In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post about the most romantic day of my life: October 6, 2012, the day me and Ryan got hitched.

We got engaged in March of last year, and because I’m a weirdo who doesn’t care for odd numbers, I didn’t want to wait until 2013. So 10-06-12, a wonderful day full of even numbers, was set for the wedding. We both agreed that the wedding should be fun, low-key and special.

After searching for venues and repeatedly suffering from sticker shock, we opted to go with a venue that was both free and meant something to us: Ryan’s parents’ house. They live on a farm in rural NC, so there was plenty of space. Plus, North Carolina is gorgeous in October. We rented a tent just in case the weather was sour, though when the day came, it was 80 degrees and sunny.

My bridesmaids were my college roommate/best friend forever and two cousins. The groomsmen were Ryan’s brother, his nephew and my brother. Our youngest nephew was the ring bearer, and we had two flower girls, our niece and my youngest cousin. We had about 100 people, 90% of whom were family, which made it small and special. We didn’t feel pulled in too many different directions throughout the night and got to spend quality time at each table.

The ceremony, officiated by one of my former professors at UNC, was short, sweet and perfect. My maid of honor read a poem, the officiant said a few words, we said our vows. We also wrote each other love letters, not to be opened until our 10th anniversary, and placed them in a box with a nice bottle of wine. I’m looking forward to opening that in 2022!

For the reception (which was held about 20 yards away), we had barbecue, beer, cake and a bajillion finger foods. The barbecue caterers wheeled up to the tent with a giant grill, fired it up and put the finishing touches on half a pig right there! Most of my family lives in PA or CT, so they all really enjoyed it. The cake was simple, and of course, we have the top layer sitting in our freezer, awaiting to be eaten in October.

We danced, we ate, we laughed. It was such a rush, the entire evening. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was so surreal. I told Ryan, “I can’t believe we just got married,” and he agreed. It’s a strange and amazing feeling. Even now, more than four months later, I get flutters thinking about that day.

I wish we could have stayed all nice, but we had a reservation at a fancy hotel to attend to. It was exhausting, exhilarating and downright incredible. I highly recommend getting married if you want an adrenaline rush!

As for planning the whole thing in six months, it had its ups and downs, mostly with me and my mom not seeing eye to eye. I hate that happened, but so it goes. If I had to do it all over again, I’d just keep it a secret, plan everything completely, and say, “Surprise! We’re getting married and everything is planned!” Haha.

In terms of the budget, we didn’t do so bad. We had help from both of our parents, but overall, it could have been A LOT worse. I saw one venue for $5,000. Ours was free (the tent, tables, chairs and linens were almost $3,000, but most venues made you rent linens, stick to a preferred catering list and pay extra for the rehearsal). The cheapest plate by a catering company I could find was $30/person. Ours was $9. One florist quoted me $150 for my bouquet, while another did it for $60. My point is, shop around for everything. And if you’re going to splurge on one thing, make it the photographer. Even the strongest memories fade, but I’m glad we paid a professional to capture the moment.

Alright! Enough with sappy stuff not related to home improvement. But, ya know, it’s Valentine’s Day. I had to!

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