Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Two Sisters Getting Married the Same Summer: A Guest Post from Martha of Romancing Reilly

My twin sister is getting married two months after I did, so when I found out that Martha of Romancing Reilly got married the same summer as her sister too (and also had a joint shower), I begged her to fill me in on what to expect. She replied with this fabulous post, which she somehow manged to finish just days after giving birth to her first baby—the girl might just be Superwoman! Thank you, Martha, for the great post!

I was honored when Tess asked me to do a guest post for her while she enjoys what will be some of the most memorable days of her life -- her honeymoon!

As you well know being a reader of Little House in Chicago, Tess and her sister, Lillian, have planned their weddings only a few months apart.  This is something Tess and I talked about since this same occurrence happened in my life last year when my older sister, Elizabeth, was wed in May and I in July.

Furthermore, two dear childhood friends of mine (who are sisters) also got married simply months apart -- May and October.  Since this appears to be a more common occurrence than might be expected, I'm going to share with you some thoughts on my experience.

Myself (left) and Elizabeth (right) on her wedding day.
Now I can't lie and say that there weren't lots of emotions going into planning my wedding so closely to my sister's, and I know she agrees with me on this.  In fact, let's be honest here -- there was a lot of tension for a while.  However, love conquers all things (and so does the excitement of wedding planning).
L to R: Elizabeth, myself, Jacob (my man), Ryan (Elizabeth's man)
We both got married in our childhood hometown of Pensacola, Florida, but this ended up having a lot of benefits for wedding planning purposes.  Though we ended up using different churches, different reception sites, and different caterers, we were able to share a lot of helpful information.  (Or maybe I got the better end of the deal since I got to use lots of Elizabeth's advice and benefited from lots of her wedding work.  That girl knows how to get stuff done.)

Sister Shower

You know that awkwardness of being watched while you open presents?  When you start running out of original things to say after each gift, no matter how sincerely grateful you are?  Well, having a double-shower definitely helps alleviate some of that awkwardness.  Double weddings take a very special kind of person, me thinks, but a double shower can be tons of fun.

And the toilet paper wedding garb?  Some Southern tradition, apparently.

Making Your Wedding Easier

We ended up being able to save money on basic, shared items such as table clothes.  If you rent them you usually end up dishing out around $12 per table.  This adds up really fast.  However, if you buy them you can usually find them for around $8 or $10.  Divide that by two weddings and suddenly the tablecloths only cost you $4 or $5.  On top of that, you can sell them when you're done, thus making the cost even less.

We did use the same business for bar tending and beer and wine.  This also works in your favor because a company really likes a family that brings two weddings in one year to them for business.  The event planner was fantastic to work with, and having shared notes with my sister and brother-in-law on how they managed things made our wedding planning a lot less stressful.

Elizabeth and I also discussed the possibility of doing some similar buying and sharing for glassware; however, Elizabeth's caterer ended up providing the needed glasses for beverages.  Jacob and I did end up opting to go the buy, use, and sell later route and are glad we did.  We purchased beer and wine glasses from Dollar Tree (of all places!) and were able to sell them online and make some of the money back, thus making the cost less than what it would have cost us to rent them.

Two different styles ...

Elizabeth's (left) and Martha's (right)

Elizabeth did a lot of glass and bottle collecting for her centerpieces and was able to get a beautiful variety of centerpieces ranging from antique vases to mason jars to wine bottles.  I tend to be rather lazy and wanted to be able to crank out all the centerpieces quickly, so I envisioned a centerpiece needing wine bottles only.  Though I worked on collecting quite a few myself, I was able to also share in Elizabeth's collecting efforts.  She went for more of the blue glassware that was donated and I opted for the green, thus another win-win situation.

Furthermore, though we obviously couldn't share flowers, I was able to benefit greatly from Elizabeth's advice on the best place for flowers.  Quick and simple -- Sam's Club.  The prices were amazing and comparable (if not cheaper) than a wholesale florist, and the blossoms for both weddings were beautiful.  Elizabeth ordered hundreds of various colors of roses which made beautiful bouquets and centerpieces.  I calculated how many hydrangeas I would need for the table centerpieces and could not have been happier with how they opened up.

(My bridal bouquet and Jacob's boutonni√®re are a funny story.  I only wanted a bouquet to carry which would ultimately become the flowers I presented to Our Blessed Mother.  The day before the wedding Jacob and I realized we hadn't arranged for these flowers so we drove to a downtown florist and spoke to the wedding planner.  Her first question, upon hearing that the wedding was the next day and that we only wanted one bouquet and boutonniere was, "Are you getting married by the Justice of the Peace?"  Long story short, she took us into the flower storeroom and let us pick out the blossoms we wanted.  Then we waited for about twenty minutes while she arranged them into what would become our bridal bouquet and boutonniere.  Amusing, eh?)

Two different churches but two beautiful masses...

Neither Elizabeth nor I ended up getting married in what was our childhood parish.  Elizabeth's husband, Ryan, was a local boy and had grown up in the parish of St. Paul's (the beautiful church on the left), and for several reasons they decided to have their wedding mass celebrated there.

I attribute much of the role my faith plays in my life to my high school years when I began driving myself and attending the daily mass at the church, St. Michael's.  It was a quiet but pivotal time in my life when I realized that it was my choice to pursue my faith or not.  I also remember receiving a very clear sign while kneeling in the pews of that church that my vocation was to marriage.  Ever since then I knew I wanted to get married there, and so I did.

Two different reception sites but two awesome parties ...

Growing up in Florida you have to love the water, and of course you want your wedding reception as close as possible to it.  Elizabeth and Ryan found a reception site with the most beautiful view of the bay only a few minutes away from the church where their mass was celebrated.  Much of Ryan's large family and his many friends were located on the East side of town, which made both the church and the reception sites ideal for them.

The location of St. Michael's was significant for me since I had spent much of my childhood in the downtown area where I was extremely involved in dancing and theatre.  Our reception site was located only a few blocks South of the church which, again, was ideal for many of our guests were out of town and unfamiliar with the area.

As it turned out, the lodging, church, and reception were all located on the same street so it was easy for our out-of-town guests to find their ways around.  Our reception site was on an inlet just off the bay, and the clanking of sails and water lapping against the dock was the perfect backdrop for the girl whose license plate used to say, "I'd Rather Be Sailing."

Our bridal parties, large and small ...

Elizabeth and Ryan had the most beautiful bridal party and a party it was:
Elizabeth and Ryan's
I had always felt overwhelmed by the idea of planning and coordinating bridesmaids and groomsmen and felt inspired by my parents' own simple bridal party -- a maid of honor and a best man.
My BFF, Molly, and Jacob's best friend (and my brother), John.
Jacob's and mine
But always a family event ...

Here's where I really lucked out, and this is where sisters simultaneously planning weddings definitely need to coordinate -- guest lists.  Elizabeth and I were able to share information on names, family sizes, addresses, etc. as well as cross check to make sure important relatives and friends weren't accidentally left off either of our invite lists.
The Henderson ladies at Elizabeth's wedding
The Henderson ladies at my wedding
Finally, don't forget the perks of being able to navigate the legal system with a sister and friend as you figure out the hoops and forms you have to jump through and sign in order to get those marriage licenses.
Planning a wedding is never a walk in the park, and it's always an emotional time -- both good and bad.  However, there are many blessings to being able to share the experience with someone close to you, and I'm so glad my sister and I were able to do so together.
All the luck to future brides out there, and again -- a warm and heartfelt congratulations to Tess and Frank as they begin their life together!


  1. Tess, I'm so glad I found your sight through Martha! Congratulations on your wedding and enjoy your honeymoon! I'll be pouring over your posts today... :)

    Martha, yall are incredible! I cannot even imagine two weddings in one summer and you pulled it off so beautifully! Thanks for sharing insight!

  2. Both were such stunning weddings!

  3. Both weddings were beautiful and I was happy to be a part of them!!

  4. Thanks Tess for sharing Martha's story!! I can't tell you how I love hearing everyone's wedding advice!! Especially now that my fiancé and I are planning our own wedding!! Thank you both!! I've found a new blog to check out now too!!


  5. Martha graciously forgot to mention what a b**** I was while we were fighting over calendar spots for our wedding dates. But somehow we started talking again and put it behind us.

    And let's face it: Women and sisters are fiercely competitive. What really helped us was how differently we set our respective wedding styles. Different churches, different venues, different food--it all helped make each wedding unique and enjoyable in its own way. "Comparison is the thief of joy."

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