#LoveIsAJourney

We met through mutual friends many years ago and dated briefly during the Summer while I was home from College.  On Father’s Day of that year, I total lost my car and Larmar transported me back and forth to work whenever we weren’t on a date.  In the Fall, I returned back to school, 2.5 hours away from home, and we decided to go our separate ways.  Larmar says, I broke up with him, I, however, do not remember it that way.  For years, we didn’t talk to each other and only saw each other in passing once I moved back home; still never having a conversation with one another.  Just a quick wave and that was it.  In 2014, Larmar asked to be my friend on Facebook, like most women, I contemplated before accepting.  You know, been there–done that!  After a few months, he would start small conversations.  His consistency, patience, and all around “good dude” persona, along with the ability to make me laugh non stop drew me in.  He was like a best friend and he still is.  After 4 great years of dating, we decided to get married!My husband and I both knew we wanted a very small and intimate wedding.  Small, being around 80-100 guest, opposed to the 300 plus guest we would have had, and intimate meaning only very close family and friends.  We also decided that our wedding and reception would be “adult” only.  At first, I didn’t know how our family would take the news once they found out that we were getting married and that many of them were not invited.  But we had to make a decision to focus on our happiness and essentially what we wanted in the end.  Besides, cutting down on our guest list gave us the opportunity to save lots of money.

The goal for our wedding was for it to be non-traditional, intimate, glammed, and budget friendly.  With the budget friendly portion of it being the main focus of the wedding.

When I began to plan for the wedding I picked my top three must-haves.  It was important for me that I had:

1. The Perfect Venue

2. The Perfect Dress

3. I was serious about my cake

Those 3 things I wasn’t budging on.  Everything else I would work in to accommodate as we went along.  So if you’re planning a wedding, I would suggest doing the same so that you can stay on track as well as staying focused.

Once we decided to get married, we gave ourselves 13 months to plan.  We wasted no time getting started and meeting with venues because a year actually goes by very fast and even faster when money is involved.  We were all about saving money.  It was important to us to have a very nice wedding but it was not that important to go broke on. Meaning, we wanted a marriage of a lifetime and not necessarily a wedding of a lifetime.

The colors of burgundy and gold would compliment our late Summer wedding.

After it was all said and done, I believe we spent a little over $5000 for everything.

Here’s the breakdown:

Venue: We decided on a place where we could have the wedding and reception all together.  There was no better place that aligned with my style than the Center in the Square which was located downtown in our city.  This particular venue has a newly renovated rooftop with a winding staircase and 360 degree views of Downtown and the Blue Ridge Mountains!  I fell in love with it and loved the option of getting married on a rooftop.  The reception was indoors but was also located on the rooftop and the transition flowed perfectly.  Instead of having our ceremony on the traditional Saturday we chose to have it on a Sunday.  Having the ceremony on a Sunday saved us $1550.

Center in the Square Rooftop

Bridal Party: To follow along the lines of non-traditional, we chose not to have a bridal party.  Instead, my 14-year-old daughter and his 14-year-old son would be by our sides.  It ended up being a great way to blend our families.

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Our Kids

My father married us and my sister gave me away.  My mom was busy making sure everything was going as planned!

My Father and Hubby
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My sister giving me away (Was Larmar getting choked up? LOL)

The Dress: Originally, I thought I wanted a short dress.  Nothing too fancy but something to get people to turn their heads in amazement.  I knew we were going for non-tradition and because we were getting married outside I thought short was going to be the route I took.  After dress shopping I actually fell in love with a long gown that accented all of my curves.  Walking down the winding staircase gave me a the perfect opportunity to make a grand entrance.

*Toja’s Tip* Know what you want but also be open when it comes to dress shopping.  Also, don’t forget to set aside money for any alterations you may need.  FYI, to add a little more character to my dress, I had the jewels sown on.

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I made my grand entrance by coming down the steps on the rooftop
Here is where I met my sister to walk down the aisle
I was getting full off the Bubbly
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Paparazzi was like “click, click, click”

Flowers:  There was no need in spending 1000’s of dollars on flowers.  Besides that’s not something I’m crazy about.  We had two artificial flowers made at A.C. Moore that sat on podiums where we were married.  They were so beautiful that one is now in my home and the other is in my mother’s home.  Real flower bouquets were made for myself and daughter as well as real boutonnieres for the men.  These special flowers were made to order at Kroger.  It was that simple and very inexpensive.

The Flowers from the wedding are now being used in our home.

Caterer:  Besides from choosing a venue to host your wedding and/or reception, deciding on a caterer is probably the next hardest thing.  It is important to know how much you are willing to spend, and what types of food you are interested in serving at your reception.  When pricing, caterers will price so many dollars per person (for instance, $16 per person), so again, it is important to know about how many people you plan to have at your reception.  After trying a few caterers we decided to go with the caterers that my cousins had for their wedding the prior year.  They were very affordable and easy to work with.  We also loved their foods and they had a huge selection to choose from.

*Toja’s Tip* Some caterers also include desserts with their meals and in their prices.  If this is the case and you already have someone else doing your cake, politely ask if the desserts can be omitted and if there would be a change in price?  It worked for me and our price per person was reduced.

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Our Menu

Cake:  Now here is where I splurged.  Just because I love sweets and I wanted it to be different.  We had a petite two layer naked caked (anyone else a fan of the naked cakes?) with edible gold and fresh flowers.  We also included a dessert bar that consisted of cake Popsicle, soft chocolate chip cookies (grooms favorite), mini cakes, petite pecan and apple pies, and macaroons.  I’m still getting compliments on the desserts from that night and that lets me know that every penny was well spent.  In all we spent a little over $700 on the cake table.  I know, I know…..but that’s what splurging is, right?  I did have personalized champagne flutes made along with the personalized cake knife.  As far as dessert napkins, we went with plain gold napkins.  It was easy and efficient.

*Toja’s Tip* Pay the extra fee to have the cake delivered to your venue and set up.  Believe me, it’s one less thing to have to worry about.  Our delivery fee was around $65 dollars.

How gorgeous is this cake?
Dessert Bar
Another view of the Dessert Bar!
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Did I mention how much I loved the cake?
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Personalized Champagne Flutes and Cake Knife Set

Invitations:  In a recent post I did after our wedding (find it HERE) I talked briefly about the type of invitations we went with.  It was the three in one invitation.  It cuts out a lot of hassle on the brides end when it comes to assembling and also less information for the guest to try to keep up with.  They are also a lot cheaper than the traditional invitation style you may be use to seeing.

 *Toja’s Tip* If you decide to go this route, all of the additional information such as reservations and registries can be added to your wedding website.  A lot of companies offer these for free. We used minted.com for the invitations, menu cards, and wedding website.

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All-In-One invitations that also matched the menu cards

DJ:  Lucky for me, my uncle was a retired DJ and over the last year or so he decided to get back in the game! So I was fortunate to be able to have him DJ my wedding for FREE!!  He brought along his nephew for assistance and therefore the songs were non-stop.  My uncle was perfect for the occasion because he knew exactly what my husband and I liked.

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DJ Maxx with DJ Baby

Photographer:  Also lucky for me, I have a cousin who is into photography.  I was able to use his services for my wedding and we paid him $300.  Which is very inexpensive considering the going rate for photographers these days.  I knew I wanted pictures but I really didn’t need all the prints and different photo shoots.  Besides I knew everyone would be snapping pictures with their phones, which I was okay with.  My cousin was able to capture great memories and he was comfortable snapping pictures on the dance floor as well!

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The champagne flute never left my hand
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When your DJ keeps you on the dance floor all night

Alcohol:  We went open bar style and purchased bottles of wine before hand.  We had six, 1.5 liter bottles of Moscato.  Then six 1.5 liter bottles of the Pink Moscato.  We served Red Sangria already bottled. To spruce it up, we poured the Sangria into clear drink dispensers, similar to HERE and then added fresh fruit.  We also had a case of Prosecco for toasting and then a specialty drink called “Something Blue.”  Total cost for alcohol was around $400 and we didn’t even run out!

*Toja’s Tip* When purchasing alcohol from an ABC liquor store you can return unopened bottles so be sure you save your receipt. Also, you don’t have to buy all your alcohol at one time.  Space it out, a case here and there, so that it doesn’t seem like you’re draining your pockets all at once.

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A sign we had framed for the Bar

Decorations: Now my mother purchased majority of the decorations.  She loves to shop and loves to decorate so why not let her reign in her glory! 😃 I can’t count the number of texts she sent asking if I liked something.  She also took care of the flowers and decorating the venue the morning of the wedding.  I believe she recruited a little team to work with her, lol.  It was much cheaper to do it ourselves than to hire someone else.  Plus, my mom should have been an interior decorator anyway.

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Mr. & Mrs. sign has now been re-purposed and hangs above our bed!
Decor
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Simple decorations go a long way

Guestbook: Still following along the lines of being non-traditional, we decided to have our wedding guestbook made.  Although time-consuming, I enjoyed making our guestbook on Shutterfly.com.  I loved how it turned out and it gave out guest an opportunity to not just say they were there but to leave us some love and inspiration with pages like, “Share your favorite love scripture”, “Date Night Suggestions”, and more.  It was a great way to keep them involved during the reception and it will be great to look through in the years to come.

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Guestbook

Something Special: My favorite uncle passed away in 2016 (I wrote a special blog to him HERE) and I knew without a doubt I had to have him present at my wedding.  If you knew my uncle then you know if he was still alive he would have been at my wedding, front and center, matching accordingly.  To incorporate him into my special day, I purchase these mini picture frames to tie around my wedding bouquet.  As I walked down the steps and down the aisle, so did he.

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I found these at David’s Bridal
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My uncle attached to my bouquet

Jewelry: I borrowed my mother’s. Simple and easy and it didn’t cost me a penny.

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Thanks to my mom I was blinged out

*Toja’s Final Tip* Brides, take a little moment to have some alone time on the day of the actual wedding.  For me, it was a little overwhelming.  So much was going on at one time and I really wanted everything to turn out perfect so finding a few quiet moments where I could take some deep breaths was very beneficial.  As far as planning, remember your top 3 must haves; stick to your budget and to your overall vision of your day.  Don’t be afraid to say no or to ask questions or even afraid to question prices.

Thank you to our vendors:

MUA & Hair: Brandon Hunt @bhunt11 // Dress: David’s Bridal // Nails: Tawanda Stephens @polished540 // Grooms Hair: Sidney Journiette // Grooms Tux: Men’s Warehouse // Flowers: Kroger and AC Moore // Cake: Fresh Baked Bakery @freshbakedbakery // Venue: The Penthouse at Center in the Square @penthouseroanoke // Catering: Country Kitchen // DJ: DJ Maxx @djmaxx88 // Photographer: Ramon Terry @rlterryofficial_

Of course, I must thank my mother, aunt, and sister.  These three ladies took care of me from start to finish.  The day would not have happened as smooth as it did without them.  Future brides, make sure you have a strong entourage to keep you together on your special day.

Sometimes, I still can’t believe that I’m married.  It is definitely like a dream come true.  So many little girls grow up fantasizing about the day that we will get married and for it to finally happen it almost seem surreal.  I can truly say that I am very blessed and fortunate to have a very supportive family to help me prepare and plan for this very special day.

I am also very blessed to have found a special man I can live the rest of my life with.  There is nothing better than having a companion to share each day with and to love unconditionally.  When you give true love, true love is reciprocated back to you and there is no better feeling than that.  More importantly, when you fall in love with someone who is your friend it makes each day sweeter.

For our honeymoon, we cruised to Cuba and Mexico via Carnival’s Paradise cruise ship.  Soon after our trip I wrote about our experience in Cuba and what all was required and just my overall thoughts about the island.  To get the full review click HERE.

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Living Happily Ever After

So, that is how I went from Miss to Mrs.  The night was so fun and filled with lots of love, so much so, that I would do it all over again.  Ladies, if you’re single, keep hanging in there.  Believe me, love will come when you least expect it and from the person you would have never expected it from.  Just remember to keep your heart open.

Stay in Love,

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13 thoughts on “#LoveIsAJourney

  1. Reblogged this on Benny's Halo and commented:
    It a Happy day 🙂 Love is in the air 💕 Happy valentine’s day Fam
    Its another valentine’s day post or reblog #Loveisajourney originally posted by the Queen herself on Itoja.com and just like everyone of her post this is very insightful, properly detailed, so real and of course beautiful, Thank you so much for gracing me the opportunity to reblog this and share your love story, Cheers to a blissful love journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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