Our Wedding Recap, Bride Advice and Highlights

September 23, 2018 was one of the very best days of my life. After over eight years of dating, Tommie and I finally got married! Though not everything went smoothly, the day was still absolutely magical and the fact my soul mate and I got to pledge our eternal love for each other is what mattered most. Read on for all of the details!

We got married at McLoone's Pier House in Long Branch, NJ- the venue was right on the beach! The main thing I wanted in a wedding was for it to be near a beach, so I'm glad that happened. McLoone's was an absolutely beautiful venue with amazing food and our coordinator, Katie, was so helpful and kind. Since the venue is about forty five minutes to an hour from us, Tom, my best friend, Corrine, and myself stayed at Ocean Place Resort and Spa right across the street in Long Branch the night before. Tom and I also stayed the night after, but no one else was welcome in our room that night. ;) ;)

The week after we booked our wedding venue and set our date, I was let go from a job I loved due to restructuring. I'm STILL having trouble finding a new career in my field all this time later. My awesome parented stepped in to take care of the wedding which was so kind and generous. This did mean we had to budget, which we did in a few ways! Some of these included not paying for extras from the DJ (think fog, foam, uplighting, etc) or making programs. More budget tips will be listed below.
When we booked our wedding venue in May 2017, we had the choice to have our ceremony on the beach or indoors. If we would have selected the beach, it would have costed $500 extra dollars that would not have been refunded. Knowing my absolutely terrible weather luck, we went with the indoor ceremony which was still beautiful since the venue had floor to ceiling windows of the beach.

For months all I kept asking the universe was to have decent wedding day weather. The night before, when I went to bed The Weather App said 7% chance of rain. I went to bed feeling good. I woke up early Wedding Day morning. It was pouring. POURING. It literally could not have rained harder. At first I was thinking okay but, maybe it will stop. NOPE. It lasted all freakin' day. I was hysterical crying. Tommie and Corrine didn't even know how to calm me down. I was devastated. At least it wasn't a hurricane, so in retrospect, it could have been way worse. But I wanted tons of pictures on the beach so bad. Luckily, thanks to some amazing friends of ours who knew just how badly I wanted some beach pictures, we snuck out before the ceremony and got a few pictures under the pier and under a gazebo so at least I have a few. I'm still bitter about the rain though. Good luck, good shmuck- it could have been sunny and nice out for me.
So when I first woke up, I immediately jumped in the shower to put a hair mask on. I also slept with Olaplex 1 and 2 the night before. That morning my hair stylist, Sage and makeup artist, Caitlin came to make me feel pretty. I talked all wedding beauty and fitness in a separate blog post HERE, it would make this post even longer than it already is if I included it in this one.
A while after my beauty ladies arrived, some of my family and friends came to the room to celebrate and help get ready too. They ordered Mimosas for a toast. Since I don't drink alcohol, I had good old orange juice which at that point tasted delicious because I didn't eat all morning. Tommie was escorted out of our room before my makeup started and into another room so he didn't see much of me getting ready. He left while I was still under the hair dryer, but he knew my hair goal for the day so that was fine.
Once I was all made up and dressed, it was time for my dad's first look. My Daddy and I are really close. I'm his only daughter and youngest child, so even though he had three other children get married, my wedding was extra special for him. When he saw me, this was the only time the entire day I got a bit choked up, mainly because I saw him get teary eyed.

After Daddy saw me it was time for Tommie's first look! I was instructed to walk really slow so we could get pictures and video, but I so badly just wanted to run up to him and hug him.

Now it was time for some professional pictures with our bridal party and families. Again, I so badly wanted these on the beach (side note: grrrr) but the hotel was beautiful so we wound up taking them in the lobby near a nice foundation. My photographers and videographer were amazing. They have such excellent attention to detail and went above and beyond. They are from www.preciousmemoryvideo.com The man in charge, John, was my Godfather's best friend which made it even more special. My Godfather/Uncle passed away very suddenly in 2013. I'm still beyond bummed he couldn't be at our wedding.We took a while to do the professional photos and then it was time to make our way over to the venue. Originally, we were planning to just walk since it was across the street but since it had to rain (again, grrrr) my good friends Aydin and Sage drove us over.

bridal party
bridal party
my best friend, Corrine!
this is just my immediate family and spouses!
my parents
my brothers faux threatening Tommie. LOL

Friends helping us get beach photos
 We were hanging out in the bridal room with the bridal party, which consisted of my three brothers, three sister in laws, Corrine, my niece, my nephew, Tommie's best friend, Paolo, and his cousin, before the ceremony and getting ready to walk down the aisle. I surprisingly wasn't nervous. I love Tommie, I've known for years I wanted to spend my life with him. I knew just about everyone in attendance, so I just miraculously wasn't nervous. The bridal party walked out to a symphony recording of "Jurassic Park"

Walking down the aisle with my daddy was surreal. I always imagine this since I was a little girl and here it was. As I was walking down to be honest all I kept thinking was "please don't trip, please don't trip" because I'm awkward and clumsy, plus my dad is older and doesn't have good balance. Luckily, we made it down safely. I didn't make eye contact with anyone because if I saw them cry I would have cried, too. When it was my time to walk, it started off with the "Imperial March" from Star Wars, a joke between Tommie and I, and then went into the traditional "Here Comes the Bride" song.

We kept the ceremony short and sweet. About twenty minutes. To make things easier, we went with repeating vows rather than writing our own. As simple as that was, I still messed up and said "yes" at first instead of "I Do". Ooopps. We also had a sand ceremony, which felt appropriate given my love of the beach. I also love the symbolism behind them. Once the guy said "You may now kiss the bride", that was simply the most magical moment ever. What a fantastic kit. We did it!

We wanted a small wedding, but both Tommie and I come from Italian families (fun fact: we're also both part Polish as well!) but small wedding and Italian family are not two things that go together. We had about 115 guests in total, and that was with cutting down the guest list, which was hard to do!

It was important for Tommie and I to mingle with our guests during cocktail hour instead of going to hide somewhere. Some people flew thousands of miles for us. My thought was, everyone gave up their day and came to celebrate us, so I wanted to talk to and see as many people as possible. Prior to the wedding, I kept hearing brides say you barely get to eat that day, and I just didn't understand it. Now I do! I picked out eight awesome hours de vours for cocktail hours I think I maybe got around to eating two things? Still, so worth it!
The reception was fun and went by so fast. Tommie and I walked into the reception to "Crazy Train"  by Ozzy Osbourne. Our first dance was "Hard to Concentrate" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of Tom and my favorite bands. The lyrics to that song are so beautiful. I really wanted us to practice our first dance prior to the wedding, we didn't but it turned out fine. After that, I danced with Daddy to "My Girl" by The Temptations which has been our song my whole life. Unfortunately, Tommie's mom passed away suddenly (there's a lot of sudden passing in our lives btw) in 2015 so there was no mother-son dance.

I made it a point to go to every table at the reception to talk to everyone who came out to celebrate with us. We had such a good time with everyone. The cake cutting was nice. Bouquet toss and garter toss happened shortly after cake cutting.Something else that didn't go smoothly was my DJ. I wasn't crazy about him to be honest. The man did not listen to me, despite having good phone called prior to the event and me writing things down on paper for him. I didn't want us to feed each other the cake and made note of it (blue cake, white dress- that would not have ended well, trust me) and he kept trying to push it. He also didn't wait when I told him I needed to actually put the garter on before the toss and it was awkward. Finally, I had a list he asked for what music we wanted playing, what music we didn't and specific songs. He played a lot of what I told him not to and was not playing a lot of my special request songs. It irks me to this day, but I wasn't letting it ruin my wedding. He also gave my friends AND ME attitude when we went up to his DJ booth to request the specific songs I wanted, which were all alternative rock, emo stuff that my friends and I love. Finally, since my mom was graciously handling the money and stuff, he actually took her to the side and complained about me wanting my requests. WHAT!? What DJ does that?? Not professional and I wouldn't recommend him, but again, thinking positively I am just grateful that at least he didn't screw up the ceremony or Tom and my names! The DJ at my Sweet 16 messed up name up introducing me.

I mentioned before we were budgeting the wedding where we could. Spending tons of money on flowers for decorations was just not something I wanted to do. I actually ordered our bouquets off Etsy and they are silk so I have them forever now. I wanted our colors and seashells for the beach. They came out beautiful and the lady I ordered from was a dream to work with. Her Etsy shop is HERE.

Centerpieces and Room Decor
We went the DIY route with these! I knew I wanted something beachy and looked at Pinterest for inspiration. We found the vases and these twigs with seashells in Christmas Tree Shoppe back in March or April. It was my idea to break up the twigs and make the centerpieces. Three coupons later, fourteen centerpieces cost us under one hundred dollars! (If you don't know, Christmas Tree Shoppe takes Bed Bath and Beyond coupons!)

We also had shelves where we had personalized decoration. I had two sets of bride and groom Beanie Babies from my collection when I was a kid that were just super appropriate to bring. I also had Mario, Peach and Bowser wedding amibos, a Little Mermaid wedding statue my mom bought me and a Precious Moments wedding statue. Additionally there was a guestbook with matching photo frame and huge picture from our Engagement Photoshoot that John, our head photographer brought us! Corrine made us pretty "D & T" and "Love" signed for our Engagement party two years ago. Since she spent time making them for us and they were so pretty, I wanted to use them again for the wedding. It was also important to me to have a memory board for all of our loved ones lost. We had zero grandparents at the wedding which was sad. My one grandma thankfully is still alive, but she is 99 years old, can't leave her house and also has dementia so for that reason I also included her on the board. I think one of the biggest things I'd change about the wedding, even before the rain, would be to have these people here.

Our cake was actually included with the venue! It was from a bakery called Chocolate Carousel down the Jersey Shore. I'm absolutely obsessed with how our cake turned out. It looked like the ocean with purple coral. The seashells where made of white chocolate. The flavor of the cake was one part chocolate, one part vanilla and chocolate mousse filling. The chocolate mousse was light and airy which helped balance out the heavier buttercream. Our cake topper was also from Etsy. That shop is HERE. I wanted something beach themed and when I saw the sharks, Tommie and I both fell in love with them. It is hard to tell in the pictures, but the Bride shark has eyelashes!

Our favors were simple but cute. A tin of mints with a beach, our names and our date. I ordered them from Oriental Trading.

The Dress
I got my dress in October 2017. It was hard keeping it a secret from Tommie for almost a year. Truth be told, I was dreading dress shopping. I dislike my body and am very self conscious. I knew I wanted a ballgown and sleeves before even going shopping. The one and only place we went for the dress was David's Bridal. I went with my mom and one of my sister in laws. I tried on three dresses total. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on! Right away I knew it was "the one", but I tried on one more to be sure and the third just because my mom wanted to see it on me. My dress was on sale and we actually went under budget with it- how beautiful is that!? I actually had no alterations done to my dress! It fit really well, and while I could have possibly hemmed it a little, it wasn't super long to the point it looked ridiculous and not altering it was another expense saved. I got my veil and my tiara the same day. I love a wedding veil, I think it completes the "Bride Look" I wasn't planning on leaving it on the whole night, but I forgot it was even on my head so it stayed on. That tiara we got on a whim in David's Bridal because I saw it on the shelf, the lady working there placed it on my head and it was just absolutely stunning. Plus, I wanted to feel like a true princess that day!

My jewelry was last minute, to be honest. With the stress and anxiety of wedding planning I just forgot about it. My necklace I picked up at JCPenney the week before on sale for about $12! The stunning bracelet was actually Corrine's! She let me borrow it for my big day so it also was my something borrowed.

Tommie and the guys got their tuxes from Men's Warehouse. The groomsmen wore grey and turquoise. Tommie wanted to wear traditional black and a bow tie and since it was his wedding too, I wanted him to be happy.

My bridesmaids wore Lilly Pulitzer dresses. It's no secret Lilly Pulitzer is my favorite designer and I really wanted to incorporate some Lilly into my big day. It was also important for me for my bridesmaids to all feel good in their dresses. I went with the "Parigi" style dress with kimono sleeves, an empire waist and maxi length since it is super flattering on women of all shapes and sizes. The print "Coco Safari" was perfect since it was purple with some turquoise in it and our wedding colors were purple and turquoise! Will you believe I didn't get any pictures of myself with just all of my bridesmaids!?


Here are some of my favorite professional shots of my husband and I!



Now that the wedding is over and already over a month ago, here are some random thoughts from a bride:
  • Your wedding day will go by faster than any other day in your life.
  • Stuff will go wrong. It will, but it will all be okay.
  • No matter how much wishing, hoping and positivity you put to the damn universe, you can't control the freakin' weather.
  • The week before the wedding with be one of the most nerve wracking and anxiety ridden weeks ever. (At least it was for me.)
  • Try to eat. You won't get to eat a lot, but try.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated, but don't drink too much because peeing in that dress is not an easy task.
  • Have a beauty plan in place (different blog on this coming)
  • Remember everyone at your wedding is there for YOU. Try to at least talk to everyone for a few minutes.
  • Definitely get a videographer and photographer. Your brain will rely on these to refresh the memories for years to come. It's an expense that is truly worth it.
  • It's YOUR wedding. Do what makes YOU (and your bride or groom) happy. Everyone will have opinions, but yours and your spouses are most important.
  • If you can, do a bridal shoot on a different day. I never heard of this until after my wedding but I love the concept of having the trial for hair and makeup done, getting in your dress and having a photo shoot before the wedding! It took me a while to get ready on the big day, and I would have loved more pictures of myself posing since I will never feel as pretty as I did that day ever again.
  • Download a wedding pics app so everyone can send you their pictures easily. We used WedPics.
  • Over a month later and it is still weird to say "my husband", but I LOVE it!
  • Remember what this day is about- you and your true love declaring that you will love each other forever. As long as you show up and they show up, everything else is icing on the cake.


Also, be sure to check out the Q and A my friends over at Wander Beauty did with me all about my wedding on their blog, HERE!

If you are getting married, or just love wedding content like I do, I urge you to check out my friend Jen at MyBeautyBunny's Wedding blog post! She has solid advice and tons of excellent tips for brides to be with her "Wedding Survival Guide" including what happens if you get sick and tips for a destination wedding. Check that out HERE.

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1 comment

  1. Words cannot describe how much I loved this post! I read it thoroughly, and I really appreciate all the advice you included! Thank you. I am totally using your idea to use fake flowers. I want to keep my bouquet forever, and I never heard of that idea before you told me! Each photo is simply beautiful. I love the one of you two and your friends walking in the rain with an umbrella. You look so happy!!! Thanks again for this wonderful post. xx

    Madison | Breakfast at Madison’s


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