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Gorgeous backyard wedding with tons of DIY!

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I am so excited to share this wedding with you all today!! Shot by Tara Kneiser of Dixie Pixel Photography, Peter and Dianna’s backyard wedding has incredible details and personal touches galore! Not to mention this darling couple are friends of mine, so that makes it even more sweet. Their beautiful day was recently featured on Style Me Pretty and totally belongs in the pages of a magazine. I mean, just wait till you see her custom-made dress- the one shoulder, the flower, the bolero- I mean, it’s just perfection. Seriously. 🙂 Hope you love these images as much as I do!


Where did you get married?

In Vonore, TN on my parents property, it was great because we had a real opportunity to shape the space into what we wanted!!

What was your budget?

For a wedding for 150 people we spent $15,000

What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?

Everything!!! This was a total DIY event. I designed all the printed materials, I baked the cookies for the welcome gift, the napkins, the favors, and I collected the vessels for the flowers. We wrote the ceremony our self and wrote vows to each other. It was one of my favorite wedding assignments to write vows to Peter and of course to hear his to me – it reminded me the real reason we were there that day. Sometimes I feel like it is such a whirlwind of activity and excitement that is it easy to lose sight that you are celebrating the love for one another. It was important to us to have someone we knew and loved in charge of the ceremony and Peter’s Great Uncle Bob was that man: he was so sweet and sincere.

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

Create and landscape our own venue. We put in the man hours to turn our spot into what we had envisioned. It was beautiful to begin with but after stringing the 5,000 christmas lights that we got on clearance last winter and sewing new grass seed we were able to make it spectacular. It also helped that my parents were able to grow some of the fresh veggies that our caterers used – this kept it local and cheaper.

What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?

Have fun with it! Don’t let little things keep you down and always make time for each other – we spent so much time working out wedding details that we would have to make a point to enjoy our engagement. Be ready to meet in the middle and tweak your vision to match your options. The best thing we did was to find vendors that we really liked. We loved their style, their purpose, and personalities. It is so much easier to work with people that can see and share your vision but also challenge you to try new things along the way.

What was your biggest splurge?

The photography was a big cut of our budget, but you get what you pay for and we will forever be in dept to Tara of Dixie Pixel for documenting our wedding day so perfectly. I know that someday my children will look through our photos and comment on how cool we were, and that”s really all you can ask for.

What was your favorite detail?

Well Peter”s favorite detail was my dress *swoon* and that makes me feel so good!! It is definately hard for me to pull my thoughts away from my dress as well but I would have to say the photo booth area was my favorite piece. The guests were able to have a polaroid taken and then hang it up on the line along with their advice cards they filled out and seperated from the program. The green chair was my Great Aunt Bonnie”s and it was a lovely vintage piece that inspired me through lots of other details. We had the best time after returning from the honeymoon and looking through all the photos and reading the advice cards. It helped us connect one more time with all of our friends and family. We have scanned in all the pics and are returning all the originals back to their rightful owners to display on their fridge or however they best choose!

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Walking down the aisle with my Dad in my rainboots and standing with Peter at the ceremony. I was relaxed and so full of happiness, yet also anticipating reading my vows without crying. Our vows were bits about what we loved about one another and what we were promising for the future. They were an entertaining combination of serious and funny lines that we reflect on a daily basis.

On personal details:

As young architects Peter and I both have an eye for design and we viewed this as the most exciting project we had even gotten to work on! And in the end I am so pleased that our personalities really do carry through down to the details. The whole event was definitely DIY. The wedding and reception were both held on my parents property and I wanted to make it as personable and as interactive as I could, from the advice cards, to the Polaroids, to the children sketchbooks.

On being green and keeping it local:

We thought it was the responsible thing to do to keep the event as local and sustainable and ‘green’ as possible and that our vendors also shared this vision. I had a blast spending the summer collecting old jars and bottles from local antique and junk stores and was thrilled when our florist was able to collect many of the flowers from their farm. My parents always grow a big garden and were able to supply our caterers with potatoes, peppers, greens, and fresh herbs (doesn’t get any more local than that!).  We decided not to have a cake, but instead have ice cream. Our caterers made 4 flavors of homemade ice cream: wedding cake, cinnamon, Guinness, and pumpkin. I found 4 vintage ice cream scoops and it was a hit, even with the chilly temperatures!!

Favors, gifts, DIY etc.

Peter is from Michigan and the majority of our guests were traveling from out of state. I wanted to show some southern hospitality and have a little something in their hotel room to greet them, so with the help of my parents and fiancé we made little ‘love bird’ cookies and paired them with milk cartons in their fridge. At each place setting there was a 1 ft square piece of fabric, it was to serve as their napkin. I bought fabric in 5 different patterns and ripped it into squares [we gave lots of them away, but the ones that are left we will use around our house].  Lavender was placed at each setting in memory of our grandparents and a tag that said “thank you for shaping us into loving partners.”

I adore graphic design and produced all the printed materials myself and am in the process of exploring a future in stationary design. The invitations had a perforated RSVP postcard and the programs had a tear off advice card to be filled out and hung up. Our favors were honey jars with fresh local honey- I located a gentlemen that raises bees and bought 5 gallons of honey in bulk to fill up the small glass jars, the extra scraps of fabric from the napkins were used on the top. I stamped little bee tags and ta-da! There were lots of children at the wedding and I didn’t want them to be left out, so they received their own personalized ‘Young Botanist Sketchbook’. I scanned old drawings of some of the flowers we had as centerpieces and left several blank pages for the kids to practice their own sketches. The book was designed with the intent that the kids could locate the flowers from the drawings and then hunt around for new plants to sketch themselves. On the front cover a library card was meant to serve as log for the times and places they use the sketchbook. A pencil was tied on the front to finish the gift.

We didn’t have a traditional guestbook and instead had a photo area. Guests had their Polaroid photo taken on my great aunts antique sofa and then strung up along with the advice cards they filled out. We had such a great time looking through the photos of all thr guests and reading their notes to us. I gathered old mirrors and picture frames that I painted with chalkboard paint to use as signage, the frame by the photo area had been my grandparents and I was happy to incorporate vintage items that were already in the family. I had also seen the ‘wedding tree’ project from August and After and loved it so much. My Dad is an artist and he painted the tree, it made a nice contribution to have his artwork as part of our big day. We used fall colors and plan to frame and display it in our home.

On their outdoor venue and weather:

Since the wedding and reception was all at my parents we had the opportunity to shape the space into what we wanted plenty of time in advance. Peter and strung up lots and lots of white lights in the pine trees above the dance floor. It made a truly magical place to have our first dance and it was one of the most memorable moments of the night for me. The weather didn’t quite behave as we would have liked, for this all outdoor event. Luckily it didn’t rain, but with a high of 48 it was cold. So to fight the chills and keep guests comfortable we had hot apple cider and a bonfire for roasting marshmallows. I was so stressed about the potential for rain it was hard to relax but the ceremony dissolved all my worries: the setting was lovely and I was surrounded by people I love and standing there with Peter. Near the beginning of the ceremony a squirrel ran across a limb right beside me and I saw a hawk circle in the sky, and at that point I knew everything was right and I felt at peace and so very happy.

My dress and the flower girl’s attire were custom made by the amazing Colleen Moore at White Orchid Bridal. MadMen is our favorite show hands down and we were continuously thinking about incorporating the MadMen classic style in an up to date look. Peter, his groomsmen, and ring bearer wore fedoras. My ladies dresses were from Etsy and we hurried out to find rain boots 2 days before. I started off wearing my little yellow flats but I ended up wearing my rain boots during the ceremony and reception, as the ground was really wet.

Final thoughts:

We pulled off the event for 150 people for $15,000 and I could not be more pleased with the way it turned out. I loved all the planning and DIY projects I whipped up but there is no way I could have pulled off the day with out the help of our day of coordinators: Shenna and Laura of Blush Bridal. I am so glad there were able to take control of the set up and left me and my family at ease.


Photography: Tara Kneiser of Dixie Pixel

Day of Coordinator: Sheena Bowen of Blush Weddings & Events

Food: Luxe Catering & Events

Floral: The Flower Pot

My Dress: Coleen Moore of White Orchid Bridal

Makeup: Sara Martin  Hair: Alyesse @ Lox Salon

Bridesmaid Dresses: Amanda Archer Collection


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