If you’re in the mood for a little extra wedding inspiration today, we think that you will fall head over heels for Leilani and Brandon’s DIY backyard California wedding. Not only did Leilani hand letter press their wedding invitations, she and her nearest and dearest ladies flexed their DIY muscles and made everything from the bridesmaid dresses (which are gorgeous by the way) to the cake, favors, lawn games and even 1000 origami paper cranes! Their perfect day was topped off with a delectable dinner that culminated in a DIY s’mores bar that left us more than a little hungry!
A special thanks to Bethany Belle for sharing her photos of the happy couple!
Leilani, 24 & Brandon, 26
Thousand Oaks, CA
Wedding Date: July 14, 2012
Number of Guests: 60
Wedding Cost: About $10,000 including the bride’s dress, groom’s custom suit, and wedding rings
Wedding Ceremony Location: Groom’s grandparent’s (Grammy and Pappy) backyard in Thousand Oaks, CA
Wedding Reception Location: same as above
Why did you have an intimate wedding?
We originally wanted an even smaller celebration with only 20 to 30 people, however, we are both so close with our family and friends that we couldn’t keep it that small. Our families really wanted to celebrate. Also, Grammy and Pappy’s scenic backyard garden was just too perfect of a venue.
What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?
The first challenge, of course, was keeping the guest list small. But many people understood that it was an intimate backyard wedding. The second challenge was wanting to do absolutely everything ourselves. My husband and I are both adamant DIYers. The prospect of having a small wedding made all of those DIY projects tempting and deceivingly possible in our short time frame of four months. I’m a graphic designer by profession and took it upon myself to not only design our invitations, but actually letterpress it by hand with a small cylinder printing press. Our other projects included designing and coding the website; save the date favors; wedding favors of tea and homemade candles; sewing the bridesmaid’s dresses; tailoring the bridal gown; baking cookies; making vanilla lemonade; making lawn games. With the gracious help of friends and family, I also baked and decorated the wedding cake and cupcakes the day before and made the flower arrangements and bouquets the morning of the wedding. My sister and Maid of Honor even folded 1000 origami cranes for us. Everyone was a great sport about it until I mentioned sewing my own wedding dress. Thankfully they stopped me on that one. It would have been far too stressful. The DIYs definitely saved our budget though and I don’t regret it one bit.
Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?
Yes, and a little heartbreaking sometimes too. It’s hard to say no to family and friends who simply want to celebrate with you. We sent out an announcement to the family members and friends who were not invited to thank them for understanding and celebrating with us in spirit. Other parts of my family weren’t able to make it due to travel, but luckily we live in the 21st century and were able to simple set up a webcam chat for them to watch the ceremony live.
Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?
We had some, but not many. As mentioned before, we did send out an announcement to those who were not invited. With social media, everyone finds out what is going on quickly and feelings can be hurt even faster. We intentionally did not include the option to add a plus one on our RSVP to keep the guest list small. However, if someone personally contacted us and requested to bring a plus one (which happened a few times) we happily approved. Perhaps omitting that option from the RSVP helped or even lifted a social obligation for some singles. I feel that because it was such a small wedding, most people were familiar with one another and being a single didn’t feel as awkward amongst close friends and family.
What were the highlights of the ceremony?
Being able to Skype the entire ceremony with my grandmother in Pennsylvania who unfortunately ended up passing away the following week.
The groom’s father who was officiating the ceremony and marrying us was the first to start crying. He cried far more than anyone else during the ceremony. It was sweet. The view was also breathtaking. The proceeding days had been a mix of wet and hot weather so we were pleasantly relieved when it cooled down and cleared up for a gorgeous backdrop of the hills and valleys of Thousand Oaks.
What were the highlights of the reception?
The food! It was beyond amazing. Since we live in Colorado, Brandon’s mother handled the caterer. We hadn’t even sampled the food before the wedding, only picked out the menu over emails. Another perk of intimate weddings – yummy leftovers for days! Another highlight was the best man doing his dance and infamous split kick to a Journey song. He insisted on dragging me out to the “dance floor” and I absolutely do not dance and have two left feet. Sparklers were also a huge hit, especially with the kids.
What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?
Being able to actually enjoy the wedding! I’ve been to large formal weddings where the bridal party sits alone and later makes their way around to try and greet everyone. That wasn’t a precedent we wanted to follow. Brandon and I had dinner at a table of family and had dessert with our friends. There was never the pressure for everything to turn out exactly right or to keep to a set schedule of events. We just partied. It felt very home-y and personal.
What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?
It’s worth it. You’ll actually remember your wedding and it won’t be such a big blur of people and celebrations. If you’re worried about hurting feelings by cutting down the guest list, don’t be. Friends and family are not as fragile as you think and they will more than likely understand.
Venue: Grammy and Pappy’s backyard in Thousand Oaks, CA
Photographer: Bethany Belle
Caterer and Rentals: Command Performance Catering
Wholesale flowers : Skyline Flowers
Hair and Makeup : Teri Kontantoulas of Face to Face Esthetics
Bride’s gown: BHLDN , cover-up was knitted by her mother
Bridesmaids dresses: by the Bride and her mother
Groom’s Suit: custom from Nordstrom
Rings: heirloom engagement ring belonged to the groom’s great grandmother, wedding rings from C D Ray in CO
Desserts: made by the bride and her mother-in-law
Officiant: Dale Schrichten – groom’s father
Signs and Lemonade: by the bride’s best friend, Audrey Gore