It’s always such an honour to share a couple’s wedding day, and we’re especially grateful when a bride or groom takes the time to share the story behind their day, the great vendors they found, the budgeting tips they discovered, and how they created their gorgeous DIY projects.
Not only is it so helpful to other brides and grooms planning their weddings, but it’s really inspiring for us too, so see all the thought and effort that goes into someone’s special day (and the fact that they’re willing to share all the details with us!).
But few brides have had such palpable enthusiasm for their wedding day, as Julianna, a beautiful bride who’s joy felt like it was jumping out of the emails, as she described her and David’s DIY barn wedding.
We’re so chuffed to be sharing not just their wonderful photos by Samantha Jay Photography, (their first look shot that’s just perfect!), but we’ve also got their dreamy highlight film by JHC Videography too. And you can instantly see from the film and the photographs, this pair are a couple in love, big time.
With a theme that worked its way around The Sweetest Day, (a romantic holiday in the Midwest US), Julianna & David’s wedding was just that, with copious personal touches, creative details, sugary treats, and tributes to both their guests, and those who were there in spirit.
But why would we tell you all about it, when you can hear it from the bride herself?
We asked Julianna to describe her wedding in three words. Her response? “Romantic/Intimate, Whimsical, Rustic, Laid-back, Organic/Natural, Genuine, Personal (okay, so a little more than three words!)”
We told you she was enthusiastic!
Wedding Day Snapshot
Our Love Story
It’s hard to say when the first time Dave and I officially met. We grew up 5 minutes away from each other and attended ‘rival’ high schools (if you will), but we actually really knew of each other through mutual friends and from attending church events.
Dave is a few years older than me, so my friends and I always found him as a quite attractive older guy!
But, we really reconnected when we were both in college (my freshmen year and his senior year). I friended him on Facebook and he ended up instant messaging me on AIM – so yes, social media/online talking brought us together and we really got to know each other the first few months with being long distance.
After many online conversations, phone calls and a few dates, we made the relationship official (and in a month, it will be nine years that we’ve been together as a couple)!
As for our proposal story, I would say it was indeed romantic!
For our seven year anniversary, we took a trip to Charleston, SC (a place we’ve been dying to visit for awhile) and Savannah, GA. On our actual anniversary day, we had reservations for dinner, but first we planned to take a walk along the water in White Point Gardens, the southern tip of Charleston, during sunset.
While strolling hand in hand, Dave kept taking deep breaths and telling me how much he loved me, and I could sense he was a bit nervous about something, which honestly got me nervous and got me thinking this might happen!
We ventured off onto a bench and before I knew it, he got down on one knee and popped the question! I definitely said, “OMG, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Haha!
After going through the roller coaster of emotions, a few girls who witnessed the whole thing came over to congratulate us!
As we proceeded to dinner, I could not stop staring at my ring — the whole moment put me on Cloud Nine (how could it not?!). Oh, and when we got to dinner, our menu said, “Happy 7th Anniversary!!”…but we now had even bigger news to share!
Our main inspiration was what we love as a couple; we wanted our wedding to reflect us completely. But, we were also inspired by our surroundings.
Since our wedding was in the fall at an organic farm, we wanted to incorporate that feel and ambiance. We mixed natural and rustic with elegance and some glam. Almost all the decorations and details were DIY, so we also wanted to make it affordable, while still keeping it personal.
Since the third Saturday of October is known as the “Sweetest Day,” we made that as one of our wedding themes.
Our cake stand said, “Love is Sweet” and I made a sign for our dessert table that said, “The Sweetest Way to End the Sweetest Day.” Our wedding hashtag also incorporated the sweetest day theme!
Another theme we had was cupid’s arrow/arrows. From our cake topper, to our wood burn, to my rose gold arrow bracelet and Dave’s copper arrow for his bout to my tote bag; these all incorporated this theme.
For our color palette, we went with coppers, golds (including rose gold), dark green, some dark blue plus a neutral palette.
For flowers, we wanted natural and deeply toned fall colors, which popped out perfectly against my dress and the bridesmaid dresses.
My wedding dress was made by Bijou Bridal’s in-house designer Stefan Jolie. It’s such a romantic dress; lace cap sleeves, deep V neck, keyhole back, beautiful lace and beading details, and a super fun chiffon skirt/train. Also, very comfortable.
I knew I wanted a dress with cap sleeves/v-neck/lace/some kind of opening in the back, but always thought it would be all fitted. However, once I tried on this dress, that chiffon skirt was everything! Easy to move in, fun to dance in, and just all-in-all so elegant.
It felt like a wedding dress to me…my wedding dress. I put my dress back on after I got back from our honeymoon before it was taken to get cleaned – best idea ever!
My heels and accessories were mainly rose gold (including my wedding band!). My beautiful hair piece was gold and rose gold with crystals and pearls, and my something borrowed/something blue was a gold ring with sapphire (a gift from my father to my mother!).
The bridesmaids wore Adrianna Papell’s art deco beaded blouson gown in taupe/pink. One of their gifts from me included a gold bow bracelet that they wore as a symbol of them tying the knot with me!
The groomsmen also wore the same navy blue pants and rust colored tie. The rest of their attire were from various brands.
We really wanted to keep with the natural and organic beauty of the farm, as well as the fall season. So, we kept our ceremony spot outside as is and only decorated the barn (reception area) with greenery and florals.
I always knew I wanted greenery table runners and lots of greenery accents throughout the barn. And for everything else, pretty fall colors and textures!
Then of course there were our gorgeous bouquets and boutonnieres, too. I really left most of it up to Lori from Wildflowers By Design and she really brought my vision to life!
Greenery: Magnolia, olive branch, bay leaf, fern, coculas foliage
Florals: Amaranthus, garden roses, dahlia, ranunculus, ligustrum berry, pepperberry, cockscomb, chocolate, Queen Anne’s lace, spray rose, anemone, astilbe, yarrow, scabiosa, mum.
The ceremony was super special for us because we had one of Dave’s childhood friends (who was also a groomsmen) officiate our marriage. This made our ceremony extra personal for us, which is exactly what we wanted.
We kept our vows traditional and included the bible verse 1st Corinthians Chapter 13.
My favorite part about the ceremony (other than the kiss of course!) was Derik’s intro before the vows. Before our wedding, Dave and I wrote separate emails to Derik talking about our relationship with each other. We didn’t share what we wrote.
And from there, Derik crafted the most beautiful and heartfelt introduction to our ceremony, which was a surprise for Dave and I as we didn’t want to know what he wrote.
For being so nervous about the ceremony, I think it was one of my favorite parts about the day – I was deep in the moment, took in what Derik said, and fully focused on my handsome groom!
The Photography & Videography
Samantha (from Samantha Jay Photography) and Josh (from JHC Videography) both have a similar style that Dave and I love. They both capture natural and beautiful moments that are filled with emotion and feeling.
They are both extremely passionate about their work and always made us feel super comfortable, and kept us laughing!
I know Samantha from high school and college, and when I saw she started a photography business and saw the work she posted online, I knew I wanted to book her!
Her work locked us in right from the start; she has such amazing talent! We wanted our pictures to really reflect us “in the moment” and now when we look at our pictures they really do bring us right back to those moments. She also got all the details of the day, too, which was super important to me!
I knew of Josh’s work as he filmed my friend’s wedding the year before. After seeing my friend’s beautiful highlight video, I knew I had to get in touch with him.
For a while we were on the fence if we should have a videographer or not as it was not initially in our budget, but I knew I would be disappointed if I didn’t book Josh!
We will always cherish what they captured as it will transport us back to those special moments where we can relive the day over and over!
We knew we wanted a venue where we could really bring our own inspiration to life and bring in our own vendors. We wanted it to be indoors and outdoors, and definitely at a farm/barn.
Rodale Institute was that place!
The farm was perfect because it fit the natural setting/beauty we wanted; farm country, farm animals, organic plant life, rolling hills, incredible views, laid-back atmosphere, and of course, farm cats (let’s just say we have four cats of our own…)!
They really allowed us to roam free with our vision. Other than supplying us with the farm, reception tables and chairs, we took care of everything else and brought in all our own vendors.
This also helped in some ways with costs, for example, most venues insisted you use their own catering (which we found to be quite costly), but with Rodale, we did not have to do that, and instead, we had a delicious BBQ food truck!
The Decor & Details
Lots of DIY projects! I feel as though each part of the day was like its own puzzle and we fit all the pieces together.
The centerpieces were wine bottles that I spray-painted copper, gold, rose gold and left the green wine bottles as they were.
All the wood signage was made by us; Dave cut the wood into different sizes, we stained it a dark brown, and I wrote on them with an Uni-Posca white paint marker.
We printed our own menus, place cards, table numbers, wedding favor tags, postcards for bucket list, pictures of us for our guestbook/dessert tables, and signs for our signature cocktails and donuts.
We put pictures of loved ones who’ve passed in frames.
Our wedding favors, which also told guests where they were sitting for the reception, were little honey jars with tags that said “meant to” with a picture of a bee. Every little detail (and there were lots!) had much thought and love behind it!
The barn was already decorated beautifully with lights around the beams and market lights dangling from the ceiling.
The day before, we set-up as much as we could and arranged how we wanted everything to be positioned; the reception tables and chairs, the signage, the guestbook/cards table, the dessert table, the wedding favors/frames, etc. From there, we left it to our day-of-coordinator, florist, bartenders, cake and donut vendors to set-up the rest!
Which, I must say, was absolute perfection! Way better than I could have ever imagined!
Advice for Other Couples
Pinterest is always helpful! And, so is Etsy. A lot of little details I bought for our wedding came from Etsy. I think looking at real weddings on wedding blogs is also super useful as you may catch something you didn’t think of before.
Keep a wedding spreadsheet to help with budgeting and just to keep track of all the details, especially if it’s a DIY inspired wedding. It helped us with the guest list, how our tables would be set-up, the day-of timeline, the vendors, attire and decor details, and the price breakdown for pretty much everything.
If you can have a day-of-coordinator, I would highly recommend it! Rachel, from Bowties + Brides, was our day-of-coordinator and she seriously went above and beyond. I didn’t have to worry about a thing!
Trust me brides, you’re not going to want to have to think of one more thing on your big day except what that day is about, and Rachel helped take all those little stresses away.
Which leads me to another piece of advice – savor every moment. At this point, there’s really nothing more you can do but enjoy YOUR day and take in every precious moment because it goes WAY too fast. All that planning you worked hard on has come to this and you should take in everything around you.
Go with the flow. But most of all, spend as much time with your partner and take time together to step back and appreciate it all.
I think bringing in all our own vendors really helped us with savings, especially on food. Choosing a food truck rather than a catering service is where we really saved big.
If family and/or friends can help out with any of the details or day of, that helps too! For instance, I borrowed a few items from my MOH that she used at her wedding. I also used some items/furniture from my mom’s house for decorative purposes.
And, we had a lot of help from family/friends with collecting wine bottles! With a friend marrying us, my mom styling my hair, and supplying our own alcohol, we were able to save a bit there, too.
Now keep in mind, doing everything yourself can be cost-effective, but where you may spend less in some circumstances you may spend more in others, so plan accordingly and really try to stick to a budget/figure it out in the beginning.
And also remember sometimes unexpected costs may pop up. Like, we had to add an extra bus for transportation at the end of the night and also rent an ice box (these weren’t initially in our budget). All in all, everything pretty much balanced out.
Dave and I were very excited about our food and signature cocktails. We are big foodies, so this was obviously important to us.
We love food trucks — I mean, what’s not to love!? We knew this would also be an affordable, yet delicious option. BBQ themed was something we knew we wanted, and the Guerrilla Ultima BBQ food truck had the perfect options. They put their own spin on signature BBQ sandwiches and sides.
Each place setting had a leaf and fiber food tray so guests could take that up to the food truck. Side note, we also had a wet wipe that said “Marriage is Messy” on each tray (since BBQ can get messy)– one of my favorite details. Oh and for our cocktail hour, we had a popcorn station!
For desserts, Dave and I LOVE donuts and we found the perfect donut shop not far from our venue. Among the many donut flavors we had, there was apple cider and maple bourbon bacon to fit with the fall theme! For our wedding cake, we went with a naked strawberry shortcake with buttercream and powdered sugar. We don’t like a lot of frosting, so a naked cake was perfect!
And lastly, we had “his” and “hers” signature cocktails that incorporated bourbon as it’s our fave! The “his” was a Maple Old Fashioned which included bourbon, maple syrup, maple extract, angostura bitters, and a cherry to garnish. The “hers” was a Bourbon Apple Cider Punch which included bourbon, apple cider, ginger beer, orange bitters, and an orange slice to garnish.
YUM! Our food and drinks truly represented what we love as a couple! And, fit the fall and barn theme quite perfectly, too!
Music was another important part of the day for us – me especially. I grew up in a household where music was always playing whether it be on the stereo or whether it be a family member playing a musical instrument (we all played an instrument!).
I grew to love all types of music and made sure to incorporate all genres of music throughout the day. And since I LOVE to dance, I had a big selection of dance songs for the DJ. The Electric Gentleman seriously rocked it – couldn’t have asked for a cooler DJ!
My father passed away when I was eight years old so I shared my parent dance with my mother. My song with my father was “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison (he would always play it for me when I was younger and I would dance!) – it was like I got to dance with both of my parents.
Processional for bridesmaids: “Heartbeats” by José González
Processional for bride: “This Time” by Best Girl Athlete (instrumental part of song starting at 3:12)
Recessional: “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Moms/Bridal Party reception intro song: “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
Bride/Groom reception intro song: “Blue Jeans (RAC remix)” by Lana Del Rey
First Dance: “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
Mother/Daughter dance: “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
Mother/Son dance: “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon
There are definitely a lot of favorite moments! From my mom helping me put on my dress to my bridesmaids seeing me for the first time in my dress – these are sweet little moments I’ll always cherish.
The first look Dave and I shared was definitely one of our favorite moments. It was probably one of the most exciting parts of the day – I was beaming the whole time on my way to him! The build-up was filled with so much anticipation; it was almost like a first date again or as if we haven’t seen each other for so long. And then once we saw each other it’s like everything went away. It was such a special moment we got to share alone together and also very comforting which helped tremendously with any nerves.
I think all the “firsts” of the day were definitely favorites – first looks, first kiss as hubs and wife, and first dance!
Another one for us was seeing how all our hard work paid off! How everything finally came together was a dream come true.
We went to Curacao for our honeymoon. We were there for almost two weeks!
For the first few days we stayed at a resort and then for our final week we rented a house on the ocean with our own pool. It had the most amazing views and sunsets! The weather was hot, but there was always a nice breeze, and the ocean water was crystal-clear turquoise.
It was the perfect combination of relaxing and exploring, and definitely much needed.
Watch Julianna & David’s Beautiful Wedding Highlights Film
Such an awesome wedding, right? There’s just so much to love.
My personal favourite touches were how David & Julianna chose a friend as their celebrant, that adorable first look, and the food truck and donuts for dinner – yum! (How fab are those bridesmaids’ dresses too!)
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