He came back to walk me down the aisle, and I really don’t remember much of that walk 😉 I remember walking through the reception tables and starting to sniffle and dad said “You can’t cry yet! It’s just starting!” 🙂 I remember getting to the end of the aisle and seeing Chris and squeezing his hand while dad prayed. I also remember nearly as soon as we got to the altar, the rain started pouring on the roof 😉 I am so glad we’ll have a video to look back on, because the whole ceremony blends together in my mind! I remember facing Chris, saying our vows, putting his ring on his finger, and our big kiss at the end! We had given everyone in the bridal party confetti to toss right after we were pronounced “Mr. & Mrs. Canterbury”. We also had two of our friends sit opposite each other in the middle of the aisle, for more confetti when we stopped to kiss on our way out 😉
After the ceremony was just amazing. Chris picked me up and spun me around (throwing my veil out of my hair, but who cares??? I certainly didn’t!), and we hugged all our family. We took a few more family pictures, and Chris and I got some alone time while the photographers and videographers documented the reception space (my favorite part, and what I spent so much time planning!). This may have been my most favorite part of the day. We got to talk and be alone and it was wonderful! Please, make sure you schedule time in your wedding day to just be alone with your new spouse!
The guests were ushered back into the room for the reception (the greenhouse had a huge room out front that was used for the cocktail hour space… could this place have been any more perfect??), Chris and I made our entrance, and dinner began! Sitting at our sweetheart table (which my husband made!), eating pizza, and looking out at our reception, everything felt perfect. It was everything I had dreamed of and more! My vision had completely come to life!
We mingled with our guests, cut the cake (signaling the start of donuts… watching our guests at the donut stand was SO fun!!), and had our first dance! Of course, we took more bride & groom pictures too 😉 It was still raining, but we went outside anyway! Soon after our first dance, we decided to leave. Even in the rain, our guests stood outside for our sparkler exit! We rushed through (yes, it felt magical) and got to the car! Pulling out of the parking lot, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. So many people came together to pull this crazy thing off, and apart from the fiasco earlier in the week, absolutely nothing went wrong! It was the wedding of my dreams.
Chris made so many things for this wedding… the donut stand, our sweetheart table, the ‘The Canterburys’ sign hanging on the table, the triangle arch, the corn hole boards, the names and thank you tags on each napkin… the list goes on. He is so talented, and I’m so blessed!
Since I was young, I have always known two things about my wedding: 1) I didn’t want to spend an extreme amount of money, it’s just one day. And 2) I couldn’t include my photographer and videographer in my budget. That alone would take up the entire budget! And being a wedding photographer myself, it was clearly the most important part. All in all, our wedding cost just under $4500 (not including the photographer and videographer). I share this to show you that you don’t need to go into debt just to have a beautiful wedding! Spend money on the things that count, the details really make the wedding. And those details don’t have to be insanely expensive!
I saved money on florals by DIYing the garlands, but I knew that the bouquets were really important, so I hired a florist for those (the bouquets and sweetheart table arrangement were under $600, and the ruscus for the garlands were only $130!!). It was a lot more work, but I designed and printed the invitations myself at Paper & More and saved hundreds (less than $250 for 100 full invitation suites + stamps). Food can easily cost well over $5000 at a wedding, but all together we only spent around $500 (that includes pizza, donuts, vegetables, cheese, crackers, and fruit cups)! But I splurged on the things that mattered, like the photographer and videographer! What good is fancy, expensive details if you don’t have photographs to remember it?? And a good photographer can make anything look fancy 🙂 Pick the things that are most important to you, and the things that will have the most impact!
Honestly, this whole story is just a testament to God’s grace and love for his children. I have to remind myself of this daily, but in the end everything really does work out. God’s plans are so much better than our own! Even if we had gotten married in that barn, it would have been wonderful. Our marriage is what is most important, the wedding is just extra. But believe me, I know how it feels to want to make sure the wedding is perfect too 🙂
This post is massively long, and I haven’t even gotten to the pictures yet!! My apologies in advance if I crash your computer 😉 Scroll to the end to see the huge list of wonderful vendors and items (I tried to include absolutely everything we bought!) from the wedding.
Finally, without further ado, pictures from the best day ever 😍
Funny fact, I had Kate do a special invitation suite for Tara, and wanted to make it as fun as possible! Our family dog, Oliver’s, full name is Oliver Wendell Holmes, so we chose “Mr. & Mrs. Holmes” for the outer envelope, and “Oliver & Jillian” (a nod to the cat, Jilly) on the inner envelope 😂 Then the address signifies the day we first met (April 21st), and the place we had our first date (Wildwood Park)! I LOVE it!
My sweet friend Chelsie gave us this card at my bridal shower, and it was so cute I had to include it in the details 😍
Kristin was the best!! I loved the lip color she chose. I told her it had to be red, and now I want to wear it everyday!!
The one of the right with Oliver cracks me up… he’s never too far from mom 😂
I loved getting ready at my parents house! It was so calming and peaceful! And I’m lucky that they have massive windows for gorgeous natural light 🙂
First look with dad!!
As soon as I came around the corner and saw Chris, I started bawling. I’m so glad this memory was captured!
He is constantly making me laugh ❤️
This was such a special moment with Joelle, I’ll never forget it. I love all of my sisters so much, but Joelle and I have gotten so close over the last 2-3 years, and even though it was such a happy day, it was hard knowing that today was the day I get married and leave home.
For those of you that didn’t know Kate was pregnant (they managed to keep it a secret!), surprise! 🤣 There’s a sweet little 3 day old baby now!!
Kate’s calligraphy at this wedding was off the CHARTS!
Aaaaand this is the part of the show where my wonderful new husband forgot we were supposed to stop and kiss in the middle of the aisle 😂
I LOVE THESE! I was so excited to see the pictures of Chris and Olivia 🙂 She just loves him!
It was finally time to break the cardigan out… it was COLD that day!! I was shivering during the ceremony!
I’m literally obsessed with everything about our reception decor. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it!!
I mean, come on. Could a greenhouse be any prettier?? We are SO thankful!!
These were so time consuming, but so worth it!!
Chris did a phenomenal job building our sweetheart table! AND the sign hanging on the front!
Huge thanks to mom for ironing ALL our cloth napkins!!
Probably my favorite part of the entire reception 😍 This was exactly what I wanted. So so obsessed. I want to hang these pictures on huge canvases around the house.
The blankets dad had to chase the UPS man for!! We definitely needed them, thanks dad!!
I loved our drink stand… mom and I honestly spent hours rearranging things to make it look perfect. And Chris found this antique buffet table for free!!
I love how Olivia spelled her name so large 😂
Chris made four cornhole boards, and inlayed our logo at the bottom! I am in LOVE with these!!
PIZZA!!!! Chris also made that cutting board with our logo inlayed!
Showing off my ring addition to Meredith 😉
I love this one!!
My dress was SO TWIRLY!
Neither Chris or I really enjoy dancing, so we made our reception about getting to be with our guests! We had a first dance for ourselves, but that’s it. We danced to “Promise to Love Her” and it’s my favorite ❤️ Chris still plays it for me sometimes just because he knows it makes me smile.
Best day ever ❤️
Photographer | Tara Liebeck Photography
Videographer | DP Weddings
Hair & Makeup | Kristin Mastrangelo
Venue | Mole Hill Gardens
Florals | Blakemore’s Florist
Bride’s Dress | Rebecca Ingram, purchased at Bridal Impressions
Bride’s Shoes | TOMS
Bride’s Earrings | Kate Spade
Bride’s Veil | Amazon
Bride’s Getting Ready Shirt | Etsy – HollysPinkBarn
Bride’s Cardigan | Amazon
Dress Alterations | Ruby Yoder
Garlands | DIY, purchased from Potomac Wholesale
Invitations | Designed by me, printed at Paper & More
Food | Costco Pizza
Donuts | Strite’s Donuts
Cake | Chris’s mom
Bridesmaids Dresses | MoriLee by Madeline Gardner
Groom & Groomsmen Attire | Macy’s & JCPenney
Rentals | MS Events and CVR Rentals
Calligraphy | Kate Noel
Pashmina Shawls | Amazon
Cloth Napkins | Your Chair Covers
White Plates | Amazon
Gold Silverware | Target
Plastic Cups | Costco
Hot Drink Cups + warmers + lids + straws | Amazon
Beverage Napkins | Party City
Gold Chargers | The Dollar Tree
Tea Light Holders | The Dollar Tree
Pizza Trays | Amazon
String Lights | Amazon
Confetti Sticks | Ultimate Confetti
Sparklers | Superior Celebrations