Welp, it’s over.
After a year of planning, stressing, gluing, painting, crying (okay, I didn’t cry all year) it’s over. All I can do now is look back at it all and judge myself and all of the vendors whose services I required. If your planning a wedding in the Adirondacks this may be a helpful post for you to read. If you’re not getting married and just reading my blog because you’re a supporter I first of all thank you, and second of all am happy to say this should be the last wedding post, so we can look forward to Yummy Treats, Fantastic Foods and DIY Projects for the rest of…ever.
Being a teacher, I decided the best way to rate everyone was to use the basic letter grades (pluses and minuses included) making A+ the highest rating and an F- I suppose would be the worst. Thankfully there are no F’s, but I’ll let you check out the rest for yourself.
The venue I chose isn’t a typical one because I didn’t want a typical day. In fact I didn’t want a day at all, I wanted a weekend. Friends and family were going to be traveling several hours and would need to lodge somewhere anyway, so why don’t we make a weekend out of it? Lapland Lake is a beautifully rustic resort nestled deep in the woods of the Adirondacks. Gorgeous scenery and a serene lake are just a short(ish) walk from the ten tupas (cottages) that provide lodging at the resort. Cross country ski trails become walking and biking trails in the summer which are surrounded by tall pines and cross over trickling streams. Now if that didn’t sell it for you let me let you in on the best part- the owners are the nicest people in the world. I can’t imagine what it would be like to try to plan a wedding with an owner who was never present or just plain didn’t care. We were lucky enough to have the complete opposite of that. Not only were Ann and Olavi Hirvonen always ready to give a helping hand, they were genuinely excited to have us there and help our wedding day become what we hoped it would be. I worked mostly with Ann, and right from the beginning she was ready to help make this dream come true, from calling the Health Department to inquire about catering issues, rearranging things on their grounds so we could have a campfire and the ceremony where we wanted, making phone calls, helping and guiding us through our marriage license debacle and car troubles, covering up our ceremony site with tarps and updating us on the radar, assuring us the rain would stop and providing us with towels to dry off the seats when it did. I could go on and on, but the point remains the same; this experience was amazing and entirely made possible by Ann and Olavi. I am eternally grateful and encourage all of you to visit during any season, Tyler and I are looking forward to spending a weekend there in the winter.
Due to the fact we wanted an outdoor wedding we needed to find a place to rent the tent, tables, chairs and dance floor from. I helped my sister with her wedding reception the year prior so I knew who I wanted already. Toby’s Tent Rental is located in Northville, New York which is right on Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondacks. So not only was his location perfect, but his prices were too. Having done my research for my sister’s reception I knew that Toby had the best prices around, hundreds to a thousand cheaper (depending on what you’re getting) than what’s available in the Capitol District. Okay so that’s location (check), prices (check) and customer service? (check, check, check!). Toby is seriously awesome. An incredibly friendly guy, easy to talk to, easy to get a hold of, easy to make last minutes changes. Heck, he was even a good sport when I burst into tears on the phone (poor guy, had nothing to do with him). His team works so well and so quick I honestly don’t know why you would ever use anyone else… ever.
Okay, so food’s a big one. We decided to take care of appetizers on our own and my mom wanted to make some salmon by herself as well, but other than that we needed dinner. I wanted a buffet right off the bat, no waiters or sit-down service. Again, I already knew what I wanted having experienced my sister’s reception. Lanzi’s on the Lake is located right on Sacandaga Lake. It’s a beautiful location, they actually hold weddings there and are no strangers to making a lot of food for a lot of people. They have a ‘take-out’ service where you can order loads of party foods for a pretty decent price, and you only have to order 48 hours in advance. Now we went a bit earlier (about a week in advance) and met with Chris, who is in charge of the catering service. Overall the service was great, he allowed us to order off of the catering menu (some roasted chicken and vegetables that they have on their normal menu) and helped advise us as to how much food we may need for how many people. The only cons I have when it comes to our experience with Lanzi’s is that they don’t deliver (which is understandable but was a bit inconvenient) and that we didn’t get some of the food that we had ordered ( a simple mistake, and there was plenty of food so I don’t think it was missed). Everyone raved about the food (I wish I had the stomach for more) so overall, it was a pretty good experience.
I have very mixed feelings about this next one. I am not going to deny that the dance floor was packed all night and everyone was having a blasty blast. Anyone who isn’t me would say they did a fantastic job and it was a great time. That being said, I am the bride, I know what we paid for and I know what we got. Unfortunately for me the two don’t add up. The reason I chose Direct Entertainment was because of their selection. You are able to make your own playlists (Definitely play, Play if you can, and Definitely DO NOT play), you are able to select the “intensity” and interaction level of the DJ (Outgoing, Moderate or Quiet), they also had karaoke (obviously a must for me) and they had pretty reasonable prices ($900 for 5 hours). I was sent planning forms, that included the music list. I was able to search their database and make my Definitely Play, and DO NOT Play lists quite easily. There was a schedule form and general information to fill out, where I included every event (intros, speeches, special songs) from the beginning of the night to the end. With all that being done, it was hard to see where things could possibly go wrong. Yet, here we are. They played maybe a third of the songs I had on the definitely play list, sometimes they would play a song by the same artist (ex. they played Disturbia by Rihanna) instead of the song I requested on the definitely play list (Only Girl in the World by Rihanna). Why they wouldn’t just play the song I requested is beyond me. What’s even worse is they played a few songs that I put on my DO NOT Play list (???). I wrote on the schedule that karaoke will start with a song my sisters and I were doing, but they had someone else sing a song first. Not only that, but they told me halfway through the night that karaoke was broken… and then two more people did karaoke. They did such a bad job of explaining a simple game I had set up, that I actually got out of my seat, took the mic and had to explain it myself, and then they didn’t even announce another simple game I had set up and explained to them. They were asking my friends what the first dance song was supposed to be because they “couldn’t find it”, even though I had spoken to the DJ a few days earlier on the phone and explained my brothers will be playing guitar and drums and my sister will be singing. I had to write down a song on their request list that night, even though I had put it on my Definitely Play list. They called Tyler “Taylor” about 7 times, even though he was reading Tyler’s name off a sheet of paper… okay well now maybe I’m just being picky but COME ON! Like I said, I’m sure no one else but me noticed these things, but in this case, am I not the person they are supposed to please? We weren’t even going to get a DJ and now I’m thinking we definitely wasted a bit of money in this department. Obviously I only had experience with one DJ from this agency, but knowing what I paid for, and knowing what I got- I’m disappointed and frankly kind of annoyed.
I’m a weirdo and a cheapo-deepo so there was no way I was about to buy my dress from a wedding shop and pay a stupid amount for something I will wear once. That, and I didn’t want a “typical” long dress, our entire wedding was outside so I didn’t want something that would drag around in the dirt. I’ve also seen brides with dresses so huge they can’t even fit down the aisle and by the end of the night they are holding their dress up just to try to move around the dance floor. To each their own, that’s just not what I wanted. Apparently the style I was looking for isn’t as simple and easy as I thought because it took forever for me to find something I really liked. I’ve never bought anything off of Esty, but I’ve heard a lot about it, know people who have shops on it and I believe it’s a ligament site. The shop I ordered from is called Elegance 50’s, and is based out of England with a secondary shop in the Philippines. I did my research to the best of my ability and emailed back and forth with the shop owner several times before placing my order. I knew I was taking a risk, ordering a dress offline, never trying it on before, and taking a chance with having it shipped overseas. Overall, the experience was good. The shop owner, Lawrence, was very responsive, always answered my questions and eased my mind when it came to shipping and time of arrival. He even sent preview pictures of the dress when it was near completion. The dress fit well, although not like a glove. That could’ve been my fault, I took all of my own measurements, and I’d also like to blame it on me losing weight but I don’t think that’s accurate. Overall, I liked my dress very much and would recommend this shop to anyone who digs 50 style dresses.
Sigh…. Moores is a clothing/suit/tux shop for men (equivalent to Men’s Wearhouse in the States). So their specialty is… you guessed it- suits and tuxes. They have rentals for bridal parties, you can order/rent/buy everything from the tux to the pocket squares. We opted to only rent vests, ties and pocket squares and only for four guys, so you would think it would be hard to screw that up. You would think. Nope, they managed to screw up the colors of the vest, where they would be picked up and “misplaced” the pocket squares when they were meant to be picked up. To this I say… Really, Moores? Really? If this is your specialty- if this is what your store does, why are you screwing up these simple little things? It’s a good thing we didn’t get suits from there too, I hate to imagine how they would’ve screwed that up.
I wanted wildflowers for the wedding for a few reasons, okay mainly for one reason- they’re free. They are also beautiful and smell awesome so those were some pluses. Also, due to the fact it’s early summer, there is a large variety and they are in abundance, especially in the Adirondacks. However, I did want some nice simple roses for the bouquets and boutonnieres. I called North Country Florist (located on Rt. 30 just outside of Northville) a week and two days before the wedding, and they were awesome. I checked out their selection online before calling, but my advice would definitely be to call and order over the phone rather than online. Over the phone I was told that I could pick specific colors I wanted in the arrangements I picked out, where if you order online you get what you see (which isn’t a problem but a selection is nice). By calling I was also able to ask exactly how many roses I would be getting in each arrangement. They were very kind, very helpful and quite flexible on the pick-up time. I could’ve easily gotten the same number of roses for less money, but the quality would have been much worse. This was definitely a good call on my part.
FTF Rustic A+
I contacted this father/son-in-law team very early on in the wedding process because there were a few things I wanted custom made for this wedding, and I knew they could do it. Okay, okay so it’s my father and my brother-in-law (Joe Tarantelli and Pat Fitzgerald) who run the business, so although you may think my opinion is bias, once you see their work for yourself I think you’ll have to agree with me that they did an AMAZING job. They provided a bar, candle holders and table numbers for the reception, two display tables for the ceremony as well as “hooks” to hang flowers from down the aisle, an arbor (now available to rent through Toby’s Tent Rentals) and a matching table to sign the marriage license on. Not to mention a huge “Welcome” sign and several “ceremony”, “reception”, “bathrooms” and “games” signs that were placed throughout the grounds of Lapland Lake. FTF Rustic is very well priced for their unique handmade custom rustic furniture and really gave my wedding the look and feel I wanted. I couldn’t have imagined anything better than what they produced. And a very special shout-out and thank you to Ms. Jane Fuller who painted the beautiful landscape on the front of the bar, which was a first for FTF Rustic, but surely will not be the last.
You know, I could’ve had ten years to plan all of this and come that weekend I still wouldn’t have been ready. As much as I’d like to blame the rain for things not getting set up, I know in my heart it’s my own fault. I read articles and blogs that said “You CAN’T do it all by yourself!”, and instead of listening to that honest advice, I took it as a challenge, and that was my biggest downfall. You can’t do it all by yourself, I don’t care if your Martha Stuart in the flesh, you CAN’T DO IT ALL BY YOURSELF. I don’t think I’m being hard on myself, I think I’m being honest. I had too much on my plate and I wanted everything to be perfect, to fit my vision and I felt as though that could only happen if I did everything. I can’t even count the number of things that would never have been done if it weren’t for my amazingly dedicated friends and family (those of which I will get to in a moment). No one but me (I think…I HOPE) knows what didn’t get done, or what got screwed up so that’s good at least. It’s very hard for me to look back at it all and not see the unfortunate parts. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t look at the day as a complete failure- the most important things were done, we completely lucked out with the rain, it was a beautifully happy late afternoon and a killer night and once my meltdown was complete and it was time to walk down the aisle, everything else fell into place and I had an amazing time. That being said, do I think I could’ve gotten more done if I hadn’t procrastinated with the final details? Yes. Do I think my vision could’ve been completed if I had done work instead of hanging out with my friends? Absolutely. Did I know that the critical, anal person in me would hate and curse the procrastinator in me come that day? Secretly, yes, but I didn’t do anything about it at the time, and here we are now. I’m married, happy, and I’m pretty sure almost everyone had a good time, those were the most important things to me, so from now on it’s my goal to focus on that, and not beat myself up for all the stupid little things I screwed up or never finished. So for all of you bride-to-be’s out there who want to have DIY Wedding, please don’t make the same mistake I did. You can only do it yourself up to a certain point, don’t overwork yourself or over-plan or put too many things on your plate because come the big day you’ll be a ball of nerves just worrying about what needs to get set-up rather than the ball of excitement nerves you should have because you’re about to get married to the love of your life.
There are so many people I have to thank and I was too stupid and hopped up on nerves during my pathetic attempt at a thank you speech that I forgot some of the most important people. I’m taking this opportunity now, because although I may not have said it into a microphone, each and everyone of you needs to know how much you helped me that day/weekend and how much I honestly appreciate it from the bottom of my huge… heart.
Regina (Reverend Reggie)– My partner, my wife, my life. I couldn’t imagine being married by anyone else. Having someone I know and love marry Tyler and I only made it that much more memorable and meaningful. You have such a talent for speaking, this I already knew but was demonstrated beautifully on that day. Your sense of humor was welcomed by both Tyler and I, and made us feel so much more relaxed and comfortable. Your thoughtful and loving words were honest and from the heart, which is something that a typical Justice of the Peace or even Minister cannot always honestly convey. The time and effort you spent on writing our ceremony will never be forgotten and has never gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Anyone getting married in the future would be a fool not to ask you to do the honors. I am so lucky to have you in my life and to have come upon this opportunity with you. You did a phenomenal job and made the day that much more special, and I can’t thank you enough.
Katie, with Liz and Amanda– Not too many people would take on the task of making four large pies AND twelve dozen mini-pies (there were no left-overs… NONE) while asking for nothing in return. Granted you (Katie) are my sister and therefore required to take on tasks while asking for nothing in return… that, however doesn’t mean I appreciate it any less. I am so grateful for you, Katie, and Liz and Amanda as well for taking on the challenge of making so many pies in such a short amount of time. Not only did they smell amazing (people were hovering outside that tupa for hours), but they looked adorable and tasted unbelievably delicious. Thank you girls for all of your hard work, I think everyone will agree with me when I say job well done!
Emily and George– We wouldn’t have had sound at the ceremony without you guys bringing all of the equipment, testing and setting it all up. Thank you so much for donating your time and materials to make my special day what I wanted it to be. I know set-up may not have gone as smoothly as you liked, with the rain delay and everything, but you two honestly made that part of my day 100% stress-free. I knew I could count on you to get the job done, and I seriously appreciate it so much. Emily, I must also thank you for singing at the ceremony, and keeping it from Tyler the whole time. I knew even before Tyler proposed (lame, I know) what song I wanted to walk down the aisle to, that I wanted it to be a surprise for Tyler, and that I wanted you to sing it. Thank you for taking the time to learn the song, to practice with Steve, even though it was only a few times due to your distances apart, and do such a fantastic job performing it. I am so lucky to have such a beautiful and wonderfully talented friend.
Stephen and David– I knew it wouldn’t be a challenge for two people as musically talented as you to play a few songs for me at my wedding, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate every minute you put into it. Steve, when I first asked you to play at the ceremony you had just picked up the guitar a few months prior. You’re such a fast learner and did such a great job playing for both the ceremony and the first dance, no one would have guessed you’ve only been playing for a short time. Thank you both for the time you put in practicing and rehearsing with myself and Emily. I am so honored to be a part of such a talented, loving, willing family and I love you and thank you both so much.
Angela and Ashley– We seriously wouldn’t have had bouquets and boutonnieres without you ladies. Or maybe we would’ve but they wouldn’t have been half as beautiful as you made them. Both of you were so willing to help and jumped right in when the time came, I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without you two. All of the flowers looked professionally made and I think both of you may have a future in this… maybe you should have charged me! Thank you for all of your hard work the flowers looked beautiful, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Amelia, UP, and the Fitzgeralds– You were all a tremendous help through this entire process. And I mean the ENTIRE PROCESS from beginning to end. Whether it was letting me and the girls crash at your place for the bachelorette, picking up the kegs (UP), letting us store things and helping move things from your place to Lapland Lake, making LJ’s flowergirl dress (Fitzgeralds) or letting us use your car to move crap from one place to another and taking amazing pictures (Amelia). You all were ready to lend a helping hand during set-up and break-down, and it would’ve been one crappy job to do without all of you. I can’t say thank you enough for all of the hard work each and everyone of you put into this wedding, I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, loving and helpful family.
BNB– You girls (and your guys!) were at my beck-and-call all weekend, always ready to lend a helping hand. Whether it was cutting up burlap or cutting up vegetables you were there. You were also there Thursday night to help me finally relax and enjoy myself! I am so lucky to have such a strong sisterhood of women that I know I can count on and will be there for me, whether to lend a hand or to help me have a good time. I hope you all know that I appreciate everything you did for me, and I look forward to the chance when I can return the favor.
Alex– Thank you first of all for taking on the role as my maid of honor. Thank you so much for singing the song for our first dance, and taking the time to practice it. It meant a lot to have the first dance be sung by you, you did a beautiful job. You speech, of course, was awesome. Funny and loving at the same time, just like you. Thank you for stepping up to bat to sing with Emily during the ceremony. I know it was last minute and kind of crazy but it certainly didn’t seem that way when the time came to preform.
Eliza, Val and Ashley again– My inappropriately dubbed “Sco-Hoes” have given me a whole new meaning to the word friendship. Not only did you go wildflower picking the morning of the wedding and do all of the table arrangements (which were perfect), but you three stuck it out with me through all of the crazy and tears until the very end. You made sure I was ready before you were, which in itself means a lot. Eliza- you did such a beautiful job on my hair, I know it may have been stressful and probably didn’t help that I was on the verge of a breakdown (my apologies for not having the mimosas present), but you stuck it out and did such an awesome job, I knew I asked the right person when I realized how much time, research and practice you were putting into it. I know it was a lot of hair to work with, but thank you so much, it was beautiful. Val- although it was unplanned I thank you so much for taking control of my makeup. If I had done it myself I wouldn’t have looked half as good. More importantly- thank you for snapping me out of my funk and getting me ready to get married. Your love and support is overwhelming and I hope that in my lifetime I can work towards being as amazing of a friend as you are. Baia- you came ready to work and didn’t leave until you were sure everything was done. From the bouquets to plucking my stupid brows and everything in-between, you were such a huge help. I can’t wait to help you with your big day, I will be at your beck-and-call for anything and everything! The three of you are unbelievable and everything that you did for me, not only that weekend, but the months leading up to it will never, EVER be forgotten. I am eternally grateful for your love, support and friendship. I am so lucky to have you girls.
Mama and Papa T– I know the day was a bit stressful (understatement) . But none of this would’ve been possible without you two. Not only because you made my life possible (gross), but because you both worked your butts off to give me what I wanted. Mom- all of the bunting you made was a lot of tedious work, I know, but the tent looked so incredible and it’s all because of you. The salmon was so tasty and you know how much Tyler appreciated the antipasto! Dad- it’s hard to even count all of the things you made, by hand, for this special day but you did it. No questions asked… okay well you did ask like a million questions, but they were all relevant. The amount of time and work you guys put into this one weekend is unbelievable and extremely overwhelming. I couldn’t have asked for two more loving, giving parents. Thank you both so much.
Mama and Papa C– I know it was harder for the two of you to lend a physical helping hand due to the distance between your home and the wedding site, but that doesn’t mean all of your contributions went unnoticed. As soon as you arrived you were ready and willing to lend a helping hand with set-up, clean-up, everything, and I deeply appreciate not only that but also for raising such an amazing guy like Tyler. Letting him drive across country borders when he was so young, trusting him and myself. Not many parents would do that, but it is something that we are both eternally grateful for, and will never forget. I remember when Tyler and I had only been dating for a few years, we had some big stupid fight about who-knows-what, and I thought for sure it was the end of the relationship. I was so devastated at the thought of losing Tyler, but also at the thought that I would be losing you. I’ve grown to know you and love you as my own family and that’s something I would never give up for anything else in this world. Thank you for welcoming me into your home, and into your family.
Now wouldn’t it have been so nice if I had said all of those things, like I had planned to, at the wedding? Instead of being like “Uh… um, thanks. Let’s party!”. Well, I got it out one way or another. But seriously, look at all of these people who helped. That doesn’t even include Don for making the delicious cheeseballs (drooling right now), The Sparks for taking charge of the sangria (which was gone in record time), Suzie for making the anijitos and lending me her jewelry, The Browns and Clements for taking my orders and dealing with my craziness, The Urbans for taking control of the food situation, Taylor and Andy for picking up the food, Dave for driving the shuttle back and forth to the ceremony, my wonderful grandmother for all of the contributions and support shes given, and of course Bruce and Liz for taking all of the pictures (can’t wait to see them all!) and of course everyone else who traveled far and wide to show their love and support (or maybe just to get some free booze and a random hook-up). This just goes to show that you can’t do it by yourself, no matter how hard you try. It also goes to show how many incredible people I have in my life. Thank you again to everyone that made this day possible.
You’re all amazing, I am so lucky to know you and have you in my life.