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DIY Vegas wedding: Carey + Russ

August 24, 2012
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