It’s summertime and wedding season is in full swing! Our bride and groom featured in this edition are Elizabeth and Kyle, a couple who opted to get married at The Toledo Zoo and do unity shots rather than the traditional unity candle. For this issue’s wedding guide, we’ve also decided to bring back our style guide, an offering of alternative options for wedding gowns, accessories, bridesmaids’ attire and more. We hope you like the examples we’ve chosen from local photographers.
As I’m in the thick of wedding planning myself, I’ve included a list of dos and don’ts based on my own experience. We’ve enjoyed putting this guide together and would love to hear from anyone who wants to share their own stories, advice and local resources.
Erin Holden, Staff Writer
Elizabeth & Kyle Wiley
How did the two of you meet?
My husband Kyle is a Toledo Firefighter. My father is a retired Toledo Firefighter. I used to spend time going to various social events with my father, and I met Kyle at one of these events. We officially claim we met at the Blarney on St. Patrick’s Day as Kyle asked me out on our first date that day. The Blarney has remained a special place to us; we even had our rehearsal dinner and stopped for wedding day pictures there.
Who popped the question, and how?
Kyle asked me. We went on a vacation to Traverse City. Kyle planned a day of touring wineries and stopping at the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula. We stopped at a winery called Willow Vineyard, where we took a walk through the grape vines and he proposed. I love wine, and I also happen to have a 15-year-old cat whose name is Willow, so it made it extra special that he chose that particular winery.
How long was the engagement?
A little less than a year. He proposed in late August and we were married at the end of the following July.
What made your wedding day special?
I’ve always wanted to be married at the Toledo Zoo, where my father used to be a keeper and I’ve spent my whole life visiting. We knew it would be the perfect place. The wedding was exactly how I envisioned it.
During the wedding process, did you ever want to elope and just get it over with?
I think every couple has that thought at least once during the planning process. We even joked that Vegas has weddings at Taco Bell or Waffle House, and we were the kinds of weirdos who would choose one of those as an option. In the end, we actually enjoyed the entire planning process and didn’t really stress much about anything, so it was fun for us.
Was there anything in the wedding that didn’t go according to plan?
A whole list! It downpoured all morning— right up until our ceremony and initial pictures (we survived). We also had a little issue with our wedding invites (that we laugh about all the time) where Kyle dropped them off at the post office, checking their weight on a self-service scale. The scale showed sufficient postage…. it was wrong. We received a letter from the post office in the mail notifying us that we had a large amount of undeliverable mail held for us. Kyle went in and we had the option of adding an additional stamp or purchasing a larger stamp at a higher cost. The additional standard stamps were no longer available in wedding prints, just penguins. We opted for the larger stamps to cover the existing ones, an approximate $200 oopsie.
Did you do anything in the wedding that would be considered nontraditional?
So, the major non-traditional choice was to skip the unity candle/sand and instead do a unity shot of tequila. We bought mini bottles of Patron and 1800, poured them together and did a shot in front of everyone. To this day, our friends and family still talk about it. Our biggest mistake was not allowing ourselves to have a lime or chaser since we then had to get married with a fresh shot of tequila running through us. This idea initially presented itself when a year previous, my brother and sister-in-law did a beer blend at their ceremony. We wanted to outdo them, but we preferred tequila. My brother had done the legwork and someone had produced a justification at their wedding about old European houses blending their house wines at weddings way back in history. We had no idea if that was true, but it was a good enough reason for us! We also made our own playlist for the wedding and ceremony— our seating music included the Jurassic Park theme song which we slipped in the list.
How big was your wedding?
We had approximately 350 guests. Many of those were Toledo Firefighters and their significant others. They can’t have a social event without showing up en mass.
We did all of our own coordination, though we did have a coordinator with staff for the day provided by the Toledo Zoo.
Caterer & Baker:
Toledo Zoo; fantastic food and the tasting day was lots of fun!
Hafner Florist, they were our favorite vendor of all. They went above and beyond from start through the day-of, taking care of items that weren’t even their responsibility. Their set up staff even ran out with umbrellas to get me and my bridal party inside and dry!
Class Act by Bob Norris. Easy to work with; our DJ even brought Kyle and me drinks and kept our glasses full!
Tips and tricks for other couples:
RELAX! This is your day. Make it what you want, and don’t let other people’s suggestions move you in a direction you don’t want. Little things will go wrong, but, if you focus on what your ultimate goal is (marriage!), then it shouldn’t matter. Also, if you are making a seating chart, try using a large foam poster board, draw out boxes for each table and the number of seats at each and put your guests listed on a Post-it Note. You can easily move them around your board and make a new note if you change table groupings. It provides a visual that can be altered before anything is set in stone.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Our wedding was exactly how we envisioned it to be. Part of our success is that we were both equally involved in planning. We both provided input on even the small things, so we knew we were always on the same page. When it came time for us to be apart, we both could trust that each of us could direct what needed to be done.
Paige + Matt
Paige and Matt Powers opted for matching suede jackets as a twist to their boho look. Paige is showing off her “Mrs. Powers” embroidery on the back of the jacket. The style is highlighted by her flower crown, coupled with a beautiful natural backdrop captured by the photographer.
Brandy & Dan
Brandy and Dan went for a traditional approach to their wedding attire. Brandy wears a timeless gown with lace sleeves and an off-the-shoulder cut. Her pearls and veil are an elegant addition to her gown.
“Jenna and Adam had a small and intimate wedding in downtown Toledo at The Oliver House. She wore a pink sequin dress off the rack from Free People. With her hair in a top knot and a turquoise ring on her finger, she was a unique bride. In her vision, she never imagined herself in white, and they considered their day to be more of a party and a celebration with loved ones rather than a traditional wedding. So she chose a party dress rather than a typical wedding dress. And,bonus, she can most definitely wear it again.”
“Chloe flew out to California to get her dress from a boutique shop called Dreamers and Lovers. It’s not hard to see what is unique about this dress!” —Diana Cooper, Swatch Studios
Things to skip, things to do ASAP, and how to manage your time.
DO establish a firm guest list right after you complete your budget. You’ll need to know this for booking every vendor, especially the venue.
DON’T stress out about sending Save-the-Date notices. They are a nice touch, but they really aren’t necessary in this age of instant communication.
DO begin looking for venues as soon as possible if you have a certain time of year during which you really want to get married. They book up fast.
DON’T have an outside wedding without a Plan B, unless you don’t mind everyone getting rained on during the ceremony and reception (which also means you don’t mind people leaving early).
DO create your own custom timeline. It will keep you from going crazy.
DO establish a budget as soon as possible. Everything you plan is contingent on how much money you are willing to spend.
DO start dress shopping early. When you find the one you love, it could be a real process— ordering the right size and getting it altered (possibly more than once) takes time.
DON’T order your dress in a smaller size than you are when you choose your dress. I repeat, for GOD’S SAKE, do not do this to yourself. It is much easier to take in a dress if you happen to lose weight than to let it out if it is too small. Also, what are you? A masochist?
DO make sure you listen to your partner’s ideas about the wedding and let them know they are being heard.
DON’T be a hands-off planner, then get upset when things aren’t being done the way you want them to be. I hate to tell you, but you can’t have it both ways.
DON’T let other people’s stress cause you stress. If your mom, fiance, maid-of-honor or anyone is letting the planning make them a little nutty, tell them to take a break from planning for a few hours (or days) and reconvene later. Wedding planning should be fun for everyone involved, but you need to know when to take a break.