Rachel, a former editor at O Magazine and her husband, an engineer at General Electric, got such great feedback on their DIY "Wedding Facebooks" at their own wedding, that now they are making it possible for you to have one too!
They launched guesterly, the first and only photobook about your guests! It includes photos and fun bios about your wedding guests and is a great way for people to get to know each other before the wedding even starts! How cool is that? Not only are they doing a Giveaway this Thursday, but you guys now get an intimate look at the couple behind the breakthrough guesterly brand.
Their I Guess I Do moments include some unwanted weather and forgotten bouquets, but as you can tell from their pictures, nothing was going to rain on their parade! Enjoy Rachel's story in her own words below!
I’ll admit it: within a week of getting engaged, I told my (now) husband Lorne that I wanted to discuss our “wedding mission statement.” Oh, yes. It was a bit cheesy, but that one conversation spent envisioning how we wanted our wedding to feel—for both us and our guests— made the next nine months so much easier. We ended up coming up with one word that would guide every step of our planning: Inclusive. We’re both big “people people” and love hosting dinner parties, introducing new friends, and being a part of close-knit communities. For our wedding, we wanted to give everyone that feeling of “starting at the third day”—being a beloved part of a community of great people. It was a great filter for everything we did: if it helped create that inclusive vibe, it was important. If it didn’t, we could make it low priority!
Inclusivity was the most important goal of our wedding, but it was going to be a challenge: Not only had we grown up and gone to school on opposite sides of the country, but Lorne and I didn’t even live in the same city—meaning both our family and friend groups were as far-flung and disparate as possible. People would be coming in from all over the country and we wanted each and every guest to feel like they were part of the wedding inner circle. (So we skipped things like a traditional wedding party and each asked our closest friend/family member to hang out with us all day.)
Since it was going to be a destination wedding by default, we next decided to make it easy for everyone to stay for more than a night or two. Every year, my whole extended family of 40+ people converges in the little town of Cape May, New Jersey, for a beach vacation. We’ve been doing it since I was little, and it seemed a natural fit to piggyback our celebration on what was already the best week of the year. After trying to find an old Victorian house to rent for the week (and host the wedding at), I finally headed to the iconic Congress Hall Hotel on a lark. I was only six months out from our ideal wedding date, and it turned out that they had one day left in their calendar: the exact night we wanted. And it turns out that the night, a Sunday, was a price we could afford (unlike Saturday!). Since most of our guests were talking about staying into the week, it was a no-brainer.
Once we lucked out with Congress Hall, everything else fell into place. I loved that the super-saturated colorful walls meant that I could take the lazy girl’s path to decorating, and let the rooms speak for themselves. Flowers, dresses, ties, etc. weren’t under the category of “inclusive” so we could make fast, easy decisions on them. For example, we went all-in with the standard things available at Congress Hall: everything from their trademark china dishes to their teal starfish cake. The majority of the details came together in just a few hours. Even the food was simple (even though my day job as a food editor at O, the Oprah Magazine would suggest otherwise!): for a hot summer day at the beach, we thought that crab cakes, thick-cut French fries, and lots of freshly sliced Jersey tomatoes would be easy, breezy, and delicious.
Then it was happening: kicking the weekend off with a beach side welcome barbeque that everyone was invited to (I Guess I Do moment—we skipped the fancy venue and food and instead focused on having everyone!); a sunrise beach run that drew friends and family from ages 6 to 76; my uncle playing the accordion as I walked down the aisle; ceremony readings from both the Catholic and Jewish sides of our families; roles for the majority of our 30+ cousins in the ceremony; singing our boisterous family grace before dinner; and an after-party that ended with pizza for everyone at 3am—on the floor of our wedding hotel room!
And our big (and only!) DIY moment was the highlight of our inclusive mission: our wedding “Facebooks”. Lorne and I spent a week straight creating a little booklet that featured colorful photos and fun facts of every single guest—it included everything from which of our friends were ‘single and looking to mingle’ to which guests should bond over mutual interests like running or baking. We printed them off and mailed them out a week before the wedding, and they were most definitely the “inclusive wow factor” we were hoping for—and it brought everyone together and made each guest feel how important they were to us. (In fact, it was such a hit that we now help others create the books at our new site guesterly!)
A lot of things went “wrong” in a very I Guess I Do way, but it’s funny how they didn’t matter. If anything, it made the weekend more special. Our welcome beach party ended up with a dramatic thunderstorm and everyone running home—and my family and I tucked up around the kitchen table and drank wine and ate hummus. Lorne’s cellphone was ruined in the storm, but he just took mine and it was actually lovely to not have my phone on wedding day. (My best friend handled anyone who needed to reach me.) Sure, the next morning we were back on the beach hunting for our sunglasses and cameras, but the memory? Amazing. And I’m glad I didn’t put too much energy or money into bouquets, because we forgot to take them to the ceremony! At some point during our wedding night I heard that the bartenders ran out of shot glasses...and just seamlessly transitioned into using regular tumblers. And of course, there were the things you can only do because it’s your wedding: like switching into running shorts and a tank top halfway through our reception so I could really rock the dance floor. All part of the fun :-)
The morning after our wedding, Lorne and I ordered in plates of eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns and sat on our Congress Hall balcony overlooking the ocean. Our conversation basically consisted of euphoric appreciation of all of our family and friends: “I love my sister!” “I love your mom!” “I love Max!” “I love those guys!”. Then we went and joined the whole crew again for a backyard brunch—and kicked off a week-long “familymoon” at the beach with our 100 nearest and dearest. I’d say it was mission: accomplished.
Photographer: Shea Roggio Venue: Congress Hall Hotel Dress: Janet Nelson Kumar (local NYC designer) Flowers: Karin at Blooms
...And stay tuned Thursday for your chance to win a $100 Gift Card toward some guesterly goods! Plus you get $20 off just for entering - it's a win-win if I do say so myself...