hi, i'm Ali
Photographer, dog mom, daily walker, reader, and wife to a busy maker. I'm the voice you hear and read at Life Outside the Shop.
From new project how-to's and DIY home updates to the ins-and-outs of building a family & multiple businesses, Life Outside the Shop shares what is really looks like to figure it out as you go.
We’re getting married in t-minus 30 days!!! Let the countdown to our COVID wedding begin!
Shelburne Farms Engagement Shoot, 2019
Gosh – I wish I had started Life Outside the Shop three years ago when Sam and I bought our house. What a cool way to have documented a renovation and beginning to build this life we live (although, we do have a ton of our renovation projects on Sam’s YouTube Channel!).
If I had started a bit earlier, I also could have brought you along on ALL of the crazy adventures that wedding planning – let alone wedding planning during a pandemic – has brought.
But, we’re gonna have to play a little catch up…
When Sam and I decided to get married, we had a whole list of places we wanted to check out. The winner was a venue that wasn’t even built yet when we signed the contract.
Friends of ours were planning on building an event barn in Sam’s home town and after seeing and hearing more about their plans, it was a no brainer.
We loved the area and knew they would pour their hearts and souls into making the venue absolutely stunning. One of the coolest parts of our wedding planning experience was watching Maquam Barn and Winery come to life!
Maquam Barn & Winery – Milton, Vermont
From April to October of 2019, things started moving really quickly and the next time we had a chance to visit, the beams were up and they were getting ready for walls.
Before we knew it, the walls were up, the sides were painted and we were just waiting for them to finish up the cupola and plop it on top. We started to get a great feel for what the barn was going to look like on our big day.
We still had NO clue that we would be throwing a COVID wedding and that a pandemic would hit.
And, we are beyond grateful that we are still getting married in the place we originally envisioned. This was a non-negotiable for me (as long as it worked for our friends who own the venue!) as we started to figure out what our big day was going to look like.
We spent the end of 2019 enjoying the holidays, finalizing vendors, celebrating our one-year engageversary and making BIG plans for 2020.
The beginning of 2020 hit and we began navigating the ever-changing landscape of a COVID wedding.
With 240 save-the-dates written and ready to go the week before quarantine started, our timing – all things considered – couldn’t have been better. We held onto our invites while monitoring state rules, regulations, and suggestions.
We decided that 2020 would be our wedding year no matter what it looked like. We’ve been engaged for over a year and a half, together for more than seven and we already own a house together. We’re ready to “start our life”. A few people at a courthouse? Back to normal? We didn’t know what to expect but we knew we were ready!
If you know anything about me you know that I am a wishful thinker. I held out hope that we’d be able to pull SOMETHING off at the beautiful barn.
In July 2020, Vermont cleared wedding venues for 75 people inside or 150 outside. We were PUMPED and decided to move forward from here.
But, after planning and monitoring, we ultimately decided that even 75 people – with the number of guests traveling from out of state – felt like too much stress and risk.
After many hard conversations, plenty of tears an a few come-to-Jesus talks with important people in our lives, we decided to cut it back even further.
I’ve always been a big believer in controlling what you can – and this was something we could control.
A lot has changed in our 1.5+ year engagement. We finished renovating a house, Sam started a business and I continued building my career and found a passion for blogging/website design.
We’ve traveled, adventured, built strong friendships, continued getting to know each other in new ways and so much more.
And, we’ve gone through some not-so-amazing things. We’re always balancing the stress of becoming “real humans” (I sometimes forget that I’m a real live adult), paying a mortgage, buying necessities, and saving money, while still leaving room for having some fun.
We loved and lost our pup, Lincon, navigated a world-wide pandemic, and – because of that pandemic – we planned a 240 person wedding that won’t come to pass quite the way we thought it would.
It may look vastly different than our expectations when we began planning in early 2019. But, we’re doing the best we can to focus on the thing that really matters. We will be husband and wife by the end of the day on October 3rd.
I KNOW, I KNOW. It sounds cheesy but here is the truth:
Pre-COVID I said, “all that matters is that we’re married by the end of the day”. But to be honest, I only like…96% meant it. The other 4% of me was like… “and it would also be great if everything else went perfectly”.
WELL LET ME TELL YOU – if planning a COVID wedding has taught me anything it is that I am now 110% serious when I say “all that matters is that we’re married by the end of the day”.
Maquam Barn & Winery – Milton, Vermont
But here is the weird thing with that mindset that I didn’t see coming. It is really easy to let this swing too far in the opposite direction. I’d start planning for a sign to make, a gift to get, or small detail to bring to life and catch myself thinking “is it even worth it at this point?”
I am so grateful for the friends and family who constantly remind me, “YES! It is still your wedding and you should still make it as close to what you imagined as you can!” and who have offered to help along the way.
Speaking of wedding projects…
So much to do, so little time! Well – actually – Sam’s “to-do” list got shorter as the guest list got shorter.
I had tons of fun lawn game ideas (read: a longgggg lawn game build list!) that we’re now going to pick and choose from. And, I still have some DIY pallet signs and wood projects I want to create like…
(Videos and tutorials to come!)
Our plan for the next few weekends is to break down more pallets for our projects. With how much Sam has going on in the shop, he’ll put me to work making it happen. Then, we’ll get ’em glued together and ready to go for some lettering. This is something I COULD do but have a friend who could do it MUCH better. So, I’m outsourcing that one to keep things as stress-free as possible here.
Sam and his dad are also finishing up a Wedding Keezer, and he is hard at work creating some pretty awesome gifts for his groomsmen. (Don’t worry, I don’t think I’m ruining any surprises here… I’d be shocked if they read this.)
So, besides our building to-do list and the last second craziness that comes along with organizing vendors and day-of activities, we’re just taking it one day at a time.
We can’t wait to continue keeping you in the loop with our wedding projects. We’re also going to share a huge low-down after we’re hitched!
Thank you for following along <3