Sarah Maren Photographers

The Couple: Christine & Tim

Wedding Date: October 20, 2012

Photography by Sarah Maren Photographers

Tell us a little about you and your beloved: Tim and I have been together since 2005. We got engaged in 2010 at Point Reyes National Beach while taking our daughter Dylan, then 4 months old, for her first trip to a beach.

We planned on a long engagement so that Dylan would be old enough to be our flower girl, so we set a wedding date for October of 2012. Then the following summer, of 2011, Tim got word that he would be activated for an 11 month deployment, leaving that November. He is a medic in the Navy Reserves and had been active duty as a medic for 5 years before we met.

So, since we only had a few short months until he would be going we decided to quickly plan a small ceremony and dinner in the Lake Tahoe area for the same date that we had originally planned to get married on in 2012.

That way, when Tim got back we could host our “wedding” on our one year anniversary. We just didn’t want to wait to be officially married since we had a child together and God-forbid something should happen to him on the deployment. Thankfully (and obviously) he made it back safe and sound!

We invited only immediate family and just 2 friends each to the Lake Tahoe ceremony. My dad walked me down the aisle to marry Tim on Thursday October 20, 2011, we took the weekend off to go to Sonoma together, and by November 7th Tim was gone.

Then I went into planning mode! Tim got home in the nick of time on Saturday, October 13th! Phew!! I was really sweating because they were supposed to have been back by the end of September.

What was the most amazing part of your day? Our daughter Dylan was 2 1/2 years old at the time (you can imagine her patience level). I promised her that if she walked really well with me over the bridge leading to the aisle that as soon as we got to top of the aisle where she could see daddy that she could run ahead of me to him. The plan was for Dylan to walk with me most of the way down the aisle and then for my dad to meet me at the end of the aisle to “give me away” to Tim. Since we were really already married we weren’t as concerned with tradition on this one.

When we got the top of the aisle Dylan yelled, “DADDY!!!” at the top of her lungs and then bolted down the aisle to be with him! It was the sweetest moment, everyone burst out laughing, and Sarah and Dustin caught it beautifully! Needless to say, I walked myself down the rest of the aisle until my dad met me at the end. It was perfect!

What else would you like to share about your big day? We decided to have Tim’s brother-in-law Jason and a good friend of mine, Chelsea, sing a live duet for our first dance. They did such an amazing job and it really made our first dance feel cozy and personal. It’s the one moment of the night that I really wish I had gotten a videographer for.

Also, the whole wedding was really a family affair (see below in the decor section for more). Since Tim was deployed for ALL of the planning everyone really rallied around me and helped make this day really special for both of us!

Ceremony and Reception Site: Nuts & Bolts Ranch

Officiant: Pastor Dean Roberts

Photographer: Sarah Maren Photographers

Caterer and Dessert Table: Buckhorn Catering

Flowers: Trader Joe’s

Favors: “Love” Scripture 1 Corinthians 13 magnet from Zazzle

Bridal Attire: Gown from David’s Bridal. Belt from Macy’s. Shoes from Kohl’s.

Groom’s Attire: Shirt from Macy’s. Pants from Volcom. Tie from Brooks Brothers. Suspenders from Sanpete Spur & Silver Western Store. Shoes from Aldo.

Rings: DeLuna Jewelers

Bridesmaids’ Attire: All over the place… Forever 21, Macy’s and Etsy. I just told the girls the color palette and the look and feel I was going for and then they all just shopped for their own spin on it. We texted pictures back and forth to each other as we saw things we thought looked good until everyone had their dresses picked out. We never actually saw all their dresses next to each other until the day of the wedding, just because all of our schedules are so crazy and some of us live in Sacramento while others live in Vacaville. Thankfully my girls all have great taste and they were able to see my vision really well while they shopped!

Flower Girl Attire: Dress from Guess Kids. Boots from Target. Headband from Etsy.

Hair: Cassar Kelley Designs

Make-up: DIY. I have my own wedding and event makeup artistry business, Christine Marie Makeup Artistry.

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas and Zazzle

Signage: Wooden signs by Designs by Brandi Moss. Chalkboards DIY.

DJ/Entertainment/Band: Morning Star Entertainment

Photo Booth: Sarah Maren Photographers provided a “photo shot spot” for us! My Matron of Honor and I hand painted a burlap curtain for the backdrop using a damask stencil I found online. Tim and I provided a favorite frame from our home as a prop and Sarah provided the rest!

Lighting: Tim hung the market lights and chandelier himself with the help of my dad and his groomsmen.

Décor Rentals: No rentals, all decor was DIY.

My friends and family saved pickle and jam jars for me over the course of 8 months. My mom cut all the burlap runners for the tables by hand. My step mom put all the brown sugar tea light candle jars together, I made the large chalkboards out of old frames and my Maid of Honor wrote them all out for me. Tim’s mom loaned us the artsy looking easel for the seating arrangement chalkboard. The heart and arrow on the bar is from a local antique shop, it’s made from an old wine barrel band. The “gift table” cart belongs to the ranch and the old ladder and birdcage “card box” on it are from the same local shop as the heart and arrow decoration. The table number chalkboards and “thank you” chalkboards are from Etsy. My Maid of Honor did all the writing for those as well. We borrowed the wooden cross for the altar from our church. Literally, just about everything was DIY!

Furniture Rentals: Chairs from America’s Party Rental. The venue provided the dinner tables and the wine barrels for cocktail tables.

Linen Rentals: Buckhorn Catering

Lounge Furniture Rentals: Vintage couch from Craigslist. I searched for months to find the perfect one! Now the ranch has it in their office as a souvenir of our big day. But, I might have to get that back someday if we ever move into a place with more space for it!

Honeymoon Location: Grand Palladium Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Any other of your wedding vendor(s) you’d like to call out? I hired a day-of coordinator to help keep us all organized throughout the day. This was fabulously helpful! Definitely do this, even if everything leading up to your big day is DIY. For me, it was so great to have someone else fielding any and all phone calls so I could just enjoy getting ready with my girls.

I also hired a trusted friend as a baby-sitter to take care of Dylan during the day so that no one in the family or bridal party had to miss out on girl time getting ready. The sitter and Dylan hung out with us some of the day and other times they went off on their own, it allowed Dylan to still have a fun day while we all got ready.

First Dance Song: “You’re Enough” by Patrick Park (performed live by Jason Hafer and Chelsea Solis)

Any advice you’d give to our readers who are planning their weddings right now? Make it completely you two! Don’t worry too much if people coming to your wedding will “get it”. Do what makes you both shine!

Don’t get caught up in all the unsolicited advice that will surely come your way, but also don’t be afraid to take the advice sometimes too. If you love the idea and you hadn’t thought of it yet then roll with it, don’t dismiss great ideas just because they weren’t yours.

And, don’t be afraid to “borrow” ideas that you see at other people’s weddings. Chances are they’ll be flattered that you did (if they even notice that you did it). Let’s face it… most weddings these days are mixes and matches of ideas from other ones. So don’t try to reinvent the wheel, just make it your own!

Oh and be nice to your bridal party. Treat them to getting their nails done or send them flowers at work. I mean, c’mon- it’s a big commitment helping someone plan a wedding!

Cheers and congrats!

Anything that you would have done differently if you were given the chance? I would have made transportation and hotel accommodations more of a priority. There are no hotels in Winters so the closest places to stay were all 30 minutes or more away. But even so, I wish I’d taken care of providing some sort of transportation because I noticed people were pretty reserved about cutting very loose on the dance floor (if ya know what I mean), since they knew they had to drive. Still an amazing and fun night, but I would have loved to have had a more lively party after dinner was over.

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Social Media Maven, Aimee Carroll.

Photos courtesy of and copyright Sarah Maren Photographers.

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