Looking at her radiant smile, you’d never know Sheila Edwards was overwhelmed on her wedding day.
Thankfully, it all came together in a beautiful way, but she learned plenty and is happy to offer up her nuptial knowledge to others who are just starting out in their planning process.
By Lena Ellwanger
Photos By Cassidy Mister
Tip 1: Find your venue early.
Because Sheila and her now-husband, Joshua, are Dorchester County natives (and high-school sweethearts!) with a deep love for the water, they wanted to be married near their childhood home. But they were based in Virginia at the time — due to Sheila’s service in the Coast Guard — with two months in and two months out, meaning half her time was spent on a cutter out at sea. Still, Sheila wasn’t worried at first.
“Once we had the date figured out, I was like ‘OK, I’ve got time.’”
They checked out a few places gradually, coming up to look at them on weekends, but weren’t wowed by some, and found others too pricey.
One of Josh’s cousins had gotten married at Marvels on the Creek, a B&B in East New Market. “At first I didn’t want to do it there because his family had already seen a wedding there.” But as they checked out other venues, their time began to dwindle and Marvels’ appeal began to grow.
“The more and more I thought about it and saw our actual options, and trying to stay within budget, I was like, ‘You know what, this is in the county that we met, my grandparents live five minutes down the street and that area was a special place for us.’ ... ‘Let’s just do it here.’”
Once it was finalized, Sheila was very pleased with the decision. She says the owners were incredibly kind and generous. She ticks off some perks: being allowed to begin set-up on Wednesday, staying on-site overnight, homemade breakfast in the morning and, perhaps most importantly, very reasonable prices.
Tip 2: Get it in writing.
When choosing their caterer, the couple knew of a company that came highly recommended. They went fairly early in the planning process to get quotes on pricing, but looked around a bit before committing.
“By the time we emailed them back, the lady that had been doing it (event planning) had changed out. So I had to deal with a whole new person.”
And the prices had gone up.
“I was like, ‘Hold on, we had already agreed on this.’ But they didn’t have a contract or anything — nothing really official.”
Thankfully, the original pricing had started low enough that the increase didn’t break the bank. And she was still happy overall.
“They did a good job. But with everything else I was planning, it was just one more thing.”
Tip 3: Hire a good photographer.
As you can see from the results, Cassidy Mister did a spectacular job with the couple’s photographs.
It ended up raining on the couple’s wedding day — another stressor that Sheila had refused to think about until the last minute. She kept up an attitude of “Not on my day!” but reality set in as the forecast called for 100% chance of rain.
Her well-experienced photographer was prepared for that eventuality: She brought a clear umbrella, which was used in many of the couple’s pictures and served as a unique, eye-catching detail.
Also due to her prior knowledge, Cassidy encouraged the couple to allow for plenty of time for photos — which Sheila doubted necessary. “She had built in a lot of buffer room … I should’ve listened to her.”
They ran out of time to take shots in as many locations as they had hoped.
If she had gone with the suggested timeline, Sheila said, “I wouldn’t have felt rushed.”
Tip 4: Don’t do it all on your own!
“I planned the whole wedding myself. I didn’t even think about getting a planner and, in retrospect, I kind of wish I did ... The week before and the day of the wedding was very hectic, in my opinion. Other people said, ‘Oh no, it was fine,’ ... but it was a lot on me to do. As a bride, you don’t want to be stressed out.”
She advises anyone who is just starting out: “If you have it in your budget to get a planner, I would recommend it. Even if you can’t get one for the whole planning experience, definitely the day of ... someone to help direct everyone and who knows how it should look and how the bride wants it to go.”
For Sheila, with so much going on, “That day is such a blur.”
Thankfully, they hired a videographer to capture all their special moments. Though they are waiting to watch their video until their anniversary this September, they loved the highlight reel and are looking forward to re-living the day.
“I’m glad we get to have those memories in motion.”