Civil Ceremony - South Dakota 7.3.2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

"I feel like we've planned for 6 different weddings" is the story of planning a wedding during a pandemic. Can I get an AMEN COVID19 Brides?! 

Originally, we were having a large wedding in Mexico - Which has now turned into our religious ceremony & reception. Then, we were going to do a Commitment ceremony in Washington in June, but COVID19 restrictions had other plans. Then a month before we even knew we were going to South Dakota, we decided to have our Civil Ceremony in South Dakota.

It was the best decision we didn't know we needed to make. COVID19 Brides that are debating on doing a small ceremony then a large celebration for later, I am bias, but the small, intimate ceremony was everything I needed it to be. So, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite elements that made this Civil Ceremony a sweet treat, and how we kept it on a very small budget. If you are like us and have invested your pockets into your original wedding, here is also how we saved money and kept things meaningful.

I knew immediately I wanted to get married in Spearfish Park. If you grew up where I did, you know Spearfish Park has it all - waterfalls, feeding the fish, nature, playground for the kids, and it's well kept. I hold so many memories here. I also really wanted to focus on incorporating nature into our backdrop. Since Mexico will mostly be indoors and in a city, I wanted the Civil Ceremony to reflect my upbringing. And that is exactly why I am so glad we had the Civil Ceremony in my hometown area. 2 different personalities and hopefully getting to have 2 different celebrations to fit our preferences - Best of both worlds :)

Spearfish Park - To reserve the picnic shelter was $30. To reserve this space for our vows was FREE - My Dad just went a little early to claim the area. I chose the ceremony to be 10:30am because I knew the heat would be worse after 12pm and the park would start to crowd.

We both REALLY love flowers. Aaron is more romantic than I am, but when we were first dating, for many Sunday's in a row he would bring over a bouquet of roses and then drive back 35 minutes where he lived. I also grew up on a farm in South Dakota that had rose bushes - So having roses as the staple and any subtle flowers was perfect. We bought the vases from Walmart and 10 Flower bouquets from Safeway. All in all this was $150 for flowers and vases. We saved A TON of money by not getting our flowers from the flower shop. I even made my bouquet the night before the ceremony. My parents bought a karaoke machine for the microphone and speaker too - Also cheaper than renting, and since my Dad got to legally marry us (Certified Pastor), he gets to keep a memory sake :) The machine was $130 from Walmart and you can play music through it too.

We chose our song to be "Die a Happy Man" by Thomas Rhett. The lyrics and our day to day life go hand in hand.


Because we were going to the steakhouse shortly after the vows, we just wanted something light and sweet as we did toasts, games, and mingled. My cousins actually made all of these beautiful cupcakes and the cake and got all the decorative garnishes on top. They turned out better than my Pinterest board! All in all, I am going to guess this was closer to $75-100. The decorations we set the cupcakes on came from my Mom's house. 


1 tradition I did want to keep was having my grandparents photos with us. I was so fortunate to live near both sets of grandparents and had relationships with both. My Grandma Meda - I would eat lunch with almost every day in High School and I lived with her for an entire Summer when she was sick taking care of her Monday-Friday. My Grandma and Grandpa Brunner I spent time with on the Farm, but they also helped me choose a graduate school and encouraged me to move to California! I miss them all very much and wanted their presence there.


Finally...The people. Even though not many Brunner's could make it (Dad's side) due to everyone being so spread out and this being last minute, I was SO thrilled to see them there. Same with Mom's side who was home for the 4th of July festivities. Then, there were my home team friends I've been friends with for 7-20 years - College, Pageants, Church Camp, Cal State Monterey Bay, and High School. Aaron's Grandma, cousin and her family all got to join us from the West Coast and took a major trip to see us all. I was really overwhelmed by how much love we received after such a difficult year. My Aunt and cousin took all the photos and my Aunt fixed my Mexico wedding dress - MIRACLE worker. I can't wait to show everyone the before and after photos. But sis n law and Mom helped a lot the week of, and honestly I am just so happy to see so many of my favorite people in one area. 


This goes without saying, but the most important piece was that it was this guy, me and God. What I loved most about the details of this day were our vows. Neither one of us wanted to repeat the typical vows. We also didn't want to say things that were over the top or taken from the internet. So, we actually decided to use words we say to each other all the time. He always says, "I am grateful for who God gave me"...and I like to say, "You are my person". So we included those into our vows. 

I avoided dating cowboys, farmers, country boys, ranchers - Because that's who raised me. Also, when I lived in SoCal, I didn't like like the SoCal attitude of men (I know, general statement). I preferred the Bay Area and NorCal when I lived in both locations and I thought 100% my love story would be someone from the Bay Area....But who do I marry? A guy raised on a ranch in Mexico, but also in the suburbs of SoCal, and doesn't like the Bay Area....The irony :)

Our outfits: I got my dress from ASOS for $40 and boots were from home, jewelry were Christmas gifts from his Grandma and Aaron's Madrina (godmom). Aaron bought that Cinch shirt for $60 at the local Cowboys Too store in Belle Fourche, SD. Overall, very low cost and easily things we could wear again. If you couldn't tell, I am definitely a bride, person, wife, etc who wants to buy something she will use again!


The last pieces - The banderitas were $7 from Amazon and the tablecloths were $3 from party city & the mason jars were from my Mom's pantry.


And here is where we really saved money. I cringed a little when I had to let people know, but the reality is we were budgeting for 1 wedding not 2. So, we asked our guests if they wanted to join us at my favorite Steakhouse - Steerfish in Spearfish, but they had to pay their own meals. I know this can be really heart crushing to ask your guests this, especially because it's your big day and they are traveling to celebrate you. But considering everything that's transpired this year, I was really happy people understood.


OUR FAVORITE PART of every July 3 - The Rodeo. My 3 friends from High School, College, Pageants - We normally get together every 3rd of July, which makes us getting legally married on this date extra special. We typically get steak tips at The Stadium and then head to the rodeo and watch the fireworks. Getting to our Civil Ceremony day in this tradition made my heart soar. Great crowd, great runs, and getting to see fireworks light up the sky. There is no place like home during the 4th of July!

That is how we planned a Civil Ceremony in 3 weeks and how we budgeted and ASKED for help. I tried to find the pieces most important to us as a couple, my upbringing, and only spent money in areas that were mutually important to Aaron and I. 

I love love, and I love our love. Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our day!

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