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Hey there! I'm Paige, a nationally published photographer, corgi + mashed potato enthusiast with a knack for heartfelt storytelling. Whether you see me behind the camera or on the dance floor with my couples, you are likely to see me having the time of my life. Based in Austin, Texas.

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WEDDING ADVICE

Real Wedding Advice | Elizabeth + Bryan

Feb 6, 2019

“Real Wedding Advice” is a new ongoing blog series where PVP couples share honest-to-goodness, real wedding planning advice about how they created the wedding of their dreams, how they prepared for married life, how they hired their vendors, what they wish they would have differently, what they would never change and how they put what matters most first. 

Couple: Elizabeth + Bryan
Wedding Date: September 1, 2018
Location: Austin, TX
Venues: Canyonwood Ridge

Tell us a little bit about how you chose the important vendors on your big day?
I feel like I can honestly say that we assembled the dream team of vendors!! Every single one was kind, attentive, flexible, and a delight to work with. As far as timeline goes, the first vendor we decided on was our photographer. One email exchange with Paige and I knew she had to be a part of our big day! Next, after our exhaustive search we found our perfect venue. From there we browsed lists of preferred vendors our venue listed as well as the lists of other venues we loved. That helped narrow down the long lists I found on websites like The Knot plus it gave us an added layer of security knowing these vendors had previously worked at our venue. There were a few other vendors like our florist and baker that we found by visiting the Bridal Extravaganza.

How would you describe your day: more formal or casual? Something more bright and vibrant or understated and classic? More traditional or more modern? How did you decide the vibe you wanted your wedding to give off?
I would describe our day as classic and timeless but also fun with a modern touch! When thinking about our wedding, we knew we wanted it to be lots of fun while also being unique to us. From Mass to the getaway car, we made sure every little detail reflected our personalities and history as a couple.

What would you say was the most unique part about your wedding?
This is a tough question; I want to say that everything about our wedding was unique!! Haha I think Bryan and I come from very different backgrounds, and even within our own families we are very different, so I think our wedding was unique in the way we were able to blend white and Mexican wedding traditions while also letting our relationship personality shine through. From the bilingual Mass celebration, the mother-daughter dance, to the Bentley exit car, the end product was different from what both our families and friends had ever experienced,

Tell us about your dress, from buying it to how you felt in it on the day.
Shopping for your wedding dress is supposed to be one of the best experiences of the planning process but I was absolutely terrified of this! Primarily because I did not think I was going to find exactly what I wanted and thought I would have to compromise just for the sake of picking something! Boy was I sooo wrong (THANK GOD!) I started my search at a small boutique back at my hometown and did not find anything I loved, I loved the top of one dress and the skirt of another but never loved a whole dress as it was. This gave me hope but also added to my anxiety. As I picked my top four dresses I discovered I had a preferred designer, Sophia Tolli. Her dresses had the sparkle and fit that I wanted but were mostly strapless and I wasn’t comfortable with that. I decided to wait a few months before trying again. During this time I went to the Bridal Extravaganza Show (everyone needs to go to at least one!!) and apparently signed up for a dress fitting at Melange Bridal (you sign up for so many things that I had completely forgotten). They reached out a few times before I finally decided to make an appointment. I wasn’t very confident going in so I decided to only ask one of my girlfriends to join me. As we perused the racks I discovered that this bridal shop carried the most Sophia Tolli gowns in all of Texas!! I ended up trying on dresses I had tried on before and while I loved them I wasn’t 100% comfortable. After trying on a dress or two the amazing Taylor brings out a gorgeous trumpet, sparkly one shoulder (not strapless!!!) Tolli gown that took my breath away! I tried it on and as the tears rolled down my face I was able to say ‘Yes to the Dress!!’ The day of (and during our bridals) I felt like a total princess! I also felt very comfortable and supported up top and overall comfortable because it was very me, so I didn’t feel awkward wearing something that didn’t fit my personality.

How did Bryan choose what style suit or tux he wore? It was so unique!
Bryan always said he didn’t want to go with the traditional black tux and in fact had loved that his own dad wore an all-white ensemble to his wedding so Bryan knew he wanted something unique but still classy.  Tbh, I was not on board with the idea of him wearing a completely white outfit but still wanted my groom to feel special in his tux. I was flipping through the Southern Weddings magazine and saw a groom dressed in black pants and white coat, I really liked it but didn’t want to pressure Bryan.  As we browsed through the Black Tux collection however we saw the option for a white jacket and black pants tux, Bryan knew that was the twist on the classic he was looking for.

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding for you? It can be anything from start to finish.
THE DANCEFLOOR. Haha I think most of my favorite moments happened here from sharing a two-step waltz with my husband as our first dance, later dancing with my momma, singing (or shouting hehe) the Texas Fight Song surrounded by all our fellow Longhorns, slipping and falling from hugging my MoH so hard after she caught the bouquet, dancing with my photog to some Fergieee, rapping to Lil Wayne’s Right Above It with my sister-in-law and later joined by my husband and brother-in-law, to finishing the night with my husband to the tune of ‘I want Crazy.’ However, the memory that particularly resonates is my husband’s display of utter fun and delight throughout the night as he completely came out of his shell and danced and sang his little heart away. I am one of the few to get to see this side of him (most of the time he is quiet and shy around others) so it melted my heart to see him so comfortable in a big crowd being 100% himself!

Tell us about the moment you saw Bryan for the first time on the big day.
Okay I just gotta tell you that I am in tears as I recall all these wonderful moments of our special day! On with the question now haha – This moment is so hard to describe, it was as if the world stopped for a second and it was just me and him! (yeah that sounds sooo corny and romcom-y but that’s what it felt like! Haha) Leading up to the day I thought a lot about how I would  feel and react to seeing him for the first time. I mostly did this in preparation since I know I am super emotional and I wanted to keep it together on the big day.

Nothing that I ever imagined about this moment made it justice. I was overcome with love and pure joy as I saw the man of my dreams wait for me up at the altar. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear when his eyes met mine. My heart could barely contain itself when I noticed Bryan was shedding a few tears! I somehow kept it together and didn’t bust out in full ugly cry! I felt less nervous after holding his hand, talking and praying together during our ‘non-look’ a few minutes before our ceremony.

What did you find most surprising about planning a wedding? Or challenging?
I was most surprised about the amount of detail that goes into planning a wedding. It‘s easy to think about the big items, like the dress, the cake, the food, the music, the invitations, etc, but you also have to worry about the ceremony programs, signage, room blocks, welcome bags, selecting your ceremony readings, music, etc. There were a lot of small decisions we had to make throughout the planning that I hadn’t realized were a thing until I was deep in the planning of my wedding. A lot of these smaller details were also surprising since they aren’t traditional aspects of a Mexican wedding, the only kinds of weddings I had some experience with.

Beside staying in budget (hahaha) I would say I found two things the most challenging, 1. Striking a balance between the two cultures and families we were bringing together through our union. I was navigating this new territory on my own and continuously felt afraid that I would offend someone by doing or not doing something that they expected.  All while also being true to ourselves and making sure our wedding was a reflection of our relationship. 2. Struggling with the need to be a ‘unique bride.’ I, like most brides-to-be, spent a lot of time on Pinterest or other wedding blogs/advice columns and was bombarded with information and ideas and a lot of blog posts about what trends I shouldn’t follow, what was new, etc, etc. I definitely caught myself second guessing my choices because they weren’t unique enough or over done.

Bryan kept me sane through this process as he reminded me that if people on either side of our family were offended by anything we did or didn’t do that it was on them and that we should plan our day around what we valued and loved. He also kept me grounded and encouraged me to go with my gut and not dwell on what the internet or society was telling me.

We know weddings are notorious for going over-budget. How did you handle budgeting your wedding? Were there areas you skipped on to save or found a more affordable alternative for?

Bryan and I started with an unrealistic budget for what we wanted and the area we were getting married in. I had no background knowledge on what to expect as far as prices go in Austin, I only knew what was reasonable back in my hometown. We quickly learned that Austin was a lot pricier and had to reassess our budget. From the get-go we knew we wanted to splurge on catering, open bar, and photography so that part was easy. Figuring out the other items we wanted to prioritize was more complicated. We took time to talk about both our visions for the ceremony and reception. I kept note of things we mentioned like Bryan knew he specifically wanted a UT Tower grooms cake, I knew I wanted small/medium flower arrangements as centerpieces with lots of candlelight, we wanted a Mariachi band, we knew we wanted our college priest to celebrate our wedding Mass, and we wanted a DJ who was familiar with Mexican/Latin music, to name a few. We also noted things we had excluded from our vision like wedding favors. Referring back to this vision helped us remember what was important and what we could find affordable alternatives for. Even with high priority items we took the time to price out different vendors to make sure we were getting the most bang for our buck. We skipped the favors and videography completely and opted for a DIY option for videography (we used a GoPro and stand to capture the ceremony and other important portions of the reception) and also had home-made Mexican wedding cookies as a treat we thought could replace favors.

I will also add that we found it important to spend money on things you and your guests will experience, other things like the décor or your champagne flutes, garter, etc don’t need to run up your budget, you rarely remember it and it ends up in a closet somewhere. You do remember how good the food and cake was or how much fun you had on the dance floor, etc.

Planners often suggest making a list of priorities for your wedding and divvying up your budget accordingly. What is the one thing you’re glad to have invested in for your big day?
I can’t pick one!! Haha Day-of Coordinator, Professional hair and makeup, an amazing photographer, high quality catering, super fun DJ and delicious cake! Honestly though every single aspect of our wedding was worth every penny.  Our team consisted of high quality vendors and I did not have a single issue with anyone of their services.

If I have to pick one, I’d go with day-of coordinator. Having a DoC made our day so stress-free and allowed us and our family to just enjoy the day without worrying about anything!

This is always one of my favorite questions! What surprised you most about your wedding photography experience? Any photography-related wisdom you’d like to pass along to other brides?
It never felt like we were being photographed, it all was so seamless. We, along with our guests, were able to just enjoy the day and have lots of fun while Paige managed to capture every moment. I honestly felt like I was partying with a great friend and she happened to also be taking pictures 🙂 2. We absolutely loved getting to experience the whole day again as we looked through our photos, particularly the moments we missed. I go back to our gallery frequently and relieve the entire day!

As far as advice goes, 1. This is one area you should definitely invest in! I get so many compliments on all our photos and I love that I get to display such beautiful images in our home. 2. Find a photographer who you like not just on a professional level but also on a personal level. They will play a very important part of your big day and will also spend  most of the day by your side. It’s important that you actually like them and feel comfortable enough with to be yourself!

If you could do it allllll over again, what would you do differently? What’s your number one piece of advice for couples just starting to plan their wedding?
If I could do it all over again, I would carve out time in the morning to read the heartfelt letters my bridesmaids wrote for me. We ran out of time and I didn’t get to read the majority of them. I also would spend a few moments in private with my mom before everyone saw me in my dress.

Enjoy the planning stages with your groom-to-be and other important people in your life, don’t let it become this stressful thing that you dread doing. Don’t be afraid to take a few days off from planning to regroup or to delegate (people that love you want to help, let them), go out on date night but keep the wedding talk out, remember what that day is really about – you are marrying the love of your life– it’s not about the linen colors or finding the perfect pun for your wedding favors.

How did you feel when the wedding planning is all over?
I was sooooooo sad when it was all over, partly because I missed the anticipation of the big day but mostly because I absolutely loved the planning process. I’m sure I’m an outlier as most people dread deliberating over tedious details and navigating guest lists but I enjoyed every single thing! I already love planning parties, planners, to-do lists, and calling the shots (haha)

But what made the experience so special was that I was able to share it with Bryan! He went to every vendor appointment with me and we made every decision together. He also kept me grounded throughout the whole process!

If you loved this real wedding advice, check out what other brides had to say, too!

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