9 On Your Side's Ally Kraemer: 1 wedding decision made, 99 to go

9 On Your Side reporter Ally Kraemer got engaged in November. She will be writing about her wedding planning experiences for the next six months, until her wedding on Aug. 19. Expect to see the good, the bad and the bridezilla. (Just kidding!)

CINCINNATI -- I got engaged on Nov. 11, and most brides-to-be hit the ground running: It’s a mad dash to pick a location, book a photographer and find a dress.

I was excited, but there were so many more (more adorable) things going on in my life.

9 On Your Side reporter Ally Kraemer with niece Kylie and baby nephew Andy. (Provided)

My nephew, Andy, was born at the end of September. He was still squishy and snuggly, and I wanted to spend every moment with him and my niece, Kylie. Also, Thanksgiving was right around the corner, Kylie was turning 3, and then Christmas madness would begin.

Once the holidays were over, though, wedding planning moved into full swing.

Picking a location ...

No, I haven’t been dreaming of my wedding day since I was a little girl. And no, I didn’t have a Pinterest board full of dresses and centerpieces. I was basically clueless when it came to planning. All I knew for sure was that I wanted a warm-weather wedding; the actual date isn’t significant to me.

I looked at venues in Cincinnati, as well as Columbus, where my fiance, Jake, and I went to college. I looked in Charleston, South Carolina, which is wildly expensive, and Hilton Head (equally expensive). We looked at Norris Lake, Tennessee, because we love boating and wakeboarding, but that’s not really a reason to pick a wedding location! We even looked at Vegas -- more than once.

Eloping in Vegas looked like a more promising option every day. We had a small group of friends that we thought would travel for it, and our parents would definitely come. But then I thought of my sweet little niece and nephew. Vegas is for babes, not babies, and having them at the wedding is really important to me. So we decided to have a local wedding.

… And a venue

There are a million and one places to get married. My only requirement: It has to be inside. I’ve been to too many weddings that were outside in 100-degree heat, and I’m not melting on my wedding day. Ask my mom (or my photographer Dwayne Slavey): I get cranky in the heat.

The 20th Century Theater was an easy first choice. Before his passing, Jake’s dad was once a partner in the business, and the current owner is a good family friend. Jake’s sister, Bree, got married there, and it has special memories. But the 20th Century is literally booked every weekend until Thanksgiving (which is the Ohio State vs. Michigan game), and I didn’t want to wait another year.

We looked at The Phoenix and really fell in love. The space is intimate and just felt right. The wedding coordinator, Laura, is amazing; it’s a one-stop shop at The Phoenix, and they really will help plan everything. The Phoenix had only one summer Saturday open, so I pulled the trigger and couldn’t feel more at ease. That was enough decision-making for a while.

More weddings

We have six friends getting married this year. It’s a calendar full of wedding showers, rehearsal dinners and dress fittings. But there’s one wedding that stands above the rest -- and no, it’s not mine!

My fiance’s mom, Amy, is getting married, too! Amy has been engaged for a little more than a year. But the wedding is in April, and it’s crunch time.

Mason jar vases. (Provided)

We hosted a wedding shower last weekend and made a lot of the decorations:

Mason jars: I “borrowed” these Mason jars from my mom. She uses them to make homemade salsa (YUM) and has extras. The burlap came from Hobby Lobby. (Wait for it to go 50 percent off.) The lace is just another layer of ribbon, and the big flowers are from Michaels. My glue gun got a workout.

Silverware rolls: This is an easy way to make plastic silverware a little more classy. You can even buy the silver-colored stuff at the Dollar Tree, four sets for $1. A little pop of color and a ribbon, and you’re set.

Veil wreath: I’ve seen these on Pinterest and Etsy, and they can run $70-$100. Mine is less than $30. My mom helped me secure the flowers; I didn’t know you couldn’t just stick them in and call it a day.

Veil wreath. (Provided)

Here’s what you need:

  • Four artificial flowers ($16 at Michaels)
  • One large bow ($4 at Hobby Lobby)
  • Vine wreath ($2.50 at Michaels)
  • Tulle (I buy it by the giant spool at Hobby Lobby, $5)

What’s next?

Next week I’ll dive into my favorite Pinterest finds, the wedding books I find most helpful and how I’m getting organized. I’m always looking for advice! If you have some to share, send me an email at ally.kraemer@wcpo.com.

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