Our July Wedding #MakeReighForTheZimmermans / by Courtney Reigh

This is my first wedding post! It’s wild to think we’ve already been engaged for eight months, and that we’ve got less than four months to go. I had heard that time flies and the months go by so quickly when you’re planning a wedding, and whoever said that is totally right.

I vowed (what a pun) to be a chill bride from the get-go (or at least I hoped that I’d be a chill bride). I just wanted to enjoy the wedding planning process and our engagement. And honestly, we really have! We haven’t taken anything too seriously, and planning has been really enjoyable for us. We wanted the planning process, and our big day, to be easy and breezy, and we feel like we’re smooth sailing with four months until #MakeReighForTheZimmermans!

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The Date // July 2019

We chose July for our wedding month, and it was an easy choice! Due to my sister’s wedding this fall and the time of year we got engaged, summer was the perfect season for us to tie the knot. Our venue (more on that below) only had a few open dates for 2019 left, and our date was one of them!

July feels like a great month for us - it’s the month we got engaged, it’s in the middle of summer and no one else in our family has tied the knot in July. We’re both excited to spend our anniversaries outside in the sun.

The Location // Oshkosh

In my hometown - Oshkosh, Wisconsin! We’re getting married in my hometown church, followed by a reception + dance party at a gorgeous restaurant and venue called Beckets, and couldn’t be more excited.

We didn’t initially decide on Oshkosh - we took our time researching a few different cities to tie the knot in that were important to us. We researched Minneapolis/St. Paul, Northern Wisconsin and even Scottsdale, Arizona. While we absolutely had great options in each city, we were really intrigued by the tradition of getting married in my hometown (each of Hayden’s sisters has done that, and we loved the idea of keeping that tradition going). We toured Beckets and immediately fell in love. We signed the contract that day, and had our food tasting and alcohol selection shortly after. We’ll be noshing on pesto haddock, whiskey sirloin and Wisconsin mac and cheese while sipping on beer, wine and endless champagne (yes, on the patio by the lake!)

The Wedding Party // H + C plus Jeff Gordon (24)

Hayden is going to die when he sees this headline. A cute (embarrassing) little fact about Hayden is that he loved Nascar as a kid, specifically Jeff Gordon. 24 is his lucky number, and he always says “Jeff Gordon” instead of the word “24.” Cute (embarrassing).

But yes, there’s 24 additional people plus Hayden and me in our big ‘ole wedding party! We decided to include our entire family in our wedding party (yes, all our sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews), plus a few very close friends. So while it’s a big group, it still feels incredibly intimate and special. We hit the wedding party jackpot, and can’t wait to hang out with our crew on our big day and all night long on the dance floor.

My bridesmaids are such cool babes. They’re choosing their own dresses, along with any kind of shoes they want (I’m wearing sandals). We decided on floor length dresses in shades of tan and champagne. Glitter, solid colors, patterns or lace - whatever they feel best in. Hayden’s dudes are wearing navy suits with white golf polos underneath, along with brown shoes.

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The Details // Easy Breezy Love on the Lake

This is probably very A-typical advice, but we chose our wedding invitations first, and it was the best decision we made for our wedding. Hear me out!

We knew right away that we wanted our color scheme to be very neutral - we both like creams, whites, different shades of sage green, tan and navy. Especially with a summer wedding, these colors felt very right for us. With that in mind, we started looking for invitations on Minted.com.

If you are unfamiliar with Minted, I can’t recommend it enough! Their site is absolutely gorgeous and is really simple to use. They have a page completely dedicated to engaged couples, where you can search their library of wedding invitations, save the dates, menus, programs, shower and party invitations, thank yous, wedding websites, day of decor and favors/gifts.

Our process was pretty simple when we started our search - we determined right away that we didn’t want to send save the dates, and decided to order invitations only and send them six or eight weeks earlier than normal. With that in mind, we searched Minted for wedding invitations. Each of Minted’s invitations is part of a design “suite,” which includes all the coinciding paper and digital products that you’ll likely need for your wedding (including table numbers, name cards, custom stamps, wedding templates etc.) It allows you to see the full scale of some of the major pieces of decor at your wedding, which is so helpful in seeing your vision come together.

Once we reviewed the invitations and their design suites, we ordered a few invitation samples. Minted allows couples to order up to 10 samples for free (more details on their website) so you can preview certain styles in person. We decided to look only at “all-in-one” invitations (you can see an example on my Instagram page). Basically, they fold together and the RSVP card has a perforated edge. It helped us save a lot of money (we only had to buy one invitation versus invitations that had multiple pieces), and the postage was less expensive as well. Once we received the samples, we picked our favorite and made the decision pretty quickly.

I should point out — one of the decisions we made when when we started planning our wedding was to not overthink or dwell on any decisions. Our marriage is the most important part of our wedding day, so every other detail is insignificant in comparison. It’s actually allowed us to make decisions confidently and quickly, and is a big part of why planning our wedding together has been enjoyable for the past eight months!

With an entire design suite of products in our minds, we started to see the vision of our wedding come to life. We made our wedding website (using the branded Minted template) right away and populated it with information about lodging, restaurants and things to do in Oshkosh so our guests could start booking their travel. We met with a florist and showed her our invitations and table numbers, as well as a few inspiration photos from Pinterest. We searched our color palette on Pinterest to see weddings with similar colors to compare bridesmaid and groomsman outfit colors. We ordered a guest book from Shutterfly with similar design and text to our wedding invitations. We found a local vendor to create custom wooden signs similar to what we saw in our inspiration photos. We even hired a popsicle truck, and they’re adding our invitation logo on each popsicle stick.

And just like that, it all started to come together.

The Honeymoon // Maine

We agreed that one of the most important parts of our wedding was that we went on a honeymoon immediately afterward. Honestly, I’m not sure why! I personally always imagined going on my honeymoon immediately after my wedding - a time to travel somewhere new, relax, enjoy being newlyweds and start our marriage together. And Hayden felt the same. I know it’s not an option for everyone and I know people decide if and when to honeymoon for various reasons. But for us, having a getaway together after our wedding was a top priority.

We also knew early on that we didn’t want to go anywhere out of the country (we didn’t want to plan a vacation that required a detailed itinerary in another country on top of planning our wedding). Plus, we’re really digging traveling to different National Parks, so staying domestic was an easy decision.

With summer in mind, we researched Lake Tahoe, California, Anchorage, Alaska and Moab, Utah. We knew we wanted to go somewhere where where we could relax, spend a lot of time outside, visit a National Park and eat great food. It was also important to us that we could stay in an AirBNB and have an entire home to ourselves (versus staying in a one-room hotel), which will truly allow us to relax, feel at home, cook and enjoy our time together.

One night, the idea of a honeymoon in Maine was brought up, and it was an automatic “YES!” from both of us right from the start. Nothing sounds better to us than a week and a half on the Maine coast in July. Our plan is to stay in Portland and Bar Harbor for 10 days, with a quick stop in Boston for a Red Sox game on our way home. We’re crossing our fingers for great weather, because we want to spend as much time outdoors as we can. Hiking in Acadia National Park, visiting various beaches and capes, sitting on patios…it sounds like a dream! We’re also planning on cooking together in our AirBNB, watching movies and playing boardgames, sleeping in and eating a LOT of lobster.

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Newly Engaged Advice // Home Stretch Words of Wisdom

We’re by no means wedding planning experts (Hayden as a wedding planner, what a vision), but we were incredibly lucky to get great wedding planning advice from family and friends early on. We’ve really enjoyed planning our wedding so far, and below are some of the reasons why:

  • We decided what was most important to us and prioritized from there. I highly recommend this if you’re just starting to plan your wedding. For us, the venue’s location in proximity to a hotel (we didn’t want to organize group transportation), great food and booze and a moderately-priced reception venue fee were must-haves. From there, we prioritized our honeymoon, the flowers and our DJ. Some things weren’t all that important to us, including save the dates (we didn’t do them), Hayden’s suit (he purchased a great suit from Macy’s for under $200) or my dress (which cost $250). This helped us create a budget (more on that below), which has kept us sane throughout wedding planning. It also guided us when we had decisions to make, because we had already agreed upon what was important to us.

  • We learned to love Google docs. I’m baffled how brides planned their weddings before Google Docs! This has been our best ally during planning. We have a holy bible Google Sheet that has held every piece of information we have for our wedding - catering budgets, guest lists, recipient addresses, our master budget, rehearsal dinner guests, wedding party clothing sizes, meal option lists etc. (yes, it is a LOT of information). I have it as a tab that’s always up on my browser, and it’s easy to access as we receive RSVPs (which is happening right now). We also used Google Slides to create inspiration boards for our florist and custom sign maker, and we’ll use it in the next couple months as we outline details of what needs to be set up for our wedding ceremony and reception. I can access it on my phone or on my laptop, and it’s always auto-saving (SO IMPORTANT!) Plus, you can share these docs with other family members, which has been so important to us (my mom added all our family address to our Google Sheet directly).

  • We used Minted.com. I talked about this at length above, but this really was a life changer for us. We were immediately able to see a cohesive wedding vision based on their design suites. Having these designs helped us plan and coordinate so many other aspects of our wedding (including our flowers, signs, centerpiece decor etc.) and allowed us to see our wedding as a whole. This was honestly a game changer.

  • Learn to be flexible, and make decisions quickly. We had a pretty firm number of guests in our minds from the get-go (don’t ask me why). When we started creating our guest list, it was considerably higher than our 240 target number. Even after narrowing down our guest list, we were still over (think 290ish). While it felt like a big stressor, we realized that this was something we could be flexible about. We wanted to ensure we didn’t regret not inviting someone to our wedding, and in the grand scheme of things, 25 more guests likely isn’t going to have a significant impact on our overall catering budget. We also realized we both have HUGE families, which is something we can’t change (nor do we want to!) so a larger wedding was inevitable. It made it a lot easier moving forward having this in mind and allowing ourselves to be a bit more flexible. Second, we decided to discuss decisions right away and to not dwell on any decision for too long. Once we secured our wedding date and venue, booked our honeymoon and secured the hotel room block, our most important decisions were already made, and none of our other decisions were that important (our priorities were covered, so we already felt great!) That’s allowed us to discuss everything else quickly, make decisions and move on with little/no stress.

We still have four months to go, so brides, I’d love your advice on these next four months! Any tips or things to keep in mind? Last minute details to not forget? I so appreciate your words of wisdom!