Going low budget, DIY and close to home for a wedding could be just as satisfying as any wedding marketed out there. Grace & Joey are a couple from Berkeley, California who just about fits that description. With a cheerful and “shop small” Berkeley spirit, they were determined to support as many businesses within their community when selecting vendors for their wedding. Although embracing it small with a true local flair, we still have this unique wedding captured by Jennydee Photography that surprises us all with its charm.
Both an alumni of UC Berkeley, they met because both were involved in the same community service fraternity. Albeit infamously reserved and private, Joey was daring enough to propose to Grace in front of 200 of her coworkers at the company holiday party back in December 2013. Despite venue hunting right off the engagement, they were patient enough to leave the glorious bits last- they didn’t get married for another 15 months later because they needed every minute they could get to plan a wedding that would successfully fulfill their vision.
The overall aesthetic of the wedding was inspired by their restored bergere (French armchair), which was originally an abandoned, tattered up 3-legged chair that was found off the streets of Berkeley. After stripping the original upholstery, they repainted the wooden frame, and worked with a professional in selecting modern, yellow and gray fabrics to playfully offset the armchair’s vintage silhouette. The chair pretty much helped them determine the main colors of the wedding and the idea to pursue a modern vintage style for the big day.
To further play on the modern vintage theme, they compiled their own playlist filled with electro swing songs, which tastefully combined swing music with electronic dance beats. The mesh of vintage melodies and fun, modern beats was the perfect background for their reception venue-Berkeley City Club’s Member’s Lounge, a Tudor-style library furnished with glamorous, velour pieces that strongly resonated from the 1920s era.
Knowing that wedding costs can easily add up, they did their best to find ways to incorporate DIY items to save money and to put a personal touch to things. To start, The Nimbus Factory helped design and print the invitation and provided blank envelopes. Meanwhile, they photoshopped one of their engagement pictures to create their own envelope liner and manually inserted them into each envelope. To top that off, a custom embosser was purchased for their return address, and they printed all mailing addresses directly on the envelope using stylised typography.
With a clever flick of imagination, they settled their venue at Sather Tower, a campanile bell and clock tower in the University of Berkeley campus, serving as UC Berkeley’s most recognizable symbol. With tunes orchestrated by violinist, Joey and his best men waited in line for the arrival of Grace for the ceremony.
Grisly, grotseque and Gothic-chic, London plane trees that dot this visual landscape here adds a surrealist touch to the ceremony. With pollarding technique used in growth, it fosters that bulbous formation in its trunk and branches, leaving a Tim Burton like surrounding that charms you. Guests look fondly upon Grace as she walks down the pathway to the ceremony.
The ceremony location had many rules restricting the taping and hanging of decorative items, thus allowing only freestanding decor. To work with this limitation, they purchased a 4-panel room divider wrapped in blank canvas. Grace and her mom used painter’s tape to tape off a geometric design, and then used acrylic paint to add wedding-corresponding colors. They then bought some silver and gold wrapping paper at Costco, cut and folded them like a paper fan, wrapped them around to create round rosettes, and then used string to attach them to the room divider to complete the look of the decorative ceremony backdrop. To give the aisle a budget-friendly, yet colorful touch, they bought gray and yellow colored fabric ribbon online, pre-measured and cut the fabric where the florist then helped by tying the ribbons on to each aisle chair the day of the ceremony.
With rings exchanged and a kiss, now they are husband and wife!
A nice family photo of Grace, Joey and the pups! The vest worn by the ring dog here was a thrifted woman’s vest altered to fit the yellow lab. The doggie-sized ring pillow was also sewn together by Grace and her bridesmaid using scrap fabric and ribbon. The wedding veil was sewn together by Grace’s bridesmaid using store-bought tulle, gold millinery netting, and a gold metal comb while following tutorials they’ve found online. Then they set off to the surrounding campus for more personalized shots. Down memory lane but now in their wedding attire!
More work was done at the wedding reception. Cleverly, they used wooden doors as seating charts because they didn’t cost much more than it would to print on oversized paper and the doors could always be reused for another purpose post-wedding. After finding two matching doors at a salvage yard and repainted them using Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen and used dark wax finish for an aged look, Grace’s friend with calligraphy experience then used special white markers to write guest names on each window pane. Her bridesmaid designed the artwork for the table numbers and they printed them onto 4×6 photo paper using our home inkjet printer and mounted them onto gold poster board. The double-sided table numbers were then propped up using place card holders borrowed from a friend.
Meanwhile, to keep the floral budget under control, they provided the florist an eclectic collection of various bud vases they had borrowed from friends. For the centerpieces, they collected empty tin cans from restaurants and friends, found free vintage tin labels online, resized the labels to fit the extra large sized tins, applied the labels on the cans using modge podge, and handed them over to the florist to use for the reception centerpieces. Fake flowers were bought to match the real flowers as they knew their florist would be using them to create a wreath for the flower dog and a matching halo for the flower dog escort. Again, they had followed tutorials online. Otherwise, the bridal and bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnieres, pin corsages, and floral centerpieces were provided by Gorgeous and Green.
Party favors was not a thing to miss as well. They gave personalized tins packed with tea as party favors because it was something guests could enjoy after the wedding and was befitting their modern vintage theme. They spray painted mini tea tins in gold and designed the label by reusing artwork from the wedding invitation and overlaid it on an English country floral pattern to evoke a modern vintage feel.
Grace proceeded to reuse the artwork from the invitation and designed placemats personalised with each guest’s name and color-coded them according to the guest’s meal selection. It was a clever cost-saving tactic to introducing color to the tablescape without having to spend extra money in renting fancy linens and napkins. Not only did the placemat serve as an escort card, but it also doubled as a menu and had a small ‘thank you’ message from the couple.
The entire arrangement of the dessert bar was another DIY project, with the exception of the desserts themselves. They saved some antique plates, drinkware, and candlestick holders, and used epoxy to glue the plates onto the candlestick holders or inverted drinkware to create their own unique cake stands. They also borrowed more cake stands from friends to build an eclectic collection they would use for their dessert bar display. They repurposed the backdrop, bud vases, and other decorative items from the ceremony too to spruce up the setting. The dessert bar was then furnished with their favorite desserts from local bakeries.
The bottom line is Grace and Joey are individuals who enjoy event planning and they share the ambition to personalise their wedding. From the packaging of their wedding invitations up till the final dessert bar arrangement, DIY here not only brings out their character and style, it helps saves cost as well. Thanks again to Grace and Joey for their insight onto DIY weddings and get us brides inspired for our own DIY wedding!
Photography: Jennydee Photography | Planner/Designer: Katie Rebecca Events | Ceremony Location: UC Berkeley Campanile Esplanade | Reception Location: Berkeley City Club | Invitation Designer Location: Julia Kuo & The Nimbus Factory | Caterer: Julia’s Kitchen | Floral Designer: Gorgeous and Green | Desserts: Summer Kitchen, Market Hall, Casa de Chocolates | Dress Designer: Jenny Packham | DJ: DJ J Kixx | Live Music: Laura and Anton | Groom’s Apparel & Accessories: Spoon Tailor | Makeup Artist: Liza Marie Santa Ana Makeup Artist | Stage lighting setup: Love in the Mix | Wedding Favors: Silhouettes by Sylvia | Some Decor: Mignonne Decor