Program kits came from Michael's but we wrote the content and printed them ourselves. From what I remember, we had to hand feed each page into the printer, which was as awesome as it sounds.
Andrew asked me to marry him on Christmas in 2008. At the time, I was doing teacher training and we thought I would get a teaching job the next fall, so we set our wedding date for June 2010. A year and a half away. Andrew has three sisters as well as an extended "family" in New York who have actually hunted down other family friends who eloped as to not miss their big day. My parents are divorced and both remarried with huge extended families of their own. In large part because of this, but moreso because it's what I had always wanted, we planned for a larger wedding - about 100 people.
I like to plan and I like to have research in front of me. But I kind of hate doing the research. My husband will research all day if he needs to. I scoured the internet for possible venues, caterers, DJs, and more, and he presented me with info on pricing, location, etc. He might kill me for saying this, but he was a great wedding planner. When we signed contracts and had payments due, he was the one who knew when they were due and made sure we had everything done on time. I saw great ideas on the internet about wedding binders and index card boxes with all of your guests' info and he was the one who printed extra copies and reminded me to go buy the cards. It was a great opportunity to prepare for our life together - an ongoing project that we got to work on together.
We folded each box (Andrew was good at that) and I stamped the top with the Vegas sign stamp. Then we cut out pieces of paper for each box that read "To remind you that love is sweet, enjoy this truffle from Las Vegas' John Phillippe Patisserie in the Bellagio, where we got engaged. Thank you for celebrating our wedding with us!"
I always think that something better is going to come along so I am awful at making choices. He was the one who looked objectively at what I loved and convinced me to make a decision. Up until our engagement, we hadn't embarked on any big projects together. The whole thing was a learning experience in seeing how we each handled decision-making, stress, and problem solving. Andrew can be a panicker at times, but one of the few things I can say is that I don't let certain things bother me. We balanced each other out well.
Our biggest wedding project was making the DIY coasters that are now all over pinterest - get the bathroom tiles from Home Depot, cut scrapbook paper to fit, and then mod podge to the top and add cork to the bottom. We thought this would be easy and cheap. Um, no. We hated ourselves through cutting hundreds of pieces of paper with a wonky paper cutter, almost choking to death on toxic sealant when we had to improvise, and a house that smelled like mod podge for days. If I were on my own, I may have quit, but having someone to suffer with me and who was better at seeing how great the project was going to turn out helped push me through.
The coasters. Also served as escort cards. I punched each card and wrote each family or couple's name and we hand tied them with a ribbon that read "Eat, Drink and Be Married."
We went through highs and lows while wedding planning - none Earth-shattering, but they all seemed really big when you were planning the "most important day of your life." And we navigated them together. We had a fairly detailed wedding and we dreamed it up ourselves. We wanted to be reflected in everything and worked together on gluing invitations, printing programs, creating three types of favors, writing vows, picking music, and more. I wouldn't trade the things we learned about one another in those eighteen months for anything. And yes, you can definitely learn great lessons about your person just living life or planning a small wedding or without getting married at all. While it definitely isn't necessary to plan a larger wedding with your partner to be ready to marry them, I don't think it can hurt. Besides, you never know - he may end up being pretty good at it.