Well, we got married!
It was chaotic and beautiful and memorable, one of those unique emotions-turned-to-11 kind of days. This post is focused on overall concepts and ceremony, stay tuned for a detailed project list and some delicious bar recipes.
We wanted our wedding to be small and DIY because we wanted it to be unapologetically us.
Saving money was nice (anything “wedding” is three times the cost) but the main driver to plan and design from scratch was that Allie absolutely could not relinquish creative control over anything. So we grew the plants in our chupah from seed, learned photoshop to design our invitations, had Aaron’s mom Dee learn the basics of floral design, had Allie’s mom Beth cut and sew table runners and bunting, and walked away from all of it substantially more crafty than when we started.
Aaron has worked every part of a wedding from caterer to bartender to musician and Allie has a serious knack for large-scale organization, so it all went off surprisingly smoothly.
We coordinated directly with vendors for music, food, and photography but did everything else ourselves. Aaron’s sister Laurel was instrumental in being our day-of organizer and spent the entire event running around in her element with a clipboard. Dinner was catered by Vanilla Orchid (Austin TX), reception music was by bluegrass group Bottom Dollar String Band (Austin TX), our photographer throughout was Olivia Vale (Austin TX). And although she wasn’t part of the event, our wedding/engagement rings were custom made by Claire Webb (Houston TX). While we’re at it, our engagement photos were taken by Aaron’s sister Hannah Varnell (Austin TX).
We wholeheartedly recommend every one of our vendors, they were fantastic to deal with across the board. And if Laurel ever gets into wedding planning, we recommend her too.
Although we live in Houston, we had no interest in getting married in Houston and quickly settled on the beautiful Texas hill country for the general location. As we talked through ideas, the one of renting out a property that could sleep as many people as possible while housing both the wedding and reception seemed to be the most enticing. After several months of scouring VRBO and HomeAway for property rentals that could meet this tall order, we had whittled it down to about eight that were within our price range. One long weekend of visits later, the Moriah and Farr Side property in Marble Falls emerged in a comfortable first place finish.
The property slept 36 (!) with a beautifully renovated barn and a huge field overlooking Lake Travis onsite. It was Texas but not too Texas. It was perfect. We rented the whole thing for four nights.
We’ll be the first to admit that five days of entertaining is ambitious.
But it was a destination wedding for most of our guests and as long as everyone was committing we wanted to make it something to remember. We had a total of 80 guests, with the wedding party and associates staying onsite and everyone else staying at the nearby extra fancy La Quinta.
Although the wedding wasn’t until Saturday, on Wednesday night we already had around twelve guests, mostly family, and kicked off the stay with some baby-related activites. By Thursday we’d grown to over twenty, and we welcomed our new onsite arrivals with all the booze and food we could muster while the hotel crowd went out for a casual dinner in Marble Falls. Friday was our day of projects; we put the on-site crew to work decorating and cooking and running errands and contacting vendors, and watched as they rose to and exceeded the tasks we put in front of them.
Morale was high as we all watched the property become the vision we’d hoped it would become, then celebrated it Friday night with post-rehearsal Texas style BBQ, homemade margaritas, and a performance by Aaron’s band The Beyonders!
By Saturday we were at sleeping capacity, the place was ready, and we had all grown much closer after spending hours hanging up bunting, arranging flowers, or juicing lemons together. General consensus seems to be that our wedding parties loved being a part of it, they loved being asked to use their skills as bartenders and event planners and musicians and general handimen to help create the day.
The group effort made the whole weekend rich and dynamic in a way that we couldn’t have done ourselves.
Since neither set of parents had any particular traditions they wanted us to observe (except for Allie’s mom’s fully welcome insistence on a wedding cake), we came at the whole wedding with a fairly blank slate. Interestingly, as we slowly threw out one radical idea after another, the strength of some of these traditions became apparent. Traditions are traditions because they oftentimes tap into some deeply fundamental part of what it means to be human.
We looked largely to Aaron’s Jewish heritage for elements that conveyed values we both held. For instance, the chupah representing the home we would one day build for ourselves, or the breaking of the glass representing simultaneous destruction and joining of our separate selves.
Even the diamond in Allie’s engagement ring, carrying with it the comfortable gravity of family legacy, took on a new significance.
Keeping with our intent to fully utilize the resources of our friends and family, we asked one of our good friends, Liz, to become ordained and work with us to write the ceremony. Liz gladly agreed, went through the really surprisingly simple process of getting ordained online, and started researching what to include and not include in a ceremony.
First off, we wanted it to be short, powerful, and personal. A major focus of ours was bringing our friends and family together in a capacity extending far beyond the day itself. We wanted our guests not just to witness but to participate, so we incorporated a set of affirmative “vows” for everyone present (promising to support us, love us, and eat cheese at our dinner parties).
As for our vows, we wrote them in one late, irreverent brainstorming session and delivered them as a back-and-forth prose rather than call and response. Highlights include promises to always have a smattering of cats and a tearjerking affirmation to be with each other until one breathes their last.
For ceremony music, we asked a small but motley crew of musician friends to bring their instruments and learn our songs, and they gladly obliged.
- General processional – Sukiyaki (in the style of the Ventures)
- Bridal processional – Life on Mars (David Bowie)
- Recessional – Heart it Races (in the style of Dr. Dog)
After all the planning and rehearsal and stress and anticipation, it happened and it happened well.
Since the property had everything we needed onsite, we were able to walk directly to the reception area. Cocktail hour(s) followed, then dinner, a slew of planned and unplanned speeches and toasts, and a long night of dancing, drinking, and laughing.
We hope you enjoy! We certainly did.