I love it when my readers email me with their wedding planning queries and stories. I first heard from Amanda, a Smashing The Glass reader (and today’s beautiful bride!) back in July 2014 with the following email:
Hi Karen! I am reaching out in regards to Kathleen and Liz’s beautiful wedding in Palm Springs that you featured on Smashing the Glass earlier this year. I am getting married this September and I have been looking for a chuppah far and wide. I haven’t had much luck, but I absolutely love Kathleen and Liz’s chuppah and was hoping you would be able to either provide their contact information or pass this email along with my details. I would love to ask if I could potentially rent their chuppah and incorporate their beautiful handmade piece in another celebration of love. If not, I completely understand but I figured it never hurt to ask!
I was so delighted that Amanda had reached out to me about this idea, and immediately put her in touch with Kathleen and Liz. For logistical reasons, the ‘passing of the chuppah’ didn’t work out, but there is a happy ending to the story! Amanda and Charley found a local craftsman who constructed their ideal chuppah out of reclaimed wood, and what’s really lovely, is that after their wedding, Amanda and Charley wanted to spread the love of their chuppah and pass it on, and they did just that (full story below!)
Amanda contacted me after her big day with her wedding story, and I am so delighted to share it with you today. It’s a true ‘Smashing The Glass’ W Day, bursting with creativity, authenticity and bucket loads of L.O.V.E.
These two pulled off their big day on a modest budget, and what an incredible job they did. So although the top image looks truly opulent, this is in fact an incredibly casual, laid back wedding with some amazing budget ideas. In fact Amanda says “keeping our wedding small and manageable left enough money for a honeymoon to Cambodia which was the best way to kick off spending the rest of our lives together!”
The biggest budget tip these two adhered to was keeping it small. They shared their celebration with a select group of close family and friends (just 40 people) and were confident enough not to invite the people who weren’t closely involved in their lives.
Can you believe that Amanda’s TWO divine wedding dresses, her shoes and her accessories were all purchased for under $1000 (£650)?! All the florals were bought by Amanda from a local flower shop the day before the wedding, and instead of spending their budget on live music or a DJ, these two had their nearest and dearest contribute to a wonderfully personal Spotify playlist.
Amanda and Charley… I take my hat off to you. You definitely achieved your aim of creating the greatest party on the smallest budget.
Enjoy Amanda’s story below, and all the wonderful images taken by the rather talented Casey from CLB Creative
An historic wedding venue
Amanda, the Bride: I am from Los Angeles but a lot of my friends and family live out of state and Charley is from Montreal so we knew a lot of people would be flying in for the wedding so we wanted to have a “destination wedding” that was close to us. We both love Santa Barbara and have had some amazing weekend trips there so it seemed like a good fit. I adore spanish style architechure so once we stumbled on the Santa Barbara Courthouse it suited us both perfectly (laid back, beautiful, historic). The icing on the cake was how reasonably priced the venue was to rent- and the fact that it had benches and really almost everything we needed made it ideal for us!
A ‘non-traditional’ Jewish wedding
Neither of us love the concept of a traditional wedding and focused on what we wanted (a big fun celebration in the form of a party weekend in a gorgeous city). We didn’t use a wedding planner but we did utilise Pinterest, Google and of course Smashing The Glass! All the websites gave us a bunch of great ideas for pulling together a wedding that fit our personalities and style.
We choose our invitation design from Minted, it was a whimsical design that we could edit to add in English and French (Charley’s first language). It was a much cheaper option that was still gorgeous and captured our style perfectly.
two wedding dresses, shoes, and accessories, all for under $1000!
I found my dress online at Etsy and the designer is dreamersandlovers.com. I knew I wanted an untraditional lace dress and luckily the designer was based in LA and had a small boutique. Yanique is amazing and I went to her boutique on a Tuesday morning and tried on only one dress and knew immediately it was “the one”. It was probably the easiest shopping experience ever! I wanted a more casual dress for the evening portion and that took longer to find, I finally settled on a dress by BCBG and a funky necklace I found at Aldo (also where I bought my evening shoes). I was able to do all of my wedding shopping (dress, shoes, accessories) for under a $1000 USD!
I really wanted to continue the boho look with a flower crown rather than a veil but I wanted something I could keep forever and maybe wear again. I found my flower crown from this Canadian boutique also on Etsy called Noon on the Moon. I wore earrings and a bracelet from different stores on Etsy and my Aunt gave me a family bracelet to wear as something old.
A fun fact is that I am 5’11’’ and my husband Charley is 5’7”, which never bothers us as I still wear heels frequently. However, for photos I didn’t want to tower over him (I am 6’1” in most heels) so I went with simple nude sandals from Steve Madden.
hair + make up
For our hair, I treated my two best friends to a blow dry at a local salon in Santa Barbara called The Carlyle and we all got our hair done together and then went and did our own make-up. I have never worn a lot of make-up so I had no idea what to wear, luckily I found a very sweet woman in Sephora who helped me find make-up I loved. I wore all Tarte make-up (which is organic and never tested on animals and it pretty good for your skin).
A custom suit and bow tie for the groom
Charley found an amazing tailor when he was vacationing in Thailand who he asked to make a custom suit for the special day. He also decided he wanted to wear a bow tie which he found at Nordstrom. Later he told me that he had never tied a bow tie and the morning of our nuptials he got it right on the first try, which was a sign for him that our marriage was going to work (thank God he got it right huh?!)
Deciding not to have a traditional bridal party
We both decided not to have a wedding party because we wanted a very casual weekend that was about love, family, and friends. Since we didn’t really have a theme (except maybe california bohemian casual) it didn’t make sense to have my best friends purchase dresses to match. Instead, I wanted everyone to be relaxed and comfortable as possible and to wear what made them feel beautiful. We did have a flower girl (my cousin’s daughter) because she was so excited to be in a wedding.
A personalised interfaith Jewish wedding ceremony
We found an amazing Rabbi (Rabbi Michael Mayersohn) who was able to perform our ceremony (I am not Jewish but my husband Charley is) and he took the time to get to know us and our story. He made the ceremony truly ours and included everything we could hope for including two special readings (“Marriage Advice from 1886” by Jane Wells and Union by Robert Fulghum). We had our two best friends read them and it made the ceremony so personal and special for us.
It took forever to find a chuppah design I liked. There were so many options but I wanted a really simple chuppah because our ceremony was indoors in a rather ornate room. We finally found a reclaimed furniture maker (Arbor Exchange) in Los Angeles who custom built a chuppah for us. It was made from an reclaimed Pine and was absolutely gorgeous and it was cheaper than it costs to rent them! We bought fabric at Joann’s fabric and stapled it on. After our wedding, we wanted to spread the love of our chuppah and pass it on so we found a couple who was surprising their family with a wedding on Thanksgiving.
Music for the ceremony
I walked down the aisle to Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright and our recessional was Today by Joshua Radin. We didn’t have a first dance but had a good mix of love songs new and old (everything from Beyonce to Bob Dylan) as well as some fun dance tunes throughout the evening.
flowers by the bride!
I love the simple, organic look of wildflowers so I actually just went to a flower shop the day before and bought some of my favourite flowers that were fresh and available (white daisies, hydrangeas, and baby’s breath) and used a mix to add in mason jars for the tables. For my bouquet, I used hydrangeas and secured it with some twine and used baby’s breath for my flower girl’s bouquet.
Our amazing photographer
Casey at CLB Creative was suggested to us by a friend who is also a photographer. We checked out her website and she had a lot of unique candid photos that we really liked. We actually were on the fence about having a photographer but after seeing her photos of our day, it was the best decision we made that day (besides you know.. getting married!)
reception, food and drink
We had our reception at an amazing restaurant in Santa Barbara called The Lark. The main things we wanted was good food and drinks for our celebration! We did an incredible family style dinner with a lot of food and delicious dessert of a homemade s’mores in a jar which was chocolate pudding with salted graham crackers and homemade marshmallow cream. We had an open bar including a signature jalapeño margarita and Scotch (charley’s drink of choice).
framed photos of loved ones
Luckily both venues for our ceremony and reception didn’t require a lot of decorating but we wanted to include everyone who came to our wedding as well as a few people who had passed away and weren’t able to join (my mother and his grandparents) through photos. We framed a photo of a special memory/event with every person who came to the wedding and had them on the side boards with a large ‘A & C’ we found at a second hand shop.
personalised foam drink sleeves favours
We choose not to do favours but we had a “wedding rehearsal” BBQ the evening before where we grilled food and had a bunch of drinks and included koozies (foam sleeves that are designed to thermally insulate drinks) that we had specially made as festive drinks covers. We brought the leftover Koozies to the reception for everyone to use and take home. The BBQ was a great way for everyone to meet- since we had such a small wedding we were able to invite everyone to the BBQ which was in the backyard of a house we airbnb’d for the weekend and it worked out perfectly! The BBQ was also a great time to incorporate our English Cocker Spaniel, “Foggy” into our special day- I had to include his photo on that day into the wedding photos.
An alternative guest book idea
Instead of a guest book we had a glass jar and pieces of paper so everyone could write us advice/well wishes etc. and put it in the jar. We agreed that every anniversary we would read a few to remember the celebration and who attended. I got this idea from Pinterest and loved it because it was a way to spread out the joy we felt from that day. People took a long time during the cocktail hour to write us stories and then towards the end of evening (after a few drinks) people went back to write and draw silly stories to us, I am very excited to read them in the coming years.
A spotify playlist created by our nearest and dearest
Following our theme of less is more, we used Spotify and created a personalised playlist to play at the restaurant. We crowdsourced the music and asked our friends to add music to the playlist that reminded them of us (seperately and together). After everyone added songs to the mix, one of our close friends put all the songs together in a cohesive order and we played a dinner and a dance playlist throughout the night. It worked perfectly and we avoided a lot of wedding songs like YMCA which neither of us really like.
advice to other brides
My biggest piece of advice is to do what you want to do and just say no to everything else. We opted out of an MC, a bridal party, a first dance, an introduction, and a lot of other “traditional” wedding aspects because well…we didn’t want to. We also kept the weekend only to close family and friends (about 40 people) and didn’t invite the people who weren’t involved in our lives. This was hard because it meant not inviting a lot of family but since we wanted it to be our weekend and not an obligatory celebration, this decision led to a weekend where everyone truly bonded and created a very special wedding weekend. Not everyone who is getting married can do this but if you are able to only include people who truly know and love the both of you, it creates a celebration of love.
Amanda & Charley’s LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography – CLB Creative
Ceremony Venue – Santa Barbara Courthouse
Reception Venue + Catering – The Lark
Bride’s Dress – dreamersandlovers.com via Etsy
Bride’s Evening Dress – BCBG
Bride’s Shoes – Steve Madden
Bride’s Necklace and Evening Shoes – Aldo
Bride’s Flower Crown – Noon on the Moon
Flowers – organised by the Bride
Hair – The Carlyle
Stationery – Minted
Rabbi – Rabbi Michael Mayersohn
Chuppah – Arbor Exchange