If you’ve set a fall date for your wedding, you’ll want to make sure you are taking advantage of all the special offerings of the autumn season. From colors that compliment the changing leaves, to autumn drinks and food, make sure the season brings out the best in your wedding.First photo: MMR Design and Photography, second photo: Matt Priestman Photography, third photo: Matt Priestman Photography
- Of course, one of the most fun parts of fall weddings is color. Fall is the perfect time of year to embrace deep, rich colors, like wine reds and purples and jeweled greens. Rich tones that play off the environment of your venue can really bring out the festive nature of the season. If bright colors keep coming to mind though, autumn is the perfect time to use gorgeous shades of orange. As long as you’re not pairing orange with black, it won’t look like Halloween and you can play on the warm tones of the changing leaves.
- Some drinks just taste better in the fall. Beer, red wine, and hot drinks like mulled cider and hot toddies are all cozy, seasonal additions to autumn nuptials. A hot signature cocktail is a perfect compliment to chill winds and cooler temperatures. Add hot buttered rum, mulled cider or hot toddies to your drinks menu. Fall is also the time to showcase your love for craft beer and velvety red wines. Playing off of guests’ senses of taste and smell with seasonal drinks can really ground your theme and pull the day together.
- Fall brings with it less predictable weather, but beautiful outdoor settings. Renting enclosed tents and space heaters to bring the comforts of the indoors outside is a great solution to the question of will it rain, storm or be too cold. If you prefer an indoor fall wedding, bringing the bounty of nature inside with floral and foliage décor, natural centerpieces, and even choosing a venue with big windows and a beautiful view can bring the beauty of the season inside.
- Pumpkin spice, anyone? Talk to your caterer about incorporating fall flavors into your menu. Cranberry pecan salads, pumpkin soups and ravioli, and sweet potatoes can all bring the essence of autumn to your wedding dining tables. Many caterers (As well as dessert vendors) have special dishes available during the fall and can help you to choose a menu that brings out your favorite autumn flavors. Don’t be afraid to ask your wedding professionals for their recommendations if you’re not quite sure what will make your dream wedding day perfect.
Fall is a special season, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Use these ideas to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the bounties of the season and keeping your wedding theme grounded in autumnal bliss through and through.
Wedding season in Washington has been heating up this summer. We have seen record-breaking temperatures, heatwave after heatwave, and wedding season is nowhere near over. As temperatures rise again this weekend, make sure your wedding plan includes some easy beat-the-heat solutions. Here are some tips for keeping yourself and everyone else comfortable during your heatwave wedding.
- Bottled water is your best friend. Plan ahead to put cases of bottled water everywhere. You should have readily available water in your bridal suite (or wherever you’re getting ready), at the reception site, the ceremony site, in the cars you’re taking from place to place, and anywhere else you might be during the day. If your dress makes it difficult to use the restroom, make sure you’ve got a bridesmaid on standby to help you when you need.
- Ask a trusted bridesmaid and groomsmen to be in charge of encouraging the rest of the wedding party to hydrate on the day of. The last thing you want is to get halfway through your beautiful outdoor ceremony just for one of your bridesmaids to pass out due to the heat and dehydration.
- Set your guests up for success. A station with communal sunscreens or a basket with personal-sized sunscreens for guests to take with them is an easy way to help guests combat the sun. A basket with paper fans or cute, simple sunglasses for guests to grab can also help keep everyone comfortable in the heat.
- Put hydration on the menu. Have bottled water as well as non-alcoholic seltzer water available in fruity flavors to make hydrating fun. If you have waiters circulating with drink trays, discuss having bartenders whip up trays of garnished water or flavored waters to make hydration accessible and easy for everyone.
- Shade-a-plenty. Make sure that your wedding site has ample shade for guests during the ceremony and reception. Be aware that some guests may be disproportionately affected by the heat and will need to sit in the shade to enjoy the day.
- Talk to your photographer about taking group photos and formals before the ceremony. Sunshine and heat equals sweat and melting make-up. To ensure that everyone looks their best, snap pictures early in the day!
Thinking ahead about heatwave wedding hacks can really reduce your stress on the big day! Use these tips to easily keep everyone comfortable and hydrated all day, no matter the heat.
The week before the wedding will fly by. There will be so many final details to approve, checklists to double-check and inevitably a fire or two will pop up and need to be put out. It’s important to handle all the last-minute wedding details, but It’s also important to carve out time for self-care.
Scribble some time blocks in your schedule for treating yourself, taking care of yourself and spending time with your fiancé.
Part of treating yourself is taking time for you. Set aside some time for a min-spa night. Take a bubble bath, do a facemask, a hair mask and do all those special occasion self-care things that often fall off the radar when you’re busy.
Do whatever it is that brings you relaxation. It doesn’t matter if it’s watching your favorite TV show in a comfy robe with popcorn, hanging out with your best friends, heading to the spa or creating your own spa night, just do something that brings you calm and joy.
Take care of yourself
The week before the wedding is a busy time and it is easy to forget to do basic self-care tasks, like hydrating and eating regularly. These things can have a huge impact on your mood, stress responses and your skin.
Make sure you are setting yourself up for success and a relaxed wedding day by hydrating the week before, eating regular, healthy meals, and getting plenty of sleep.
If you wake up dehydrated and not rested, you’re likely to go into your wedding day with a short fuse. The time you spend getting ready in the morning will be much more pleasant if you’re starting the day in a good mood, so set yourself up by taking care of yourself in the days leading up to the wedding.
Not eating well can result in skin blemishes popping up on the big day and hydrating and not sleeping can also affect the clarity of your skin. Whether you’re hiring a makeup artist, doing your own makeup, or you’re going totally natural, waking up with a zit on your wedding day is not fun. Taking care of your body leading up to the wedding is going to show in your skin.
Time for you and your fiancé
You’re about to be married! It’s so exciting and easy to get caught up in just getting to the wedding and the post-wedded bliss. Remember to enjoy your last days together as fiancés before you take the plunge.
Set aside time for a date night a few days before the wedding to reconnect over a meal and a walk by the water, or take a morning off to make breakfast together. Spending some time together where you’re not getting something done, running errands, or talking about final wedding prep plans will help you to reset before the wedding. This is a great opportunity to shed the relationship strain often caused by wedding planning and remind each other why you’re tying the knot in the first place.
Your wedding is going to be amazing, but that last week of final prep can get hectic. Prioritize taking care of yourself and your relationship so that you can be firing on all cylinders when the big day arrives.
Better than any Facebook post or text thread, sending out your wedding invitations is the ultimate announcement that… you’re getting married! And for all your family and friends, receiving that bit of gorgeous, meticulously designed paper in the mail is a cause for celebration, giving them a taste of your wedding day plans and letting them know that, yes, they’re invited!
If you’re just getting started on your wedding planning journey, make sure to bookmark this page for later! As fun as designing your invitations can be, the process of collecting addresses, following timelines and sending them out can be time-consuming and stressful without a guide. That’s why we’re going to make this as simple as possible, giving you a step-by-step process so you can send those puppies out and get RSVPs back with time to spare.
Save the date — 6+ months before wedding (9+ months before destination wedding)
Wedding days are competitive — as you’ll find out when booking your vendors — and guests will often have multiple invitations for summer dates. Sending out save the dates is an optional way to bookmark that date in your guests' schedules early on, making RSVPs more likely later on as you won’t be competing with vacations or other events. Save the dates can be as small and informal as you’d like with just your names, date, location, website and the statement, “Formal invitation to follow.” Plus they’re a great opportunity to show off your favorite engagement photos!
If you’re hiring an invitation designer or calligrapher, start researching vendors at this time as well. You don’t want to find your dream vendor only to be notified that they’re all booked out for your timeline!
Order wedding invitations — 4-9 months before wedding
Wedding invitations have become much more flexible over the past few decades, though traditionally they would include: the host, the couple’s names, date, time, venue, location, dress code and whether a reception will follow.
The invitation will also include a response card or RSVP and may also include an enclosure or details card and a map with directions.
Allow ample time for customized invitation suite design if you choose to go that route. You’re hiring an artist (or many)! Just like any custom project, it’s important to create space for communication, brainstorming, revisions, delivery and assembly. And don’t forget about envelope calligraphy!
If you choose to create your own invitations or pick from a template, use this time to take the process slow as well. Collect all the necessary addresses and names, order your product and start assembly.
Send wedding invitations — 2-3 months before wedding (3-4 before destination wedding)
Try to get your invitations sent out about 2 months before your wedding day, and 3 months or more for destination weddings. This will encourage guests to RSVP right away (set your RSVP deadline for 2-3 weeks before wedding), rather than delay or even forget if they have an extended period of time to respond.
Now that you’ve read through that spiel, here’s a simplified wedding invitation suite timeline!
9 months prior: Research and hire wedding invitation designer and calligrapher
7 months prior: Order Save the Dates, begin working on invitation design and compile names and addresses for calligrapher or designer
6 months prior: Send out Save the Dates, finalize invitation design
5 months prior: Order wedding invitations
2 months prior: Send out wedding invitations
2-3 weeks prior: Receive RSVPs and reach out to guests who have yet to respond
12+ months prior: Research and hire wedding invitation designer and calligrapher, order Save the Dates, begin working on invitation design, compile names and addresses for calligrapher or designer
9-12 months prior: Send out Save the Dates with website info, finalize invitation design
6 months prior: Order wedding invitations
3-4 months prior: Send out formal wedding invitations
Picking out your wedding dress is a special experience, one that many brides choose to share with important people in their life. It’s a day layered in magic, excitement and anticipation to find “the One.”
In your dreams about this day, you may have imagined mimosas, twirling around in a big ballgown and hearing your friends and family rave about your beauty. But if you’ve seen the hit series Say Yes To The Dress, you’ll know sometimes the most important people aren’t the best people to have in your entourage.
So how do you figure out who to bring with you?
Forget the “norm”
First off, make sure to let go of the basic image that you’ve seen on television. Your support group may or may not include your mom, sister and best friend, and that’s okay! There’s no obligation to bring any one family member or friend, whether it be a mother or sister-in-law or bridesmaids.
The only tradition that matters is the one you create.
If you choose to keep your group small, consider inviting the rest of your entourage to your final dress fitting or a “visit” that many bridal shops offer prior to your dress coming in. This will give your friends and family an opportunity to feel a part of the process while ensuring that you avoid being bogged down by too many opinions.
Before you make a decision on who to bring, make sure to check in with your bridal boutique to see how many people they allow. Many boutiques do not accommodate large groups, and you’ll avoid offending your bridal party or family if you know that information beforehand.
You can also speak with your boutique for recommendations on who and how many people you should bring. They know this process better than anyone and can definitely give you the hard truth about your opinionated best friend or estranged mom.
As you narrow down your entourage, think about the process like planning a dinner party. The goal is to get a group of diverse voices that each have something unique to offer the group. So what voices do you want there? Maybe your logical and honest sister, or your loving, encouraging aunt, or your favorite hype-girl?
Take count of your personality. If you’re shy and easily bend to strong opinions, you may choose to leave your most controlling family member at home. But if you can be more emotion-driven and indecisive, stacking your entourage with multiple logical friends could help balance it out.
It’s also important to consider who will blend well. Having competing voices on the sofa will only stress you out and bring unnecessary tension to the process. So if your mother and grandmother have an ongoing rivalry, choose to bring only one of them.
It all comes down to you feeling happy and comfortable while you’re choosing a wedding dress. Curating your A-Team allows you to take control of your day and ensure that drama and stress will not be a part of it. And if you feel prepared and ready to make the decision all on your own, just do it solo! Knowing what you need from your friends and family, and what you definitely don’t need will help you create the magical day you’ve been looking forward to for years.
We’ve all heard the term Bridezilla. And whether you’re a bride or a groom, we know that being compared to a giant prehistoric sea monster is not on your wedding day checklist.
The media is full of epic “Bridezilla stories” from charging no-shows $100 for uneaten meals to demanding a bridesmaid dye her hair, but it goes deeper than that. The term “Bridezilla” really boils down to one thing: a seriously stressed-out human. All the other craziness just builds from there.
So, if you want to be a wedding planning boss while avoiding this unpleasant term, it’s all about managing stress and being proactive. Wondering where to start?
Here are our recommendations for how to avoid stress and stay positive during your wedding planning process:
Take a second (or many) to be realistic
Wedding days come with a lot of pressure! It’s your one special day, the day you’ve been looking forward to for your entire life — so it’s obvious that the process of planning and living out that day can get a little overwhelming. Make sure to take some time, when you’re feeling the most stressed, to remember that this is just one day. One day, out of thousands of joy-filled days that you’ll spend with your love. Whether the day brings rain or sun, in 24 hours it’ll all be over, and you’ll head into your life together.
Listen to your loved ones
With all of the voices telling you what you should do on your wedding day, it may feel easier to just shut the door on everyone and do your own thing. And while you should hone in on your desires for your wedding day, it’s important that you allow your friends and family to feel involved and share their advice.
Even if you don’t take their feedback, giving your loved ones time and attention will show them that you care about them just as much as they care about you. It’s always better to hear them out and say “no” than to ignore them altogether. Because, in the end, the important people in your life just want to see you happy.
Be considerate of family & friends
When you’re planning your dream wedding, make sure to give your bridal party and guests consideration. Your loved ones are traveling hundreds of miles, booking hotel rooms and taking time off work to be there for you on your special day. And your bridal party is doing even more, from attending your bachelor/bachelorette party and purchasing attire to being your right-hand-man throughout the process.
Take time to inquire about their budget and remember the sacrifices they are making to show you their love and support. Doing so will help them feel seen, loved and appreciated and create a positive vibe on your wedding day.
Share the load
Taking on wedding planning and preparation is too much for two people, so it’s important to delegate. One of the easiest ways to do this is to hire skilled vendors and a wedding planner. These industry professionals know their stuff and will lighten your load considerably as they handle individual parts of your day.
But if you don’t have a wedding planner, enlisting the help of skillful friends and family will help make your vision come to life. Reach out early on to see who is authentically interested in helping you out. Make sure not to place any expectations on loved ones straight-off-the-bat, as doing this can result in resentment and negativity.
Take all the help that is offered and make sure your helpers feel appreciated. Doing so will create a tight-knit community of wedding supporters that will be the life of the party when the day comes.
Don’t get too caught up in trends
In the age of social media and Pinterest, planning an aesthetic, trendy wedding without the help of a skilled wedding planner can seem easy. But as you start this process, remember to use Pinterest to inspire — not copy. This will help you feel satisfied with the end result, no matter what it is, and allow your vendors to use their skills to create something truly unique to you.
In 20 years from now, we promise you won’t care if the wedding had thousands of aesthetic lanterns hanging from trees or the perfect table setting. You’ll be looking back at the pictures of you smiling and having fun with your friends and family.
Trust your vendors
Hiring experienced vendors is key to having a seamless wedding planning process. But it doesn’t stop there. Remember that, you’re paying them to make your wedding magic, they’re also humans. Wedding professionals are almost never in it for the money — they’re doing this because they love the work and are passionate about it.
Respect them by allowing them to have creative freedom. Feel free to send them inspiration, but avoid statements such as: “I want you to do it like this.” If you tell them what you love about their work, show them inspo from their own portfolio and Pinterest, and put your trust in them, their enthusiasm about your wedding will grow exponentially.
And, when the day comes, refrain from babysitting them. Trust them to do what you’re paying them to do, give them breaks and feed them!
Focus on the fun
When you envision your perfect wedding day, what do you see? Probably not you being super stressed out, micro-managing everyone. We bet you’re thinking about walking down the aisle, dancing and partying with your friends, and smiling every step of the way.
Your wedding day marks the beginning of a new stage, one of total commitment and celebration. Your relationship and marriage will never, ever be flawless. Once you let go of the expectation of perfection, you’ll be able to plan your day with a sense of calm and joy, with an expectation of beauty in the chaos.
By trusting your family and vendors, planning for your unique needs and letting go of things that are out of your control, you’ll create the fun version of your wedding that you’ve been dreaming of.
And, we promise, it’ll be worth it.
Glen Echo Garden has been a staple of the Bellingham wedding vendor community for decades. With flourishing gardens and an ideal location just outside of the city, the venue has seen hundreds of couples through their special day.
So, when the property's owners of 40-years decided it was time to head in a new direction in 2020, another Bellingham family jumped on the opportunity without hesitation.
We recently spoke with one part of the family-operated business, Sarah Larson, about the property and her family's dreams for the future of the garden.
Keep reading to hear about what they offer wedding couples on their wedding day — including some eye-catching new additions!
For readers that aren’t acquainted with Glen Echo, could you share a bit about the property and what you offer?
Glen Echo Garden is a 7-acre landscaped forest oasis along Anderson Creek just outside of Bellingham, WA city limits. Our property has a secret garden feel and is a perfect mix of open green space, established gardens and towering trees. Our passion is helping create magical, memorable experiences that connect and bring people together. We view our space as a foundation for guests to create the event of their dreams and as a place of healing and grounding. We invite guests to be creative with our space—we love hosting events of all kinds, from weddings to yoga and art retreats.
You’re continuing in the footsteps of Glen Echo Garden’s previous owners as a family-owned business. How did you all decide to take the plunge together?
Our family has dreamt for years about having a place like Glen Echo Garden, where we can be creative and where everyone in the family can find their niche. Little did we know that a place like this existed! When we found this amazing property, we just knew it was the right place to share our vision with others.
We’d love to know a bit more about your family! What outside experience are each of you bringing to this endeavor? What are you each most excited about as you begin this adventure?
We are a family of artists and entrepreneurs, landscape gardeners and dreamers. Several of us have extensive experience in event and retreat-planning through nonprofit positions we’ve held for years and several of us are passionate gardeners and landscapers. Two of us are also working artists and just about all of us are avid outdoors people and lovers of all things beautiful.
All of us would consider ourselves “doers”—we dream up ideas and help each other figure out how to execute those dreams. As a group, we’re incredibly excited to build on the amazing foundation and framework that already exists at Glen Echo. We have big visions for this property—with such a naturally gorgeous, tucked away forested garden like this, the possibilities are endless.
What changes can the public and wedding couples expect to Glen Echo’s operation or gardens?
For the first year of operations, we will be mainly focusing on finding our sea legs and creating a rhythm and workflow as a group, while continuing to offer much of what the former owners had in place. The look of the gardens will be largely the same as in years past, with a beautiful mix of established perennial gardens and colorful annual flowers.
We’re very excited to share that we’ll have two brand-new, large glamping tents in the gardens for the bridal parties! The spaces will be comfortable and chic—perfect for getting ready and sharing a toast before the ceremony.
We’re also very excited to expand the business into a new area and offer nightly glamping and camping options. Stay tuned throughout the spring and summer for more on this!
Tell us a bit about the amenities you offer for weddings at the garden. Why should couples choose Glen Echo?
When couples choose Glen Echo for their wedding, they are reserving our entire 7-acre gardens, which are completely private, so magical and incredibly naturally beautiful. This means that everything you see in the gardens is yours to use, from the two glamping tents to the indoor gathering space complete with a full kitchen. We have two centrally-located bathrooms and one shower in the gardens. Included in the cost of your rental are banquet tables and chairs as well as two large event tent shelters.
Guests are welcome to tailor our space to their personal vision, though many couples choose Glen Echo for its natural beauty that acts as decoration and backdrop in and of itself. When you descend into our private gardens, you enter another world of huge towering trees, lush green lawns and beautifully landscaped spaces.
Glen Echo Garden has received negative attention under previous ownership for reportedly homophobic remarks as well as allegedly not allowing LGTBQ+ couples to rent the venue for their weddings. How are you actively working to mend this history and ensure LGTQ+ couples feel welcomed at your venue in the future?
It is incredibly important to us that the public knows our family’s values, which are that of openness and inclusion for all communities. We were deeply saddened to learn about the couples that were turned away by the former owners because of their identity as part of the LGBTQ+ community. While we aren’t able to change history, we can do everything in our power to let the public know that under our ownership, all are welcome here. We see Glen Echo as a space of comfort, grounding, beauty and celebration and we invite all people to be part of the community we are building here.
Where do you envision Glen Echo in 5 years? Tell us about your dreams for the property’s future.
The property’s future is what gets us most excited! While we plan to continue opening the space for event rentals, we have a wider-scope vision for our offerings here at Glen Echo. A few of our dreams are: to offer the property for yoga, art, meditation and other retreats, with the ability to provide lodging onsite for retreat participants; to build a number of beautiful, rustic structures for nightly rentals, such as A-frame cabins, yurts and geodesic domes; to plan community events of our own, like woodfired pizza and beer nights or outdoor movies in the summers. To us, this amazing property affords endless opportunities, and we are so excited to share this vision with others!
If newly-engaged couples are interested in scheduling a tour, what should they do?
The best way to get in touch with us with inquiries is through email at email@example.com! Couples are also welcome to send an inquiry through our website at www.glenechogarden.com.
What’s your favorite part about attending a wedding?
Is it seeing the bride in her wedding dress or watching the groom tear up? What about shredding the dance floor or seeing people you haven’t spoken with in a while?
Or maybe, the thing you most look forward to is digging into that $350 cake…
If we’re right on the nose, then you might want to keep reading. Though we can’t play wedding day favorites, we do have a soft spot for cakes and other sweet treats.
So, cake lovers, this is for you! A compilation of the most mouthwatering, gorgeous, delectable cakes seen north of Seattle.
Terracotta Ombre Cake
We are loving this Terracotta cake from Pure Bliss Desserts — the stunning ombre, the simplicity and size, the surrounding sugary goodies, it's everything.
Also, can we just give Abi Moczulski Photography a round of applause for this cute cake-cutting pic, because our hearts are melting!!
Woodsy Vanilla Cake
Let us just say that this green beauty is making us wonder why all cakes aren't green. Cakes by Emily crafted this vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream for a styled shoot planned by Cedar Meadows Events and photographed by Cat Ruchalski Photography.
This tablescape (decor from Cranberry Sky Heirloom Rentals) and florals by Folk Art Flowers complement the cake beautifully, rounding out this natural color palette.
Minimalist Deckle-Edged Cake
Deckle-edged cakes are gaining popularity in the wedding industry — and for good reason. They perfectly toe the line between minimalist and vintage and stand out in any room for their subtle twist to the traditional white cake.
This prime example from Cakes by Felicitations features a gold deckle edge and complimenting florals, all atop a modern marble cake stand with a geometric base.
Pacific Northwest Blackberry Cake
The unique sky blue shade of this simple buttercream cake sets it apart from the rest. But inside — it gets even better, with a chocolate sponge with blackberries folded in and chocolate ganache filling.
It's a good thing we don't have a photo of the inside, or we'd never be able to get it out of our heads!
Cake | The Night Owl Bakery | @thenightowlbakery_tnob
Location | Emerald Forest Theater | @emeraldforestevents
Stylist | Elevated Events by Tosha | @elevatedeventsbytosha
Photographer | Cindy Nguyen Photography | @cindynguyen.photo
Rentals- Simply Unique Event Rentals | @simply_unique_event_rentals
Floral | Poppy and Pomegranate | @poppyandpomegranate
Modern Two-Tier White Cake
This cake is simple and timeless — a two-tiered beauty with some floral elements. We've never seen a cake look more perfect and pure. It's almost too pretty to cut into!
Photography | Kerry Jeanne Photography | @kerryjeannephoto
Event Planning | Simply by Tamara Nicole | @simplytamaranicole
Florals | Gather Design Company | @gatherdesigncompany
Cake | Saltadena @saltadenabakery
Strawberry Bavarian Cream Cake
This gorgeous, flower-laden cake by Barb's Pies and Pastries has us wanting to eat cake by the ocean every. single. day.
And if the cake wasn't enough, this styled shoot vending team created the wedding design inspo of our dreams:
Elegant Pastel Blue Cake with Floral Focus
We love pastels on wedding cakes — and this soft blue beauty by Cakes by Felicitations is the stuff of our dreams. The ribbon of soft ivory florals only adds to the cake's effortless elegance, which is also bolstered by the unique tier sizes.
Lavender Drip Cake
This cake is like something out of a movie. The watercolor-esque painted texture adds elegance and artistry to the otherwise classic four-tier cake, and the bright purple drips with pops of purple florals on each layer add a big wow-factor.
Photography | B Jones Photography | @bjonesphotos
Venue | Lairmont Manor | @lairmontmanor
Floral | Petals by Linda
Cake | Saltadena | @saltadenabakery
Coordination | Sincere Event Planning | @sincereeventplanning
Painted Champagne Cake
We love the vibrant paint stroke texture on this dual-colored buttercream cake by The Night Owl Bakery. Inside, this beauty features white champagne flavored sponge and fresh currant compote.
Cake | The Night Owl Bakery | @thenightowlbakery_tnob
Photography | Miranda Quade Photography | @mirandaquadephotography
Venue | NW Backyard Events | @nwbackyardevents
Floral | Karrie Michelle Floral Design | @karriemichellefloraldesign
A note from the photographer:
Anna & Caleb’s rainy, family-centered micro-wedding in the Hoh Rainforest was full of heartfelt details and sweet moments. Anna shared that their day "wouldn't have been so amazing without the help and support from friends and family. We were very cautious to prevent any spread of Covid, and as a result, we had a wonderfully simple and intimate wedding."
It rained - and poured - on-and-off all day but the couple and their family were troopers and embraced the weather! Anna woke up at 5 am the day of the wedding to make the bouquets, and one of the couple's friends did her hair, while one of her sisters lent her the earrings she'd worn for her own wedding. Just before leaving the cozy cabin, wellies and all, the bride was given a handmade shawl from her sister to match her dress, and the groom surprised her with a letter gifting her a trip to Yellowstone, as well as a guidebook and a gift card to REI to purchase gear for the trip.
At the Hoh Campground, Anna & Caleb opted for a quiet first look among the autumn leaves and moss-covered trees. The immediate family set up a campsite as 'base camp' for treats and hot cocoa before the ceremony and decorated the campfire ceremony space moments before the pop-up vow exchange (affectionately dubbed 'The Campfire Program') began. The couple walked down the aisle to an incredibly sweet rendition of 'You've Got a Friend', a memorable touch that wouldn't have even happened without a little planning mixup: "we forgot the speakers, so my brother and sister-in-law performed...and it was even better that way"! The rings were presented by Anna & Caleb's puppy Kingston, and the bride's best friend officiated the charming ceremony; plenty of laughter was woven into the proceedings...as well as a few tears as Anna and Caleb read their vows to one another and letters to Caleb's daughter!
The rain let up a little in time for a few portraits (35mm), and then guests dispersed across the campground to their cars, campsites, and quiet benches for BBQ box lunches, before reconvening for two separate homemade wedding cakes and a few toasts. The day was even celebrated by a lone elk wandering through the campground, and the bride gifted jewelry she made to the women who are near and dear to her. Due to COVID-19 this was the third wedding plan, but it turned out to be an incredibly emotional, heartfelt, and joy-filled day! As the bride shared later, "Something always goes wrong at a wedding. But every challenge was met with great spirits, and everything turned out even better than expected."
Photography - Alisha Trahms Photography
Hair Color - Kopa Hair Studio
Hair Styling - Linsay Weflen
Dress - Brides for a Cause
We get it. You’ve been dreaming about this day for years — when all your friends and family will come together to celebrate you (and your boo). So it’s understandable that you’d rather delay the event altogether than compromise on your vision of a large wedding celebration.
But if you’ve been pushing back your wedding waiting for restrictions to be lifted, it may be worth it to consider the alternatives. That’s why you’re here, right?
If you’re an adventure seeker, you could always elope! But if having your family and friends there is important to you, an intimate, or “micro,” wedding is a totally underrated alternative.
While weddings with 150-200 guests have been the norm for decades, couples who choose to go ahead with 10-20 person weddings are absolutely raving about the results. These smaller weddings have many bonuses — they’re generally cheaper, easier to plan, more intimate and on the whole just a lot less stressful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Are you open to the idea of a micro-wedding? Well, read on, because we’re here to convince you that they deserve better than to be your backup plan!
1. It’s all about what you want
Because intimate weddings are often simplified versions of traditional “big” weddings, there’s a lot more freedom to do what you want! With a more flexible timeline and budget, you’ll discover so many more ways to celebrate your union that reflect your unique relationship.
Some ideas: you can lengthen the ceremony with special ceremonies, such as handfasting or ring warming, and have members of your family read notes from the special people who aren’t able to attend. You can get catered food from your fav local restaurant rather than hire a caterer and create your own playlist for some dancing in your backyard!
Basically, the whole day will be about you — not about hosting a slew of guests, making the rounds and doing all of the things people expect you to do!
2. Only the most important people in your life will be there
Because your wedding will be confined to close friends and family, you can toss drama and small talk out the window. These are the people you love more than anything, and they know you better than anyone, so you can really enjoy the company of your guests the whole day.
3. You can streamline celebrations for a shorter day with less stress
Many modern weddings go about 10 hours, from getting ready in the morning to the last dance in the evening. With a micro-wedding, you’ll be able to start later, spend less time in-between events corralling people to the next part of the night and really just relax into the day.
This alleviates wedding-day stress because you don’t have to worry about being a host for 10 hours! You can sleep in, eat lunch (this is important folks!) and take it easy. And when the ceremony comes, you’ll be able to take it all in stride, with a more intimate, casual ceremony and a fun, lively dinner, if that’s what you decide!
4. Save money
This may be an obvious point, but it’s important to mention. The fewer people you have at a wedding, the less you’ll spend. Though, if you’d like to splurge on your wedding, intimate weddings are great for that as well!
You could decide to spend more on the venue, or food, or even your dream dress! Just make sure to sit down with your betrothed and talk over what is most important to each of you — that way if your partner really wants a popular jazz band to play at the reception, you can plan everything else around that expense. You can keep track of your budget with our wedding budget checklist, available here.
5. More venue options
One of the best parts about having a micro-wedding is that a whole realm of new venues is at your disposal. All wedding venues have caps on the number of guests they’ll allow, so as your guest count dwindles venue options will skyrocket. But that’s not all — with anywhere from 10-50 guests, you’ll be able to book non-traditional venues such as your favorite bar, restaurant or local garden & nursery
6. More time with guests
Instead of making small talk with near-strangers as you make the rounds at your reception, your guests will get to be participants at your wedding. They can make snacks for the morning, help set up the ceremony — and even do the florals! Plus, they’ll be able to handle the tear-down as you and your beloved dance the night away.
Having fewer guests makes the day more fun and memorable for the people who are chosen to attend. Also, you’ll have an easy way to tell acquaintances why they weren’t invited.
7. Easier to plan
Intimate weddings are often easier to plan due to their more simplistic nature. For many micro-weddings, there’s simply less to juggle! That makes it possible for the couple to plan it almost entirely on their own, or hire a wedding planner at a reduced cost to manage a few elements of the day.
This isn’t true in all cases — such as if you’re redirecting your big wedding budget to an intimate lavish occasion, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if the whole wedding planning thing stresses you out.
8. More time/money for the honeymoon
With less cost required for your wedding day, you’ll have more money for other things, like your honeymoon!! You could splurge on your dream resort stay or extend your trip by days — or even weeks.
Plus, you’ll have more brain space to devote to dreaming about all the excursions — we’re thinking helicopter ride to a glacier, zip-lining, couples massages, etc!
9. Your wedding will be memorable
While most weddings will become a blur over time, your distinct approach to this traditional binding of two families will stand out. If you’re considering a group hike to your favorite spot or a party at your favorite club, but wondering whether it’s “wedding-y” enough — let that anxiety go. Because you can do anything you want to! Your close friends and family will get on board eventually (they love you after all!).
And because your intimate wedding will be uniquely you from start to finish, your guests will remember it fondly in the years to come. So just do the thing, you won’t regret it
10. You can enjoy your day completely
When planning a big wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in the traditional schedule and forget that it’s your day. With an intimate wedding, you can forgo all the in-between parts you’re not looking forward to and just do you! Doing this will allow you to enjoy your day completely — from start to finish — and get your marriage started on an amazing stress-free track.
Let’s get real — weddings are changing! Even if you haven’t been tuned into the wedding scene lately on Pinterest or Instagram, amidst a global pandemic and loads of restrictions it’s obvious that plans — maybe even your plans — have had to be rearranged. From cutting your big wedding plans to medium-sized, small and even micro, COVID-19 restrictions have put traditional weddings through the wringer. If you feel hopelessly lost and ready to just call it off and wait until 2022 — there’s an alternative you may have cast aside too soon.
For the past few years, elopements have been making a comeback and becoming “trendy” alternatives to the traditional weddings of the past. And we’re not talking about a Vegas elopement (though those are actually on-trend too) — we’re talking about a trip across the country, driving a jeep through a desert, dancing under the stars and never-stop-holding-hands kind of celebration.
Ready to learn more about the new definition of “elopement” and how it could be the best decision you and your love will make in 2021?
Let’s dive in! (literally — you can have an underwater elopement too)
Reason 1: You get to forget everybody else’s expectations
If you’ve already started to plan your wedding (or have been to any wedding ever) you know that traditional weddings aren’t always about the couple. There’s what your mother-in-law wants, or what your grandparents need, what your friends say you have to do or, honestly, just what you think you need to do.
But let’s just break it down a bit. At its roots, a wedding is a celebration that surrounds the signing of papers that legally bind you with your love. Everything else is just, well, tradition!
An elopement, then, is a ceremony without guests (or with very few) in which a couple gets hitched without a reception or public celebration attached. In the past, it’s been defined as the antithesis of a traditional wedding — something secretive, sudden and improper.
But in the 21st century, eloping is a bit less taboo. It basically just means planning an epic adventure focused on your connection with each other and allowing many traditions to fall to the wayside.
If tradition is important to you when planning your wedding, you can still incorporate elements of that into your elopement. You can still have something old, new, borrowed and blue. Your dad can still walk you down the aisle — even if that aisle is a trail on the top of a mountain. And you might choose to have a party a few weeks or months down the road — with all of your friends and family in attendance.
The point of an elopement is you get to build your wedding day from the ground up. No expectations, less stress, more authenticity.
Reason 2: An experience curated for you
What is an elopement if it’s not in Las Vegas and isn’t a small wedding? You decide! Start anywhere you want, but maybe ask yourselves the question: What screams “us”?
Love to travel? Pick a spot you’ve always wanted to go, book a neat AirBnb and wrap your honeymoon + ceremony into one.
Foodies? Grab tacos at a food cart after saying your vows and get some funny shots dancing on top of picnic tables.
Experienced mountaineers? Consider having a sunrise wedding on the summit of a mountain!
Have a place that’s special to your heart, like your grandparents' cabin or a secret spot close-to-home? Bring along a few of your favorite people and make your vows surrounded by loved ones. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The best part about this is it’s all about you. Every decision you make will reflect your unique connection with one another and further the special quality of this day. And if planning this kind of adventure still makes you stressed, you can hire an amazing elopement planner — or hire a photographer who specializes in planning elopements with epic photos in mind.
You won’t be asking: what do we need to do? You’ll be asking: what do we want to do?
Feel less stressed already? Us too.
Reason 3: Every moment is intimate & special
If you’ve been to a traditional wedding, you know the drill. The day starts with setting up and getting ready, then guests arrive for the ceremony, you get hitched and run off for a photo sesh as newlyweds, meanwhile, there’s a cocktail hour, then dinner with speeches and lots of toasting, then a bit of dancing before everyone leaves.
For some, this might sound like the best day ever! But being the center of attention, with everyone waiting to talk with you (or paying $1 to dance with you), isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Without setting intentions around the wedding day, the true purpose of the day can get lost in all the fluff. But at an elopement, this isn’t a concern.
You two are on your own for most of the day (with a photographer if you wish). With a small party of guests or just the two of you, the day is a lot more intimate and special. If you’d like, you can say your vows just to each other, with nobody else within earshot. You can take time to hold each other before the ceremony and focus on your partner alone throughout the day because they’re the only one vying for your attention.
Plus — because you planned all of this together, with your relationship and passions in mind, everything has a deeper meaning, one intertwined with your love story.
Reason 4: All that other stressful stuff goes *poof*
If you’re already planning, you may have stumbled across this number: $33,900. That’s the cost — on average — of a wedding in the United States. So, where does that money go? For traditional weddings, the most costly items are catering, the reception & ceremony venues, transportation, wedding planners, photographers and videographers, as well as smaller items like attire, music, florals & decor and cake.
How much you spend on your wedding is up to you, and whether you spend $200 or $50,000 at the end of the day it’s all about your vision for the day and your relationship! If you’re looking to save money, or just want to do something different, elopements offer a way for you to redirect your money into a trip of a lifetime or even put a down payment on a house.
You can also be selective about who attends your ceremony. If you have experienced anxiety over how to avoid family drama, you can decide to do an elopement without any guests or only invite the people that you truly really want to be there.
Reason 5: You can still have an epic party!
Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean everyone misses out! Plan to have a party a few months down the road (or even the same week!) with friends and loved ones to celebrate your marriage.
You could have dancing, cake and music, all of the same things as a traditional wedding — but instead of doing everything at once, you are able to intentionally have a day for just you and then a day for everyone else to celebrate.
In the end, it’s all about uncovering what your dream day looks like— and doing what needs to be done to make that happen. The good news is, there are so many resources out there to help you figure it out — and so many examples of couples who prioritized authenticity above all else and created a spectacular day that meant the world to themselves and their loved ones.
Have questions or need more inspiration before making a decision? Take a look into our blog archives to learn more about planning your perfect wedding.