Sarah Elizabeth Huff & Gregory Stephan Szczepanik
Greg and Sarah hosted an adorable DIY wedding with sweet pops of vibrant blue and chic wedding attire we simply can’t get enough of.
Tell about your love story!
You can see the proposal pictures on the blog, but the way we met is really neat. The weekend after I graduated from Lee University, home of our beautiful wedding chapel, I went to a music festival hosted by my favorite band, 311. I met Greg at the festival in Live Oak, Florida. We hit it off so well that, after he made the 24-hour drive back to Missouri where he is from, he then got on a plane and came to spend the rest of his vacation with me. He met my parents then, too. We spent the next two years in a long-distance relationship, spending only 17% of the year together at most. He popped the question during one of my visits to see him. It was New Years of 2013, and he had the band play the song my dad used to sing for me as a little girl, “Sara Smiles,” and asked me in the photo booth since my mom wanted pictures. It was so sad to leave after that and have to plan a wedding apart from each other, but the distance made us stronger, and I am certain we are the perfect fit!
Describe your wedding planning process.
I planed the majority of it myself. I started with an idea of what I wanted and started collecting things, like wine bottles from friends and wedding venue trash cans! The Pink Bride helped me get $150 off my wedding dress from the bridal show! That was a huge help as that paid for my veil, so thank you! The best decision(s) I made were my choice of vendors. Everyone I chose was so caring and easy to work with and had a passion for what he or she did. But the BEST decision by far was hiring Shaun Cox. She is such a great wedding coordinator/planner for the DIY Bride. As detail-oriented and controlling as I am about planning, I had 100% confidence in handing over the reins, and she went above and beyond what I expected.
What was your wedding day budget (and for how many guests)?
Our budget was $17,000 for 135 guests, excluding the honeymoon. I saved by being thrifty with wine bottle centerpieces and hand-making a lot of elements in the wedding. I saved on invitations by doing them through Vistaprint and using a home printer for calligraphy. I also made my own Save the Date magnets, which cost me about .57 a piece versus $2.99, and when you send out 200, that adds up quickly. My splurge was the photographer – Sara Renee Photography. But, when you see my pictures, you will 100% understand why. Even though it is a splurge to me, Sara Renee does more, spends more time, and gives you more access than comparable photographers in the same price range. She is such a passionate photographer and doesn’t capture pictures; she captures moments. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for the memories she captured for me. I started saving for her before I even met Greg! It was the first deposit I made, and it felt wonderful!
Recap your big day for us.
My day was absolutely perfect and nearly stress-free. Everything came together so beautifully, and I have Shaun Cox of A DIY Affair to thank for that in terms of coordination and set up. My mom and grandmother spent hours making things on my Pinterest board and implementing special things I wanted (like 311 candles at the ceremony). I remember distinctly the first moment I cried. The flowers from Isbill Florist had arrived, and I missed saying hi to the florist, but she did something so special for me. I had mentioned in our consult that I had wanted to do something special for my bridesmaids so they knew that I valued them individually. I wanted baby’s breath bouquets, but wanted to have a single stem of each of their favorite flower in it. It was going to be way over budget since I had to buy a dozen of each flower, and they were all different. It was the one thing I wanted that I was sad wasn’t going to happen, but on my daddy’s minister’s budget some things had to be cut. BUT the florist did it anyway. When I saw that she had written down each of my 7 maids’ favorite flower and made sure to have them all and make the 7 distinct bouquets, I lost it in tears. It was such a sweet gesture and a detail that meant a lot to me. My dad and I waiting on the stairs is one of the most memorable moments. Nothing prepares you for the emotion of being given away by your daddy and realizing you only have moments left for your dad to be the most important man in your life before you make vows to be a wife and partner, forsaking all others. I made Greg wait for a while before I let them open the doors, and then I told my dad to walk slow. I think that is my most cherished moment. One of the funniest moments of the night is when my matron of honor rapped her own version of ‘Yeah’ by Usher as her speech at my reception.
What about the details?
I wanted a classic, soft, and light wedding with individual touches that involved elements of Greg and me as individuals, but also as a couple. Having God incorporated sweetly was of high importance as he is the reason we met. I tried to keep things naturally pretty, not adding too much fluff (as I like to call it). I also wanted to make the people who were a part of the event feel special as many of them traveled more than 10 hours to be there. My mom was a HUGE factor in pulling off the details. She wrote down verbatim what I wanted and let people know really quickly if that wasn’t the way I wanted things. I could not have done it without her. My matron of honor Jill made the sash I was wearing. She also made the comb I wore in my hair once the veil came out, but it was originally my mom’s that she wore for her and my dad’s 25th vow renewal ceremony this past February.
What’s the best advice you can give a bride and groom planning their wedding?
Don’t forget about wedding insurance, and hire a coordinator! If you are going to spend a year of your life and half a year’s salary or more planning a wedding, don’t cut corners on the coordination of the event. People partied at my wedding until they made us close the doors because the event was executed well. I have been to weddings where people spent lots of money on food and music, but didn’t get someone to coordinate, and after the cake, people left. Don’t let your money go to waste at the reception by not having someone help entice your guests to stay for the party. It is your day – make it last, and make it count. Also, use Miss Now Mrs. Name-changing service online. SUCH a wonderful tool and makes life so seamless.
What do you look forward to most as Mr. & Mrs.?
After being long distance the entire length of our relationship, what I most look forward to as Mr. and Mrs. is sharing a continuous life together. Being able to say goodbye for only a few hours versus several months is something I never want to take for granted. I really look forward to getting to know each other on an in-person level – habits, gestures, etc.
What has surprised you most during the first few months of marriage?
How easy it has been to share a space with my husband, but how hard it is to share space with our dog! Our miniature schnauzer Brewer has spent his whole life with just Greg, and now he doesn’t want to give up his territory. Who knew my biggest obstacle would be the dog!
Photographer: Sara Renee Photography
Wedding Planner: Shaun Cox, A DIY Affair
Caterer: Impressions Catering, Chef Greg
Florist: Isbill Florist
Cake: Sifted Bakery
Invitations & Calligraphy: Vistaprint
Jewelry: Pearls were my mother-in-law’s mother’s, Sapphire and diamond earrings were a gift from a friend, pearl bracelet was a gift from my mom.
Bridal Shop (Gown): David’s Bridal, Vera Wang White Collection
Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse, Vera Wang Collection
Bridal Party Attire: JCrew for the Ladies; Men’s Wearhouse for the men
Ceremony Location: Lee University Chapel
Reception Location: Museum Center at 5ive Points
Transportation: My Grandfather’s ‘53 Chevy, driven by my Uncle Kraig
Videographer: Todd Lear
Music/Entertainment: Chris Bond, B.C. Entertainment
Rentals and Decor: Bradley Rental’s Dancefloor; my mom and family made everything else.
Officiate/ Minister: Dr. Steven Granger
Photo booth: Say Cheez Photo Booth, Amber
Hair and Makeup: Rhonda Snyder of Uniquely U