DIY Wedding: Allison & Kaleb at Fern Forest in Coconut Creek

on by in Weddings & Such

If your style is far from traditional and you're working on a tight budget, I think you'll find today's DIY affair, coordinated by Sugar(ed) Event Design and Planning and captured by Elevation 9 Photography, incredibly inspiring. Allison and Kaleb found an affordable-yet-gorgeous venue, DIY'd pretty much everything, and filled their day with personal details that shouted who they are as a couple. What's not to love?

Kaleb, an IT and graphic design wiz, and Allison, an artist and professional writer, are also both musicians. Put all that creativity together and you have the makings of a pretty fab DIY wedding machine. Given their laid-back, vintage-loving, eclectic personalities - and tight budget - it all worked out perfectly.

Allison had SO many great details to share with us... I'll just her take it from here: Kaleb and I are both pretty relaxed and wanted a low-key, vintage-inspired wedding that reflected our eclectic interests, but had an easy-going feel to it so everyone could relax and enjoy this special time with us. We had fairly small budget and decided early on that we really wanted to concentrate the majority of it on food and photography, so the rest was up to us. Our wedding was mostly handmade touches. We did everything from designing and building our own website (The I Do Hullabaloo) to writing the ceremony and vows which included references to robots, dinosaurs and zombies (many of our favorite things). For things we couldn't make, we mostly turned to Etsy. Our wedding rings, the Japanese Washi Tape, my amazing beaded headpiece and Kaleb's vintage suit were all purchased there.

We chose Fern Forest mostly because it is a beautiful and very budget-friendly venue near our apartment, but also because it allowed us to get married outside and surrounded by nature without the fear of rain (since the ceremony area is outdoors but covered). All of the photography in the forest area is directly behind the nature center where the ceremony and reception took place, making it easy to organize.

Kaleb is highly allergic to pollen, so the men wore gold dinosaur pins instead of flower boutonnieres.

Since the ceremony area is beautiful but only consists of wooden benches and a platform area for the altar, we created a ribbon backdrop and bought some vintage-style fabric to lay over the benches (which I found at a local antique fair). Since there was no center aisle (they have two side aisles, one on either side of the benches) we decided to give everyone ribbon wands (which we made) instead of having them throw bird seed.

Fern Forest offers free Wi Fi but we were only the second couple to ever Live Stream a wedding from that venue. Most of Kaleb's family lives in Northern California and could not fly out to Florida, so this was such a great way to bring us all together. All we needed was our laptop, video camera, and a streaming account. Kaleb set it up so the live stream would play directly on our wedding website. Out west, they were several large gatherings of relatives watch us exchange vows in real time, which was really cool.

My favorite project was the ribbon chandeliers we created for the reception. I started with a 36-inch grapevine wreath from Michaels, which I turned horizontally and tied different lengths of ribbon, lace, and other fabrics to, so they would add some color to the room. We made 6 which hung from the wooden beams across the ceiling (2 per beam) with some twine. The effect was great, just the right pop of color and texture while in keeping with our low-key vintage theme.

Since Kaleb is very allergic to pollen, we kept the flowers to baby's breath, some white asters and a few yellow billy buttons (crespedia) for color, which were put in various jars and vases both in the ceremony area and as the reception centerpieces. Our engagement lasted over a year, so along with our local friends/family, we collected a lot of glass jars (everything from pasta sauce and jam to olives and pickles). Each table had a combo of jars along with milk glass/bud vases purchased at thrift stores. They were all placed on a vintage handkerchief for a rustic-elegant look that cost practically nothing.

One of our wedding team members has twins under the age of 2, which resulted in a lot of glass baby food jars she collected and cleaned for us. The venue doesn't allow real candles due to the fire hazard, but I love the look of candlelight. So, we bought LED tealights and I purchased some Washi Tape from Japan in vintage floral/fauna motifs. We wrapped the tape around the baby food jars and voila, instant candleholders that gave off a lovely amber glow, but really downplayed the not-a-real-candle aspect of the LED lights.

For favors, the couple gave kazoos that read "Thanks for Coming to Our Wedding"; and instead of a guest book, they created Mad Libs and left one at each seat. "They are way more fun to read through than just looking at a signature in a guest book."

The reception room had built-in surround sound, so we created a bunch of different playlists on our iPod (cocktail hour, first dances, dance music) and didn't need a DJ, which was super cost effective. Luckily, all of the guests really responded to our musical choices (which ran the gamut from 40s swing to 80s pop and indie bands), and dancing was enjoyed by all. One of my favorite memories is dancing with my 91-year-old grandma to the Dandy Warhol's "Bohemian Like You".

I think a really memorable moment was when Kaleb and I performed our first song for our guests. We are both musicians, and played "I'll Go to My Grave Loving You" by the Statler Brothers (one of our favorite songs). Kaleb played an acoustic guitar and harmonica while I sang and played my Bantar (it's a guitar-banjo hybrid instrument). While we had a microphone that went with our mic stand, it somehow went missing right at that moment and the venue's mic wouldn't fit so our amazing friend/wedding team member Jennifer actually sat on the floor and held the mic up for me while I played and sang. She is a truly amazing friend.

The robot cake toppers are from Allison's "personal Tin Robot Collection".

Congratulations, guys! Thanks for sharing your story with us - and providing such great handmade inspiration.


Ceremony & Reception Venue: Fern Forest Nature Center, Coconut Creek | Photography: Elevation 9 Photography | Event Coordination: Sugar(ed) Event Design and Planning

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  1. Ariel Lanier says

    I wonder what catering company she used? I’m looking at this Venue too. This wedding has me so inspired!

  2. Jenn1982 says

    Very authentic, unique & cool wedding. I don’t like overly glam or extremely girly girl weddings. That kind of decor looks a little weird for the groom and all the male guests. But this wedding had a nice balance for both genders.

    Fern Forest sounds like an interesting venue but seems more geared towards the drier cooler months. I can only imagine the mosquitoes at that place during rainy weather!

    The venue seems flexible to many themes. It could be a more indie, hipster, relaxed vibe like this wedding had going on. Or could be made more elegant and upscale.