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Brideology: Our Bride-to-Be

October 23, 2013

Brideology: The Wedding

After nearly a year of blogging about her wedding planning process, it’s finally time for Cara to share the actual big day itself! Read on for her Real Wedding story…

It’s bittersweet that I’m writing the big end-all post for my Brideology series, as my engagement and wedding have come and gone. It’s incredible how fast the time goes by, but the memories—and the marriage!—are even more incredible.

I’m so excited to tell the story and show photos by the awesome Sea Studio Photography. Because we share many Real Weddings from brides on our blog, I thought I’d tell mine in the same way…

The Scene: August 3, 2013, Treehouse Point, Issaquah, WA

Our wedding took place at the bed & breakfast at Treehouse Point, tucked away in the forest with a small meandering river, rocky beaches, wooded trails, a cozy main lodge and treehouses for our family and wedding party to stay in. It was the perfect place for us because we could all be together for the whole weekend in a gorgeous, peaceful setting.

We wanted the day to feel comfortable, intimate and fun for our 100 guests, so we included as many personal touches as we could. While it was a ton of work, it was worth it when it all came together. Our decor was eco-inspired with many recycled elements.

My mom created our welcome sign to match our invitations, and I drew the rest of our signage in bright colors on chalkboards with gold frames. Our friends helped us put up strings of lights (amazing how much just a few lights can glam up a space!) and decorated with succulents from our garden at home, river rocks, gold-painted branches and farmer’s market flowers.

Drew and I hand-wrote notes to our guests and tucked them in jars that were used for drinking glasses, also doubling as our place cards. We found funny, artsy little cards and wrote thank-yous to each person. We wanted to acknowledge the support, friendship and memories that every person has contributed to our relationship, seeing as these are the people who got us to where we are today!

My Look: I wore a gown by Olia Zavozina called ‘Delia’ that I found at a trunk show through the Wedding Suite. My Wedding Stylist Chelsea was incredibly helpful, sweet and patient, and after just one appointment with me, she knew my style better than I did. She had her eye on this gown and told me I should try it on, and she was right—I absolutely loved it in every possible way!

The gown was covered in rosettes that gave it an amazing texture, and it had an almost ombré effect in the way in which the fabric was layered. I would wear it every day if I could (but seeing as that’s crazy, I’ll probably just stick to the whole watching-TV-drinking-champagne-eating-popcorn-in-my-wedding-dress-on-my-anniversary thing).

I wore the same flower crown that my mom wore at her wedding almost 30 years ago, although I added a few fresh flowers to it. For jewelry, I kept it simple with small kate spade new york floral earrings that happened to perfectly match a bracelet my mom found for me at an antique shop.

My Groom: Drew looked amazing in his suit, if I do say so myself! He wore a grey BOSS suit with a white shirt and cognac monk strap shoes, all from Nordstrom. I got him a polka dot pocket square as a day-of surprise.

Our Wedding Party: My bridesmaids wore strapless ‘Morgan’ dresses by Donna Morgan. (A popular bridesmaid style for a reason: They’re so flattering on different body types!) I loved how the peach color looked with the bright flowers and all the green scenery. My girls looked beautiful and were so amazingly supportive and fun all weekend long. My sister Haley was my maid of honor.

Drew’s five groomsmen wore light-blue Calibrate shirts, plaid Ben Sherman ties and grey pants. Drew’s dad was his best man. The guys worked hard to set up for the wedding and then took a break to skip rocks in the river and make a few whiskey toasts before the ceremony.

The Ceremony: One thing I really wanted in our wedding was live music, so we had Drew’s brother play the guitar and his friend play the violin for the processional—”The Stable Song.” They also played “Can’t Help Falling in Love” when I walked down the aisle. It was a tear-jerker for sure! Our ceremony was personal, sweet and funny, officiated by Drew’s aunt and with readings from our families. Incorporating our families was very important to us.

Although the day had been cloudy, the sun broke through literally right as I took my place at the arbor. You hear people say that even on rainy days, the sun comes out for the wedding, and I couldn’t believe it really happened. I looked up and practically shouted, “The sun!” I was so excited, I couldn’t contain myself!

The Party: We kicked off the party with local beers and wines and popcorn, and we followed that with a delicious dinner catered by Portage Bay Café. We had a shortcake berry bar for dessert—one of my favorite parts!

We skipped many of the reception traditions in favor of more time to mingle and dance with our guests. Drew had a friend bring hula hoops to the reception—something I initially thought he was kidding about—and it turned out to be so much fun! People were having hula-hoop competitions on the dance floor!

Our Special Moments: There are so many, it’s overwhelming! I do think one of the best moments was when Drew and I were alone for a few minutes after the ceremony. I would definitely recommend taking this time to just be together—it’s so emotional and memorable!

We were surprised with some hilarious and heartfelt speeches during dinner from my dad, my sister and Drew’s dad. They were a major highlight of the night, and people have been talking about them ever since.

Our first dance was also really special because Drew’s brother played the guitar and sang Ryan Adams’ version of “When the Stars Go Blue.” The small space filled with lights felt intimate and cozy. Everyone loved the mini-concert and wanted more!

We stayed up late with our overnight guests before going to sleep in the trees. It truly was the best day ever.

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Thank you for following my journey! It’s been a great experience!

xo,
Mrs. Lommen

Images by Sea Studio Photography

The day is here: Cara shares the beginning of her wedding weekend as her Brideology blog comes to a close.

As I’m getting ready to share pictures from our wedding day, so many awesome memories are coming back to me! I’m thinking back to Friday, the day before the wedding. It was such a good day, despite the fact that was pouring rain–one of the only rainy days in weeks of sun in Seattle. I was definitely worried about Saturday but I was trying reallllly hard to go by the mantra “accept the things you cannot change.”

We had our whole team of bridesmaids, groomsmen and family out at the venue with us, helping to decorate and get ready for the rehearsal and dinner. One of the big tasks was making our bouquets. After a trip to Pike Place Market that morning (famous for it’s rows of farm fresh flowers) I had literally an entire car full of flowers. I couldn’t say ‘no’ to anything once I got to the market–I didn’t even care about a palette anymore, I just wanted tons of flowers!

At the venue we put all the flowers in buckets and started mixing and matching for the arrangements. At first I think my girls were a little nervous, but soon were excited to choose the blooms they liked best. Heidi and Candice were also tasked with making boutonnières, so they watched a quick YouTube video how-to and got to work. Amazing!

One of the sweetest things was that my parents brought over a few flowers from their house, so I had hydrangeas in my bouquet from my childhood home!

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Remember the arbor my dad was making back when I wrote about our DIY projects? Well, he hauled it over on his car and re-assembled it at the venue. My sister and her boyfriend decorated it with flowers and it was just exactly what I had envisioned–but better because of the personal work that went into it.

After decorating, it was time for the rehearsal. I had bought a cute little white dress to wear but it was still raining so hard, so our attire ended up being jackets, jeans and tennis shoes! Obviously, our run-throughs were quick and comical!

I decided to change into my white dress for dinner; even though I was freezing, it was my once chance! We had a mobile pizza truck come out to make pizzas on the spot, and my mother-in-law brought a delicious homemade Norwegian cake. We all ate at a big table under strands of lights with our wedding flowers decorating the table. It was so relaxed, casual and fun to have everyone together.


After dinner we worked on more projects–I wrote last minute signs, added pictures to our frame, and finally worked on my flower crown while drinking wine with everyone around the fireplace.

It was an awesome day—until I got extremely nervous as I was getting ready for bed! All the emotions hit me at once and I was a bit of a wreck. Luckily a quick pep talk from my groom, and then snuggling in bed with my sister helped me calm down. (But brides, be warned, your emotions can sneak up on you!) Finally I fell asleep and woke up ready for the big day, with no nerves at all!

More to come!

Cara

 

August 30, 2013

Brideology: Big Day Prep

Married lady Cara shares the details of the days leading up to the wedding, prepping mind and body.

While I’m waiting to get my photos back from the photographer, I thought I’d share a few details of the last couple days leading up to the wedding. They were definitely a mix of stress and fun, with family in town and lots left to do!

I took two days off work before the big day, and on Thursday my mom, sister and I had a fun afternoon at the Nordstrom Spa. I hardly ever do spa treatments but I thought, If not now, when?

I had an amazing facial, focusing on hydration because I knew my skin was showing wedding-week stress. It was pretty incredible…I felt like it lasted forever, with so many relaxing and delicious-smelling treatments. I also realized that I hadn’t been alone all week, and in that warm room with no sound except for a little music, it was just so peaceful. I have to say my skin was looking fresh and shiny afterwards! This might be the beginning of an addiction…

My mom and sister joined me for mani-pedis with the awesome team at the spa—we laughed with them the whole time, which helped with our jitters. Here my sis Haley and I are getting our essie wedding colors on. They turned out great!

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(Side note: The entire week before the wedding I was so afraid of getting sick I drank Emergen-C and tons of water every day. I think it really helped! I actually felt healthy and rested despite late nights and crazy days working and doing last-minute tasks. Brides, take note: Water is your BFF!)

The rest of Thursday night Drew and I spent packing up sooooo much stuff to take to the venue. We’re talking over 300 drinking jars, stacks of tablecloths, boxes of decorations, centerpieces: DIY doesn’t just mean “do it yourself” but TAKE it yourself too! It was definitely overwhelming to do so much packing when I really just wanted to crawl into bed.

Before we finally turned in for the night, we went outside to look at the city and take a minute to acknowledge our last night at home as fiancés. It was such a weird feeling to know that such a significant change in our long relationship was just around the corner.

Look for more next week—the kickoff to the wedding! (I have to admit I’m going to miss writing about the wedding, so don’t mind me as I draw this out…)

Cara

Bride-to-be Cara is now a bride-has-been! The married lady gives us a quick scoop on the big day.

We did it! It has been a little over a week since our wedding and I am still living in a bit of a fairy-tale dream land. I can’t stop thinking about how wonderful it all was!

The wedding weekend was beautiful, relaxed, and filled with so much love. With about 100 friends and family all together laughing, crying, eating, drinking, dancing, hula-hooping (yes, that’s right), it was better than I ever expected. I could go on and on!

But instead of gush like a crazy woman, I will try to recap different parts of the wedding in a few posts here on Brideology over the coming weeks and share pictures. For now, here’s a sneak peek!

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More soon!

-Cara

Bride-to-be Cara is officially in wedding countdown mode!

As the big day gets closer and closer, I’m having moments of both peace and panic. Everyone is telling me I seem very calm and “zen” about it all, and I am…most of the time!

I’ve been making an effort to just accept the highs, lows and last-minute stressors. The fact is, some things are just going to happen and you really can’t do anything about it. Here are a few “realities” I’ve been experiencing. Perhaps getting them all out here will be helpful for other brides-to-be!

You may rip your dress at your final fitting. Yep! I put it on, loved it, twirled around, sat down–riiiipp. Luckily it was just a hook-and-eye that tore off and it didn’t cause too much damage, but STILL not a great sound to hear. But it could be worse! Also, it reminded me to bring a sewing kit for the day of, just in case!

You may have crazy wedding dreams, including: your whole wedding has been planned without you; you’re about to walk down the aisle and see your ex-boyfriend; you’re at your own wedding but all the guests are strangers. At this point, I’ve decided to toss out my dream decoding book and just forget them. Not even worth it.

You may not have lost those final few pounds. You know those people who say they are in the best shape of their life at their wedding? Well, good for them. But doesn’t that mean it’s all downhill after that? At least I can say that I have plenty of time to get in “the best shape of my life”, because I’m pretty sure it’s not now. Again, best not to dwell on it! It’s not like your fiancé doesn’t already know and love exactly what you look like.

You may not be totally sure who is going to attend your wedding. I hear this is very common. Some people just never RSVP and some people won’t show up. Try not to be offended, and just send them a bill later for their meal. Kidding! Again, focus on those who are there and be grateful for the time you get to spend with them.

You may have to give up that decoration or last-minute idea. Remember those napkins I was going to make? Yeah, that’s definitely not happening! Some things are really not worth the time and effort, as hard as it is to accept. You have to give yourself a break. It’s not like people are going to walk away from the wedding saying, “Wow, those were some great napkins.” At least I hope that’s not what they’re focusing on!

Your fiancé may suddenly become extremely helpful…causing you to wonder if someone is playing a trick on you. He may show signs of organization, attentiveness and even interest in crafts. This might not be normal, but I’m going to go ahead and accept it. Really, I think my fiancé has been amazing, especially lately. It’s truly a joint effort, and more fun that way.

I’m sure there are many many more things I’m going to encounter as I get even closer to the wedding day, but hopefully I can continue to be “zen”–-or at least look like it! Maybe I need to get a facial or massage so I really look relaxed…hmmm….

Until next time,

Cara

 

Bride-to-be Cara talks through her DIY wedding decor projects and shares a few hard-earned tips!

I have a love-hate relationship with DIY projects. On one hand, whenever I see certain home decor, accessories, and sometimes even clothes, I think “how could I make that?” and I usually try to find a way. But I also tend to get stressed by big projects and then become regretful that I took them on.

Because I’m a bride on a budget, I haven’t had the luxury of buying or paying someone else to make things. We’re also trying to be eco-friendly, meaning re-using as many materials as we can. This all made for some interesting DIY projects! Here a few things I chose to source or make myself (and a sneak peek at a few of them!)

Invitations: My super-talented mom drew our invitation design by hand (just doodling one day!) We then scanned it to a digital format and added text. After a local shop printed them, we embossed little red hearts onto each one and addressed the envelopes by hand. This was one of the more time-consuming DIY projects, but I think it’s so special that they were designed for and made by us.

Tablecloths & Glasses: Instead of renting through our caterer we bought canvas drop-cloths (the kind painters use) from the hardware store. They have great color, texture, and can be re-used. We also found an amazing deal on Ball® mason jars which we’ll use for drinking glasses and can sell or use for projects after the wedding. It took a bit of time to find everything, but in the end it was a cost-saver and has a unique look.

Napkins: I wanted to add color to our neutral tables and searched everywhere for vintage napkins, but had no luck. So I decided to buy fabric and cut my own colorful, patterned napkins. I’m still working on the finishing touches, but I found this great tutorial on The Sweetest Occasion that looks pretty easy–I’m all for no-sew projects! (This might be one of those things I can’t squeeze in at the last minute, but for now a bride-to-be can hope!)

Signage: I started making signs after lots of Pinterest inspiration. My parents have old wood in their backyard from various projects so I found some broken boards, spray painted them gold, and wrote directional signs.

I looked online for how to DIY calligraphy and found easy tricks to make it look semi-professional! (Hint: Make every down-stroke thicker.) I used chalk pastels, which are much easier to control than paint brushes. I learned this the hard way!

My dad also created a welcome sign out of some old fence board. I wrote the text in pencil and then he burned the text into it with a wood-burning tool. I love this one!

HeroFor signs with more text, like the menu, I used black chalkboard spray paint on foam-core poster board. After writing on them again with (the amazing) chalk pastels I attached the boards to some old ornate frames I’ve had for years, originally from Goodwill or garage sales. (Good ‘ol vintage shopping!)

Table Décor: We found thin branches from fallen trees in our neighborhood, stripped the bark, and then painted them gold as well. These will line the middle of the tables along with succulents from our garden. There’s a gold and neutral wood theme going on…if you can’t tell! I’m calling it “forest glam.” Ha!

After all this, I have a few tips that are worth sharing for future DIYers:

Research. Don’t just jump into projects! First plan out how you’re going to go about it. (I am NOT good at this. I always impulsively try something and then become frustrated when it doesn’t work!) There are so many great resources online just by Googling things like “how to make a garland” or “how to use chalkboard paint.”

Recruit helpers. Ask friends and family for help! Often they want to find a way to be involved in your wedding planning and have different skill sets to offer. I am so grateful to my extremely artistic mother for leading many of these projects and helping me figure out how to make my ideas a reality. And to my talented and hard-working dad for building all of the things I couldn’t. (He’s working on an arbor now. Yes, an arbor!)

Keep your expectations low. Seriously! Nothing is going to be perfect, so just know that going into it. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised.

Overall, I’m glad we went the DIY route–we did save money (not time) and I’m really proud of what we’ve made! Just a few more projects to finish up before the big day (3 weeks to go)!

Until next time,

Cara

Bride-to-be Cara shares a major wedding milestone: finding her wedding dress!

I have been meaning to share this post for a while now, but all this darn wedding planning is getting in the way of my writing! Even though it’s long overdue, I still have to share my excitement about saying YES to my wedding dress!

I’ll start off with my shopping experience. I know I’m a bit spoiled because I see really gorgeous gowns every day via my job. I am also lucky to work with a team of very knowledgeable and stylish people, including the lovely downtown Seattle Nordstrom wedding stylists. However, all of this wedding amazingness was a bit overwhelming, and made it really hard for me to choose a dress. There are just so many styles, and I found myself loving more of them than I expected!

I also had the added option of wearing my grandma’s or my mom’s dress. I really struggled with this—I loved the meaning behind the concept, and they are both beautiful and unique—but every time I tried on one of their gowns, I felt like I was playing dress-up. They didn’t feel like ME. I eventually decided I wanted a dress to call my own.

And so I tried on SO MANY DRESSES. I started out not really having a specific idea of what I wanted. I just knew I wasn’t a sparkle or pouf kind of girl! I was open to trying on different styles, but was still surprised by a few that I didn’t love when they were on the rack but that I liked when I tried them on—and vice versa. (Brides, take note: be open minded! It’s hard to tell what sample dresses will look like until you actually try them on.)

I ended up finding that the best dresses for my 5’4’’ frame are A-line or a trumpet skirts and sweetheart necklines. And of course, there were tons of those to choose from! Below are a few of my runners up. These were all such pretty dresses in different ways, but at the end of the day, none of them were The One.

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One day, I stopped by trunk show at the Wedding Suite, where designer Olia Zavozina was showing her dresses for the weekend. (Brides, take note again: check out trunk shows! They’re a great opportunity to see gowns that are not normally sold in the store, and often you can meet a representative from the brand as well.)

I got to meet Olia in person, which was such a treat—she’s an enviable combo of cool and adorable at the same time. And clearly so talented! The wedding stylists knew my style very well and pulled out a dress they thought I’d love. And, oh, I did! The color, the shape and the fabric were all perfect.

I tried the dress on, texted a couple pictures to my mom and decided to go for it right then and there! I was so excited. (And I was definitely ready to decide, with only three months until the wedding!)

I’m thrilled with my choice. The dress is light and comfortable, and I feel like myself in it. Of course, I can’t share the photos quite yet… but here’s a sneak peek at my favorite part of this unique gown: the fabric!

Now I have the dress in my possession—hanging in my bedroom with a sticky note saying “Do not look or else!” to my fiancé—and it all feels so real!

Bride-to-be Cara shares the details of a big wedding milestone: writing the ceremony.

Writing blog posts is one thing…writing the ceremony that will bind you and your partner forever in front of all of your family and friends? A little different!

Even though it’s an intimidating task, we are crafting our own wedding ceremony, and it’s actually turned into a really good experience. We decided to have a family member officiate, so we’re drafting up what we want her to say and will fine-tune it together. Honestly, I love having control over what it will be like—no surprises!—but most of all, I like how it has forced us to take a break from planning the party, and focus on what the wedding is really about.

At first, we didn’t even know where to start. How do you just write a wedding ceremony?! What has to be in it?  Then one of my friends gave me about 25 examples of different types of wedding ceremonies (that she had received from her officiant)—a huge help!

We printed them all out and decided to make it into a date night, getting drinks at our neighborhood coffee shop and reading the ceremonies, highlighting what we liked.

Beer for him, giant hot cocoa for me!

From there, we pulled our favorite phrases, vows, readings and traditions into a Word doc and started to arrange it into sections. I felt like I was in high school learning how to write the 5-paragraph essay: intro, paragraph 1, bullets a, b, c, transition, concluding sentence…whenever I felt disorganized, I actually did start putting things into outline format!

It takes a TON of thought. How serious or funny should the ceremony be? How religious or agnostic? How emotional? How long?

When we asked ourselves these questions, we tried to answer from the perspective of what WE wanted, not just what we thought the audience would want. I have to admit I’ve seen a few ceremonies where the bride looks like she just can’t wait for it to be over, or the groom doesn’t think any of the jokes are funny. While it should be entertaining for the guests, the ceremony is, of course, for us: what words do we want to hear in that moment? What memories do we want to relive? What advice do we want to receive? Those are the things that will make it most meaningful to us, and I think our family and friends will recognize and appreciate that.

HeroCozy night: Writing and planning with a favorite wine.

After several nights of working on it (and with the help of a glass of wine here and there), we’re getting pretty close to being finished. It came down to a few simple themes: We feel so blessed and grateful to have each other; we are thankful for the support of our family and friends; and we’re just really, incredibly, super excited! I think it will feel great to communicate these things to each other and to our friends and family, and know that all the words we’re saying came from us.

Until next time,

Cara

P.S. Details on THE DRESS coming soon!

I have to admit that at first, I thought creating a gift registry seemed kind of frivolous, seeing as I already have a home with my fiancé and we don’t need anything. We weren’t going to register for any gifts at all. But then I came to a couple of realizations that changed my mind.

1) I have a terrible wine opener, I always have to borrow my neighbor’s baking sheet and I hate my hand-me-down dishes. Meaning that there are several items of which that I could really use a new version. I usually wait to buy until I really need it (seriously, I’ve been using hand towels as oven mitts), but this is a great opportunity to upgrade!

2) People actually like giving wedding gifts, especially the older generations. Even if a couple already shares a home, it’s still a new phase in life that people enjoy contributing to. My parents say, “Oh, Aunt Dee got us this for our wedding,” about things they still have and use today! Thinking about this brought out my more traditional side and made me realize it would be nice to accept that form of support for our new life together.

Once we decided to register, it was  fun to pick out things for our home (obviously, right?). Even being hungry, tired and thirsty at 8pm at Crate & Barrel—a recipe for registry and relationship disaster—couldn’t stop me from enjoying the process. I mean, really, how fun is the little scanner?!

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It’s also fun and easy to add to an online registry like MyRegistry.com—and easy to get carried away clicking!

Here are a few of my favorite things from our registries:

Even though I still feel a little silly, I’m reminding myself that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we should take advantage of being a bride and a groom!

(Disclaimer: this article was written from my personal perspective, not the perspective of my husband-to-be. I’m not sure he can muster up the same level of enthusiasm about this subject as I can! Though he did enjoy picking out a full bar kit.)

April 19, 2013

Brideology: Flower Power

Call me crazy, but I decided I’m going to do all my wedding flowers on my own. Stressful? Maybe. Fun? Yes, I think so!

At one point, I considered using a professional florist or getting premade bouquets from a farmer’s market, but I’ve also been trying to find ways to cut costs. After a little research, it was clear that buying fresh-cut flowers in bulk is much cheaper, and arranging bouquets can be pretty simple.

A local flower guide snapped from a Seattle magazine inspired me to make my own arrangements.

I don’t have specific color preferences; I want all kinds of bright, summery flowers, like dahlias, anemones, gladiolas and zinnias. I found out that there’s a farm right next to our wedding venue that sells bulk blooms all summer, so I’m working with them on what will be available at the time of our wedding.

Pretty dahlias in bulk from a local farm, via Pacific Horticulture.

Then I thought, if I’m going DIY, I might as well REALLY go for it and grow some flowers myself! So I bought a few bags of bulbs at Costco and planted them last weekend in containers on our deck. Hopefully, they’ll add some color to our house, and then we can harvest in time for the wedding. (P.S. If you go to Costco, I dare you to not spend an hour looking at all the pretty color combos and flower choices! I had to be dragged away.)

Nothing says SPRING like planting flowers in the sun!

There are great resources online for how to create bouquets and other decorative arrangements. My favorite is the Cali-based duo Wedding Chicks. The whole wedding site is gorgeous and addictive! In one section, they share “Bouquet Recipes,” with beautiful images, names of every flower used (so helpful!), and easy-to-follow instructions.

Amy, one of the chicks, said, “We decided to create Bouquet Recipes as a segment to help brides identify the flowers that they love. It’s also meant to inspire brides for their own bouquets, whether they hire a professional or choose DIY.” She also made a great point to me about DIY: “We would suggest testing your skills a few times before the big day to make sure you can achieve the desired result and look!”

Peach bouquet via Wedding Chicks with amaryllises, peonies and much more.

Fortunately, I won’t truly be doing it on my own. I’ll be recruiting my mom, mother-in-law, sister and bridesmaids to help. I actually can’t think of anything more fun than sitting in the sun with my girls, sipping sangria and arranging bouquets!