Chris and I started looking at engagement rings two months into dating. We knew it was bound to happen but at the time he was teaching middle school and high school at a local private school in addition to finishing his PhD and teaching college labs. I was still finishing my Bachelor’s degree while also starting a Master’s degree and working at the same time. Less than a year later… COVID hit. Chris started teaching online from my apartment and I was bored out of my mind not being able to go to work. Chris was set to graduate in month, I was set to finish one last class online and would graduate the following semester. Neither of us had jobs lined up, we didn’t know where we would live, or how we’d get by, but we knew were tired of not being married.
The first difficult task was finding a ring… the challenge? Every. Single. Jeweler. Was. Closed. Don’t get me wrong… we’re a couple of scientists and we know the reasons the businesses were closed. But it definitely put a wrench in our plans. I was just casually looking online and showed Chris a ring that I liked and to my surprise he responded “ok get it!” Since the stores were closed and loosing business, most jewelers were running 50% off sales if you ordered online. So we ordered it, and before it he even gave it to me we decided to send a text to our moms to invite them to come wedding venue shopping with us. We booked it that day and even though I didn’t have the ring yet we looked at each other, smiled, and said “Let’s just go ahead and say we’re engaged”. And so it began. We had 3 months to plan a wedding, get jobs, and find a place to live. Now, this would not have been possible if it had not been for my mom who has worked as a special events coordinator for over 10 years. She KNOWS how to plan an event. And while she had never planned a wedding, she was ready for the challenge.
Our wedding was at a beautiful location on Smith Lake in Jasper, AL called Hidden Cove Farms. The venue was beautiful It had an old rustic barn for the reception and a beautiful deck that overlooked the lake and the sunset at a price that we could actually afford. There was a closet full of decorations at our disposal. They had all the tables, chairs, tablecloths, centerpieces, and all kinds of décor that we used. We were able to text questions to the owner, come to the venue for planning, they let us move everything around however we wanted and made sure everything was clean and ready. One of our favorite parts about the venue is that when you book, you book it for the whole weekend. We were able to set up on Friday, have the wedding Saturday, and go back to clean on Sunday if we wanted. If you are currently planning a wedding, I highly suggest a venue that gives you free access to their décor closet. It saved us so much time, money and hassle. You can find our venue by clicking here, or check out their page on The Knot here.
Next was the dress. This was the day I had dreamed of since I was a little girl (as with most brides). I had heard so many great things about The Something Blue Shoppe, I told my mom I wanted to make one appointment there and nowhere else. And within the first few minutes I found my dress. My dream dress. It had all the features that I liked… all in one dress. It was a dream come true. Now, of course I still stayed a long time trying on multiple other dresses just to be sure. Due to the pandemic, you had to make an appointment, wear masks, and could only bring one person with you. There was only one other appointment going on the whole time we were in the store and they kept things very clean and sanitized. The man who helped us, Blake, truly made me feel like a queen during the whole process. It turned out that there was a dress in the warehouse that was my exact size in the exact color that I wanted. So instead of the usual eight months that it takes to get a wedding dress in, mine came in within a week. We were also able to get my veil there at half price. Due to so many weddings being cancelled, they had plenty of veils that had been ordered, but never picked up, and therefore sold at a discounted rate.
The invitations were one of my hardest tasks. For a small piece of paper they can get expensive. The plan was to find a template and make our own. I found a template I loved on etsy, we had them printed at Staples and they came out terrible. What should have been flowers came out of the printer as big black blocks. Now I am no graphic designer, but there is something about the template we bought from etsy that wasn’t configured correctly and it wasn’t compatible with printing. Thankfully my mom knew someone that could fix it and we finally got them printed by another company. It turns out that this is a very common problem with Esty templates, but the printing companies often take the blow since you can’t see the problem until it is printed.
Our wedding video was done by Judah Walker at Bear All Media, and photography by his then girlfriend (now fiancé) Elayne Conti. Both are incredibly talented and did an amazing job! They came the day before to check out the venue and get ideas for shooting. They were incredibly flexible with us and even redid all the shots of my dress when I forgot to give them the correct props. One thing that is important when choosing a videographer and photographer is they need to work well together. All day I noticed Judah and Elayne look at each other, nod, and somehow know the exact shot and position they wanted each other to do. This made the whole thing run so smooth and effortlessly (at least on my part). Not to mention they were both standing up and moving around getting shots all day long in 90+ degree weather without loosing their enthusiasm a bit. Both Judah and Elayne do more than just weddings so please check out the links above!
The last notable vendor we had was our day of planner. If you choose to forgo the wedding planner and plan the wedding yourself, but need help with the finishing touches and the day of, then definently check out Christy Chappell Events. Christy was so sweet and thought of everything. with my mom being so good at events, I knew we needed help the day of the wedding so my mom could enjoy the day and not worry about all the little details. Christy brought an assistant and they were basically everyone’s right-hand-woman the day of the wedding. She helped us finish the decorations, kept everyone on time, and so much more. I honestly barely saw her all day because she was working so hard and I was just able to enjoy myself. Christy was super flexible and made sure I knew that whatever I wanted to happen would happen. She even packed us plates of food to take to the hotel with us (which was completely devoured at 11pm that night). Check out her Facebook or Instagram pages by using these links.
We chose August 8th thinking that it would give time for the current COVID cases to decrease and before cases spiked once schools started back. We were very very wrong. Cases spiked just before the wedding and we had to contact everyone and ask them not to come. It was devastating for me but we knew it was necessary. We choose to have only family and the wedding party. We had a family member do a live feed to Facebook of the wedding so everyone could watch. We had masks and lots of hand sanitizer. We had someone serve the food instead of everyone serving themselves. For drinks, we chose to have all bottled beverages and no open drinks. The ceremony was outside and the reception was in a well ventilated barn where we had separate tables for each family unit. We had to cancel our honeymoon to Jamaica and we went to Hilton Head instead. Thankfully, many resorts and hotels have great cancelation and refund policies currently due to the pandemic. We were able to book worry free knowing we could cancel if needed.
To be honest… I don’t remember the rest. To all future brides out there… It does not matter if you use glass plates or plastic. It doesn’t matter if the songs don’t go perfectly or if you get a little mud on your dress. I’ve been married 6 months and all I remember about that day is how excited I was to start forever with my husband. I remember missing him all day until our first look. I remember wanting nothing more than for people to stop asking me how I wanted this or that… I just wanted to marry Chris. By the end of the day we chose to skip the bouquet and garter toss because we were both so exhausted from being in the heat. In the end, that’s why you’re there. It was one of our favorite days. And we make new favorite days all time. The best part about spending your life with someone is that you have a lot of chances to have “the best day ever” with your spouse.
Thankfully, Chris was able to secure a job in Huntsville and I was able to get a part time nanny gig for a sweet family while I finished my last semester of school online. We found a house to rent and moved within a week of him accepting the job. We never expected everything to work out as smoothly as it did. I know it doesn’t work out this way for everyone, and there were definitely a few small hiccups along the way, but we are now very happily married.
Below are a few more links to things we used in our wedding: