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If you've shopped on Of a Kind, or subscribed to its "Ten Things" newsletter, or listened to its "A Few Things" podcast, then you know that co-founders Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo are always discovering the best things to buy and the coolest things to do. Claire got married to Chris Roan in May of 2014 in her parents' backyard in Wilmington, Delaware — "They still live in the same house where I grew up. I’d always imagined getting married there" — and we asked her to share some wedding wisdom she picked up in the planning process.
TL;DR? Say yes to dozens of umbrellas in case it rains, but say no to seating charts.
How long did it take you to plan your wedding?
We did it in little fits and starts throughout the year we were engaged. I’d say for the last month or two, we’d spend the better part of our Sundays working through the nitty-gritty details.
How much did you rely on your friends to help you plan?
I got a lot of A+ advice from pals who had been married recently. It also helped that Erica and I were planning at similar times, so we traded a lot of tips. Ultimately, my friends were most helpful as a sounding board for the stress and the "Do you think I should buy a backup dress on the internet in case I realize I hate mine?!" moments.
Did you work with a wedding planner, and do you feel it was worth the price tag?
We did, and I was so glad we had her help. She ended up acting as a de-facto mediator between me and my parents, which was especially helpful since we were doing it at their home. It took the pressure off me seeming like a brat by insisting we do certain things.
That said: Despite her best efforts, she did not help me win the battle for port-a-potties, and one of the toilets did get clogged. That will be the "told you so" moment I’ll hang on to for way too long.
Did you have any outfit changes?
I went with just the one dress. It barely occurred to me to have multiples, I guess because the one I chose felt appropriate for the whole day. And it was hard enough to find one I was head-over-heels in love with, much less two!
What's an expense, not including your dress, that you do not regret?
I bought one hundred white golf umbrellas when the forecast started to look iffy, and we scattered them around the house and garden. They proved crucial when the rain came, and since they were all matching and minimal they didn’t ruin the pictures or the general look of the day.
What's a crucial expense that caught you by surprise?
You’re obligated to pay for the travel and lodging of vendors who you bring in from out of town. Which: Duh. But it somehow hadn’t occurred to me, and of course all of the photographers I loved were located in New York and LA. My mom’s large stash of airline miles came in really handy in that moment.
Did you discover an aspect of your wedding that wasn't worth the stress?
We didn’t do assigned seating or a set dinner hour — in part because I think there’s the tendency for guests to get bored during the dinner hour, in part because I didn’t want the stress of a seating chart, and in part because we honestly didn’t have enough seating for everyone to dine at the exact same time.
I fretted about whether or not it would work out because it is not what people are accustomed to. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made — the dynamic encouraged lots of meeting and mingling in the buffet line and got the party portion of the night started early.
Looking back, how could you have cut costs on one of the extravagant elements in your wedding?
I don’t ever actually remember seeing the cake. I remember eating the sheet cake pieces, but the actual tiered thing? Only proof that it existed at all is in the pictures.
If you could do it all over again, is there anything about the wedding that you would change?
I’d have worried less about limiting the guest list to make sure there was enough room for everyone. There were several last-minute no-shows (someone is always bound to get sick!), and it was very much a more-the-merrier vibe. I think my only real regret about the day is not having invited those on-the-fence guests on our list who I now really wish had been a part of the day. All that said: Had the weather been bad enough that we’d had to move everyone inside I might be giving a completely opposite answer!
What advice would you give to future brides about planning the wedding day?
Remember that as much as your wedding is about you, it is also about your family and friends, and it’s important to weigh their wants and needs, too. If it were just about you, you’d be eloping. When we made the decision to have a wedding we framed it as a way to celebrate the roles our friends and family had in shaping each of us and our relationship, and the commitment that they were making to support us in our marriage. That made it easier to make certain compromises based on what they’d want versus what it would look like if we did it all our own way.
P.S.: Of A Kind now has its own Wedding Shop!