I can’t believe it has been an ENTIRE year since our wedding weekend. Where on earth does the time go? While I did share a photo diary with you for the day of our wedding, I realized I never wrote a post about the day! I never sat down and wrote about the rehearsal dinner, getting ready, saying our vows…none of it. What kind of blogger am I even?
Either way, it makes for the per-fect one-year anniversary blog post, so today I’m going to share with you the real story of our wedding weekend. I actually started writing this last week thinking I’d have it up BEFORE our anniversary but turns out writing this was a mammoth.
Grab a cup of coffee, because I have a feeling this is going to be a long one.
So, our wedding festivities started on the Thursday morning before the wedding. The night before Michael and I had packed up our car with everything we’d need: wedding decorations, bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts, booze for the open bar, our honeymoon suitcases. I don’t think we’ve ever crammed so much into Michael’s Jeep. Bright eyes and bushy tailed, we headed south about 1 hour from our house to Darien, CT.
When looking for a wedding venue, we struggled. We knew we wanted something we could have for 3 nights so we could have a night out with our friends (sort of like a mini bachelor/bachelorette night) the Thursday before the big day. We also really wanted a low-key vibe to the wedding which was not something the bigger, more elaborate venues could offer. After months of looking, we were heart pressed to find anything that clicked. We found ourselves saying “I wish we just knew someone with a big backyard we could get married in.”
That’s what got us thinking…we didn’t need a venue, we just needed a house. Another month of emailing countless houses on VRBO with the subject line “can we get married at your house?” we met a husband and wife in Darien who didn’t give us a strong “no, not in the insurance policy,” as an answer.
“We like weddings,” the husband had emailed me back, “let’s meet.”
Michael and I drove down to meet the family and instantly it clicked. The house was beautiful on a small but perfectly maintained piece of land. It was an old white home with two large pillars holding up the front entryway. It had that unmistakable, quintessential New England style with a huge American flag hanging from the front porch. There was a small backyard with a big oak tree providing shade, the perfect spot to say “I Do.” And a large side yard that was perfectly level, just begging to have a sailcloth tent popped up on it.
The husband gave us a tour of the place and we got into the car knowing this was the place we were going to get married. We just hoped we’d made a good enough impression on the homeowners to get the green light.
Luckily, we had hit it off with the owners and they emailed us that night that they enjoyed meeting us and were happy to let us get married at their house.
Two days before the wedding
So, that Thursday morning of our wedding week, around 11 am, we pulled up the curved driveway that opened up to that big white house with the American flag. The weather was perfect for an early June day, 80 degrees and sunny. After unloading the car we made our way over to the town hall to get our marriage license.
After that, we drove back to the house to meet the event crew who was setting up our sailcloth tent and bringing most of our equipment: chairs, tables, dance floor, lights, table settings, bar, etc.
As the crew worked setting up the tent, our friends started to arrive. The house had room for almost our entire wedding party and they, with their significant others, were all invited a day early to ring in the weekend with us.
While almost everyone knew everyone else, there were a few people meeting for the first time. It was great to get everyone together and acquainted before the main festivities really began. We hung out by the pool, enjoyed a few drinks and laughs, and waited for everyone to arrive.
At dinner time the girls and boys split up for a few hours. The girls headed into downtown Darien (walking distance from our house) and went to a nice dinner. The boys headed to a bar and we all met up for after dinner drinks around 9pm. The night ended up with everyone in their bathing suits splashing around in the hot tub.
It was the perfect way to start off our wedding weekend!
The Day Before
The next morning we started with coffee, obviously, and donuts because it was National Donut Day (how convenient). The rest of the day was wedding duty day. We had a lot of little things to take care of and luckily had our entire wedding party there to help. Everyone split up for a few hours to do different tasks and then all met back up around 2:30 to get ready for the rehearsal dinner by 4.
Around this time everyone in our immediate family began to filter in. After a quick wedding rehearsal, we all hung out in the kitchen of the wedding venue house for about 30 minutes catching up and making any introductions that hadn’t happened yet. We also used this time to give away some gifts. Because many of Michael’s groomsmen were my friends and many of my bridesmaids were his friends, we wanted to do bridesmaid gifts from the Groom and groomsmen gifts from the Bride. Since we wouldn’t be seeing each other in morning, this was the perfect time to exchange those presents. Michael had bought all the girls knot bracelets from Kate Spade and I had ordered all the guys tie clips engraved with their initials.
We had our rehearsal dinner at a spot called Bodega Taco Bar. They have unique street tacos, ceviche that was to.die.for, and endless pitchers of margaritas. Oh, there were also nachos with pulled duck meat. YAS honey, yas! I could honestly eat at this restaurant every day of my life. The food was served family style and I loved the more laid-back vibe that it gave the night. One of my favorite things about the wedding was just having everyone important to me all in a single spot on one weekend. Getting a chance to share tacos and margaritas with them the night before the big day was perfect.
After dinner, we all filtered back to the house where all the boys grabbed their overnight bags. The house was to be “girls only” for the night. Michael and I said a quick last goodbye as an unmarried couple. I remember that moment very distinctly for some reason. At this point, I just wanted to fast forward 20 hours so I could finally be his wife. All this build up…all the planning and waiting and anticipation, was finally coming to an end.
The boys stayed the night at the same hotel our guests were at which was about 1 mile from the house. My girls and I hung around the kitchen making a pitcher of sangria for the next day. I remember not feeling tired but heading off to bed just so the next day could finally get here already.
Around 9:30 we all snuck up to our own rooms. I hung the girl’s presents up for the next day- I had gotten them robes to get ready in, monogrammed beach bags, and a journal inside the bag which I had written them each their own letter. I took a quick shower and slipped into bed wondering if I would ever be able to fall asleep. Apparently, I was more tired than I knew and fell asleep almost immediately and slept the entire night. I think all the festivities of the night before had me much more tired than I actually felt.
The Big Day
I woke up without an alarm around 7:30. I slipped into my “best day ever” tank top my mom had gotten me and shuffled downstairs. I knew I would have to wait for coffee because my mom was bringing it over.
I wandered outside to the big tent and started to putz around. Tables and the dance floor were all laid out but the table settings still needed to get done, so I started to put them together. I laid out tablecloths and started arranging the runners. I had ordered a variety of place settings from the event rental business so that the plates all mismatched one another. Over the next 2 hours, my girls all woke up and joined me. We all fussed around in the tent putting the name cards out, arranging place settings, setting up the aisle for the ceremony (which was in the backyard.)
On of my favorite details we added to the day was the custom mugs we bought. We had mugs made as favors for our guests that said “best day ever” with the date. We also hired a barista from NYC to come in and he setup an entire table with espresso machines and drip coffee. He served lattes and espresso and coffee drinks to everyone after dinner. It’s one of the only things we didn’t get a picture of from the big day (you can see it lurking in the back of some of the dance photos at the end), but one of my favorite personal touches we had.
My mom and her friend arrive with coffee and breakfast so we decided it was time to quit working and start getting ready for the day.
The next few hours all fused together. Hair and makeup arrived. The girls and I hung out in my room talking and sipping champagne. I transferred my vows down onto nice cardstock. Girls did their nails or touched up their pedicures.
It was honestly so relaxing and laid back as we all just hung out for the majority of the afternoon getting ready. I didn’t feel nervous or anxious. I remember just completely enjoying those few hours.
The ceremony was at 5:00, so around 3:30 the girls all got into their dresses.
Then, around 4:00 I slipped into my wedding dress.
My mom handmade my dress for me. After weeks and endless tries at bridal shops, I couldn’t find a dress I loved. I wanted something simple, light, and comfortable and it was like pulling teeth trying to find anything like that at the stores. The majority of dresses were all covered in lace, adorned with jewels or embellishments, or had full skirts. I wanted less of all it…less lace, less tulle, less everything. Anytime I found anything slightly close to what I wanted it was outrageously expensive.
So, after one of these unsuccessful trips with my mom, she said to me, “you know, I could probably make the dress you want…it’s so simple.”
And so, it began. Countless fittings and sketches and pinned pieces of fabric, the dress started to come together. Mom showed me samples of fabric (there are apparently A LOT of different kinds of silk and satin and tulle) and we started to put together the dress. When my mom was in Italy she stopped by a fabric shop and bought pieces of handmade lace for the bodice.
About 3 months before the wedding I flew down to my mom’s house in Flordia for a final fitting. The dress was finally starting to look like a dress, but I still just had to put all my faith in the fact that it would get finished and fit. About a month before the wedding we passed the dress off to a seamstress who pressed and steamed the entire thing after putting on the final hem.
I picked it up about two weeks before the big day. I remember getting it home and immediately slipping it on (obviously.) I didn’t need help getting buttoned into it or a crew of friends to help to step in and out of the skirt. The dress was simple, it was insanely comfortable, and it was just right.
I know this dress isn’t most girl’s dream wedding gown. Most girls envision something ornate and oozing with elegance. And, don’t get me wrong I find those types of wedding gowns insanely gorgeous and took full advantage of trying them on before deciding on a dress. But, I was getting married in a backyard ceremony under a big oak tree and having a reception on under string lights in the grass, something sweet and simple seemed just right.
About 30 minutes before the ceremony my bridesmaids had all hurried down to the kitchen to work a little damage control. Planning an entire wedding out of a house had its share of mishaps, one being that we ordered whoopie pies for dessert only to realize right before the ceremony they were individually wrapped… The girls all took a handful and unwrapped them, placing them out on platters. The waitstaff team had arrived as well and so the girls kindly showed them the ropes as well.
My dad came up to see me which, of course, was a perfect moment for just the two of us. We anxiously hung out in my room, peering out the window because we had a bird’s eye view of all the guest arriving which was really fun.
Our guests were all shuttled over by bus from the hotel a mile away. They were dropped at the bottom of the driveway and walked up the top to be greeted by the sangria I had made the night before. I remember being strangely concerned that no one would drink the sangria but it was actually quite warm for an early June day and every drop was drunk before the ceremony.
My bridesmaids made their way back up to the room and our Justice of the Peace stopped by to collect my vows and make sure everything was OK. We filtered down the stairs and when we saw the final groomsman disappear, walked out to line up. I don’t remember feeling anxious or nervous in this moment. I just remember being ready. I remember feeling so so so ready to finally say “I do” and be Michael’s wife.
Each bridesmaid took their turn until it was finally my turn to walk down the aisle. We had set out a Bluetooth speaker to play our song while we walked down the aisle and when I came to the corner to turn down the aisle I remember realizing it hadn’t worked. The music wasn’t playing. In any other moment, I probably would have gotten it fixed. I would have had someone run to turn it out. But at this point, I was ready to walk down that aisle and see my groom. I remember saying, “it’s fine,” and arm-in-arm with my dad turning to walk down the aisle.
If there are rules about the speed in which you’re supposed to walk down an aisle I’m pretty sure we broke them. Mind you, we walked, but I couldn’t get to the end of that aisle and my soon-to-be-husband quicker. One of the best pieces of wedding advice I received was to “just look at him as you walk down the aisle.” I locked my eyes on Michael and looked at him that entire walk.
Standing in front of everyone you know and love for 20+ minutes is slightly awkward, whatever way you slice it. You know every eye is on you. What do you do with your hands? Where do you look? It’s all sort of a guessing game. I remember my dad handing me off to Michael and I took his hands and didn’t let go until it was time to be announced as husband and wife.
We had to quick reading from family, and then it was time to read our vows. Michael and I wrote our own, and I thought I’d share them with you:
Kallie, you are my best friend and my other half.
I promise to always love you and to support your life goals. I promise to always be on time – give or take 30 minutes.
Most importantly I promise to always choose you, over all else – even UConn football.
Michael, you are my best friend, my confidant and most importantly, my soulmate. Wherever you go, I will go. Whatever you face, I will face.
I pledge to watch UCONN basketball with you and make you nachos even when you’re old and gray. I promise to be a faithful, patience and attentive wife to you, and mother to our future children. In sickness and in health: I promise to take care of you, even if it’s just a little cold and you’re being a big baby. For richer or for poorer: I promise not to spend all our money on coffee and lipstick.
Today I chose you, and I promise to choose you every day, forevermore.
After the “I do’s” and the first kiss, our guests were whisked away to cocktail hour…which I kept calling “happy hour” because let’s be honest that’s what it was. Michael and I, on the other hand, were whisked away to take photos. I don’t regret the photos we have. Looking back even just a year later, I’m glad we have them. It’s just the struggle of your wedding day, trying to find time to say hello to the people who came to celebrate with you and also find time to do your bride and groom duties.
For our guest, cocktail hour was much more low key. We had family friends who play music and they set up their guitar and piano by the pool and played for guests while they snacked on charcuterie plates. Michael and I are big lovers are charcuterie and I’m so glad we were able to have a great spread on our wedding day – even if I didn’t get a chance to eat any! My mom even stopped at our favorite cheese shop – Fromage in Old Saybrook, CT – and got our favorite cheeses: English Cotswold for Michael and a Truffle Cheese for me.
Since we had to bring in everything we tried to keep it as simple as possible for beverages. We had two cocktails available. The Mrs. B was the bride’s choice and it was made with lime juice, simple syrup, and cucumber infused vodka I infused myself the week before! The groom’s choice he wisely named “Happy Wife, Happy Life” and it was a rum-spiked lemonade. For wine, my Maid of Honor’s father was a vintner at a local CT vineyard and so we stocked up on different bottles. We had two beers on tap – Michael’s favorite which is Thimble Island Real Ale, as well as Sam’s Summer Ale.
Our cocktail hour was beautiful and relaxing, but it certainly didn’t go off without a hitch. We had a lot of little things that went wrong. First, the waitstaff was supposed to use this time to bring the chairs from the ceremony to the reception so our guests to sit but they apparently missed the memo. Luckily the Groomsmen were all superheroes and whipped off their suit jackets to move all 75 chairs themselves.
Next, the hot hors d’oeuvres were supposed warmed up and out by the time guest made their way into the tent. Unfortunately – something we couldn’t have even thought to plan for – the oven at the house we rented wasn’t full size since it was an older house. This meant the trays that all the food needed to get warmed up in…wouldn’t fit! Once again we had some awesome people step in to help. The waitstaff thought on their feet and started warming everything on the stovetop. The owner of the house even jumped in to help to warm up shrimp on his grill! It was a team effort to pull this wedding together and I was thankful for each and every person!
We held the reception under a big white sailcloth tent. Michael and I both dreamed about a sailcloth tent for our wedding but almost backed out of the idea more times than I can count due to the worry of rain or poor weather. But, we decided to take a risk and it was SO SO SO SO worth it. The string lights hanging from that beautiful tent was the per-fect backdrop to finish off this day. We ate dinner and then came the toasts. We laughed and cried, as you do with all good toasts.
Then came time for our first dance. I can’t tell you how nervous I was about our first dance you guys. I honestly stressed about it for like 2 weeks leading up to the wedding. Neither Michael nor I have what you might call “rhythm.” I just envisioned us up there making total fools of ourselves. People would throw tomatoes and boo. But that song turned on and we got up there and I’m not exaggerating when I say there wasn’t a SINGLE OTHER PERSON under that tent in those 3 minutes. The one moment I worried about the most turned out to be one of my most favorite memories for the entire day.
Our first dance song was “Hey There Delilah,” by Plain White Tees in case you were wondering. Before you laugh, that song came out the year Micahel and I started dating. And, in our first few weeks dating I was actually living in NYC for the summer taking classes at F.I.T., so the lyrics kinda resonated with us at the time. Plus, considering we’d been dating over 11 years, I liked the idea of throwing it back to a song from when we very first met.
My dad and I danced to “I’ve Got the World on a String” by Frank Sinatra and Michael danced to “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys with his mom.
Then, it was time for everyone to join us on the dance floor. My favorite thing about weddings is HANDS DOWN the dancing. I just love it. I had joked with my mom a few days before the wedding that I just couldn’t wait to dance and the next morning she was like “you weren’t lying…I don’t think you missed a single song!”
I danced my married booty off for the next 2 hours. Looking back I probably should have been I good host and make sure to make the rounds and see every person, but by this point the night was mine and I was going to be damned if I didn’t enjoy the best part of weddings. Plus, I managed to dance with pretty much every guest at the wedding – so I call it a success.
Around 9:45 we had some pizzas delivered from Bertucci’s which was a spot on decisions because everyone was hungry again from dancing. Plus, Bertucci’s pizza is delicious. The music ended with a 15 minute back-to-back dance party of NSYC, Backstreet Boys, and other favs from the early 2000’s which was obviously my most favorite thing ever.
The music ended with a 15 minute back-to-back dance party of NSYC, Backstreet Boys, and other favs from the early 2000’s which was obviously my most favorite thing ever. Friends who weren’t staying at the house filtered out and others changed out of their wedding attire and into bathing suits to get back into the hot tub. Michael and I retired for bed around 11:30 pm because we were old married people now…and we also had a flight to catch to Peru the next day.