My DIY North Shore wedding

I did my very best to condense the photos into a manageable amount, but there were so many good ones, I just couldn’t help myself!

So let’s start at the beginning. The morning of the wedding, my sister pulled out her hair and makeup artist skills and helped me roll my hair and apply makeup, which I’m terrible at. My cousin, Alana, and my maid of honor, Erin, were a huge help as well.

We decided I would head over to the lodge (closer to the ceremony site) to put on the actual dress. I wanted my mom to be the one to fasten all the tiny buttons before I made my debut.

I don’t regret my decision to DIY hair and makeup at all. It was one less thing to worry about and pay for, and I was completely happy with the way it turned out. My mom collected all the vintage jewelry I wore that day.

The dress was a different story. Though I loved it, I got frustrated with the process of going in over and over for fittings, plus all the added expenses of tailoring, and now cleaning. If I had it to do over I think I would really try to simplify that process.

The shoes were a DSW special. And I’m glad I kept it simple with those because during the ceremony my heels sank into about an inch of wet ground, ruining them.

Fortunately I had my bridal Chucks as a backup!

We skipped out on some traditions, like not seeing each other before the wedding. It was really important to us not to do things just because other people do them. We tried to make sure that if we held onto a tradition, it actually meant something to us.

We kept our bridal party small. It seemed like if we started adding people we’d have to add a lot of people just to avoid hurting people’s feelings.

Something we didn’t DIY? The flowers.

For the ceremony part, at least. I had always imagined myself holding real flowers. Even though I had to order the bouquets and pins sight unseen, the flower shop did an incredible job of executing my requests. They were absolutely beautiful.

For the ceremony site, my crafty friend Brianne decorated Lutsen’s wooden arch with an array of tissue paper poufs.

She and I, along with our friend Amy, had spent many nights folding little accordians for those poufs. The day of the wedding I didn’t have any time to actually put them up, so Brianne and her husband did it for me, and it was perfect.

We decided both to have a friend marry us and to write the whole ceremony ourselves. Brigid got ordained from the Universal Life Church and filed our paperwork for us. She also wore an adorable polka dot dress that was a huge hit.

It’s tough to write your own ceremony from scratch, even when you’re a writer by trade. We definitely saved it until the last minute. But after one teary evening spent in front of my computer writing my vows, and lots of time searching for readings we loved, we put everything together. Luckily a few friends agreed to read for us, and they did a fantastic job.

We also included a song, and asked the crowd if they would vow to support us in our marriage. We were both emotional at times, but neither one of us broke down. I just remember feeling so happy and excited.

We didn’t have a single crying baby. Just sweet little Quinn.

We designed the programs ourselves. For each person involved in the wedding we included a “fun fact.”

We saved a lot of money on our paper suite by using invitations from Target and our own (limited) design skills. We bought a laser printer on sale so we’d have better print quality, and it helped bigtime.

Having a Web designer for a husband was also a huge help when it came to building our wedding site. We used Traveler’s Joy for our honeymoon registry and found it super easy to use.

But back to the wedding!

For table decorations, my mom and I collected blue glass canning jars, which I filled with small tissue paper flowers. I probably spent less than $30 for all of the flowers and maybe $30 for all the jars. I put tealight candles inside old juice glasses, and filled little paper muffin liners with Jordan almonds. Each person also got a stripey straw for their water glass.

During the cocktail hour, which we basically missed due to taking more photos, the banquet manager informed me that we had already drank the entire batch of wine we’d ordered for the wedding. So we ordered 12 more bottles, and by the end of dinner that was gone too. Perhaps that accounts for what happened on the dance floor?

We also did a family-style dinner, which I loved. That way people don’t have to go through a buffet line, but they still get to decide what they want to put on their plates.

And then there were the cakes. Many, many people thought we were crazy to make our own cakes. But it truly wasn’t that hard. We baked them in advance, made the frosting at the resort, and frosted them the day before in the lodge bar. I painted the little cake toppers to look like us and we borrowed two cake stands from friends.

It was funny during the speeches — everyone kept saying something to the effect of “wow, it took you a long time to get married!”

Erin’s speech was much more emotional. And now I have to give one to her this weekend!

But my mom brought the house down with her wedding limerick. It was so funny.

For the dance, we had a friend of ours bring in his sound system and another friend manned the iTunes playlist on a computer. We also put together a slide show of photos that was a lot of fun.

This is one of my favorite photos from that day.

Danced with my dad to a Beatles song.

We set up a table with some old family wedding photos, and my grandma’s cake topper.

Instead of a guest book we had people hang bits of advice on a clothesline. Mike built the posts from some blocks of wood and 2 dowels. The cards are made from extra invites cut to size.

Our big surprise was having a few friends sneak up to the balcony and toss over a bunch of 36-inch balloons as a Flaming Lips song played. If you’ve ever been to a Flaming Lips concert, you know where we were coming from.

And then the dance just unfolded and I can’t say anything other than it was more fun than I’ve had in a long, long time.

I literally danced until my hair clip flew off and one of my straps broke.

But the best part, hands down, was when Mike’s parents decided to do the polka to Ke$ha’s “Take It Off.”

Suddenly all eyes were on them and Mike’s dad threw off his jacket. It was hysterical!

We had the photographers set up a photo booth in the balcony where people could write a message on a little chalkboard and pose for goofy photos. And oh my did they get into it. (More photo booth photos coming in a separate post).

When we were so tired we could barely stand, we had our DJ fast forward to the end of the playlist so we could head out to the bonfire. At first we hadn’t even planned to have a beach bonfire, but when we learned it was free and that we had to be out of the party room pretty early in the night anyway, we fell in love with the idea.

It was the perfect end to a perfect night.

Venue: Lutsen Resort in Lutsen, Minnesota
Photography: The dream team of Joe and Libby Crimmings
Dress: Blue by Enzoani from The Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid dresses: The Sophia dress from J. Crew
Menswear: Heimie’s Haberdashery
Flowers: Anderson’s Greenhouse in Two Harbors
Invitations: Target
Rings: Joseph’s Jewelers. Mine is white gold, Mike’s is tungsten carbide.
Cake toppers: Goosegrease on Etsy
Stripey straws: Ephemera
Hair clip: Bean and the Sprout
Gifts for bridesmaids: E. Ria Designs
Giant balloons: Party America
Globe party lights: Target (I don’t see them online, but I bought them in the seasonal section of a store)


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    Love it that you danced so hard (at my wedding on 10/2/10 I danced so hard I could barely walk the next day!) And amazing job getting the photos up so fast and all the DIY details!