WOW! That’s the simplest, most accurate description of our entire wedding experience at FireKeepers. All the great stuff we thought (and hoped!) would happen, and have been writing about for the past year, actually did happen!! Also, some surprise cool stuff that we didn’t see coming. So let’s get right to the heart of the matter: Yes - FireKeepers did an exceptional job at everything (planning, managing, executing, food, décor, customer service, value). Yes - We would recommend them to anyone looking to host a memorable event. Not only are they great at what they do, they are genuinely nice people too. FireKeepers exceeded our expectations at every opportunity. That is the honest to goodness truth. No lie, no fluffery.
Now for the sake of storytelling, we all know that the final chapter of any story needs….SOMETHING. A twist, a cliffhanger, or a sexy scene with lots of….oops, sorry (not that kind of blog)! I’m guessing you all may be interested to know the scoop or wondering (as the kids say) “what’s the tea?” So let’s dish and spill some tea, shall we? Grab your favorite mug because I’ve got a fresh pot of bridal perspective to share about the good, the bad, and the ugly (crying) of our wedding experience:
Honeymoon fund or gift registry? Honeymoon fund. In our post, “Money or Gifts?” we discussed breaking with tradition by setting up a funding website in lieu of registering for gifts. We did set up three separate funds using the website zola.com for guests to contribute (any amount they wished) toward: a honeymoon, a dream tv (for Brian), or a sleeper-sofa. Honeymoon was the most popular fund (Megabus to Poughkeepsie….here we come!). LOL. In the end, we are happy we did it even though the majority of guests still went the traditional route and either brought a card or a gift to the wedding.
Most unexpected emotional moment: The intense feeling of RELIEF that washed over me as we drove to Battle Creek from Chicago. 11 months of dreaming-out-loud & joyful focus on the one-night only, exclusive, invitation-only world premiere of “US!” as husband and wife. 11 months of fussing & stress over details / stuff we never thought we would care so much about. 11 months of random, fleeting moments where I forgot myself, and how deeply I love this man who got down on his knees, on a cold rainy day, to ask me to be his “player two for life.” But all of that was behind us as we peacefully drove to Battle Creek on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. We made it! Accomplishment + satellite radio 80s channel + light traffic + Popeyes + Taco Bell = Pure happiness.
Bridezilla or Groomzilla? Please. Bridezilla gets it done! You’re welcome, everyone. LOL. In addition to this cute graphic Brian created, he also does a great impersonation of me stomping and scorching indecision and procrastination to the ground!
Things that make you go….awwwwwww: (1) Seeing my brother-in-law Eric and Brian’s friend, Mark, serve honorably on lint-roller, boutonniere, and bow-tie duty to ensure Brian looked perfect for our “first-look” photos. Mad respect, dudes! (2) Brian ugly-crying during our first-look pictures. (3) Seeing Tara grab Brian’s dad for an impromptu dance during the reception. (4) The custom cake topper Brian secretly had made for our family table cake (which he also secretly coordinated with the FireKeepers Pastry Chef) that matched our save the date cards.
Proudest moments: (1) Staying up all night. After the reception we changed clothes and hit the casino (Dacey’s too) with our friends. Our sleepy heads hit the pillow at 5am! Mind you, we were far less happy about staying up all night when the alarm went off just in time for us to make it down to brunch at 10:30am. Sleepy, but delicious! (2) Brian KILLING IT on the karaoke mic! I have heard him sing many times before, but never like this. Brian shocked everyone with his version of “Gin & Juice.” Seeing him on that stage, all the guests on the floor dancing and cheering, overwhelmed me with happiness and pride. That’s my hubby!
Worth it Splurges: (1) Harpists for our ceremony and cocktail hour. We were originally going to have piped in music for both. We love live music but didn’t think we had room in our budget for musicians, and we already booked a DJ. But then we did and Brian had a crazy idea, “remember those cool twins who play harp covers of classic rock and heavy metal songs we saw at the zombie / comic convention?” Well those amazing musicians are The Harp Twins and somehow we got lucky enough to book them for our ceremony and cocktail hour. So much more awesome than piped-in music! (2) Professional dance lessons. We decided to do our first dance at the start of the reception before dinner. So we felt that if we wanted hungry people to WAIT and give us their undivided attention for three whole minutes, we should give them something more than the slow rotisserie dance we all did at prom. So we found a dance studio and took an intro group class that featured a variety of dance styles. After a few sessions we decided on a classic waltz, and signed up for 8 weekly private lessons. Our weekly lessons quickly became a welcome escape from work and planning stress. It was our time to connect and do something physical / fun together (our gym was closer to our apartment, but less fun. LOL). We enjoyed it so much that we plan to keep taking lessons. We danced to “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka.
Out-of-body experiences: (1) The big reveal of the event space. After our ceremony rehearsal on Friday afternoon, the FireKeepers event team revealed to us the final setup of the cocktail and reception spaces. Seeing all details come to life and all in place for the first time was breathtaking! We felt like kids on Christmas morning – running around admiring all the décor. I felt my heart would burst with joy and gratitude. “How did WE get this lucky?” was the recurring dialogue in my head. Still is. (2) Ceremony recessional. As we walked down the aisle toward the cocktail space, the Harp Twins played the dramatic “Game of Thrones” theme on their electric harps, the sliding wall slowly opened to reveal the cocktail space and FALLING SNOW as we entered to form the receiving line. I will never forget the pageantry of that moment. We felt like the King and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms!
Biggest regret: Not booking a videographer. We were so certain it wouldn’t be necessary (people will take vids on their phones – that’s free and we won’t miss anything!). Then a month before the wedding we changed our mind, but it was too late. We would have loved a professional video of our ceremony, first dance, and karaoke performances.
Super cool surprises: (1) INDOOR SNOW MACHINE! (2) The weather – 50s and sunny. Thank you, Mother Nature. (3) Bridal suite food. Tara suggested we both pre-order some snacks or lunch to be delivered to our rooms on wedding day. I didn’t think I would be hungry, but wanted some snacks in the room for any girlfriends who stopped by. When 1:45 rolled around, FireKeepers delivered an amazing spread of finger sandwiches, fruit, cheese, crackers, meats, chips, dips, and hard-boiled eggs. Brian was so jealous when he found out! LOL. He didn’t order anything and instead scrounged up a bag of pretzels and a banana. (4) Snowflake ice sculpture on dessert station (remember “A Christmas Story” where the kid puts his tongue on the frozen flagpole? I have pictures….LOL). (5) Wranglers and waiters. In order to keep everyone on track with the wedding day schedule, our FireKeepers team assigned a member of their staff to each person in the bridal party. Talk about first-class service and being treated like a VIP! Nobody went missing, everyone was where they needed to be on-time, and the entire wedding day stayed on schedule. Also, during the reception, each table had their own waiter (or two) to attend to their needs. That was such a special touch that our guests are still raving about it!
You may be surprised to learn that: (1) our beautiful display cake was not cake at all – it was fake! An actual cake that size would have been very expensive and may even go to waste. So we had a small cake for cutting / pictures, and then another small cake for our family table. (2) We wore sneakers the entire wedding! I had silver sequined Converse and Brian’s were black patent leather.
It takes a village: Our wedding evolved into a dynamic, team effort and labor of love with the amazing people at FireKeepers, family, friends, vendors, and all of you who followed and supported our blog. THANK YOU for your time, comments, ideas and “liking” our posts on the FireKeepers Facebook page. And THANK YOU to our amazing vendors – we recommend them all highly for exceptional services, value, and for being really nice people: Chris McGuire Photography; Tracy Park @Park Place Design (flowers); Kailey Alexis @Elwell Salon (hair); Scott “Hurricane” Herriman (DJ) & Guy Voss (photo booth) @Wiser Productions, Inc; Alterations by Rozi (dresses); The Harp Twins (musicians) @harptwins.com; and Tommye Giancchino (waltz goddess) @Windy City Wedding Dance.
The second biggest surprise for me occurred the moment our event space was revealed to us the night of our rehearsal. Sure, we had spent months and months making decisions and planning every last detail. But picking out linen and decor samples and reviewing concept drawings is nothing compared to seeing it ALL together, everything in its place, all at once. Breathtaking! I kept thinking: "This is all for US?" A true “wow” moment I will never forget. All the lighting, décor, the snow machine, the bling, the trees, the ice sculpture... all created, designed, and expertly put together by the FireKeepers Team.
There could never be a blog post big enough to fully express how spectacular our wedding event was, and I don't think I could ever put a value on the sum experience, services, and memories. Everyone at FireKeepers was amazing - especially the wonderful event team lead by Tara and Ciara. Every aspect of our event was skillfully planned and executed by them without a hitch. Many guests praised how smooth the transition was between the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Not an idle minute went by where our guests (or us, for that matter) were left twiddling their thumbs or waiting on anything. That didn’t happen by accident. The FireKeepers team laid out a precise timeline of events and managed every aspect so that everyone else could just focus on being in the moment. The food, cake, and dessert station were incredible. The servers were very attentive, courteous, and swift.
Our wedding was better than we ever imaged it could be! Our guests are still raving it was one of the best weddings they had ever attended. Thank you FireKeepers for all your hard work and efforts, and thank you also to everyone who followed our blog and shared your thoughts and input with us along the way.
Submitted by Bride, Angela and Groom, Brian. Part of the Bride's Blog wedding series.