Today marks the one year anniversary of our swanky DIY backyard wedding… so we thought a wedding week was in order.
That’s right, we’re dedicating this week to sharing all of our crafty and creative ideas for not only a swoonworthy backyard wedding, but a fun and festive gathering of any kind. So don’t tune out if you’ve already tied the knot, we’re gonna bring you tons of affordable, personal, and unique decorating and entertaining ideas fit for any par-tay on your own turf (even if it’s just a romantic evening for you and the hubby). So sit back, relax, and don’t worry about having to catch the bouquet.
First the basics. We got married on 7/7/07, our exact two year anniversary of dating (which just happened to fall on a Saturday). Unfortunately 36,000 other couples picked the same exact date to get hitched, so we decided to make everything else about that day feel fresh, original and so very John & Sherry. And what could be more personal than hosting the 75 person affair in our own backyard?
Just like everything else we do, our wedding was one giant DIY project. From the invitations and decor to the food and entertainment, we pulled out all the stops (without breaking the bank) by doing everything with our own four hands. And because the event was at our home sweet home, we were able to put money that otherwise would have been spent decorating a venue into our own home improvements (gifts that keep on giving even a year later). For example, we knew our old jagged patio was a tripping trauma waiting to happen…
… so we invested some of our wedding money towards replacing the old slate patio with a new cobblestone paver version, which created the perfect place for a big wooden buffet table full of delicious gourmet eats and a grilling station for the chefs (John’s uncle and nephew)- who donned customized aprons that read: “You may now kiss the cook.”
And not only did we need a flat surface for serving, we also wanted one for eating and entertaining, which is why we went on to pave our treacherous gravel driveway (where heels + gravel = yikes!).
The newly paved surface created the perfect place for grubbing as well as mugging for the photobooth that we rented for the occasion. We’ve never been so thankful to have such a huge driveway (with a spacious turnaround area in the back of the house which kept all of our partying private). And the added bonus that we haven’t had to weed our monstrous driveway since getting it paved (which used to take days) is one of the best wedding presents we could have given ourselves.
While these two home improvement projects were so major that we brought in the professionals, nearly everything else was completely DIY from there on out (thanks to some help from our fabulous friends and family). Between John’s cousin officiating the ceremony, a friend playing “here comes the bride” on the guitar, and relatives cooking up some gourmet fare on the grill, we definitely kept things personal and meaningful. And when it came to setting the tables, crafting the menu, making the bouquet, assembling the centerpieces, designing the lighting, creating the perfect favor and coming up with our version of a wedding slideshow, you know we embraced the creative and the unexpected. So stay tuned for every last DIY detail.
*Drop in on our Wedding Album tab (right below the header) to check out all the details of our big day from start to finish!
So cool. I can’t wait to see more!
I echo Kristal… exactly. :)
We sort of did something similar for our wedding (7/17/04), except our friend let us have the wedding in his “backyard” which is on the beach. And we only had 25 people. But we did pretty much everything ourselves: decorations, invitations, bouquet, music mix… everything but the clothes, and food…
But we couldn’t figure out how to add lighting like you did… so we had to rely on tiki torches around the property. Please do tell how you did that. Maybe we’ll be able to use it for another party, eventually. :)
I can’t wait to see more of your photos and ideas.
Ooh, fun! I can’t wait to see more!
With a backyard as gorgeous as yours there is no reason not to have it at home! :) Seriously, it looks like the space was just made for a wedding.
We got married in the winter, otherwise I would have had our wedding outside in the yard too (my parents yard). We got married almost 1 year to the date of when we started dating, and we have a fun date as well. We also got married during the Olympics which were going on in Salt Lake City (we went to an ice hockey game just the week before our wedding!).
Can’t wait to see the rest of your wedding week posts. It looks like it will be a fun week.
i love this idea and how it looks. i notice you didn’t have a tent- was there one in the plans as a backup in the case of rain?
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! Your wedding was one I will always remember. From the photo booth to the clothesline of photos to the candles lining the driveway…it was perfect and you really lucked out with the weather. Congrats on one year down and a lifetime to go. xoxo
freckles chick says
Happy Anniversary =) Your wedding looked so, well, like you! Love that you put so many of your own personal touches on it. Can’t wait to see more.
Glad to hear everyone’s looking forward to wedding week. If we’d had this blog last year you all would’ve been invited. Promise.
Samantha actually asked the million dollar question: what was our rain plan? It included three things: cross our fingers that it didn’t rain, cry if it did, then cram inside for cover. We considered the tent option but couldn’t find a way to cover both the reception area (driveway) and ceremony area (yard, which would be muddy even under a tent). We also didn’t want to sacrifice the beautiful, open setting on the off chance there might be showers.
So we just nervously tracked the weather for days in advance and breathed a big sigh of relief when the forecast called for nothing but sun. But we know it was quite the gamble (and we’re still breathing sighs of relief).
And I must say I’m thankful we got married last year, because the weather this week hasn’t been very dry…
Fantastic wedding pictures… Aimee’s right: Your backyard looks primed for a wedding. Looking forward to your ideas for making use of the back of the house space – probably our fav. place in our home.
Happy 1st Anniversary!
Your wedding was darling, and looked so fun!
I love the photobooth, what a great idea!
so excited for wedding week.
I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures. We had our wedding in a church but our reception was outside. We also did not have much of a rain plan. We got married in April in Texas so you never know about that time of year. I’m so glad we picked the weekend we did because it was pouring rain the weekend before and it was freezing cold the weekend after.
Wow – your backyard is huge. What a perfect spot for a wedding! Can’t wait to see more photos. In NYC, no one has this kind of space but I wonder why more people don’t have at home weddings?
Love the sweet elegant simplicity. You guys did a great job!! Can’t wait to see more!
What a beautiful and personal wedding you had. Wonderful job on the planning…very creative. I love the photo booth idea and the colors you picked. Everything was great!
love, love, love the ideas from your wedding!! congratulations! you are the coolest couple!
Wedding week, what a great idea, combines two of my favorite things, home renovations and weddings.
I did lots of DIY stuff for our wedding too, maybe I’ll steal your idea and post some of them on our third anniversary next April.
You did get lucky with the weather. we had an outside wedding planned too. But in Miami in April which is normally quite dry. In fact, there was a drought for the 90 days leading up to our wedding… and guess what day the skies decided to finally open up? Yep. At least we were able to have the ceremony outdoors even though we did move the reception inside. The one good thing was we got a rainbow out of the deal. :)
I have a question about your patio! (btw,your wedding was adorable:)) I am trying to rip up my patio at my townhouse and put down pavers, if you dont mind me asking how much did it cost you? and did you get your pavers at a home depot place or go to a “stone quarry” to get them for cheaper? I have someone coming out to give me an estimate but that is exactly what i want it to look like and I was just curious, any info would help! Thanks!!
With just three weeks before our backyard wedding we actually hired out the work of the patio so it was done in 48 hours with zero stress. We selected the shape and the stone and the patio guys just went to work and when the dust cleared we had an awesome patio just in time for the wedding. It was really nice to contract out the work since we were so busy figuring out how to cater an event for 75 in our own yard! Hope it helps…
we’re having a backyard wedding for my son next summer. Tiny details that bug me — did you have one set of chairs for the ceremony and another for the dinner? or did you move the chairs from the ceremony to the tables?
Probably 150 guests or so.
Darling wedding and website – yea for you guys!
We just picked ten able bodied guys to quickly tote them over from the ceremony to the reception site since they were so close and our guests were mingling anyway so it wasn’t much of a disruption. Totally worth the money we saved, plus we could spring for the nice wooden padded chairs over plastic or metal ones, which really set the scene. Hope it helps!
Kay Marie says
Hi John and Sherry,
Sorry to comment on a long ago post, but I’m working my way backwards through your blog. *LOVE* it. Thank you so much for sharing all of your hard work. It is so reassuring to see that all things really are possible, if you’re willing to put in the work!
Now on to my question, and forgive me, but it’s going to be a silly one. My fiance and I are currently planning a backyard wedding at my parent’s home for Fall 2011. We are anticipating a fete similar to yours, with around the same number of people…so here it goes…my mom is suggesting that we rent “pretty potties” for outside. The house has 2 bathrooms, but one of which is on the second floor in the master, making it pretty annoying for a guest to use. Did you happen to run into any problems with this “issue?” I see your home has 1.5 baths…did you find that to be enough for your 75 guests?
Thanks for humoring me, and again, GREAT blog.
Oh yes, we had no worries with people ducking inside to use the bathroom (one bathroom was used for the most part, and we had around 75 guests – it worked out really well). There wasn’t ever really a line since people milled in and out and not everyone ran in at once, so we just had someone assigned to make sure there was always some extra toilet paper in there (so no one thought we had run out). In our humble opinion, going to the bathroom inside was a bit more comfortable for guests than ducking into an outside port-o-potty. Plus we avoided that cost so we thought it was the best choice for us. Hope it helps!
Hello John & Sherry,
I am currently wedding planning right now and I am just in LOVE LOVE LOVE with every detail of your wedding! I am seriously considering copying every single detail (hopefully that is okay with you guys and you guys are true believers that imitation is the highest form of flattery!)
I was wondering if you had anyone else do this in the last few years and if they sent you any pictures? Also, if there was anything that you would have changed/done differently/or added?
Pretty much the only detail I was looking at changing was using Ball canning jars for the glasses instead of regular glasses. I LOOOOOVE to can my organic fruits/veggies so I could re-use these jars for years to come! Other than that I think you guys had the most beautiful/creative wedding I have ever seen! Props to you both and thank you for sharing your lives/ideas on here… Reading your blog is truly one of the highlights of each day for me.
We’ve received a lot of amazing emails about people who adapted some aspect (or many aspects) of our wedding and they all seemed really pleased with how things turned out. We also really loved our big day and honestly wouldn’t change a thing. And your canning jar glasses sound really charming! We’ve seen them at weddings and they’re so sweet! Good luck with everything!
I love this site. We are in Chicago and planning a wedding under $5K is not an easy task. We think we have found the perfect B&B 90 minutes south of here for a campout weekend for our friends and family. We plan on decorating the tables with vases filled with 20/$1 limes and lemons from the local fruit stands. Today I found all of the vases at the thrift store for a mere $4.50. Looks like a good start to a budget wedding.
I would love some more tips on how to find the right people to help with all the jobs, photography, bar-tending, etc. We have asked a friend to officiate, but have to research how to certify him.
Thank you again.
We just brainstormed who would be good at what (a brother in law who was a photographer seemed like the person to ask, a cousin who was really well spoken made the perfect officiant, and John’s bbq loving dad and uncle were the men to man the grill). Good luck with everything!
Loved reading about your backyard wedding! I have a behind-the-scenes question. Since you used real glasses, plates and silverware (so classy!), what did you have your guests do when they were finished with their meal?Also, did you purchase more of these items than number of guests or did your guests stick to just one plate/glass/utensil throughout the day? Thanks!
We had a few relatives bring them into the house and just stack them in the sink/on the counter for us. You’d be surprised how 75 plates are just a few stacks of 20! Everyone just used one cup and plate and then dessert was a cupcake on a napkin.
Kui Hew Len says
I love your blog and all the amazing things you do with your homes. I like that we have one thing in common and that is the same wedding anniversary as all 36000 of those other couples.
Haha, gotta love that. It was quite a romantic day…