How I planned my own wedding
My husband and I got married at a winery on the Northfork of Long Island, NY called Bedell Cellars last August. Next to my son being born, it was one of the best days of my life!
I was never the type of girl who obsessed over being engaged/married or who had her wedding planned since she was a little girl. But once Rich proposed, I was over the moon excited to start planning and I did all myself in just 10 months.
10 months may seem like no big deal but the winery we chose included nothing but the venue. We had to pay a site fee to host the wedding there then bring in every single vendor separately. The vendors we had to hire included a caterer, a party rental facility for tables, chairs, flatware, etc. We even had to bring in lighting for outside. Unlike a catering hall where everything is included, every single piece of the wedding was a separate cost. That made the wedding pretty expensive but we did cut costs in other ways which I will get into later but first, here is a look into how I broke it down and carefully planned each detail of the day.
Choosing the Wedding Venue
Vetting locations is the number one step in planning a wedding. We wanted our venue to have meaning and since the vineyards have always held an important place in your relationship, we ended choosing Bedell Cellars. We spent every anniversary celebration at the wineries on the Northfork of Long Island and on our three-year anniversary, Rich proposed there. Since it is truly a special place for us and we both love to be outside (and drink wine!), there was no question that we would also get married there.
Once you have the venue, you'll need to choose a theme. The theme for our wedding was Rustic Chic (ceremony) then Vintage Glamour (reception). The design direction was to begin with a more natural outdoor ceremony setting incorporating elements of rustic charm. The evening transitioned into an atmosphere of romance that resonated a sophisticated and glamorous style. We chose this theme/design by pulling inspiration from Pinterest. We wanted to add the right amount of detail to the natural beauty of the garden, oak tree and vineyard. All of the greenery was in full bloom in August so we already had an outstanding backdrop.
There are so many different traditions to chose from. Rich and I wanted to get married at the same venue as our reception so that everyone would be present for both. When you have the ceremony at a separate location, it can be a challenge to get everyone to attend the ceremony and reception.
We also chose to do a Handfasting Ceremony. It was something I always wanted to do. It is an old Celtic tradition, and it is part of where the adage "tying the knot" comes from. The cords or ribbons that you choose can have different colors, each color representing a certain quality or part that you wish your marriage to have (i.e. green for wealth and prosperity; white for purity; blue for tranquility and patience; red for passion and love, etc).
Once I explained the process of this beautiful ritual to Rich, he was all for it. We chose the color of the ribbons together. The colors we chose were blue and green because they represent balance, peace, home, children, loyalty, understanding, too name a few.
Since we worked so hard to craft our own ceremony, we decided to put together a program for our guests. I created the one below then had them printed on card stock. They were handing out to guests as they got off the shuttle buses we rented. We had everyone transported from the hotel to the venue so that everyone could drink and not worry about driving.
The devil is in the details! This is important to remember when planning a wedding. I tried to think of every single detail I could for each part of the wedding. As far as the table decor, we pulled inspiration from wedding magazines and worked with the florist to create a vintage yet glamorous feel. The tablecloth I chose was Rattan Wheat Cotton in a burlap color. It actually looks just like burlap but is softer.
The reception took place under the beautiful pavilion. Six Restoration Hardware type wood boxes filled with all local flowers: limelight hydrangea, cafe o lait dahlias, blush pink spray roses, and white snapdragon were placed on each communal table to exude a vintage feel. I also wanted to place tons of candles on each table to add a feeling of romance. Tall glass cylinder candles were placed in between each arrangement, with a scattering of gold votives. The flatware and chairs we chose were gold to add a touch of sophistication and glamour.
The table numbers were ordered with the same card stock as our invitations and we put gold glitter number stickers on them. In addition, we spray painted tall, metal table cardholders gold to match our vintage glamour theme.
We started with appetizers that were passed around at cocktail hour. For the main course, we chose roaming stations so our guests could eat at any time throughout the night. We never enjoyed the structure/timeline of a wedding. We wanted our guests to party, dance and eat whenever they wanted.
We had a three-tier buttercream cake that was soft pink in color and had white pearls in between each layer. At the bottom of the cake there was flower detailing. The cake topper was gold and the cake was placed on a wine barrel for display. The cake flavor was chocolate, the filling was cannoli and the icing was buttercream.
The Wedding Favors
Our party favors were mini mason jars filled with HOMEMADE strawberry lavender jam that Rich’s stepmother made for us. We decorated the jars with raffia and stickers ordered with the same design as our invitations.
1. The morning of our wedding I sent Rich a beautifully bounded book that included a love letter as well as "101 Reasons I love Him and Can’t Wait to be his Wife.”
2. DYI Cigar & Scotch Station - Rich loves scotch and cigars so we set up a station at our wedding for guests to enjoy. Rich had his fair share of scotch at the wedding and he danced all night (something he never does!)
3. We always say, “I love you to the Moon and Back” so it was only natural we would use it as our cake topper.
4. Our DJ lit up the dance floor with a monogram of our hashtag #AurigemaWedding
5. At the bar, we had DYI chalk board signs that highlighted our cocktail offerings including, “His & Her Cocktails.” Rich loves Rum and his nickname is Gemma so he named his “Rum Gemma." I love margaritas with jalapeños so I named mine “Natty Spice.” We also had a few of our engagement photos propped up and an “A” for Aurigema was lit up on the bar.
6. The program for the ceremony was really special and took me some time to create. We thought it was important for everyone to know who was who. We also wanted to make sure there was a moment of silence for family member that were no longer with us.
7. On our RSVP cards for the wedding, we asked our friends and family to put down a song they would like to dance to at our wedding. We then sent this list as well as some of our favorites to our DJ. We truly believe that this is the reason the dance floor was NEVER empty. Everyone danced that night! We received a ton of feedback from our guests that there was no dividing of sides. You couldn’t tell which was the bride’s family & friends or groom’s. Everyone got along and hung out together all night. It was like one BIG family.
It rained all morning and afternoon the day of our wedding. Even in the limo on the way there it was pouring out. Then, all of a sudden, the sky cleared up! Just in time for our ceremony. It was like magic. I’m definitely a worrywart but the day of my wedding, I was surprisingly calm. Like uber calm and collected. Did I will the rain to stop by not being my normal crazy self? I have no idea but it was EVERYTHING!
Getting married under that Oak tree was a huge selling point for Rich. When we were looking for the perfect vineyard for our wedding and did a walk through of Bedell for the first time, I remember Rich saying to me, “I’m going to marry you under that tree.” He loved that garden and that beautiful tree. If it continued to rain, we would have had to move the ceremony under the pavilion but man, did we get lucky! It was everything we dreamed of.
After the ceremony, we moved under a tent (that we had to put up because of the rain) in front of the pavilion for cocktail hour and thank God we did because moments after we all got under the tent it rained again. Then once again, like magic, the rain stopped for our first dance under the pavilion where our reception was. Which is the reason we got that PERFECT sunset I mentioned above – a bright, beautiful and super colorful sunset. After our first dance, we ran down to the vines to capture that sunset (which you can see in the photos). A memory that will last FOREVER!
How We Cut Costs
We loved sharing that intimate moment with everyone close to us and at such a special place but I would have loved it just as much if it were just the two if us. When we renew our vows 20 years from now, we probably do it alone (just us) on a mountaintop over looking the ocean on the Almafi Coast (where we had our honeymoon).
Our feature in Bridal Guide Magazine
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natalie ferro aurigema
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