Mark and Leslie: A Renaissance & Fantasy Wedding!

Planning a wedding should be an olympic sport. But I did it, I did it on a budget, and I did it in a uniquely themed and memorable way. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the decor and props from our wedding, meant as inspiration to anyone who is interested in throwing a Renaissance or fantasy style wedding! Some other elements we styled into our wedding include medieval, gaming, fairy tale, Harry Potter, and LARP. It was a dream come true for the both of us! Happy wedding planning, and I hope this post inspires you!

Photos courtesy of Knot Just Any Day Photography (and worth every penny)!

Our programs were rolled up into scrolls, tied with red ribbon, and lined up in wooden chests. I also put a tissue box on a decorative gold stand and made a themed sign, for anyone who might be crying. Behind this table was a very gothic candelabra with 3 large candles on it. The ring bearer’s tray (seen on the bottom shelf) was a silver tray that I hot glued a piece of red velvet to. Here is a what our program looked like!

The church was old and gorgeous. The wooden pew/seats were so appropriate for the theme. Stained glass makes everything look so classic. My mother framed our family crests for us and we hung them on either side of the altar. We were handfasted, a Celtic tradition, which of course I insisted upon. Our cord was created and braided by the both of us, with gold for wealth, white for new beginnings, and red for love. We also added unique charms to represent our family members.

I created a tribute to our family in photos, and adorned the fire place with all of their pictures! I designed small standing medieval banners containing our hashtag, to label desserts, and to showcase our photos. My dad took our family crests and combined them in this one-of-a-kind and very Renaissance-y family crest shield. I love the swords!

I designed custom signs for around the whole hall, including signs for the bathrooms. Go big or go home, right?

My beautiful bouquet was designed by my aunt, a florist. I went for a very colorful Renaissance and fairy tale styled bouquet. I feel like maybe fairies were living in it!

My cousin designed an elvish circlet for me :3 I felt like an elf princess!

The reception area was glorious, like a lodge mixed with a cabin. It was perfect for the Renaissance themed festivities! Custom tablecloths in gemstone hues really made this room look like a great banquet hall! I loved the way the ceiling looked, and the giant windows made all the colors burst!



The food was delicious, and set out on a long table like a banquet. You can also see the felt pennants I designed for above the bar. Medieval pennants and banners really added a lot to the theme!

In lieu of a cake, we went for a variety of colorful desserts, which absolutely worked for the theme. The dessert table was decorated to look luxurious and period by using fresh fruits and berries, as well as intricate gold mirrors and the tops of fresh roses. My sister decorated a cupcake tower by spray painting it gold and adding lace. Our cake toppers were just toys; who can afford to pay more than $5 for cake toppers?! We had a framed photo of our engagement picture, taken at the Renaissance Faire, with some swords behind it.

We made D20 ice breakers for every table! Of course, D20’s are a tribute to Dungeons and Dragons. We did meet at LARP, after all. And every table also had a bottle of honey mead and red wine, from the Renaissance Faire where we got engaged. See the full size D20 ice breakers sign here.

I created fun fact signs for our tables, so people could get to know us a little better. My aunt designed magical white rose and moss wreaths for the center pieces, and I also added a couple medieval standing pennants to tell people about our hashtag.

Our favors were soap, with custom renaissance themed labels made by me! We also added in gemstones and coins for the kids. All the favors were in a giant treasure chest!

Paper crowns, inflatable swords, treasure chests, and custom coloring books using coloring pages from old D&D books made the kids table perfect. We added gemstones and pirate doubloons to our favors treasure chest, which contained soap for the adults, so that the kids could go get some treasure too! No kid wants soap!

Our table was my favorite. We felt like the King and the Queen in fur draped chairs sitting at a fruit adorned table. It was decorated with evergeen boughs and of course, wine. What luxury!

Real fruit in a dish, medieval felt pennants, a dungeon behind the bar, and some period tavern rules helped to create the bar’s mood. I also set up some barrels and gargoyles around the room, to give the room a very tavern feel. I added even more atmosphere to the bar with a “Wanted poster” of my husband’s LARP character. We found cardboard knight cut outs for cheap, but that really added to the vibe! The real pewter mugs were the perfect finishing touch! The barkeep’s tip jar is a wooden chest and next to it is a sign that says “Poor tippers will be locked in the dungeon.” Here is a what our bar menu looked like!

Our “Well Wishes” table was designed to look like an alchemist’s lab or a Potions class at Hogwarts. People would brew us a love potion by writing down their love advice on notes and putting them in our cauldron. See the full size Love Potions sign here.

The most important part of any renaissance wedding, besides the bride and groom, is COSTUMES. Make sure your guests and bridal party dress up! By the way, my mom MADE my dress, and it cost about $90 worth of material. Talk about getting married on a budget! Isn’t she so talented?

Action shots are a must have! Now I demand you go and find yourself a cold mug of ale, or mead, and celebrate with me! I’ve been married 6 months already, but Mark and I still shout “Huzzah!” every day like it’s our wedding all over again. Alright, maybe we don’t. But we should.

To view the entire album, click here!

Photos courtesy of Knot Just Any Day Photography (and worth every penny)!

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Wedding Planning 101: 7 Things I wish I could have told myself before the big day

1. Keep your husband-to-be involved, even in tiny details. He’ll tell you if he thinks you are getting annoying.
Correct me if I am wrong, but typically, women tend to do most of the thinking, planning, choosing and organizing for the big day, versus their husbands. I mean, we’re pretty good at it. We have a vision! But there were times when I was on the psychotic Bride roller coaster, and I’d accidentally leave my husband behind. Surprise, surprise – he wanted to be involved in it all! And why shouldn’t he be, it is his big day too. I hated thinking I was annoying him with tiny little miniscule questions or details that he didn’t care about, but truthfully, it’s better to over-annoy him and ask him to tell you when to back off, versus leaving him out of the rush and thrill of the planning. Mark socked it to me a few times when I didn’t run something by him, and it not only showed me that he did care about the details, but wanted the day to be an “us” project and not just a “me” project. Totally “Aww” worthy.

2. Things will not go the way you plan. Things will not go the way you plan!
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Bartending on my big day with my pal Kristina, because the party was still raging, but my bartender was off the clock! Turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the day.

The wedding I had in mind is not the wedding I got. It was truthfully, much better. But you have to be flexible, and adjust your attitude at the drop of a hat. If you get hung up on expectations, then when you get something different, you will be disappointed, even if it isn’t necessarily “worse.” Your expectations should be: “To marry the person of my dreams in front of friends, family and God (if you’re into that).” And that’s freaking it.

3. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit of a Bridezilla.
When you get engaged, of course you feel like the happiest person ever, lounging about on Cloud 9, in a state of perfect bliss. But actually, you’ve just been hired on for a job that is painful, stressful, and requires a lot of work. Sorry guys and gals, but it’s true! Friends and family will have expectations of you to delegate, have a plan, and make use of their abilities. So try to focus on making decisions and doling out work. Your friends and family want to help you, so you’ll have to give them stuff to do.

4. Take moments during your wedding day to do nothing, but just soak it in, and observe.

Mark battling his way to me, during Capture the Bride. Many of our guests had boffer and latex LARP weapons and were ready to kick his ass!

You might be in such a rush to run around and enjoy the day, flitting about like a happy little freaking butterfly. You’ll be constantly talking, dancing, and scuttling about, like a crazed lunatic, that you’ll forget to focus on the moment. Take a moment (or several) to stop, sit down by yourself, people watch, take a mental picture of the guests, decorations, sounds, and smells… and then return to the action. These little breathers really became great mental photos for me.

5. Keep track of what you spend, and stick to your budget.
Well.. we WERE keeping track when we first started planning… right up until about 2 months before the big day. Then it all started going to hell. Things will get hectic, but create a spreadsheet and track every dime you spend! This way you can see what your budget was and where you measured up. It’s also good practice for post wedding financial planning and budgeting with your hubster.

6. Ask a bridesmaid or close friend to force feed you during the day.


Mark and I with our friend, Ibi, who is an ambassador for the United Nations.

You, or someone, paid a lot of money for that delicious food, and you probably won’t find time to eat. Ask someone to get you food on the day, before the big day. Then tell them to make you sit down for a minute, and scarf it down. Even if you aren’t hungry, the food is going to be delicious, and you will want to remember how it tasted!

7. Nothing will go wrong on the day.

My niece Maddie, as my flower girl, walking up the aisle with me. Primadonna.

Things are going to take on a life of their own on the day. One of your bridesmaids might get wasted-face, and sing a rousing rendition of “Don’t rain on my parade” by Barbara Streisand on the head table. Your crazy Uncle might take his shirt off, and spend all night hitting on the bartender. Or the 2 year old flower girl might refuse to walk up the aisle on her own, and instead walk up with the bride and father of the bride. But whatever it is, the mistakes and mishaps will make the day. It will be perfect. Remember: It’s your wedding day. Enjoy the shit out of it.

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What advice would you give yourself pre-wedding? Leave it in a comment and let me know!

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Wedding Updates

bacheloretteparty tiny-renaissance-wedding-banners

My bachelorette party was on Saturday. It was a fabulous time with some of my very best friends, and some pretty offensive straws. 2. We’re designing tiny little medieval banners to label everything at the wedding – from food, to pictures, and more!

We’re having a Handfasting, and we made our lovely cord. A Handfasting is a traditional ceremonial tying of hands, literally tying the knot, and it is very popular in Celtic weddings. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Red for love, gold for prosperity, and white for a clean slate.

Our invitations are designed, signed, sealed and delivered.

hunsinger-ever-after-wax-seal

We sealed all of our invitiations with real wax seals – H for Hunsinger or Hogwarts! You decide 😉 We also used awesome Harry Potter stamps, which are out just in time for the wedding!

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Adentures in Wilkes-Barre and Mt. Hope (and wedding updates!)

Wilkes-Barre, though it has its crime rates and drug problems, is still a beautiful place. Sometimes I forget to step back and appreciate it.
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I went for a few walks and adventures in my hometown of Wilkes Barre, including a big Ingress rampage with my fellow Enlightened.
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I cut my hair. I think I was inspired by Lydia Deetz.
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Mark and I traveled to the Mt. Hope Winery on the grounds of the PA Renaissance Faire to pick up a bunch of bottles of delicious Honey Mead for our reception. Mark proposed at the Faire, so it only seemed appropriate to have our favorite drink from their winery at the wedding.
After we had the Mead in tow, we went to Littmans Jewelers to get our wedding bands. I found mine (blue diamonds and white gold) but Mark ended up buying his ring (black tungsten) online. I got a deal as my ring was on clearance at 70% off!
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I’ve been working hard on wedding design. This is a snap of some of our table signs, including our drink menu, a poem for the well wishes table (styled as a place to brew potions/perform alchemy), and D20 Ice Breakers game for our guests. Roll a D20 and do what it says… simple!
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We tasted cake… nom. We went to Bakery Delite in Plains and took home 8 delicious samples. The vanilla and strawberry were our favorites!

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Wedding Planning 101: Knowing who to Hire.

Figuring out exactly who to hire for your big day is really tough. Some people try to have their friends do it all, to save money, but then their cousin Lenny ends up DJing and plays really offensive gangster rap all night, making your great grandmother uncomfortable, who in turn decides to throw her drink in his face, and it’s just a big ole’ mess. So who is worth hiring, and who can you manage without?

DJ or Musicians
London Ceilidh Band via www.belsizesquare.freeserve.co.uk

Music is pretty important at a wedding. From your first dance, to those cheesy group dance-along songs, you need good tunes! So, you can hire a DJ, bring in a live band, or pull out your iPod and hook it to some speakers. I could see why someone might want a live musician to play vs a DJ. If you and your hubby met at a concert or local show, for example, you might want their band to perform at the wedding. Makes sense! Or perhaps your grandfather is a bagpiper and he would love to regal your party with ‘Scotland the Brave’ as you walk down the aisle. But the other side of that coin is – do you want your grandfather to have to do ‘work’ on your big day, or do you want him and all your guests to relax and enjoy? If you must have live music and also want your guests to relax, than hiring is the way to go. Same with a DJ – you could have a friend do it, but then they can’t enjoy the wedding – they’re working for you. A DJ and a band can run anywhere from $100-$500 for the night, so make sure it’s in your budget if you choose to hire.

Mark and I chose to go without. Mark’s boss is letting us borrow his PA system for free (he is DJ) so that takes care of the sound system and microphone. But because there are so many other expensive things on our list that we must have, we chose to sacrifice hiring a DJ or musician. Instead, we’re going to compile all the music onto a flash drive or iPod and have one of our guests help out by pressing play, etc. We do not expect the chore to be that demanding, so we don’t think asking a guest to help us out with this is a big deal. We’re also sure our family and friends don’t mind announcing any silly little thing we’re about to do, like the cutting of the cake or the first dance. Give someone a microphone and they can make it happen!

What we chose: Do it ourselves.
Our cost: Free (compared to ~$300)

Chef/food staff to serve food
The Red Wedding... shudder
Wait, NO, not THIS feast…

PA Renn Faire via Abscond to Wander
That’s more like it
Having a sit down meal is another one of those things people assume you must do because it’s a tradition, but make sure you consider all your options and don’t be afraid to break tradition. If you must have a sit down meal, I highly recommend hiring a staff/chef or having it at a place that offers this service. Coordinating a successful sit down meal is not something you should have your guests try to do. It requires excellent timing, plenty of hands on deck, and lots of shuffling, serving, and clearing quick. It’s a mess, so hire people to do it for you.

When Mark and I were discussing having a sit down meal, most places we looked at were anywhere from $50 a head to $100 a head for the meal. Holy cow! With 100 guests, that anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for 1 meal! We quickly decided to go another route. It wasn’t just the cost that made us decide this though. For starters, a sit down meal is long and sometimes tedious, when most people just want to walk around and mingle. Being forced to sit at a table for 2 hours with people you might not even know is not that much fun. We figured people would rather mingle with finger food. So we decided on renaissance style finger food and no sit down meal. We’re going to buy a few turkeys, loaves of bread, cheese, fresh fruit and veggies and make it look like a Game of Thrones style banquet table!

What we chose: Do it ourselves.
Our cost: Cost of food purchased on our own, ~$600 (compared to ~$5,000) – plus the potential cost of plastic cups, napkins and plates if we do not find them for free.

Bartender
Via Charlotte Wedding Show

Bartender is one of those unique jobs that a friend could do. Sure, it’s work – but it’s social and fun. A bartender can mingle all night long with everyone and still have a good time, plus tips! But with a larger wedding party and lots of drink options, sometimes it can get hairy and it’s best to hire a professional.

Mark and I took the middle ground – we did hire a friend to do it, but she is also a professional. She’s done weddings before, so she has bartending experience. And she gave us a good deal, being a friend!

The other cool thing about it is, since we’re not having it at a typical wedding venue, we’re going to buy and supply all of the booze, and when the weddings over, whatever is left over we get to keep!

What we chose: Hire a friend.
Our cost: $100, plus she gets to keep her tips, plus the cost of booze ~$600.

Florist
Via Neatorama

Flowers are considered a wedding staple. Some people think you just can’t do a wedding without them, though I disagree. I’ve read online people budget anywhere from $500 – $5,000 for their flowers. It’s a big difference, but then again some people have $20,000 weddings or more!

For us, we’re skipping the flowers – they’re going to die in a week, and they cost way too much money. Perhaps we’ll get some fake ones from the Dollar Tree if we need to work them into our room design, and that will definitely be more affordable. We are considering live flower bouquets for myself and the bridesmaids, but I think my aunt and I can whip that up for $50-60 with some flowers from our local grocery store, Wegmans.

What we chose: For the most part, don’t do it at all.
Our cost: $50-60 to construct our own wedding bouquets from a grocery store.

Photographer

Photographers are expensive, no doubt about it. But the good thing about today’s day in age, is, if you choose not to have a photographer, you can absolutely have a friend (or several friends) snap photos on their digital cameras and they will probably turn out great. Camera technology these days is really good, and everyone is an amateur photographer. So doing it yourself can turn out fantastic, with the right camera and enough pictures taken.

However, for me personally, photographer was the one area I would not compromise. After all the rum is gone, and the turkey legs are just chewed up bones, and the sound of the music is a distant echo in our ears, our wedding photos will last a lifetime. We chose to hire a great photographer to make sure we can remember this day forever.

We chose to go with our friends at Knot Just Any Day Photography. Steve Husted, the co-owner, snapped my pictures for a style feature in the Weekender a long time ago, and his company also took my nieces beautiful 1 year photos. They have an artsy style that I can totally get behind. In the end it’ll cost us around $1,500 buckaroos, but for me, this expense is well worth it. Check out Knot Just Any Day’s website to see how great their pictures are!

What we chose: Hire a professional.
Our cost: ~$1,500.

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