From the Bride...We drew inspiration for the wedding from everything we loved! Whether it was silly things like grassy fields, comfort, natural beauty, anything French, even our friends and family inspired us. My husband called our wedding "classic French hippie" which is probably a more accurate description. We knew when we liked things and what we were going for - a meaningful, personal ceremony and the most fun BBQ/dance party you've ever been to.
The location really set the tone. When we first started planning, the number one thing on my "top 5" list was...getting married in a field. Fields are not as easy to come by in San Diego as you'd like to think. So when my dad called me to ask what our wedding plans were and out of nowhere mentions that he thought his good friend, Richard, would maybe let us do it as his ranch in Bonsall if we wanted, I flipped. I spent many family BBQ's there fishing for crawdads in their family's creek and climbing up trees. One visit with Chadwick sealed the deal. I mean, he has an adult treehouse there and not just one field...but two!
To give the wedding that personal feel, save money, and make our vision reality, we did take on a ton of DIY projects. I'm a 5th grader teacher and we had just over three months to plan the wedding so that we could get married while on summer break. Now, I know that I never usually read these things and just looked at the pictures but I feel this might give some of you hope - I am NOT a creative person at all and yet somehow managed to pull all this off. My husband, Chadwick, is the most innovative and artistic person I know (fitting, since he's a graphic designer and photographer for Invisible Children). He came up with many of the design elements and branding for our wedding. From hand-drawing our invitations and then screen-printing them one by one. Or creating a logo we used as a stamp for envelopes, drink tags, and whatever else we felt like stamping. I figured out how to sew for the wedding and made all the pennant banners, our ring bag, collected little knick-knacks from garage sales, bargain hunted the remnants at fabric shops, and made the "yay!" flags/programs. It was 100% a team effort. Not just between Chadwick and I, but with at least half of the people at our wedding! Everyone helped out. Friends brewed beer for the occasion or brought local kegs, bridesmaids hand-painted signs, brewed iced tea, and spent the whole day setting up rentals, my mom and grandma personally made all the 300-400 appetizers for our "Happy Hour", Chad's grandma handmade all the guys' ties, his mom made all the heart pillows for decor, groomsmen invented cocktails and bartended, friends let us borrow things from their own weddings including 150 sets of mismatched china and silver, my dad put together the doors for our entrance and found the wood backdrop. The list goes on and on. We even bartered with our best friends to have them DJ, film, and coordinate the day of. Everyone helped! We were so blessed and the day would not have come together without all of them.
Our favorite details were probably the meaningful ones. We didn't want to just do things without having a clear purpose. We had our food catered by TK Burger which is Chad's favorite place from his hometown and where we had one of our first dates (and it's incredibly tasty/affordable which helped. If you're ever in Newport, get a shiitake burger there, it'll change your life). We had ice cream sandwiches for dessert instead of cake as I am obsessed with ice cream. We had my little brothers pass the rings through the aisles as part of the ceremony to signify that everyone there would have a "hand" in our marriage. We gave everyone in our wedding party disposable cameras to use throughout the ceremony and night as Chadwick and I both love the challenge of capturing an event with only 27 exposures. My big surprise (one of the few I've ever been able to keep a surprise) was I knew Chad had really wanted me to pull up to the ceremony in a classic car, but it just wasn't in the budget and we had had a hard time finding one for free (go figure). Richard, who owns the ranch, happens to have a beautiful old convertible that I discovered on one of my trips up to plan. It was even used in my own parents' wedding! He sneakily helped me work out all the details so Chad didn't know until I pulled up.
As far as advice goes, I'm not sure I'm a pro but have fun! It's your wedding! This is the one time everyone you love gets to be together and celebrate you two. Don't worry about perfection. Pick the things that are most important to the two of you and go from there. People won't care if you forgot to order sparklers or if you ended up having to forgo the personalized name tags. Really, not one person came up and told me they wished we had had a sparkler for them to wave at the end of the night. It works out. Oh, and let people help. I thought I would try and take on everything but quickly learned that was going to make for a rough few months. Enjoy your engagement. Let other people be a part of it all. Hire a wedding coordinator for the day of stuff if you can or even a friend (or if you luck out like us, you have a friend who IS a wedding planner and helps you with all of that - thanks Julie!). I guess you should just understand that you may come to a point where some things never got done or made or finished and you just let it go. You get to marry your best friend at the end of it. All of the other stuff is just extra.
Wedding Photography: We Heart Photography / Wedding Coordinator: Julie Leontieff of Events by J & C / Venue: Family Friend's Ranch / Catering: TK Burger Truck / Floral Design: Michelle Johnson (friend) / Wedding Cake: Mother of the Bride / Entertainment: Tyler Fordham (friend) / Hair: Amber of Halycon Salon / Make-up: Melissa Rae & Co. / Gown Designer: Watters / Men's Formalwear: Banana Republic / Wedding Videography: 4th Floor Media