One of my favorite things is when I am surprised to read a bride’s description of her big day – and learn that so much of her wedding was handmade by herself, or her loving friends and family. With as talented as your LBBers are, I feel like I have that surprise waiting for me multiple times a week, and I love it. This California wedding, captured beautifully by Kathryn Krueger Photography, was one of those stunning DIY affairs that caught me off guard. The wedding was so filled with meaning – from the father of the bride’s bible, to the made-with-love truffles, to the VW Van which was lovingly restored by a friend of the bride – I may have just shed a tear or two. Make sure you click here for the full image gallery – it’s very much worth it.

I am through and through a California Girl. However, I chose a college in Texas and it was during grad school that I met my husband, a Texan. Our relationship developed in Texas, but I knew I wanted to have my wedding in California with all of the sunshine, the ocean air, and lifelong friends and family.

For colors I wanted everything to be black (what can I say, it’s the signature color of my wardrobe) but added white, because it is a wedding after all. It was suggested to me to have an accent color by my event planner. I love sunshine and thought yellow was a perfect California color. I insisted on the flowers girls wearing dresses that they could wear again and picked out beautiful black satin bubble-hemmed dresses that I felt were a sophisticated touch at the wedding.

Because of my family situation – my father passed away from lung cancer when I was in college, and my mother was not in a position to pay for a wedding – expenses for the wedding fell to my husband and myself. We worked really hard to find a unique and beautiful location that would not require a ton of decor to feel “finished” and thanks to my good friend and event planner, Kimberly Downey, we were able to do just that. Our friends own the barn we were married outside of and held the reception in.

So much of our wedding was a “family affair” but with my good friends that are like family. Everyone from the photographer, to the venue owners, florist, baker, and planner are close friends that happen to have skills suited for a wedding. My husband and I felt supremely blessed for such connections. One of our favorite personal touches was that instead of a groom’s cake, we had a friend make “oreo cake balls” to compliment the cake that were white and black and suited the look of our wedding as well as our taste buds. Additionally, I wore my sister’s Vera Wang wedding gown and couldn’t have been happier to be married in such a divine garment that was borrowed! I also had my jewelry custom made by my friend and jewelry designer Summer Ellis. My earrings were found vintage pieces that she made into earrings. I gave my bridesmaids each a pair of earrings that Summer and I designed together.

The day could not have been more perfect. The guys started the day with a straight razor shave at the Montecito Barber. We chose to see each other before hand so we could enjoy the entirety of our reception and honor all of our out of town guests by being as present as possible. I was escorted to the aisle by my two guy friends that were like brothers to me growing up. My mother then walked me down the aisle and I carried my father’s bible. It truly was as special as I had hoped. Dinner consisted of gourmet burgers made by “The Ranch” – a long time fav of mine. The bar outside the barn and tall tables for guests to enjoy cocktail hour drinks while the burgers were made to order got friends old and new to mingle and enjoy the evening.

At the end of the evening we exited to special sparklers obtained by Kimberly (her father works in special effects for films and knew some pyro technics guys) and at the end of the tunnel of guests I was overwhelmed to see my father’s VW Van waiting as our get-a-way car. One of my best friends had got the Van up and running again and others had washed, cleaned, and waxed the vehicle. The “Just Married” sign on the back brought everything together in such a special way.

Photography: Kathryn Krueger Photography / Cinematography: Brian Sadler / Flowers: Jessica Raymond / Event Planning & Design: Kimberly Brook Downey / Ceremony Location: The Barn, Eucalyptus Lane / Reception Location: The Barn, Eucalyptus Lane / Invitations: Hole in the Roof / Shoes: Seychelles / Earrings: Summer Ellis / Caterer: The Ranch / Cake Balls: Sarah Nazarian