After the Wedding: The Most Memorable Part of the Blue Whale Wedding

The theme of this series is to talk about your most memorable thing, object, or event from your wedding. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’m going to go completely traditional.

It’s our rings.

Wedding Rings


I wanted to be able to say something totally unique that no one has ever thought of before, but truthfully, our rings remind me each and every day of our vows and our marriage. I didn’t expect for the rings to be so powerful, but they truly are.

I love seeing Mr. Whale with his ring on. I notice it far more than I ever thought I would. In fact, when I got our wedding photos back, I actually noticed when I could see his ring in the pictures. It gave me a little thrill to see that declaration that we were committed to each other.

Spring Wedding at Southern Tree Plantation


Mr. Whale and I also decided together on what we would say when we exchanged rings. We memorized it so that we wouldn’t have to be prompted. And I still remember what I said.

“Matt, I give you this ring as an unending gift to wear with joy. I choose you to be my husband today and forever.”

Exchanging Wedding Rings - Southern Tree Plantation Wedding


Now, if I’m to be completely honest, I have to tell you the full truth about why our wedding rings are so important to me.

It’s because I lost mine.

Yes, it’s true. During our trip to the Canadian Rockies this spring, I lost it. We think I lost it on a hike. But I’m not sure. What I know for sure is that it’s gone. And I didn’t know how much it meant to me until there was absolutely no way to get it back. I cried. I sobbed. For hours. (And I am not the crying type.)

We bought a new ring. It’s exactly the same as my original, except it’s not the one I wore during our wedding ceremony. And that’s sad. But I cherish my new ring. I never hardly ever forget to put it on in the morning, because those few months without my ring were terrible. And because I think of my ring more often, I think of my marriage more often. And that’s a wonderful thing to be reminded of.


After the Wedding: Are we living up to our vows?

“From now until forever, I promise I will care for you. I will always support you. I will laugh with you. I will be patient with you. I will make lots of silly faces. I will not walk away from an argument. I will continually try to know you better. I will open my whole heart to you and give you all of the love I have to give.”

Nearly one and a half years ago, I spoke these words to Mr. Whale during our wedding. They are the meat of my vows. The rest of the words are just build up, the lead in to the promises I wanted to make to Mr. Whale.

Blue Ridge Mountain Wedding

So more than a year out from our big day, how are the Blue Whales doing at living up to our vows? Let’s take them one by one.

I will care for you.

What does it mean to “care” for someone? Does it mean you take care of them when they’re sick? Does it mean you make them sandwiches? Right off the bat, we’ve got a tough one. It’s hard to live up to your vows when you’re not even sure what it means. But what I think it means for me is that I will try to anticipate Mr. Whale’s needs in the same way I anticipate my own. And sometimes I need to put his needs above my own.

Mr. Whale is finishing up his Ph.D. right now (woot woot!). And I reeeeeeally want him to be finished. I want to have weekends where we don’t have a dissertation hanging over our heads, where doing anything fun means Mr. Whale isn’t working on his dissertation. But it’s not my dissertation. And I can’t magically make it go away. So as much as I want to say, “Just finish it already!”, I have to remember that what my husband needs now is not another advisor. He needs a wife. He needs someone who will listen to the frustrating roadblocks he ran into today. He needs someone who won’t give him a hard time when he takes the day off, because it’s just too much right now.

And let me tell you, it’s tough. But it’s important. I have a feeling this one will always be hard work.

Southern Tree Plantation Wedding

I will support you.

I think one could read this as, “I will always support you.” But I need to see it more like, “I will always support you.

I am an independent woman. Before getting married, I was always looking out for number one: ME. But being married is an entirely different game. Now, I’m looking out for us as a team. And that is hard. Seriously, it’s reeeeeally hard for me.

There is no issue where I can say, “That’s your problem, not mine.” If it’s Mr. Whale’s problem, it’s my problem.

My biggest problem is with being supportive and not always trying to fix things. I hear that a lot of men are “fixers”. A woman tells a man a problem, and he tries to fix it instead of just listening. Well, it’s not just men. I am exactly this way. If you tell me problem, I try to find a way to fix it. Or worse, I tell you what you should have done to avoid problem in the first place. Gah! Frustrating, right? Well, at least I know it’s my problem, and I’m working on it. Next.

I will laugh with you.

Holla! This one is easy peasy! It sounded good in my vows, so now I can say that we are totally succeeding with this one.

Having fun in photo booths, like we do.

Having fun in photo booths, like we do.

I will be patient with you.

Okay, wow. I was pretty ambitious with these vows. At least I gave myself enough work to do so that it will take a lifetime to accomplish all these things.

Confession: I forgot that this was in my vows! I haven’t thought about it since I said the words. I’ll put this one on my to-do list…


I will make lots of silly faces.


Sunglasses in Korea

Trying on some truly horrifying “sunglasses” in Korea.

I will not walk away from an argument.

This is actually one that I have been very actively working on. When I get angry, I walk away. And it drives Mr. Whale craaaaaaazy. At this point in time, I’d say I actually succeed in not walking away about 50% of the time. Progress, people!

I will continually try to know you better.

This part of my vows was actually driven by discussions I had with Mr. Whale. Always knowing each other better is a mutual goal of ours. Mr. Whale promised his own version of this in his vows:

“I’ve often said that I think of love as an act, not a feeling. To me, love is two people making a map of a new mind from the pieces of each. We’ve had a good start on our map, but there are still so many pieces left inside only one of us. I want finishing that map to be a mutual goal of our life together. Let’s turn all of our pieces into a single whole. I promise not to hide pieces, or force them, or bend them. I promise to try my best to be kind and considerate and supportive, especially during the hardest parts, like those pesky sky pieces that all look the same.”

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Of all the vows, I think this one is the hardest. Because there are days when you just want to come home and tune out. And why spend time getting to know your husband when you can do it tomorrow? Besides, you already know him pretty well.

Well, life goes on after you’re married. And people change. Mr. Whale has friends and interests that he didn’t have when we got married. I’ve changed a lot too. And it’s easy to take your marriage for granted. But I don’t want to let that happen. So we try to know each other better, as often as possible.

I will open my whole heart to you and give you all of the love I have to give.

Southern Tree Plantation Wedding

Earlier on in my life, it was a struggle for me to open up. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. But Mr. Whale has made it easy for me to love him. So I’d say this one has still been easy. I opened my heart, and it’s still wide open.

Happily Ever After Starts Here


Do you still think of your vows? Are there any parts you struggle with?

One Year!

I interrupt your regularly-scheduled bloggers to bring you the following news: the Blue Whales have been married for ONE YEAR! Is that crazy or what?

Don’t know who I am? That’s okay. Here’s a reminder:

The Blue Whales are a fun-loving couple that adores music, sugar, and general silliness. We were married at Southern Tree Plantation in Blairsville, GA during a gorgeous spring afternoon. (Check out all the recaps here.)

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That picture looks so serious. I need some color in my life 🙂


I have seriously missed blogging for the Bee since the wedding. (Actually, I’ve seriously missed blogging in general, but I only have myself to blame for that. One of these days I’ll get it together and start blogging again.)

So what have we been up to since you last heard from me?

Truthfully, we’ve just been living life day by day. I got a job, and it’s awesome. Mr. Whale is almost finished with school. The most exciting thing we’ve done is to relive our honeymoon. What does that mean? Well, out of nowhere, we got the opportunity to go back to Canada this March, and we just couldn’t pass up the chance!

Winter in Canada is a different animal than summer in Canada. But it was just as beautiful and just as fun.

We saw lots of snow and frozen landscapes.


We went snowshoeing.


Taking a break from snowshoeing to enjoy some hot chocolate and some very green St. Patrick's day cookies.

Taking a break from snowshoeing to enjoy some hot chocolate and some very green St. Patrick’s day cookies.

We went tubing.

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It’s kind of cold in Canada.


We drank beer.

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That’s allllll mine.

We ate at the Grizzly House again, and this time I tried the “exotic” meal. (Shark, rattlesnake, kangaroo, ostrich, venison, buffalo, frog legs. I have to admit – rattlesnake was far more delicious than I anticipated.)

We hiked Johnston Canyon again to see the (frozen this time) waterfalls!



It was almost unrecognizable. (How crazy is it that I took the exact same picture on two different trips? This was not planned. I just happened to have two photos from the same angle.)

Summer versus Winter at Johnston Canyon

Summer versus Winter at Johnston Canyon

We went back to Lake Louise, which was covered in snow and ice.


They built an ice castle on the lake!


We snowshoed across it while other people ice skated on it!



Can you believe it looked like this in summer??



We (okay, actually Mr. Whale) even built a snowman. “Do you want to build a snowmaaaaaaan??” (I had to.)

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Look at that HUGE snowman.

It was such a spectacular trip. I think we are officially addicted to the Canadian Rockies. We are already planning our next trip back. We just can’t get enough.

Other than fabulous vacations, we just enjoy married life. The absolute favorite moments of our marriage are those times when we both really need to go to bed or we need to get work done, but we just can’t stop talking and laughing.

All in all, it’s been a great year! I may pop in again with another update, but for now, I need to go celebrate my one year anniversary!! (Check out the front of the anniversary card Mr. Whale made for me! It’s us in the Canadian Rockies!)


He’s the best. Happy one year anniversary to us!

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It’s Been a Whale of a Time, but It’s Time to Go

Y’all, I don’t want to go.  I feel like there are still things I could tell you.  Like, I never got to brag about how I managed to successfully pee without any assistance, even with my giant ball gown.  I didn’t tell you how MOH Leah almost burned a bridesmaid with her handheld steamer.  I didn’t get to tell you about the stupid piece of fabric that I kept tripping over all day and how my mom later discovered that it was just tacked on and not an original part of the dress so we could have just removed it.

But… my wedding was only one day, and it’s time for me to move on.  It’s time to enjoy all the awesome parts of married life, like eating an entire pound of bacon in two days (not like we did that this week or anything…).

Hive, thank you for allowing me to share my wedding with you.  You all are just fabulous.  I can’t tell you how much all of your comments mean to me.  I read each and every one, and they absolutely always bring a smile to my face (unless it’s something negative, and then I’m sad. But then I read a nice comment, and I smile again!).

My first experience with blogging was here at the ‘Bee, but I’m having so much fun that I just can’t stop.  My new blog has no theme, other than “stuff that makes me happy”.  So if you want to read about stuff that makes me happy (which is guaranteed to include sparkly things, cute animals, and yummy food), then pop on over to my new blog, Polka Dots and Extra Frosting (two things that make me very happy).

If I ever figure out how to re-create my fabulous tissue/crepe paper flowers, I’ll be sure to come back and let you all know. (I keep getting messages asking me about them, and I wish I could help! I will figure it out!)

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But until then, I think it’s time to say goodbye. (I’m actually getting a little teary! I never thought this day would come.)  I love you all!  Thanks for your kindness, your comments, and all the little stories that continue to make me smile!

~ Erin


The Secret Life of Bees: Blue Whale Edition

One of my all time favorite bee theme posts is the secret life of bees.  While some have struggled to come up with odd tidbits about their life, Mr. Whale and I are full of strange quirks.  You already know about a few of them, like our manatee obsession.  But hopefully I’ll show you a few new things today.  So what do you not already know?

I’m kind of obsessed with Hello Kitty

Here I am with Hello Kitty in Las Vegas!

Okay, maybe obsessed isn’t the right word, but I do love Hello Kitty, perhaps more than a woman in her twenties should.  But honestly, why is it that only children are allowed to love bright colors and cute cartoon cats?  I think she’s cute too!  Lucky for me, Mr. Whale has been very accommodating to my love for Hello Kitty and allows her to appear all over our apartment.  After a brief run through the apartment, I found… a Hello Kitty snuggie, a Hello Kitty robe, a Hello Kitty shower cap, a Hello Kitty make-up bag, a Hello Kitty bag inside my purse, a Hello Kitty t-shirt, Hello Kitty pajamas, two Hello Kitty school binders, Hello Kitty ice packs, and five plush versions of Hello Kitty herself.  I almost bought a Hello Kitty ukelele just because it was so darn cute.  Mr. Whale is bummed that I didn’t buy it. (That’s not sarcasm. He really is an awesome dude.)

This graduation card is sitting on my desk.  Mr. Whale drew it for me! Isn’t he talented?

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Hello Kitty even made it to the wedding!


I am always making silly faces.

For some reason, my coping method for dealing with awkward situations is to make silly faces.  I’m pretty shy around certain people, so if we end up trapped in a room together and I can’t think of anything to say, I usually just make weird faces.  Does it make the situation any less awkward? Definitely not.  It probably makes it more awkward.  But I can’t stop.

Making a stupid face and modeling my Hello Kitty shower cap. (Note: This is not how I usually wear the shower cap.)

In celebration of my silly faces, I once made my own “Today I Feel…” magnet set for Mr. Whale on his birthday.



When I was a kid, I wanted to be Penny from Inspector Gadget

For real.  And I didn’t just want to be her.  I decided that I just was her.  I even tried to make my parents call my Penny.  And I started signing my name as Penny.  Apparently, I thought I could just change my identity that easily.  Silly me.  But seriously, she was so cool!

Here I am dressed as Penny for Halloween a few years ago.  Grown up Penny drinks Shiner Bock 🙂

I LOVE reading.

If one could officially be diagnosed with and addiction to reading, I would be the first in treatment.  I have had a library card in every single city in which I’ve ever lived.  I even had a library card when I lived in Paris for just eight weeks.  I devour books.  All books.  I’m not too picky about the genre.  As long as the book entertains me, I’m in.

Let me tell you a little story that will illuminate my obsessive reading.  A few years ago, Mr. Whale decided he would like to start reading the Harry Potter series.  A very excited Miss Blue Whale bought him the first book.  And then I was jealous of him reading Harry Potter.  So I got out my own books and started re-reading the series.  And I was so into it that I reread the entire series before he finished the first book.  Yes, you read that right.  I read all seven books before he finished the first.  I have a problem.

And please feed my problem.  If you have book recommendations, please let me know!! I always need new books.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl (Who doesn’t love Roald Dahl??)
  • The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Hunger Games trilogy (yeah, teen fiction!)
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Watermelon by Marian Keyes
  • Anything by Lisa Gardner

I have A LOT of footwear.

I don’t mean that I have a lot of shoes (though my collection is not too shabby).  No, I mean footwear.  As in, shoes, tights, socks, and (if you’ll allow me to include it in this category) leg-warmers.  In the last ten years, I have literally never worn a pair of plain white socks, except to go to the gym.  Colors only, please.  If I wear a skirt, I almost always wear tights (and I sometimes wear my tights with leg-warmers).  I also don’t wear shoes without socks.  I’m that girl wearing ballet flats with polka dot socks, and while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I rock it.  Luckily for me, Mr. Whale grew up in the eighties and somehow decided that all those eighties bright colors were super sexy.  He loves my tights and requests that I wear them more often.

Standard outfit for me.

Here’s a little snapshot of my tights drawer.  Yes, I have a tights drawer.  I also have a sock drawer, a separate bin for black and gray tights, a separate bin for trouser-type socks, and a separate bin for leg-warmers.  I might have a problem…


And last but certainly not least, I have a major sweet tooth.

While in college, I ate frozen yogurt every day. Every. Single. Day.  I could not resist the all-you-can-eat dining hall with the frozen yogurt and the delicious sundae toppings.  I was all over it. Every day. Sometimes both lunch and dinner.  But let’s not limit ourselves to ice cream.  Sometimes, I would make a waffle in the dining hall and, instead of using syrup, I would cover it with caramel sauce and other toppings.  Sometimes I would just fill my bowl with toppings like Reese’s and toffee bits and then cover it all with hot fudge.  No ice cream needed.

Apparently my friends often feel the need to insert food into photos that involve me 🙂

My life motto was learned from the movie Michael.  I remember nothing of the movie except for this one line, which has stuck with me for life: “Remember Sparky, whatever they tell you, you can never have too much sugar.”

I need that bench.

And there you have it folks! Now you know a lot more about my secret (and now not-so-secret) life!

Writing Your Own Vows

Mr. Whale and I wrote our own vows.  And I’m so glad that we did.  But, truthfully, it wasn’t the easiest thing on earth.  When I set out to write my vows, I just stared at my computer screen thinking, “Is there a template for this thing? Should I have a plan? What am I doing??”

In case you’re lost like I was, here is a little suggested roadmap for how to get from, “Oh no!! The vows!” to a personal declaration of your love.

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Because we all want a few tears, right?

1. Decide whether you want to write your vows together or if you want them to be a surprise.

If you write them together, you can probably avoid some of the other issues I’ll mention.  If you write them separately, you have the element of surprise.  It’s up to you.  I personally was a fan of our surprise vows.  But then again, I knew Mr. Whale would write something beautiful, because that’s just the kind of person he is.  He is definitely the more emotional one of us and is more willing to share his emotions, so I knew his vows would be great.

2. Tie the two vows together in some way.

There are a lot of different ways to tie the vows together.  You could both start the vows with, “I promise…” Or you could use the same general structure (I think you’re great because… Then, I vow to do this… Then, I love your forever. Bam. Vows.)  Or if you don’t want to be confined to a particular structure (Mr. Whale, I’m looking at you), maybe you at least want them to be similar lengths.

Mr. Whale refused to adhere to any kind of pre-imposed structure.  (That’s kind of how he lives his life everyday.)  But he did agree that we should try to have vows that were similar in length.  But how could we check the lengths if the vows were going to be a surprise??  We did a word count.  Mr. Whale’s vows were around 450 words, and mine were a little more than 300.  (Like I said, he’s the sappy one.)  Alternatively, you could time them and make sure they’re similar lengths.

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Sappy Mr. Whale

3. Make promises you want to keep.

To write the meat of my vows, I sat down one evening and thought really hard about all the things Mr. Whale had asked me to work on.  I have a bad habit of walking away when we’re in the middle of an argument, and it drives Mr. Whale crazy.  So I promised in my vows to not do that.  Mr. Whale really wants us to always be interested in finding out more about the other person.  So in my vows I promised to continually try to know Mr. Whale better.

I highly recommend using the vows to challenge yourself to make yourself a better person.

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4. Take the vows seriously.

It’s easy to get sucked into the idea of writing cutesy vows.  I will be the peanut butter to your jelly.  I will pick up your socks.  I will let you steal the covers (sometimes! tee hee).  And if that’s your thing, then by all means, don’t let me stop you.

BUT, as a silly person myself, I have to say that having heartfelt, thoughtful, sincere vows was the best thing in our wedding.  Think about it.  You’re about to make one of the most monumental decisions of your life.  And what does it say about your relationship if you make the whole thing a joke?

That’s not to say you can’t have something cute.  Mr. Whale and I threw in a few light-hearted bits.  (And our vows were written on cards shaped like manatees…)  But if your vows sound like a Dr. Seuss book and you’re not a children’s book writer, then it might sound insincere.

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5. Practice saying the words.

“I will be a sanctuary of warmth and peace for you in your darkest hours” sounds all poetic and great on paper.  But coming out of my mouth it sounds idiotic.  Practice your vows out loud so you can be sure you’re comfortable with the words.

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If all else fails… Borrow.

It’s okay to borrow from the internet.  Did someone else’s words bring you to tears?  Borrow them!  Use someone else’s vows as a template and edit from there.  It’s okay!  There are only so many ways to promise to be a fabulous spouse.  There’s a pretty good chance that a lot of us are working on the same issues.

Hopefully, these tips can help you avoid some of the issues I went through while writing my own vows.  If you need a little inspiration, here’s the link to the Blue Whales’ vows.  They still make me tear up.  

*All photos by Brenda Upton Photography.





Where I Splurged and Where I Saved

Splurge is such a silly word.  It’s fun to say.  Try it.  Splurge.  Doesn’t it feel satisfying?

Okay, back to the point.  Not all of us have an unlimited wedding fund (because if I’d had one, there would have been an epic ice cream sundae station and a gigantic chocolate fountain at our reception).  The average bride has to prioritize and figure out exactly what is most important.  Enter: the budget.  In the words of Mrs. Wallaby, talking about money is so awkward.  But I’m going to bite the bullet and do it.  Here is what we spent, category by category.  (Sorry for so many approximations.  I can’t imagine how some brides get everything right down to the cent.  I’m just rounding.)


  • The dress, veil, and alterations were a gift from my aunt.  But for fun, let’s guestimate.
  • Dress: A gift.  Price was approx. $1800, LaRaine’s Bridal Boutique, Lis Simon Constance
  • Veil: ?? $250? (Yikes! But also a gift.) LaRaine’s Bridal Boutique
  • Alterations: approx. $350 (and also a gift) (bra purchase included)
  • Tights: Free! They were already in my closet!
  • Shoes: Free! Bought years ago and never worn.
  • Earrings: A gift!
  • Hair Flower: $5 handmade from Michael’s
  • Hair: Free! Friendor 🙂
  • Bouquets: $3 each (so $15 total)
  • Make-up: Free! DIY ftw.
  • Mr. Whale’s suit: $400 from Men’s Wearhouse


How we saved: Ummm… by getting gifts?  But seriously.  I didn’t buy new shoes.  I made my hair flower.  I did my own make-up.  The shoes and hair flower alone probably saved close to $200.  And the bouquets! At $3 a pop, we had some serious savings there.  We also chose not to do boutonnieres for the guys or corsages for the moms and grandmas.  No one seemed to miss them (though Mr. Whale recently said that he wishes he’d had a pink boutonniere!).

But let’s be real.  My dress was a splurge!!  For me, it was the second most important thing about the wedding after the actually act of getting married.  So I wasn’t going to settle for something I didn’t absolutely love.  Hey, we’ve all got to have some splurges.

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  • My engagement ring: $67 from QVC
  • My wedding band: $400 from Zales + insurance plan with free sizing and cleaning (approx. $100)
  • His wedding band: $250 from Zales + insurance plan with free sizing and cleaning (approx. $50)


How we saved: We obviously saved a ton on my engagement ring.  And I have no regrets.  I LOVE my ring.  We also saved on my wedding band.  I chose a very thin band with very tiny diamonds.  Since the diamonds are so tiny, I didn’t care at all about their quality.  Oh, and the ring was originally $600.  Yay for sales!

Did we splurge? Oh yeah.  Mr. Whale could have gotten a $40 tungsten carbide ring from amazon. But he wanted a nice white gold band.  So we splurged.  He loves his ring, and it was totally worth it. (Funny story: We just bought him a stand-in ring to wear while his is getting the scratches buffed out.  It cost one cent. One cent!!! Amazon is an amazing place.)

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  • Venue: $1200 (Included all chairs and all set-up and take-down.)
  • Marriage License: $66

How we saved: We had absolutely ZERO decorations for our ceremony.  It was outside.  The place is gorgeous.  We didn’t even have an arbor, because we didn’t want to block the view of the mountains.

Did we splurge?  Sort of but not really.  I don’t think we splurged here.  The ceremony spot was right next to the reception spot.  So they were packaged together for $2500 total.  For our budget and what we wanted, I think we found a steal.


Venue: $1300

How we saved: A lot of nearby places had big food and beverage minimums.  Southern Tree Plantation did not.  They also allowed us to bring in all of our own alcohol.  AND, she allowed us to set-up the day before and take down the day after.  That alone is almost worth the money.

Did we splurge? Eh, maybe. We could have found a cheaper place.  But it wouldn’t have been in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  As far as that area goes, we saved big time.

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Food:  $1700 ($17 per person)

  • Cocktail hour snackies: veggie tray + meat & cheese tray (Nothing too fancy, but guests were pleased.)
  • Dinner: Buffet of pasta with choice of pesto sauce or marinara, grilled chicken, garlic shrimp, julienned vegetables, caesar salad, and garlic bread.

How we saved: Food can destroy your budget.  I am so glad we served dinner for all our guests.  But I’m also soooooo glad we didn’t splurge on some outlandish dinner.  I didn’t even eat anything.  And as long as the food tastes good (which it did… I had a few bites), the guests are usually happy.

Did we splurge?  There was another menu options for $15 per person, so you could say we splurged on this option.  But really… we were all about saving here 🙂

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Alcohol: $600

How we saved: Our venue allowed us to bring in our own beer and wine, which was fabulous.  We were a little bummed that we couldn’t have liquor, but flasks for the groomsmen solved that problem pretty quickly 🙂

Did we splurge? Kind of.  Because we could bring whatever beer we wanted, we could splurge a little.  We bought Fat Tire, Newcastle, Blue Moon, and Angry Orchard Cider.  Yum!!

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Centerpieces: $110-ish for 15 centerpieces:

  • $50 for a lot of Skittles
  • $30 for lollipops
  • $5 for glitter squares
  • $25 for table numbers
  • $2 for tea lights (from Ikea)

How we saved:  We chose not to do floral centerpieces.  Also, for a year I saved salsa jars, jelly jars, pasta sauce jars… all jars.  So all the containers were free.  When each table had 5 or 6 jars, that expense could have added up.  I definitely endorse DIY centerpieces (as long as they’re relatively easy… mine were).

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Photobooth: $130-ish

  • Sparkbooth software: $55 (soooooooo worth it!!!)
  • Random props from Target and Amazon: $65-ish
  • Backdrop: $10 of crepe paper taped to the wall 🙂

How we saved:  We made this a DIY project.  I was SO skeptical about whether it would work well.  But it was the center of the party.  Everyone loved it.  I made sure to have a TON of props.  And I never spent more than $5 on any one prop. (I think the pricey item was the feather boa.)  Most props cost less than $1.

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  • Cake + Cupcakes: $225

How we saved: Oh man, I so wanted an epic wedding cake.  It was my dream.  But at the end of the day, I just wasn’t ready to pay several hundred dollars for that cake.  So, we went the cupcake route.  And the six-inch cake was a gift from the cake lady.  Oh, and my mom gathered cake stands from all kinds of people.  That way we didn’t have to pay a stand rental.

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  • Candy Buffet:
    • Candy: approx. $100, all purchased at Wal-Mart
    • Jars: $60.  Some were free. Others ranged from $5 – $15.
    • Spoons and such: $10

How we saved: This might sound weird, but I bought some of our candy in Mexico!  The unicorn pops and the brightly colored marshmallows were brought back in a suitcase.  The other stuff I bought on sale at Wal-Mart right after easter.  If you’re planning on having a candy buffet, think about whether any holidays have your colors.  Then go to the store the day of or the day after the holiday.  Cheap candy! (And you get the good stuff!)

Did we splurge? Oh yeah.  I mean, we didn’t even have to have a candy buffet? (Who am I kidding? I had to have one.)  But I did splurge on some of the candy.  Specifically, Reese’s peanut butter cups, peanut butter M&M’s, and Rolo’s.  Those things are freaking delicious.  While planning, Mr. Whale said to me, “We had better have good candy at this candy buffet of yours.  Because otherwise it’s a stupid idea.” (He’s a charmer.) 🙂  So, we had some delicious candy.  And it was worth a few extra bucks, because the good candy was devoured.

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DIY Projects and Various Miscellany

  • Painted Signs: $1
  • Bubble Machine: Free!
  • Mad-libs: approx. $10
  • Escort Card Set-up: $30
  • Card Box: $25
  • Sparkly Hearts Garland: $15
  • “Mr” & “Mrs” Sign: $5
  • “Just Married” Banner: $5

Photographer and Videography

  • Brenda Upton Photography: $2950
    • Eight hours of coverage with two photographers
    • Digital rights to all photos
    • Engagement shoot + all photos (extra $200)

Splurge or Save? Neither really.  Brenda is a fabulous photographer.  Her assistant is also a fabulous photographer.  They cost a lot of money, but I adore our photos.  No regrets here.

  • Edwin Hammond of Hammond Studios: $1455
    • All day coverage (at a single location) with one videographer
    • Highlights reel of the “getting ready” portion of the day
    • Multiple-camera coverage of the ceremony
    • Final DVD with full ceremony, reception entrance, all toasts, cake cutting, any special stuff (we had several music performances), and a montage of dancing/partying

Splurge or Save? Big save! Edwin could definitely be charging A LOT more money than he does.  He is so so talented, and my only regret in the videographer department is that I didn’t get his gold package instead of the silver package!  He is so good that I wished we had paid more to get more great stuff.  I cannot recommend him enough.

<p><a href=”″>Erin & Matt’s Wedding Sneak Peek</a> from <a href=””>Hammond Studios</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Gratuitous re-posting of our video sneak peek? Yes. I have no shame.

The Band

  • Suckerpunch: $3000
    • Included five band members for the full reception
    • Included all emcee-type stuff.
    • Band provided all sound equipment and lights.

Let’s not even pretend we saved. The band was a splurge.  (Realistically, they’re not too expensive as far as bands go, but $3000 is a serious chunk of change.) Mr. Whale and I both reeeeeally wanted a band.  So we pared down other parts of the budget (like food or a pricier venue) so that we could have a band.  And they rocked.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Did we end up over or under budget?

I’m honestly not sure, lol.  I think we went a bit over, but not many thousands over.  But we paid everything off, and we had  a great time.  If I could do it all over again, I don’t think I’d change a thing.

The Wedding Photos I Didn’t Know I Needed

Alright.  I know you have a list of photos to be taken at your wedding.  I had a list as well.  But I’m here to tell you that after the wedding, I realized that there were some photos that I didn’t know I wanted until after the wedding!  Luckily, our photographer managed to capture some of these without my request.  (And several of them are some of my favorite photos.)

But there are some photos I should have requested.  So to keep you from making my mistakes, I’ve compiled a list of the photos that I didn’t know that I needed until after the wedding.  And I’ve given you a little inspiration and reality to go with it.

  • The Bride with Each Bridesmaid: This one makes me so sad.  I can actually remember the moment my photographer asked me, “Do you want to take photos with each bridesmaid now?” And I said, “We can do it later.” Well, later never came, and now I’m really bummed that those photos didn’t happen.


Image from Tie the Knot

Reality: No photo for me 😦

  • The Bride’s Face as She Walks Down the Aisle: The obsession nowadays is to capture the look on the groom’s face.  But let’s not forget that your groom might want to look at pictures one day too!  Hopefully your photographer can capture both.


Bride seeing the groom as she's walking down the aisle

Photo by Kristen Booth


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  • Guests at the Ceremony: If you’re like me, you might forget that other people exist during your ceremony.  I literally did not look at anyone other than Mr. Whale during our ceremony.  I wish I had a few good pictures of the guests.


Sean Parker's Wedding Photos by Christian Oth

Sean Parker’s Wedding Photos by Christian Oth

Reality: I think this is the only one I have where you can see some guests.

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  • The Bride and Groom with Both Sets of Parents: Somehow I missed that this was a thing.  I went into the wedding not caring at all about the formal family photos.  (I wanted family photos, but I wanted them to be candid.)  So I guess I didn’t put much thought into it.  But now we have photos of us with Mr. Whale’s parents and us with my parents.  I wish we had one photo we could put up that has all the parents in it.

Inspiration: (I felt weird borrowing a photo of some random couple’s family, so let’s look at Mrs. Otter again.  Can you tell I enjoyed looking at all of her photos?) 🙂

Otterly in Love: Two Families, Lots of Faces :  wedding indianapolis pictures pro pics recap Melissa037 Melissa037

So much love in Mrs. Otter’s family photos | Photo by Stacey Able

Reality: 😦

  • Candid Parent Shots: I didn’t really plan for parent shots, and that was a mistake. I’m so glad our photographer knew to get some.


Photo by Slava-Slavik


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  • Fake Dancing: I’m not talking about dancing at your reception.  I’m talking about dancing when you’re out in the middle of the trees or on a city street.  Dance like no one is watching, you guys!  Be carefree. (I guess planning to be carefree kind of defeats the purpose… Do it anyway.)


beautiful! Brenda Upton Photography

Photo by Brenda Upton


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  • The Dip: The dip screams romance.  But if you do it wrong, it screams awkward.  So practice the dip.  And then request that move.  Because if you get it right, it’s incredible.


Found on Weddingbee


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  • Guests at the Reception: When I was looking through other couples’ wedding photos, I didn’t care too much about the reception photos.  But that’s probably because I didn’t know those people!  I absolutely love seeing photos of all of our guests.  And I had no idea that I would feel this way.


Photo by Todd Laffler

Who are these people and why were they not at my wedding? | Photo by Todd Laffler


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  • Group Shot of All the Guests: Okay, seriously, this would take some work.  But I wanted this photo, and Mr. Whale didn’t, so we scrapped it.  But I wish we’d done it…


Photo by Jeff Newsom

Reality: We don’t have this one.  Boo.

  • The Jump: I urge you to reconsider your position on this one.  Mr. Whale and I love to pull up our jumping pictures and zoom in on everyone’s ridiculous faces.  It’s 100% cheesy, and I thought it would be stupid, but it ended up being one of my favorite photos.


Image from the Wedding Party App


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And there you have it.  All those photos I overlooked but ended up loving.  If any of these are on your list of “photos you don’t care about having”, I suggest you reconsider.

What photos do you wish you had from your wedding?

What We Skipped and Kinda Missed

Last time I talked about several things that we decided to skip at our wedding that we didn’t miss at all.  Today, I want to talk about the few things that we actually did miss.

I know that everyone always says, “Your wedding day won’t be perfect. Something will go wrong.”  But honestly, we really didn’t have any of those moments.  The weather was perfect. Everything was on schedule. We had enough food and enough alcohol. There was no drama. There were no excessively drunk people. Honestly… I have nothing to complain about.

So I’m going to invent things to complain about.  No, that’s not it.  Truthfully, because our day went so smoothly, I feel bad saying anything bad about it.  But there are a few decisions we made that, if I could go back in time, I would change.

What would we not skip if we could do it all over again?

  • The Father-Daughter Dance:  We decided not to have a father-daughter dance or a mother-son dance.  Mr. Whale didn’t want to call attention to it.  His reasoning was that he would just dance with his mom later on in the night and that I could do the same.  And he did dance with his mom.  But… I never got to dance with my dad.  (Too much stuff was happening, and I just forgot!)  This is the only thing from our wedding that I reeeeeally regret.  I know see that there’s a reason it’s a designated dance.  It’s because without a special time for it, it might not happen at all!
Otterly in Love: The Toasts and The Dances :  wedding indianapolis pictures pro pics recap Melissa093 Melissa093

Who can forget Mrs. Otter’s beautiful father daughter dance? Image by Stacey Able

  • A Receiving Line:  There’s a reason receiving lines are a thing. (Just like there’s a reason a designated father-daughter dance exists.) It’s because you might not get a chance to talk to every guest otherwise.  I wish I had read Mrs. Sword’s post before our wedding.  I think we could have done a quick one.
  • Fresh Flower Bouquets:  But Blue Whale, in your last post you said you didn’t regret your choice!  I know, I’m so fickle.  Truthfully, I don’t think I would go back and have fresh flowers again.  But I brought it up, because I felt some initial regret about not having fresh flowers.  Now that enough time has passed, I am totally in love with my paper flowers again.  But I will say one thing about this.  You had better love your bouquet.  Because it will be in almost every single photo that you’re in.  So if you don’t like it, you’ll question its presence in every photo.

(I can’t lie. Sometimes I wish this bouquet was in my life.)

  • Wedding Programs:  Okay, realistically, I didn’t miss the wedding programs.  But, a funny little thing happened on our way to our wedding.  Mr. Whale turned to me in the car and said, “Where are those wedding programs you made?”  And I said, “Oh, it turned out to be too much work.  So I just quit.  We don’t have programs.”  And he said, “What?? But how will people know who the wedding party is?  What if they wanted to take a program home from the wedding??”  This, folks, is why you should occasionally fill your fiance in on your plans.  If I’d known he cared so much about the programs, I certainly would have kept at it.  But I just assumed that he wouldn’t care.  Whoops.

How cute is this! Too bad we didn’t have a program… (Image via The Bridal Detective/Photo by Angela Renee)

Did you end up missing any of the stuff you skipped?