Why did we decide to do a small wedding first?
As I came into the US on a K1 Fiance Visa, that meant that we needed to marry within 90 days of me arriving in the country. The entire K1 process has an unpredictable timescale which makes it difficult to commit to a date or bookings. Also, as half of our wedding guests would be travelling from Scotland, it really didn’t give us much time to send out invites and for people to organise flights etc. For a destination wedding, we personally want to give one year of formal notice.
I also didn’t want to “rush” planning our big day because I was already planning an international move, transitioning through the visa process and saying goodbye to all my friends and family. Therefore we decided that we were going to do a small city hall type wedding first to make it legal and then we would do a proper wedding, where we would renew our vows in the future. We had also just bought a house and I wasn’t going to be able to work for a few months, as my work permit/green card takes at least 3-5 months to process. So we wanted to save our money to renovate and just for general living expenses when there was only one income coming into our household. There were many factors that lead us to this decision! For those K1 holders, who decide to do a big wedding first time round, I think that is great, this was just our personal preference!
In this blog post I will explain how we planned our intimate wedding day and what we decided to ditch till the big one!
We needed to decide this early on, as this really determined the day and the types of location we were going to be able to look at. We initially had thought about inviting just parents and siblings but that didn’t really work, so we ended up with about 25 people. From my side there was only my parents, step dad and younger brother.
Wedding Dress & Shoes
I have already picked the dress and veil for my larger wedding and I put a lot of thought into that one! However, in all honesty the dress I got for the little one, I found by accident. I was originally going to rent a dress from RentTheRunway, but when I stumbled across this one in Macy’s, I decided it was perfect for the smaller intimate event we were doing. The shoes, I got before I moved to the US and they are from TopShop (Ladies, they were comfy, I had them on all day and night, no cuts or blisters & the balls of my feet weren’t on fire either!).
We went super simple with flowers! We only needed a bouquet for myself (pictured left) and all of the men; the fathers, brothers and groom, wore a simple white rose on their lapel (pictured right). We got the flowers the day before and stored the men’s flowers in the refrigerator & my bouquet in a vase of water.
This aspect is pretty common in the US compared to Scotland. We didn’t do a dress rehearsal as such for the little wedding, it wasn’t really necessary, but we did do a full family dinner at a nice Italian restaurant the night before.
As we were getting married in the peak of summer weather, we opted to do an outside wedding. We managed to rent a little gazebo, very local to us, so we actually get to drive past where we got married everyday! It’s really beautiful as it overlooks the water and there were benches in the gazebo that are not in the picture, which meant people had somewhere to sit. It only cost $100 for us to have the space and then we paid an additional $250 for the justice of the peace to perform the ceremony there.
We got married on a Saturday so that nobody had to take unneeded time off work, if you don’t know yet, American’s don’t get nearly as much vacation allowance as people in the UK!
We then decided to have a formal sit down dinner with our nearest (literally!) and dearest (as many as budget would allow!). This took a bit of shopping around our area, as we didn’t really want to spend a fortune, but we wanted it to have a nice atmosphere and good food.
We ended up going for a place called EB Elliot’s, which sits right on the waterfront, we booked about 2 months in advance. When I arrived in the US, we were able to sit down with a party planner at the venue and choose the menu. We opted to go for their party menu! This included a mixed platter of appetisers to begin, which we got to choose, a main meal in which people had four options (we selected these also!) and we did coffee at the end and brought our own cake, which they served for us.
I’ve put a small slideshow below which shows you the second floor party space we had, they put up a partition to separate it from the general dining area and our own balcony area outside. We extended our drinking package, so that later on at night we were able to go down to the lower level right on the water and continue the party there!
I would highly recommend this venue for anyone looking to do a small and intimate event, the staff were great and the pricing was very reasonable!
Again, you will see a running theme for this wedding, NICE AND SIMPLE!
We had a 1/2 sheet chocolate cake with vanilla mousse filling and chocolate fudge icing – it was AMAZING! We ordered this from our local bakery a few days before and picked it up the night before the wedding and dropped it off at the venue. We thought we’d got a fairly small cake, but we were eating cake for days after!! From the top of my head I think it cost in the region of about $75-$85.
Wedding Night & Honeymoon
We did a night in a local hotel on Long Island for the night of the wedding, which was perfect! Then the following week we went on a little road trip to Philadelphia, Annapolis and Washington DC, which totalled just under a week. We kept it really simple as I said, because we are focusing on renovating our newly purchased house!
What did we ditch till the big one?
- Bridesmaids (My dad held my bouquet and my brother passed me the ring!)
- Not seeing each other the morning of (We got ready in separate rooms at my in laws house, so he didn’t see the dress till the ceremony!)
- Decorations of any kind haha! (Table/Gazebo etc.)
- Fancy Save the Dates/Invitations (Everyone got a phone call and then a text to confirm location/times etc)
- Wedding Favours (save your money till the big one)
- Fancy Photographers (you’d be surprised at how great your family and friends are at taking candid/posed photos and if all else fails an Instagram filter works wonders!)
- Dancing of any kind (there was no room in the venue to do it and we’ll do it next time round anyway)
- Hairdresser and Make up artist – I did my own! I did get a mani/pedi done the day before though!
- Wedding Registry
- The Bouquet Toss
All the things we didn’t do this time round, we will be doing for the big one, so I didn’t mind compromising on all of the above!
I realise that the way we did it, may not be to everyone’s taste, however for our particular circumstances this made the most sense logistically and financially.
We really wanted to do the big wedding right and be able to take our time planning it. I knew for me personally, with everything else going on in my life with the move and visa process etc., my mind was already bursting with things to do and I just wouldn’t have been able to dedicate the time or the energy needed to plan a 150+ person wedding. For it being an intimate wedding and one of two, the day was absolutely perfect.
It was great to just spend the day with close family and friends and celebrate the start of our new lives as a married couple and most of all, the fact that Anthony & I are now finally together full time!!!