2020 has had a lot of silver linings. For us, after changing wedding plans, canceling our honeymoon (multiple times), finding out we would be moving across the country with about four weeks' notice, starting new jobs, etc.... having our wedding featured in Martha Stewart was a big reason to celebrate some of the good to come from this year!
I'm a big magazine/editorial/wedding/blog junkie. Given that you're taking the time to visit contemporarie, I expect that you might be, too. I thought it might be fun to go into the behind-the-scenes of how getting a wedding published works, as well as to share some of the content that did not get picked up by Martha Stewart Weddings.
Let's start with the expert: My cousin Courtney is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to creativity. She's a podcast host, an event planner, a former magazine editor, an expert party planner, an incredible boy mom and all-around creative genius. She was the backbone behind the wedding and navigating all of the changed plans. We didn't necessarily go into the planning with a feature in mind but we did try to create a unique look and experience from the start, which is what draws an editor's eye.
After the wedding ended and we received some of the sneak-peak photos back from Natalie Schram Photography, Courtney called me and said we were going to try to get it published, which meant no posting on social media beyond what had already gone up.
This is part of the exclusivity factor -- wedding publications want the content to be new to everyone who views it. I don't think we would have gotten rejected for a stray Instagram post (read: we had a few out there) but we wanted to be extra safe going forward. For this reason, we also asked our vendors, family and friends to hold on posting any wedding content until the feature was released. It was not a fun ask but ultimately was worth the wait!
Once all of the wedding photos were ready, we then followed the submission guidelines on Martha Stewart's website. Courtney, my mom and I created the submission, sent it to the editor at Martha Stewart Weddings and waited anxiously. A few days later, she replied that they wanted to run it! We popped some champagne over FaceTime.
One thing to note: the editor did ask if the photos had been shared on any social channels or websites and it was a relief to be able to say "nope, saved for you." So, if you're considering getting your event or wedding published in the future, it is important to take the necessary measures from the start.
The feature process works by submitting a lot of exclusive wedding content to the editor, then working with her to provide any and all information they might need about the event for them to create the feature. It probably took me about three hours to answer all of the questions on the wedding questionnaire and fill in the vendor info. They want every detail, down to the groom's socks. We worked with our vendors for some wording in the answers. For example, August Blume provided the details on the paper material, printing process, ribbon selection and construction method of our stationery.
The editor then takes the submission and creates the post, so we did not get to choose exactly what they included from my write-up or from the 100-ish submitted photos, nor did we see it beforehand. While it was hard to be surprised by what was included, it was all part of the excitement!
Huge thank you to Martha Stewart Weddings, Courtney, my mom, our family and friends, our vendors and God (for no rain... it came very close) for making this happen. Our wedding day was more special than I could have hoped for, but this is definitely the cherry on top.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some details that didn't make it in the write-up, as well as some additional photos, below. If you haven't already, check out the original feature here!
A small wedding was not the original plan. We had intended to have a wedding with 250-300 people on June 13, 2020 in the same spot where we had the small ceremony this year. But this year hasn't gone according to plan for anyone and our wedding got caught in the COVID shuffle.
We pivoted a large-scale wedding to a three-day celebration with the twenty-five guests. We had a welcome party cookout, boating and lake days, a beautiful lakeside rehearsal and seated dinner with toasts, a bridesmaid brunch at a neighbors home and, of course, a sweet wedding and reception. We still wanted the same aesthetic that we planned for the large wedding: Whimsical, dreamy, romantic and happy. This time, though, we focused on having a more relaxed and intimate feel to the day. A lot of the details became more personal, focusing on our commitment rather than on the complicated logistics of the large event. While we were sad not to have everyone there, it turned out to be a really special time, plus we can celebrate next year all over again!
We decided to move the wedding in late March. As you can imagine, fielding the constant stream of “what are you going to do?!” questions and the anxiety of saying yes or no to sending the invitations out was majorly detracting from the joy of the wedding season. At first, we tried to make a date in the fall work but everyone else had that plan, too, and we couldn't get all of our vendors or wedding party free on the same day.
To make life easier, we pushed the wedding out a full year so there was almost a guarantee that no one had a prior commitment. It felt like a huge weight left my shoulders when we finally made the call. When it was official, I bought a pink, ostrich-feather lined jumpsuit in part to make myself feel better and in part to wear for a potential elopement.
While I do find traditional elopements quite romantic, a small ceremony seemed like a better fit for us.
Because the invitations were already made, we sent them out without the “RSVP” cards and with a new note stating our plan to get married with a small group this year and have a large party next year. Sarah of August Blume was kind enough to create, print and ship this extra card at no cost to us! Everyone understood and was happy that we could celebrate together the next year. We then began planning the small ceremony, which was easy given that the large wedding was pretty much all planned.
If a wedding is possible in June 2021, we will send out a simple invitation along with the RSVP card from this year. We will have Sarah of August Blume create the card so it matches the original invitation suite, although it probably won't be as elaborate as the originals.
The original plan was to have a large tent in the yard for the reception, but with only twenty-five in attendance, we moved everything to the dock. The day came full circle, as we were swimming and hanging out on the dock that morning, then celebrating the wedding there that evening.
Our florals were done by the incredibly talented Florals by Kimberly. I had no clue what they would look like beforehand because we totally trusted her expertise and vision. We provided her with inspiration photos, shared some other wedding details with her so she could understand the look we were going for, then let her run with it. She definitely did not disappoint.
When it came to the planning, my mom, Courtney and I did the bulk of it. I know it isn’t for everyone but we had a great time with it, minus the COVID stress. When we decided to have a small ceremony instead of the original wedding, we were able to use the blueprint we had already created to quickly pivot. We scaled down some of our original choices, then used the change as an opportunity to get more creative in some areas.
One of the best parts about a small wedding is the flexibility. During the rehearsal dinner, we noticed how hot it was at 6 PM, which was the original wedding time. Because we had already dealt with so many changed plans, it didn't feel like a big deal to move things around a bit. So, we actually decided to switch the time of the ceremony and the cocktail hour on the dock so we could catch the beautiful sunset during the ceremony.
Because of the change and despite tradition, we actually saw each other a lot throughout the wedding day! Our cocktail hour on the dock before the wedding was really fun. We sipped champagne and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres before Sean and I took a boat ride around the lake together. I wore my "elopement" pink jumpsuit so Sean didn’t see me in my wedding dress until I walked down the aisle.
We wanted a dreamy, soft look and went with a pastel palette for the day. Our main colors were dusty blue and shades of pale pink. We tried to go with complementing colors rather than one or two specific shades, so everything looked cohesive but organic at the same time.
The ceremony took place in the yard, positioned near two trees with the mountains in the background. White chairs lined the aisle, which led to the arbor.
The arbor was created with copper pipe and handmade by our florist’s brother-in-law originally for his daughter. The arbor and tables were covered in foraged greens and local blooms from Virginia's Meadow, Petal and Pail Flower Farm and Sarah's Petals. The vessels are from the Holly Chapple collection, and the arrangements were created using her pillow armature. My florist worked hard to consider the impact of her design by prioritizing local products, using alternatives to floral foam, and composting/recycling whenever she could.
We took the vows my cousin Courtney and her husband Jason used for their wedding and altered them slightly. We ended each of our vows with a few lighthearted lines:
From me: I also commit to learning how to make Skyline Chili dip, becoming a Bengals fan and to never letting the sun go down on a bad day. Our marriage will be filled with laughter, adventure and a lifetime of joy.
From Sean: I also commit to always letting you have some of my french fries, never making you drive and to always giving you a kiss goodnight. Our marriage will be filled with laughter, adventure and a lifetime of joy.
The Martha Stewart Weddings editor asked me to reflect on the experience and give advice to people who might be going through the same thing. I told her that the marriage was always more important than the wedding, and that going through the times of uncertainty and change together showed us that this could not be more true. We took a stressful, sad and uncertain situation and made the best of it. Our wedding day was even better than we had hoped for because we embraced the change and made sure to focus on what was important.
I would tell someone in a similar situation to let yourself be sad about the loss of the wedding day you planned, then change your mindset to get excited about a chance to make the wedding day more about you and your future spouse! Weddings, especially large weddings, are usually planned with the guests in mind. We want them to have the best time possible while celebrating the commitment going on, and sometimes the logistics get in the way of the true meaning of the wedding. Throw expectations and traditions out the window and plan a day that centers around you two and the love that brought you to the wedding day itself. Plan more time to meaningfully connect with people throughout the day instead of spending it locked in a bridal suite. Work out, lay by the pool, eat at your favorite restaurant -- rearrange the day to make time for the things that make you happy and relaxed.
Above all: hang tight to each other, to the love and hope that you have for your lives together and trust that God will work everything to your favor. He promises us that.
Thanks for reading! Contemporarie will focus mostly on interiors, but I do have some additional wedding planning posts to share. I hope you enjoyed!
Photography, Natalie Schram Photography
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Courtney Goolsby
Videography, The Family Films
Flowers, Florals by Kimberly
Invitations and Stationery, August Blume
Officiant, Dave Lonsberry
Bride's Gown, Needle & Thread London
Shoes, Sam Edelman
Hair and Makeup, Kaitlyn Elizabeth Styling
Groom's Attire, Bonobos
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Consider the Wldflwrs
Guest Book, Artifact Uprising
Catering, Center Stage Catering