Intimate Taft Museum of Art Wedding in Cincinnati, Ohio

Here we are, turning the corner on four months of marriage (yes, FOUR – wow!) and if there’s one thing that’s certain for us, we’re so, so happy we didn’t wait to begin this new journey.  These truly have been the sweetest days together.  Today, I’m taking you through our planning journey – how our original wedding plans turned into a micro wedding, my biggest takeaways and lessons learned, as well as any plans we are fostering moving forward into 2021.

Our original plans

AJ and I got engaged October 23, 2019, so our engagement was just a week shy of 12-months.  From the moment we started talking about getting married, we knew our wedding would take place in October.  It’s our favorite month and we love everything from the weather to the cozy flavors of pumpkin spice (I know, we’re basic… what can I say?).  Flash forward those 51-weeks of engagement and our wedding day certainly didn’t look exactly as we had planned but then again, who had a 2020 wedding that did?  After all the time spent dreaming about our perfect day, never in a million years did we think our wedding would take place in the midst of a global pandemic.  As stressful, emotional and downright overwhelming as this year felt at times, October 16 was without a doubt such a silver lining!

When we started wedding planning, I had a pretty short list of places where I could envision our wedding taking place.  For us both, we always imaged an outdoor wedding with a white tented reception.  We considered a few different venues that fit the picture and even considered an at-home wedding on his parents’ beautiful property, before ultimately landing on the Taft Museum of Art.

Things change

Flash-forward a few months and the pandemic hit.  Like so many couples, we kept hope for as long as we could, making various changes to our guest list and event along the way.  From the beginning, the most important aspect of our wedding celebration was having all of our closest friends and family in one space to celebrate, so seeing that fade away little by little was personally the most difficult part.  At the end of the day, we knew the most important thing to us was getting married and starting this new season of our lives and relationship.  AJ and I had been together for five and a half years at that point, so waiting even longer, not knowing when this pandemic would end, just wasn’t something either of us wanted.  We considered cutting our losses and changing our wedding venue all together, but ultimately decided to go in the direction of a micro wedding, then postpone our large celebration to October 2021.

On October 16, we were married during a small, intimate ceremony at the Taft Museum of Art, followed by an intimate dinner celebration at the Transept.  We ended up deciding to only include our parents, bridal party, their dates and the guests who had previously been asked to play a special role in our ceremony (such as readers, ushers and our ring bearers).  This was definitely the most difficult part for us.  Over the years, we’ve both made close friends through various stages of life, both separately and together, and AJ comes from a very, very large family (to put it into perspective, he has over 50 first cousins!).  Our original 200-person celebration already seemed close-knit and the task of reducing our guest count to meet our venue’s 100-person capacity was so overwhelming.  Once we were made aware of the newest regulations surrounding virus precautions at the Museum, an intimate celebration on our original date then moving our large celebration to 2021 seemed like the best option for us. 

And sometimes, things change again

Alas, the biggest lesson we learned through all of this – nothing goes as planned during a pandemic.  A couple months after our intimate wedding, we were informed that we would need to sign the same COVID-19 event standards addendum, the one that pushed us to the decision to postpone, in order to move forward with rescheduling our celebration to October 2021.  With AJ working in healthcare and me in events, we decided this just wasn’t something we were comfortable doing at that time.  Things were still too unknown; we were yet to know if a vaccine would be approved or how people would respond to receiving it once it was.  We didn’t want to be stuck in a new contract, already married, with restrictions that still didn’t fit what we were looking for in an event.  After considering the possible outcomes, we came to the very difficult decision to not move forward with holding an event at the Museum this October.

Where we are now and our biggest takeaways

So here we are – and probably the biggest reason why I put off writing this post for as long as I have – still in a pandemic, with no current 2021 celebration plans.  But I’ve decided that’s okay.  We’re still hoping to plan something to celebrate with all of our loved ones who couldn’t be there for our wedding day, while allowing ourselves a little grace at the same time. Through this journey, we learned so much about ourselves and our resiliency, grew in our relationship and learned how to focus on the more important things in life.  October 16, 2020 was the most amazing wedding day and we felt love from so many different places.  I got to work with the most amazing couples through this business and we leaned on each other to navigate this wild journey.  In some ways being a wedding planner made this experience easier, but at the end of the day I was just another human with real emotions trying to figure out the best decision during an otherwise difficult year.  I truly believe that regardless of what our day had looked like, we still would have walk away from our wedding with full hearts and so much happiness.  If you find yourself navigating similar situations – First, I feel for you, but also know that there isn’t a wrong decision, just one that makes the most sense for the two of you.  I spent so much time worrying about how other people would perceive our decisions or if we would offend someone along the way, but our family and friends were so understanding and supportive through this process.  And that’s what it has been – a process. One step at a time, one decision at a time. 

Sending you love and hope for a new year full of celebrations, both big and small.

Enjoy some of my favorite wedding photos, captured by the oh-so-talented Lindsey Zitzke Photography, and check out our full vendor team below.

Ceremony Venue: @taftmuseum

Dinner Venue: @thetranseptotr

Photographer: @lz_photography

Planning: @ivorycouturebridal

Flowers: @carlymessmerfloral

Stationery: @longesttimedesign

Hair & Makeup: @benefitsalon

Bride’s Dress: @allurebridals from @lacebridalcouture

Groom + Groomsmen’s Suites: @pursuit_otr

Bridesmaid Dresses: @birdygrey

Hotel + Getting Ready: @lytleparkhotel

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Tips for Wedding Planning During a Pandemic

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has had a large impact on the events industry and couples currently on, or thinking about starting, their wedding planning journey.  It can feel overwhelming trying to decide if you should start planning, or where to even begin.  Why are some couples still changing plans?  Will there be any 2021 dates still available?  How do I plan while everyone is still social distancing?  How could a vaccine change my options next year?  I completely understand how overwhelming wedding planning can feel during this season, that’s why today I’m talking all about my top tips for wedding planning during a pandemic.

photo of rings from a wedding during the pandemic
Photo by Lindsey Zitzke Photography

Yay, you’re engaged!  Once the initial surprise starts to wear off, it’s almost certain a hundred questions will begin running through your head.  First off, let me be the first to tell you – it’s perfectly okay (and expected) to celebrate this exciting life milestone, despite the craziness of a pandemic that’s taken over our world.  And while the start of your engaged journey might not look exactly like it would have pre-coronavirus, there’s no reason you can’t take steps toward your dream wedding right away.  Whether your wedding planning journey ultimately leads to an intimate ceremony or a larger affair, I’m here to help you get your thoughts sorted and to take next steps in the right direction.

Regardless of the type of wedding you decide to move forward with, there are plenty of wedding planning items to check off even in the midst of a global pandemic.  Here are a few of my top tips to get you started.

Start by deciding on the type of wedding you want to have

Maybe you don’t want to wait for your wedding day any longer than you have to—and that’s okay!  Sit down together, pour a glass of wine and start the conversation regarding wedding expectations, the sacrifices (if any) you’re okay with making and a timeline that makes the most sense for you as a couple.  Talk through things such as big verse small guest lists, Friday verse Saturday weddings, and the season you’re most interested in getting married.  Are you okay with waiting out the pandemic, or ready to get started? Although gatherings of more than 10 people are currently on pause, venues are still booking wedding 12 to 18 months in advance.  Getting the process started sooner rather than later is never a bad idea!

Set a realistic budget, then choose a date

If you’ve decided on a smaller guest count, does this mean you’ll go all out or save with a smaller budget?  If you’re planning for a larger affair, determining a budget and where that money is coming from first thing is so important.  Start by having the conversation with each other, then talk with parents, grandparents or whoever wants to contribute to your wedding. Once you’ve decided on a realistic budget (but not a second sooner), you can begin venue searching and set a date.  While it makes sense to get a feel for what venues cost, make sure not to book a venue without an understanding of how it works into your overall budget. You don’t want to be left with spending regret and a contract you can’t get out of if you realize you overspent on the venue itself.

Identify your wedding style

Start by dusting off those old Pinterest boards, seeing what you still love, then create a new one from scratch.  I always suggest that couples create a new space for saving inspiration since our preferences can change over time.  What you loved when you first started wedding dreaming isn’t necessarily what you’ll want now. Use this as an opportunity to identify what you and your fiancé both envision and create a wedding vision that works for you both.  Don’t be afraid to wander off Pinterest and check out real wedding from blogs such as Style Me Pretty, Wedding Chicks and Brides.  Still not sure where to start? Consider the look and feel of your venue and then build a wedding style around what works in that space.

Build your vendor team by meeting virtually

Your venue is the natural first step in booking vendors, since you’ll need a firm date before securing any others.  Keep in mind any preferred vendor lists your venue might require you use, then begin building out the rest of your vendor team from there.  Even in the midst of a pandemic, wedding vendors haven’t stopped putting their clients first.  The majority of vendors should have some type of process in place to meet remotely so that you still get a great feel for who’s the best fit.  Now more than ever it makes sense to book your vendors sooner rather than later so that you can rely on their expertise throughout the process.  Once you’ve secured the team of pros, you can start working on the detail that will ultimately bring your day to life such as menu ideas, floral inspiration and drafting a timeline.

Build your wedding website

I’ve always been a huge proponent of wedding websites, but now more than ever they’ve proven themselves as a vital wedding tool.  From the moment you make your guests aware of your wedding plans, they’ll have somewhere to go for the most up-to-date information regarding your wedding.  Throughout 2020, my couples have changed plans as many as three to four times, so having a landing page to share information was so necessary.  Start your website early and opt to use a URL that’s easy and memorable.  Share this link on your save the dates and keep the information up to date throughout your engagement.

Whether you’re planning for a 2021 wedding, intimate ceremony or holding out for a larger affair, you should start thinking about your various options and how your decision will influence your planning.  For instance, it’s no secret that 2021 wedding dates are filling quicker than normal due to the high number of postponed weddings.  Now, that’s not to say you should rule out a wedding for next year.  Just keep in mind that you’ll need to get to planning sooner rather than later!  Another option is considering a Friday, Sunday or off-season date for your event.  Couples are no longer feeling quite as obligated to stick to standard “wedding rules” and more open to changing things up to have their dream day happen.  No matter what type of wedding you choose to plan for, it’s now more beneficial than ever to have the right help on your team.  Are you considering hiring a wedding planner to take the stress out of planning your big day?  I’d love to chat about your wedding plans and see how Ivory Couture can help bring your vision to live.  Start by filling out our inquiry form here.

Looking for more way to jump-start your planning? Check out the related blog posts below!

12 Things to do After You Get Engaged

The Type of Wedding Planner You Need & When to Hire Them

How to Know if Full Service Wedding Planning is Right for You

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Lindsey & Colton – An Intimate Wedding During COVID-19

Like many couples, Lindsey and Colton’s wedding plans changed, and changed again, before their perfect intimate wedding day finally came to life.  Twenty-twenty brought with it a lot of wedding planning obstacles in Cincinnati and throughout the country, but these two truly handled it like pros!  Lindsey and Colton are one of the most easy-going couples I’ve had the chance to work with and continued to keep focus on what was most important to them – getting married and starting their lives together.

I began working with this sweet couple and their family in December and for most of our time planning together, Lindsey was living nearly 1,600 miles away in Arizona!  With a supportive family and fiancé, we figured out how to use technology to help Lindsey feel as much a part of the process and exciting moments as possible.  We toured venues, attended tastings and interviewed vendors all while using FaceTime and photos.  After months of planning a wedding with details so perfectly them, coronavirus threw everything into question.

After a couple rounds of changing plans, Lindsey and Colton decided to move their ceremony to Colton’s family’s property, affectionately referred to as “the Conover property.”  This is a place they spent many meaningful moments celebrating and growing closer over the course of their relationship, so it just made sense that they’d hold their intimate wedding ceremony with that beautiful property as the backdrop.  Their guest list was reduced to 30 of their closest family and friends, in an effort to keep their guests safe, as the couple made plans to push their full wedding reception to what will be the weekend of their first wedding anniversary next September.

While Lindsey and Colton’s wedding day didn’t end up as originally planned, it was undoubtedly the most perfect day for one of the sweetest couples.  During an intimate dinner at The Golden Lamb after the ceremony, Lindsey’s mom shared how their family had celebrated countless milestones at the historic restaurant over the years, so it was fitting that they’d end up celebrating Lindsey and Colton’s marriage there as well.  This wedding was the first of my couples’ intimate wedding celebrations and I have to admit, it made me a huge fan!  As much as I’ll always be drawn to a large celebration, there’s something so sweet and pure about an intimate wedding.  It gives you the opportunity to be present during one of the biggest moments of life, while taking the pressure off that tends to come with a larger event.

Enjoy these gorgeous images from Lindsey and Colton’s wedding day captured by Heather at Mandy Paige Photography.  Check out the full vendor team below.

Photography: Heather at Mandy Paige Photography
Wedding Planning & Design: Ivory Couture
Floral Design: Carly Messmer Floral Design
Bride’s Dress: Hayley Paige from La Jeune Mariee
Groom & Groomsmen’s Suites: Pursuit OTR
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Birdy Grey
Stationery: Rock Paper Sisters
Hair: Paragon Downtown Cincinnati
Makeup: Benefit Salon
Celebration Dinner: The Golden Lamb
Wedding Cake: The Bon Bonerie

wedding invitation by Rock Paper Sisters
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Planning My Wedding: How COVID-19 Has Impacted our Wedding Plans

At this point we all can agree—COVID-19 has impacted each of our lives in some way, and our weddings are no different. 

In case you missed it, I’m getting married this October at the Taft Museum of Art in downtown Cincinnati.  When my fiancé, AJ, and I got engaged last fall, I was so excited to experience wedding planning alongside my 2020 couples.  Little did I know what this year would eventually bring.  Like a lot of couples, we kept hope that the coronavirus would ease up as we went through summer and into fall, allowing us to resume a more “normal” routine and ultimately still hold our dream wedding.  We’re now 63 days out from our wedding day and quite a bit has changed.  In this post I’m sharing the biggest change we’ve gone through and ultimately, how we’re handling COVID-19 and our wedding.

First off, let me say this—these changes have been hard.  Like many of you, I’ve dreamed of my wedding day for a long time.  AJ and I have been talking about our wedding day together for five years.  I say this because I get you and I know where you’re coming from.

Here’s where we are:

Since the first time our future wedding came up in conversation years ago, AJ and I imagined a large celebration with our closest friends and family.  I love pretty details and a perfectly curated event, but through the entire journey, having the people we love the most together in one place has been where our dreaming starts and the thing we continuously go back to.  We found out almost a month ago that our guest list will likely be cut in half in order to move forward with holding our wedding this year.  We (quite literally) have since moved through the stages of grief.  First, we were in denial, then the anger kicked in, all before eventually making our way to acceptance.

Well before our own wedding was impacted, we began talking about the “what if” surrounding what we would do if our original wedding plans couldn’t happen.  Having the large wedding of our dreams was so important to us.  While my family is small, AJ comes from two very large, very close families.  We’re talking over 50 first-cousins kind of “large.”  We’ve made close friends through each phase of life—both separately and together—that we can’t imagine not having there to share in one of the happiest days of our lives.  Naturally, we thought that would be the driving decision maker.  But, at the end of the day, we want to be married.  We’ve waited a long time to get here and we don’t want to wait any longer!  I’m sure at least some of you find yourself thinking something similar.

Here’s how we’re handling it:

We started with a very intentionally put together list of 200 guests, which has now been cut in half (i.e. 100 total guests).  At first, the thought was overwhelming and seemed impossible, let alone the furthest thing from what we wanted.  Once we went back and forth, sorted through all of our options, then considered them each (about 3.5 times each!) we kept coming back to one constant: We want to be married. Whatever that might look like; however we can make that happen as close to our original plans as possible. 

After going through our guest list and determining which groups of guests we could include in a 100-person wedding day, we decided to just go for it.  All of our family and friends have been extremely understanding and gracious throughout this entire process, for which we’re so grateful.  It was still important to us to set a hard rule for who would be included in our wedding celebration.  We did this by breaking down our guest list into categories.  Here’s who our 100-person wedding includes:

  • Our wedding party and their significant others
  • My small family (parents, aunts, uncles and cousins only)
  • Part of AJ’s family (parents, aunts and uncles)
  • A few close friends (to bring our total to 100)

Before sending out these invitations, we already knew there would be guests who no longer could attend for various reasons.  However, it was still important to us to allow them to officially make that decision on their own. At the same time, it’s never (repeat after me: never, ever!) okay to invite more guests than your maximum allowed number.  So how are we handling this?  We’re sending two rounds of invitations!  And we’re doing this for two reasons.  The first, as I already touched on, so that we fill out the entire 100 allowed guests without exceeding our limit.  And secondly, in case regulations would begin to lift and we could have our entire guest list attend our wedding.  Once we begin to receive RSVPs back from our first round of guests, we’ll begin putting together a second set of invitations.

This is simply how we’ve chosen to make the best of a not-so-ideal situation, but it’s not something that will work for everyone.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed and questioning where to start, I suggest breaking down all of the options available to you and having a candid conversation about how that version of your wedding day would feel.  Consider how much time you have to make a decision, any vendor penalties you risk facing and talk to your families about your ideas.

Have more questions regarding your pandemic-impacted wedding?  I’m more than happy to answer your questions or help you figure out what’s right for your unique situation.  Start with an email to: ivorycouturebridal@gmail.com

Good luck, friend! We’re on this journey together. <3

XX,

Taylor

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