This post is part of a series about our DIY Kentucky Vineyard wedding. It was such a labor of love and there is so much to tell, so I’ll be splitting it up into categories. I hope you’ll find some inspiration and entertainment from what we did for our wedding, along with some ideas for your own day! You can read about the music here, or the venue here.
Let’s talk about decorations!
Because our venue was such a beautiful backdrop for the wedding festivities, we didn’t really have to decorate much. The hillside where we set up the ceremony was decoration enough, so we went very minimalistic by having only the amazing homemade stained glass windows my mother made for the front of the ceremony and some old wooden church pews toward the front for seating.
In the beginning of the planning, there were two things I knew I wanted — hydrangeas because they reminded me of my childhood, and white pennant banners hung everywhere because I loved the ones from Lady Mary’s wedding on Downton Abbey. While I definitely wanted a semi-modern, unique wedding, I did use this fictional, English couple’s wedding as inspiration for my own, taking it down several hundred notches.
I’m not sure who made Lady Mary’s white banners, Mrs. Hughes probably, but ours were made by Kyle’s aunts, cousins, and our mothers. We used mostly leftover and found fabric for the pennants, all in shades of white and cream, some cotton, some lace, some random fabrics with embroidery on them. Kyle’s aunt told us she and her daughter sat on the porch and cut out the triangles, which took several days, and then they split up the triangles and everyone began sewing their portion onto the yards of ribbon. By my mother’s calculations, we had 263 yards of the banners once everyone was finished sewing themselves crazy, and then my aunt Di climbed up on a ladder and staple-gunned them in place. This is just one example of how the entire planning process went — Kyle and I would have a specific/crazy idea, and our families would come to the rescue and make it happen. We wanted white banners like fictional Lady Mary? Poof! Here they are!
The biggest overarching theme of our wedding was “home and heritage.” This happened almost accidentally, but Kyle and I are very much attached to our roots, so we wanted to reflect that with the decoration as well. For the table settings, we didn’t assign seats, but each table had a person with a quote on it, and you were announced to get your food according to whose table you were sitting. We chose well-known people, like Ernest Hemingway and Katharine Hepburn, and tried to choose quotes from those people that fit what we believe and what sentiments we wanted to evoke throughout our wedding day. Kyle is also a movie/music/literature/pop culture pro, so being surrounded by the famous people we have grown fond of made sense. Along with the photos and quotes, we had flower arrangements, created by my mother and some other helpers during the time we decorated, in mismatched vases, as well as some little gold forest animals to remind us of the mountains and woods by which we grew up, all set up on mismatched tablecloths in shades of white and cream. The bride & groom table also had my tambourine and harmonicas on it, which I just wanted to add. I doubt Lady Mary would ever have harmonicas or mismatched anything at her wedding, but it works for us.
We also included a wall of old wedding photos from our family members. This further reflected how much we love our people and where we’re from, and I hope reminded everyone of their happy times during our happy time. To add a little more color and whimsy to the decorations, my parents helped me make these painted wooden arrow signs to direct guests where to go on this huge piece of land. My dad cut them out of pieces of wood, I painted the base coats and stripes, and my mom used her steady handwriting skills to paint the words. Then on the day of the wedding, my dad, while sweating bullets and living on the verge of a panic attack because his daughter was about to get married, placed them in their appropriate spots. Team work! I also painted a couple of canvases with some song lyrics on them, my favorite being the one from The Lumineers. My mother also helped me create this little sign for cards, which was placed into an old suitcase that Kyle’s mom found, and the sign for the menu, using her handwriting and paint pens to trace over the letters onto glass picture frames.
For the bride, groom and bridal party, we used real plates, glassware, silverware and napkins, again, to Lady Mary’s disapproval, all mismatched. We used place settings from my mother, as well as some that belonged to Kyle’s grandmother, my great-grandmother, and some hand-me-down pieces from other relatives. We also offered mason jars and striped straws for the guests’ drinking glasses. The dishes were one of my favorite parts about the reception. I loved the mixed patterns and at-home feel of the table setting, and I think this just further reflected our casual, yet thoughtful, wedding day.
I know I’m going to say this a hundred more times, but we could not have had this day without the help of our family and friends. I can’t remember exactly who did what because there were so many people just getting to work so I didn’t have to worry as much. Even though our decorations were fairly simple, it still took so much time and work to make it happen.
If you are thinking of having a DIY wedding, don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are people who will help, even if what you want sounds crazy to them. If they care about you at all, they will understand that your day is about you, so whether you want three football fields worth of banner or neon glitter spray painted roses, someone will help you make it happen. Having DIY projects throughout your wedding planning can be a great way to bond with your people, too! Yes, there were stressful times when my mother’s poor kitchen table was constantly covered in fabric and hot glue guns, but I think those are still fun memories and made the end result so much more special. To be able to look around your ceremony or reception and think “I made that…mom made that…dad fixed that,” makes it so much better!
What type of wedding decorations do you like? Simple or extravagant? Would you do DIY decor?
All photos by Jessica Hutchinson.