DIY Grant Ranch Wedding
February 25, 2014
DIY InspiredCountry ClubSpring Weddings
If you came here looking for what getting married is all about, you've found it. These two have quite the love story (see below) and the wedding uniting them was chock full of so many handmade, heartfelt, beautiful details I could cry. Studio Castillero was on hand to capture the day, and every last pretty bit is right here!
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From the stunning bride... Aaron and I met while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. We knew early on that what we had was special and, although we were committed to taking our time with dating, we both saw marriage as a wonderful possibility.

On the first day of Spring 2012, after four years together, Aaron asked me to marry him with a beautiful proposal. He later told me that he was very intentional about picking the first day of Spring because it represented new beginnings. It was such a sweet celebration of the relationship we had and all we had been through, especially in the previous year.

About one year before Aaron proposed, I had gone into the ER with a bad headache and returned home with full paralysis on the right side of my face. The doctors were unsure if my face would heal and if I would be able to smile again. Aaron was right by my side from this first visit through all of the appointments and tests that led up to me being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was by far the biggest challenge we had ever encountered; one day at a time, we navigated this unexpected hurdle and all that came with it. I read whatever I could find and did everything I could to support healing, including changing to a paleo diet. We celebrated each victory, no matter how small, including the day my face began showing signs of movement again. Aaron encouraged me on my darkest days, reminding me to believe in healing and saying that he knew without a doubt that when he proposed, I would be smiling. This is also what led us to pick "I Run to You" by Lady Antebellum for our first dance song.

Once engaged, I soaked in everything about it including a great excuse to look through Pinterest and my favorite wedding blogs (Style Me Pretty being my top favorite).

We knew what we wanted for our wedding day: relaxed and full of love, surrounded by an intimate group of closest friends and family. Raccoon Creek Golf Course in Littleton, CO captured our hearts because of the tree-lined entrance and the old barns. The golf course, built on an old dairy farm, made for a beautiful outdoor ceremony and tented reception in a setting full of character.

We were intentional about making our 14 month engagement a time for relationship building with our friends and family. We knew this would lay a foundation for our life together. We worked diligently throughout our engagement on numerous DIY projects (which provided a great opportunity to involve those we care about). It was a labor of love filled with hours of working towards turning our visions into a reality.

My mom made a number of beautiful pieces including my veil, sash, the ring pillow topped with colorful silk ribbon flowers, my garter (which included lace from the sample fabric for my dress), my hand embroidered handkerchief with A & B and our wedding date, and handkerchiefs for the guys, boys and dads with each of their initials. My step-dad built and stained all three of the wooden signs and I painted on the lettering. He also created the base of the ribbon wand for my flower girl. I refinished an old metal shelving unit that was used both at the ceremony site for the programs and kid coloring booklets and at the reception for the escort cards. I penned each of the escort cards by hand and hung with plain twine, colorful baker's twine and mini clothespins.

Except for our invitations, Aaron designed all our paper goods from scratch and helped with a number of other projects like cutting and fraying the burlap that topped the tables. Our program was my favorite of everything he made. Along with some traditional elements, our program included stories honoring each of our grandparents and an uncle that had passed away and were unable to be there with us. Aaron's sense of humor came through in the programs and the small signs: for the order of ceremonies in the program, he put "If All Goes As Planned" and he created avatars for each of us and our bridal party so that our guests could connect their names with their faces. We finished them off by tying them with the colored baker's twine.

I sewed each of my maids and my flower girl a cosmetic bag, in which I placed notes of thanks, tissues and earrings. I also painted each of their initials on the hangers that their dresses hung from on the wedding day. Instead of earrings, I gave my flower girl (and cousin) her first silver charm bracelet to continue a family tradition.

Our favors contained our favorite candies made in Boulder, including Cocomels and mini ChocoLove bars. My girlfriends helped create and stuff the mini brown paper bags which we stamped and tied with baker's twine. (By the way, food favors go seem to really be a hit: we found out later that my family bartered for the remaining supply while we were on our honeymoon.)

The “A” and “B" letters on our cake table were inspired by the Style Me Pretty book (which I love dearly; my sister just got engaged and it was the first things I passed onto her) that came out just shortly before our wedding.

On the day-of, I knew I wanted to get ready in my parents home; it is one of the places I am most relaxed and at peace. I wanted to spend that day surrounded by my bridesmaids, my parents and a handful of other close family members and the larger space made that possible. Those hours before the wedding were precious and calm as I soaked in the love of those with me and reflected on all that had led up to that day.

The guys got ready in the basement and the girls were upstairs. It was neat feeling close to Aaron during this time. I sent one of my bridesmaids, a mutual friend, downstairs to deliver my card and surprise gift of a boudoir album (we had agreed on no gifts before the wedding, but I ended up doing one anyway) and she brought up a beautiful letter from him.

Reese Travis of Matthew Morris Salon came on-site to do most of our hair. Chantelle LaCouture, a long-time family friend who babysat me when I was little and also happens to be a talented makeup artist, was there to do our makeup on that day.

Earlier that morning, I had a cherished bonding session with my little cousin and flower girl who let me do her hair. It is a tradition we have whenever we see each other (since we don't live close) and it meant so much to share this time with her on my wedding day.

Twigs and Posies did an incredible job putting together unique arrangements of full and fluffy flowers in coral, peach, light yellow and a little bit of lavender (to tie in with the mini gingham on the guys' ties). The flowers were a rainbow of peonies, dahlias, hydrangeas, finesse roses, astilbi and hypericum berries. T&P also created a halo of just greenery for my flower girl; I wove ribbons through it that matched her ribbon wand. They stuck with in-season flowers to honor our limited budget. Seeing the bouquets for first time on the wedding day was such a fun surprise!

We went back and forth on the idea of a first look for some time prior, but looking back, we're both so glad we opted to have one. This moment with just the two of us was incredible. It helped relieve nerves and gave us precious time alone to absorb the impact of such a big day. It was a moment filled with pure excitement and happiness. After our first look, we had so much fun hanging out with our bridal party for photos before the ceremony; we are so thankful that we built it into our day.

Studio Castillero made all of our photo time so easy and fun. They were so efficient and left us with lots of time to engage with our friends and family (and still managed to deliver so many wonderful pictures to remember the day by). Aqua Vivus quietly captured amazing footage for a same day premiere. Together, they make a warm, kind, talented and incredible team.

Instead of tossing my bouquet, we gave it to the couple that had been married the longest: my step-grandparents. The DJ asked them for their advice; my step-grandma said, "Just try to get along, I suppose.", which definitely elicited some laughter.

One of my favorite parts of the night was watching the same-day-premiere that Aqua Vivus created for us. On our programs we had put "Special Premiere" so our guests knew something was coming without giving it away. Just before our exit, it played to great applause and was such a sweet way to end the reception.

My advice to those planning now? Think about the kind of people you want to be surrounded by on your wedding day and factor this into the vendors you choose. Relaxed, professional, fun vendors will make a huge difference in how that day feels. Do as much as you can in advance so you don't have to worry about anything on the day of your wedding. Aaron discovered the Google Docs wedding planning spreadsheet (which includes input from Style Me Pretty) and it became our go-to guide for all our budgeting and planning. It definitely helped us think of everything we might have otherwise overlooked.

Also, be mindful of the number of tasks the people around you have. We didn't have room in our budget for a planner so we diligently worked together on everything and I incorporated my previous marketing event planning experience to be as organized as possible. There was one area I knew no amount of planning could cover: executing the day-of. To accommodate, we hired a family friend to be our day-of coordinator and it worked out great. I created a binder full of pictures, spreadsheets, vendor contacts and more for her. Every detail was outlined for her and each item was labeled so that she knew exactly what to do. This freed up my bridesmaids and my mom so that they could spend the whole morning with me, while still being a budget-friendly option.

Finally, I encourage you to re-think a day-after brunch or gathering (especially if you are feeling like you don't want to have it). We decided to leave very early the morning after the wedding for our Curacao honeymoon and had a lot of mixed emotions after our bubble send-off. We both looked at each other in the car and agreed that everything had been so amazing; we didn't want to leave, no matter how excited we were for our honeymoon. We knew that when we returned, all of our out-of-town friends and family would no longer be there. Even though we had time with them at our welcome cocktail party and rehearsal dinner, we found ourselves wishing for just a little more. Having all of your favorite people together is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so enjoy it and make the most of it.

Our day was full of meaning and I kept reminding myself throughout to simply be present and take it all in. I am so thankful I was able to smile on the happiest day of my life. It was magical and my husband and I will treasure the memories, photos and video footage for the rest of our lives.

We are excited to have embarked on this challenging and wonderful adventure of marriage, which has grown deeper and rich with meaning in every day that passes!