Friday, July 13, 2018

Our Wedding, Part Ten || Things I Did That I'd Do Again

Today is the last post in the wedding series! I've compiled a few random thoughts of things that I LOVE that we did for our wedding. I'm posting these in hopes that they could help a future bride along the way! 

Have family in your bridal party, and have special moments for asking each one.
It took us a few weeks to finalize + ask everyone. Other than a few things that evening we got engaged, we waited to discuss any details until after the weekend, which was the weddings of my three brothers. We didn't want to take away in any way from their special days, so we more or less put everything on hold and just enjoyed knowing we were engaged and could celebrate my brothers + their weddings, and plan for ours later. =) It was also important to me to ask each of my bridesmaids in person, which took awhile, as my new sisters-in-law (on the Bontrager side) were all on their honeymoons after that! (and I had to wait until my next visit to Kansas to ask my sisters-in-law-to-be, there) But there was no rush, and it was so special to be able to ask each one in person. 
These people are gonna be with us as long as we live and we loved having them up there with us as we covenanted in marriage!
Relax and have fun!
Don't stress. Just roll with what happens. It's okay if everything doesn't go according to plan. Laugh a lot! Smile a lot! This is a party, not a funeral, and there's nothing that can kill the wedding atmosphere like a stressed-out bride/groom. This is YOUR DAY! Celebrate it and have fun! Create an atmosphere that invites JOY!

Have a good wedding coordinator.
Don't just ask a friend for the sake of asking a friend. No. You need someone who knows how to plan, organize, execute, and be a boss. I'm serious!! I'm not saying you have to have a professional wedding planner but if yours isn't professional then at least make sure they've coordinated weddings before and at least know what they're doing. I've been at enough weddings where I was doing something else (either photography or music or something) and ended up basically being the wedding coordinator simply because I was the only one willing to tell people what to do! (its true) This one element can make or break your day. My aunt Wanda happens to be a professional and has coordinated more weddings than I know. More than that, though, she's just one of those people who can "take it and own it", as my dad would say. I knew that all I had to do was fully communicate and be organized, and I could fully trust her to make my day happen from there. She was perfect for the job and I fully believe that the reason our day went so smoothly was due in a large part to her! 
(thank you Wanda!)
Invest in a good photographer. 
I cannot recommend our photographer, Laura,  highly enough. She worked with us so well and I don't know of another photographer who could've kept up so efficiently with everything we had going on! We stayed right on track with our previously set photography schedule all throughout the morning and even after the ceremony. She was just amazing, and I knew I could trust her! Not only is it important that you love your photographers' work, but you have to love their style of interacting, and how they work under pressure, and who they are in person. Your photographer will play a big part in setting the tone for your day, specifically for your family + bridal party. Laura was perfect for our huge bridal party, our huge families, and our huge wedding. She was extremely organized + calm. We had several Skype calls in the months leading up to the wedding and multiple emails back and forth and so when it actually came to down to the wedding day there were no surprises for her or us. You can visit her on the web here
Choose your venue/s first thing, right after you get engaged. 
This is so key. I waited too long and almost couldn't find a place for our reception. Thankfully it all worked out but it did end up being a little stressful to find the right place and if I would've started right away we would've had more flexibility. 
Communicate communicate communicate!
Some things never change, from dating, to wedding planning, to marriage. =) This COMMUNICATE word is KEY! 
John and I had folders in our google documents and we wrote things down! I had letters I sent out ahead of time to the photographer, the personal attendants, the makeup/hair crew, the musicians, the bridal party, the family...YOU NAME IT. Any person who had any type of leadership role in our wedding received detailed information on where things were, what was expected, who to contact in case of emergency, etc. I also created a spreadsheet with important phone numbers/contacts (head usher, wedding coordinator, reception MC, etc etc) and sent that document to all "our people" as well. I was determined that if there was an emergency or some kind of unprepared-for event, we would at least be organized in how to deal with it! Our wedding help loved having everything written out so clearly and I heard from more than one of them how helpful it was to have all the details there in a letter form. I truly believe that it is due to this important element that we were able to stay completely on schedule all throughout the first look/bridal party/family portraits and to avoid complete chaos when various things fell through or didn't go as planned. Oh, and we also started the wedding right on time!
Get all of your planning done ahead of time so you can relax and BE WITH YOUR FAMILY the week prior to the wedding.
I've only been married 6 months but I've already given this bit of advice to multiple brides and it is one of the first things I will say if I'm asked. Be organized, plan ahead, and leave that last week to just soak in the moments with your family. John really encouraged me in this (getting the planning done two weeks ahead) and even though it didn't turn out quite perfectly that way, it was something to shoot for and I got close. I was able to spend most of the last week with my family and I wouldn't trade that week for the WORLD. If anything I would try to make it longer! I promise, you won't regret this! If you miss everything else in this post, just remember this point. 
This last week is your LAST time with your family as simply a daughter and sister, before you become a wife. Savor every minute of the season you are completing! (read this post if you want to hear a bit more about how I did this)
Have personal attendants. 
These two girls helped me out so so much. They had my phone and took calls the day of the wedding, they packed my bags in John's truck, they prepped lunch for the bridal party, they loaded last minute things after the reception, and they just were amazing in so many ways. Having close friends in this position to just be there and be "your girls" for you, is vital. 
Have your groom involved as much in the wedding planning as he wants to be.
This will totally vary from guy to guy; some guys honestly could care less! John has excellent taste and opinions and he wanted to be involved. We loved planning our wedding together. Yes, there were lots of decisions that I made on my own, and some that he made on his own, but overall we did a lot of the planning together and for us that was perfect. Figure out how you roll and what works best for you as a couple and then proceed with the planning with that in mind!
Have a good team of ushers.
Again, this is especially important if you have a big wedding and a lot of variables like we did. (very full venues, bad weather, etc) 
We didn't just pick friends for the sake of picking friends. We picked guys who we knew were good with people, good with handling all kinds of situations, and good with rolling with whatever happened, in general! They were fabulous!
Enjoy your preferences on your wedding day.
This is your special day. For example...if it is 6 degrees below and you want to go barefoot and everyone thinks you are crazy...YOU STILL GO BAREFOOT. (grin) You get to decide! Don't worry if some of your preferences are different or even what some might think "weird". You get married one time-make it unique to YOU! You want it fun + special for other people, yes, but when it comes to decisions on preferences, the only people you need to consult is each other. The more opinions you get mixed in there, the more complicated everything will be. John and I made some decisions for our day that weren't exactly conventional, and that could've been looked down on by some, but that really didn't matter! At the end of the day, it was our day, and we got to plan it!
Stay simple with decorations, but what you do, do well.
My experience is that it is best to do a few things and do them well. I choose to "major" on my florals and my food, and kept everything else extremely simple. I don't regret it at all. It has also been my experience that you don't always remember the decor after a wedding, but you'll remember how you felt and if you left with a full stomach. At least that's how I am. =)

My florists were AMAZING. Not only did they get a lot of business with my big bridal party, but with four couples dating at the same time, in the Bontrager family, there were a lot of Valentines, Christmas, birthday, and "just because" bouquets ordered from Petals during that year and a half from 2016-2017! =) For our wedding, I debated ordering in bulk from somewhere like Costco, and having friends arrange them, but in the long run I am SO glad that we ordered everything from a florist. There were enough other details that we were doing ourselves-this was one thing that was wonderful to have prepped and totally ready by someone else! My aunt (who was my wedding coordinator) picked up everything the morning of the wedding. I had never seen the bouquets before but had given the main florist at Petals, my color scheme + pictures of bouquets I liked, and they turned out perfectly.
Lastly, a special thank-you to my parents:
I would be completely remiss if I posted these ten posts about our wedding and said nothing about this two people who, really, made it all happen. I was the first daughter to get married in my family, so I don't really know what is typical for parents of a bride, but my parents were SO sweet and supportive of everything John and I did! Right after we got engaged, they met with the two of us. My dad handed me an extremely generous check to pay for our wedding. He also told us that he thought that the simplest thing would be to give us the check and then we could budget it out and spend it in whatever ways were most important to us. He never said anything had to be a certain way or even asked to make sure we were choosing certain things. He knew John and I could plan a beautiful wedding and he was happy to support in whatever ways we needed. It was so wonderful have my parents fully supporting and backing whatever decisions we made! Their prayers, love and complete blessing was honestly the greatest part of our wedding being perfect for us. 
Thank-you, Dad + Mom!

And that's a wrap! Hope y'all enjoyed this series! It has been so much fun reliving my wedding day and sharing these details with y'all. I especially hope that some of you future brides found something or another helpful in your journey to plan YOUR dream day!
I'd also love for any married ladies to chime in and add your two cents on something you would pass on to other couples planning their weddings!


  1. I love this series! Your wedding looked amazing and I’m definitely taking your tips into consideration whenever I get married. Are you gonna post your about your honeymoon? I would love to hear about it.

    1. I was going to, but just recently decided against it, actually. For one thing, I hardly took any pictures, and for another, I just didn't really feel like posting the few I took. Sorry! =)
      The next project of things to post is about our new house + married life, and also our love story! =)

    2. Good for you! Your honeymoon should be a special time between you two; if you got back safe and settled into your home, that's all that matters. And yes, there are fewer photo opportunities on a honeymoon; basically selfies, unless you can grab someone to take photos for you. I don't remember taking any photos on my honeymoon either. Looking forward to reading your love story.

  2. I *loved* this series, Chelsy! You have made me feel like I was there. Thank you for sharing all the "juicy details" :), and I can't wait to hear your love story! ;)

    1. The juicy details are always the best. =) Glad you're enjoying!

  3. Awesome posts! Cant wait to heat the rest and thanks for doing all of this in such detail:)

  4. Your wedding series seems so much more useful than the majority of literature targeted at newly engaged couples. It has been more genuine and purposeful than anything I have read in a bridal magazine. You have undoubtably inspired many other young brides by focusing on the meaningful moments of your wedding rather than making the day materialistic. I was married at the beginning of last year, and I watched your wedding (livestream) over the holidays on a very cold and snuggly winter day with my newborn :)

    1. What a fun way to catch the livestream. =)
      Thanks for your kind words!

  5. Thanks for sharing! I would love to hear how you met. :) The story of how I met and married my husband (11 years ago) is such a joy to share (we had a long distance relationship and a military deployment to deal with), and I love hearing how couples met and fell in love because each story is so special and unique.

  6. I loved reading this series! Can't wait to read more about you guys!

  7. This whole series was inspiring to read. Thankyou Chelsy! You are a wonder and a brave woman for sewing a wedding dress to that caliber. I know said you wouldn't post pics about your honeymoon in an earlier comment on here but would you mind telling me/us where you went? I gathered from another comment somewhere you went to Texas? Is this right? Where did ya go in Texas may I ask? Or is private? If it is, I respect that! Thankyou Chelsy again for making your blog very desirable to read :)

    1. Yes, absolutely! We spent nine days on a secluded ranch in the hill country outside of Fredricksburg, then we went for two days to San Antonio and did more of a "city" experience (ritzy hotel, brazilian steakhouse, + the river walk) and next we went for four days to a cabin in the hills of Wimberly. We ended out with a business trip (my choice-he was going to turn it down, but I thought it would be cool to end our honeymoon with an inside peak into what a work conference looked like for him!) for several days in Dallas before going home! All in all we were gone for nineteen days + it was amazing. =)

    2. Wow sure sounded like an amazing honeymoon! I've never been in those areas, sounds lovely! Our honeymoon was very very short so that sounded heavenly to be gone/alone together that long! Thanks for sharing!

    3. I love the Fredericksburg area, it’s so much more beautiful than I had expected it to be the first time I saw it. What a wonderful place to start your married life.
      I hope you went into town while you were there. I’d think a seemstress as accomplished as you are would find tons of inspiration in all of those cute little boutiques. I also hope you treated yourself to a pair of fabulous cowboy boots. I know they’re outrageously expensive, but a lot of them, maybe even most of them, are made by hand, and they are sooo beautiful. I went way off budget once and bought a pair, I was almost shaking as I paid for them, they cost so much more than any other footwear I had ever bought, but it’s nearly 20 years later, and they are still my favorites. They have also vastly outlasted any other shoes or boots I’ve ever had, and even after having to have them re-soled a few times, turned out to be a bargain because of their many years of service.

    4. We did go into town and explored and absolutely loved it; both of us had been there before but had more time to "adventure" this time.
      And I'm sure they do have amazing boots! John and I both already have Ariats plus I have another diff brand pair so we are set in that department. =)

  8. Me again here. I didn't mean you had to make a post on my question. Just a one worded answer will be just fine! I just wanted to clarify that :)

  9. Your series has been lovely to read. I agree wholeheartedly about the wedding coordinator, a good one is invaluable. The one piece of advice I give is the dame one my Grandma gave to me 'take 10 minutes each morning and evening that have nothing to do with your wedding; breath, pray or just be...but always take the time'. I think that piece of advice helped to keep me sane.

  10. 100% yes to having a good wedding coordinator! We asked a friend who wasn’t a professional but has great organizational and directional skills and she was amazing! She even solved a couple wedding day crisises that I didn’t know about until well after the wedding. Because of her I was able to truly relax and enjoy our ceremony and reception and not even think about what needed to get done/the schedule.

  11. I LOVED all the wedding posts. It was so neat to get a peek at all the "behind-the-scenes" moments.
    I have a couple of favorite things that we did at our wedding: 1)Because my husband is a farmer he raised a turkey and a beef for our reception meal. He also traded farm products with another farm couple for all the vegetables. We got married on Thanksgiving Monday (it's a holiday here in Canada) so we had a big sit down dinner. Yum!! 2) We had asked a farmer friend if we could use his field for pictures. It had amazing views. He forgot that day and started spreading manure. hahaha There was one clean spot in the middle of the field, so my husband carried me to that spot and we had our pictures taken. #farmwifelife 3)I decorated the church with my father, sister and sister-in-law and I have always LOVED how it turned out. We used straw bales, mini-lights, colored autumn leaves, potted mums and tea lights in brown glass bottles.
    Anyway, those are a few of my favorite things from our wedding day. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures together.

    1. Laura,
      SO fun to read about your special things on your wedding day! I love the farm theme-so great!


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