Ryan and I have been together for 7 years. We met at a party at my parents' house after my stepdad hired him for his first job out of college. After that summer, we both went back to school in different states and decided to stay long-distance between Texas and Oklahoma to see where things went. I just kept thinking to myself that I would stay in this relationship as long as it made me happy and not worry about the future!
After a couple of years, I decided to move back to New Mexico to be with Ryan and my family. We moved in together, got a dog, and loved traveling and playing board games with friends.
When Ryan got a job in Colorado we faced a turning point in our relationship. We made the decision to stay committed to each other and he proposed on an Alaskan cruise with the 7-year-old map he had drawn to my parents' house from the night we met. We both moved up to Colorado and have been enjoying camping, hiking, and skiing in the mountains.
We ditched the Pinterest Board and Started from Scratch
Like every couple, we really wanted the day to feel like our own. I had a whole Pinterest board before we got engaged, but I chucked it out the window because it was all rustic with lace and mason jars—and I felt like I was planning somebody else's wedding (no hate on that theme; it's beautiful). And we started from scratch. Making the decision to get married in Colorado was hard because that meant both families would have to travel, but we decided to do what was right for us—and we wanted the mountain venue!
Navigating the challenges of planning a big event as introverts
One of our biggest priorities (and challenges) was keeping the day intimate. As introverts, neither of us wanted to stand in front of a crowd of people we only knew half of. We chose our venue because of the slightly smaller size, and saved money by choosing a Friday date. We also decided that kids (save our nieces) weren't appropriate for this venue or the kind of event we were having. It was hard to do this, but in the end it all worked out for the better.
I'm also a professional designer and love to do projects, so it was really important to me to include special handmade details throughout the day. I spent months hand-crafting our custom invitation suite and made a few signs using barn wood from Ryan's family farm in Oklahoma. About 10 months before our wedding, a very special cherry tree in my parents' backyard fell over—and after crying about it for a good 20 minutes, I took my mom's offer of using it for the wedding and hand-lettered each guest's name onto a slice of wood for their place card. I thought that would be a detail that was only important to me, but our guests took them home afterwards and have been doing all kinds of fun things with them!
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
My favorite part of the entire day happened right after the ceremony. There's a small amount of time that the bride and groom get alone together before everyone else comes in for the recessional and our feeling of elation was so high at that point. I'll never forget the kiss we shared right then and what it felt like to have done it!
Okay, okay. And I know I've rambled for a bit but I have to share the most classic part of the day. First, it downpoured right before our outdoor ceremony (yes, we had a plan B). And I had no idea. Guests afterwards kept asking me if I was freaking out, but really, I was just glad about this:
When I arrived at the venue, I walked up to the doorway with my brother and our photographer. As we approached the doorway, I heard a hissing noise—and looked over to see a large rattlesnake reared up, fangs bared, and rattling/hissing 10 feet away from my brother! We backed away, used a different entrance, and the venue called a ranger but eventually the snake just went away on its own. So rain wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to us and it gave us some great perspective and a great story.
What was totally worth it?
My invitations. I know a lot of people throw fancy invitations in the FIB, but I spent hours and hours on mine and loved every minute. We got so many compliments on them and people really appreciated the attention to detail.
My dress. Y'all... the cost of wedding dresses can be INSANE I know. We splurged a little more than I had planned on mine—and it wasn't even my mom or grandma's favorite. But I loved it so much and it made me feel so incredible.
The. Open. Bar. And I don't mean this in a "you're a bad host if you don't have one" way, because, ew. We didn't think we had it in our budget, but we found a company in Colorado that did it for just $16 (yes, SIXTEEN) dollars a person for the entire night (whaaaat?!). So we spent the money on it and it really helped loosen everyone up for the dancing and socializing. And our guests were grateful for it. I have photos of my cousins hanging out with my friends from college. Of Ryan's uncle dancing in the middle of a group of my aunts. Everyone mingled and I don't think it would have been the same without the bar.
What was not worth it?
Okay... I know this sounds cliche and like I am seeing our day through rose-colored glasses. There was a lot of stress leading up to the day and it wasn't a fun year planning. But I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Oh, this. Meeting with wedding planners wasn't worth it. I didn't end up hiring one, which made me really nervous because of our short timeline for setup. But I put a trusted aunt of mine in charge and my family tackled everything beautifully! I did make sure everything was ridiculously (and y'all, I mean ridiculously) organized for them, but they were happy to help and another vendor would have just gotten in the way. Not sure I would have the same advice to others unless they have ready and willing people like mine!
What did you throw in the Fuck-It Bucket?
Everything traditional beyond the first dances! No bouquet toss, no garter toss, no cake cutting... just a really fun party! And we got feedback from everyone about how much fun it was instead of feeling like a checklist of things to get done during the night.
We also threw the traditional timeline in the FIB and did a first look, which was fabulous because it calmed us both down before the ceremony, and we were able to get photos out of the way so we could enjoy cocktail hour!
Transportation. People are adults. They can get somewhere on time and drive responsibly on their own.
Our traditional American rehearsal dinner also went in the FIB. At first I didn't want to do this—I wanted a nice wedding party dinner in an intimate setting without the whole family around—but as the planning went on I found that I didn't think the money was worth it, and just went with my mom's suggestion of using the fabulous AirBnb they had rented with a barn area out in the back. My MIL had tacos brought in and we ended up inviting the whole extended family—which was GREAT after all because then everyone had been around each other before the wedding so it was more relaxed and much less divided on the wedding day.
What advice do you have for other couples planning their weddings?
Try to just feel gratitude, not guilt. I spent a lot of time worrying about other people—how much my bridesmaids were spending to travel, how awful of a person I was for not inviting all of my parents' friends when they were helping us pay for the wedding, how everyone would have to take time off for our Friday date. And in the end, everyone was so happy to be there and to be a part of it. They all had a fantastic time and I learned that while it's YOUR special day, it will be special for others too.
Also, hire professionals. They're good at their job and they'll make everything better for you.
How did Bridechilla help you plan your wedding?
Bridechilla helped to keep me sane! There were so many times that I felt so alone throughout the process. It was great to have a community of people to reach out to who would respond with understanding and not judgment.
Stacey and Ryan’s Rockstar Vendors
VENUE: Boettcher Mansion
PHOTOGRAPHER: Grace Gatto
VIDEOGRAPHER: White Summit Films
OFFICIANT: Carl Bloom
DJ: Quality Mobile Sound
CATERING: Colorado Catering Company
RENTALS: (linens, dishes)- Colorado Party Rentals
BEVERAGES: Peak Beverage
CUPCAKES: Gold Mine Cupcakes
INVITATIONS + DESIGN: Aspen Scribe (that's me, the bride!)
FLORIST: The bride’s aunt
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Shear Abby
BRIDAL SHOP: Amanda’s Bridal
DRESS DESIGNER: Casablanca
GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: Men’s Wearhouse
GROOM’S ATTIRE: Suit Supply
REHEARSAL DINNER: Held at a family AirBnb, catered by Torchy’s Tacos
WEDDING PARTY TIES: Knotty Tie Co
COORDINATOR: Family and friends