A Hand-Crafted, DIY Midwest Meadow Wedding at Happy Days Lodge
August 29, 2014
CasualLodgeSummer Weddings
Handmade and heartfelt, this darling day at Happy Days Lodge (even the venue's name is cute) was labor of love in the best possible way. With the help of family and friends, this couple whipped up a day they will treasure forever, and thanks to Anna Zajac all those priceless moments can be seen here.
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From the Bride...From the beginning, we wanted our wedding to be very personalized and involving our friends as much as possible. We designed the save the dates and invitations ourselves, and printed them with our friend's letterpress. We designed and printed all the wedding day decorations and programs on another friend's risograph. One of my bridesmaids made my wedding dress(!!), which included lace from my mom's wedding dress. Our musician, photographer, and cake maker were all close friends of ours. Our friend hand lettered a window with our names and the wedding date that was set up as you entered the ceremony hall. On the day of, the groomsmen and Alex set up all the decorations, and the bridesmaids and I made all the centerpieces and bouquets. Many friends let us borrow decorations. Our parents supported us and contributed an incredible amount. We had our guests request oldies songs for the dance floor, since we're not into traditional wedding music, and we didn't think our guests would enjoy our indie dance music. It all felt incredibly special and unique, and so us, because you could see our hands and our friends' hands in the making of the whole day.

When Alex and I first started dating, we took many trips to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to hike or sit and talk. We had our first kiss there, and two years later, got engaged there. So it made total sense to get married there, and we were lucky enough to book the Happy Days Lodge, a hall I'd been eyeing for a few months! They had both a ceremony hall and a reception hall in one building, which was so convenient for decorating and not having to rush from one location to another after the ceremony. It had market lighting already set up, and two giant bison heads on the wall.

The biggest hit of the night (besides dancing) was the food. If you want guaranteed praise for your wedding, get a barbecue place to cater. Our venue limited our catering options, but luckily Old Carolina Barbecue was on the list. People went back for seconds, which apparently doesn't happen very often. We also met a couple early on in our engagement that had a small business in Cleveland making ice cream, called Mason's Creamery. Everyone loved them as well, and didn't even miss not having cake.

Favorite Memories from the Wedding:

Alex (Groom): Because the venue was small, and because Katey and I had chosen not to see each other before the ceremony, we had to switch off waiting in our respective restrooms. The groomsmen and bridesmaids acted as "lookouts," and we were always told ahead of time when the coast was clear before leaving. It will always be a favorite memory of mine. It was a good time bonding with my groomsmen and my father.

Katey (Bride): My favorite memory was walking down the aisle and realizing that almost everyone I knew was in the same room. Beforehand, I didn't think it would be a big dealâ??but I knew the trouble some of them went through to get there, I knew the events that had fallen into place to let some of them be able to make it, and I knew of others who couldn't make it that day. Even after the ceremony, as we stood in the receiving line, I burst into tears at the sight those people. I just felt really loved that people traveled so many miles to be there.

Advice to Those Planning Now: Do small bits of planning at a timeâ??which means that you have to start early on things and work consistently throughout your engagement. Don't put things off until the last minute, and don't try to cram too much into one planning session. If you're too stressed or tired, it's okay to just hang out and watch a movie instead. Also, let your friends and family help. I (Katey) had a hard time doing this, but it's physically impossible to get it all done by yourselves, especially the day of. And it's a great way to bond with everyone.