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with Danielle Polgar, M.A.
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Our Wedding Recap

Here's an excerpt from my journal, written a few days after I married the love of my life.

It's hard to dive back into my writing practice after 6-7 months of wedding planning. All the  organizing, creating, deciding, envisioning and so-much-going-on. Not that I've ever run one, but it felt like a marathon, trying to keep a steady pace on a jam-packed and seemingly endless road of to-do lists .

Each day I felt the pressure building, and as the weeks grew closer to our wedding date, I felt as if I was going through labor pains, birthing myself into a new life. The planning process resembled a zipper; our karmic paths intertwining, bringing us toward new awareness and a better understanding of our soul-work - both as individuals, and as a couple.

About two weeks before the wedding, I felt something calling me to slow down and breathe and sink into a space of sweet surrender and acceptance. I stopped drinking coffee. I stopped worrying so much. Planning the wedding brought up all of my issues with perfectionism, but also helped me reconnect with my creativity.

I began to notice a new version of perfection show up - a version that told me some things in life are even better than what my imagination can ever dream up. Just be present, bear witness, allow.

And even though my voice started to crack the night before the wedding when I had planned to sing to Randall the next day, I was guided to the loving hands of my sister-in-love who offered me Reiki - a healing balm to the wounds of my past.

My days of not being heard, not having a voice, all transformed by the grace of Divine Love.

I awoke at dawn on our wedding day with the intention of meditating and writing my vows. All I could do was cry.  Not because I was sad, but because I was overwhelmed with joy.

It had been a while since I felt the warmth of salty tears wet my face.  I embraced this release and understood there was no way I could possibly put into words what Randall meant to me, and how his presence in my life has nurtured and healed the wounds in my heart.

So I stopped trying to write. Instead, I sat on the front porch of our vacation rental staring at the sun dry the rain from the night before. The rain, like my tears, had washed everything clean; a perfect metaphor I did not overlook.

Instead of writing, I sat in silence and ate buttered French-toast drenched in warm syrup, made lovingly by Randall’s brother and his fiancé; a symbolic meal that told me, "life is sweet and rich, girl. You deserve this. Enjoy it."

And so I did. Every. Single. Moment.

Hands down, best day of my life.


The Backstory

This post is a labor of love…much like planning our wedding was.

Rewind time to almost four years ago, when me and my sweetheart locked eyes at Burning Man. After 9 months of long distance lovin', we moved in with each other. It didn't take long for us to start talking about marriage.

We just knew we would get married. We didn't, however, talk much about having a 'wedding'.

So when we got engaged on our 3 year anniversary, we realized, "Holy shit! We have to plan a wedding!…Wait. Or do we?"

After debating a possible elopement, we decided on having a fairly big wedding which consisted mostly of my husband's extended family, and a lot of our mutual friends.

Once we jumped on board the wedding planning train, my heart went aflutter, my insatiable creative mind shifted into overdrive, and my fingertips went tapping away on my computer to do what I do best: research.

Here's a recap of what I discovered and what we decided upon.

And here is a previous post where I share some tips for brides-to-be.

(All photos were taken by our phenomenal photographer, Kris Holland Photography.)


Location

As residents of Northern California, we are lucky enough to live in a place with easy access to some of the most beautiful and sought-after wedding locales.

Randall and I are by nature nature-lovers so we were heart-set on finding a wedding venue that showcased a natural landscape.

The weekend when we got engaged, we both attended (and Randall officiated) a wedding for our dear friends near Lake Tahoe. The scenery there was incredible, and the vibe laid-back yet elegant - totally our jam.

Feeling inspired by their wedding, I searched online for wedding venues in and around that region. I stumbled upon a Style Me Pretty post that had me oohing and ahhing about a venue in Placerville called, The Leaning Tree Lodge. It had all the ingredients of what we imagined for our dream wedding: trees, a cabin, a lake, and close enough but far enough away to feel like we were 'somewhere else'. 

After scouring the internet for their website, I finally found their facebook page and immediately called them up to inquire.

I spoke to the daughter of the family who owns the property. She was the first of many brides to have been married there over the past 3-4 years. 

As a family-owned venue, they cherry pick their brides and grooms and only host a handful of weddings there a year. If it's a good fit, they help you customize your dream wedding from scratch. My heart was saying yes even before we got to see the place in person.

When we actually did drive up to check out the site, I had tears in my eyes. It was so breathtaking and more beautiful than photos had captured. 

And thus it was the first, and the last place we saw. 


Vendors

My husband and I set an intention to choose vendors based on how well we connected with them.

We wanted to feel like every person at our wedding was a kindred spirit and tapped into who we are as a couple. Each vendor we hired felt like a new friend which helped us feel way more at ease once the big day came.

Wedding Planner

Even though I'm such a can-do gal and love planning and organizing and creating things, I hired the lovely and talented Bre Zimbleman of Joyful Wedding + Events, who also grew up on the property. I knew she would be an incredible resource in our wedding plans.

Hiring her was one of the best wedding decisions we made as she turned out to be our super-star helper who made everything come together seamlessly and what appeared to be, effortlessly. 

Photographer

I'm super grateful I googled "creative wedding photographer" and found the super-talented Kris Holland. He is a gem of a guy to work with and melted away all of our camera-shy nerves.

The best part was that he was unobtrusive yet seemed to be everywhere at the same time. He provided us with timeless photos that are sure to be appreciated by future generations.

Rentals

The location and venue itself was gorgeous, but became even more alive with the help of Forever Vintage Rental company.

They have an incredible collection of antique furniture and decor that gave our wedding even more of the unique, timeless-elegance we were going for.

Invitations

Our invitations and programs were lovingly designed by Amanda at Wide Eyed Paper Co. who painted us an adorable illustration of the venue.

To stick with the theme of a rustic vintage wedding, I also found some vintage stamps on etsy that gave our invites an extra special 'blast-from-the-past' look. 

We also saved some dough by requesting that people RSVP on our wedding website that I created with the help of the easy-to-use squarespace. It's still up for another month so check it out while you can! 

Hair + Makeup

Since I'm not big into makeup, I initially considered doing this myself. I'm SO glad I didn't.

I learned the very valuable lesson of doing a trial run way in advance of the wedding. My first trial run with a hair and makeup artist I found on yelp turned out to be a horrible disaster.

Thankfully, my planner Bre hooked me up with Melissa from All Dolled Up, who turned out to be amazing. She knew exactly how to make my makeup look and feel natural.


Music

As a music-fanatic, I was not willing to compromise on a bad band or a cheesy DJ. Bre recommended DJ Eric at SoCal DJ who is a total sweetheart and spent time learning about us and our musical taste. He created a fantastic audible experience that kept everyone on the dance floor.

We selected You by Nils Frahm (Teen Daze Rework) for our processional, Love You Madly by Cake for our recessional, and our first dance was a blend of sweet and silly: Stick With Me Baby by Allison Krauss and Jimmy Page into Make My Dreams Come True by Hall + Oates.


Food + Wine

We are major foodies so we thoroughly enjoyed the food tasting aspect of the planning process.

Our palettes thrive on fresh, organic, and preferably local fare and after trying out a three incredible caterers, we happily said yes to a Placerville local-favorite called, The Farm Table, owned and operated by yet another sweet family. 

Oh my amazing, thinking about their food makes me salivate. It's that good. They provided us with not only incredible food, but impeccable service too.

In addition to being foodies, we love to savor a glass of wine with dinner, so we were pretty picky picking out our wine selection.

We spent an entire day wine tasting in El Dorado (shhh, NorCal's best kept wine-tasting region), and we almost bailed on one last stop, until we found the gold mine of wineries that is the Sierra Vista Winery

Every single one of their wines is swoon-worthy. Their staff is also super kind and helpful by honing in on your guest list and suggesting wines they might enjoy.

At our pre-wedding welcome gathering at the winery, they even decorated the tables with empty wine bottles filled with fresh flowers. These special touches really warmed our hearts on that cold, rainy spring afternoon.

We were also blessed that my mother-in-love makes incredible desserts and offered to bake her famous vegan chocolate cake, as well as her delicious baklava. We also bought some gluten-free items (donuts and wedding cookies) from Mariposa Bakery in Oakland.


Decor

Since the venue’s landscape and vintage furniture were so beautiful, we didn't really need much other décor, so when it came to florals, we kept it simple and decorated the tables with garlands of eucalyptus and rosemary and filled vintage milk glass vases with blue thistle. 

I had an enormous bouquet of the same with some extra greenery thrown in, as well as the most adorable flower crown I ever did see. Flowers on Main rocked the florals for sure.

I work full time (and then some) so I really didn't have much time for many other DIY projects. Since this was my second time planning a wedding, I decided to NOT stress about crafting projects this time around.

Instead, I had a blast purchasing crafty goods from the thousands of talented people on etsy.

I felt so good supporting artists in their craft and was relieved that I didn't have to cover myself in glue to create things that sorta-kinda looked like Pinterest creations. We also used Social Print Studio to print out our collection of photos from my Instagram account that we strung around a tree.

However, we did include some hand-made touches such as cards from my astrological tarot deck that we used for the table numbers. I designed the cards for the seating chart, and our signage was gifted to us by our multi-talented friend Katie from Kreate Photography.

My most special and beloved piece of decor was made of my great-grandmother's hand-made crocheted lace doilies that were re-purposed into an adornment for our Chuppah (a Jewish tradition and representation of a couple's new home together).

Special thanks go to my mom for sending these to me, and to my sister-in-love and mother-in-love for their crafty assistance in making it a masterpiece. What a beautiful, special way to literally weave in the past to the present moment. 

My brother who was married a week later used it as a backdrop for his wedding as well. It seems we have a family heirloom now!

My Dress

If there was one element of the planning process that totally stressed me out, it was finding my dress. I spent so many precious moments of my life staring at my computer screen, burning my eyes out while looking for dresses.

For about a week, I decided I would design my own dress and have it made by a dress-maker. But having done that for my first wedding and winding up majorly disappointed, I decided against it. I kept up the search in hopes that I would find "the one". But, just like finding my husband, it was after I gave up the search that the dress found me. 

I don't even remember how I came upon it but when I saw this dress by Yasmine Layani I had a sense this was it. I knew buying a dress online was a risk, but I felt confident in Yasmine’s ability to deliver after the wonderful communications we had via email. One of the biggest compliments I received on our wedding day was how much the dress was so "me". People raved about it and I was sad to take it off at the end of the night.

Our Ceremony

Our ceremony turned out to be the most sacred and beautiful part of our wedding day.

As two individuals coming together from different religious backgrounds, we wanted our ceremony to show how we express ourselves spiritually, and incorporate ritual as to how we have integrated our beliefs into our shared life together.

We also wanted both a masculine and feminine presence to hold sacred space, so I asked my mentor and my husband asked his older brother to co-officiate.

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The 4 of us met to craft and write several iterations of our ceremony, which included a chocolate "communion" wherein my brother-in-love, a raw chocolate maker and founder of Yes CaCao, made us custom chocolates infused with rose and damiana. Mmmm, they were incredibly delicious and heart-opening.

We both wrote our vows the day of the wedding which I do NOT recommend, but the good news is that we were perfectly present and in the moment.

And, to our surprise, all the days leading up to the wedding we were taking bets as to who would cry as we said our vows and neither one of us shed a tear. In fact, we were both giggling and giddy with joy for being up there together. Those are the moments I will never forget.

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In reflection

If you're not sure you want to have a wedding, I can completely understand why. They’re a lot of work and can be emotionally and financially draining.

Unlike the simple act of getting married, a wedding has the potential to be a huge ordeal. They aren’t exactly necessary and are most often over-the-top extravagant dinner parties.

However true that may be, it was probably the only time we felt so much love in our direction. It was a magnificent celebration of our love for each other.

Also, many brides say this, but of the advice I can offer, definitely do your best to soak up every moment that you can of the wedding day. Allow yourself the gift of being a princess for a day and ask people to help. It's all going to work out the way it's intended to and no one will notice if any of the little details are 'off' in the same way that you might. 

Although it takes so much time to prepare it and the planning process can be super stressful, everything happens in a flash that day and it will all become a memory. So whether you're in the middle of the planning process, or just beginning, be with whatever comes up and know that you are creating a day that will eventually become a memory.

Think about the memories you want to create and how you want to feel. Let that vision guide your direction, your attitude, and your choices.

I set the intention to be as present as possible with every person I talked to at the wedding and it really helped me to sink into the feeling of unconditional love that surrounded us that day. If I'm ever having a funky day now, I think back to our wedding and get filled up with all of those loving feelings all over again.


Some of my favorite images from our special day:

Liked this post or know someone who is getting married? Please share it with your friends!

xo,Dani

Dani B. Polgar2 Comments