One of the many reasons why I love my (now) husband is that he let me take full charge of wedding planning. He called it “your wedding, our marriage,” and though the wedding was very much ours, he wanted me to run with my vision and enjoy my giant craft project to the fullest. I never knew what my “dream wedding” would be like, but I knew that it had to have personalized, crafty touches.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of San Francisco, but my mom grew up in a small town in Washington. Her family bought a piece of land on a nearby lake over 40 years ago, and it has since become our annual family vacation destination. Loon Lake is a tiny and funky town with not much more than a bar, rib joint and gas station, but we treasure it for everything it has to offer. When I took Jon there for the first time, he quickly loved it like I do, and when the time came to decide on a wedding venue, we knew immediately where it would be. We wanted all of our friends and family to see and enjoy our favorite place; a place where we plan to take our own family for years to come.

Turning a small lake property into a wedding venue was a fun challenge. We were able to have the ceremony on the beach by the lake, but for more space, we pitched a canopy tent in the grassy area at the next-door “resort” (better known as an RV park with some rustic cabins) for the reception. Luckily, rustic-chic is my favorite style, so it was a natural fit for our wedding décor, which included as many DIY elements as we could get our hands on.

First up were the wedding invites. My first real job was working at a scrapbook store, so the thought of cropping and gluing ridiculous amounts of paper doesn’t scare me. Though they were probably the most time consuming piece, they were worth every second. They turned out just how I wanted them to. I bought all the paper supplies at Paper Source and I designed them with some fun free fonts (Channel Slanted, anyone?) on a fancy-schmancy program called PowerPoint (Heard of it?). Just goes to show you don’t have to be a graphic designer to make your own invites.

The online map to our wedding venue led guests back-roading, and assuming some guests would forget to bring their map, we knew we needed some signs on the street. We grabbed some wood scraps, found the tool shed of our lake cabin and got to work.

For the ceremony, Jon and I wanted to be right next to the lake and let our guests take in the beautiful view. It started raining at about 1 p.m. that day and needless to say, I was a little disappointed. (Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s supposed to be good luck.) The ceremony was going to remain lakeside rain or shine (with a slew of umbrellas) but miraculously, the rain stopped 15 minutes before ceremony time. The calm decided to come after the storm in our case, and the lake was perfectly still and peaceful for our ceremony.

The ring bearers stole hearts, especially with their handmade vests, bow ties and ring pillows. I can’t take credit for these, but my mother- in-law is quite the seamstress.

To make the ring bearer pillows, she cut two burlap squares into roughly 6×6 inch squares. She sewed them together with a half inch seam, stopping part way through to stuff some stuffing into the pillow. The edges are left frayed, so you don’t have to worry about turning the pillowcase inside out before inserting the stuffing. She also sewed on a strap to the back for the boys hands, which were about 2×6 inch rectangles. Once sewn, she added some ribbon for decoration. One of the small ribbons had VELCRO on both ends so that the ring could slide on and be secure.

During the cocktail hour, we had our guests sign our postcard guestbook. Since we recently had moved to Switzerland, we bought vintage European postcards off Etsy and asked our guests to give us travel tips for our “three-year honeymoon.” They also drank our signature basil grapefruit ginger beer cocktails out of Ball jars — because that is obviously the best way to cheers the newest Ball couple.

I designed the escort cards in Word, printed and trimmed them and added a triangle scrap of paper, leftover from our wedding invites. We displayed them on an old bed frame that Jon just so happened to find the year prior while snorkeling in the lake.

To make the fish table numbers, I again used paper scraps from the invites to cut out fish shapes. I pasted some numbers on the fish and attached a wire through their mouth. I tied on some fishing wire and tied the fishing wire to a twig (found on the side of the road). I then put the twig into a Ball mason jar with some rocks at the bottom to keep the table number in place.

The next fun item on the table was the wedding favor. We lugged 150 bars of Swiss chocolate back to The States so our guests could get a taste of the real thing. I made custom labels and glued them around the foil of the chocolate bar. They were budget friendly, easy to customize and let me tell you — people did not forget to take them! I’d say it was a wedding favor success. Check out the more detailed how-to here.

If I had the time, I would have loved to make all the desserts for our wedding, but it just wasn’t feasible. I wanted a lot of dessert and a lot of variety. But, I did find a bakery that was open to make everything I asked for, including these Ball jar cookies. Don’t be afraid to ask for something custom because fellow bakers love a new baking challenge.

Dinner was over, the cake was cut, speeches were spoken and it was time to get dancing. My dad’s got some moves, so it was time to put him in the spotlight. Instead of a traditional father-daughter wedding dance, we had a friend help us choreograph something a little more exciting. Let’s just say the highlight included big butts. I cannot lie.

The last and final piece of the wedding is another one I can’t take credit for. My cousin is quite the artist and created an awesome backdrop for our photo booth, which was a picture of our lake. I talked my uncle into taking the pictures. With a combined effort, we got a customized photo booth for free, minus supplies of course. And what’s a wedding without some crazy pictures?

Overall, it was everything I could have hoped for in our wedding day.

Photographer: Ifong Chen
Wedding Planner: Agape Events
Videographer: Matt Green Films
Photo Booth: Lake Hope Photography
Catering: Beacon Hill Catering
Desserts: Just American Desserts
Music: Big Show Mobile Entertainment

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