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How To Have A DIY Wedding Without Hiring A Planner

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How To Have A DIY Wedding Without Hiring A Planner

So you want to have the most beautiful DIY wedding day imaginable? If you are a crafty hands-on couple that is positive you can create all your detail, that is a good start. Are you also a great organizer that can stay on top of all these projects while managing your life around it? If you can fantastic! If that sounds a bit daunting, congratulation, you are human and asking for help either from family and friends or from a hired professional is perfectly normal. 

Our next couple were the crafty and organized sort and therefore created this gorgeous day of theirs mostly by hand. Keep scrolling to see more and to hear from the bride about her experience. Oh and don't miss the full gallery of photos provided to us by the talented  Kristyn Villars Photography.

pink and watercolor wedding invitations


wedding rings wedding flowers in white and deep red wedding dress wedding shoes


Higuera Ranch wedding venue bridal party in getting ready robes

What Was Most Important?

Let’s be honest, in preparation for the wedding, I read probably 1000 blogs and followed 100 wedding Instagram accounts to get inspiration. So there are certainly elements of our wedding that are drawn from others. But before we even started our planning we knew that the biggest thing we wanted to focus on was making the event about the people we cared about and true to who we are as a couple. When we thought about what is important to us, we knew that it was spending time with loved ones and kicking back to relax. 

When the wedding planning kicked off we knew we needed a place where we could have weekend-long festivities in a setting that felt comfortable and relaxed. We kicked off the weekend with a welcome BBQ that lead to late night boozing and dips in the pool. We started the next morning with a low-key breakfast followed by bocce ball at some of our favorite Edna Valley wineries and ending Friday night with a poolside luau themed rehearsal dinner. We had already enjoyed a full weekend with our favorite people before the wedding even started.

The focus on friends and family meant that we wanted to have every detail planned beforehand to make things stress free. Everyone we connect with after the event has noted how we thought of everything to ensure that the whole weekend was casual and easy.


wedding bouquet in white and burgundy


bridal style idea white and burgundy wedding bouquet


the bride and her bridesmaids

bridesmaids in assorted pink wedding party


groom and his groomsmen in grey and pink


wedding party

Just The Right Amount Of DIYs

We considered getting a planner, but I grew up crafting with my mom and I love a good DIY, but also knew that wedding planning and working 50 hours a week doesn’t allow for much balance (or time to focus on my groom). We selected a few key DIY projects to give a personal touch.  

Ceremony Mantle:   We love spending evenings bundled up by the fire with candles lit so we searched near and far to find a mantle to help create the intimate at-home feeling for our vows. After scouring the internet and finding nothing within our budget, we randomly came across a brand new mantle for $20 and just added some love to give it the vintage look we love.   

Chandelier Mishaps:   Hanging above it was a chandelier a friend found on the streets in San Francisco that just needed some TLC and bronze spray paint. The night before the wedding, there were crazy winds in San Luis Obispo and the mantle came crashing down. I woke up the morning of the wedding to see the mantle in 8 pieces and the arms of the chandelier bent and buried beneath. Luckily, my handy father-in-law and brother-in-law came to the rescue and fixed it up in a jiffy.   

Donut Worry 'Bout A Thing:   Not only that, but my father-in-law and a dear friend built an adorable donut wall (we thought we were getting married on national donut day, turns out it was the day before).   

Lounging Around:   We also wanted to create intimate spaces for our guests to kick up their feet (since we assume they were dancing the night away) and drink more fireball, so we took to craigslist to find vintage-inspired pieces to curate the perfect conversation settings. We wanted pieces that we could later keep in our house for years to come or lend to other friends.  

S'more what?:   My family helped us create marble prism favor boxes filled with smore’s fixins . Smore’s favors were not just because we both relish in the scene from the Sandlot where every person reminisces the quote "some more what?" and "FOR-EV-VER." Daniel and I shared our first kiss at a bonfire with friends while enjoying smore' . So it was really important to us that we found a venue where people could enjoy something special to us, cozying up by the bonfire. While smore's favors are not anything new, we wanted to start our "official" lives together the way we started our relationship  

There's Always Room For Jell-o  :  Finally, we spent the night before the wedding preparing jell-o shots. We may not be the classiest couple around, but I'll be damned if people didn't have a great time at our wedding. Since our story began chugging jungle juice and taking jello shots together at a party, we decided it was only fair to ensure we continue the celebration  


wedding ceremony backdrop mantle


wedding ceremony under a tree wedding sign wedding candle romantic rustic chic mantle ceremony backdrop

pink and grey wedding party

cute little flower girl and ring bearer here comes the bride

bride and groom and romantic mantle wedding backdrop

outdoor wedding ceremony you may kiss the bride

The Venue

After getting engaged we knew there was no other destination we could get married other than San Luis Obispo (SLO), CA. Our love story started in the beautiful central coast town while in college. It is where we shared our first kiss, first date, our engagement, we love whisking away for wine tasting weekends in SLO. 

We then sought a venue that offered a full weekend of festivities. Higuera Ranch was the perfect spot. The 250-year-old fig tree offered an intimate setting to hold the ceremony and served as a symbol of faith, hope, and strength - the foundations of our relationship. The incredible rustic barn gave us the relaxed vibe we targeted, but what sealed the deal was that Higuera Ranch has two houses on site where our entire wedding party and families could stay for the weekend. Some weddings we have attended felt like a 5 hour whirlwind of awesomeness and we knew we wanted a weekend jam-packed with that feeling.

Don't Stress This is Fun!

Getting married at 30 means we have spent the last 4 or 5 summers enjoying “wedding season” and celebrating our friends. Having been together for 11 years, we have seen every cool thing done for our friends' weddings. We initially felt so much stress in "differentiating" our wedding. Once we dropped the stress and focused on having fun, things really started coming together. We knew we wanted something that represented us; blended elements of traditional and non-traditional, super fun, a bit romantic, rustic but polished, vintage with a modern flair, traditional with pops of out of the box.

We loved being a part of our friends’ love story and big days, but also found that we returned home exhausted after a long weekend helping set-up and a brutal after wedding hangover clean-up. Being one of the last couples to get married in our group of friends, we wanted everyone to be able to spend the weekend relaxing, drinking and having fun, and not have to worry about the details. Instead of spending time on set-up and takedown, we were able to go wine-tasting the day before, spend time pool-side before the rehearsal and have a relaxing morning getting ready before the wedding.


wedding kiss


sunset wedding kiss sweet wedding photo idea wedding veil wedding photo

romantic sunset wedding portraits

The Best Moment

There was this moment before the ceremony but after our first look where I was overcome with this sense of calm. I had been so nervous leading up to the day thinking about how my dress wasn't right, the drapes in the barn weren’t where they should be and that I didn’t get the place cards I wanted. But at this moment, after seeing the love of my life on our wedding day, I knew nothing could go wrong. There was literally nothing that could happen to ruin our day because the day that was 11 years in the making was finally happening and I couldn’t imagine being any happier than I was in that moment. 

I took a moment knowing we were about to head down the aisle and took in the happiness as I was surrounded by my loved ones, cheerfully enjoying fireball and Jell-O shots, hearing about how the groomsmen had tried to “ice” the photographer and watching our worlds become one. It is a really rare and special thing to be surrounded by all the people who love you and at that moment I felt the happiest I have ever been.


wedding koozie


vintage wedding lounge

The Music

We aimed to select music that had some special meaning, even if it was in a small way I walked down the aisle to “Can't Help Falling in Love” because it was Daniel’s parent’s wedding song and we wanted to ensure that we included important memories from their day into ours. But we needed a modern flare (sorry, Elvis) and played a more modern cover by 21 Pilots.

We were having trouble coming up with a song that we felt really spoke to us for our first dance. We considered a myriad of 90s songs and had a list that was thirty songs long. One day, out of the blue, Daniel asked me what I thought of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” We added it to the long list and mostly forgot about it. One day, on my drive to work I heard it on the radio and for some reason felt all the feels. Daniel was super involved in the wedding planning and I loved that he heard this song and thought of me and the wedding. It made it feel special and I can’t help but feel like a teenager again falling in love all over when I hear that song.

For the reception , we focused on anything that will get people grooving on the dance floor! On our wedding invitation, we asked friends and family to suggest a song that would get them on the dance floor. From there, we supplemented with some of our favorites. We narrowed in on songs that are crowd-pleasers and we sprinkled in a few songs that had inside jokes attached as a nod to our friends. And of course , all the 90s jams since it wouldn’t be a party without some Backstreet Boys and Britney!


acrylic wedding welcome sign


Higuera Ranch wedding reception


rustic outdoor wedding reception wedding centerpiece bud vase and table number acrylic table number family style seating


romantic pink and gold rustic chic sweetheart table


gold and pink wedding place setting sweetheart table idea


donut wall

Good Advice

If you’re planning to DIY, get as much done as you can early on, and have a detailed plan for the day. Organization was the key to pulling off a DIY wedding weekend without a wedding planner or without rallying the troops and making your friends do a little more than they bargained for.  My MOH even poked fun in her speech about my obsessive need to make intricate spreadsheets for all things. (You can steal the spreadsheet we used to stay on track here ). 

Organization includes being on top of your vendor selections. We were blessed with incredible vendors who were true pros and this made a huge difference in the day running smoothly and staying organized! The best vendors will go quickly, (like our amazing photographer, Kristyn), so make sure booking the important vendors is one of the first things that you do!!!

You do you. There are so many “rules” about getting married that I found myself lost in "etiquette" and how “things are supposed to be”. But our favorite things about the wedding were the things that were a little untraditional. I had both my parents walk me down the aisle, we spent the night before the wedding snuggling together, we played a game of wedding party flip cup at the reception, we served Jell-O shots for the toasts and had some late night pizza as a nod to our 20 something debaucherous evenings spent enjoying Woodstocks . Remember that the wedding is about celebrating your love for one another and it should reflect who you are; not some version of what people expect.

cute little camper photo booth

cheers wedding decor first dance

Lets dance wedding sign

father daughter dance dessert table


watercolor wash and gold leaf modern wedding cake

To get a closer look at this gold and pink DIY wedding check out the wedding film The Chromatic Collective created below!

https://vimeo.com/281559485

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