DIY Vegas wedding: Carey + Russ

Categories   Real Weddings

outdoor las vegas wedding

We should probably state that this was a wedding in Las Vegas, and not a “Vegas” wedding. You’re not going to see the strip, the lights, lingerie, or fancy resorts. You will see lavender bouquets, lace, succulents, DIY touches, and a happy Carey + Russ hanging out with friends and family in the backyard of a cozy Vegas home. Being from Alaska, this was their destination wedding and they were determined to do it on a $10k budget. Surprisingly, she found it easy to stay within it! Here’s how…

light waves wedding hairstyle

fringe accent wedding dress

Carey’s dress was actually meant to be a bridesmaid dress — which she would have never thought of buying, but as soon as she walked into Bella Bridesmaid in Las Vegas, she saw it hanging there calling her name. The actually bridal gowns from designers like Jim Hjelm and Alvina Valenta were expensive, but to the side of them were very affordable and gorgeous “bridesmaid” dresses that you could also purchase in white or ivory… so Carey walked out with that chic Alvina Alventa number for a fraction of the cost she would have paid for a bridal gown. Good to keep in mind!

lace overlay dress, pearl necklace and vintage barrette

outdoor las vegas wedding

light waves and vintage barrette

heather gray suit and green plaid accents

lavender chair accents

I was aiming for something a bit rustic and a bit vintage–with a cozy backyard feeling to it. I wanted to stay as ‘green’ as I could and have a unique handmade vibe to the decor. We looked at a lot of venues in Vegas but didn’t like any of the ballrooms, they were just too impersonal, and none of the gardens had the ‘homey’ feel I wanted. That’s when we got the idea to rent a house with a large outdoor space using VRBO –that way we could host some gatherings prior to the wedding and have a space people could just come hang out. 

shades of teal bridesmaid dresses

outdoor las vegas wedding ceremony

bride and groom message luggage

framed escort card board

simple succulent, stacked books and colored vase centerpieces

For just about every DIY project I ran down the street to Michael’s for paint, stencils, brushes, stamps, paper, etc. I took advantage of every 40% to 50% coupon that popped up and went every day to buy something new.

"open bar" bunting garland

burlap table runner and colored bottle vases

tiered mini cupcake display

My favorite DIY project was the cupcake stand my dad made. It was made from wood taken out from a pile behind our house. It was really special to have a piece of Alaska there at the wedding.

the first dance

We had trouble finding a ‘first dance’ song because we wanted one that wasn’t too sappy, not country, and not played at every other wedding. One morning on my way to work Bill Withers’ Lovely Day came on the radio and I realized that was the song I wanted as our first dance. I managed to find a cover of that song by Adam Levine (Maroon 5) that was a little slower and asked the DJ to mix it into the original Bill Wither’s version so we could transition our slow song into something more upbeat.

outdoor las vegas wedding

handmade "thank you" bunting

Final tip from Carey: Although doing a DIY wedding was stressful–and there were moments where I would break out crying because I couldn’t get the burlap to do what I wanted it to, it was all worth it. Don’t get discouraged if you explain your projects or ‘vision’ to others and they cringe–it will come together!! What is most special for me, when I look at my pictures of the reception, is that I see all the things that people helped with and it just reminds me how many people wanted the day to be special for us.

sparkler celebration

a kiss goodbye

And can you believe she did all the planning for the wedding from Alaska? Not too shabby, right?

Many congrats Carey + Russ!

Photography: Gabe Aceves / Favors: JB Chocolatier / Cupcakes (vegan): Retro Bakery / DJ: DJ Harry O / Rentals: RSVP Party / Catering: Las Vegas Creative Catering / Hair & makeup: Amelia C & Company / Venue: rented using VRBO / Bride’s dress: Bella Bridesmaid / Groom’s suit: IndoChino / Tie: Tie Bar

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Social Love

Valerie (Pieceful Wedding) on Aug 24, 2012

This is such a pretty wedding, and the bride's dress is absolutely amazing! I love the one-shoulder beautiful!

Anni on Aug 24, 2012

Beautiful wedding - Carey did a fantastic job planning, the whole thing looks amazing.

Chloe on Aug 24, 2012

Holy delicious, Batman! You did an amazing job Gabe & you too Nirav. Beautiful light photography. That film truly kicks butt.

invitation consultants on Aug 24, 2012

those cupcakes are too cute!

gabe aceves on Aug 24, 2012

Hi everyone, I just wanted to say thanks to 100 Layer Cake for sharing this. Photographing this wedding was an amazing experience not only because it was beautiful but Carey is a dear friend of mine and one of the most wonderful people I know. We were lucky to be a part of it and share these photos with everyone.

Kina on Aug 24, 2012

Lovely, lovely, lovely!!

Antoinette Mancini on Aug 24, 2012

Love the blog. Carey and Russell, the wedding was beautiful and great fun!

Maureen on Aug 24, 2012

Carey and Russ had a beautiful one of a kind wedding full of personal, well thought out-touches. They had a wonderful photographer in Gabe Aceves, whose creativity in his photos has given us a remarkable reminder of the day.

Sarah on Aug 24, 2012

I feel so lucky to have witnessed this wedding and Carey and Russ' commitment to each other. They are a beautiful couple, and their wedding kicked butt!! Great feature ladies!

Anna on Aug 25, 2012

Gosh, you never would have picked that it was intended as a bridesmaid dress! It is a stunning bridal dress. Very clever idea too to rent a house as the venue.

Jenny Downer-Tse on Aug 25, 2012

Absolutely stunning! You guys did an amazing job and look beautiful.

A Wedding Less Ordinary on Aug 27, 2012

Fantastic wedding - adorable details. Such a beautiful day!

(@MagnetStreetWed) (@MagnetStreetWed) on Aug 27, 2012

DIY Vegas Wedding: Carey + Russ on @100LayerCake

Retro Bakery LV (@RetroCounter) on Aug 27, 2012

Another HAPPY Retro couple!!! Thank you SO much for this!!! Hello! My husband and I got married back in March...

Kari @ Retro Bakery (@RetroBakery) on Aug 27, 2012

one of our COOLEST weddings ever:

Ann Diab (@AnnDiab) on Aug 27, 2012

BRILLIANT idea to use VRBO to find a wedding venue!! Love it. RT “@RetroBakery: one of our COOLEST weddings ever:”

Meg on Aug 27, 2012

That yard looks great for a wedding. Would you share the link to the FRBO home you chose? Thanks!

Carey (the Bride) on Sep 2, 2012

Thank you everyone! So many lovely compliments and so many people to thank. I would like to add that my dress was only $300 (being that it was a "bridesmaid" dress). It was my favorite 'deal' of the wedding and was so much more beautiful and less expensive than any 'wedding dress' I tried on. The house in Vegas an be found at It was the perfect venue! Plenty of space inside and out--and they installed a putting green that all the men really enjoyed it. But really, thank you to Nirav and Gabe, their photos were more exquisite than I ever imagine. I never thought I would have photos like this to hang in my house!!

Anastasia - Wedding Photographer on Jan 6, 2013

What a gorgeous wedding and beautifully styled. Can’t get enough of this wedding. Stunning!

Kelly {Little Vegas Wedding} on Jul 9, 2013

Not sure how I missed this the first time, but it's great. It's hard to do a destination DIY and budget wedding, but they did a great job. I'm a big fan of VRBO too - they were on my list for renting a house for my Vegas wedding's afterparty before I just ended up getting a fancy hotel suite :)

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