My cousin turns 31 in six hours. It feels like a great time to share a few photos from her wedding in celebration of a beautiful woman who is a big part of my life. Alyssa and Trent got married on New Year’s Eve in a very intimate and lovely wedding followed by a fabulous reception at our family bar in our hometown. It was an amazing night for all. Seriously. I miss it and would take it back in a heartbeat to get time with my family.
All photos are by Matt of Camelot Photography. I’m excited to share some of them with you today along with some tips for creating a budget-friendly wedding with character.
My cousin is someone I’m extremely close with and have been FOREVER. I was thrilled when she asked for some help pulling together the decor for the wedding.
She held her wedding at our church in our hometown and the reception was at my aunt and uncle’s bar, Patrick’s Pub and Grill in Benson, MN. The bar, while super nice and filled with character, is not a wedding venue, so we had to find ways to make it look like a wedding while still playing off of the bar’s character. This included loads of white linens, white napkins, white chair covers and cafe lights strung across the ceiling. It ended up feeling just perfect!
Of course, for me, creating a beautiful, tasty and budget-friendly dessert table was key. I knew a wedding cake was not going to be in my cousin’s preferred budget, but I’ve hosted enough large parties to know that people love variety. When my cousin asked me to help, I proposed a simple yet stunning dessert table filled with affordable desserts and using two large rose gold sequin table cloths to create a backdrop and floor length table cover. She was game!
Two simple white cakes from Lunds and Byerly’s here in Minnesota plus a Norwegian Wedding Cake were the center of the table. We used a custom cake topper from Shop Bracket and my cousin Alyssa purchased the fun Sparkly little pom toppers to add interest to the other cake.
Chocolate chip cookies, Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe’s (I’ve talked about these and other chic yet inexpensive options many times before), bars and peanut butter cookies all made an appearance and were crowd-pleasers. Both my cousin and I were super happy with how it all turned out. We used cake stands I already owned to keep it really inexpensive and it still looked incredibly chic.
We also created a home-made selfie-stick photo booth using equipment I had (lighting and a stand) plus a rose gold sequin piece of fabric. We filled the prop table with fun New Year’s Eve props and several selfie-sticks. We created a custom hashtag and had large signage custom-designed by Grace & Guy Paperie to remind her guests to use the hashtag.
Each table was decorated simply and very inexpensively. Alyssa and her husband spray-painted 100 wine bottles in different shades of gold and rose gold. A huge shout-out to my neighbors who provided a significant number of the bottles. THANK YOU!
Our dresses were incredibly fun! Who wouldn’t love wearing a gold sequin dress on New Year’s Eve? It was quite the interesting experience to get to this point, but we survived and were reimbursed for some major troubles we all went through leading up to the wedding. We’ll save that for another day.
Bodhi was a ring bearer with his cousin Reese (not pictured above due to an epic meltdown—not my best parenting moment). They were actually “Ring Security” carrying the cutest boxes and having handcuffs attached to their pants just in case someone tried to snatch the rings. ;)
Alyssa bought the boys the cool boxes, handcuffs and their sweet Chuck Taylors!
I was one of two “Matrons of Honor” at the wedding. My cousin NAILED her speech at my wedding, so I definitely felt the pressure to get it right. Honestly, no one can compete with what she did at mine. For ideas on how to nail a maid of honor speech, check out our wedding video trailer below and watch until she speaks.It’s HILARIOUS! She’s around the 2 minute mark.
Everyone danced the night away. It was one of the most fun days ever.
I wish we could go back and do it all over again. While I don’t think my speech was anything amazing, I’ll share here to give you an idea of how to do a maid of honor speech for a wedding if you’re stuck or looking for ideas. I’m not a naturally funny person, so I chose to focus more on my love for the couple.
My Maid of Honor speech
Good evening! I’m Jessica. I’m technically Alyssa’s third cousin, but I’m also her second sister in every other way possible. We grew up three blocks apart and were inseparable most of our lives.
Today is a beautiful day. It’s about love. It’s about fun. It’s about celebration. It’s about a New Year! And best of all, I know that for Trent and Alyssa, it’s about marriage, being married to one another. They want to grow old together. Today is about real lasting marriage, not simply a wedding. Today is the start of their future together.
On that note, I want to share five pieces of marriage advice from four women who have been married for a combined total of more than 97 years. All of these women are here today.
- Go to bed angry. Some will disagree but this is one I believe firmly. It helps you to avoid saying things you might regret and can’t take back. And most of the time things are clearer and less serious after a good night of sleep. Go to bed angry sometimes.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. It’s easy to talk and share your own feelings, but listening to your partner and truly trying to understand what they feel will only deepen your relationship.
- Tolerance, kindness and respect. Sometimes you aren’t going to like your husband or wife very much. That’s reality. But if you can tolerate their behaviors and treat them with kindness, compassion and respect, you’re good. Move on. Don’t dwell. Love them anyway.
- Apologize. It doesn’t matter who was right and who was wrong. You are a team in life. Apologize for your role every single time. And accept apologies with love.
- End each day with a good night kiss and “I love you.”
Thank you to my aunts Jen, Janny and Terry for their help with this piece. That’s wisdom right there folks!
There are many things that brought Alyssa and I the bond we have. When a very close family member passed away, we found each other. We played Wind Beneath My Wings on our alto saxophones over and over again until we were ready to play it at her funeral without crying. Being together made grieving so much easier. Anytime anything went wrong in our lives, a quick phone call and we were both set to meet in the middle of our homes and head off for hours of walking around town, talking and problem solving.
I was often also Janny’s (EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the bride’s mother) support system with Alyssa and Erin. The two of them are like any sisters. They love fiercely and they fight even more fiercely. I blocked the middle of many hair pulling rides to school with the help of my brother and Sean. Poor Janny attempted to drive five of us through town without any serious injuries on a daily basis for years, mostly with success.
For those of you who were at my wedding, you might recall this story that Alyssa told. We were at a big hockey game. The starting lineup was being called. My name came over the loud speaker. I smoothly and excitedly skated to the line to high five my teammates. Alyssa’s name was called. I cheered for my cousin and teammate and then she ran right into me and knocked me on my face. We were both on the ground. As unhappy as I was with the situation, it was definitely best that it was Alyssa. My unending love for her allowed for quick forgiveness. And frankly, she looked as stupid as I did.
Alyssa is the kind of close that is so comfortable you never have to worry about it. It’s effortless. It’s the kind of relationship most people are lucky to get once in a lifetime and I’m SO grateful for her friendship and even more grateful she is also family.
Alyssa has found the calm steady rock she needs in life in Trent. He’s someone I have grown to love in a big way.
A few years ago, against our better judgement, Alyssa and I signed up to run a 5K on New Year’s Day. Most of you are from here and if not, you know how cold it gets. When we woke up and learned that it was below zero out, we were surprised the race was still on, but it was. We cheerfully drove downtown Minneapolis, coffee in hand, parked and got ready to run. We covered our faces in running masks and did our best to power through frozen toes, runny noses and watering eyes. Our eyelashes turned into icicles.
As we rounded the corner towards the finish line, we both felt like walking back to the warm car. We were tired, freezing cold and just done, but we kept running. As we got closer, we saw one person out there cheering. Trent was at the finish line cheering us on. He’s the guy you can count on.
Trent, you have been a part of our family for a while now, and I’m so overjoyed to officially welcome you to our family.
Alyssa and Trent-I love you both dearly. You balance each other out perfectly and I can’t wait to watch your love and marriage grow.
Please raise a glass. Cheers to Alyssa and Trent, love, marriage and a happy new year!
Happy birthday sweet beautiful cousin! I’m grateful for you in a big way!