Geneva and I danced together at TCU, and I like to take credit for the fact that she met her husband, Jonathan. Jonathan and I lived in the same dorm for two years, and I introduced them when Geneva was a junior. I mean, they probably would have met anyway, but still, I feel pretty responsible. They now live in Indiana (hoping to move back to Texas and a warmer climate soon) where Geneva is teaching dance and is learning to navigate the snow (since she is a native Arizonan! Talk about love taking you on a ride!).
Geneva and Jonathan married on June 27, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Their formal ceremony was held in an elegant church complete with stained glass windows and a beautiful organ. An organist and Geneva’s sister, a professional musician, provided the music for the ceremony.
“The highlight of our wedding was our ceremony, and the beautiful sermon our pastor gave. Jonathan and I cried (as in loud bawling) throughout the whole thing, and when we shook hands with everybody leaving the ceremony, all of the adults were crying too. Kleenex was a big discussion after the ceremony. The pastor even asked me if I was okay during my part of the vows because I could barely get the words out.”
Geneva wore a white strapless A-line dress with lots of embroidery. She wore silky white ballet slippers and a veil with embroidery around the edges. Her bridesmaids wore purple dresses and silver shoes. Jonathan’s groomsmen wore black Calvin Klein tuxes with dark purple vests and ties, while Jonathan wore a white/silver vest and tie. Jonathan’s three-year-old brother was a ring bearer, and wore a mini tux similar to the groomsmen.
When I asked about the flowers Geneva admits, “I do not remember the names of those flowers! All that mattered to me was that I had a few white roses.” So their flowers included white roses as well as some purple, light pink, and light green flowers.
After the ceremony, the 110 guests that attended the wedding went down the street to another church’s banquet hall for their reception where they served some of Arizona’s finest Mexican food. Jonathan and his family are from Mexico, so Geneva wanted to make sure that his family felt their culture was a part of the wedding. “People who had moved away from Arizona really missed their good Mexican food. So apparently some of them flew home on the plane with leftovers, froze it, and then invited people over to their house to taste Mexican food.”
I love a budget-friendly bride as well as a bride who considers her guests, and Geneva is a great example of that. “In order to save my family money I created a playlist that had some of my favorite classical songs that played quietly during dinner. We also showed a slide show of all our pictures growing up and our years together. Everybody danced to a few Frank Sinatra songs. There were mostly elderly people at our wedding so I didn’t base our reception around dancing since most of them could not stand for very long. I used my mom’s cousin, a former actor, to emcee the reception. He was wonderful and helped everything flow well. So all the music and entertainment was free except for the organist in our ceremony!”
I know Geneva is not the only budget-friendly bride reading, so here are some of the ways they were able to have a wonderful wedding without breaking the bank: “My parents never told me in exact numbers what the budget was so that I wouldn’t worried about it, but I knew to keep it simple. I will admit that most of the money was spent on my dress, but, since our reception hall only cost a little over $100, my parents were able to pay for my dress and all of the bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen tuxes. Like I said before, the only music we paid for was the organ. The limousine we took from the wedding to the reception was a gift from my grandparents. The food was surprisingly cheap to the point that people left our reception extremely full. I chose not to have flowers on the cake since our decorator was going to charge a lot more for that, so I went with a white, elegant cake, with some design. We did not have a staff at the reception, so we asked a couple friends from church to help serve drinks and the cake. We gave them a little stipend in return for being so nice. The janitor staff had been laid off from the church 2 weeks before our wedding, so my bridal party and some relatives stayed afterwards and took down everything! In order for that to happen we ended our reception early so that everybody was able to stay for the send off and people weren’t up late closing down.”
For their send-off Geneva’s sisters decorated the car they would take to the hotel following the reception. “We did the send off, got to the car, and Jonathan could not find the car keys for about 10 minutes! It was hilarious and people were shouting at us “Just you wait…your marriage has just begun!”
“My best advice to any bride to be would be this: during your engagement, don’t allow your whole focus to be about the wedding itself. Yes that’s a part of it, but more important is preparing yourself for the actual marriage. If it comes down to it, choose spending hours about talking with your future husband about your marriage counseling session instead of hours talking to your mother about detailed decorating for the reception. Since my main communication with Jonathan and my family was done over the phone during our engagement, I had to make those choices.”
Every bride has some kind of challenge in the wedding-planning process, but Geneva’s process was particularly tricky since it was a tri-state planning process. “The most challenging part was that I was living in Texas, Jonathan was living in Indiana, and my wedding was in my hometown in Arizona. So I had to fly home once a month to help my mom out while holding down 3 part-time (almost full-time) jobs. I was the first of my sisters to get married, so everything was very new. It was very hard to know that no matter where we had the wedding, very few of Jonathan’s relatives could be there. We found out later that some of the invitations didn’t even make it to some of his relatives living in Mexico.” Geneva not only planned a wedding mostly over the phone, but she also prepared for marriage via telephone, “We spent 6 months of hardcore marriage counseling through three-way phone calls!!”
I love that Geneva worked hard to include her new in-laws, and consider her guests’ comfort as she planned. It’s a day celebrating your new relationship with your husband as well as the new relationship between the two families. This couple, and their wedding, is a great example of making choices, to save money, but also to emphasize what’s important to you as a bride and groom. No matter what your wedding looks like, remember that it’s more about your relationship (with your spouse and both of your families) and your future marriage than the day it all begins.
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