Eric Plus Ashley

It's here! It's here! Today I can finally share with you all the glorious details of Eric and I's wedding. The day was so perfect/fun/emotional/full of love that I barely know where to begin. I thought I'd share with you some of my thoughts on the whole thing, and of course many, many photos:

On planning: I started putting the pressure on Eric for a ring 3 years ago. "A wedding will be so much fun!" I said. "I will plan the whole thing myself!" I said. "I will never be a bridezilla!" I said. Well, it turns out when you're a person who loves design, decorating, crafting, and event planning – a wedding can get a bit overwhelming. Someone asked me the other day if I was feeling a void now that the wedding was over. Nope, nope, nope. Give me all the time to work and hang out with my family and friends please.

On keeping it local, DIY, and staying out of the wedding biz: Eric and I decided long ago that we didn't want an expensive wedding and that we'd pay for the majority of our wedding ourselves. We ended up with a wedding for 135 people and stuck to our budget of $8,000 (high five!). This budget meant we had to think outside of the box for all of our vendors, and DIY a lot of things. Oh, and did I mention I wanted to keep as much of our wedding as local and personal as possible? Things worked out amazingly. My family and friends helped craft and hang all the decorations (we also took a ton from a family wedding that happened a few months before ours - thanks Jessica!), a friend took our engagement photos, one of our favorite Charlotte restaurants, Viva Chicken, catered the wedding (bonus - they'd never done a wedding before, so we saved there!), I designed and printed all the favors at a friend's screen printing studio, a local print shop printed up our invitations that I designed, our friends played live music, some family friends made our cakes, the list goes on. Our biggest splurge were our photographers, which as you can see below, was totally worth it. 

On the morning of: I was a hot mess the morning of. Who knew I would be so nervous?? I'm so grateful for that extra time I had with all of my bridesmaids though. Some of them live far, or have since moved, so it was really nice having everyone all together one last time before all the craziness set in! We stayed at the Westin in uptown Charlotte, which was super swanky. If you know me, you know I only stay in Airbnbs, so this was a huge treat.

On my dress: The dress was the first thing I cried over in the wedding planning process. It turns out that all the wedding dresses I'd pinned over the years were $5k and up. Apparently I have expensive taste. After a good bawl, the hunt began. I knew I wanted something unique, and I ended up finding my dress online at Free People of all places. It was the perfect grecian-inspired gown with an AMAZING braid down the back that was only $200. I'm planning on cutting it short so I can wear it for future anniversaries :)

On our "first look": Choosing to do a first look was pretty easy. 1. I wanted pictures outdoors, and the landscape around Tremont isn't wonderful, 2. I didn't want to miss all the wedding once it began, 3. Eric and I live together, so seeing each other before wasn't going to make that much of a surprising difference than seeing each other a few hours later. We ended up taking the photos on top of a parking garage in uptown Charlotte, which provided some phenomenal views. Little did I know though that it would be FREEZING up there at the end of April. Thankfully though, we had a flask handy and our photographers are really good at just making us look slightly windblown.

On our venue: Eric and I got married at the music venue we met at 9 years before. He was playing in a band, and I'd tagged along with a friend to their show that night. Tremont Music Hall has become super sentimental to us over the years, so it was extremely special that we got to exchange vows on the very stage where I first saw Eric. I'll admit, I was worried about how the venue would look during the whole planning process, but once it was all done up it looked AMAZING. And not one guest complained about the bathrooms ;)

On the bands: One of the best things I did for our reception was ask several of our friends to perform a song that reminded them of us. We have some really talented friends and family, so it made no sense not to utilize them! I still get a little teary eyed thinking about all their performances and the work they put into it. Halfway through my friends' rendition of Blank Space, they invited all the girls up for some impromptu Taylor Swift karaoke. So perfect. The icing on the cake though were Eric's grandparents clogging to Rocky Top. Eric's grandpa Bill pulled a stunt in the middle of the song and pretended to hurt his knee. Just as everyone gasped and started to walk over, he got back up and started dancing full-force. Everyone roared. One of my favorite moments!

On the bouquet toss: The highlight of the entire wedding was the bouquet toss. I wish I could put the entire sequence in this blog post. I threw my bouquet from the stage, which of course hit one of the stage lights and fell straight down. Rather than do a re-toss, two of the ladies ran straight for some decorative flowers instead, which ended with my tiny friend getting put in a headlock. Everyone backed away, while I laughed on stage trying not to pee my pants (gown?). They hugged it out in the end!

On Married Life: Ahhh married life! Everyone asks you when it's over "how's married life going?" Truthfully? Eric and I have been together 9 years, and lived together the last 4. The only difference is we now have a joint checking account, and one day when I'm feeling up to going to the Social Security office (ok, that might be never), we will have the same last name. There are still all the ups and downs as before, but it is pretty awesome finally being able to call each other husband and wife. Oh, and can I just say how freeing it is not to have to look on Pinterest anymore for wedding inspiration?! Hooray married life!