Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Brides Tell All: Allison Harris Elledge's Wedding Woes & Wisdom

Image by Andrew Bowser Photography

From your own experience, what advice would you give other women for their wedding day?

Allow yourself enough time to get ready! I didn’t want to get my hair or makeup done until absolutely necessary (I had a huge fear of bad, flat wedding hair and worn-off makeup!)…but, I found myself having to rush a bit to leave on time! Thank goodness my mom and grandmother left the hotel later than I did… I forgot my garter in the rush! My advice would be to make sure you allow plenty of time to get ready, that way you can enjoy without having to rush!

Looking back, are there any details from your wedding you would have changed or excluded?

I think I would have served “adult drinks” at the happy hour. I know it’s terrible to admit that sometimes people need a little help getting out on the dance floor, but it’s the truth! We only served sweet tea, lemonade, and water at the happy hour because we were worried we might run out of alcohol later in the night! Well, that, and I didn’t want people getting too “tipsy”, haha! But, it turned out that we had more than enough…plus, starting the “adult beverages” a little earlier might have resulted in more guests getting out on the dance floor sooner! We had plenty of people dancing, but I’m always up for more (and, the truth is, some adult beverage might have helped more people get their courage up to get out there sooner in the night)!!

In your opinion, what are some good ways to keep costs low when planning a wedding?

First, just ask! We had some WONDERFUL vendors (who I thought I wouldn’t be able to afford). But, many of them were able and willing to work with us on price (and payment plans) so that we could afford to use their services. I think that sometimes vendors are just as excited to work with brides who love their work as we are to hire them…expressing that excitement and asking where price can be cut sometimes gets you a long way! And, the worst they can say is no!

In what ways did you make your wedding and reception different from all the rest?

I hope that what made it different was that we made a real effort to show our personalities in our wedding. A lot of times, weddings become “typical” because people don’t know that they can think outside the box! There are so many wonderful choices out there, people no longer have to go with the typical wedding choices (unless they want a traditional wedding, of course!). I think we made a lot of “non-typical” choices, such as fun and modern (rather than fancy) wedding invitations and programs, homemade jelly & salsa (made by Chris’s mom and nana) for thank you gifts, a marching band, fight song recessional, non-flower centerpieces, and lots of DIY touches! Oh, and we included our beautiful, wonderful dog as our ring bearer! He was a big hit!!

What was your favorite detail about your wedding and reception?

Ok, this question is too hard, I can’t pick just one! But, amid all of the tangible details that I loved, I would have to say that my most favorite thing was the wording that made up our ceremony. I think that it is definitely easy to get caught up in centerpieces and invitations, but it is important to remember the bigger picture…you are committing to forever with another person! I think that we stayed true to ourselves with our ceremony, which we wrote start to finish (with the exception of our officiant’s opener). We integrated traditional and non-traditional elements, and we tried to communicate to our witnesses the way in which we are approaching our marriage.

What was your favorite experience or memory from your reception?

One of my favorite memories (I have so many!) was my sister’s maid of honor speech. My younger sister had like 12 pages of speech written (that she pulled out of her dress, haha)! She started talking and immediately started crying! She totally forgot about her 12 pages of speech and spoke from the heart, which was a truly wonderful moment for me. She was so adorable!

What is the best way to keep your guests excited and involved at the reception, so they won’t leave early?

Well, this answer came directly from my guests! I was told by numerous guests that the excellent coordination (by J.Bailey Occasions, of course) kept things running smoothly, so that there was a wedding “happening” every 30 minutes or so. This ensured that guests were never waiting around for anything, whether that be food, cake, the bouquet/garter toss, or our exit! Our wedding was run like clockwork, which kept our guests interested and involved…all of the credit for that goes to Jenessa and her team!

What do you suggest as good wedding music? Is it best to use live music or a CD?

We used a DJ (Groove Productions). I think the answer to this question depends on your personality and the personality of your guests. We had guests that were ready to break it down, so a DJ was perfect for that. I think a band that could cover a wide variety of old and new songs would have also worked, but that was outside of our price range! I felt that if you’re going have a band, you better have a good one (and good ones are expensive!). So, for the budget-watching bride, a good DJ can be more than sufficient!!

What is something that stressed you out while planning, how did you alleviate that stress, and what solution did you find for the problem?

Well, we got married in Fayetteville, but I was living in Lawrence, KS for pretty much the entire time that we were engaged (dang you, graduate school!). On top of that, I had no family in Fayetteville or Lawrence. And Chris lived in Mississippi for the year before the wedding (dang you, graduate school…again!). So, needless to say, the sheer distance between myself, the wedding, and the people involved was pretty stressful. Having a coordinator in town was my #1 solution, which worked wonderfully! On top of that, LOTS of emails and phone calls between all of the people involved in the wedding (my parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, officiant, vendors, etc)! And, in the end, it was all worth it to be able to get married in Fayetteville…it’s where Chris and I met and the place that I love most!

What is something you did not expect about planning a wedding that you experienced?

How much fun it would be! I was never a girl who planned her wedding from childhood; but, once I got engaged, I really enjoyed using wedding planning as a creative outlet. Not only was DIY cost-effective, but it was really fun making things that I knew would be a part of our special day ☺

Allison & Chris, it was so much fun working with you two! You made my job enjoyable and fun and you had a beautiful wedding day! I am so glad that we got to be a part of it!

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