Today features the third installment of our "real wedding series". Are you excited? I know I am!
This week's wedding features some of the most beautiful architecture in St. Louis, primarily the Arch. It's all very Meet Me in St. Louis. This wedding is all about having fun, as you can tell through all of the delightfully goofy photos. While the wedding and photos are classically beautiful, this wedding (and especially reception) had one major theme: fun! And why not? Your wedding day should be incredibly fun!
My absolute favorite photo out the whole bunch is this first one with the bride and groom standing together with the pink fountains and beautiful buildings in the back ground. How stunning is that?!!?
Check out some of the photos below and click "read more" to see the interview to read all about their big day!
Click "read more" to see the interview to read all about their big day!
Interview with the Bride
Francesca and Macro Ortegren
Wedding Date: 06.14.14
1. Describe the vibe and personality of your wedding. What kind of wedding was it? Vintage? Chic? Glam? Silly?
I think, overall, I’d say it was silly. Not completely off the wall, but we tried to make it somewhat casual while still being in a beautiful venue and dressed to the nines. My grandma would probably call the whole thing “classy”, but we definitely made sure even the traditional aspects of the wedding were short, sweet, and had a goofy aspect to them. I think it looked expensive and classy, but the atmosphere was relaxed and silly.
A lot of the “look” was traditional: I wore a floor-length gown, my bridesmaids had matching dresses (although this was not intentional), the guys wore tuxedoes, we were ordained by a pastor, served an awesome dinner, there was champagne, etc., etc. But we wanted the whole experience to be light-hearted and fun, so we incorporated some silliness into everything. For instance, instead of traditional music before and during the ceremony, we found some awesome bands that cover popular music with string instruments and/or the piano… we walked out of the ceremony to Journey, because why the hell not? (By the way, most of our cover songs were by The Piano Guys or Vitamin String Quartet, both of which are amazing!) Then we were introduced into the reception with the Tech Fight Song playing in the background.
The reception was where the real fun happened, though! I’ve been to weddings that just aren’t that fun for guests and most of the time, that’s because no one wanted to dance… So we purposefully had an open bar stocked with wine, beer, and liquor to get the party going - we wanted everyone to loosen up and have a good time on the dance floor (where I spent most of my time). And it worked! Well that, and our amazing DJ, who was able to read the crowd very well and kept everyone happy. To play up the fun a bit, we had an open-air photo booth, which had an excellent assortment of props. Even my grandmas took some silly photos in there!
When we were planning, we had a laid-back party atmosphere in mind for the entire weekend, and I think we, along with the help of our awesome vendors, were hugely successful.
2. What was your favorite part about the big day?
This is actually really difficult to answer (probably not surprisingly)! On one hand, I was SO over planning and getting ready and taking pictures and talking to people that the beginning of the reception was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders – I no longer had to worry about a single thing and could just let loose and have fun. So, that was awesome in terms of my anxiety levels! Plus, the reception was so fun – just about everything went as planned, speeches were on pointe, I had an actual meal for the first time all day, people danced – there were backflips and dance-offs (!!), I got to spend some time with people I hadn’t seen in years… ah this list could go on and on forever. In a word, the reception was phenomenal. On another hand, spending the entire day goofing around, getting ready, and taking photos with my best friends, Marco, and his best friends was a blast. We all get along really well and everyone in the party is sarcastic and silly, so you can see how this would make for an excellent time! (Taking photos all day in the Missouri summer humidity/heat in a wedding dress, however, not so much.) But, there’s one moment that I will remember forever and will always make me smile and tear up a little – the “big reveal” when Marco saw me in the dress for the first time. We decided to see each other before the wedding so we could get pictures out of the way and the photographers set up a little reveal in front of the groomsmen and bridesmaids. We stood facing away from each other while our parties faced us/each other, the photographer counted to three, and we turned around. It was definitely the moment it all seemed real… like “Holy crap we’re actually getting married” real (in a good way)! We were both holding back tears and had huge smiles on our faces – it was just one of those moments when literally nothing else but what is happening right then matters. Those are so rare and amazing (especially as a grad student who is typically worrying about anything and everything), so that was absolutely my favorite part of the day.
3. Share a little bit about the planning process. Did you get a planner or do it on your own? Any planning tips you want to share?
We planned the whole thing on our own and, let me tell you, it was a pain in the butt. Marco and I went into the planning process with literally no idea what we were doing. I suppose I’m atypical, but I didn’t have a “dream wedding” planned in my mind so we started with a blank slate. I think that made some things easier, we were able to choose things we both liked without anyone being disappointed because it didn’t match the picture in their head… but it definitely made other things more difficult, like everything else. On top of that, Marco and I got married in St. Louis but during the entire planning process, I lived in Texas and he lived about 2 hours away from the city, and planning a wedding long-distance is super inconvenient, to say the least. Much of our vacation time was spent scouring the city for a venue, flower shops, photo locations, etc. Don’t get me wrong, tasting all the cakes and wandering around downtown St. Louis was a ton of fun, but it would have been easier if we lived closer – at the very least, we might have had some friends who knew of good vendors so we didn’t have to search the internet for hours. All in all, the planning went smoothly until our event coordinator at the hotel changed jobs and a new coordinator was assigned to us. She had just started the job and was pretty unfamiliar with a lot of it. That definitely led to some bumps in the road, but it all worked out in the end J.
As for planning tips, I’d say that if you’re an indecisive person (like me), don’t enjoy planning/arranging/organizing (like me), or have no sense of how to decorate or coordinate colors (like me), splurge and get a good planner or choose a venue that is specifically for weddings – they usually have specific vendors they work with, leaving a lot of the searching and headache out of your hands. If you don’t get a planner, I’d suggest starting with Pinterest – it’s AWESOME for ideas, usually expensive ideas, but it’ll help you get a sense of what you do and don’t like. As for a venue and vendors, do a little research, read reviews (Google and weddingwire.com or theknot.com are excellent sources), call or meet them to make sure they’re a good fit, and make a decision. Don’t spend too much time on that stuff. You want a good DJ and a good venue, the rest of it fades into the background.
4. Talk a little bit about the dress. Who is it by? Is it vintage? Where did you get it?
I found the dress in a weekend, so I was pretty happy about that! I went in knowing that I wanted a sweetheart neckline and something simple, nothing too flashy (honestly, I was more concerned with the shoes, because I can wear those again!). I got my dress at Bridal Boutique in Lewisville, TX. Ironically enough, I almost cancelled that appointment because I was exhausted from looking at dresses and just didn’t want to look at any more. I found two that I liked at another store, but couldn’t decide between them because while I loved both, there were little things I didn’t love about each. My mom convinced me not to cancel the appointment, so we went and I found it – an ivory, taffeta gown with a sweetheart neckline, low back, and full skirt by Watters. Super gorgeous and simple – exactly what I wanted! There were pleats along the neckline that tucked into a solid empire waistband, so I had a beautiful belt custom-made with crystals and pearls to add a little sparkle to the dress (thanks to my grandma who found an awesome seamstress). I absolutely loved the dress when it was all said and done – AND it was pretty comfortable and light (still hot as hell when you’re walking around outside in the middle of June, but not bad for a wedding dress), and it had pockets! That’s right, pockets.
5. Tell us a little bit about the groom. What’s he like? How did you meet? How did he propose?
Marco is ridiculously outgoing and loud, a sports fanatic (we seriously considered getting married at Busch Stadium), super sarcastic and hilarious, loyal, and the smartest person I know. He’s super passionate about things he loves, including his friends and family, and can make a friend anywhere, under any circumstance – something I envy and love about him. He’s really down to earth and most of the time you’ll see him in a t-shirt and shorts, but he loves a good wingtip, ties, and expensive watches, and looks damn good in a suit.
When we were juniors in undergrad, my best friend, Katie, took an accounting class and always talked about her instructor – specifically about how he was funny and loved Howard Stern. Then, one night in October-ish of 2007, we went to a concert at a bar and Katie invited him, he showed up and it was love at first sight. Just kidding, we were all kind of drunk and I’m pretty sure he thought I was a weirdo. But there’s a photo of me (with platinum blonde hair!) kissing him on the cheek that night, so it was probably all meant to be. We didn’t talk much that night and I didn’t see him again until probably February, when Katie and I met up with him and a friend of his at a bar. We hung out with the two of them a couple of times over the next few months, and eventually I got Marco’s number for one reason or another. He was definitely into me before I was into him, but he made an effort to see me by inviting me out for drinks or to play pool, and most times I’d oblige. Eventually we were hanging out most nights a week and texting or on the phone the rest of the time… and somewhere along the way I realized we were probably dating (haha). We officially say we started dating in May of 2008, but neither of us is really sure about that! Romantic, I know.
Jump forward to 2010: Marco graduated and got a job in Pittsburgh, PA while I was still in graduate school in Lubbock. We had been together for a little over two years when we transitioned into a long-distance relationship and spent the next four years (up until a couple of months after the wedding) as long distance. So, the spring break of his first year away, Marco came to visit Lubbock. It happened to be a couple of days after my birthday, so he told me he’d take me shopping to find some shoes – with absolutely no intention of actually buying me any shoes! As expected, I couldn’t find anything in my size, so Marco suggested we stop at Main Event to grab a beer before heading to the mall. Reluctantly, and after much convincing, I agreed… but I certainly almost ruined his plans. So, we had a beer then he suggested we play some games. Again, I reluctantly agreed (I didn’t really like Main Event, can you tell?). As we were walking around, we decided to take some pictures in a photo booth. This, apparently, was all part of the plan, and when we got in to take the photos, Marco pulled out a ring and proposed! I’m pretty sure my initial response was “shut up!” Regina George style, then I said yes. The best part is that we have photographic evidence (kind of – you couldn’t see the ring in the real pictures so we staged a couple more, sneaky sneaky). Then, over three years later, we finally got married!
6. Did you do any DIYs for the wedding? If so, what?
We mostly stayed away from DIYs because a) neither of us is super creative when it comes to décor and b) we knew we didn’t want to have to deal with anything extra on the wedding day or days leading up to it. We put together welcome bags with single-shot bottles of alcohol, mixers, Advil, Alka-seltzer, water bottles, and a few other silly goodies. We personalized them by putting the receiver’s favorite alcohol into the bags, so that took a little bit of time, but it was worth it – everyone got a kick out of them. I also designed programs and menus for the ceremony and reception. I just made them in Word and sent them over to Staples for printing. It was super easy and way cheaper than buying them online. We also didn’t want to pay for an extra hour with the DJ, so we set up an IPod playlist for before and during the ceremony. We borrowed some equipment from a friend, hooked the Ipod up, and Marco’s sister changed the songs at pre-determined times. Surprisingly, it went really well! Pretty much everything else came from vendors (we relied mostly on the venue and our florist to make the space look good) or Etsy.
7. What advice can you share with brides who are getting ready for the big day?
1. First of all, make a budget. We went into the planning process with absolutely no idea how much any of it would cost and we ended up spending more than we would have liked. Keep in mind taxes and service charges and taxed taxes (yes, that’s an actual thing). Starting a life with someone else is difficult enough without having to start it with a huge debt from your wedding, so be smart with your money!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It can get really overwhelming figuring out all the little details, keeping everyone happy, and going on with your regular day-to-day life. You have bridesmaids and a mom for a reason, put them to work! Haha, not really, but certainly ask their opinion or help when you need it. Give your fiancé a list of things for which he’s responsible (if he’s not in on helping with everything). Put other people in charge of making sure everything gets where it should be on the day of the wedding. Usually the event coordinator will take care of most of that, but if you have anything else you need done, just have someone else do it for you!
3. Relax. I’m fully aware this is easier said than done, but at least try! Be aware that something isn’t going to go as planned and, unless your venue catches on fire the day of your wedding, it’s going to be totally fine. I mean, really, what could possibly happen that would ruin the entire day? Rain? Nope, just move inside. Something takes too long and your whole plan for the day is messed up? Nope. That happened to me and we just rearranged some of our planned photos and it worked out fine – I was even running late and rode up the elevator with some guests then found out the stage was set up incorrectly so we weren’t using it, and the world didn’t end (although, it looks ridiculous in photos of the ceremony).
The days leading up to the wedding are super stressful, especially if you have out of town guests that you’re entertaining, but just remember that you’re there for a very special reason and everyone else is there for you, not for how something looks or tastes. Take a few breaths, have a glass or five of champagne, and have fun.
8. Describe your wedding in 3 words.
Ha. Clearly I’m a woman of many words, so asking me to be concise is a laugh. Do hyphenated words count as one like they do in Word? Okay, really though, I’d have to say my wedding was… simple, silly, and perfect.
9. Any additional information you wish to share?
Enjoy it! You didn’t spend all that time and money planning this event for everyone else (maybe a little, but it’s really about y’all), so it’s a huge waste if you don’t have a good time. Our wedding weekend was by far the best I’ve ever had – not only because I married my favorite person in the world, but also because I got to spend time with people I really care about.
// Photographer: Jeff Buydos // Venue: Hyatt Regency at the Arch //
// Dress: Watters from Bridal Boutique // DJ: Elite Pro DJ //
// Cake: Wedding Wonderland // Florist: Stems (Jenny) //
// Photobooth: Pics N' Poses //
// Dress: Watters from Bridal Boutique // DJ: Elite Pro DJ //
// Cake: Wedding Wonderland // Florist: Stems (Jenny) //
// Photobooth: Pics N' Poses //
For more ideas, check out my Pinterest Board for chic weddings, classic weddings, and vintage weddings.
Thanks for reading, dolls! Come back for more!