This Wedding Wasn’t About The Bride | Hindsight Advice

A Charity Wedding and Hindsight Advice

I am so honored to publish Alicia’s wedding from The Charity Wedding blog. This is a lesson in humility and a response to a higher calling. Do you yearn to escape the narcissistic vanity fair of the Wedding Industrial Complex? Then read on…

…and, after the intro, be sure to scroll all the way down for Alicia’s Hindsight Advice…

Sedona wedding

In the Bride’s words:

When we began planning our wedding we found ourselves more overwhelmed than excited. We had no idea what we were getting into in terms of how much a wedding would cost and how much work it would be. After being engaged for 5 months we were literally unable to commit to anything as we just couldn’t accept spending such a large amount of money on one day for ourselves. Eloping wasn’t an option as we knew it wasn’t just important to us to get married in front of all of our family and friends but it was important to them as well. It was late one night that the idea for a Charity Wedding was born: We’d ask vendors to donate all or part of their time or service and we’d donate what was left of our budget to charity, in addition we’d organize a new fund raiser or means to raise awareness each month, and we’d ask guests to donate to charity in lieu of gifts. The next day we started a blog and the process began. To this day I am humbled and immensely grateful for the response from vendors. It was a crazy and unconventional idea and I knew it was asking a lot of vendors who make their livelihood from doing weddings. First to jump on board was our incredible photographer, Melissa Dunstan. She never asked what was in it for her or any specific questions; she simply gave me a list of all the charities she was involved with. I instantly knew she understood exactly what we were trying to do which was to use our wedding to make an impact on other people’s lives. Melissa was instrumental in getting several of our other vendors on board including our event designer, Kim Duncan, and our florist, Dana Micklos. We were asked all kinds of questions and I know a lot of people were skeptical of our motives, which we expected.

Scroll down for Alicia’s Hindsight Advice…

cameo and pearl bridal jewerly

white wedding gown with red shoes

bride getting dressed

bride and groom getting ready

red wedding details

autumn bouquet and desert cactus

first look between bride and groom

bridesmaids in black dresses and red shoes

a charity wedding ceremony

wedding dog

DIY Bride and Groom Signs

Champagne Wedding

Wine bottle centerpiece

Charity Wedding Cake

DIY Thank you Wedding favor bags


Tell us a bit about your wedding:

Kyle and I got engaged while we were living in Iowa and he was finishing school. We were set to move back to Arizona in a few months so we planned to delay the planning process until we were back home and settled. Those months of stress-free engagement bliss were amazing, I would go try on dresses with no pressure as I knew I wouldn’t be buying a dress in Iowa, I browsed magazines, considered ideas, and pictured what our wedding might be like. Once we were back in Arizona, the time to actually plan was upon us and everything changed. I was never the girl who dreamed what my wedding would look like, I didn’t have colors in mind, flowers I had to have, or details that I knew had to be a part of the big day. Planning for me became extremely overwhelming. Kyle and I are not the type of people that enjoy being the center of attention so the thought of planning this massive party and spending a ton of money on one day for ourselves just didn’t feel right. People suggested that we elope or do a destination wedding but what we knew for sure is that we wanted a day that included all the people will love most importantly our Grandparents who we knew wouldn’t be able to travel. One night, while laying in bed, it came to me. Why not have a charity wedding? We could shift the focus of the day a bit to be more about other people instead of just us. The next day I started my blog and we were off and running. Suddenly I was excited to plan again and I knew instantly even if this was the craziest idea ever, it was right for us.

Our vendors became a huge source of inspiration for us. They were incredibly generous, supportive, and completely willing to make a huge sacrifice to be a part of this process with us. We fed off of their giving spirits and the stories they told us about causes that were important to them. One such story was about Kim’s, our event designer, mother who passed away much too soon of heart disease. It was important to her that heart disease be incorporated into the day. We planned to donate money to the cause but we wanted to do more to raise awareness amongst our guests. Myself and my bridesmaids all wore red shoes and we asked all female guests to wear red shoes to help raise awareness for this disease that affects far too many lives. The only time I cried during the entire day was when I was about to walk down the aisle and Kim looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Thank you for the red shoes.”

Incorporating our family into the day was important to us as well. I wore my Grandma’s cameo necklace that she wore on her wedding day and we had wedding photos of some of our relatives in the décor.

What are three things you’re glad you did?

  • Although it added way more work and stress, we are so glad that we planned our wedding in such an unconventional way. The relationships we made with our vendors and various charitable organizations were so meaningful and we are endlessly grateful for that.
  • DIY details. I made a ton of things and picked up several more at thrift stores. The best part about that is that those things are now all over my house and have become sweet little reminders of our day. Those details made our day personal and I love having them around now.
  • Multiple hair trials. My sister wanted to kill me but it is so important to feel comfortable and beautiful on your wedding day. Had I been paying for the hair trials I am not sure I would have been willing to have so many but what I originally wanted just didn’t look good. I am so happy we kept trying until I looked how I wanted to.

Three things you wish you had done?

  • If budget wasn’t an issue or I found some smoking deals, I may have opted to have two dresses. My dress was altered to my heels which quickly disappeared come dancing time so my dress dragged big time. At one point someone stepped on the bustle and it ripped out which meant I carried my train for the rest of the night. It certainly got in the way of my dance moves.
  • I wished I would have had more time to spend with the guests. I feel like I didn’t even talk to some of them. In our case it might have been a benefit to start the wedding earlier so that we could have spent more time with the guests that needed to leave early.
  • Relaxed a bit during the day! I was so stressed, not about anything in particular but I think it just goes with the territory. I could barely eat and I was even a bit irritable, sorry Mom! We had a ton of free time once we were ready to go so I think I might have opted to lay by the pool, sleep in, or just enjoy the day more.

Three things you wish you hadn’t done?

  • Gone out the night before… Yes, big mistake! Kyle’s wedding party was literally from all over the country making any sort of pre-wedding gatherings impossible. Once everyone came into town we just wanted to spend as much time as possible. After the rehearsal dinner we hit the bar on karaoke night no less and the next day was rough for several of us.
  • Had my dress custom made. I loved my dress don’t get me wrong but having a dress made completely from scratch just from an idea in my head and a rough drawing was stressful. It meant I didn’t see my actual wedding dress until just weeks before the wedding meaning if I hated it, I was stuck. I think all in all the stress wasn’t worth it.
  • On that note, looking back I wouldn’t have spent so much on a dress. By many accounts what I spent was very conservative and what I planned to spend from the beginning. The dress was the one thing I was willing to splurge on but now as it hangs in my closet never to be worn again, I regret the expense. Of course finding a dress that you love and is in your budget is easier said than done, I went dress shopping at least 4 times, but I might have tried a bit harder so that in the end even if I did end up with the same result I would have known I gave it my all.

Anything you wish you hadn’t worried about?

  • My vendors really took care of everything. I didn’t have any particular worries that I can remember. Yes, I was stressed but I felt confident that they would handle all of the details.

What is your very best hindsight advice?

  • Everyone says this but enjoy it, it goes by so fast. Soak in the day, the moments, the emotion and take some time to spend as a couple. The day is after all about two people but much of it is spent apart and the rest is spent in a frenzy of dances, speeches, and various other activities. Have breakfast together, get ready together even, or sneak away for a bit after the ceremony and take a moment for yourselves.

 Team {Charity} Wedding

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