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The DIY Bride // Jessica & Taylor's Topanga Wedding

In May of 2016, Jessica and Taylor got married at The Mountain Mermaid in Topanga, CA surrounded by their closest friends and family. From the pictures, you can see the charisma and enchantment of every detail; from the location of their wedding to the flower crowns for their guests, Jessica and Taylor made sure that they created an experience that would make a lasting impression.

What you can't tell from the photos is that most of what was created for their wedding was DIY (do-it yourself). What I love about DIY is that it creates a space for you, your friends and your family to come together and build memories that are personal details that you will forever remember. It's empowering, it can be fun and, most importantly, it can save you A LOT of money. It can also be overwhelming, frustrating and at times, confusing; but here's the thing, there are some secrets to having a successful DIY wedding:

All you need is some time, people and a dash of creativity.

1. Time // What saves you A LOT of money comes in the form of time. If you have it, you are already ahead of the game. From a florist perspective, the time and labor it takes to create a flower arrangement, whether it be a flower crown, bouquet or flower wall, all takes time. From going to selecting the flowers, prepping the stems and keeping the flowers fresh in a cool, refrigerated area takes a lot of time. On top of that, in working with flowers, your time is on the clock. It is all about planning and making sure you have flowers that will stay fresh and bloom after you arrange them. You only have a certain window to work with and when you are planning a wedding and hoping to do your own flowers, make sure that you have enough time and space to arrange everything on the day of. For DIY Brides, make sure to have enough space in your fridge to keep your flowers cool after you arrange them. Depending on the flower you choose to work with, the temperature can compromise the quality and health of your flower.

2. People // Having a group of people to help you is key. The term DIY is a little deceiving because it implies that you are doing EVERYTHING by yourself, but really, it means having your friends and family help out in creating your pieces for the wedding. It's a beautiful thing, so don't feel like you have to do it all by yourself for any DIY projects...make it fun and a collective effort. For Jessica's bouquet, her mother-in-law (a school-teacher in San Jose) created her arrangement from flowers Jessica found online. I love all the details that her mother-in-law incorporated into this bouquet for a bohemian. country and wild feel for the wedding. For her table arrangement, the conceptualization of the flower box was through Jessica's research and vision and it was created and executed through her mother-in-law and father-in-law. Her father-in-law made the boxes from from reclaimed wood that he found in the neighborhood after someone took down their old fence. How beautiful is that?!

From a florist perspective, if you plan to do your own table arrangements, bouquets, boutonnieres and other flower-related arrangements, you want to make sure that you have at least 3-5 people helping you. On average, it can take about 30 minutes (with as little as 15 minutes and up to an hour) to create an arrangement depending on the size, design and type of flowers you are using. You can look for help through your friends and family as a way to save time, especially if you have other things to check off your list. Time is what you need on your side when you are doing DIY, and if you don't have time, that is when I recommend looking to professionals to help with any aspect of your wedding.

3. Creativity // In order for everything to come together cohesively, visually and aesthetically, you will need to have some sort of a creative influence and eye. What I find with DIY Brides is that with so many pictures that can inspire you, it is easy to combine and overlap different styles that potentially could work, but in most cases, could have benefited from having a more defined vision. With flower arrangements, what is empowering is that most people, if not all, can put together flowers into a bunch and because they are flowers, have the advantage of it looking pretty in and of itself. The element that takes your flower arrangement from pretty to beautiful is having someone creative (whether it is you or your friend/family) available to guide and share their creative influence with the people who are helping you out. Design and style is what is unique to each individual and if you have someone who has the eye to know what colors go well together or understands the balance and textures of complementary flowers, than you can be more confident that everything will come together more flawlessly.

Sometimes you might have all three, but still need to hire someone and that is totally okay! There are some things that you want to make sure are done by professionals and if you are saving money in one area of your wedding, it may be the funding source for another area where spending a few extra dollars is helpful. For Jessica and Taylor's wedding, they had most of their wedding DIY through their family, but also decided to work with a caterer, photographer, baker and florist (for the flower crowns). I recommend that if you do end up having different people working on your flowers, make sure that they have the ability to talk to each other so that they can use the same or similar flowers or colors to create cohesion in all your flower arrangements.

Jessica was gracious to share some personal tips on her wedding that may help out any future DIY bride-to-be. She also shared some thoughts ab0ut her experience in having pre-made flower crowns at her wedding and how they were integrated as party favors for her guests.

1. How did you come up with the "party crowns" name and how did you decide for it to come out for the dance party?

Back when we were originally planning our wedding we decided that there were two things that needed to happen for our wedding to be successful: 1) We wanted it to be fun and 2) At the end of the day, we should be married. As long as those two things were accomplished, then nothing else would really matter. So every time we would start to stress out over where our rehearsal dinner would be or whether we should have rose petals or hydrangea petals (spoiler alert- we got both), we just refocused and reminded ourselves of those two principles: 1) Fun and 2) Married. That's all that mattered.

To keep us focused on the fun, we needed a "good times recipe". The ingredients were: a killer DJ who "got" us; an unconventional wedding toast; and our party crowns. I'm a sucker for costumes, probably because my birthday is right before Halloween, so I liked the idea of donning something to signal to ourselves and our guests that "Hey- the party begins NOW". Flower crowns had become super popular again and after our engagement party at Malibu Wines, we wanted to keep that beautiful Southern California-free wheelin'-happy love-feeling going. I searched around for someone who had a whimsical aesthetic with their crowns and was so lucky to find The Crown Collective!

2. How did you announce to your guests that they can grab a crown and wear it?

After our dinner was served (we had real smoke-pit Texas barbecue served family-style) our servers passed around some libations for our wedding toast. A formal champagne toast really isn't our style, so we did something that was decidedly more "us". We passed around a shot of tequila and a wedge of lime to all of our 21-and-up guests. After the shot of tequila, our DJ got the music pumping and my bridesmaids each grabbed a stack of party crowns and began floating around the room passing them out to all of our female guests. The girls looked like beautiful woodland fairy princesses bestowing magical gifts upon our guests.

Our two flower girls each had their own special flower crowns that they wore during the ceremony and the reception. When I presented them with their crowns while we were getting ready, the little girls began jumping up and down squealing, "We're fairy princesses! We have fairy princess crowns!!!"

3. Any advice or tips from a bride's point of view of how/why you chose flowers crowns to be at your wedding and the benefits of having that detail as a part of your wedding?

Our bridesmaids and flower girls walked down the aisle to Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." This is one of my favorite songs and I loved the line from the song, "Going to California...Someone told me there's a girl out there, with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair." The image of dreamy, love-filled eyes and flower-adorned hair sort of became my vision board inspiration for a lot of the wedding's feel and mood. I wanted whimsy, and beauty, and a little rock and roll. Flower crowns were the perfect accessory. Not only do they literally put flowers in your hair, but the current trend definitely evokes more dreamy rock and roll than the hippie flower child vibe of the 1960's.

I feel like bridal magazines put this idea in your head that you shouldn't do anything too different or unique because then your wedding won't look timeless. And I understand where the advice comes from. They say that you don't want to look back on your wedding photos with horror and say, "Ugh, that was soooo 2016." I reject this philosophy and say: Embrace whatever you want. Even if it's ultra trendy. There is no way to escape having your wedding look like it was from a particular place in time. If it isn't because of the makeup or hairstyles, then it will be the quality or style of the photographs. Or it will be the style of the wedding dress. Or your guests' attire! Flower crowns are pretty on-trend right now; but they're unique and beautiful and feel like a communal costume item AND a piece of decor in one. If our wedding looks very 2016 in a few years, I won't mind. That's the year we got married. It's a great year.

4. What did your guests say or think when they saw you had your 'party crowns' available for them?

Our guests loved the wedding so much. We've heard back from so many guests who have shared with us that this was the best wedding they've ever been to. There was so much love and so much happiness.

I had heard from several married friends that their wedding day was "one of the worst days of their lives". They said they felt so torn, or pulled, or yanked, or stressed for their wedding that they couldn't enjoy any of it. This is so sad to me. I couldn't imagine spending such an important day of my life stressed or upset. If I looked stressed or upset, then it would be written all over my face and our guests would feel the same thing.

We've had so many guests tell us that they have never been to a wedding where they felt so much love and happiness. That's what we felt and so we wanted our guests to feel it too. The flower crowns were a huge part of that. Taylor and I were talking before the wedding and we found it odd that there are so many wedding rituals that keep the bridal couple separate apart; both from each other and from their guests. For example, a sweetheart table at dinner where the bride and groom eat by themselves, the hour-long photo shoot after the ceremony where most of the guests never see the couple , and the tradition that the bride and groom can't see each other during the day of their wedding. We wanted our wedding to be a celebration of togetherness. So we stayed together the night before our wedding and checked in with each other all day while we were setting up the site. At the reception, we ate dinner at a long table with all of our siblings and their significant others. The flower crowns were another way to unite everyone. All the ladies put them on together. They didn't just send a signal that the party was starting- but that we're all in this together. It's our party and your party. You're a part of our celebration and our marriage and our happiness.

Congratulations Jessica and Taylor, wishing you all my best in your marriage together, xo

Photography // KWON PHOTO


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