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Whimsical Backyard Wedding in California with DIY Details

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Amy + Kalman wanted to include everyone in their wedding. They had friends and family help with the decorations, cooking, and even officiating! The bride's fun ideas to play games instead of having a dance floor was something we really loved. With a guest count of 105, this savvy couple was still able to keep the budget under $8K.
Whimsical Backyard Wedding in California with DIY Details

Amy + Kalman

Fallbrook, California
05/14/2022 · 105 guests
Total wedding budget $7,125

Budget Breakdown

Below is an estimated wedding budget breakdown provided by the couple.

  • Music/Entertainment
  • Stationery
  • Partner 2 Attire
  • Cake/Dessert
  • Rentals
  • Miscellaneous
  • Flowers
  • Partner 1 Attire
  • Catering
  • Total wedding budget
The Duncan Estates
Amy and Kalman's Wedding Invitation with engagement rings
Groom's Suit inside the Duncan Estate
a card holder on a DIY table

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

The most important personal aspect for Kalman and I were to write our own wedding vows! Reading them out loud in front of our family and friends was the best part of the wedding for both of us. 

Also, instead of dancing (which I, the bride, hate), we decided to get a bunch of lawn games and card games to have people play outside all day.

coloring, playdoh and slime activities
corn hole
the ring bearer and flower girl laying on the couch
the wedding guests sitting at round tables waiting for the ceremony to start
the bride holding her bouquet

Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?

We bought jute bags on Amazon and then used our equipment at home to engrave the bags with our names and wedding date. We also cooked and packaged all the drinks and side dishes ourselves before the wedding!

What was the biggest thing you did to save money?

We had the wedding in the backyard of a friend’s house. They own a bird farm in Fallbrook and have a beautiful lawn; they let us use it for free! That saved us over ten thousand dollars and ended up being way better than most of our friends who went with venues.

the bride holding her bouquet being walked down the aisle by her father
the flower girl throwing flowers down the aisle
a man playing the violin
the bride reading her vows to the groom
the officiant during the wedding ceremony with the bride and groom on either side

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

If you can have a backyard wedding, do it! Yes, we had to organize everything ourselves and rent all the equipment, but it was so much more relaxing and cheaper than what my friends experienced with professional venues. We didn’t have date, vendor, or people restrictions, and we didn’t have crazy rules.

I loved my wedding because it became a family affair. My cousin was my officiant! My parents helped organize. My closest friends and family members helped prepare the food days before, and they also helped take down the tables and chairs at the end of the night.

What was your biggest splurge?

My wedding dress – it was such a disappointment. The company struggled to meet my needs as a plus size bride and really failed to follow the plan we agreed upon. They originally charged me $3500 for a custom dress, but when it was delivered, it did not fit and was poorly constructed. It also did not match the plans. They quickly gave me more than 60% of my money back, but I did not feel good wearing the dress and would have rather gotten a cheap dress online. Ultimately my dress did not ruin our wonderful day!

the bride and groom smiling and holding hands after being wed
the brie and groom with members of the family
the groom presenting his bride
the wedding guests around their tables and a view of the California mountains

What was your favorite detail?

I ended up loving having cookies for dessert. It was so easy, cheap, and yummy. We got little milk carts on Amazon and personalized cocktail napkins on Zazzle. It was super cute, and cost less than what most people spend on their dessert.

What is the most memorable moment of your day?

Reading our vows in front of everyone.

bride and groom holding hands looking in opposite directions
bride and groom kissing on a rounded balcony
bride and groom sitting down holding hands