A warm fuzzy wedding.
Posted: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013
Photo by: Nathan Abplanalp Photography
Brittany Sajbel is an associate attorney in Concord. Her March wedding planning has hit quite a few bumps in the road, but she remains positive and sane with the help of her amazing fiance, Neil Love, and their two furbabies, Gemma Bean and Kitty Caroline. Contact Brittany here.
For our wedding, it was extremely important to us to keep everything as personal as possible. We didnt want a large church wedding, we didnt want a traditional ceremony, we didnt want a menu that you can get at any old restaurant in town. Even after we ended up inviting a whole lot more folks than we had originally planned, Coach Love and I wanted our wedding to feel warm and intimate, like having our very best friends over for a backyard barbeque.As planning progressed, the first thing that we tackled was the venue. First and foremost, we knew that we wanted to get married outdoors and being at the beach was a huge plus. Also, an unusually important consideration for us in choosing a venue was that the site allowed us to bring in and serve our own alcohol. While this certainly had beneficial budgetary implications, it was important to us because one of the groomsmen is a sommelier and because Neil brews his own beer. Not only did the groomsman help us to select excellent wines for the wedding, but he helped Neil brew and bottle the beer that I designed the label for. Named after both our blessed union and the primary ingredient in beer, the idea for Hoppily Ever After was born well before we had our venue. After we found out that no for-rent venue in South Carolina was going to let us serve our own delicious drinks without a hefty surcharge, we headed South into Georgia and Googled our way to the Beachview Club on Jekyll Island. We knew from the minute we stumbled across the website that it was exactly what we wanted and envisioned, and it didnt matter that we had to travel a ways to get it.Next, we needed to find exactly the right person for the job of marrying us. Because the wedding is going to be non-traditional, we wanted to have a sizeable role in preparing and personalizing our own ceremony. I have been to one too many weddings where the couple has looked overwhelmed as the reverend has rambled on about cleaving on to one another or read a bible verse that makes me giggle as I imagine Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn placing bets on what comes next. I couldnt imagine placing my trust in the hands of someone that didnt know me from the Easter bunny.Being in the legal profession, I knew of quite a few people that would be great for the job and that would hold some significance to us, including a couple of judges that I considered asking. However, after checking through the great state of Georgias statutes, I quickly realized that a judge from the Carolinas was not qualified to marry us without a little bit of extra legwork. A good friend came to mind whose own wedding we had recently attended, but being a newlywed himself, I didnt want to overwhelm him with the request.I believe the actual moment we found our officiant may have come as I was sitting at my bosss desk, and she said something along the lines of, Heck, Ill marry you. I paused for a second, considered it, and immediately two thoughts popped into my head: first, that my boss would make a great officiant with her combination of dry wit and integrity, and second, that no matter how badly I screw up, I cant be fired until at least April.I double-checked her background and qualifications and found out that she had recently conducted another wedding in Georgia at the request of family friends. For $19.99, she was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church and thus, more qualified than anyone else I knew to perform the ceremony. I passed it by Neil, and we were ready to go. She sent us a script that she had used in the previous ceremony, and we looked it over, moved a couple of quotes around, and added our own touches. We considered writing our own vows, but instead, personalized the ones that she already had. Im probably going to be crying like a baby that day, anyway, so why add to the potential for disaster?In terms of creating our own vision for the reception, we took a big role in interacting with all of the different vendors to make the night our own. For the caterer, we insisted on tweaking each item on the menu until it was something personal, from dads favorite kind of salad to Neils favorite Southern sides. If there was an item that we wanted that wasnt a part of their normal catering options, we simply asked and were accommodated each time. Because of the nature of the venue, we had to have a buffet dinner, but we found ways for our guests to interact with each other and with the chefs. We included hand-passed hor doeuvres during the cocktail hour and a carving station with the meal, as well as some other surprises I cant give away here. Again, finding a caterer that brought the bartender and allowed us to provide the alcohol was a huge bonus and a significant step towards making the event our own. In terms of dessert, the same caterer is also making our cake, which is a special amaretto chocolate with espresso mousse filling that Neil came up with all on his own. Im normally not a chocolate cake kinda gal, but heythis is a special occasion! We knew that we wanted a to-die-for cake and not some plain jane vanilla and buttercream concoction, so Chef Georges creation is the way to end this shindig. While some brides want to go all-out with a design on the cake that replicates the lace pattern on their dress or uses the same flowers as their bouquet, we opted for a very basic design so that our custom designed and created cake topper can really steal the show. For the DJ, we made sure to include a very specific list of both must plays and under no circumstances songs. Neil is choosing the first dance song all on his own, and it is going to be a complete surprise to me what hes picked until it starts to play. He is driving himself nuts trying to keep this a secret, but Ive been insistent that this surprise will be a gift to me on our wedding day. We have about five or six songs that hold special meanings or memories for us, but I wanted him to have this as a task to keep him occupied before the big day. Since were not writing our own vows, Im so excited about what hes going to choose and its given me something huge to look forward to. As another touch, my father and I went extremely non-traditional for the father-daughter dance with a song that he used to play for me on vinyl when I was little. The song probably hasnt been danced to by any other father-daughter combo at a wedding, but Ill take the sentiment behind the song any day over butterfly kisses or other cheese.Whatever you imagine your wedding day to be, the most important part is that it truly is your wedding day. Not your mothers, not Martha Stewarts, not whatever society or some of your guests expect. There may be strange or eclectic weddings, but there is no right or wrong weddingat the end of the day, youre going to be a Mrs. no matter what happens. While my wedding is going to be strongly traditional in terms of the structure and a majority of the customs, but some unusual elements will also ensure that it is personal, relaxed, and intimate.Some people legitimately do want their wedding guests to walk away feeling like theyve just been to a very exclusive event. They are interested in a red carpet treatment, and they will go the extra mile to make sure that no costs are spared in every detail. For our wedding, we want an inclusive experience, rather than exclusive. We want guests to leave knowing how much we love each other and how much we love each of them. We want to spread the warm fuzzies at our wedding, and we hope that each guest leaves feeling rested, relaxed, and special.
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