Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal


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Wedding Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal

Photos by Eli Weddings.

What’s it like to plan your own wedding on the DIY, local, personal-touch tip? When it came to my wife and I getting married, it was very much a team effort. We made lists, assigned duties, shared Google Doc spreadsheets and did a whole lot of running around.

Very soon after Jessica and I got engaged, we knew right away that we wanted our wedding to be a true reflection of us and our relationship. Sure, you might think that goes without saying, but it actually requires effort. You can easily flip pages and pick the best, well-reviewed, mid-priced vendors and call it a day. You’d most likely be perfectly pleased with the results and it would definitely save a lot of time and headaches. However, I’d say that doing stuff yourself does indeed become worth while and offers a very particular gratification making everything all the more memorable.

Wedding Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal

Overall, we ignored tradition. [Important Note] We did not actively rebel against tradition, we just ignored it. If things we planned happened to be conventionally “traditional” (dad walking her down the aisle, having name cards on the tables) then so be it, but we weren’t gonna go out of our way to have a garter toss.

Wedding Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal

There is one “rule” that should not be taken lightly. It’s the exception to all the other ones, and if you’re smart, you will adhere to it. Booking a venue should be the first thing you do. For some reason, we thought it would be easy to book a place—that is until we started getting rental quotes, and catering quotes, and realizing that our dream place was only available on a Wednesday, in 9 months, for 3 hours. We ended up getting super lucky on our way to visit one venue when we took a wrong turn and stumbled upon another, more left-of-center, but ultimately totally perfect venue. A fairly new beer garden in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Crown Victoria. It used to be an auto-shop for police squad cars (that there already got our attention), but what sealed the deal was the genuine sweetness of the Irish lad owners, and the utterly massive 9,000 square foot backyard! Not only was it in our home of Brooklyn, but it was totally us.

Venue: Check!

Wedding Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal

I happen to love wedding cake. I think next to birthday cake, it’s the BEST cake. However, there is an alarming portion of the population who do not like wedding cake and my wife is one of them. She does, however, get down with pie and so do I. There had also been an early profound connection between my future father-in-law and I that was centered around the virtues of pecan pie. As it happens, we’re Gowanus folk, which is also the home of one of the best pie joints in New York City, Four & Twenty Blackbirds. We were already frequent visitors so it was an easy call to make to replace having a wedding cake with having 20 delicious pies. We ordered three different kinds: Salty Honey, Apple and Black Bottom oatmeal. To this day, we still hear our friends and family talk about how amazing that Salty Honey pie was.

Cake: Check!

Wedding Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal

At the end of the day, there were things that we did not skimp on: Bride’s dress, Bride’s shoes, an open bar, etc. But we also spent a lot of time sending sweet emails to local people who make beautiful things with their hands. Everything from a metal-tube, monogrammed pie-topper to a bridal bouquet of multi-colored paper flowers, we sincerely sought to incorporate the creativity of local artisans and makers. Of course, there was one thing that was handmade and awesome that was not made in New York, and that was the piñata that my own dad made by hand and shipped from Texas on a greyhound bus. He asked Jessica what colors she was planning to wear and use for the reception, (navy, silver, grey & white) and that was it. He did not mention or reveal anything else until it was hoisted up on a rope in the middle of the reception and we were spun around with a blindfold. It was great, because all the kids got in on the swingin’, but of course, I had to step in at the end and finish it off. Needless to say, the thing was a major highlight.

Handmade Awesomeness: Check!

Wedding Retrospective — How to Keep a Wedding Personal

There’s never any shortage of folks offering advice on what to do and how to do it. Much of it is not all that helpful (except for my point about booking the venue early!). The most important thing is that your wedding is exactly what you want it to be. For us, having locally sourced/made items and things contributed from friends, family and neighbors was really a representation of ourselves, and a window into our lives for those who are not with us on a regular basis. Yes, it rained all morning and sure, there were noise complaints about the mariachi band, but you know, that’s real life for us. The best man’s speech killed, bellies were full of Sixpoint beer, pulled pork tacos and Cracker Jacks and I now possess loads of incriminating photo-booth photos. That too, is our life. And it makes for a pretty awesome wedding!


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