On August 14th, 2016 in an enchanted forest full of giants known as the Redwoods of California, my fairy tale began. That was the day my prince charming asked me to be his forever friend; his wife. Around six months later, February 10th, 2017 we said our vows and I do’s. We choose this date for a very specific reason, hand in hand we watched the full moon rise.
We planned the wedding fast. It took us 6 months to plan a dyi-backyard-vegan-wedding. Thankfully I am surrounded by very supportive family and friends, whom all are extremely talented as well. I had the help from so many loving people and honestly couldn’t have done it without them. I am about to share my journey and what we did to keep the wedding simple, cost-effective and beautiful. I started my minimalist lifestyle in the middle of creating the wedding (I think the wedding had a lot to do with me wanting to become a minimalist). I learned a lot and overall there really is not much that I would have done differently.
This post might be longer than most of my other post, but I promise it is worth the read. I try to keep it a light read with all the main points of each topic. I hope you enjoy my story, it’s been a pleasure reliving this experience through this post.
The first step when planning a wedding is to create a guest list. This list will give you a general idea of how many people will be attending. This also gives you an idea of how much food will be needed, decorations, party favors, etc. I did learn that this list is just a ball park estimate, you do not know how many people will be attending until the RSVP date has passed, even than you still do not know because more than likely there will be some last-minute cancellations due to a variety of reasons. Since we were having a backyard wedding, we wanted to keep the list at a minimum.
Here are a few tips for planning a guest list:
- How many guest? – A simple question, yet very difficult one. We knew that having the wedding in the backyard would mean that our guest list would be kept small. (We invited 56 total, 41 ended up attending)
- Who? – This is important! Ask yourself who do you REALLY want at your wedding?
Here are a few questions we had to ask ourselves:
- How long has it been since you have spoken to or seen this person?
- Are you inviting them because you want them to come, or are you inviting them because you feel bad if you don’t?
- Will you be saddened if this person misses out on your special day?
- Do you know this person or are they an acquaintance?
- Are they a drama starter? – Unfortunately, this was a question that was important to us. In the end, it’s you and your partner’s day, do not let anyone ruin that for you.
We used the website VISTAPRINT for creating our invitations. The total price for both the invitations and return address labels was $62.46. My biggest advice when it comes to anything is to NOT go above and beyond when it comes to invitations. Realistically after your day has passed (or even before) those invitations get thrown into the recycling bin. Yes, they are pretty but I am being %100 honest with you, no one really cares about them. If I could have done it differently, I would have created and printed the invites from my home computer using Microsoft word. Of course, everyone’s wedding is different and we all put our priorities into different things, but if you can save stress and money I say do it!
My husband and I decided against a registry. At this point my minimalist journey had already begun and it was a decision on both sides to do without it. We already lived together before the wedding and there wasn’t much we really could ask for. Instead, we decided to give the guest the option to donate to our “Oregon Fund” – a savings that we have invested into for a move across country in the near future. This put less pressure on the guests who already were spending money to get to the wedding.
Note: A mistake we made was not noting this on the invitations. We had not really thought about gifts or a registry until guest started to ask us where they could find our registry. This was our first time planning anything like this, it was all new!
Party Favors and Thank You Cards
Once the RSVP date passed, we started to think of what to do for party favors. Pinterest became my best friend! Our theme was sunflowers, we bought packets of sunflower seeds meant for planting, along with sunflower seeds that the guest could snack on, and a little cute flower to go on each one. For every party favor, I hot glue-gunned together a packet of sunflower seeds, a bag full of sunflower seed kernels, and a cute little flower to go in the middle. My mother already had a miniature grocery cart in which we decorated with a sign that said, “Take one and watch love grow”. I do not know the exact cost of these, I do know that I ended up making way too many. An estimated and rounded up price would be close to $100 for the entire project.
Thank You Cards
My mother is into scrap-booking and crafting. She had a stack of plain thank you cards. She gave those to us, we typed out our own words inside the card and printed them on each one. Then, on each individual card, I wrote a special thank you directed to the person in which the card would be sent to. The cards were simple, but meant a lot since we got to write meaningful words from our hearts.
The Bride: I purchased my dress from David’s Bridal. The price was just under $400. I choose this dress because I plan on having it altered and shortened. I will be able to wear it to any formal parties in the future.
The Groom: He kept it simple. A nice pair of dress pants, dress shirt, bow tie, vest, hat, and vegan leather shoes. Unfortunately, I do not know the entire price of his outfit or the exact places he got them at. This was kept a secret from me. Everything was bought locally.
Maid of Honor/Bridesmaids: I choose to have the bridesmaids pick out their own dresses. I gave them a color (plum) and told them that the theme was bohemian and let them go from there. All my bridesmaids (exception of two) lived far away. Also, I wanted them to feel comfortable and beautiful on this night as well. I would hate being stuck in something that did not feel right on me, and I figured they would feel the same way.
Best man/Groomsmen: We had an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Luckily the groomsmen (minus the best man) all lived locally. My husband had a guy’s day and went shopping with them. They were all able to find matching outfits which included: pants, dress shirt, and tie. He sent the outfit to his father (best man) and picked out a similar outfit.
Note: It was important to have everyone wearing something comfortable and easy to walk around in since we would mainly be walking on grass. Also, Florida is very unpredictable, there was no telling if the weather would be nice or blistering hot (temperature turned out perfect!).
My mother has two wonderful friends that offered to do the photography as a wedding gift! The photos turned out fantastic. Two hard copy photo books, digital copies, a video of the ceremony, and a beautiful enlarged framed photo was given to us. Honestly, I have never felt so loved in my life. Everyone went out of their way to help make this day the best.
My Uncle Larry and Father built the runway, and the altar. The pallets used to build the “arch” were free off Craigslist. My Uncle is a carpenter and my father does construction. Together they created a beautiful place for the ceremony to take place on.
The decorations for the runway and arch/stage were all from various places. Mainly thrift shops, amazon, Craigslist, and the dollar store (this is where we found all the decorations for the wedding). My talented mother created all the floral arrangements, including my bouquet, the bridal party’s bouquets, and the groomsmen’s boutineers.
The ceremony itself took only about 20 – 30 minutes. Which included the most beautiful songs played from a local violinist (this was a wonderful gift from my parents). The officiant was a woman recommended to my mother from a work friend. She performed the ceremony free of charge. We decided to have a nontraditional wedding, and preformed a sand ceremony. If you are not familiar with a sand ceremony, it is when the couple takes two separate jars of sand (normally of different color) and slowly combines them into one jar to symbolize coming together as a couple. We left a little room at the top and later added sand from Siesta Key Beach – the beach where we originally first met at.
- Spinach Dip
- Marinated Mushrooms
- Variety of Marinated Vegetables
- “Cheese” balls with herbs
- Minestrone soup
- Garden Salad
- Olive Garden’s Bread Sticks (we ordered them without the garlic butter topping, PETA states that the butter is vegan. When we asked the Owner of our local Olive Garden, he said that the bread is vegan but not the butter. Maybe this varies from location to location?)
- “Meat Balls”
- Pasta Sauce
- Baked Ziti
- Oreo Cheesecake
- Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes
- Variety of chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies
- My mom’s famous Strawberry Cake (our wedding cake!)
- Iced Tea (Sweet and unsweet)
- Soda Water
- Mixes for hard alcohol
- Liquor (Gin, Rum, Vodka)
- Wine (My mother was not aware that certain wines are not vegan, this may have been the only part of the wedding that there were certain drinks that were not vegan friendly. She meant well, I did not make her go through the trouble of returning them last-minute. I simply bought vegan friendly wine for my husband and I, also enough for anyone else wanting to try it.)
Everything (minus the bread sticks and a few appetizers) were completely homemade. I give so much thanks to my mother, Uncle Jimmy, and the helpers who did an amazing job prepping and serving throughout the night. Hearts and souls were poured into the meals.
Note: The biggest advice I could give anyone planning on catering their own wedding would be to prep ahead of time! We precooked the sauces, pasta, and desserts ahead of time and froze most of them until the day of.
For the first hour of the reception we had the violinist (Matt Dendy) play live music. We danced to our first dance to his beautiful melodies (Ellie Golding – Love Me like You do).
If you’d like to know what he sounded like here is a video of him playing that exact song (not from our wedding): Matt Dendy (cover) -Love Me like You do
When the hour was over, we hooked a preloaded I-pod up to a speaker. There was a moment of confusion when it came to trying to get the music to work. If you plan on DJing your own wedding, I highly recommend doing a test run before the day. This might seem obvious, but believe me the closer the wedding gets, the more scatter brain you become.
I’ve said it before, but I might as well keep saying it…PINTEREST! Seriously, is the best when it comes to creativity and homemade ideas.
We laid out corn hole, which my parents already owned, along with darts. My father built a giant tic-tac-toe game out of plywood. These games definitely helped keep the entertainment going throughout the night.
Instead of a written guest book, we had a mini Polaroid camera for each guest to take a photo of themselves with and sign. I liked this idea because it is visually pleasing and I will be able to make a wonderful scrap-book out of this later.
We also had a jar full of scrap paper next to it. Guest were able to write us a cute/funny/serious letter or advice and on our one year anniversary we will open the jar and read all the wonderful notes.
- Hair – locally done ($60)
- Makeup – Self done, YouTube was a lifesaver.
- Catering – Not sure of the exact price of all the food, we chose Italian themed because it is filling and inexpensive.
- Cake – Mother made our cake
- Bar Tab – Open bar and bought our own booze
- Officiant – Free
- Venue – Free (backyard)
- Florist – Mother handmade all bouquets and floral arrangements, most flowers were fake and bought from the dollar store. Although, there were real floral arrangements as well. It was easier to use fake arrangements so less work was needed the day of the wedding.
- Music – Parents gift (Violinist), I-pod for reception.
- Photography – Free (wedding gift)
- Bachlor/ette party – Co-ed party held at my sister’s house.
***Thank you for reliving this beautiful experience with me. I hope this was interesting, informative, and enjoyable. Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions! I would love to help to the best of my ability. ***