I will say that my wedding day is more than I could ever imagine. It's been six weeks and people are still talking about certain elements that were very unique and had never been seen before. I'm glad that I could do something that was memorable and not just another wedding. The vision that I had for this wedding really came to fruition.
We actually met at a singles forum that my church was having. I was an executive officer of the singles group so, of course, I was expected to be there. Although we met there, we were casual friends for a full year before he asked me for my phone number.
2. Tell us about your proposal?
Although we discussed about marriage and I knew that he would propose, I didn't know when it would be. He took me to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Copeland's. When we walked back to the car, he asked me to open the glove compartment and lo and behold, there was a ring box. I was pretty much speechless after that as he proposed. Of course, I said YES!
3. Who planned your wedding?
Me, myself, and I. I didn't have a coordinator until 3 months before the wedding and she was helping to coordinate the day mostly as opposed to finding vendors, etc.,
4. What was the design inspiration for your wedding?
I have to say that my vision of the day changed a couple of times. Initially, I wanted something very retro based on circles (like confetti, paper lanterns, etc.,) but I came across the idea of incorporating peacock feathers in the wedding, and that became what the theme of the wedding was based on. I also wanted something very vintage, but urban like.
5. Tell us about finding your wedding dress.
I probably tried on over 100 dresses. What I envisioned was something that was a mermaid fit that had ruching, ruffles, beading, and lace. It was a tall order to find all of those things on one dress. I eventually settled on Cosmobella 7413, but when I went to order at the bridal salon, they told me they were discontinuing the color I wanted. Therefore, I ended up having it custom made to fit and it's GORGEOUS!
6. How does being a West African bride differ from being an American bride?
I think it differs because of the cultural aspects involved. I think being a West African bride is a choice more than anything. Being an American bride doesn't have any cultural aspects tied to it. I could have chosen not to embrace any of the mandatory traditions that come with my family's heritage but out of respect for my parents, I chose to complete many of the required aspects.
7. Did you do anything out of the ordinary or non-traditional?
8. Did you have a budget? Do you care to share what it was? Did you go over your budget or stay under budget?
We definitely had a budget. Without saying the exact number, our original budget was 21% less than what the average cost of wedding is in the U.S. for approximately 200 (average number of wedding guests in the U.S. is 130). Unlike most couples, we considered our rings and honeymoon to be part of our budget. When all is said and done, we went over that original budget by 16%. If I don't include our rings and honeymoon, our original budget would be 29% less than the national average and we would actually be under budget by 1%. I would attribute the overage to the original budget to last minute unforeseen details such as having to rent chafing dishes 3 days before the wedding and then underestimating the cost of chair rentals.
9. What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
The biggest thing I did to save money was doing a lot of the items myself including printing all the stationary and bringing in the decorations. Being a DIY bride isn't for everybody but I was willing to give up my time to make the wedding I wanted happen, especially since I'm highly particular. Because I'm a nerd like that, I've calculated how much I actually saved and what was spent is about 35% less than what it would have cost if I had paid to have someone else do it.
10. What was your biggest splurge?
My biggest splurge by far was the venue as it was 25% over my venue budget, but it was worth it as it was unique and different from what most people would use for a wedding.
11. What advice would you give to someone planning their wedding?
- Reconcile your dream wedding with your budget. My dream wedding would have cost almost double the national average, but I definitely didn't have that kind of money. We picked what was most important to us and put the majority of money towards that.
- Pick 3 - 4 things that are most important and put money towards that. Our most important items were the venue, photography/videography, and food. After that, everything is not as important, therefore, don't spend as much money on it.
- Take a few minutes and think about the last wedding you attended. What do you actually remember about it? Not much, huh. Think about that when you decide to spend extra $$$ on patterned tablecloths or personalized napkins. Most guests only remember 4 things (whether it's bad or good): The food, the venue, the music, and organization.
- Find ways to make it happen within your budget. Do you REALLY want chargers at each place setting? I did. I was able to find some chargers for cheap but they were the wrong color. So guess what I did, I spraypainted them the right color and cost me less than going out to buy them.
- Make sure you and your fiance are a united front, especially if you're paying for your wedding. My husband and I paid for our wedding ourselves without help from our parents and many people tried to circumvent my ideas, suggestions, requirements, etc., by trying to talk to my now husband. When he informed them that what they were told is what stands, people quickly figured out that they weren't going to be able to get their way.
Ceremony/Reception Venue: Callanwolde Arts Center
Photographer: Keith Hammock Photography
Videographer: D & R Films
Caterer: Taste of Africa, tasteofafrica25 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Day of Coordinator: AlexK Events
Makeup Artist: Shay Ashmon Artistry - shayashmon [at] yahoo [dot] com
DJ: The Smart DJ
Chair Rentals: Atlanta Event Rentals
Tableware Rentals: RSVP Rentals
And there it is! Very soon, I'll be doing a play by play of the day, as well as vendor reviews to help out other brides. The planning process was tedious, stressful, and created lots of anxiety for me, but now that it's over, I can definitely say it was worth it. I'm glad that I stuck to the majority of my guns for this and I hope that other West African brides can see that doing things a little different can definitely be done and still come out with a glorious day!