You are sure to fall head over heels for this fun-loving DIY wedding from Abby Anderson! It is filled to the brim with handmade details and joyful laughter! We love that the bride altered her mother’s wedding dress into something new (even adding in some of her grandmother’s veil). The fabric bouquets and boutonnieres were all made by the couple’s friends and family. And there is no way not to have a good time when all the centerpieces are board games!
The location was easy–we knew we wanted to get married at Rustic Oaks. Not only is it a beautiful wedding venue fully matching our style, it’s also my parents’ business and the home that we lived in when I graduated from high school. My older brother and his wife, Jess, were the first to get married there 7 years earlier, giving my parents the vision to turn it into a wedding venue. My younger brother got married there about 5 years later. It’s home. Our vision was for a fun day for all involved–a loud, comfortable, and joyful celebration that brought people together. We wanted it to be reflective of the both of us. And we knew we didn’t want it to be stressful–for us or for anyone else. We were going for fun, simplicity, community, and having ourselves shine through in our choices.
I couldn’t see myself getting excited about dress shopping, and I loved the idea of wearing my mother’s dress. Though I didn’t like my mom’s dress in its original state–I knew it would need to be re-made to fit my style. I found an inspiration for a vintage-style dress online, asked my mom how she would feel about me altering the dress to be my own (she loved the idea), and then found a seamstress (Emily Weber) who specializing in altering old dresses into new styles. My dress looks completely different from the original, but the fabric and base was all the same. And the sheer section at the top with my sleeves/neckline is from my grandmother’s veil. My mom knit my shawl, as well.
I couldn’t stand the idea of spending lots of money on something that wouldn’t last more than a few days; I wanted something that could be kept well beyond the wedding day. I tested quite a few different flower possibilities–paper, fabric, buttons, etc–but landed on felt because of how beautiful and somewhat realistic they looked. Making them became a fun bonding experience with girlfriends and the women in my family. At first, I didn’t really have a vision–I had colors, and I had a few different styles of flowers I learned how to make, but I didn’t know how they were all going to fit together. So I told friends/family to just have fun with it and follow their creative whims. Once we had a bunch made, we could start playing with possible bouquets. And then it became more regimented as we pumped out 12 of this flower, 6 of this one, etc. But they turned out beautifully and are now an awesome memory and decoration in our and in each of our siblings’ homes (our siblings + and their husbands/wives were our bridal party).
Prior to the full ceremony outside with all of our guests, we had an indoor Tea Ceremony with family and a few close friends. The Tea Ceremony is a traditional Chinese wedding custom. It is a time for family to gather before the ceremony, and the intention is for the couple to honor the elders in their life, especially parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. During the Tea Ceremony, our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were invited to share a cup of tea with us—the offering of the tea signifies our respect and appreciation for their role in bringing us to this place in our lives. As we offer tea, traditionally the elders also present a gift of family jewelry or a red envelope (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_envelope). Mason’s mom gave a speech while they were up sharing tea with us that was especially moving and created a lot of wet eyes in the crowd. Amanda was given lots of jewelry during this time that was passed on from members of Mason’s family. For the rest of the day, she wore the necklace given to her by Mason’s mom, which had been gifted to her on her own wedding day from one of the mothers.
Really the most important part of the planning was that we were doing it together and we were having fun. As soon as it became not fun, we’d know that it was a good time to switch gears or let something go. And our priority for the event was in wanting it to be a fun and enjoyable experience for our guests–all our loved ones. They were traveling long distances and spending lots of time/energy/money to come celebrate with us, so we wanted it to be an event that brought people together and honored their gift of love and time. Because of that, we splurged on the food and alcohol–wanting to have an awesome meal (reflective of the two of us) and for the drinks to be plentiful. We had three different food stations during the meal–one with catfish tacos (Amanda’s family loves to catfish together on the Red River), one with a noodle bar station (long noodles in Chinese tradition = long life), and one with turkey/mashed potatoes/etc (Amanda’s grandparents live on a turkey farm, so it’s a staple item of every meal with the extended family).
I’m not entirely sure how we landed on colors. We knew we wanted to incorporate red, the Chinese color of celebration, but just red and white felt like Christmas or Easter, so wanted to add variety. Amanda’s go-to color is mustard, so that seemed like a natural fit. And somehow navy just helped pull it all together. And style? We weren’t necessarily aiming to be a “DIY Wedding,” but I guess that’s what emerged when we made decisions that were true to us and that were wanting to minimize unnecessary spending. We quickly knew that we wanted games to be part of our centerpiece reception, as we often gather together with friends over games (and have been known to bring them other places to pass time or build community). When we realized we needed table numbers, Mason came up with the idea of adding old cook books to hold up the numbers (he’s an awesome chef and shows his love by cooking for other).
For favors, we invited guests to take any of the board games or cook books at their table (all purchased from thrift stores). Mason had also designed a bunch of MN-themed pint glasses for his Wrestling Team’s Fundraiser and had a bunch left over, so we also invited guests to grab pint glasses.
As much as possible, let the planning process be fun. If you start to stress about all the details or the time it takes to do something, consider whether or not that detail is truly needed and if there’s a way to simplify your life by taking it out of the process or by simplifying how it gets accomplished. Think about the end vision of how you want the day to feel for you and your guests. Then think about what you might be able to incorporate (or take out) in order to facilitate that feeling for all involved. And remember that ultimately it’s about the life that you’re building together, not the one-day-affair. The wedding is just a fun celebration of all the love that is to come.
Photography | Abby Anderson | Venue | Rustic Oaks | Catering & Desserts | Moorhead State University Minnesota Catering | Reception Musicians | Kathie Brekke & The 42nd Street Jazz Band | Engagement Ring | Joanne Rowan | Wedding Ring | Sterlings Silver Shop | Bridesmaid Dresses | Xiaolizi | Alterations | Emily Weber | Bride’s Shoes | Loulou Ballerina | Submitted via Matchology