Who got married? This girl. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. After five years of dating and three years of living together, my man made a honest woman out of me. We tied the knot. We got hitched. We took the plunge. We did. Little Larey is now officially a wifey. And loving it, might I add. And since I am very proud of what we put together during our short 5 month engagement I would like to share some of the details of our wedding day. Because, let’s be honest: everybody loves weddings. Okay, that might not be true, but everybody loves love. I sincerely hope that’s true at least. Anyway, here it goes: how we rocked our wedding (and how you can too). Note: all photos in this post (except the ones from the invites) are made by our amazing photographer Sjuul Fotografie. They are not to be used without prior written consent from both her and myself.
“I love you wildly, insanely, infinitely” – Dr Zhivago
About picking a date
Our engagement was pretty short since it was around Easter that we decided to (1) get married and (2) that the wedding would be on Sunday September 6th. Yes, we got married on a Sunday. I can’t even remember how many times we had to repeat that it was not a typo but that our wedding was actually on a Sunday. For us it was totally natural since Sunday is the day we always spent together and do something fun since we don’t see much of each other during the week.
Why September? Well, it’s my favourite month of the year because every beautiful sunny day really feels like a little gift before we head for the gray and rainy Dutch winter. Oh and also: my brother and his wife, who live in the US, would be in the country around that time. Yes, deciding on a wedding date can be that practical.
About the guest list
We also decided very quickly that we wanted an intimate and personal wedding. Which meant that we set our guest list at max. 60 people, and that those people would be invited to attend the entire wedding day. In The Netherlands it’s pretty common to invite different groups of people to different parts of the wedding, so some people only get to attend the reception and others only the ceremony and others only the party. It was important to us that each and every guest would be there to witness the entire day.
Having an intimate wedding means making hard decisions when it comes to who gets to be invited and who doesn’t. Since I am from a big (like very big) family and my man is from a small family we decided against inviting our extended family. I love my family, but I just didn’t want my wedding to be a family reunion. And don’t be fooled: even 60 spots on a guest list fill op soooo quickly. In the end we were very happy with our decision to keep it small and intimate. If you’re thinking of doing an intimate wedding my advice is this: just do it and ignore potential grumpy people who’d want it otherwise. Who is the one getting married? Exactly. It’s your day. You get to decide.
About choosing a venue
Although we’re both not originally from Amsterdam, and we didn’t even met here (we met at Harvard), Amsterdam is the city we live in and where our love has truly grown (up). So getting married in Amsterdam was a no-brainer. But we also were very keen on picking a wedding location that’s not on the usual venue lists when it comes to Amsterdam weddings and events. We wanted something that was original and reflected us and our intimate vision for the day. For some reason I found a photo of the Gemeenlandshuis, an iconic historic building on the edge of the city that everyone recognizes but nobody actually thinks of. It’s a landmark building from 1727 that has been completely renovated in 2014 so we were among the first events hosted here.
It’s just so beautiful but also a bit understated in its elegance, and it has the perfect garden for a late summer Sunday afternoon. Bonus: the maximum occupancy is 70 so it fit our intimate guest list perfectly. Before we had set foot inside the building we were already pretty sure this was the venue for us. And it absolutely was. It felt like our home for the day and it totally matched our idea of inviting everyone over for a fun but classy garden party. It was a definite winner.
About setting the mood
Let me start by saying this. Whatever the internet wedding world (read: Pinterest) might tell you: no, you don’t need a “wedding theme”. And you don’t need to follow a strict “color scheme”. You just don’t. What you do need however, is figuring out (together!) what you want the mood to be for your wedding day. Do some research online (read: Pinterest) and you’ll discover soon enough what you like and, in our case, what you don’t like. Man, there’s some serious hideous stuff out there! Although we travel a lot and that’s a huge part of our relationship, we didn’t want a travel themed wedding. But we did hint to our love for travel in our wedding logo that we stamped on all stationary items.
And we also hinted to our love for animals and our regular trips to the Artis Royal Zoo by using plastic animals that we spray painted gold as place cards. We said our “I do’s” on our favorite rug from our home and we also brought two freshly painted stepladders that were decorated with little flower vases. There were 100 polaroid prints of our favorite photos and we used our logo on all stationary, little bubble blowers, little peppermint rolls, and the little packets of forget-me-not seeds.
As the wedding vehicle we used our own vintage 1983 BMW that used to belong to my man’s grandparents. When describing what we had in mind for our day we usually said that it would be an intimate and personal affair with a laid back fun but classy vibe. An informal but stylish late summer garden party. Along the way everything came together perfectly since the vibe we were looking for was very clear to the both of us.
About deciding on the menu
Great food was very high – like very, very high – on our list (massive foodies: guilty as charged) and we envisioned a communal “Italian family style” dinner where we would sit down on long tables and share platters of yummy food. We wanted the focus to be on local ingredients, organic where possible, and rich Mediterranean flavors, and there had to be something for everyone.
We were also very specific about our wedding cakes: one naked Victoria sponge cake (the man loves his sweet) and one “cheesecake” made from various cheeses (this girl loves her cheese). Our caterer was truly amazing and totally came through on everything. Pro tip: ask someone to set aside a plate of food for you to take with you to the bridal suite. I forgot to do this and I was way too excited to eat the entire day so I missed out on a lot of the delicious food. But you will get hungry at some point! Trust me.
About the invites
I decided early on that I wanted to design our stationary myself, including the save the dates and the invites. Let me be clear: going the DIY route for your stationary won’t necessarily mean huge savings for your budget. The most important reason was that we wanted something original and something “us”. Plus: I also like designing this stuff and this gave me a legit reason to go crazy and buy all sorts of crafty stuff (hence: this is why it’s not necessarily cheaper to DIY).
The first step was making those save the dates. We wanted something cute and postcard-like so we got our camera and got away for the weekend to shoot some fun and romantic photos in the woods. Let me rephrase: we were going away for the weekend and decided that was a great opportunity to snap those photos. We’re not that crazy (or are we?). Anyway, all we needed was a gorgeous backdrop and a tree to hang our camera :). We chose our favorite pic, put the necessary info on them and had them printed. We put them in fun envelopes, sealed them with a colorful sticker, and put a cute stamp on them. Save the dates: check.
For our invitations I wanted to do pocketfolds. Although it’s very uncommon to use them in The Netherlands, I love them. I was very happy to find some great quality pocketfolds online and from there on I designed the inserts. To keep all our stationery unified we decided on classic black and white and two playful fonts that we used on everything. When the design was done I went to a local print shop that I use for work (please go local and avoid online printers!) and I chose the best quality card stock they have, which helped give everything a professional look.
Since we went with kraft pocketfolds and black and white inserts we wanted to give everything a little bit of color to make them a bit more quirky and fun, so we found these small red balloons online and inserted them in each pocketfold. Of course we also stamped our logo on the pocketfolds, and we tied everything together with some baking twine. We put the invites in bright envelopes, sealed them with a colorful sticker and used the cute stamps again. To make the invites a bit more luxurious, we printed our address on the envelopes and I wrote all the addresses by hand. That’s right. I was keen on using calligraphy but since (1) I don’t master those skills (yet), and (2) hiring someone to do it is crazy expensive, I faked it till I made it. Anyway, we were VERY happy with how everything turned out, and we got tons of compliments on them. Bonus: we had a lot of fun making them so this is also a very good bonding activity :).
We also made a little insert with the details of our wedding website where guests could find more info about us and our day. There are many options if you want to make a wedding website but we decided on going with Weddingwoo since they offer affordable and very customizable designs with a big ass picture of the two of you throughout your website. You can password protect it and build a very easy to use RSVP form. Yes please!
About the wedding outfit
Confession: I bought my wedding shoes long before there even was an engagement. Yes, that’s right. Oh, and my man was actually with me. So remember last year when we were roadtrippin’ in California? Well, at some point – totally by accident *ahum* – we passed Kate Spade and there was a huge SALE. And since my brother’s wedding was coming up and I still needed shoes for that event, we went in looking for shoes for that wedding. When the salesgirl asked me if I was looking for something specific that’s exactly what I told her: “I am looking for shoes for a wedding”. A wedding. Not my wedding. I swear! But for some reason she got freaking excited and came back with a couple of pairs of shoes, including THE SHOES. I mean THE SHOES.
I had pinned those glittering babies ages ago on my secret Pinterest Board I called Someday. I mean, it’s a no-brainer: of course I was going to wear glitter heels with a bow on top on my wedding day. Obviously. Totally me. And get this: final pair. And get this: in my size. And get this: 60% off! One word: SERENDIPITY. So that’s the story of how I bought my wedding shoes, with my not-even-fiancee-at-the-time as a witness.
That’s also the start of the dress hunting, which was totally stress-free. Seriously, it was. I knew I wanted something short (for the shoes obviously), something with lace, something fun but stylish, and something vintage. I booked a session at Laura Dols Vintage Wedding Dresses and I think it was the second dress I tried on (actually the first one we pulled from the rack) and it was decided. Pretty boring for my entourage I guess, so just for fun I tried on some more dresses, but we all agreed this was the one.
The coolest thing about buying a vintage dress is that they can alter it completely as you desire so you actually have a unique one of a kind dress. So we changed the sleeves and made the top transparant so that you could see some skin underneath the lace. It was EXACTLY what I had in mind and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I was also set on wearing a fresh flower crown from gypsophila, so basically my outfit was good to go.
At the last minute I decided to wear a veil for the ceremony since I knew my man – who can be quite traditional sometimes – would never expect that, and I had one made especially for me by Lynn Watt (via Etsy) in the UK. For when things got chilly I had my deceased grandma’s white scarf as a cover up, and it was nice to have her as a part of our day. My man had told me that I didn’t need to worry about earrings so I knew he would surprise me with something amazing on our wedding day. And he did: I wore vintage pearl earrings that he had altered so that it’s optional to hang a sapphire and diamond charm on them. Yes, definitely best husband ever. My only other piece of jewelry was a silver Swarovski bracelet that my brother and his wife got me once for my birthday.
About the husband… His outfit was pretty damn on point as well. Of course he wanted to keep it a secret for me so I had no idea what he would be wearing, but since I know him oh so well, I expected him to look like a proper dandy, and he totally did. His three-piece suit was custom made by Amsterdam’s finest tailors, New Tailor, and he chose a very special dark green linnen fabric.
His shoes were handmade Italian leather brogues (via Sir Max), the perfect combo with his polka dot socks (I am a big polka dots fan). But the best part of his outfit was his bow tie and matching pocket square. You probably know by now, but I am a huge animal lover, and to honor that my man picked the coolest fabric ever for his bow-tie and pocket square: little animals! And in colors that perfectly matched his suit. I was soooo excited when I spotted them. And to top it all off, he and my sister had arranged for a tiny bow tie and pocket square for my cool little nephew! Like I said: best husband ever.
About the I Do’s
It was very important to us that the ceremony would be intimate and personal, with a lot of speeches from those who are near and dear to us. We’d discussed years ago that if we were going to get married we wanted someone close to us to conduct the ceremony. We asked our very good friend Niki, who was sworn in at the Amsterdam courthouse especially for this day, and who did an amazing job. I honestly think it made all the difference to have someone who knows us so well do the ceremony instead of some appointed public official who met us for 30 minutes. Highly recommended!
We also had speeches from both the best man and the maid of honor, my sister. And my brother, who is an amazing speaker and one of my real life heroes, also held a very loving and funny speech. Our moms both had wonderful speeches during the reception and our dads both had the most hilarious speeches during dinner.
We also wanted to say something to each other during the ceremony and we wrote our own vows in little vows books. It was so special to stand up there – on our favorite rug that we brought from our home – and tell everyone that this is your person. Forever and ever. To the moon and back.
My number one advice for those of you planning a wedding is just to do what the F you want and don’t be overwhelmed by the crazy wedding industry, the pressure of wedding traditions or (well meant) advice from others. Once again: who’s getting married? Yes, that’s right – you guys are. It’s your day. We picked a few traditions that were important to the both of us and combined it with elements that were more nontraditional. Luckily our family and friends were on board with how we wanted our day to be – or at least were kind enough to keep their doubts to themselves :). Our wedding day was exactly what we had in mind and it was the perfect reflection of who we are as individuals and as a couple (sorry, I know this sounds very obnoxious). We got so many compliments and I think our guests really appreciated everything we had done. It absolutely was the best day ever .
In case you missed it: our wedding was also featured on a popular Dutch wedding blog, The Perfect Wedding (in Dutch). For a full list of all our vendors see below.
Photographer: Sjuul Fotografie
Caterer: Charlotte’s Catering
Videographer: Prachtige Bruid
Flowers: De Meisjes van de Bloemen
Jazzsinger + band: Joelle Music
Wedding website: Weddingwoo
Bridal Suite: The Hoxton Hotel
Decorations: Etsy, Weddingdeco, Hema,
Not On The High Street