On a sunny Sunday afternoon in August I married Kyle, my soul mate and best friend. We had been dating for a little over 5 years and he popped the question in February 2017 (the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day, definitely caught me by surprise!). I’m a dreamer, planner, and a very independent woman, so naturally I wanted to plan my own wedding and do “all of the things” myself. I decided that the DIY approach was the best path for us to follow.
Was everything perfect? Absolutely not! With that many details, it’s almost impossible to make everything go exactly how you want it.
There were a lot of little things that didn’t end up the way I wanted them to be, if I’m being honest. But, it was the best day of my life and none of the details mattered to me when we said “I do” that day. So, looking at it from that perspective you could say that, yes, it actually was perfect!
We had 6 months down to the day from engagement to wedding day, so I’m telling you from personal experience that a short engagement CAN work with a DIY approach to your big day. Now, I will tell you that I am a little bit of a perfectionist, but also pretty casual and low maintenance (contradicting, I know…). That’s important for you to know because a DIY wedding was a perfect fit for me and my husband. We both have very similar style tastes and everything we did reflected our personality. If you’re a glamourous, high fashion woman (with a large budget) I would recommend that you hire a wedding planner to do it all, unless you’re Superwoman or have a career in planning and organizing.
Also, while Kyle and I did plan everything ourselves, we had an amazing “day of” coordinator that pulled everything together and made our day magical. (Anya Harden of Aspen & Oak Photography). I had this vision of everything I wanted and she took all of the things we bought and crafted and made my vision come to life! We couldn’t have done it without her. We also couldn’t have done it without the help of both of our families. They provided for us financially and helped us make decisions along the way. My new in-laws hosted an incredible “I DO BBQ” rehearsal dinner at their home in the country!
Our photography was done by the amazingly talented and beautiful soul, Andi Bravo Tolson and her husband Daniel Tolson. They are an incredible duo and they travel, so if you need a wedding photographer I highly recommend!
Many people had said to me “Wow, since you’re a photographer it must have been hard to pick a wedding photographer because you know so many!” That is only half true
I DO know a very large number of amazing photographers, however it was not hard for us at all to make a decision. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted in terms of style and standards, and I thank my lucky stars that Andi was available! As you will see by the photos in this post, we made a fabulous choice.
We got married at Traveller’s Rest Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee. Our ceremony took place on the lawn in front of a gorgeous historical plantation home, and our “Sunday Brunch” reception was on the same property inside a beautiful barn. Nashville has become a hip destination wedding location and venue rentals are becoming unaffordable for many couples.
We chose our venue because it was gorgeous, but also very reasonably priced. The people at Traveller’s Rest were exceptional to work with. We couldn’t have picked a better location! Having an outdoor wedding on a Southern Sunday afternoon in August is a gamble in the heat, but we were blessed with perfect weather and we saved a lot of money because it was “off season” for weddings.
So, what exactly made this a DIY Wedding?
Well, “thrifty” is one word to describe it. I reused and recycled decorations and handmade a lot of what we used. Very “non-traditional” is another good word. Though we incorporated the traditional elements that were important to us, it was mostly an non-traditional styled wedding.
My wedding flowers cost me less than $20 total!
With the help of one of my bridesmaids, we used a template to make my bridal bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquets. I chose my favorite hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and printed a dozen copies on ivory resume paper that I had leftover from college, and bought some craft supplies on Amazon.
By having a Sunday afternoon brunch reception and a tower of donuts for a cake, we saved hundreds of dollars. We hired Alexander’s Catering and they provided breakfast burritos, a DIY yogurt bar, and mixers for our open bar.
Having mimosas and bloody mary’s was one of the best parts of the brunch for me! Instead of a cake, we had a Krispy Kreme tower – a sprinkle donut dream come true. Additionally, we brewed our own cold brew coffee and served it in mini mason jars.
For one thing, our venue was so gorgeous that we didn’t really need a whole lot of decorations. We ordered a few things from OrientalTrading.com and the rest of our decorations were things we already owned and upcycled them.
My mother-in-law is really crafty and made our ceremony arch out of an old trellis and used vintage lace curtains that I had found. She also created our donut cake stand!
I recycled wine bottles and wrapped twine and rustic pearl wire around them and placed them on top of vinyl records. During the reception my bridesmaids used the bottles to hold their bouquets (not pictured). Some of the other wine bottles were made into holders for our 45 record picture frames. You can read my post on how to make those here.
We made our own programs out of paper fans we ordered from Oriental Trading and used paper we already had at home to print on.
Since my husband is in a band and knows where to get ahold of some gear, we felt there was no need to hire a DJ. We made a Spotify playlist for our reception and just let it play on shuffle.
For our ceremony, we were honored to have my uncle to play classical guitar. He played an instrumental version of “Sails,” a song by Steve Wariner, and my all-time favorite song by Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide,” was the song I walked down the aisle to.
Then of course, I HAD to have the Monkees play over an iPod as our recessional. I’m a Believer!
- We designed our invitations from scratch together in Adobe Illustrator since we both have a little bit of a background in graphic design. We printed them with Shutterfly and cut out circles of black poster board to mimic a 45 record. Our inspiration was the famous Hatch Show Print, a Nashville based design company known for their iconic letterpress style music posters.
- We had wedding boot bubbles and personalized guitar picks as our wedding favors! Made by Oriental Trading.
- On the fake 45 records inside our invitations was the name of a Spotify playlist we made of our favorite love songs by our favorite artists. We basically made a millennial version of a mixtape – digital and free! I designed and printed the stickers we put on the records with Zazzle’s customizer. They came out so great!
- Instead of doing a unity candle, we created our own “wine blending” unity ritual. I had a wine glass engraved to say “Your love is sweeter than wine” and we each poured our own red wine blend into a decanter, then into the glass, and then we each took a sip. This idea was based the Old Testament book Song of Solomon (Song of Songs). Made by Shutterfly.
Hair & Makeup
I had the best of luck to have two sweet friends that are super talented on hair and makeup duty. They made me feel like a queen!
Hair by: Jamie Feliz – @hairbyjamiefeliz
Makeup by: Chelsea Rotella – @chelseamariestyles
All The Things
Photography: Andi Bravo Photography
Dress by: Allure Romance
Boots: Lucchese Boots
Wine Glass & Decanter, Invitation Cards, Guestbook: Shutterfly
Invitation Design: Kyle & Kindell Buchanan (that’s us!)
Invitation Stickers: Zazzle.com
Guitar Pick Favors & Boot Bubbles: OrientalTrading.com
Chairs & Whiskey Barrel: Liberty Party Rentals
Bridesmaid Skirts: Charlotte Russe (lilac) & Lane Bryant (champagne)
Groomsmen Attire: H&M
Ceremony Music: Brian Moore (my uncle and incredible classical guitarist)
Officiant: Andrew Greer
Coordinator: Anya Harden
Venue: Historic Travellers Rest Plantation & Museum
Caterer: Alexander’s Catering
Jewelry: Forever 21, Claire’s, Old Navy
Special thanks to our wedding party and guests, our officiant, and our families!
Our wedding was so perfectly “us” down to every little detail. My advice to anyone considering a DIY wedding: If it’s what you want, do it!
You can find so many ways to save money and repurpose things and still create the most beautiful day!
I have no regrets. It was actually a lot of fun for me. The few details that didn’t pan out were completely out of my control, and none of it really mattered much anyway.
What matters most is the love of your life standing next to you at the alter!