Wedding Planning - It's All in the Details
The little things matter. In planning our wedding, I wanted the every detail attended to. I knew that the most important part of the wedding was getting to become one with my husband. I understood that all the pretty details was not the essence of the wedding. But a wedding is such special day, as so, it deserves all the pretty details. When I look back to that day, there isn’t one thing that I would change. It was beautiful and everything I dreamed of. It was a lot of work but I had a lot of fun planning it.
Picking a date was the first task. We got engaged two and a half years before our wedding day. We couldn’t start planning the wedding till 9 months before, for reasons I can’t delve into right now. In case you are wondering, 9 months is definitely enough time to plan a wedding. I didn’t feel rushed with the planing. I initially wanted a spring wedding because, peonies! But when I found out peonies can be brought in from Alaska in the summer, I was thrilled with a summer date. It is my favorite season after all. I was born on a 28th day so Patrick and I think that’s a good date. So July 28, 2018 was decided. July is a good month for us. My son's birthday is July 22.
The Colors, Venues, and Feel
My husband and I wanted the style, color, and design of the wedding to be classic and timeless. We like to describe our wedding as a beautiful and detailed celebration of our love that embodied our style. I want that in 20 years, when our children look at the pictures, they admire and maybe even desire elements from our wedding.
Deciding on a color scheme was the next decision. The inspiration for our wedding colors was romance, warm beautiful golden summer sunlight, and soft watercolor hues. Our colors were Ivory, soft blush pink, ballerina pink, peachy orange, sage green, rose and metallic gold.
Picking the ceremony venue was quite easy. I’ve always wanted get married in a church, during the sacrament of holy matrimony, in a full mass. We are both catholic. Our faith is very important to the both of us and our families. Being from different parts of the world, we were amazed by the cultural similarities we shared because of the common lifestyle of both our families, through our church.
Little girls dream of castles, but I always dreamt of waking down the aisle of a cathedral. So it was pretty easy choice deciding to get married at the Cathedral or St. Andrew. It is a beautiful church. My favorite feature was the light blue ceilings. It was my something blue.
Patrick and I picked the Grand Rapids Art Museum for our reception for multiple reasons. The tall ceilings and windows let in a lot of light. The modern architecture, opposite of our ceremony venue, felt complementary. I’ve always been a fan of the old and the new merging, like our home - a modern industrial loft space in an 1892 furniture factory building. We also loved the reception location because it was right in the middle of downtown Grand Rapids. The modern feel of the GRAM meant that our decor would stand out in the magnificent, yet understated space.
Looking the Part
Patrick got my engagement ring at DeVries Jewelry, a local jewelry store in Grand Rapids that is family owned, well respected for over 100 years. The ring was exactly what I wanted – a classic cut on a classic band.
"When I moved up to Grand Rapids to be with Anwuli, I did not have a job lined up. I had just quit a great job to move to Grand Rapids because I could not bear being away from her. I knew I wanted to spend my life with her so I cashed in my savings and bought her a ring. I was broke, but it was the best decision I’ve made."
We picked our bands together after a few trips to the jewelry store. I knew that I wanted an eternity band with diamonds that matched the two smaller diamonds flanking the main diamond on my engagement ring. An eternity band would complement the clean lines on my engagement ring. I liked that Patrick’s ring had unique subtle, but interesting lines.
The process of picking my dress was atypical. I had a vision of my wedding dress since I was a teenager - layers of soft tulle, walking down the aisle of a beautiful cathedral. When I was 19, I watched Bride Wars and I loved Kate Hudson’s look in the movie. It was almost exactly what I wanted. A few years ago, I started looking at wedding dresses. I noticed that almost all tulle ball gowns had a high waistline. In my search, I did not find one with a dropped waist and this was an important feature of my dress. During this browsing phase, I fell in love with Hayley Paige dresses. I travelled to Ann Arbor, MI for a Hayley Paige trunk show, to try some dresses. While I was there, I found the perfect dress - Lockyn!
It had all the whimsical touches that Hayley is known for, but was still different from her other dresses. Above all, it matched my vision. It is a ballgown with perfect tulle layers and a dropped waist line! I also loved the Silk Georgette fabric that the bodice of the dress was made from. Because it was a trunk show, I was able to customize my dress so I requested that they add more tulle layers and buttons in the back to make the dress mine. I was not engaged at the time but I was in a great relationship and we had talked about getting married. Before I bought this dress, I also shopped at Kleinfeld's and Vera Wang in New York but I kept coming back to the Locklyn dress.
It was perfect, had all my specifications, and I knew that finding one dress that has all my desires would likely not happen again, so I purchased it. After it arrived and I have since stored it in a super secret location at home, away from Patrick’s eyes.
I initially was not going to get a second dress but my mom encouraged me to. I am so glad I did because my big dress was in the way once the reception started. I ordered it only a couple weeks before the wedding. It was Jacinda gown by Va Et Vien. I got it from BHLDN. It was such an easy choice. I’m a huge fan of the 1920’s fashion so this was a dream glamorous dress. I changed into the dress after toasts and before the cake cutting.
Shoes: I actually had 3 pairs, for good reason. Before I decided to get a second dress, I initially had 2 wedding shoes to create 2 looks with my ball gown. I had the lace heels for the ceremony to go well with my pearl jewelry. I was going for the pure and organic look for the ceremony so I stayed away from blingy accessories and jewelry which is why I also had a sash. Then after the ceremony, I was planning to expose the stones that adorned my wedding dress. This look went well with the Badgley Mischka Tamara cystal block heels and they were super comfortable. I got a matching purse too. I wore a third pair when I changed into my second dress because they were 1920s inspired pair and perfectly complemented my second dress. I wore the Mimosa T-strap by Rachel Simpson from BHLDN.
Veil/headpiece: The Catherine veil, Cathedral length veil by Ariel Taub
Jewelry: I love pearls! I wear them everyday and I love the organic bridal look so picking pearls as my main bridal jewelry was easy. I am thankful that Patrick let me splurge on a three tiered cultured pearl necklace. It gave my outfit a glamorous side and my mom loved it. Lol, you can tell she is really into necklaces.
Hair accessory (and the inspiration for your updo): My only hair accessory for the ceremony was my veil, in keeping with the organic look I was going for. I had to depend on a good hairstylist to incorporate detail into my updo. I think an updo signifies a big occasion which is why I went with it.
I have very curly hair naturally, it was a lot of work straightening my hair before the wedding but it was worth it. Although difficult to see, due to the dark color of my hair, I had a braid in my updo. After the ceremony, I was able to put in my Abrielle Hair comb (by Brides and Hairpins). I picked this hairpin because it complemented both my dresses, my shoes, and purse. It was also not over-the-top. Just the right amount of sparkle. My second pair of earrings, the Crystal Petals earrings, I got from BHLDN. They complemented my headpiece so well.
Groom and Groomsmen's Attire
The tuxedos were black. We went with rentals from The Black Tux because of their quality collection that actually paid attention to the rules of a tuxedo. In researching formal wear and visiting local stores, many of the selections were technically dark suits – single vents and notch lapels instead of peaks or shawls and double vents that a tuxedo should have. We were so happy with The Black Tux and went with them instead of custom making Patrick’s suit because we wanted him to match his groomsmen.
Groom’s accessories: To make Patrick standout, we picked a cummerbund, shawl lapel and gold trim accessories. For the groomsmen, we went with peak lapels, tuxedo vests, and silver trim accessories. Everyone learned how to tie an actual bowtie.
My mom picked out the bridesmaids dresses. We visited a local bridal store in Grand Rapids and I tried on a few dresses. She fell in love with the Palomino lace and chiffon gown and I liked it to! I loved how light the color was and it complemented my gown so well.
My 2 year old Tobe was the ring bearer. His sister Leia, who was 12 at the time guided him down the aisle. Tobe work a black suit with shorts, long socks, and a cute bow tie. He looked like a little prince. Leia wore a coral junior bridesmaids dress.
In wedding planning, good photographer is one of the first things you secure. I actually started talking to our photographer, Kelly Sweet, two years before the wedding. I found her online and could tell from her portfolio that she was the real deal. All her pictures are so soft and look like they have been kissed by fairies. I let her know that I wanted her to photograph my wedding but that we didn’t have a date yet. We kept in contact and I’m glad it worked out that she was able to do it.
Do you need a wedding planner?
The quick answer is that for a formal wedding, you need some assistance, whether it is a wedding designer, or a full service planner. Although I was doing the wedding planning, I wanted someone bringing to life, the design aspects of the wedding. On wedding day, I didn’t want my guests or bridesmaids to worry about having to set up. Being a high strung person, I needed to know that someone was in charge of these day-of-details so that I can enjoy my wedding day. This is where a wedding designer comes in.
A wedding designer is someone that puts together design elements for your wedding and works to make this a reality for your wedding day. They handle details that pertain to aesthetics while the wedding planner (if you choose to have one) handles everything else. Having a wedding designer was the perfect amount of help for me. I knew what I wanted as far as aesthetics go, and as long as I communicated with the designer, my ideas were improved upon. She also had such beautiful ideas that I would not have been able to come up with by myself.
For design services, we went with Rhiannon Bosse because her floral arrangements and design esthetics were everything I ever dreamed of. The one thing that I knew I absolutely wanted and would not compromise on was lots and lots of beautiful flowers and Rhiannon was definitely into it. She was recommended by our photographer. She is a perfectionist and does a phenomenal job. I knew she had to be the one to design our wedding.
The nice thing about having a designer is that I didn’t have to give up control of everything else. I could pick the caterer, baker, band, and any other vendor that I wanted and could work with them directly and come wedding day, when the most work is on setting up the decor and tables, the designer does this for you and you can sit back and relax and let the results of your hard work on the other vendors come to fruition. This only works if you pick good vendors that follow your plan.
For brides who don't like to plan, a full service planner is even better to help your wedding day run smoothly. Our venues had day-of coordinators but I still had to do a lot of work taking care of and assigning tasks related to rehearsal dinner logistics, wedding day logistics like greeting guests, setting up the exit line, transporting my second dress and reception beauty supplies, the fireworks, gifts, and our suitcases for the honeymoon, etc.
The Invitations & Stationery
Do invitations really matter? I think they do. They are the first glimpse that your guests have into your wedding celebration. It is your chance to make that awesome first impression, to get guests excited. So I say, be very deliberate about your invitations.
I was lucky enough to work with Alex Bray of Praire Lettershop . Rhiannon as the wedding designer had such great ideas for what our invitations should look like. She and I worked with Alex to create customs water color designs of peonies that was used on the main invitation card and envelope liners. We wanted to incorporate my interest in water color painting and my love of peonies. Alex did our 3 piece invitation suites by hand, in all gold calligraphy. Custom plates of this calligraphy was made to print our invitations. Then she hand addressed each one to our guest. They were breath taking. They got me so excited for the wedding. In addition, she designed our wedding programs with custom illustration of the cathedral. Reception signage, place cards, escort cards, and table numbers were all calligraphed by her.
I am a huge fan of flowers. For a wedding, there is no such thing as too many flowers, you can always find somewhere to put them. Some of our wedding florals included peonies, garden roses, spray roses, sweet peas, alabaster roses and a variety of fresh foliage.
Our cathedral didn't require any flowers. It was so beautiful that no one would pay attention to any floral installations. In addition to beautiful bouquets for me and my bridesmaids. We then focused on adding more florals in other aspects of the wedding. Two huge fresh floral wreaths adorned the church entrance, we had a stunning garland for our car and a garden inspired escort card display.
We had a Silver 1961 Rolls Royce as our transportation for the day. Everyone wants a vintage car for their wedding. It represents a preserved timelessness. We all want our relationships to be like a vintage car, in our old age. It was challenge finding a vintage car in Grand Rapids Michigan. Luckily, Detroit classic cars agreed to transport one to Grand Rapids for us.
A fresh floral wreath adorned the back of the car. I rode in the car on my way to the ceremony. Patrick and I rode together after our grand exit from the ceremony, to the reception venue. We also rode in it to our hotel (Amway Grand Hotel) to change accessories and freshen up for the reception. Then back to the GRAM for the reception. At the end of the night, after a sparkler exit, it took us back to our hotel room for the night.
Escort card display
When Rhiannon told me of her whimsical idea for a floral display that would double as an escort card display, I was so impressed and thrilled.
It was designed to come out of the ground like a fresh flower garden in our wedding florals. I've never seen anything like it.
We had estate dining tables. We arranged them in three rows to give the illusion that we had just three rows of long tables. Doing it this way afforded us the ability to have more center pieces per table and the apace between tables gave guests and waitstaff more freedom to move around. We didn't have a head table. My husand and I and the bridal party sat amongst our guest. I loved this aspect of our wedding. It felt very intimate that way.
Flowers: I may have gone a little overboard with the flowers. Each table had two large gold compote bowls, filled with lush summary arrangements. Each table also had 3 smaller arrangements in gold tone vases. We literally couldn't fit any more flowers because we needed space for the place settings. And yes, it was worth it. It turned out so beautiful.
Linen and Chairs: We had custom marbled blush and peach gold linen hitting the floor for an elegant look. It was perfect for the modern reception space. It was subtle, yet very noticeable and added a unique touch to our wedding. The marbling also looked like water color and tied in with the invitations very nicely. Our napkins were a champagne color. Our cake table, guest tables, lounge area tables and tall cocktails tables were covered in a blush velvet linen. The gold chiavari chairs with ivory cushions was an easy choice. It just tied in the look.
Place settings: Hand calligraphed place cards, menus in matching gold calligraphy, gold flatware, gold trimmed elegant white china with matching gravy boats, butter dishes, and tea/coffee utensils. I was pretty OCD here. I wanted all dinnerware to match. It was such a beautiful atmosphere. Sitting at the table was intoxicating. The beautiful scent from the flowers, the warm light from the candles reflecting off the tall champagne and wine glasses, toasting to and celebrating our future. It was a fairy tale come true.
Our cake was a four tier butter cream design. The flavors were Vanilla with raspberry filling & lemon with strawberry filling. It was made Connie's Cakes in Grand Rapids. Rhiannon decorated the cake in fresh florals. It sat on a gold cake stand atop a table covered in blush velvet linen. We set the cake in gallery space behind the reception dining table. This was also our lounge area, described below.
I love our wedding bar. A picture is worth a thousand words and as you can see from the pictures, it was stunning. I loved how the back was a display of blooms, clustered in various sizes and types.
A seating lounge was designed around the cake. It had a sofa and velvet chairs (with plush pillows), coffee table and side tables in beautiful gold and glass. There were extra cocktail tables and bistro tables with additional sitting. I loved sitting this lounge area, catching up with guests. It added a nice element to the reception floor plan.
Guestbook and Gift Table:
Our guestbook we created with pictures of our engagement shoot with gold designs. We also incorporated lines from our first dance song ‘one love, one heart’ ‘every other beat, the other one beats for’. The velvet linen, gold and glass card box, florals all matched the aesthetic if the rest of the wedding. We also has a hang calligraphed sign announcing a sparkler exit at the end of the night.
Dance floor/Band/MC We went with the Blue Water Kings Band. We had a 5 piece band. The dance floor was in a separate area from the dinning area. I like this separation because it made the dinning portion of the evening more intimate. The band leader served as the MC. I included a playlist of Nigerian music for the reception.
Second Mile Video provided this service.
Menu - Food and Drinks
We went with a full bar for the wedding. I think this is important for wedding guests to really enjoy themselves. Yo Chef Catering of Grand Rapids provided the food service. The food was great and the service was excellent. We had a 3 course meal.
A Mixed greens, strawberries, feta cheese, and walnuts salad with raspberry vinaigrette. For the entree, guests had a choice of a grilled New York strip steak, served with fresh steamed broccoli and parsley buttered red skin potatoes, or a Roasted Game Hen served with dried currant sauce, grilled vegetables, and roasted potatoes. The vegetarian option was a Herb-roasted Eggplant served with vine-ripened tomato quarters, topped with crumbled feta cheese. An optional side of long grain Nigerian fried rice was available at all the tables. For dessert, we had wedding cake.
This wedding was so fun to plan. I hope you enjoyed reading. Be sure to check out my other wedding related posts, including a description of my wedding day to see all these design elements come together for one of the most memorable days of my life
I am thankful for amazing vendors that helped make my dream come true. After all the months of planning it was a delightful reward getting our wedding published on Martha Stewart.