(Thursday, May 16th, 2013)

11 Things I Loved About My Wedding


-- Download 11 Things I Loved About My Wedding as PDF --


“Your wedding day will be the best day of your life,” someone told me in the midst of planning my wedding. I cringed at the thought. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one day. Not to mention the most expensive day of my life, which was paid for by just the two of us–Cory and I.

And then there is the fact that I’ve also had a lot of good days in my life.

So I prepared myself for the worst wedding day. Surely the the hype would jinx my wedding day.

But then it happened. In a flash, my wedding day came and went. And surprisingly it was the best day of my life. From spending time with my girlfriends to seeing my husband for the first time in his E-bay suit, my wedding day was perfect. It really was everything we could have hoped for and more. And here’s why.

Below are some of my favorite wedding memories, the things I absolutely adored and also the moments that came together unexpectedly. For those seeking advice on how not be overwhelmed by having the ‘best’ wedding day, read up.

11 Things I Absolutely Loved About My Wedding

11. Location, location, location. Pick a place that already has your esthetics. The ACE Hotel in Palm Springs is gorgeous in a retro, 70’s-80’s kind of way. So it worked for us. The mountains of Palm Springs provided an amazing scenic backdrop, as well as the modern architecture throughout the city. We chose the ACE hotel because it felt like a place we belonged, and a place we could have designed ourselves. This made it easy to decorate for the reception.

Bridal Brunch10. A last minute bride’s brunch at The Parker. The day before the wedding my best friend Julia organized an impromptu wedding day brunch for all my girlfriends. There was no pressure to attend, but every woman was invited if it worked into her schedule. It was so wonderful seeing so many important women in my life gathered together in one room and enjoying each other’s company. It also was a great distraction and time killer for the countdown to the ceremony.

9. We hired a wedding coordinator for the day of the wedding. When scrolling through budgets and looking for places to cut back, the thought of needing a coordinator often comes into question. Don’t question it. Don’t even think about it–just hire a wedding coordinator. At the very least hire a coordinator for the day of the wedding. It is worth every penny. April from the Bride and I was an excellent coordinator. She made sure the reception room was decorated to my liking. She handled all the awkward situations (like when the maintenance guys hung the lights the wrong way and the caterers served the wrong kind of squash). She made sure all of our cards and belongings were stowed away securely after being displayed. She kept us aware of our timeline, which was totally necessary because the day seems to go by super fast. Hours feel like seconds, and each second counts. And finally, after a long day of preparing and celebrating we arrived to our suite to find a full dessert spread. April had saved us a piece of every dessert we offered in the case we were too busy to try it, which was exactly what happened. So hire a coordinator, if only for the possibility of delicious desserts.

8. We took photos before the ceremony.  When the wedding coordinator suggested we take photos before the ceremony, I was hesitant. Like most people, my immediate concern was capturing the “moment” we first see each other. I worried it would be lost in the pre-show. But actually it wasn’t at all. In fact, the two of us were able to have the “moment” when we first saw each other in a much more intimate setting, our photographer and just the two of us. Then we were able to spend the next hour pretending we were models in a photo shoot, which was so fun and also a good way to shake some of the nerves. Since I had already seen Cory and had plenty of time to take him in, I was able to enjoy the wedding entrance in its entirety. I was able to look around and see my guests and see the flowers and make connections with loved ones, which in the end was what seemed most natural. Another good thing about taking photos early is that when the ceremony ended, we could join cocktail hour and hang out with our guests.

Riley & Cory

7. There was no bridal party.  Not having a bridal party might seemed to confuse most people at first. I think that’s because it simply feels like something you’re ‘supposed’ to do. The truth is we didn’t want to rank friends by placing them in a bridal party or not, plus our wedding was smaller (68 people). So in our eyes, if you were at the wedding you were very much a part of the wedding.
A benefit I didn’t expect from doing this was the intimate down time before the wedding ceremony began. Cory and I (and our St. Bernard Riley) sat in our suite, laughing and counting down the minutes to show time. It was such a great moment of privacy. Eventually I even kicked Cory out of the room so that I could put my birdcage veil on. I still wanted him to have some sort of surprise to see as I came own the aisle.

6. We hired a caricature artist during cocktail hour. Since we first started dating, Cory and I have had made a point to make time for caricature art. We like seeing how people see us as we see the world. Selfishly we wanted to mark our special day and add a wedding caricature to our collection, which we have turned into a giant coffee table book. Having the artist there also gave people something to do and laugh about while waiting for dinner. Not to mention it gave our guests something personal to take home. Win-win.Caricature

5. Our place settings and flower arrangements. I had given my florist the following instructions: absolutely no carnations or roses. Instead I wanted the natural flowers of the dessert that stay true to Palm Springs and I wanted them to look natural in the setting, as if just picked and places into vases. Cory and I had spent two Sundays at the Rose Bowl Flea market collecting vintage bottles to use as vases for the tables. My florist was quick to say he understood but there were no images he could give me of his vision, which left me bombarding him my ideas through Pinterest pages. It was difficult to relinquish control of any further instruction, but I’m glad I did. When the curtains opened and the reception space was revealed, Cory and I had the opportunity to see the set-up for the first time. The design wasn’t exactly what I had imagined; it was so much better. Small candles were lit in between an incredible display of billy balls and succulents and wild flowers. Our polaroid seating placements were aligned perfectly. I couldn’t help but squeal with excitement. As we walked in between two long dinner tables, hand in hand, Cory and I looked at each other and smiled. We had done it, or should I say our florist had done it.

4. We chose to have a sweet heart table.  I thought a sweet heart table stuffy at first. I wondered, How could we isolate ourselves from our guests after they traveled thousands of miles to see us? Then as we sat at our table during the reception it became clear it was the right decision. The separation from our guests gave us some private time to discuss the surroundings and also to eat without interruption. And instead of dedicating a time frame to speeches, we also offered an open mic during the dinner. One by one friends and family got up and spoke in between servings of family style-served dinner. It was like we killed two birds with one stone, we filled the down time of dinner without taking time away from the dance floor. The other great part about it was we had prime seats to see everything that was happening in the room.

3. My husband’s wedding day get up. A tuxedo seemed a little too formal for an outdoor wedding at the ACE in Palm Springs. So my husband found a pair of yellow pants on sale at J. Crew, and then found the rest of his attire on eBay. On the wedding my man wore a sample gingham seer sucker jacket, which he paid $70 for and then had tailored to fit later. He also wore a yellow and grey paisley bow tie, a yellow hankie, and yellow suspenders. Anyone of these garments by themselves could make a statement by itself, so together he made quite the impression on the guests. He looked dashing! Sitting next to him, I felt beautiful and like the luckiest girl in the world.

Helms Wedding

2. Our DJ surprised us with videos. I had given the DJ a music list of new wave 80’s and early 90’s rap, with the instructions not to play any typical wedding music. This meant no YMCA, no Shout, no Shuffles of any kind, and so on. And my DJ brought nailed it. What I didn’t expect was the collection of old music videos to go along with his set list. Cory and I had a favorite bar to dance at in Orlando called I-Bar that showcased old music with old videos, which was the feel we were trying to recreate. With the addition of the screen and videos set up right behind the DJ we felt right at home on the dance floor. Not to leave out that our friends have amazing dance moves.

1. Having all of our friends and family in one place.  Our ACE suite was located in the center of the hotel, luckily. Consequently it became the base of operations and our door constantly revolved with friends and family stopping by to say hello and hang out on our grande porch, fully equipped with a fireplace a ten-seater couch. Most guests had traveled into Palm Springs to attend our wedding, some as far as New York, Florida, San Francisco, San Diego, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri and Los Angeles. Never again will we be able to have all of our favorite people in one space, and that’s really what made our day feel special. Cory and I declare our love for each other everyday, but for the first time we were able to share this with our favorite people. That’s mostly what made our wedding, and mostly what made our wedding feel like a wedding. It always comes back to those you love. xoxo


8 Responses to “11 Things I Loved About My Wedding”

  1. Barbara Dizon says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jana. What a wonderful day the two of you had, so happy for you both.

  2. Cris Gladly says:

    Wishing you a lifetime of joy and love!!! So glad your special day felt truly special. 🙂



  3. Lucy Block says:

    You are an inspiration. What a lucky man Cory is. xo

  4. Mandy says:

    Sounds absolutely perfect!!! Congratulations!

  5. aldo says:

    very helpful indeed! i actually came across your wedding photos from some wedding blog, and then came across your blog sometime later (beautiful, btw). i will be getting married at the ace on black friday this year!
    any ace hotel-specific recommendations/suggestions?

    • Jana Waring says:

      The ACE is an amazing place to have a wedding. Just relax and have fun. We had the suite right by the pool, that put us in the middle of the resort. I’d try to get the same one if possible. And also visit all the local shops before the wedding if possible. We introduced ourselves and some of the store owners gave discounts to us and our wedding guests. Visit the Parker Gardens at some point. And also, take the time to remember every moment because it happens so fast. Like, really fast.

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Good luck!
      J. Helms

  6. aldo says:

    hi jana,
    the wedding did indeed go by too fast!! we were lucky enough to get a fireplace patio suite by the pool.
    in case you were curious about how our wedding turned out, here is a link to the photo set on flickr:

    • Jana Waring says:

      Aldo!!! So beautiful. Thanks for sharing! I loved seeing the pics and how much they were both alike and different than our own wedding. Wishing you both a lifetime of love and happiness. xoxo

Leave a Reply to Jana Waring