bride and groom under an umbrella
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Rainy Day DIY Wedding in Western North Carolina

Emily + Luke
May 12, 2012
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina

How to you handle a full-on DIY wedding production and still have a gorgeously elegant and fun wedding? What do you do when it rains (hard) at your outdoor mountain wedding? How to you ensure your guests enjoy your wedding no matter what? These are just a few of the questions Emily answers in her amazing “hindsight advice.” Not only is this wedding gorgeous, it’s DIY! Like big time! And, take a look at those ceremony pictures. It was raining HARD! Still, isn’t this just a beautiful and perfect wedding? Scroll down to get Emily’s tips, tricks, and hindsight advice!

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Why a Mountain Wedding?

My husband and I both grew up in the mountains, and share a love of being outdoors, and since we live in such a beautiful mountain town where many people actually come for their own destination weddings it was an easy decision to have our wedding here, in Asheville, North Carolina.

Where did you find your inspiration?

I found myself drawn to the wedding blogs that focused on handmade and DIY and just took notes along the way. I knew I wanted it to be simple, but still beautiful, and being able to see photos of so many styles of weddings from lots of different websites was really helpful. Being on a tight budget also inspires you to be creative to help keep costs down!

Your favorite moment of the day.

This is a tough question, because of course the whole day was full of wonderful moments. One particular moment, though, was after the ceremony, after the portraits and after Luke and I had a few moments to ourselves, as we walked back over to the reception tent. We planned it so we walked in with The Beatles’ song “All You Need Is Love” playing. Just as we were coming into the tent, something happened with the laptop that was playing the song, and it accidentally turned off. But everyone there just kept right on singing. To hear all of our friends and family singing to us, was so special, and so memorable (I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it). And of course now when we hear that song play I think of all of those voices telling us: “all you need is love… da ta da da da…”

Three things you’re glad you did.

  • Know and accept that things will not go according to plan, and have fun anyway. Oh the list of what didn’t happen the way we had planned it! In reality, only you and a few other people in attendance actually know how it was “supposed” to be in the first place, and most of your guests will have a good time no matter what. I worked diligently up until our rehearsal dinner, and then just let it all go and enjoyed every moment as it came and didn’t let myself worry about a thing.
  • A honeymoon registry! We agreed that we already had everything we really needed in terms of household goods, and would rather be able to splurge on a 2 week honeymoon in Spain, than get new sheets and kitchen appliances. We used
  • Buffet style dinner. We felt more comfortable with accepting the last few late RSVP’s, or extra kids we didn’t know about, because there wasn’t a strict plate count.

Three things you wish you had done?

  • Better organize the composting and recycling and trash. I really wanted to be as eco-friendly and waste-free as possible. We bought all compostable plates and cups and things, but there weren’t enough bins to separate everything, and no one to keep track of what went where, so it all went to the landfill. There was a service that I could’ve paid for to have someone take care of it all for us, but I decided not to spring for it and wish I would have.
  • I also should’ve put someone specific in charge of taking care of the left over food and cleaning up the trash at the end of the night. I had family graciously stick around to help clean up, but there wasn’t a plan for where to take the trash (and I didn’t know the venue didn’t have a dumpster available) and so everyone looked to me for an answer. (In case you were wondering, it all ended up in our garage, for us to deal with the next day.)
  • Had someone take video of the ceremony. We had a good friend as our officiant, and a couple of family members do readings, and I’d love to see that all again.

Anything you wish you hadn’t worried about?

I’m not really a worrier, and early on we both decided to make the priority to just have a big celebration with all of our family and friends, and that’s just what we did. We specifically didn’t worry about including traditions we didn’t want to, or feel forced to invite anyone we didn’t actually want to because of whatever outside pressure, so for me it was a pretty stress-free event.

How did you choose your vendors?

When Luke and I first started dating he was actually a wedding photographer, so we already knew most of the wedding vendors around. The vendors we hired were all mostly through personal connections of his. (I felt like the luckiest bride ever to be marrying someone who knew the ins and outs of the industry!)

What is your very best hindsight advice?

The best advice that was given to me, and that I will now pass along to every one I know who is about to get married, is to stop and take a mental snapshot of moments throughout the day. So often as we were planning the wedding I heard from other brides “The day went by so quick I barely remember anything!” I found that by consciously taking the time to be in the present moment I now have so many beautiful memories – and I remember everything!

Notes on a DIY Wedding

Our wedding was hugely DIY (where the ‘Y’ stands for ‘Yourself with the help of all of your wonderful & talented friends and family!’)
Invitations – Luke and I sketched up a cute design using our initials for the invitation and then had an artist friend do a final drawing of it, which we then gave to another friend who does screen printing. He printed the design onto the cover sheets, and then I had a wine and cheese party, invited some girlfriends over and we set up an assembly line to fold, glue and stuff the envelopes!

Dress & Suit – We collaborated with a seamstress friend to create both my dress and his suit. I had her hand embroider our wedding date into the train of my dress

Flowers – The previous fall we went to the farmers market and purchased all different types of flower bulbs, with the intention to grow as many of the flowers for the tables as we could, and just purchase my and my bridesmaids’ bouquets. In the end, because of a crazy warm winter, almost all of the flowers had already bloomed or just didn’t quite make it by the time May 12th rolled around. On our actual wedding day there was one, cute little yellow flower that decided to bloom so I brought it with me in a tiny vase.

Decor – Once we decided on our wedding colors (cobalt blue and yellow) we started collecting blue glass vases – from thrift stores and yard sales, and donations from friends. Not only did they look beautiful in that mix-and-match kind of way for the wedding, but now we have the collection to keep! They are all currently displayed above our kitchen cabinets. Our florist, who was so much more than a florist, set up yard games like croquet and cornhole, created a “Thumbprint Tree” as our guestbook, chalkboard signs to display the “program” and she had a photo wall for pictures with a bunch of props, including mustaches on a stick! While we were in the cabin on the property getting ready, one of my friends drew our “Mr.” and “Mrs.” signs to go in a couple of vases on our table.

Gifts – Luke’s mom made homemade jam as our guest favors, and she packaged them all up in little mason jars with lace on top. Some of the fruit even came from her farm. She also made little bookmarks with a sweet message about uniting families, with our anniversary date on them.

Music – We invited all of our musically inclined and talented friends and family to bring their instruments and jam together for part of the reception, which was so much fun to watch (and dance to!). After that we played the music playlist another friend of ours, who has a huge music collection, put together for us.

Food – Where to start. We have friends who built a huge cast iron smoker, and smoked the pork and turkey BBQ. Between both of our parents they made all the sides. One friend made a huge batch of her amazing macaroni and cheese (my favorite!), another friend made cheesecakes, and Luke’s brother made cupcakes. We have friends who brew beer, and they brewed a couple of kegs especially for us, and another friend who works in a winery hooked us up with all the wine we needed.

Our venue was absolutely perfect for us! Not only was it beautiful, with horse pasture and rolling hills as the backdrop to the little pond and weeping willow tree, they included so much in our package we didn’t have to worry about working with tons of different vendors. They had the tent and tables and chairs, plus a sweet little cabin on the property for us to stay in and get ready in. The owners are super nice and very helpful.

Our photographer was someone Luke had worked with before and so we knew first-hand her work was great. On top of that she’s so sweet and easy to work with, I couldn’t have been happier with our pick! I really enjoyed working with her for our engagement session, and my bridal photos as well, before the big day.

I loved all of the flowers and all of the extra little details from our florist. She has a great way of putting her style into everything while still sticking to your overall theme or idea. Plus, my bouquet and my bridesmaids’ bouquets smelled out-of-this-world amazing!

We had a small cake for Luke and I from French Broad Chocolate Lounge, that somehow we never got around to cutting until the next morning for breakfast! We actually went to the Chocolate Lounge on our first date and shared a piece of their Mocha Highland Stout Cake, and so we of course had to get the same flavor, but seriously everything they make there is amazing and the presentation is always flawless.

Notes on a Rainy Day a Wedding

For the entire week leading up to our wedding, the forecast was saying 0% chance of rain. When the day finally arrived, it was slightly overcast, but still warm, and as I know from a photographer’s point of view soft, diffused light from cloud cover is better for photos than bright sun and blue skies, so I was perfectly happy with that. All day getting ready the weather stayed constant and the plan was to have the ceremony out by a weeping willow tree, with no cover, and to keep the tables for dinner and the reception under the large tent nearby. About 15 minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to begin it started to sprinkle lightly, so rather than walking down with my bridesmaids to the little patch of trees where we were to wait to walk down the aisle, we drove and parked a car there so we could wait under cover. From there we could see down to where our guests were gathered. The rain had really picked up, so my dad was sent up as a messenger to confirm with me whether I wanted to have everyone move under the tent, or hold out. As we were talking – me in the front seat of the car with the window cracked while he stood outside with his umbrella – it went from sprinkle, to real rain, back to drizzle again, and after a few minutes it seemed like it was going to let up so I decided to just stick it out and stay with the original plan. Dad was sent back down to relay the message and then he came back to walk me down the aisle. As we all started down, my bridesmaids ahead of us with only their bouquets and no umbrellas, it started to rain the hardest it had yet. I could only smile and laugh as all of our friends and family huddled together under umbrellas and trees where they could get a little bit of cover, and I was just grateful that they stuck it out for us. Luke and I stood together under a shared umbrella while our officiant projected his voice the best he could over the rain, since we couldn’t run any electricity for a microphone out with all of the water. About halfway through the ceremony, the rain stopped, and we took a minute to let everyone come back and sit down and put their umbrellas away. After that it didn’t rain the rest of the night. While the rain forced us to change plans (no microphone or any of the music I had put together for the procession or any little flower girls running down the aisle with ribbon wands) I know it made it even that much more memorable for everyone there, it made for some great pictures, and we have a funny story to tell for years to come.

Pisgah Forest Vendors (NC)