Disclaimer: I usually don’t get too personal on Style As Needed, but I think it’s appropriate. So today, I’m going to share with you the moments from the most magical day of my life.
September 16th, 2017 was a day 10 years in the making. My husband and I started dating our freshman year of high school, got engaged 2 years ago in Florence, Italy and finally tied the knot two months ago. And boy did we hear a lot of “finally”s and “about time!” on our wedding day!
What I was thinking about a few months before the wedding is that it is the one (hopefully) occasion in your life where all your loved ones are in one place, celebrating a start of a new chapter in your life. Let’s get a little personal, I was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan and moved to the United States when I was 10. Since my dad’s side of the family and two of my best friends still live in Kazakhstan, I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would like. I was lucky enough to have my grandparents, aunt, cousin and my best friends/bridesmaids make the long trip to Cincinnati for my big day. Just to add to my international lifestyle, my other two best friends/bridesmaids also don’t happen to live in Cincinnati and traveled all the way from Germany and New York. In fact, since my entire bridal party was from out of town, it just goes to show you what an effort people are willing to make and how strong some friendships can be.
My wedding was the perfect marriage of traditions from Russian (although I am from Kazakhstan, culturally, we speak Russian and incorporate a lot of the culture from Russia) and American weddings, after all, that is what our marriage was to be 🙂
Before the Wedding:
We started bright and early, after all being glamorous isn’t easy! We had to pick up the breakfast catering and get the hair done before getting to the venue. I decided last minute to change the way I was going to have my hair for the wedding so I was putting a lot of hope into my hairdresser. It is important to trust the person who is doing your hair for a day you will be looking back at for the rest of your life. She ended up doing an amazing job with my hair and my bridesmaids, my mother and sister in law all ended up very happy with their hairstyles as well (so if you’re looking for a hair salon in Cincinnati for special event hair, check out Klip Co in West Chester).
We had the wedding at the picturesque Lake Lynsday, which was our venue for both the ceremony and the reception where we headed after our hair appointments. We had a beautiful bridal suite that had 3 full rooms with mirrors which was perfect for getting ready. My photographer met us at the venue and started shooting some close ups and individual shots before the first look. My “get ready” team consisted of my mom, both of my grandmas, my two aunts and of course, my bridesmaids.
We then headed downstairs to the lake to do our first look. As all those closest lined up to watch, I was a lot more nervous than I ever expected to be, but everything went perfectly and I couldn’t have been happier about Scott’s reaction. He looked handsome as ever and the moment set up a wonderful start to an amazing day. After the first look we loaded up the party bus and headed to Eden Park, the location we chose for our pictures. The park was really far away from the venue (about an hour each way) which is one thing I wish I thought through a little better. I recommend choosing closer locations for pictures to the venue because if there’s traffic, you might end up being late to your own wedding.
Eden Park was still an absolutely beautiful spot for wedding pictures and I’m happy with the shots, since Cincinnati has a lot of park options. We got extremely lucky with the weather that day and were able to snag some great shots by the river, the gazebo in the park and the bridge.
After Eden Park pictures, it was time to head back to Lake Lyndsay. Since we did not have a rehearsal dinner, we were going to have a quick run through of the ceremony before the guests started arriving and also shoot pictures of the family at the gazebo. Best get those pictures done ahead of time, and let me tell you, it’s hard to smile for so many hours! We brides have it even harder than the grooms!
Our ceremony was very personal and exactly what we wanted it to be. My husband’s brother got ordained for the occasion, and married us which made it even more special for us. We wrote the script for the whole ceremony and talked about our relationship and how it’s grown over the years. We chose to do our own vows, which I recommend, it makes it more personal and can even add some humor to the ceremony (my husband vowed to not roll his eyes at my shopping habits and continue to take pictures of me for this blog). We also picked all the music for our ceremony which was a lot of fun to do (since I love music) and made the ceremony more personal and special. Our ceremony started with the string quartet version of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and my husband and I left the ceremony to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
Our decorations for the wedding ceremony and reception were done by Say I Do.
We had a short cocktail hour (that didn’t quite live up to the hour part of the name) after the ceremony during which I got my dress bustled, got a few more pictures and let our decorators set up the room for the reception. The reception started at 6:30 and went till midnight.
We had a band come in from Chicago with an amazing host. Why did we need a host? This is where the wedding started to really mix traditions, instead of an MC, we have a host that introduced everyone and transitioned to different parts of the reception and also translated from Russian to English for the guests. A little Russian wedding trivia for you – during a Russian wedding there are many toasts. Not just from the maid of honor and the best man but from the parents of the bride, parents of the groom, the grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc. Most of those toasts end in a loud “gorko!” which literally means the word bitter in Russian. It signifies that life is bitter, and the couple must make it sweeter by kissing. Now let me paint a clear picture, when the word is yelled (more like chanted), during a Russian wedding, the newlyweds must kiss. And when they do, the crowd often starts counting and the goal is for the number to get as high as possible. If the crowd thinks you haven’t been kissing for long enough, they will demand a re-do. It’s a tradition that has followed Russian weddings for decades.
The band kept everyone dancing all night and did an absolutely amazing job. You can find more their contact information and more about them here.
Our catering was also provided by a Russian restaurant so our guests definitely got emerged into Russian culture that night. Our band sang a combination of Russian and English music and I was so happy to see that our dance floor was never empty. A big high five to all our guests for being such awesome dancers.
We snuck out at sunset to get a few pictures with the sun setting over the lake and this was definitely a great idea, which gave me, my favorite picture from the wedding (see below).
Speaking of photography, our photographer Claudiu Voichin traveled all the way from Chicago, for the wedding and we are so grateful he was willing to make the trip. He was also the magic behind out engagement photos. You can find his work and contact information here.
We did the traditional cake cutting and bouquet toss but skipped the garter toss, since it can get a little awkward. The thought of my husband going under my dress for the garter in front of my parents and grandparents (and his) completely mortified me so I passed on that tradition. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. Another horror story, at my friend’s wedding a 16 year old caught the bouquet and the garter was caught by a 30-something year old who had to then put it on her, no thank you!
The wedding that was two years in the making flew by in half a second. I couldn’t believe how quickly it was over after so many years of planning. Please, if you are planning a wedding or whenever that big day happens for you, take a second during the wedding to let everything sink in and look around and absorb what is happening because it’ll be over before you know it. I give most of the credit for the whole wedding to my amazing mom who took on almost every task for me since I was busy with school and board studying during the most crucial planning time for the wedding. My dad as well, deserves a lot of credit as the entire catering process was all organized by him and so many of the music choices were due to his ideas and influence.
My husband was amazing as well as he let me do pretty much whatever I wanted for the wedding. He always calmed me down when I got stressed about wedding prep and always knew what to say to make it all better.
I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in life and for a more supportive family on both sides and better friends that came and celebrated with us.I laughed, I cried, I laughed, got smothered in hugs and kisses by my favorite people and vowed to spend forever with my best friend that day. We are so grateful for all the people that came to celebrate with us and are so happy to start this new chapter of our lives.
It was perfect, even though I was exhausted.
Anyone getting married soon? Need advice? Let me know below.