I’ve had a lot of people ask me for wedding planning advice since I got married earlier this year so I wanted to finally take some time to not only share with you about what a wonderful, magical day it was but to also make some recommendations based on what I learned and who I used as vendors. Planning a green wedding can feel daunting but it’s so worth it in the end as it represents your style and beliefs on a deeper level.
My biggest piece of advice is, make it your own. Include small touches and make the day about the two of you and your love, don’t just fit the mold, create the mold you want. My husband Przemek and I had 2 ceremonies, one representing each of our beliefs. We wrote each other cards to read the morning of the wedding, included in his I wrote out one of my favorite poems, e.e. cummings’ I Carry you in my Heart. Our favors were herbs grown on the farm where our reception was held and his father made vodka and had labels with our pictures and wedding date made. I sang I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You as a surprise to him during the ceremony. Instead of having everyone sit down to watch a photo montage we had one playing throughout the night on a projector next to the bar so people could check them out while they waited for a drink. This allowed me to include pictures of us with guests as well as the standard baby pictures and couples shots. There was so much more, a fire pit with s’mores, cake toppers from my parents wedding, Polish songs played during the Mother-Son dance, our dog Bella was with us all day. I could go on and on but you get the picture, bring elements of who you are, your life together and your traditions into your wedding. People will notice all of these things and will remember them as some of their favorite parts of the day. You will remember them as some of your favorite moments, they give you memories to really hold onto as the day goes by in a blur! Here is me singing to Przemek
Can't Help Falling in Love with You
For us, picking the venue was the hardest part (next to setting a budget and wrapping our heads around spending that kind of money on a single day- totally worth it btw). We had so much to consider, obviously I wanted it to be beautiful, but we also wanted the food to be local, organic, and sustainable; we weren’t willing to compromise on this, even for a better price. Blooming Hill Farm in my hometown was always our dream wedding location but could only accommodate 80 people so for us we weren’t sure if that would work based on the guest list.We visited vineyards, manor houses, industrial city spaces, but none of them could get Blooming Hill Farm out of our minds so we just knew that we were going to have to compromise on who we could invite to make sure it was the day we truly envisioned. With any choice you make, you will have to make some concessions, this was ours. We decided to have a family BBQ in my parents field the day after the wedding to invite anyone else we would have loved to have been there but couldn’t fit. I’m honestly soooooo happy we kept the wedding small because we had time to connect with everyone and still had time to dance and enjoy ourselves. It was the perfect balance. We were lucky to have parents who didn’t push their own guest lists and agendas on us and just let us make this day about what we wanted. We didn’t do plus ones unless they were married or engaged and we didn’t have anyone under 21 there. It was the only way to make it work but everyone seemed to understand and we didn’t have any complaints after the fact, only compliments! Blooming Hill Farm Events was recently formed by Austin Jones, founder Guy’s son and he and his team are wonderful to work with. They were responsive throughout, accommodating, letting us stay later to dance a bit longer, they even had a shot with us at the end of the night! The next day everything was set up and organized for us to pick up and I was so impressed. The food prepared by their chef, all farm to table, was unbelievable. People raved about it, even the pickiest eaters there couldn’t stop talking about the steak that melted in their mouth or the pizzas they couldn’t get enough of. They did 3 types of brick oven pizzas (a vegan option too) for the appetizers as well as a few other delicious dishes. The pizza was my one major request, I said please keep it coming! They even set aside plates for my husband and I and made sure they were hot and waiting for when we were ready to eat.
Basia Ambroziak of Photo by Basia was our wedding photographer and boy did she do an amazing job. Picking a photographer is another area I utterly agonized over and wished I had a bigger budget for. I wanted the photographer to be perfect because these pictures would be the one reminder we had of our special day for all time. Memories fade and these could bring the memories back each time we looked through them. I did find that many of the people we contacted were willing to bring their prices down to accommodate our budget. Once they found out where we were getting married they wanted to be our photographer since the pictures were sure to be awesome considering the natural beauty of the farm (a good thing for their portfolios). Basia was always quick to respond, she even had our pictures edited (all 957 of them) and ready for us by the time we returned less than 2 weeks later from our honeymoon.
I was attracted to Basia’s style of shooting from the moment we found her. It’s simple and beautiful. It’s more about the people and emotion than photoshop, light tricks, and manipulating the image. She shoots in a style that casts more white balance and really makes certain colors striking and images stand out. I also admire her trained eye, she sees things in such a way that you feel her pictures on a visceral level. She is also the nicest person on the planet. Her sister is her assistant and was also just delightful. They made quite the dynamic duo. They are beautiful, professional, energetic, and they speak Polish so that was perfect to have on hand to make my in-laws comfortable! My husband and I both remarked the day after the wedding on the little crushes we had on them and how easy they made the day. All of the people we surrounded ourselves with and worked with were easygoing, went above and beyond, and instead of distracting us, actually added to the experience.We did everything we could to make the day personal and tell our story and the person who helped put it all together was Jeanne Stark of Hudson Valley Ceremonies. She was a goddess send. Let me tell you. She is soooo reasonably priced and worth every single penny. She made everything seem easy peasy reducing my stress like crazy. She was easy to reach, receptive, and had amazing ideas that fit my vision. She also provided us with a ton of wonderful touches we otherwise would have had to rent or buy, like everything we needed for a make your own Photo Booth, a beautiful window pane to write the menu on, multi colored vases for the flowers, the cupcake stands and so much more. She designed all of the flowers (yup what you see above was her creation) based on the vibrant wildflower visions I had. She helped us pick out and order (wholesale) our wedding invites and reached out to all of the vendors to facilitate rentals for everything we needed and set up a shuttle so guests would not be temped to get behind the wheel after the party.
The band we chose was a total gem. We found Kyla Quinn and Her Boyfriends while they were performing at our favorite brunch spot. Their sound is so old school, think Billie Holiday. Kyla’s voice is pure and her style is a total throw back. Every time I hear them I feel like I’m listening on a gramophone. They performed during appetizers and dinner. They even performed our first song Ben Fold’s The Luckiest for us, it was so special. During our outdoor ceremony (following our traditional church service where we had a harp player) they performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow as we all walked in and congregated and Summertime to usher us out of the ceremony.I actually wrote reviews for all of these amazing people and I never write reviews. The bottom line, they were all so great that I want them to get more business, I want to help in any way I can because without them I wouldn’t have been able to pull it all off. I also looked at a ton of reviews when we were making decisions and it certainly helped inform me on which direction to go in many cases.
We rented our tent and a few other items from Events Unlimited, Simone was so friendly and she made things easy.
Our restroom trailers were rented through A-John Inc. To make it a little nicer we bought our own organic hand soup and lotion. Some people also bring in Potporri, bathrooms spray, and little Ladies and Gentlemen signs.
We rented our limo from Art Limos, I compared many rates and he was by far the cheapest, he was right on time, very nice, there was champaign included, the limo was new and tip was also included in the rate.
Our shuttle for the venue was from First Student Charter bus center which rents school buses (you have to specify with or without air conditioning, keep that in mind!). The bus driver did leave earlier than scheduled, had to go back, got lost, I had to give her directions, but she was very good at dealing with our rambunctious group and she was accommodating when we opted to have her do one extra run at the end of the night so that we could party a bit longer.We ordered our cupcakes and cake topper from Eat This Bakery, the best I’ve ever had. She used all organic ingredients, no food coloring, and was able to make several delicious flavors. She also made 10 vegan and 10 gluten free cupcakes for our friends!
Our videographer is a friend of mine Michael Venzor. The video was edited and the highlight reel, the video of me singing above, and full video were put together by Red Moon Rising Productions.
We ordered a lot of our little pieces of decor for the wedding and shower from Etsy. They have a ton of unique options, many created locally, sustainably, and if you have a style like mine, will fit your theme perfectly. My husband even ordered my engagement ring and bands from an Etsy dealer, Rare Earth.Bridesmaid dresses we ordered from BHLDN.
I actually had my Mother in law make my Sash, it only cost $30 for the supplies and I purchased them at M & J Trimming in NYC. My dress was a Maggie Sottero and was purchased at Bridal Suite of Bay Shore.
My make up was done by the fabulous Monique of Makeup By Monique. It was a pleasure to work with her and she made me feel more beautiful than I ever have in my life.My hair dresser is a friend of mine from high school Alison Rose Hall. People have complimented me over and over on the style and how beautiful my hair looked. She and Jessica Gaffney did such an amazing job on me and all of the woman in my bridal party. I can’t stress enough, do a hair trail. I did two! It’s important to not only figure out exactly what you want, but also see how the style holds up hours later since you will get your hair done early in the day and be dancing and having fun late into the night!
Our DJ was our good friend Dan who killed it! Once the music started literally no one sat down all night and he listened to everything I said was on the no play list, there was no cha cha slide snuck in anywhere!We ordered our save the dates (magnets, I still see them on people’s fridges when we visit because of the pictures) and thank you cards from Wedding Paper Divas. I like the quick turn around time and that they have an array of styles and options.
Our favors were lavender and rosemary herbs that the farm provided for us. We bought the clay pots for them and clip on chalk board clothespins that we used as name tags at Michaels. I wanted lavender and rosemary because they both smell so good and are hearty so it would be easy for our guests to replant them.
Our beer was from RushingDuck Brewery out of Chester, New York. We wanted local since everything else we were serving was going to be. We went on a tour of the brewery, did a tasting and were hooked. They sent us home with a free growler and had 2 beer barrels delivered for us to keep as decor at the wedding and beyond.The other day my husband asked me if, looking back, would I have done anything differently? My response, with the way the day turned out, no definitely not. I want you to feel that way too. I really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day but I would have told my engaged self to stress less. Stressing didn’t change how the day turned out but it did a number my mental state. Take a deep breath, know your day will be perfect, and also know that things will go wrong but in the end no one will notice and it won’t matter anyway. At the end of the day, you will be married to the person that lights you up inside and there is nothing better than that!