One of the wonderful things about the garden where we married is that we weren't stuck with using particular companies. We thought this might help us save some money by doing things ourselves. I don't think we completely accomplished the first, but what we did end up doing was creating a space that reflected who we are and our relationship.
We used a company to get the things exactly we needed for the reception. We also found a chef and assistant that moonlighted for party prep on Craigslist. They were great and allowed us to just enjoy! Partner and the groomsmen did end up being the table setter-uppers. And did a fantastic job!
From the beginning we knew exactly what food we wanted. For years we have had a dear and wonderful friend who owns a fantastic Tibetan restaurant. I was so nervous to ask but without hesitation she said yes. Her nephew and husband banded together and it was wonderful.
We didn't even find out until later that she was very sick the day of our wedding and still it was perfect. I think some guests were hesitant, but everyone loved it. Of course!
When I was doing a test run on my wedding hair, Partner wandered around the town. Did I mention we didn't have a cake and it was two weeks before the wedding?
This taught me that sometimes it's best to leave things to the experts. Oh, and to pay a professional to deliver a cake! We just said what we wanted (a white cake) and some of our decorations (the triskele from my engagement ring). When they asked us about anything else, we just said to do what we they thought was best.
Our guest book was made by a friend of Partner's who does her own book binding. Though it was a friendship formed entirely online, she wouldn't accept payment - word artists have the same kinship we do!
I didn't intend to have flowers at my wedding. What a waste of money! Until I was trying on dresses and couldn't figure out what to do with my hands. Bouquets give you something to do with your hands!
I may also have had a Bridezilla moment when I thought they had gone drinking and forgotten to take the flowers out of their car (they hadn't and it was one drink - the best man still likes to tell me about the look on my face. I calmed down and apologized.
It made for a late night before the wedding, but we did it!
With some flower meaning books and a friend having mums as a favorite flower - admittedly one I used to pass over, but she was so excited since autumn is the season of chrysanthemums - we made bouquets that really meant something:
roses for love, purity, virtue, innocence, reverence and unity...
chrysanthemums for endurance, long life, health, truth, honesty, fidelity, happiness, energy and bounty
We also had larkspur (attachment, open heart, laughter), willow (intuition, vision) and ferns (shelter), but our bouquet skills had their limits!
Partner had a vision for center pieces that I didn't quite get but he asked me just to trust him.
He surreptiously collected drift wood and stones from Stump Beach, candles from a guy along Highway 101 that has been making candles out of his house for over 10 years (no link, sadly). When we were done with the flowers, partner asked for the extras.