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The Unfake Wedding of Veronica & Keith!

My only regret regarding this Unfake Wedding is that I didn't discover Veronica's DIY journey via her blog sooner than I did! You've heard me prattle on countless times about Veronica and her DIY madness. You might have already seen a baby-sized recap over on Ruffled, but y'all know where to come to for the real dirt. Right?  Right. So if you haven't tripped over her DIY-crazy blog My Hands Made It, you should. But first, check out her massive DIY wedding. No shit, she made like everything: her dress, her veil, her bridesmaids dresses, bridesmaids bouquets, groomsman boutonnieres, pin-on flowers for ALL her guests, her invitations, her guest book, a doily chandelier, her menus, her table runners, her lily alter backdrop, her mom's wedding day hat, a fascinator, paper fans for her guests, pinwheel table numbers and wall decor, her accessories, custom glass water bottles for the tables...girl, if it could be made by hand, this chick made it. Un-fucking-believable folks. I think this woman rivals The Martha.  Yeah, that's right. I said it. The Martha. And I'm not afraid to tell The Martha to her face either.

Well.....maybe. I might be a little afraid of The Martha.

And because I think y'all need to see a lot of this wedding, I'm including as many photos as I can! So without further adieu (and this post has been LONG overdue), I bring to you the super-creative, kick-ass, vintage style wedding of Veronica and Keith!

The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you? 

You know, I asked Keith if he wanted to as he tucked me into bed at the hotel, but I was clearly half out of my mind from sheer exhaustion (and probably slurring) and he wanted to go back to the after party, so no.  But everything was made official before we went to brunch the next morning.

Please take the time to tell me all the vendors you used.

Photographer - She's not telling due to shady, post-wedding customer service.

DJ/Band -  N/A (by the way, we used Rhapsody to download all of the music for free (aside from the monthly membership fee) and separated it all into different playlists - it was AWESOME – people were nuts about the music.  And what’s even cooler, is I can listen to our wedding music whenever I want.)

Reception Venue  - My parents’ house (my childhood home).

Ceremony Venue - Same as above!

Planner -  Lisa Gordon Events (for the day of the wedding)

Transportation First Student Bus – I would have really loved a fancy charter bus for our guests, but we couldn’t afford it.  And actually, the drunken guests really seemed to enjoy reverting back to high school.

Guest Hotel -  Holiday Inn Select in Naperville, IL

Flowers - Johnson’s Floral and Sandwich Floral in Sandwich, IL for the bride and groom, respectively.

Dress - My little ol’ hands,  Veronica Sheaffer Gowns 

Accessories - Veronica Sheaffer Gowns 

Hair/Make-Up - Autumn Orstead Smith

Tuxedos -  Formally Modern Tuxedo (and the tuxes were actually really gorgeous and the same price as the crummy tuxes from Men’s Wearhouse – the guys were super impressed)

Cake - Sweet Sensations

Officiant - My awesome brother, Austin.

Ceremony Musician - My other awesome brother, Alex.

Who was your favorite vendor and why?

I’m torn between the day-of coordinator and her assistant and the caterer – they were outstanding.  The coordinator is also an equity theatre stage manager, which makes her perfect for the bridal business.  She totally understood the theatrical aspects of the event and kept all of the dirty, behind-the-scenes stuff out of my view.  And the caterer - dang!  We had the perfect garden family style dinner.  And it was soooo good.

AND I have to mention my brothers for making the ceremony so special for us.  Alex played a song he wrote on his guitar, which makes me cry every time I hear it, and then played the wedding march on an organ in the backyard (so awesome).  Austin got ordained and performed the ceremony and then rang a crazy loud Town Crier bell as we kissed – it was amazing.

Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

Price, of course, but also style.  If they either saw my vision or were at least really excited to try something new, then they were in!  And they had to be really nice too.  Having the wedding in a small town was both a blessing and a curse.  Almost all of the vendors charged half of what I was getting quoted in Chicago (where we live), but it was really hard to find them.  It took a LOT of leg work.  But you can’t beat a delicious cake for $1/slice and an insanely fresh, gorgeous meal for $14/person.  It was worth the effort to find them.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

13 months

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

 We invited 205 and I think we ended up at 126 – to my great relief.  I mean, I wanted everyone to be there, of course, but we had some serious space-restraints and some people (the groom) had a hard time with the verbal invites – like giving them out in the first place!

What was your budget?

We didn’t have a set number when we started – we figured we could spend around $5,000 depending on how much we saved (we were able to save $8,000 in the end).  My parents put in an additional $5,000 (probably a little more). And Keith’s parents gave $2,000 for the rehearsal dinner.  The best part is that we did not charge one single thing.  We had a joint account which we would both contribute to each payday, and that was for big-ticket items.  Anything small (like craft supplies) we just paid for out-of-pocket as we needed them.

Did you include rings and/or the honeymoon in your budget? 

We included my ring ($300 – a vintage diamond and platinum ring – buy vintage, it’s cheaper!) and Keith’s was so inexpensive I paid for it out-of-pocket.  The budget does not include the honeymoon – we charged the airfare and hotel and paid for all of our meals and everything with the money our guests gave us.

Were you over or under budget? By how much (you can give a percentage)?

We spent most of the leftover money on a brunch for our guests the next day, which was $900.

How large was your bridal party?

Three bridesmaids and my Maid-of-Honor; four groomsmen and Keith’s Best Man.

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

THE HEAT! It was so hot without a single cool breeze the entire day or night.  I never saw our beautiful wedding cake because it collapsed from heat on the way to our house (and it was only 10 blocks away!).  Seriously – it was really hot. The baker ran home and actually made another small cake and a sheet cake (decorated even) and delivered them during dinner.  And no one bothered me with the news until it was all taken care of – amazing.  I also wish I had more pictures with just Keith and the bridal party and our family, etc, but it was so hot we couldn’t bear to stand in the sun and pose.  The only time I got a little freaked was around 2pm (the wedding was at 5pm). I had to go down in my lacey peignoir and set the place cards on the tables (because my dumbass system didn’t make sense to anyone else).  I took care of it, but realized all of the last-minute crap my poor bridal party was frantically doing in the heat.  I felt terrible.  I cried once, they gave me some wine, and I was fine.  And then they were back up in the a/c hanging out, assuring me they were good.  Bunch of sweethearts.

What was you biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or rather, not handle?)?

One of the hotels (the one right in town – not listed above, because I hate them) basically did everything within their power to make our wedding a disaster.  I reserved a room block a year out from the wedding and then they gave room blocks to five other weddings on the same day.  And they only have 100 rooms in the entire hotel!  Four months before the wedding, none of our guests could get rooms, so I had to scramble and find an alternative, and every hotel was full.  The closest, nicest one with the best rates was still a 45 minute drive from the house (on back country roads).  So we had to reserve buses to get people back and forth, which cost us an additional $1,000.  No joke.  They also screwed up the small room list we still had there along with every other single thing I asked them to do. I am in the process of drafting a disgruntled letter to their corporate office.  For the record, the other hotel (the Holiday Inn listed above) was incredible – thank goodness!

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this if you’d like)? 

Mother Nature – that bitch.  Everyone else was wonderful.

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

Because time is money, I would have to say all of the DIYing – I loved every single minute of it, and I would do it all again a million times over.  Not only did I love the time spent making everything, but the guests were so thrilled with it all.  The caterer said she got chills when she walked in and saw everything – that was pretty awesome.

What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

I would have preferred NOT spending $1,000 on school buses.

What did you love that was also the cheapest?  

My dress.  I saved a TON of money by making it myself (I think it cost around $150 for materials).  And Keith was so blown away by it – when I got to the altar he said something like “You look like a bride!”  Ha!

What was the most unexpected thing that happened (not necessarily a bad thing, just a surprise)?

Um, a tractor parade.  I am so not kidding.  My parents live in a rural community and apparently the good people of that town, every now and then, like to have themselves a tractor parade.  Okay!  It actually went by the house during the cocktail hour and the guests LOVED it.  Half of them expected me to be on the last tractor, riding back to the reception.  Goofballs.

What was the funniest thing that happened?

My family jumped into the pool.  I heard later that earlier in the night one of the kids accidentally fell in and was really embarrassed so Keith pretended to fall in too (in his tux, mind you) to make him feel better.  My dad saw him and jumped in – then my brothers, then me (seriously), my mom, my aunts and uncles, my cousins . . . it was so crazy.  And frankly, the cold water felt really good.  I had changed out of my dress by that point, so it was no big deal.  It is SO not something I would normally do, but I knew Keith and the boys would love it, and I hate to be a party-pooper.

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

When I came downstairs for the ceremony and my dad walked into the room to get me.  He put his arms around me and just cried.  And then again during his toast – he couldn’t even get the words out.  I love him so much and he loves Keith so much – he was just so happy and I’m crying right now writing about it. My sweet dad.

Did you DIY? What parts?

Yeah. Everything.  My dress and veil (and my underthings), the decorations, altar, chandelier, table numbers, seating cards, bouquets and boutonnieres (for the wedding party and all of the guests), our invitations, the guest bags, program fans . . . and lots of other stuff.  It’s all here on my blog: www.myhandsmadeit.com

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Lisbon, Portugal!  And we lived like KINGS.  You only honeymoon once, right?

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

I wouldn’t change anything about the ceremony or reception – they were just perfect.  PERFECT.  So many of our guests said the sweetest things about our wedding – it really was, and still is, completely overwhelming.  I did however wish I had made my dress in two pieces (making it knee-length for the reception), because it was just too hot to wear a gown all night (not that I could have anticipated that – weather is completely unpredictable in these parts).  I changed into my rehearsal dinner dress, which was fine, but not ideal.  Honestly though, I would have worn anything at that point – I was just so happy.



Reader Comments (11)

Oh man, you are too good to me! Thanks for the incredible things you said about me! :) Oh and for the record, I didn't MAKE the bridesmaids' dresses - I altered them. They came from Bari Jay and Jasmin, in case anyone is interested. Thanks again - you're so awesome!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterveronica

this wedding is FANTASTIC!!!! like, i have no words. i'm so blown away. amazing job veronica!!!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa

Totally beautiful! I made several things for my wedding (not as many as you, nor as beautiful!) and I loved every single minute of it, too. Even when I was bitching about folding the damn programs and writing "Thank You" 150 times for the favors... It was so fun and I would do it over, too. But, maybe on a smaller scale. :)

This wedding is so beautiful and so heartfelt. Congrats to you both!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristy W

holy shit, her wedding was BEAUTIFUL. i can't believe how much she made!! great interview too...WOWZA!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie [love your way]

Gorgeous details from a super talented lady!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChic 'n Cheap Living

Absolutely stunning! Perfect colors, wonderful blue sky, and happy couple.... What else do you need to make your wedding perfect? Complimnts, and thanks for posting!

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIsabel

Regardless of the brides' pleasure or displeasure with her photographer's services, it is your duty as a 'professional' blogger to credit the photographer accordingly. If it were any other vendor it would be a non-issue, but you are using their images on your blog, and you should give proper credit.

@Jessica - Good point. However, it is my understanding that the bride owns the rights to the pictures, which would then leave the decision up to the bride, correct?

January 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

No worries, I'll share! The photographers were Innerlight Photography in Illinois. I thought it nicer to just leave their name off of it, but now I feel like I have to explain myself. I made A LOT of stuff for our wedding, as Louise explained, and I could not have expressed enough how important it was to me to have pictures of all of those things. When I received the first batch of photos I was super disappointed because there were like NONE of those things included. I had to nag and nag and nag to get the few that are featured here. I still have none of the bouquets, boutonnieres, the necklaces my mom made, escort cards . . . the list goes on and on. Plus they were rather unresponsive at times and treated me like I was a complete pain in the ass to want the things I was promised. That's it in a nutshell. But they're a young company, so it could have just been part of learning how to run a business.

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterveronica

If the bride owns the rights to the pictures, then it is her right to share the images and reproduce them in however form she deems appropriate, (all based on what was agreed upon in her individual contract, of course) but in terms of the blog world the proper etiquette is to give credit to the creator of the images. We discussed this at length at the B-List conference last year and it was stressed to give credit for images we use. You wouldn't see a wedding in a magazine without a photographer credit, and so the same should be true of a wedding blog... know what I mean?

I can totally understand where the bride is coming from, not wanting to give good press or exposure to a vendor who gave her unfavorable service, and it's unfortunate that she felt that way and had that experience. However, in cases like this you must treat a blog sort of like a magazine, so editorial rules apply. In any case, the wedding looks amazing and the photos are lovely! i hate when vendor relationships go sour after the wedding... I've had similar feelings towards some of my past vendors so I can sympathize.

Oh just another note, in the future if this issue arises-- I would just credit the photographer without leaving a link. If someone really loves the images enough to want to use that photog, they will take the time to do a quick google search! :)

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