At first glance, this wedding captured by Ryon:Lockhart Photography is gorgeous. That goes without saying. But when you start to pull back the layers of this pretty fête you realize it’s so much more than just gorgeous. It’s meaningful, and ultimately the result of family and friends banding together to make this couples’ day beyond fabulous. They succeeded.
From the Bride…Our original venue was an ocean-view inn complete with caterer, coordinator and decades of wedding experience. It felt like all we had to do was make a few choices and show up. Six months out from the big day, unforeseen complications led to a large budget cut. After some heartache and a difficult decision, we pulled our reserved date and began our journey again, now with less time and money.
“Be like water, my friend.” This quote from Bruce Lee, one of my heroes, comes to mind when I think of the epic journey that led to my wedding day. Thankfully, I had a very determined and resourceful fiancé. We knew our core elements would stay the same: a picturesque outdoor setting secluded from the everyday world; amazing food; a romantic handcrafted feel with a dash of whimsy.
For the first time, we decided to truly reach out to friends. Soon after, we realized that people were not reluctant or annoyed, but on the contrary, excited to be invited into the planning process. Instead of burdening our relationships, we actually enriched them by allowing our friends and family to aid us in building this special event.
Our friend Troy referred us to the vacation rental that became our venue. The Tuscan Villa Estate is gorgeous, comprised of lovely gardens, a large main house, and cottage. Score! We had our picturesque outdoor setting, and as a bonus, we could stay there with our families for the entire weekend. In addition, because there were no resident vendors, we could bring in anyone we chose. A blank canvas.
Our wedding felt like a very elegant and organic garden party. Many of the DIY details were continuations of the theme established in our handmade invitations: lavender flowers; natural papers and fibers; rich mixed metals. My artistic cousin Rachel lent us her talent by making our awesome wedding signage and our friend Angela painted us the perfect peg doll cake toppers. My aunt put together my bouquet. Even our ceremony arch was DIY. A week before the wedding, we were informed that the venue’s arch had been lost, so my ever resilient husband made that darn arch himself. And it was beautiful….made of raw birch and strung with strands of tulle, rose petals and pearls. In one word: Dreamy.
Our good friend Chef Steve Brown dreamed up a delectable menu for tray-passed hors d’oeuvres and a sit-down dinner with family-style service that stirred interaction at every table. Our mixologist buddy Brian developed “The Mixed Kid,” a specialty cocktail featuring ingredients to match our varied cultural backgrounds which became a fun tribute to our diverse families.
Both performers, we knew from the start that live music was going to be important to us. We hired strings to play an eclectic mix for the ceremony and cocktail hour, while a jazz quartet played standards to salsa to top 40 hits for our reception. And yes, all these musicians came from yet another friend’s referral.
So many moments of our wedding were special and memorable, and every building block that came from someone we knew made the day even more loving and personal. My biggest take-away from this experience is pure gratitude for my family and friends…most of all, my husband who saw my vision and made it all happen. It truly took a village and loads of faith to pull it off.
My advice for new brides is this: Breathe! Everything really will come together. And pick your DIY battles. Not every little thing has to be made by you personally. You may end up spending a LOT more on something by making it yourself. Save yourself some sanity and $ by choosing only a handful of projects to do on your own.
Photography: Ryon:Lockhart Photography | Videography: D.P. Weddings | Wedding Cake: Skiff's Cakes | Catering: Chef Steve Brown | Cake Toppers: Angela Neely | Hair/Makeup: Jenna Summers-Cinta Aveda Institute | Reception Band: Big Willie's Burlesque | Sign Art: Rachel Strongoli | Tuscan Villa Estate: Mount Tabor Park