With summer wedding season in full force, our DIY Weddings series is the place to be right now for brides who are planning their upcoming nuptials. I was putting the finishing touches on my own wedding just a little over three months ago. On March 29th, 2014, the very day 34 years ago that my parents said, “I do,” I married a wonderful man named Mike, who I lovingly refer to as Mikes. Our wedding was held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame, the same church where my parents said their vows. Even though we share the same wedding anniversary as my parents, which made the day that much more special, our wedding was very much our own. As a DIY blogger, I put in a lot of elbow grease to make our big day something we would remember. And in case you’re also the type who enjoys putting in some love-filled hours into project, here is the full breakdown of our traditional-but-modern ceremony, our industrial-but-elegant reception and all the DIYs that go along with the two of them.
1. Personally Designed Invitations: About a year ago, I taught myself how to use Photoshop, and it might be the best thing I ever did. From designing gift tags to cropping photos, I use Photoshop daily. Since I know my way around this magical software, I decided to design our invitations myself. I wanted them to reflect the look of the festivities while being personal. So I crafted each insert to be double-sided with a photo on one side and the text on the other. We cloaked our envelopes in modern address wraps to go with the aesthetic. If you’re into learning Photoshop for yourself, which I highly recommend, check Brit’s class over on Skillshare.
2. DIY Welcome Bags: I made the welcome bags for guests using iron-on vinyl and a Silhouette machine. I used the Silhouette to cut out the script font and then ironed the words onto canvas totes. They are super simple to make, and I think it makes guests feel so special to see their names on their goody bags when they arrive. Inside the guest bags we had water bottles with personalized labels, candy and pretzels from my (now) husband’s hometown, University of Notre Dame pencils, a schedule of events I made, our app info and more.
3. Homemade Primp Room Decor: I wanted our getting ready condo to have the same flair as the reception, so I made these “Sip + Primp” wooden signs using adhesive vinyl, a Silhouette machine and 12″ x 12″ wood squares from Michael’s. Among mimosas and other goodies, I served popcorn from my all-time favorite spot, Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago. I had it shipped. It was a must.
4. Personalized Robes: The bridesmaids and I got done up while wearing personalized robes I had made. I purchased the robes from Wedding Prep Gals, and they embroidered them for me. They were very affordable and had a quick turnaround time. Making these would be super simple either with an embroidery machine or using the technique I used for the hotel bags — cut out your letters on iron-on vinyl using a Silhouette. Then iron them onto the robes!
5. Bow Tie Swizzle Sticks + Personalized Labels: I put my sister in charge of making these bow tie swizzle sticks. How cute are they? I also dressed up the water bottles with personalized labels. I carried this logo throughout the event. You can trick out your own swizzle stick by following this Brit + Co tutorial.
6. Dress: I wore a dress called Chantilly by Claire Pettibone. My favorite part of the dress is the back. It sold me.
7. Shoes: I wore nude lace shoes from BCBG to match the bridesmaid dresses. If you haven’t guessed by now, I didn’t really have any colors. My colors were more non-colors: nudes and ivories with touches of sparkle and greenery.
8. Rings: Speaking of sparkle, how great did my (now) husband do on my ring? He completely designed it himself. I opted for no wedding band. For some reason, I have this thing where I think the ring looks better just by itself. Mike went for a thick silver band.
9. Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses: I didn’t want my bridesmaids to look “bridesmaidy” as I kept putting it. So I had them choose their own dresses in a nude color palette.
10. Groom: The groom is an important part of any wedding ;) Here is my groom and his men doing a huddle and break before stepping into the church… of course.
11. DIY Veil: Because my dress had so much lace detailing, I wanted a very simple veil. Rather than spend $1000, I decided to make my veil. Because I wanted no lace or trim, it was literally a matter of cutting out a large piece of tulle in a big oval shape and pinning it to my head. You can easily add lace detailing with a slip-stitch and some embellishments from your local fabric store.
12. Ceremony: Although my husband and I reside in Arizona, I am originally from South Bend, Indiana. I grew up going to church at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame. When Mike proposed, I immediately knew where I wanted to say ,”I do.” The Basilica is so special to me. I was baptized there. I said goodbye to my grandparents there. I went to college at Notre Dame. Mike proposed there. And as I mentioned, 34 years ago my parents were married there on the VERY SAME DAY.
13. Pizza Delivery: After the excitement and nerves of the ceremony were through, we were all starving. So my sister’s fiancé (yep she’s getting married in one week) did a pizza run. And. It. Was. Good.
14. Stadium: Since we got married on the campus of Notre Dame, we thought it would be fun to set up a tour of the stadium for the wedding party. Let’s just say Mike’s ex-football player groomsmen were a teensy weensy bit excited. It was so fun for Mike and I to get to surprise the wedding party with that.
15. Reception: We held our reception in an old Eckrich sausage warehouse. We were all about having an elegant affair with touches of greenery contrasted against an industrial backdrop.
16. Farm Tables: I loved the idea of having two very long dinner tables. To make this happen and to keep with our industrial look, we rented several wooden farm tables. We ran ivory linen table runners down each table leaving the wooden tables exposed.
17. DIY Brushed Brass Vases + Personalized Coasters: To match the look we were going for, we wanted a lot of greenery sprouting and dripping from our centerpieces. Rather than spending a fortune on renting vases, I made them myself using brushed brass contact paper and dollar store vases. Each setting had a personalized coaster I designed and had printed. We also made our own copper salt and pepper shakers.
18. Dripping Green Chandeliers: As I mentioned, I envisioned an industrial setting with touches of greenery. To achieve this and create some drama in the room, our event coordinator put together these dripping green hoop chandeliers at our request. The chandeliers enhanced the scene without interfering with the Edison bulbs we had hanging from the ceiling.
19. Homemade Wooden Table Numbers + Personalized Stir Sticks: I DIYed the table numbers using paper-thin birch wood, adhesive contact paper, a Silhouette machine and place card holders I found at Michael’s. To make some of your very own, use the Silhouette to cut out your table numbers. Stick the numbers on the wood. Cut the wood using scissors (yes, it’s that thin), and place the numbers in the place card holders. These come in silver, so I spray painted them gold.
20. Menus: I designed the menus to match the elegant industrial feel of our reception. We served southern food family style. Yep southern. Do we live in the South? No. Are we from the South? No. Do we LOVE southern food? Yep. Mike, an amazing amateur chef (I told you I was lucky), put together our menu. The first course was a spinach salad with toasted pecans, blue cheese, sautéed vidalia onions, dates and a simple olive oil dressing. The second course was chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. The third course included pulled pork, mac and cheese, jalapeño cheese and bacon grits, sautéed spinach, biscuits and cornbread… I’ll get to the dessert later.
21. Handmade Ombre Butterfly Escort Card Display: Guests found their table number on a giant ombre butterfly sign I made with a lot of help from my sister and mother-in-law. I made it using large wooden boards, a Silhouette machine and various shades of beige card stock. I cut out the butterfly shapes using the Silhouette machine and glued the butterflies onto the board.
22. Bar: The bar is an important part of most weddings. The bar in our venue was an old vintage bar from Chicago that the owners brought into the space. The front is covered in reclaimed wood, adding to the industrial feel.
23. Homemade Signature Cocktail Signs: I made the signature cocktail signs using a Silhouette machine and wooden squares… are you noticing a theme yet? Mike’s ancestors are from the Basilicata region in Italy, and I am Irish, hence the names of our cocktails.
24. Paper Maché Dessert Sign: I made the dessert sign using paper maché letters. A vintage-inspired marquee would be another way to go. Brit + Co has a tutorial that you can follow along with right here.
26. Bride + Groom Introduction: Mike hired a photographer when he proposed to capture the day. In an interesting twist (unbeknownst to Mike), the photographer told her newscaster friend about Mike’s proposal. So the moment actually ended up on the news. We played the video for those who hadn’t seen it right before we were introduced for the first time as husband and wife.
27. First Dance: Mike and I danced to one of our favorite songs, “Free” by Zac Brown Band.
28. Our First Year: Instead of a guestbook, because quite frankly I didn’t know what to do with it after the wedding, we decided to have guests get in on our first year of marriage. We had them write down something for us to do in our first year to make it fun. And our promise in return? We would take pics and share! We weren’t sure if people would get into it or not, but it was an absolute hit. Guests stuffed their requests onto a giant ombre envelope sign I made (below). We love reading these. Many are hilarious.
29. Handmade Bride + Groom Chair Signs: I adorned our chairs with handmade wooden signs I put together just like the rest.
30. Band: We opted for a band at the wedding. It made for a lively time! One of our guests brought green wigs and broke out almost the entire group of guests into a choreographed congo line. It was such a hilarious surprise.
31. Homemade Giant Favor Display: We sent guests home with Starbucks gift cards stuffed into logo-stamped kraft envelopes. We didn’t want to give guests something they wouldn’t end up using. We thought, “Who wouldn’t use a Starbucks gift card?”
32. Father Daughter Dance: Every time I see this pic I tear up. I’m so glad our photographer captured this moment of my dad and me dancing to “The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel.
33. Smilebooth: I’d say our guests had a pretty good time in our Smilebooth. If you want to DIY up your own, Brit + Co has plenty of ideas on backdrops, props and even how to create your own slow motion video both!
34. Bride + Groom: I guess we were kind of an integral part of the wedding ;-). It was one day I will never forget. We couldn’t have done it without our amazing vendors:
Wedding Planner + Flowers: MichaelAngelo’s
Videographer: Blu Couture
Photo Booth: Smilebooth
Catering: Events with Style Catering
Cake: Sahara Katz
Band: Matt Lewis and the Union
Reception: The Brick
Farm Tables: Chicago Farm Tables
Linens: BBJ Linens
Candles: Burns Rent-Alls
Ceremony: Basilica of the Sacred Heart University of Notre Dame
Dress: Chantilly by Claire Pettibone via Bliss Bride
If you have a super creative wedding you’d like to share, we want to know! Just send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message in the comments below.