I am so excited to share the details and hindsight advice from Anjoli and Mike's DIY mountain wedding. Everything about this wedding is infused with thought and meaning. Anjoli and Mike made sure the day was about friends and family joining together, getting to know each other, and celebrating the love between to individuals. Anjoli also serves up some honest and keen hindsight advice.
Briefly tell us a bit about your wedding, the planning process, what inspired you and/or any special elements you incorporated.
We wanted a simple, mostly DIY, mountain wedding. We knew about an amazing little stone chapel, built on a rock, just outside of Rocky Mtn National Park in Colorado and knew we wanted to have our ceremony there. We ended up finding a great reception site at the YMCA of the Rockies, which was affordable and had amazing views of the mountains :).
We decided to make our wedding a celebration of not just our wedding, but also a family reunion of sorts. It gave both our families a chance to get together with each other and get to know each other better. Our friends also enjoyed spending time getting to know our families and vice versa. The wedding was just one of the events for the weekend!
We were inspired by wanting it to be an intimate ceremony and celebration, meaningful to us as well as the important family and friends who shared the day with us. We had about 80 people there. We had a morning ceremony in the chapel and an afternoon/evening reception at a mountain lodge at the YMCA in Estes Park. Everyone stayed for the whole weekend celebrating with us. We played mini golf between the ceremony and reception, had a kick ball game and bbq the day after and we lead our guests on a hike in the national park over the course of the weekend (it was Labor Day weekend, so we had 3 days to be with everyone!)–we even made s'mores at the reception around the outdoor patio fire pit! :)
We wanted our guests to enjoy all the fun and beauty of the mountains that we appreciate every day, living in Colorado. Some things that made our wedding unique and special for us were:
- We love music and so had several family and friends come together to act as our choir and music for the ceremony—they met an hour before the ceremony and came together to make amazing music for our wedding! we had a djembe (African drum), bass guitar, piano and several amazing singers! we also gave the guests egg shakers that we made ourselves to shake w. the music as we danced out during the last song :)
- We also had several guests bring up symbolic items to the altar that were significant to us during the course of the ceremony–some examples are: our hiking boots to symbolize our love of hiking and also walking together on the journey of life, a family heirloom cross to symbolize importance of family and tradition, a framed photo of friends to symbolize importance of community and friendship with others to our relationship etc.
- We made donations (instead of favors) to our favorite charities–a different one for each table–some were places we had both volunteered and others were ones we both supported, one was even the non profit organization we both work for!
- We had as many friends and family participate as we could, almost everyone had some job–big or small, for the day! we wanted to do as much for our wedding as we could ourselves and made pew/church decorations, did all the decorations and decorating of the reception site, made the centerpieces, did our own music through an ipod and planned all the ceremony details.
- We wanted also to promote local businesses and farms and so we got all our flowers from a local farm (a friend of ours from the farmers market who we had a CSA share in his farm) and made our own arrangements for centerpieces, putting them in mason jars and izze bottles (colorful bottles of a local drink made in Boulder, where we live) and also made the boutonnieres and corsages and my bouquet! we bought our own alcohol and all our beer was from new Belgium brewery, a local brewery in Ft. Collins, CO. our goal was to have fun, enjoy our wedding, and help our friends and family to have a Colorado mountain experience while celebrating with us!
Mike and I both love music, and are both musicians of sorts ourselves, so as i mentioned the choir and music were very important to us…we have also both traveled abroad a lot and are intrigued by other cultures and music from other countries, so wanted to incorporate that into our wedding..we were happy we did not choose super traditional wedding music because it made our ceremony fun and unique for us and our guests—as i mentioned we made homemade egg shakers w. plastic colorful eggs and put beans/rice inside and gave them to everyone (left them on their seats when they came in)—we had music from all over the world both in our ceremony and our reception dancing: Latin American (Spanish songs, salsa/meringue, etc), African, Caribbean, and Indian music! our last song was an African spiritual song and we danced out first to our choir singing and playing instruments, which included a djembe African drum and then everyone else danced out too :) it was a fun way to cap the celebration!!
Also we got a really cool colorful (and cheap) basket that was made in Indonesia from World Market and used this instead of a typical basket for our flower girl—it was orange and bright and matched our colors and fit in with our multicultural theme!—on the way in, we had our ushers/hospitality people ask our friends/family to write a blessing or wish or advice they had for us on various sized colored papers in our colors orange and brown, these were folded up and put in the basket with our rings—we thought it was a meaningful symbol of us joining friends and family together and that those present were with us to help support and encourage us in our future life together! it was fun to read all of them after the wedding, just little spontaneous notes, some were funny, others contained good advice or made us feel loved and supported by our guests. we were glad we did it, and it was easy to do!
We got the idea (from Martha Stewart) to put our name cards (which we made ourself) into birch logs that we cut slits into to hold the cards up…the logs fit in w. the mountain decor and were fun to put the colorful name cards in! we also made the table markers, instead of numbers we named each after a mountain or favorite mountain lake, hike etc that we had done together and put photos we had taken together at those places to mark the table! we got to show some of our fave photos and it made for a fun table marker that was cheap, easy to make and mountain-themed
Things You're Glad You Did
- Provided our own alcohol (SO much cheaper, plus we could get drinks we liked and have leftovers to take home :)
- Kept our wedding small (it was so fun to be able to spend time with everyone, not feel rushed and be able to include everyone in playing a role in our wedding!),
- Had fun! (its so easy to get lost in the details, worry about this or that, or just miss the whole experience…we both had an amazing day, so much fun and were able to appreciate it while it was happening !)
- Did our own music–it sounded as good as a dj, but we could just play songs we wanted to!! (and we already had most of the music, so it was a cheap way to have good music!)
- Got cupcakes from costco–really yummy (and really cheaper than most wedding cakes!).
- Donated to personal favorite charities where we had volunteered or things we supported instead of favors…people seemed to appreciate this more than a favor they would probably lose before they got back to their room.
Things you wish you had done?
- I wish we had done more things from the Indian culture (my dad is indian and we did a few things–i had jewelry from india and i had mendhi (henna on hands/feet traditional of indian weddings), but it would have been cool to incorporate a few more traditions in the ceremony or reception)
- I wish we had invited a few more people initially–it being labor day weekend, we had an A and B list of people and many of our friends on the A list couldnt make it due to other plans, other weddings, etc.
Three things you wish you hadn't done?
- I wish we hadn't worried so much ahead of time about things—we thought about/tried like 10 centerpieces, im sure they would have all been fine and no one really pays much attention anyways (now we have random rejected centerpieces all over our house–which are nice for decorating, but probably unneccesary to go through so many options :)
- Also our cupcakes were from costco and 3 days before the wedding, we were randomly there and they told us they dont make cupcakes anymore (so nice of them to call and notify us !), and so we rushed around finding other cupcakes and they ended up doing it for us in the end anyway
- And we had plumbing issues in our only bathroom the day before 7 guests were going to be staying with us….again, it got fixed and was fine, and all that worrying for nothing!-anyway, everything usually works out so no need to sweat the small (or even big!) stuff.
Things you wish you hadn't worried about?
- hadnt worried about who to invite, what centerpieces to use, where people were going to sit, etc—those little details just kind of work themselves out the way they are supposed to!
- also the morning of the wedding we were both worried that all would not work out, it was really windy and we were not excited to take the outdoor photos as planned in a wind storm….but finally we relaxed and realized it was all fine, and then it was fun and great from then on !
Best Hindsight Advice
- Have fun! Its your important day, and whether it goes perfectly, or not, you are getting married to (hopefully) your best friend and love, so regardless of what happens, its going to be great :)
- I recommend adding in personal touches that show the important things in your relationship…we were really glad we did those types of things all throughout our ceremony and reception and family and friends have told us that they appreciated and enjoyed those things we did to make the wedding personal for us and for them!
- Make it a celebration of your love, and all those things will come through for the two of you and all the wonderful people you share your wedding with on your day!
Flowers: DIY from the Bride