On the eve of Thanksgiving, I remember all that I have to be thanful for. Although in the grand scheme of life, this little ol' blog of mine is a minor thing, I am thankful to have a space to collect my thoughts, share our projects and our life events. I appreciate ALL of the sweet emails, messages and comments from those who follow me. I truly do.

May you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Yours, Suzanne


Our DIY Wedding Crafts and Details

Our wedding venue, The Loose Mansion in Kansas City, was amazing. They provided the majority of the decor, including centerpieces, candelabras, trays, card box etc. As nice as it was not to have to worry about renting or hauling every last candle holder, chair, frame, basket and so on, it was still really important to me that we personalize the space. We also put our own stamp on every aspect we could, from a non-traditional ceremony to hand-selecting every song that was played throughout the evening.

Here's Our DIY Wedding Crafts

1. Wish Tree
In lieu of a traditional guest book, we decided to do a wish tree. I whipped up this simple sign, purchased some blank little cards at Hobby Lobby, tied them with ribbon and left out gold and black pens.

We spent the morning after our wedding eating breakfast in bed and reading the cards. I loved how almost every person wrote us little notes, so much more meaningful than a simple signature. We will cherish these forever.

2. Thank You/Program
Because our ceremony started at 6:30pm and dinner wasn't served until 7:45, we knew that most of our guests would be a little hungry. We ensured that our bar was open pre-ceremony and that champagne and sparkling water was passed to our guests on arrival. We also sat out big bowls of pub mix, Chex mix and nuts as a light snack. On top of the program, we placed mini-bags of our favorite Trader Joe Kettle Corn, tied with ribbon and a tag that read, 'Yay, you made it! Here's a sweet treat to tide you over to dinner. See you on the dance floor! love, J & S'

Our ceremony was roughly 25 minutes long, so it didn't call for a long, detailed program. Instead, I created a one-page sheet that was placed on every seat. The front side was a thank you to our guests for celebrating with us.

To our dearest  friends and family,
We simply say THANK YOU.
Thank you for your love, your encouragement, your guidance,
 for being our partners-in-crime, the reason for our laughter
and for sharing our sorrows through the ups and downs in life.
We feel incredibly blessed to share our wedding day with you. 

Please enjoy tonight.

Let it be only the beginning of many wonderful memories to come,
as we celebrate joy, love and friendship,
with our favorite people in the world.

Justin & Suzanne

for better or worse…but never for granted

The back side introduced our bridal party, with funny stories and anecdotes about each person. We also included a few things about ourselves and our parents.

A few tidbits about…
The Bride and Groom
Justin says it was love at first sight – It took Suzanne a few more weeks to fall for him - Charlie, Suzanne’s beloved dog, took a few months to accept the new man in his mom’s life – They spend their free time working on their house, visiting the City Market on Saturday mornings and enjoying live music – Charlie and Zorro, their two furry kids, keep them busy with long walks and play dates at the park - Justin saved the cork from the first bottle of wine that Suzanne and he shared on their first date - They now save every cork from each bottle of wine and champagne they share – After three years together, they have quite the collection! - It is this tradition that prompted the champagne ‘theme’ of their wedding -

The Bridal  Party
Meghan, the Maid of Honor, first met Suzanne 25 years ago as Daisy Girl Scouts in Kindergarten – The two have shared ridiculous amounts of laughter through the years and have listened to Tom Petty’s ‘Free Falling’ at least 1000 times together – Suzanne’s mom considered Meghan a second-daughter - Meryl, the brunette bridesmaid, and Suzanne became friends in 7th grade – Meryl is an amazing cook and helps Suzanne, a not-so-great cook, from burning holiday dinners – Matchmaker Meryl is also a friend of Justin’s and was the one who introduced the bride and groom - Sarah, the blonde bridesmaid, and Suzanne first met through ex-boyfriends – They both upgraded in the man department and remain great friends – Sarah, her husband Brian, Justin and Suzanne enjoy dinners together where the guys talk sports and the girls discuss important things i.e. decorating –                                                                                                                                    
The officiate, Mr. Steve Quigg, has known  Justin almost his entire life – He attended Grandview High School with Justin’s parents - Steve is also the father of Justin’s groomsmen, Ryan - Steve coached Ryan and Justin in youth soccer for a decade and enjoyed including the boys’ friendship in his Sunday sermon whenever applicable– Chad, the Best Man, is Justin’s older brother – Although eight years difference in age, they have always been close and enjoy getting together for a round of golf or just to hang out and talk about life – Chad has been a life-long mentor to Justin and is the epitome of what an older brother should be - Ryan and Justin started playing soccer together at the tender age of 3 and have been like brothers ever since– They attended K-State where they majored in foosball and frisbee golf -  Justin and Ryan have traveled to countless Phish concerts together – Adrian and Justin have been friends since they were fourteen when they met in high school – They love watching the Chiefs and tossing a frisbee around on Sundays - He has always been there with a helping hand or sound advice -

The Parents
Suzanne’s father, Duane, is retired after working for Mercedes Benz for over 40 years – He enjoys golf, BBQ and helping Suzanne and Justin with their (never-ending) house projects – The bride and groom are truly appreciative of his DIY skills and tool set – Vicki, Suzanne’s mom, tragically passed away six years ago from cancer –Vicki’s old handwritten recipes are now framed and adorning the walls of Suzanne and Justin’s dining room as an ode to her incredible cooking and hospitality skills – Vicki was the inspiration for Suzanne’s decorating blog and remains the greatest influence on Suzanne’s life – Pete and Linda, Justin’s parents, recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary last month – Both retired from Black & Veatch, they enjoy travel, attending church and their Taco Tuesday nights with friends – They are always there with advice and to remind us that they are “our biggest fans” - These two high school sweethearts are where Justin gets his great sense of humor from, as well as his compassion -

3. In Memory Display

I first saw this saying on Pinterest and fell in love with it. This saying simply ran true for our lost loved ones. I created this on my computer and printed it on heavy card stock. This sat on the mantel in the hearth room of our venue, surrounded with photos of our deceased relatives. Having personal photographs on display certainly made the venue feel more like home.

4. Glittered Champagne Bottle
If you follow me on Facebook, you may remember this project. I took my favorite bottle of champs, my favorite ultra-fine Martha Stewart glitter and my trusty Mod Podge and made a shimmering bottle. This sat on our sweetheart table, as seen here. I saved the bottle, which is now on display in my office. It was so easy and took just about 15 minutes to complete. I finished my spraying a light coat of clear sealant to avoid any glitter falling off.

5. Cork Letters

As noted on our programs, our wedding had a bit of a champagne theme. Justin save the cork from a bottle we shared on our first date, and we have kept up the tradition ever since. After three years together, we have quite the collection. I had previously made the 'S', so I made a new 'J' letter. I found an ampersand at Paper Source and decided to glitter that instead of adding corks, just for variety. Our letters were placed on a table where our cocktail reception was held.

6. Dancing Shoes
My sweet friend, Hillary, shared with me her 'dancing shoes' sign from her wedding. We put the sign next to a basket of flip flops on the dance floor, so that the ladies could kick off their heels and dance. A funny note about the flip flops is that they have been passed down through 3 weddings: Julie's, Crystal's, and ours. We have some left, so they may make it through a 4th!

The Details

1. Dessert Spread
Neither Justin nor I are huge cake fans or sweets- lovers in general,  so we knew we wanted a creative alternate to a traditional wedding cake. My dear friend, Haley, is an excellent baker and offered to do a dessert table for us. She made customized Scrabble-letter sugar cookies (Justin's a word nerd), gold dusted Reece's Peanut Butter Cups (my favorite!), pink velvet cupcakes, vanilla cake popes and chocolate-dipped Oreos. Everything was amazing. Plus, it made for a beautiful display. Win/Win!

2. Ring Security

Our nephew, Gage (age 9), served as a Ring Bearer. Because he was a bit older and is full of personality, we thought he would best serve as Ring Security. He was dressed in a suit, complete with aviators and practiced talking into his play ear-piece, like real security personnel. He stole the show!

 His dad and Justin responded;)

4. Floral Halos for the Flower Girls
Our venue was opposed to us throwing real rose petals down the aisle, and I did not want to use faux petals. Instead, our two beautiful flower girls did not throw anything but walked down the aisle with flowers in their hair.

5. Photo Display
We brought lots of personal photos to display throughout the venue. The Loose Mansion was the personal home of the Loose family, who started Sunshine Biscuit Co, and was built in 1909. It felt very personal, and the photos of us made it feel like it we were hosting our wedding in our home. A very large, opulent home:)

6. My Somethings

Something Old was an old diamond ring of my mom's, originally my grandmother's. I cannot believe I didn't get a picture of this:(

Something New was my gold glittered shoes purchased a mere 2 days before the wedding

Something Borrowed was the gorgeous sash I wore, on lend from a dear friend and recent bride, Kristin

Something Blue was also borrowed from my best friend and Maid of Honor, a beautiful sapphire bracelet

And a sixpence in my shoe- yes, I taped a penny inside my flats:)

There were two items that I desperately wanted to include on our wedding day but unfortunately could not. One was having our dogs participate in the ceremony. The other was having a sparkler send-off. Our venue had a strict rule against both. It wasn't the end of the world, but things that would've been nice to include.

OK- that's with wedding stuff, I promise. I'll leave with our first dance song-

xoxo, Suzanne


I Did! Lessons From a Recent Bride

While it's still fresh in my mind, I wanted to write down our wedding experience. The lessons learned, the things we would do differently and the things we are glad we did. After all, hindsight is 20/20.

Overall, we had a wonderful wedding. We were able to enjoy a beautiful evening with our favorite people in the world, and most important, we were officially married. Truly blessed.

Lessons Learned
1. It's true what EVERYONE says: the day goes by so fast!

My three bridesmaids and I met at our venue at Noon to begin hair and makeup. I was also able to walk through the ceremony space and make sure everything was just how we wanted it, which was a huge benefit for a perfectionist like me. However, the afternoon whizzed by and before I knew it, it was time for our ceremony to begin (6:30).

Allow yourself a moment to reflect on what you are about to do. Making a lifetime commitment is not something to take lightly. I didn't have a full appreciation of this in my early 20s, but as a 30 year old bride, I now know what this level of commitment means.
 taking a moment in front of my mom's photo

2. Don't be in a rush!
I felt like my dad and I flew down the aisle, because I literally blinked and was at the altar. Brides: SLOW DOWN WHEN WALKING DOWN THE AISLE. Savor the moment. Take it all in. Look at your friends and family, but make sure to focus on your groom. The expression on Justin's face was one I will cherish forever.
3. Eat! Don't Drink...too much!
Although you may have butterflies in your tummy the day of your wedding, you must eat something. I start every day with a green smoothie and my wedding day was no exception. I also ordered gourmet pizza for my bridesmaids and I to enjoy while we were getting ready. Your going to be emotional and the room will feel very warm as you are standing up in front of all of your guests. An empty stomach is not a good combination with this.

I followed my green smoothie up with peppermint tea, which always helps soothe my tummy. After that, I stuck to Sprite and water. Enjoy a glass of champagne or better yet a mimosa if you must, but don't drink too much before the ceremony. Although the day will go by fast, you will be exhausted by the end of it. The emotional highs, the typical heavy wedding dress, dress shoes (especially high heels) and lack of food will take it's toll. Alcohol just exasperates this.

4. Make sure the bridal party and family knows what to do after the ceremony.

We went through the pre-ceremony and ceremony schedule. However, we didn't really discuss what our families and bridal party should do after. Once Justin and I kissed and walked down the aisle together, we immediately posed for some photos with our photographer. Our bridal party ended up spread out. We had to corral everyone upstairs. No big deal but it will save some stress and time if the before AND after plan is discussed.

What I'm Glad We Did:

1. Have a Sweetheart Table
For one, the majority of our bridal party was married. With a bridal party table, it meant that their spouses would be sitting at a random table. Because we have family and friends from all over the country, not everyone knew each other. We didn't want to separate couples or stick one single at a table with couples that all knew each other.
 * I adore this picture of us during my Maid of Honor's speech. We have been best friends for over 25 years, and she delivered the most beautiful, sweet, funny toast. We laughed and cried!

Second, it gave Justin and I time to privately talk and take everything in. As soon as we sat down to dinner, Justin said, 'This is the first time I have gotten to talk to you all day.' In fact, it was the only time we had a few private moments through the reception.

2. Take Photos Pre-Ceremony

Our ceremony began at 6:30 and lasted roughly 30 minutes. We had a 30 minute cocktail hour, while the room was being flipped. Then, we immediately started dinner and most people were served by 8pm. If we had waited to take photos until after the ceremony, we wouldn't have started dinner until 9:30. Plus, we were on such a high after the ceremony and anxious to chat with our guests, it was nice to immediately jump into the cocktail hour and mingle.

It's worth mentioning that this in no-way impacted Justin seeing me for the first time in my bridal attire. In fact, it made it much more intimate. Our photographer was able to catch some close-up photos of our reactions.

3. Personalize Our Ceremony
We did not marry in a church, which allowed us to personalize everything from our music selection to order of events. I absolutely understand the sanctity of a religious ceremony and in no way am opposed to that. However, I did appreciate the freedom that we were able to have when planning our ceremony.

It was important to us to have a personalized and meaningful ceremony, so we searched for unique ideas. We both fell in love with the 'Ring Warming' tradition. Our wedding bands were tied together and passed around to every guest to hold for a moment and say a silent wish or prayer for us. By the time it came for us to exchange rings, they had been 'warmed' by the love of our family and friends.

We also opted to do a group blessing during our vows and asked our guests to participate. Because we had a small wedding, just 90 guests, it felt very personal and intimate, which is exactly what we wanted.

Our minister has known Justin since he was 3 years old and is the father of Justin's best friend. He delivered a personal sermon, where he talked about Justin as a child and watching him grow into a man and now marry. I never cry. I just don't, but I couldn't fight back the happy tears at our wedding.

This makes me laugh every time I look at it. The moment where it becomes 'official'! Ahh!
4. Kept our budget in check
I wore comfy glittered gold flats, purchased for $7 at Payless. Shh! Don't tell anyone.

We paid for our wedding ourselves, so we had to budget where we could. I bought a sample dress,  I made our wedding invitations and we stocked the bar with liquor from Costco. Guess what? Our wedding was just as fabulous as we could've ever dreamed. Decide on your splurge items or your must-haves. Then, identify areas where you could save. It is NOT worth beginning your marriage in debt for a one-day celebration. In 20 years from now, you will not remember the upgraded linens, the favors or how may tiers your cake was. You'll remember how you felt...and maybe what your dress looked like.

5. Customize the Music
Justin and I are huge music lovers, and we ended up hand selecting every single song that was played from pre-ceremony to the last song of the night. We loved selecting songs that fit each stage of the wedding perfectly.

The families walked down to Elvis Presley's 'Can't Help Falling in Love'

The Bridal Party walked down to the Beach Boys' 'God Only Knows'-

And finally, my father and I walked down to The Piano Guys version of 'A Thousand Years'-

As soon as we were pronounced husband and wife, we walked out hand in hand to Stevie Wonder's 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours'
These were some of our favorite songs and they meant something to us. Every now and again, my husband will play our song list from the wedding and it brings us right back to the big day.
6. Have a band...a GOOD band!
We had The Stolen Winnebago's perform, a local cover band. They were our one big splurge item and WELL worth the expense. They kept the dance floor packed all night with popular 80s, 90s and current hits and even some rap covers. Amazing!
7. Remember it's about you and your partner.
It's easy to stress about the guest list, the budget, not offending any relatives and incorporating all of your closest friends. However, your wedding is about the start of your marriage. Nothing else. It is not worth putting undue stress on yourself, your partner or your family. Everyone commented about how laid-back I was throughout the entire wedding planning process and even the day of. Ultimately, it was because I stayed focused on the 'bigger picture', marrying my very best friend.
Justin surprise me by showing up clean-shaven
Here are a few more photos (because I'm an excited newlywed)
My almost 87-year old great aunt and my mother-in-law helping hook all of the buttons down my dress

My dad stealing a look
Some of my beautiful girlfriends...and my crazy uncle up front
first official family portrait
ceremony all set
the bouquet
I will be back soon with a post about all of my DIY wedding projects and all the details!
xoxo, Suzanne