Wedding Planning– It Begins!

Because of Teisha’s candidacy exam (see her anticipation, below), we haven’t really started planning for our wedding yet. Which isn’t so bad, since we aren’t planning to get married until May 2009. Nevertheless, it never hurts to solicit suggestions, hear about other weddings (what worked, what didn’t), and to share our ever so tentative plans.

So, what do we know about our wedding?

  • We’re aiming for late May, 2009 (our “sure, why not?” date we’ve set for ourselves is Saturday, May 23rd, 2009– but that’s nowhere near official yet).
  • We want it to be outside, somewhere beautiful.
  • We want what I’d call a medium sized wedding and reception– more than 50 but less than 100 people.
  • The wedding will be in Colorado, preferably near the Denver/Boulder area, with a local reception.
  • We want a minimal “staff”–probably nothing more than an officiant, a DJ/MC, a photographer, and food staff.

While that’s a start, there’s a lot of planning, both fun and tedious, to be done.

For me, the fun starts with choosing a location. Both of our parents have started sending out location ideas (Meg sent this nice compilation of Front Range wedding sites, and James sent me the historic Crags Lodge). Teisha may weigh in with different concerns, but I really want a place that’s at least a little formal– you only get married once, and I want to do it in style! Plus, there’s the fun of the reception– I look forward to choosing fun and touching songs (any suggestions, peanut gallery?), and being able to relax during it– our hard work will be over. πŸ™‚

A quick list of places that, at a glance, have intrigued me or that I’ve heard good things about:

So, with all that fun, what am I concerned about? One, finding a snazzy tuxedo. Oh yeah. But mostly the logistics of making it painless– both for us, and for our parents (our friends and families can suffer instead πŸ˜‰ ). Things like: finding a good photographer who won’t try anything shady like retaining the rights to our photos; finding a DJ/MC that won’t do something crazy like start playing rap; and a reception location that’s not incredibly expensive, but knows their stuff. All that stuff needs searching (and those of you who have been to weddings in Colorado, start telling me all you know!).

Also, what cool wedding reception themes/gadgets/whatever have you seen? We like the idea of a “scavenger hunt” list of photos, along with disposable cameras on the tables. I also like the idea of little souvenirs for all the guests to remember the occasion by, and of having a “theme”. It’s especially fitting since our first date and our engagement date are both Halloween. … Maybe I could convince Teisha to let us have the best men and women be a gang of ninjas and pirates, whom Teisha has to defeat to rescue me, the charming Prince. πŸ˜€

25 Responses to “Wedding Planning– It Begins!”


Restaurants and Hotels should be avoided if possible, because you are locked into their catering. You want to be able to pick from the best caterers (and cake makers!) the Denver/Boulder area has to offer, not be stuck with crappy food/cake because it comes with the location. The Butterfly Pavilion looks good on that front, and it does sound like it fits you.

Of course, food isn’t as important to you as it was to us, but it’s an important consideration. Don’t let the food thing eliminate an otherwise perfect location, but keep it in mind.

Another important thing to keep in mind is who people are working for. The best people are ones who you are paying directly on an hourly basis. Package deals and flat-rate “bargains” have more room for kickbacks, cost-cutting through low-quality products and the like, which mean that they may do what’s best for them and their employer, not necessarily what you want. Of course, some people only work on a flat-rate basis, and if that’s what they want, great. It does make budgeting easier, for sure.

As for the photographer, look for someone with journalistic experience. They’ll be much more comfortable with getting the true feeling of the event, rather than creating staged pictures that interfere with people’s fun. (A few staged family pictures are a good idea, but it should be minimized)

Have you thought about video? Some people are big on that, others not so much.

Also, try to ensure that if you do hire someone that they’ll be involved the whole time. Our wedding planner got pregnant during the planning process, and although the substitute she selected was fine, but we really preferred our original planner, and would have liked to have her more involved than she ended up being.

Finally, if you are big on the Tuxedo thing, you may be better off just buying one. You’ll look better, it will be tailored specifically to you, and it’s not too much more expensive than renting one.

Ted - March 12th, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Well, it sounds like you and Teisha want to go a bit more traditional than Gilvoro and I did, so I’m not sure how much help I’ll really be. πŸ™‚ But, I’ll try.

I bought one of those wedding planning books. I didn’t use it too much, since it was geared toward the traditional wedding, but it did alert to me things I should think about that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Almost like a reminder list. The one I got was Emily Post’s Wedding Planner. It tries to accommodate a variety of wedding types (small to large, formal to informal, etc), so it wasn’t too bad too work with. I liked that it had lists of questions to ask the DJ, the wedding planner, the officiant, etc.

I’d say that the biggest concern for you guys right now should be the location. Really popular sites fill up fast. I agree with Ted: be wary of food restrictions. It was a big deal for us, since I’m a vegetarian (and picky), but we eventually catered it ourselves, with the exception of dessert. Once you select the location, it’s a little bit easier to deal with all the other stuff (in my one-time experience). I don’t know if anything would fit your needs, but CU has a lot of beautiful ballrooms that they will rent out for weddings. Some of them have lovely views, you can get parking validation, and (at least when we looked) you don’t have to go with the on-site caterer.

As for little touches, I love the signature platter we got. We went to a paint your own pottery studio, painted a platter (with planets, since we got married in a planetarium), and then people signed that as a memento for us. Almost none of our disposable camera photos came out very well, but they were still fun to look at. πŸ™‚ I really loved the idea for our guest book – a scrapbook where every guest got a page- but I still haven’t put it together. So, unless you know you’ll do and/or you have somebody who you know will do it for you, you might shy away from that. Also, I, personally, hate receiving lines. It seems so strange to spend 2 seconds saying hello to each person, it’s annoying as hell when somebody decides to stand in line and chat, holding up everybody behind them, and it’s boring (probably for both sides, but I can only speak as a guest, since we didn’t do this). Also, I’ve heard plenty of stories of the bride and/or groom forgetting somebody’s name, which is rather awkward. It is, however, your choice, as it may be the only chance you get to speak to everybody. You will be busy at the reception!

My only other advice (for now) is that the very, very few regrets I have about the wedding were the instances where I felt strongly about something and let somebody else (Gilvoro doesn’t count, since it was his wedding, too) talk me out of it or change my mind. It’s your wedding. Compromise on things that don’t mean a lot to you but may mean a lot to somebody else, but be sure that you get to commemorate your special day the way you want to!

Oh! One more thing. Appoint trusted friends and/or family to deal with problems as they arise. You don’t want to deal with the fact that people don’t know where to go next, or when the meal is being served, where to put gifts, etc. Put your loved ones to work so that you really can relax and enjoy and aren’t running around taking care of all the little details.

If you have specific questions, let me know. I’ll also pipe up if I think of anything else.

ShortSpeedFreak - March 13th, 2008 at 5:33 am

Ooh! The signature platter is a great idea. We did something similar with our Christmas Tree Skirt. Essentially the goal is rather than (or in addition to) having people sign a book, you get them to sign some piece of art or holiday decoration. Then when you bring it out once a year, you can see the messages that your friends and family wrote. A signature book would sit on our shelf and rarely get looked at, but the Christmas Tree Skirt (or the signature platter) is likely to come out at least once a year.

If you’re looking for souvenirs, I still haven’t seen anything that matches the lego minifigs (aka the little lego people) we used. They’re cheap, iconic, and you can order specific ones online to match each guest’s personality/occupation. Feel free to steal that idea from us. We won’t mind. It can be a fair amount of work to make sure each one gets to the right person, but we had seating cards for everybody, and just stood the little lego man next to each card. (If you then put lego centerpieces on the tables, people also have stuff to do when they’re sitting waiting for food or whatever, and that can be cool too). I have this image in my head of Teisha’s bride minifig surrounded by animals. πŸ™‚

Ted - March 13th, 2008 at 9:43 am

Also, Christina has a bunch of wedding books you’re welcome to borrow. We’ll need them back when the wedding is done, (they’re primary sources!) but we don’t need to store them here. If you do buy any and don’t want them when you’re done, we will be happy to take them off of your hands too. πŸ™‚

Ted - March 13th, 2008 at 9:47 am

Ted, I haven’t met you in real life, but you just made my day! (Well, my Christmas party, at least). We used to have people make an ornament, so we would see who came each year. But a Christmas Tree skirt or signature platter or something like that each year would be way more useful and manageable (we have a lot more ornaments than tree branches). Thanks!

Also, Andrew, we got a LOT of positive feedback about the cupcakes. If you still wanted some cake, but didn’t want the time-consuming and messy cake slicing, you could get a set up where the top tier or two is cake and the lower tiers are cupcake platters. I don’t have strong feelings on this, I’m just throwing it out there.

ShortSpeedFreak - March 14th, 2008 at 4:52 am

I have a comment about outdoor ceremonies, of which I am a fan of, besides the obvious weather problems. Acoustics can be problematic, a slight breeze can be louder than you think.

If you’re looking to have a wedding video you may want to look into a descent microphone set up. During my brother’s wedding there was a motorcycle way off in the distance. It didn’t seem that loud at the time, but in the video it drowned out a lot of what was said. My brother and his wife think its funny so no harm done.

Anyways that’s my 2cents for now

khirsath - March 14th, 2008 at 6:00 pm

If you do go with an outdoor ceremony, you probably want to try to make sure there’s an alternate location. Either a big tent or a building nearby. I’ve heard too many tales of soaked brides and grooms. πŸ™ I think outdoor ceremonies could be lovely (I’ve never been to one, really).

The closest was a pair of friends who got married on the balcony of a mansion overlooking the mountains. It was gorgeous and, if it had started to rain, they could’ve simply moved into the reception hall that still had a view of the mountains, though slightly less panoramic.

ShortSpeedFreak - March 15th, 2008 at 7:11 am

Wow! So much feedback already– thanks so much (and even more would be great)!
Let’s see if I can hit a few points:

Ted: Restaurants and Hotels should be avoided if possible, because you are locked into their catering.
The best people are ones who you are paying directly on an hourly basis.

Those are both good suggestions.

Ted: Have you thought about video? Some people are big on that, others not so much.

I hadn’t really; but Teisha wants a video– good to get that figured out. πŸ™‚

shortspeedfreak: I liked that it had lists of questions to ask the DJ, the wedding planner, the officiant, etc.

That’s a good point; we do need to pick up a wedding planning book, just to see a list of things we might forget.

shortspeedfreak:As for little touches, I love the signature platter we got.

That was a cute idea– I’m not sure what Teisha and I will do yet, but I’m sure it won’t be just a guestbook, because something we actually take out and use will be much more fun. πŸ˜€

shortspeedfreak: Also, I, personally, hate receiving lines.

Egads! I can’t imagine doing a receiving line. Yuck.

Ted: Also, Christina has a bunch of wedding books you’re welcome to borrow.

I may take you up on that, Ted.

khirsath: If you’re looking to have a wedding video you may want to look into a descent microphone set up.

That’s a good point– in fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen a single wedding video where you could actually understand what people were saying.

shortspeedfreak: If you do go with an outdoor ceremony, you probably want to try to make sure there’s an alternate location.

A couple people mentioned this and, yeah, I think that’s definitely true. I’m currently enamoured of the Butterfly Pavillion, which is indoors but feels like Outdoors.

Thanks for all the feedback so far, everyone!

Paradoxdruid - March 15th, 2008 at 9:36 am

Something else that I just thought of concerns gifts. Since you guys are living in a different state than the wedding is happening in, you may want to ask that people have stuff delivered to your apartment in California. It seems like an obvious action, but you’d be surprised how many people may not think of it. We ran into this with Gilvoro’s sister’s engagement party. She flew here from Chicago and half the guests had originally intended to buy toasters and things for her . . . until we pointed out that it may be hard to fly back home with that stuff on the plane. πŸ™‚

ShortSpeedFreak - March 16th, 2008 at 6:56 am

I have essentially no value-added input on this topic, but I like ShortSpeedFreak’s last suggestion. The few weddings I’ve been to have had the option of having the gift delivered wherever the couple want it. It loses some of the personal touch, but I can’t tell you how incredibly convenient it is for the guest to be able to surf to the website of a store at which you’re registered, peruse through the list of items not already purchased and a couple of clicks later be completely done. It’s hard enough walking with purse and heels and skirt WITHOUT having to carry a big box full of…roleplaying books? πŸ˜‰

Then again…the day is supposed to be for you two. If you get a sadistic glee out of watching your guests stumble around, I’d understand πŸ˜›

Oh, I think the Butterfly House would be neat too.

Mallorn - March 19th, 2008 at 7:52 am

In my experience, 90+% of people will order their gifts for you through wherever you’ve registered (and I recommend Amazon.com as one of your options), and all of those gift registries are setup to do the “deliver to my house” option, even if the purchaser goes into the store to pick it out. Still, some people will bring gifts, and it is probably a good idea to remind people that shipping gifts is a better idea.

Ted - March 19th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

As an alternative but similar suggestion to the Butterfly Pavilion, the Denver Botanical Gardens seem to have good facilities and pretty scenery. This photography website album and this Geary album will give you an idea of what it looks like, if you haven’t visited. πŸ™‚

I love Charlotte and Mike Geary’s wedding photography. They do a lot of work all over Colorado, and their portfolio is really dynamic — in terms of photographs AND locations. The wedding locations alone that they’ve photographed may give you more ideas.

I definitely agree with Ted that whoever you pick as a photographer should have past journalism experience.

And as for pirates and ninjas . . .

Will Teisha ‘trash’ her dress after the ceremony? πŸ™‚

Shaz - March 24th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I actually love the Denver Botanical Gardens, and have dragged my friends, family, and family friends to them over the years. Certainly something to consider.

Thanks for the suggestions– and Charlotte and Mike Geary photography looks very good; I will look into them. (You should, too, Teisha, whenever you read this πŸ˜‰ )

Paradoxdruid - March 25th, 2008 at 7:52 am

Thanks for the suggestions, Shaz. We’ve thought about the Denver Botanical Gardens, and will probably keep thinking about it for a bit — it would certainly be a beautiful outdoor setting in late May!

Charlotte and Mike Geary photography does look very good and professional — I actually prefer what I saw in the “HannaAlbum” over their main page. I think if I did pick them (or someone like them) I’d have to tell them no black and white photos and no weird angle photos — it might seem a bit old-fashioned, but I’d like my pictures to look “real,” even if that means they don’t look as stylistically “good,” if that makes sense. Not sure how Paradox feels about this…

Also, of course, we’d have to look into their copyright restrictions (couldn’t find any mention on their website) and compare prices with others…

As for the Pirates and Ninjas, I really like the way the bride did her hair!

teisha - March 25th, 2008 at 8:56 am

Hi there! Wow there is a ton of great advice on this thread. I’d love to meet and discuss your planning as well as wedding photography.

Thanks,

Steve Z Photography
http://www.stevezweddings.com

Steve Z - April 1st, 2008 at 11:47 am

Hehe. Looks like someone keeps an eye on their referrer logs.

Ted - April 1st, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Yeah, it sure does. πŸ™‚ I do the same, actually- did you know the google search term that brings the most traffic to my site is “long haired guinea pigs”?

It’s sad, of the photographers Shaz linked, we really liked Dave Russell and Stephenson– but both want to retain the photo rights, which is a huge NO for me. I guess we’ll have to look deeper.

Paradoxdruid - April 2nd, 2008 at 11:19 am

Perhaps you could dual license them? They give you a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license, but they’d retain the actual copyright.

Ted - April 2nd, 2008 at 2:47 pm

I’d like to believe that I could offer those terms, Ted, but I doubt even most of the people who read this site know what you mean by that. And giving a lecture on copyright over the phone to wedding photographers isn’t high on my list of things I would enjoy. πŸ˜€

I know there’s indexes of many more photographers in Colorado. Maybe this weekend Teisha and I will sit down and hunt through them… unless Shaz has more suggestions? πŸ˜‰

Paradoxdruid - April 2nd, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Andrew, you might be able to. Creative Commons is being somewhat well known, and it’s worth asking. It doesn’t cost you anything.

Shayna is right about the intentional over-exposure. I think emphasizing the whiteness is fine, but over-exposure rarely looks good.

Ted - April 2nd, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for all the links, Shaz! I’ll try to go through them this afternoon.

Our parents are checking out the Butterfly Pavillion today, so soon we’ll have a live report on if it’s “wedding-able”. πŸ™‚ Then, time to find a reception site!

Paradoxdruid - April 6th, 2008 at 10:48 am

So, it turns out that the Wedding area at the butterfly Pavillion is (a) very small and (b) very hot; so it’s probably out. We’re going back to all the earlier suggestions and ideas we had– I like the Botanical Garden, but it could rain on us…. So maybe we’ll go for a neat rustic hotel?

Paradoxdruid - April 6th, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Christina was right, as usual.

Ted - April 7th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

i love the ‘offbeat bride’ link (http://offbeatbride.com/)that Shaz posted! Lots of great, liberating ideas.

Meg - April 11th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Here are the seasonal averages for Boulder, CO:
http://www.wunderground.com/NORMS/DisplayNORMS.asp?AirportCode=KBJC&SafeCityName=Boulder&StateCode=CO&Units=none&IATA=DEN

Ted - April 11th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

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