How To Have A Very Memphis Wedding (Guest Post)
Ed. Note: I get lots of questions about how to host “Memphis-y” events. Think birthday parties, weddings, meetings, and more. This is why, when I saw that my friends Elizabeth Cawein and Justin Entzminger’s wedding was chock-full of creative Bluff City inspired touches, I was happy to turn the blog over to Elizabeth for this guest post to share her tips and tricks.
All photos by Javen Photography, used with permission.
Congratulations! If you’re reading this post, you’re probably recently engaged and getting ready to plan nuptials that are so #Memphis that they once polished off a few Gibson’s Donuts with Jerry “The King” Lawler after watching a Tigers victory over soul burgers at Earnestine & Hazel’s.
(And if you’re not engaged just yet, save this one to your private “Wedding” Pinterest board. Your secret is safe with me.)
Our desire to plan a Memphis-themed wedding was influenced fairy equally by our desire to have a celebration that reflected our personalities and our desire (need) to keep the festivities within budget. Lucky for us, Memphis is synonymous with DIY. We looked for all the ways we could add funky, creative touches to our day that reflected that spirit and saved us cash – here are a few tips to help you do the same.
For The Record
My mom is a Division 1 thrifter, so once I stole this awesome idea from Pinterest it was only a matter of weeks before we had enough LPs and 45s to fill a jukebox, all for under $10 or so. For the centerpieces, we chose the 45s that had songs we connected to most – either because they were Memphis tunes (many were) or because they were love songs or favorite artists. All we did was dust them off and pair them with a small votive candle to create the centerpieces for our bistro-height tables.
For our guestbook, we spray painted LPs with a black gloss paint and picked up a pack of silver Sharpies. Done! We’re framing the signed records in square LP frames to hang in our home. It was so easy, so cheap and such a cool touch that will also make an art piece that I’ll actually want to look at years from now.
All heart, grit, grind
I knew for a while before we got engaged that when the day came, I wanted our wedding to feature lowkey Grizzlies colors: midnight blue, Beale Street blue and yellow. (Important point of self-reflection: are they really “lowkey” Grizz colors if you point out to every living human that your wedding colors are Grizz colors? Table this for later.)
In the end, I was thrilled with the execution. It started with our save the dates and invitations, and on the big day the bridal party wore navy blue, which we accented with light blue hydrangeas and yellow tulips. The color theme kept going on the dining tables, bistro tables and in little touches throughout the venue.
My personal favorite execution and another budget top tip? These wine bottles, spray painted with midnight blue matte paint, which we used with light blue candles on centerpieces at our dining tables and as vases for yellow flower arrangements around the venue.
Playing Our Favor-ites
Instead of a traditional wedding favor, we opted to put together a mixtape featuring some of our favorite love songs and songs that had been meaningful to us throughout our relationship. We used Dropcards.com, and 100 cards cost us just $150. At $1.50 per guest, it was a steal for a super personal favor that we also really enjoyed curating together.
That Memphis Beat
What could be more important at your Memphis wedding than music? We probably spent more time workshopping music selections for our big day than on any other piece of the event, and it was hands down the most fun part of planning a wedding.
Ultimately we decided to forego hiring a DJ because we knew we’d be so picky and micro-manage-y that the DJ would come to hate us and might play “Puppy Love” as a reception slow jam just to spite us. It would not be unwarranted spite. So instead, we opted to program the reception ourselves (Spotify premium to the rescue!) and we spent our music budget hiring a band to play the cocktail hour after our ceremony.
For that, we knew just what we wanted: Booker T. & The MGs cover band extraordinaires, The MDs. They played “Green Onions” as our wedding party re-entered the reception and closed on “Time is Tight.” It’s up there with my highlights of the entire day, somewhere behind the part where we actually got married.
Keepin’ it budget (and Memphis!) pro tip: If live music is important to you, as it was to us, you can sometimes save a bit by hiring a smaller band for a cocktail hour, rather than a full band for the entire reception. Memphis has some epic and amazing wedding bands who can get crunk with the hits all night long – but don’t forget any band can be your wedding band!
Be like Alton Brown and Find Some Good (Memphis) Eats
Y’all, feeding people at a wedding is expensive. Menu planning is the perfect example of where our Memphis theme helped us execute something that saved us cash money, too. We knew we would have 100 or so of our closest friends and family trapped in a room, ready to eat whatever we served them – so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to evangelize for some of our favorite places.
We split our total RSVP count and placed catering orders with Gus’s Fried Chicken and Germantown Commissary – we even served Commissary’s banana pudding instead of wedding cake. Keepin’ it within budget top tip: banana pudding is a lot cheaper than wedding cake. If you’re not married (HA!) to the idea of smashing cake in each other’s faces on your big day (it was a hard pass for us, but to each their own), it’s a great option. Plus, as bizarre as this may sound, banana pudding has really been there for us since early in our relationship.
If you decide to cater with Gus’s, be aware that over a certain amount of people they’ll need to come and fry the chicken onsite. There’s a small set up fee, but please for a moment imagine your guests arriving to the wafting aromas of fresh fried chicken. BRB, going to get a two-piece meal and some white bread.
But wait – what are you going to wash it down with? Because our venue allowed us to bring in our own booze (ahem, keepin’ it within budget TOP TIP right here), we got kegs from Memphis Made and Ghost River. Y’all knew we had these folks drinking local!
That Memphis DIY spirit
We decided to DIY our photo booth for budget reasons, but I’ll be honest – the only thing I wish we could’ve done that we didn’t is hire the Amurica trailer. Some of our favorite photos are in the trailer (one is in fact framed and on our mantel) but we had to find the spots where we could cut corners, and since music (and a stocked bar) were high priorities, we decided that this needed to be one of them. I have seen plenty of other couples go this route, though, and I don’t have to tell you how fun, cool and Memphis it is.
If you are going the DIY route on your photo booth, may I suggest throwing in some growl towels and a Grizz jersey or two? Get the basics covered with a pre-fab photo booth kit. I ordered two on Amazon (one with masks and the like, one with signs that had funny sayings) for a grand total of around $50.
It’s About You and Your B-A-B-Y
Ultimately, the biggest factor that allowed us to plan a relatively stress free and super personalized wedding is that we tried at all times to remember two things: this wedding is about us and celebrating our love; and no matter what the centerpieces look like or who caters, at the end of the day we were going to be married and that was all that mattered. As someone smart once told me: keep the main thing, the main thing.
Other #Memphis stuff we wanted to do but for budget or other reasons decided not to do, but have seen done at friends’ weddings and thought was awesome, in no particular order:
- Hire the awesome Tad from American Dream Safari to pick you up as you exit the wedding in his Cadillac
- Forego wedding cake for a tower of Gibson’s Donuts
- Do a signature cocktail with a Memphis-made liquor like Old Dominick
- Print custom growl towels and lay them on seats for your guests
Now go forth and plan! Good luck, go Grizzlies and be sure to share your best DIY Memphis wedding ideas in the comments!
Again, special thanks to Elizabeth for providing this guest post for y’all, and for her and Justin for sharing their special day with Memphis. The venue for the wedding was the Memphis Music Mansion.
You can check out the organization that Elizabeth founded, Music Export Memphis, on their website, Facebook, or Twitter. Music Export Memphis supports local artists and shares our city and our music with the world.