Colorful Al Fresco Wedding

Julie & Mat were a dream couple and shooting their wedding was an amazing experience. OF COURSE their wedding was published on Style Me Pretty and I think they way Julie described her process was perfect:

From the Bride… Mat and I met – as modern romance-seekers of the digital age do – on the internet. On our first date, we met up for drinks, and ended up having such a good time that we shut down the bar. Not long after, we fell for each other. We made a home together in a tiny, lovely apartment in San Francisco, and about a year later, Mat pulled a ring out of his pocket on a bluff overlooking the city. Among other things, Mat and I share a deep love of nature, food, and making things. On weekends, we’re often hiking, camping, undertaking all-day cooking ventures, or getting excited about messy art projects. Mat is passionate about ceramics, and incredibly talented – in fact, his creations have now replaced all of our plates, mugs, and bowls at home. I love to draw and DIY in general. Whenever I’m roaming in the city, I’ll see a display at a shop and think, “I bet I can make that” (whether I actually can is debatable, but with DIY, blind confidence usually gets you 90% of the way there).

When we started planning, we agreed that the wedding would be a joint project, that we’d make as much as we could (without driving ourselves crazy), and that it would feel true to who we are – something in nature; something casual; something that felt playful and fun.

The first decision you make while planning a wedding is definitely the hardest – ours was finding the right venue. After a somewhat angst-filled search (It’s pretty, but does it feel right? Do you think our guests would like to camp? etc.), we decided to get married in Phoenix, Arizona, where Mat grew up and where much of his family still lives. We wanted to be married outside – surrounded by nature and (with any luck) in the sun, so when we walked into the Farm at South Mountain, we knew it would be the perfect place to gather our friends and family. As soon as you walk into the Farm, you are surrounded by a lush, green lawn, broad pecan trees arching overhead, and a bright garden with fresh vegetables growing just off the path. From our city apartment, Mat and I dream about someday having a home with a big garden and chickens, so the space felt cozy and familiar from the start.

There were a number of advantages to having the wedding in Arizona – proximity to Mat’s family, nearly assured warm weather, and insanely beautiful desert sunsets. But more importantly, we would be able to work with the extremely talented Charlee Geisler of Signature Events, who – in addition to being one of the best wedding planners in Phoenix – is also Mat’s step-mom and my new mother-in-law! If anyone out there is thinking what incredible luck it is to have a wedding planner in the family – you’re right. Charlee was with us every step of the way, helping us execute on the vision we had painted, handling logistics and vendor management, and making a typically stressful process seem incredibly easy.

With Charlee on board, we were able to focus on the parts of wedding planning that we were excited about – for one, making things! I drew and watercolored our wedding invitations, and Mat made unique ceramic bud vases for the tables. We also figured out how to make marquee letters for the pie table (thanks, YouTube), and wrote our own vows. What’s more – our whole community got involved! Mat’s mom threw a party with friends in Arizona, who spent an afternoon making strings of wax paper cones (a DIY project we found on Style Me Pretty, in fact!), which became a stunning backdrop for the ceremony. My mom, sisters, and friends came over for an afternoon of wine, nail-hammering and yarn-stringing to make our table numbers. And a good friend helped us use Photoshop to convert the art I had made for the invitations into table-assignment coasters and beer coozies that we gave out as favors.

At the end of the day, the wedding was exactly what we wanted it to be – not because we had planned it to perfection, and not because we had achieved every single thing on our to-do lists (we didn’t and we hadn’t) – but because it felt love-filled, easy, and reflective of who we are. I loved looking around the space on the night of the wedding and seeing what we had made together. It was a beautiful collection of the shared efforts of people we love, and it infused the space with warmth and joy (and the edges of imperfection that we happily embrace). And of course, we danced our hearts out into the night.

I received a lot of advice when I was planning the wedding, all of which I appreciated, but too much of which can make you crazy. If I were to offer any of my own advice to brides currently in the process, I would say: a) use your community! People sincerely want to help, and allowing them to do so not only takes stress off of your plate, but also lets people you love share in the experience and feel connected to the finished product; b) when you get to the wedding, let go of whatever you didn’t finish and enjoy what you’ve spent so long planning. Mat and I promised that when the wedding weekend started, we’d just press play and let it happen. We stopped focusing on our to-do lists, lingering crafts we thought we’d get to, and should’ve done’s, and had the best weekend of our lives. In the end, the wedding is about celebrating your love with the most important people in your lives and having a great time. And no one (including you) will even notice the little things that veer off course. And if you do, you’ll be having too much fun to care.