Alec and I got married October 21, 2017 in Forest Park of St. Louis, MO. We were accompanied by an officiant and two close friends who just happened to be amazing photographers. While we were thrilled to finally be on the same continent, in the same country, and in the same city, it lacked everything we had thought our wedding would be: a place filled with family, friends, amazing food, drinks, and good music.
And so we planned to have a wedding the following year in my small hometown in Alabama. It was no small feat when most of the planning started before Alec got his fiance visa, and I was having to plan everything all the way from STL. I couldn’t go places or see things with my own eyes. I had to rely heavily on my parents to scope things out for me. Alec and I had some criteria for what we wanted like we wanted to be close to my parents home in Eclectic, and we wanted something rustic but still romantic. It was tough, and our choices were very limited, but we pulled it off.
We ended up booking an affordable venue right in the heart of Eclectic. The Eclectic Warehouse has seen many events and weddings already. It was the perfect blend of rustic and industrial with a dash of romance with its exposed brick walls and pipes, clean concrete flooring, whiskey barrels, live edge wood table tops, vintage furniture, flowing curtains, dazzling white lights, and gorgeous chandeliers. It was perfect for what we had in mind.
The next big vendor had to be the food. This was so much harder than finding a venue. We had a small budget, and went back and forth on chefs, restaurants, and just DIYing the dinner. I only had one thing I really wanted when it came down to our dinner: a mashed potato bar! Luckily, the neighboring town, Tallassee, has a delicious family-owned restaurant called 1220 Cafe that was able to work with us. Pam and I emailed back and forth and chatted on the phone to make sure Alec and I could have everything we wanted while still staying within our tight budget. It was all worth it! Everyone raved about the delicious food afterwards, especially the mashed potato bar.
I knew exactly the person who I wanted to make our cake. For my college graduation, the librarian of my former high school made the most delicious Doctor Who cake ever! It was a no-brainer to have her make our wedding cake. She brought my vision to life in the form of a beautiful almost-naked, white wedding cake with strawberries and chocolate drizzle with matching cupcakes. She took the crates and silver trays I had thrifted as well as my step dad’s wooden slabs to create a sweet spread – pun intended. It tasted like heaven, and our guests agreed. Terrie is simply amazing at what she does.
Most budget brides will tell you the first thing they cut from their list is alcohol. Maybe we should have as well but our bartender, Tim Totty, was amazing. He was very attentive and had no problem pouring the alcohol we bought ourselves (which we ended up taking most of those bottles back home). Our guests were really pleased with his bartending service, and we were too!
But what about the dress? I think the dress was one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning for me. As someone who was going through a weight loss journey, trying on dresses in some shops left me feeling less than beautiful. I finally found “the one” at Clarice’s Bridal. My stylist helped me into every gown and calmed my fears. I was lucky that I picked out my dress while my parents were in town, because I really wanted them to see me in it before I purchased it. The finishing touch was definitely the veil with beautiful lace trim that complimented the dress perfectly. My stylist picked it out, and I fell in love with the whole look the moment she placed it in my hair.
When it came to alterations, Clarice’s Bridal recommended Ruth of Callahan’s Tuxedo Rental & Bridal Alterations. She was a pleasure to work with and answered all my questions easily. She worked with me when I had a change of heart in shoes and allowed us to record her lacing up my dress. It was an A+ experience in my book and worth every penny.
When initially planning our wedding, I had picked out some pretty colors for the palette I wanted to work with: wine and dusty blue. When we went to try on the bridesmaid’ dresses at David’s Bridal, we quickly realized dusty blue was not a flattering color on my girls. Instead, we went with the beautiful wine color that complimented everyone. When it came to the design of the dresses, I only asked that their dresses be floor length and that I wanted everyone to be comfortable. We ended up picking 3 lace dresses that were on display that were beautifully “mismatched.”
I was thrilled to have my baby sister as my flower girl. I wanted her dress to compliment mine so I took to Etsy and found this shop that had the perfect dress! It looks like her specific dress is no longer listed, but there are plenty of similar dresses if you’re looking for a lace flower girl dress. The quality was great, and it shipped quickly. We were all happy with it. I ended up purchasing her little sign on Poshmark for $5 and my step mom bought her some white sandals to go with her dress.
For the bridal party’s hair, I called a few salons for prices, but ultimately decided it would be best to get someone who could come to the venue. My maid of honor, Leslie, knew of a high school friend who would be willing to do it within our budget. Brittany Owens was able to get everyone’s hair done after looking at some Pinterest pictures we had all picked out. The only thing I did was buy some pretty rose hair pins from Etsy to adorn my braid and bun which Brittany was happy to put in for me. The final look was gorgeous.
Because of our wedding photographer, Josh, my mom recommended LUSH Makeup Art who has worked with Josh as well as his wife Aubrie during photo shoots and weddings. Rebekah was easy to communicate with and very professional. I loved how everyone’s makeup came out! She nailed the natural look I wanted and made me very comfortable while doing my makeup.
Who knew finding a DJ would be so hard? When Eclectic is an hour away from the largest city, it can be pretty rough finding someone willing to drive out so far with their assistants and equipment. Luckily, my mom found just the people for the job: Namrehs Productions. Sherman was so easy to work with and just super polite. He was all about making sure I was happy. We even had some last minute song changes that he was able to pull off.
Last, but certainly not least, was our amazing photographer Josh Moates. Josh has known my mom for years, and when she asked him if he’d photograph our wedding, he said yes! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to have him as our photographer. His work is breath-taking, and I couldn’t believe he was going to be shooting our wedding in his fantastic style. I am beyond ecstatic with every single photo we’ve gotten. I highly, highly recommend Josh for capturing your wedding.
Alec and I really wanted our day to bring our families together so with the help of our families, we created a beautiful back drop to our day with lots of pretty details sprinkled in. My step dad made our wedding arbor. The day of the wedding, he and I wrapped it in tulle and fairy lights. It was a fantastic art piece made even better by the fact that he had made it with his own two hands.
Our photo booth (pictured near the top with the red couch) was also crafted by my step dad. I told him I had a idea to put wooden pallets together to create a photo booth, and he went above and beyond what I has envisioned. He also made the beautiful wood slabs under our cake and cupcakes as well as the wood slabs under the centerpieces, a tic-tac-toe game, and a corn hole game for the guests to play. On our sweet heart table, our moms put photos of us as kids around the pretty wooden letters “Mr. & Mrs.” that he made as well.
My mom is a boss, y’all. Between her and my step dad, our wedding wouldn’t have been near as beautiful. This woman helped my step dad with all of his projects, was there at 4 am with the rest of us setting up, brought everyone breakfast, and still had time to do some of her own photography. She’s literally super woman, and this day would not have been the same without her.
If it hadn’t been for Alec’s mom, we wouldn’t have had any wedding favors. She and his sister Abby (who was also my bridesmaid) put together the beautiful boxes with chocolates and wooden hearts that had our names and wedding date on them. My aunt Sandra was our wedding coordinator, and she killed it! She kept everything together and kept us on time. My aunt Karen put together our amazing bouquets with faux flowers and greenery and created stunning centerpieces with more faux flowers and greenery in my rose gold spray-painted cans that I spent months collecting. My step mom was also a big help. She brought us all lunch while we finished setting up and getting ready. She stuck around to help out with anything else we needed too.
Because Alec and I are already legally married, we knew we wanted to ask his grandmother, Mary, if she would “officiate” our ceremony. She was pivotal in Alec’s proposal and just perfect for leading the ceremony. I came up with a script (thanks to Google and a million wedding blogs) that I sent to her, and Mary put her own spin on it, making it personal and lovely. We couldn’t have asked a better person to to be such a big part of our day.
My cousin Jessica, who was also my bridesmaid, painted all of the frames I had collected from thrifting and estate sales and used her calligraphy skills to make beautiful chalkboard signage for the venue. She also made the “Meant to be Magee” banner that hung across the top of the photo booth, the beautiful globe that was originally at our wedding shower, and our amazing wooden “guest book.” Not to mention she helped out with the set up and take down of all the decorations too! Talk about an MVP.
My maid of honor Leslie and her husband Josh showed up at the crack of dawn to help me and my family get everything decorated and then stayed to help take it all down. Leslie was at my side through all the picture taking, helping me lift my dress and bustle it, as well as helping me “lie down” in my dress while it was laced tightly for pictures. She also helped set up our memory table which was a table of photographs of family members who have passed away.
I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch to be helping Alec and me on our special day.
The day of the wedding was full of hustle and bustle as we got going at 4 am that morning. We unloaded cars, decorated, put out tables and chairs, ironed several tablecloths, steamed dresses, and more. While everything inside the venue was going just fine, we ran into a little problem: there was a festival going on right outside the venue doors!
We were banned from parking in front of the venue so everyone parked behind the venue that morning and most of the cars stayed there since many of those people were in the wedding party. None of my vendors except the DJ were able to get through the barriers despite the venue owner telling me that they would be let through.
This meant everyone had to park several blocks away and walk despite the venue owner saying we’d have ample parking when I booked the venue. When it came to the cake, my step dad saved the day (as he usually does) by carrying it all the way to the venue between all the festival-goers and vendors outside. Most of this was all handled by my family so luckily I didn’t have to stress about any of that the day of the wedding.
Despite the venue owner dropping the ball on a few occasions and having a couple of wedding crashers (not really though), the day went smoothly, and I can’t say I would change a single thing. We ended up getting the day that we had hoped to have, even if it was a year later.
After getting ready and taking several pictures with our photographer individually, Alec and I shared a very sweet first look in the backyard of the venue. I had kept my dress a secret up until that moment, and the look on his face when he saw me will stay with me forever. After several more pictures with our wedding party and families, we moved back to the main venue to get ready to walk down the aisle. It was finally time for the wedding!
I thought I would be nervous or even already crying tears of joy, but I was only ready to see Alec and say our own written vows in front of our family and friends. Finally. Alec’s Nan was our “officiant” and led the wedding beautifully. It was such a beautiful and sweet moment for us. I only choked up once during my vows so I counted it as a win. After sealing our vows with a kiss, and walking back down the aisle hand-in-hand, I felt like I was on cloud nine. I was just amazed and full of love for Alec and all of our family and friends.
After a quick rest on the couch in the bridal suite, it was time for our grand entrance then eating and dancing! We chowed down on 1220 Cafe’s spread and enjoyed a couple of sweet beers until it was time to get down on the dance floor. Alec and I picked Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” as our first dance then danced with our parents before bringing everyone else onto the dance floor. I was really thanking my lucky stars I had decided to go with my thrifted Converse at the end of the night after so much walking and dancing.
We sneaked away long enough to take a few more pictures outside the front of the venue before coming back in to play the shoe game. I found a list of questions on Pinterest and gave them to the DJ. He picked about 10 questions to read out to us, and we held up the shoe that belonged to the person it most described. One of the questions included “Who is always right?” Alec folded his arms and said he wasn’t answering that one!
After the shoe game, some of our guests were starting to leave so we decided to speed things up by doing the garter toss and bouquet toss. Alec’s mom hilariously cheered him on while he took off my garter. When it came time to throw it, his uncle caught it and put it on his head! I got ready to throw the bouquet and when I did, Alec’s aunt’s partner jumped in to try to take it from the ladies! He was unsuccessful, and Alec’s mom emerged victorious.
Knowing it must be time for cake as some of our guests had already started eating the cupcakes (can’t blame them; the cake was delicious!), Alec and I cut our cake with cutlery from Amazon. It did the job just fine. Although our guests might have been a little disappointed that we didn’t smash cake into each others’ faces, Alec’s mom had a little fun smashing a cupcake into Alec’s beard!
After feeling pretty tired at this point and saying farewell to some more of our guests, we decided it was time for me to change into my more comfortable exit outfit and have just one last dance before saying goodbye to all the guests that were still with us. As a big surprise, I had the DJ play a song I knew would get everyone going: Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. We invited everyone to dance and sing with us, and it was one of my favorite parts of our day.
Just before our exit, our dog, Padme, made a surprise visit! My parents brought her over to see everyone. She was a little overwhelmed, but our guests had a good time showing her affection. After the excitement of Padme, we gathered everyone on the sides of the dance floor to blow bubbles and wave the ribbon wands of Ireland’s flag colors as we walked to our exit.
I have always heard that your wedding day will go by so fast, in the blink of an eye. While this was indeed true, I felt like we took many moments to just bask in our day and enjoy everyone’s company. We were both so, so glad his family could come all the way from Ireland to be there with us. And we were so thankful to have so many people who helped put our wedding together. It really was the best day ever.
Photo Booth Photographer: Felix Moorer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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