Let’s Get It Started, Part II: Summer’s Wedding Decision Process

I absolutely thought I was going to be one of those people who just wanted to bask in being engaged for a little bit, especially since I have so much time until our prospective wedding date. I don’t know why I thought this because the literal day after Kathryn got engaged I had already mapped out a brilliant plan for her to ring in the nouveau roaring twenties with a Gatsby-themed NYE bash. Luckily Joe hated the idea of a holiday wedding which left that exact date wide open for Travis to propose on!

Since I’ve only been engaged for one month (as of today, happy engage-aversary!), a lot of details about my wedding are still very tentative. But, this series is all about showing the process and the result so here’s how I am currently tackling some early wedding decisions.

Where? Finding a Location

Since we live in Mississippi, are from two different states, and are inviting people from California to Massachusetts, we had a lot of options open to us as far as where to get married, but no obvious convenient location. We’re still in the process of deciding, but here are some things we’ve considered so far:

In front of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, my favorite city.

Eloping in Scotland

Wedding planning is stressful, expensive, time-consuming. I always hear people saying they wished they had eloped and I’ve had this dream that we would rent a castle and basically just have a fun vacation with our nearest and dearest that we happen to get married in the middle of. However, the logistics of it makes this option pretty difficult since our idea of “eloping” is really more of a micro-wedding, so not just the two of us. While this is still on the table, it’s really taken a back burner to locations that would allow more people to attend.

The first time we visited Oxford together!

Oxford, MS

This is where we live, so the easiest to organize things and go super DIY if we wanted to. Unfortunately, the wedding market here is geared toward Ole Miss alumni with 200 fraternity brothers on their guest list and big budgets. Since I’m not a giant white wedding kind of girl, I asked one of our favorite bars about pricing: $2k an hour just for the space. Coupled with the fact that it isn’t very easy to get to for our guests we pretty easily dismissed this option.

Our first couples trip to Hot Springs (and the first time the boys ever matched!)

Little Rock/Hot Springs, AR

This is about halfway between North MS and North Texas and has an airport, which is about 97% of the reason we are considering it. Little Rock and Hot Springs both have their charms, but I’m not sure if either is the right place for us.

Beale Street in Memphis

Memphis, TN

The closest major city to us, this one would be a good fit for convenience and it’s not a bad place to take a vacation for our guests. You have Beale Street which would make a fun afterparty and Graceland is a major attraction. Memphis has cute venues, a fun vibe, and it’s close to home, which make it a very close runner-up to my #1 choice:

In front of Beyonce’s New Orleans home.

New Orleans, LA

Who doesn’t want to get married in New Orleans? The city is fun, historic, and a little dark. Perfect for a historian who wants a romantic ceremony followed by a hoppin’ party, no? It’s become a really popular wedding destination so it can be pretty expensive but is jam-packed with wedding venues. Louisiana is nestled between MS and TX, and for those traveling from other states, it’s a destination they’d probably visit even without a wedding to lure them.

When? Choosing the Date

This is another one we haven’t quite figured out. I am a big fan of our date being the anniversary of our engagement, but since Travis proposed on NYE prices shoot up on that date. We’re open to moving it, but we’d like to stay in the low season (when fewer people are getting married) because it will save us thousands of dollars. The “low season” timing can vary by venue, so where we choose to get married will impact our date. For instance, June-September (a high season in some places) is low in NOLA because it’s so dang hot.

Who? The Guest List

I knew before I even got engaged that we’d have a small wedding. Travis and I are introverted homebodies, we have a few close friends and small families. When I thought about who I’d really want there, I couldn’t come up with more than 25 people. A few more popped up when I was actually writing it down, but we’re still under 50 including our B-list. I was a little sad about this at first (and still might be if we get a lot of “no” RSVPs) but having a small guest list will save us a ton in catering and alcohol, plus we can get a smaller venue.

I don’t want strangers at my wedding, and I don’t want to be so busy greeting people that I don’t dance, eat, or drink. I want to be able to interact with each and every person, especially since they’re all having to travel. If a big wedding is your thing I 100% get that, they can be such a fun party and probably the only excuse you’ll ever have to get all your people in one room, but that just isn’t our vibe.

What? Our Vibe

Race and Religious in NOLA.

As I mentioned before, I am really into an NYE in NOLA wedding, but even if we move that date, any Saturday in the Quarter is going to be a party. Since NYE weddings usually go until midnight, you have to accept that it will be dark out during your ceremony. This goes perfectly with my ceremony vision—romantic and intimate (another reason to keep the guest list small) with a ton of candles. My main ceremony inspiration is Maggie’s wedding in the “Family Ties” episode of Four Weddings (judge me) which was a winter wedding, outside, at night. The dream is to find a courtyard, throw some heaters in it, and have everyone take a shot to keep them toasty—or at least toasted.

The other amazing thing about NOLA weddings is the Second Line! I would love to have one of these after the ceremony to get everyone into the party mood. I’m still trying to decide if I want my reception to be kind of traditional i.e. a sit down meal, or cocktail style (a New Orleanian tradition) with food stations that guests can graze at their leisure. Either way, I definitely want everyone to be ready to rage at the reception and maybe even hit an after party in the Quarter.

Have any of you had a New Orleans wedding or cocktail style reception? If so—let me know how it went/what I should be prepared for/suggestions!

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