Our wedding has been featured on Ruffled, Martha Stewart Weddings, and our engagement on Inspiredbythis. While it's been a few months now since we got married, I've finally found some time to share how the design came together. I hope this helps other brides in their planning - especially if you're doing a DIY wedding too!
Where to Start
Designing our wedding was something I enjoyed doing throughout the wedding while planning with my fiancé (now husband). We started by asking each other these questions:
1. What kind of feel do you want?
Warm, cozy, rustic, romantic, woodsy, foodie, whimsical, intimate. Along with other considerations such as travel and ease of planning, this question helps narrow down your venue search. This also helps you start thinking about your wedding theme.
2. What are the most important things in the wedding decor?
Cohesiveness, achievable within the time we had, including elements that are unique to us and also allow others to contribute
3. What wedding size do you want to have?
We knew from the beginning that we wanted a smaller wedding so that we’d be able to spend time with everyone. Ours capped at 50.
4. Where do you want to get married?
We chose a farmhouse property in the woods, located in Guerneville, CA. This was accessible from where we lived in San Francisco and was relatively easy for our guests to get to. A lot of vendors served this area so we were not charged additional travel fees.
A couple factors come into play here:
What types of locations fit your feel in question 1? For us, this could have been a vineyard, barn, cozy backyard, or somewhere in the woods.
Where can you find such a location?
Is this location going to be workable for planning purposes? Will you be able to easily access this location, meet with vendors in the area, etc? Remote planning that requires you to drive more than 2 hours or fly is possible, but can make planning more challenging.
Budget - certain venues can run quite $$$. If you're thinking about an intimate wedding as well, consider renting a vacation rental that allows weddings.
4. What date do you want to get married?
Peak wedding season usually starts around May until end of October. The weather will be warmer, but also know you'll need to book a lot of things up to a year in advance! Check average weather forecasts if you're thinking about something outdoors.
In line with the feel we were looking for, we went with whimsical, romantic, and woodsy. Our colors were rustic wood, gold, eucalyptus green, blush, and white.
Compiling all the Pieces
Once you pick a rentals company, you can start figuring out the pieces you need / want. We went with Encore Event Rentals, which was somewhat local to our venue and had a large selection of options to choose from.
Figuring out the Layout & Arrangement of Design Elements
As a designer and visual thinker, I like to overlay images in Photoshop or make hand sketches to start getting a feel of how I'd like all the pieces arranged. This goes for the table layout, chairs, and all the way down to the silverware.
Looking ahead towards the day when the setup needs to happen, having images of your design for someone else to setup will save you time AND make it easier to hand off since you'll be incredibly busy on the day already.
This is how it turned out at our wedding:
I started picking flowers based on the color theme and looking at Pinterest for inspiration. It's also important to look for the types of flowers that will be in season around the day you're getting married. My mother, Anny is an amazing designer who picked all the floral elements and designed all the arrangements. She recently got featured on Martha Stewart Weddings. So proud of her! It's a tough task to source and make all the floral arrangements for wedding alone (even for small weddings). To make all the arrangements, we had at least three other people helping throughout and several others who helped periodically.
As a pro-tip, look for flower markets around your area. You can pre-order and see some flowers in person. They're also significantly more cost-effective than buying elsewhere. We purchased the bulk of our flowers in Santa Rosa and some specialty roses online from Fifty Flowers.
Picking what to wear is a different topic entirely. My husband and I decided together on how we'd coordinate. While he wore a light grey suit, blue tie, and brown dress shoes, I wore an ivory tank with a separate blush / champagne skirt. I bought a sash, earrings, and shoes as glittery, but subtle accents. For brides, both the dress itself and looking for the dress are special. Pick what resonates with you. Don't worry about what everyone else thinks :). I went for something simple, but elegant and didn't require any fittings!
Make Time to Add the Little Details Unique to You
With everything going on during wedding planning, it's important to make time near the end to add in the extra details that make your wedding extra uniquely special to you.
We gathered a group together before the wedding and made several of these rose apple tarts by hand. Here's my post on apple tart making.
We also handmade these Guess Who games for guests to play and get to know other guests. Here's my post on making the game.
We also created our own wedding signs. I painted this 16" x 20" canvas using oil, then used a vinyl cutters to cut out the text. I laid the vinyl onto a cut sheet of acrylic using transfer paper. For those who are looking for a vinyl cutter, the Silhouette Portrait cutter is pretty easy to use.
I also learned calligraphy and hand wrote all the paper props, including all the nametags. Here's my post on how to get started with calligraphy.
And of course, it never hurts to get your pets into wedding attire. Add in a little doggy boutonniere!
Include and enlist the help of family and friends. Match skill sets with the task at hand! Don't forget to include someone who is a good time keeper.
When designing your own wedding, know that you can't be the only one who knows the designs or where everything is. You and the groom will be very busy. You'll need to empower someone else to set everything up and trust them with it.
Set expectations with your future spouse on wedding planning. We scheduled time every week to work on wedding planning. That way, we both knew when to work on wedding planning and when we weren't. Balance it out.
Most importantly, have fun! Good luck!