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I truly thought I was going to be a DIY bride, especially with paper goods like invitations. I imagined myself on snowy winter afternoons bundled up in a cozy sweater with a table full of ribbons and lace and craft supplies. A couple months into the winter I had yet to break out the scissors and glue; it was apparent that we in fact spend snowy winter afternoons skiing, not crafting. I did try, but after several evenings looking through generic themes that didn’t really capture the essence of our wedding, and a few hours trying to hand craft mock invitations, I finally started looking for help.

From the beginning, we have set out to have as many friends and family involved in our wedding as possible. While there can certainly be a cost advantage, they also know us better and working with them is more intimate and fun. Friends and family are baking desserts for our wedding, building our altar and helping plan the menu. A dear friend is our day-of coordinator, Z’s band is playing at our reception and another friend is our late night DJ. It made sense to me to work with a friend on the invitations as well.

I knew Alissa Bell from college. I’d seen her work in various places and loved it, so I sent her a note asking about design, paper and printing options. Alissa had a major life and career change a couple years ago, quit her corporate job, bought a letterpress machine and started making beautiful hand-crafted paper goods ( Not only do I love her work, I also love her story. We went over the general look and feel we were going for and she asked questions about our wedding and relationship. With a few tidbits of information and a couple phone calls about wording, she crafted the most perfect invitation for us.

It’s difficult to keep it simple while simultaneously giving all the necessary information, and she did that seamlessly. Looking for something with a rustic, summer camp feel, but also classy, we went with a brown chip board for our save the dates and response cards, and a cream colored cotton paper for the invitations. I never dreamed we’d have an invitation suite, but we are thrilled to have something we are proud to send out to our guests, grateful for the beautiful work she did, and relieved we didn’t have to do it ourselves.

After my attempt to hand make our invitations, we have decided to go with a chalk board in lieu of programs and skip table arrangements and menus. While I love paper goods, I enjoy being outside more than making paper goods. Have any of you switched from your original plans due to time or money or because you aren’t getting the look you want when you try to do it yourself?

Images courtesy of Buena Lane Photography: and Alissa Bell Press:

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A few years ago, long before we were talking about marriage and the rest of our lives, Z and I were on a quick vacation in Catalina and met an awesome couple who were on a minimoon. I’d never heard of this, but the idea stuck and I tucked it away realizing that when you’re getting married, you can pretty much get away with anything. I decided that when the time came to get married, I’d take as many “moon” vacations as possible.

Fast forward a few years: we’re about 100 days out from our wedding (but who’s counting?) and we’re starting to be in the go go go window. We thought it would be nice to take a break from all the wedding planning and spend a weekend in Stanley, Idaho where we fell in love. A pre-wedding moon if you will.


I had no idea going into the trip what a romantic, perfect weekend it would be. There were no flowers or jewelry or any of the things lots of people associate with romance. It was simply amazing to get away from the planning and just enjoy being with each other, revisiting every reason we fell in love in the first place.

Stanley is an easy place to fall in love. Rugged mountains, majestic lakes and an expansive, star-filled night sky left our hearts soaring and our souls rejuvenated. A few delicious meals at rustic restaurants with bluegrass bands serenading us gave us some much-needed alone time, away from computers, phones and to-do lists. Mountain biking, fly fishing, kayaking, hot springing and dancing late into the night were the perfect reminder of the adventures we’ve had and the great times ahead.

A pre-wedding moon doesn’t need to be long or expensive or far from home. It just needs to be a getaway that allows to get excited about spending the rest of your life together by taking the time to step back and focus on your relationship with each other.

What have you done to keep the wedding planning process from taking over your lives and your relationship? Did you feel recharged afterwards or did it change anything?

Music and dancing are a huge part of our lives, and a huge part of our wedding, but picking out the best songs to walk down the aisle, make our debut as a couple, have our first dance, dance with our parents, and so on and so forth has proven to be more time consuming than I ever imagined it would be. We want songs that are meaningful, beautiful and somehow fit in with our story to make them personal as well.

I am not trying to make this into a bigger thing than it is. But…I love the idea of getting a canvas of the words to our first dance so I’d like them to be meaningful. I love the idea of the most perfect songs to walk down the aisle and to exit as husband and wife. I want to find a song that perfectly depicts my relationship with my dad. And more than anything, I want to LOVE the music we are playing at our wedding.


We are very lucky that a few family members have written songs they will play at our wedding, that we have so many talented musician friends, and that Z’s band, Whiskey Mornin’ will be keeping the dance floor going all night; for the rest of those moments, here are a few of our favorites we’ve come across so far:

Whatever It Is – Zac Brown Band
One Voice – Wailin’ Jennys
You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
Give in to Me – Garret & Leighton
Always Find the Time – City Folk
Love Love Love –  Avalanche City
Rings – Leo Kotke
Father and Daughter – Paul Simon
Overwhelmed – Tim McMorris
Love Me Like the World is Ending: Ben Lee

What songs have you come across that are sweet, fun, different, new, or even perfect classics? Are there any that you love, but you can’t find a place for them during your special day?

Collage Credits: Father/Daughter Dance Photo – Rhino Media // First Dance – Pricilla Valentina // Chalk Instruments – Lady T // Musician Silhouette – Lady T // Pick the way to your seat – Papered Heart Photography // Wedding Song Canvas –

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That crazy bride moment: most brides can say they have had at least one. Mine didn’t involve a bridezilla temper tantrum or any sort of scene, but it was definitely one of those caught-up-in-it-all moments that I realized in retrospect was pretty silly and definitely a waste of time, money and energy.

Back in December, before we had our lovely save-the-dates, Z and I decided to be super economical and buy stamps before they went up in price. The savings was probably about $4, so to start with, this wasn’t the most commonsense decision. I sent him to the post office and he bought pretty Forever stamps with cherry blossoms on them. They weren’t anything fancy, but they would do the trick.

Fast forward 3 months and our save-the-dates were addressed and ready to be sent out. I had spent several hours tying them with pretty pieces of twine and hand-addressing them. We stamped the envelopes and took them to the post office to get them hand-cancelled. And that’s where things started spiraling just a tiny bit out of control.

Note to future brides: It costs extra to send something with twine, buttons, jewels, anything that will make the envelope lumpy.

In our case, the extra was $.20. But the money wasn’t the problem. The issue was that the only $.20 stamps available were of George Washington. This was not exactly the stamp I was envisioning on my beautiful rustic save-the-date. The $.66 stamps were pictures of pretty butterflies, so I bought a few books.

Stamps Episode

Home I went with all of my stamped and addressed envelopes. And I started peeling stamps. This is where the crazy comes in. I spent over six hours, until almost 2am, on a work night, carefully peeling the cherry blossom stamps off of envelopes and saving them on wax paper for future use. I didn’t quite finish that project, but Z patiently stayed up with me until I finally fell asleep on the couch, never once saying that no one looks at the stamps, or that this was entirely insane.

The next morning I woke up exhausted. I took a big box of envelopes back to the post office and spent thirty minutes hand-canceling the new, pretty butterfly stamps. For the envelopes that still had cherry blossom stamps, I purchased two $.10 stamps of clocks, which weren’t beautiful, but they also weren’t the face of our first president on my wedding paper goods.

A few days later Z’s mom called to say how much she loved our save-the-date, the river, the twine, the text. We told her the stamp story and she said, “oh, I’ll have to go look. Dad opened it and I never saw the envelope.” Z and I exchanged looks and before he could say anything, I admitted that my stamp peeling episode was entirely nuts (we still have several sheets of wax paper with cherry blossom stamps on them). I also thanked him for keeping his mouth shut and letting me have that moment.

What have been your moments of slight insanity, or taking things just one step too far? I had one other evening where I decided I didn’t like our website anymore and stayed up until single digit hours moving all the text to a new site. It’s so easy in this process to get very wrapped up in the details and forget the big picture. And the details are, in fact, one of the most fun parts about planning, but is the perfect envelope, piece of lace, centerpiece, music list, etc. worth losing sleep, money and your sanity? Jury is still out in our household, but I am definitely trying to find a better balance.

We are getting married at a summer camp. One with lots of vintage and antique things all over the place, from old Coke machines to pretty wooden signs, a saloon, and a grubstake. Our wedding theme very naturally fell into the categories “casual,” “rustic,” and “vintage,” which was precisely what we had envisioned before we ever  picked our venue. I can’t quite decipher the differences between many of the various “types” of weddings, but I am glad that the DIY rustic romantic casual vintage green (insert adjective) wedding is in style right now and that I get to browse endless photos of weddings in sync with our vision to come up with new ideas and projects.

Most recently, we were deciding on our personal lodging, our love shack if you will, for the wedding weekend. While there are fabulous B&Bs and charming hotels in the Wimberley area, neither of us want to leave the party. So, it was set; we would stay at camp. At first I wanted a tent like the one in the hipster honeymoon Subaru commercial. (Yes, it pours rain and they have to sleep in their car, but it’s also an awesome canvas tent). I can picture an antique quilt and a pretty jar of wildflowers awaiting us with a lantern to keep the “honeymoon suite” dimly lit. I recognize this is not everyone’s idea of a romantic getaway, but we have both spent years of our lives where we slept more under the stars than in a bed, and there is something very romantic about it.

Trailers and Tents

Once Z decided that my canvas tent looked like a sauna in the potential Texas heat, we started looking at other options. Next up was a vintage Airstream trailer like Lola the Airstream. This idea is still taking shape (where we will park it and whether or not it’s truly feasible is still TBD), but it’s a nice compromise between a tent and a fancy hotel. Either way would be fine with me!

We are fortunate that our venue lends to this type of decor and that the theme comes naturally, but it seems the simplicity is in fact a bit deceiving; it takes a lot more work and research than I originally thought to pull together the mismatched vintage casual thing. Emma Rathbone’s recent article, “My Wedding Hair” in The New Yorker sums up the entire theme pretty well: “I’d like to look blithe, beautiful, like I could barely even make it to this wedding because I had so much going on, and also maybe like I just woke up from napping with some doves, but also really sophisticated, like I’m seriously about to put on some sexy glasses and flip angrily through my Filofax, and all of this is signified by my offhand yet gorgeous and strategically tousled up-do. Is that possible?”

Do any of you know the true differences between romantic : rustic : bohemian : shabby chic : DIY? Or do they really just blend to create a wonderful Anthropologie-esque mix-and-match feel? Has anyone else found that many of the rustic, vintage weddings found on wedding websites are planned and set up by event designers?

Collage credits (clockwise from bottom left): Airstream interior – // Vintage Trailer Wedding Shoot: // Engagement shoot: Pinterest // Canvas Tent: West Elm // Camping engagement: Shannen Norman // Airstream at night: AirBnB // Lit up tent: Photo courtesy of Durdana Ali Malik (You magazine).