I am head over heels in love with this evening wedding at Historic Fifth Street School, photographed by Amberlight Collective. Stephanie and Mark infused their September destination wedding in downtown Las Vegas with bright colors and bits of retro snazz in the stationery and favors with help from the ladies of Scheme Events.
Bistro lighting from LED Unplugged infused romance into the courtyard, which hosted both their ceremony and reception. There are many gorgeous details at this wedding, but my favorite part is probably the Quaker-inspired “voicing of support” portion of their ceremony. Friends and family were invited to share a story about the newlyweds, share advice or otherwise celebrate the new marriage. A beautiful way to involve everyone in the wedding! Read on for more details and tips from Stephanie and Mark…
Why did you choose the Historic Fifth Street School for your wedding?
On the day we visited Fifth Street School, we had seen several venues across town and it was the only one that we walked into and immediately felt excited about. When we walked in to the courtyard, we both knew it was the place for the casual, fun atmosphere we were going for. I am a Las Vegas native, and my mom actually went to school there when she was growing up. That added significance, combined with the fact that it is perfectly restored and such a unique historical space that is so incongruous to its surroundings, made it exactly what we were looking for.
I am from Vegas, but Mark is from Ohio and more than half the guests would be traveling, (we referred to our wedding as “half-destination’). We wanted to pick a place that was fun for the people traveling, but also not a pain for the locals to get to. It was important to us to find a place that would highlight Vegas as a fun place to visit, but that also showed visitors another side of Vegas they might not get to see otherwise. Being inside the courtyard feels like you’re in a completely different kind of Vegas, and it was that side of the city we wanted our guests to see. It was perfect.
The Ceremony — Historic Fifth Street School Courtyard
We did a lot of research trying to find a ceremony format that we felt fit us. We weren’t huge fans of the traditional format – the thought of walking down an aisle gave me heart palpitations and neither of us could stand the idea of being married by someone who had no idea who we were. And, most importantly, we didn’t like the idea that our friends and family would spend a large part of our wedding celebrating without us. Whether at the beginning, when we would be separated before the ceremony, or the actual ceremony where we would stand in front of everyone and not get to interact, or afterward, where you leave for ages to get pictures taken. We didn’t want any of that – so we decided we would scrap it.
When we got engaged, Mark laid down only one request – that his friend Tim would to be the one to marry us. Tim is one of Mark’s oldest friends, and since it was important that we be married by someone who knows us and knows who we are as a couple, that was a no-brainer. Ahead of the ceremony we did a cocktail hour/photo session where Mark and I would greeted our guests, gave hugs, and took pictures with all the groups of family and friends who attended. This was a little stressful, as I wanted to make sure that we got pictures with everyone, but I preferred it to sitting in a back room somewhere freaking out. When the time came, we had our DJ announce it by playing the first part of Queen’s “The Wedding March,” which set just the right fun, lighthearted tone we wanted.
As everyone took their seats, Mark and I held hands and walked across the courtyard with everyone else and took our places with Tim at the front, with our family and friends seated all around us. We decided to do a Quaker-style wedding after finding the format on a wedding blog – it basically involves the initial exchange of vows, followed by a voicing of support by friends and family – which invites anyone to come up and voice their support for our union by telling stories, giving advice, or just telling us they love us. This was my favorite part of the day, as our parents and friends came up and made us laugh and cry. We were able to hug each of them and have them as a part of our ceremony pictures, which was incredibly important to me.
The last person to speak was Mark, who made a toast to his father, Michael, who is no longer with us. Everyone in the crowd was given a shot of either Crown Royal (Michael’s favorite) or Coke, and all of us toasted him and all of our family who weren’t able to be there on that special night. Taking the laughter and love from those stories, we ended the ceremony with a ring exchange where Mark’s mom Chris handed me his ring, and my mom Pam handed Mark my ring, and the rest is history.
The Reception — Historic Fifth Street School Courtyard
First of all, because we were planning from across country, I really gave the Scheme Events girls and their amazing team of vendors free reign on the space. Bistro lights were the splurge that I really wanted, and since we were using the space both for ceremony and party, it was important the seating could transition easily. We did picnic tables, scattered with some circles of lounge seating, but Traci & Scheme really did whatever they thought best and they did an incredible, incredible job. The lighting was absolutely perfect. And the flowers by Layers of Lovely were staggering. I gave them barely any guidance – basically just preferred colors – and they created the most beautiful, perfect arrangements for the space and the atmosphere we wanted.
After the ceremony, Mark and I went off for a little time by ourselves and to take a few pictures with Danette. Have I mentioned she is amazing – everyone should hire her right now. We wandered over to East Fremont to get some neon pics in the meantime, our guests went right into eating and partying – the food was done masterfully by Masterpiece Catering, and everyone was raving about how amazing the food was. As is the story for most weddings – we didn’t really get a chance to eat.
Everyone’s favorite part of the reception was the ice cream sandwich and popsicle desserts, which we did in lieu of cake – since neither of us are that big on it. For a warm Vegas evening, it was divine.
When we came back from photos, we had our first dance to “Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space,” by Spiritualized – which carried over our Vegas theme since it is a futuristic cover of sorts of Elvis’ “Fools Rush In.” We did our Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dance together to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long as I Can See the Light,” and after the first part of it, invited everyone to dance with us.
This resulted in my favorite picture of the night, where my Dad is looking over at Mark dancing with his Mom, and everyone is grinning from ear to ear. After this, dancing dancing dancing, and along with our awesome photobooth and wonderful friends, it was pretty much the best party I could have imagined.
Was there an especially memorable moment of the day?
Every time I tell this story people recoil with horror, but it was such a surreal and hilarious moment, it’s definitely one of my favorite moments of the entire week. I had my dress custom made by a really lovely and talented woman in Cleveland, at A Bride’s Design. The dress was amazing, a simple camisole top with a skirt of layers peach and champagne organza that she had washed over and over to give it a spectacular unfinished look.
We love road trips, so Mark and I drove from Cleveland to Vegas the week before the wedding, as a last road trip before we got married, so the dress rode in the back of our car and got a little rumpled. We took it to a well-meaning dry cleaner in Vegas (who will remain nameless) and asked them to gently steam the skirt to get the big creases out, but not to iron it, since the skirt was supposed to look a little rumpled. When it arrived at my house, gorgeously wrapped in paper and ribbon, it looked perfect. However, when I put it on the afternoon of the wedding, it became clear that the dry cleaner had pressed the organza back to its original sleek finish, not only ruining the effect it was originally meant to have, but also ruining the carefully-cut hem that had been measured precisely for my shoes. My dress was now nearly 12 inches too long.
It was impossible to walk in, so I had my lovely, lovely, PETRIFIED friends get down on the floor and CUT A FOOT OF MY DRESS OFF. They did an amazing job in a blink of an eye, we got in the limo and off we went. It was a hiccup in an otherwise perfect wedding festivity week – but at the time, I didn’t even care. Just cut the damn thing off and let’s do this! The pictures of this are also my favorite, I’m laughing my head off as my friend Amanda cuts my dress!
Were there any DIY or handmade details?
We didn’t really do the DIY thing, since it was tough planning a Las Vegas wedding from across the country. The Scheme girls were amazing and we let them take care of nearly everything. I am a graphic designer, so I did design and create our invites, programs, favors and our VIP passes we sent to guests. We didn’t really have a “theme” to the wedding, but for the paper I took our initials from iconic Vegas signs of the past – so the M was from the Moulin Rouge and the S from the Sands. After I did that illustration, we used it across everything, including some fun VIP passes that were sent as the invitation to our guests – inviting our VIPs to the party of our lives.
Stephanie and Mark’s #1 tip for other couples marrying in Las Vegas
Make sure you have some time to just be together before the wedding. Planning and family and friends can get overwhelming in those days leading up, and you don’t have that time to reflect or talk or laugh together much when things get going. Our road trip out to Vegas before the wedding was the best decision we ever made. It gave us some great time before to just be together before the insanity began, and since we were driving we were out-of-pocket and mostly out of touch. We both agree having that calm time before was just as good as the honeymoon, and I would recommend it to anyone who has the chance – even if you aren’t travelling. Take a weekend before, tell everyone you are turning off your phone, and just be together.
Stephanie and Mark’s Wedding Guest Count and Budget
We had 90 people at the wedding, and my advice here would be this: I was really worried about guest count. I didn’t want to go over on the number we had budgeted for, and in the end I was a bit brutal about cutting our list in order to get within the number. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have done that – because in the end I felt like I had excluded people who should have been there in order to stay within the budget number, and I regret it. The difference between those extra 5-10 people being there and going slightly over budget compared to feeling like they should have been there… it’s just not worth it.
Vendor and Venue Details:
Photographer: Amberlight Collective / Ceremony + Reception Venue: Historic 5th Street School, Courtyard / Wedding Planner + Event Design: Scheme Events / Wedding Dress: A Bride’s Design, Cleveland, Custom / Floral: Layers of Lovely / Catering: Masterpiece Cuisine / Celebrant: Friend of the Couple / Entertainment: Harry O Productions / Stationery: Invitations, Programs and VIP Passes Designed by the Bride / Printing: jakprints / Photobooth: Shutterbooth Las Vegas / Vintage Rentals + Props: The Wooden Trunk / Bistro Lighting: LED Unplugged / Transport: Earthlimos and Buses / Custom Playing Card Favors: MakePlayingCards.com / Welcome Bag Champagne: Korbel