One of the first dresses I tried on when shopping at Bhldn, but not “the dress.” I only tried on about 10 dresses at 2 stores before finding the “one,” which you will see at a later date!
I mean, of all reasons to have your wedding cancelled, a global pandemic was just not one I could have predicted.
Lani and I were thrilled to be guests on The Wedding Dish Podcast this week. Sara and Steph created this podcast to share the stories of married or engaged couples and wedding industry entrepreneurs. We talked about our amazing work relationship, our favorite bridal clients, and of course our own weddings. As I’m in the middle of a particularly challenging wedding planning process, Lani encouraged me to share my story with you, our lovely blog readers.
Starting from the beginning: My fiancé Jack and I met in college when we were just 19 and 20 years old. After 8 years together, we got engaged in August 2019. We had a picnic at the National Arboretum with our dog-ter Daisy (a picnic consisting of Korean fried chicken, because it is us after all). We celebrated after with family, friends, and a Buttercream Bakeshop cake at the Dew Drop Inn.
Daisy was probably even more excited than us.
I custom designed my ring with Bario Neal, a Philadelphia-based jeweler that uses ethical stones to make amazing cluster rings. We used loose white diamonds from my mom, a few champagne diamonds, some morganites, and a center emerald-cut moissanite to make the most beautiful piece of jewelry I could imagine!
My custom Bario Neal ring. Moissanites can be even more firey and project more rainbows than diamonds, but are a man-made conflict-free stone!
Then we began the tedious process that is planning a wedding.
First, of course, was the venue. Our qualifications for the perfect venue were:
- An outside location for the ceremony and an inside location for the reception.
- Somewhere close to the city that still felt wooded and private.
- Must allow dogs!!
Finding a place that met all four points seemed difficult at first. There are a ton of wineries in our area that were gorgeous, but they could be as far as an hour outside of the city, adding complications to travel and lodging. Most venues in DC are astronomically priced. At one point, we thought we found an amazing venue in Chevy Chase, just a 10 minute drive from DC, but as we looked at the contract we realized they did not allow dogs.
Then we found Rockwood Manor! This historic park in Potomac, MD is just a 15 minute drive from the city, and has huge outdoor and indoor facilities. It is directly across from the entrance to Great Falls park, and even has hotel-style rooms and cabins for your guests to stay. We were super excited to host our wedding there on September 20th, 2020! We sent out save-the-dates to 70 guests in January.
The outside of Rockwood Manor!
Yes, we were excited. And then the Covid-19 lockdown happened exactly 6 months out from our wedding. Of course, back in March, we (like everyone else) had no idea how long this would last and could not imagine that it would mess with our wedding plans in September.
I am a party planner by nature, so naturally everything was booked and ready to go back in February. I had booked every vendor, from bartenders to hotel blocks, from karaoke rentals to florals, from furniture to linen rentals, the photographer, DJ, videographer, and day-of-coordinator. The list goes on. I bought my dress and Jack bought his suit, both of which have been sitting in their respective stores’ stockrooms for months now. And now I have to figure out how to undo all of it.
Our save-the-dates were seventies inspired. Imagine my delight when I found a picture of my parents from the late-70s in an almost identical pose. Yes, this was a complete coincidence!!!
We have a few options of where to go from here. We could proceed with getting married at our venue with the restrictions they set in place (which are to-be-determined based on Maryland’s reopening). Those restrictions could include a reduced guest list, mandatory masks, or an outdoor-only event. We could postpone entirely, pushing back a year and hoping for the best. We could just cancel the whole thing due to the uncertainty around when it will be safe.
Cancelling and eloping is appealing, because who wants to un-plan and re-plan an entire wedding. Is that amount of stress even worth it? For us, yes, because our vendors are amazing people and we want nothing more than to support them in a time when the entire events industry is suffering.
When I started hiring vendors, the first people I specifically sought out were friends with businesses I wanted to support. Our photographer is Jack’s high school friend who started her photography business in the last two years. Our DJ and our videographer are both friends from college. For the remaining vendors, we went to a bridal expo and made strong connections with amazing women, like Cameron Hardesty of Poppy and Lori Corker Hall of Dot Every I Events.
A styled shoot from our floral vendor, Poppy. This is the inspiration for my bridesmaids bouquets.
Because of the inability to gather, the events industry has obviously taken a huge hit. Of course, Lani and I can relate, since our entire business model also revolved around seeing people in person. So I will be postponing until next year, date TBD. Unfortunately, even with postponements, vendors are still taking a hit, as so many deposits from this year are being transferred to next year, taking up two potential dates for weddings. How are we going to try to remedy this?
We still plan to get married on our original date. We don’t necessarily want two weddings, because I don’t necessarily want to plan two weddings. However, Jack and I have been together 9 years and are ready to have a celebration. We plan to have a small ceremony in my parent’s backyard in Annapolis with our immediate families (and hopefully food and drinks if it is safe). I plan to utilize as many vendors as I can, such as having Poppy create floral decorations and having Lori from Dot Every I coordinate as much as possible. Then, this year won’t be a total bust and we will still get to throw our dream “wedding”/1-year anniversary/10-years-of-Jyle party next year, when we can have drinking and dancing within 6-feet and without masks (fingers crossed).
I have to throw in the obligatory: I’m so thankful that our families are safe and healthy. I’m so thankful that we have the financial means to be able to throw ourselves a wedding, which is a huge feat in itself! I’m so thankful that Jack and I have a strong foundation and this is not something that has challenged our relationship, but rather brought us closer. And I’m thankful that Lani has given me a platform to share my thoughts and feelings and frustrations. If you have any suggestions or marriage advice, please comment below! And stay tuned for my eventual wedding photos and all the bridal fashion moments I plan to share with you.
Lani Inlander is a personal stylist who has been working with clients who want to feel their best and look put-together every day for over 20 years. You can find her in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Learn how you can train with Lani and Kyle to become a personal stylist at The Stylist Studio.
You can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.