Wedding Planning

Rachel and Darren’s Romantic DIY Wedding by Maggie Heinzel-Neel

For her wedding to long-time love Darren, Rachel wanted a garden-esque theme that felt romantic and, I gotta say mission accomplished.

For her wedding to long-time love Darren, Rachel wanted a garden-esque theme that felt romantic and, I gotta say mission accomplished. Her soft palette of pinks and oranges, to her dress (her dress!), to the smart suits the guys sported, to the DIY decor she and her friends put together, it all feels very 30s yet totally modern.

Captured gorgeously by Maggie Heinzel-Neel, this is one of those weddings where I kept going back to the photos to catch more details (and fine, because I couldn’t get enough of her dress). Make sure you check out their photo gallery for lots more shots and ideas.

And keep reading below – Rachel has great advice for brides just getting started on their own wedding journey.

Their Story
Darren proposed to me in March of 2009, at the Waterfront Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We had been together for about 5 years; it was still a huge surprise, but one that I was certainly ready for. We found out later from an uncle that the day was a rare Jewish celestial calendar day, which I thought was cool, so we decided to plan the event around a celestial event. What worked best for weekend dates and location was the perseids meteor shower, so August 14th it was! We live in Brooklyn, but we wanted to get out of the city and not to mention had to to be able to see the sky, away from city lights. We also really wanted a weekend-long wedding (they’re never long enough!), with a BBQ-star-gazing-campfire party instead of a traditional rehearsal dinner. So we found the perfect venue in the Catskills called Full Moon Resort. Along with that, I’ve always been a bit vintage-obsessed, so I went for a 30s Garden Party-esque theme with the colors, decoration, attire, and music. So I kind of mixed that in with the star gazing theme, and had lots of DIY details. Thankfully, our engagement was long enough to prepare it all (year and a half).

Most meaningful part of my day was the ceremony. I was very nervous to read the vows, and wanted to keep them down to a minimum, but when I discovered the hindu wedding vows I knew I would regret NOT saying them, so I practiced… a lot, we both made it through, and it was lovely (see them below).

You have become mine forever.
Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me. Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, united.
You are thought and I am sound. May the night be honey-sweet for us;
may the morning be honey-sweet for us;
may the earth be honey-sweet for us and the heavens
be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us;
may the sun be all honey for us;
may the cows yield us honey-sweet milk.

As the heavens are stable, as the earth is stable,
as the mountains are stable, as the whole universe is stable,
so may our unions be permanently settled.

Funny moments:
Darren’s 3 young half-brothers stayed up way past bedtime, taking in cat naps between hitting the dance floor. The funniest moment was dancing with my dad for the father-daughter dance and Darren’s little brother, Ethan, was hovering near us and then broke in and yelled ‘SHE ALREADY HAS ONE!!’ to my father and ran away. Apparently he was jealous, but it left us in tears laughing for the remainder of the song.

Also unexpected was that many people used the tissue flowers from the napkin rings in their hair, or around their wrist and in suit pockets, it was really cute.
The details and vendors:
Before the event:
Save the dates/Invitation: I took a letterpress class and decided to make my save-the-dates. I used vintage postcards from the Catskills (some still with writing on them from the early 1900s) and printed ‘SAVE THE DATE’ in red over the front, and attached a mini envelope with a star-punched card inside to the back for the info. A few months later, I designed the invitation based on a vintage star chart. It actally works too!

Welcome bags, etc since we essentially picked a ‘destination’ venue. Nearly all of our friends and a lot of family stayed on the site with us, which was great. I made welcome gift bags for each room with goodies for the weekend, including: a waterproof picnic blanket for friday’s star gazing, a flashlight, an itinerary, mexican wedding cookies (made by groom’s mom), bug wipes, exedrin, water (with personalized star label), and emergen-C. (for the hangovers). The best man also brewed a special beer for us, which we broke out at the campfire on friday. (of course, with coordinating star label ‘best man’s bitter brew’)

Wedding Day:
Bridesmaid Dresses: They are all vintage floral printed chiffon dresses from the 20s and 30s. They were very delicate and one of my bridesmaids ended up with a large hole in the front mid-reception. Thankfully, we all suspected that would happen and had a change of clothes!

DIY decor: We really went overboard here with the details. My sister and MOH came up and stayed with me in New York the month before the wedding, incurring craft wounds and a few nights of panic, making every single pom pom (hanging from tent), napkin ring, and cocktail stirrer out of tissue paper. We also made program fans for the ceremony, along with the dinner menus (calligraphy by Betsy Dunlap), and wedding favors. Wedding favors were jarred pink or grey salt with a personalized label and matching baker’s twine. The table numbers and escort cards were designed with constellations, which were hand drawn by my sister and I. I really enjoyed getting to spend the extra time with my sister doing crafts and sipping on Hudson Whiskey (which we also had at the wedding).

Centerpieces: I collected hobnail milk glass vases and bowls over the engagement period and the florist, Jim from Elderberry Flowers, arranged them according to each vase.

Baked (from Brooklyn) we had them made so each flavor was decorated with a different flower that we used for the centerpieces. They were set up to look like garden rows of flowers.

Music: The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, classical guitarist Christopher Gotzen-berg for ceremony

Dress: Monique Lhulliere

As far as DIY projects, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and know who is willing to help! The actual wedding goes so fast, so I think it’s good advice not to get caught up in little mishaps (which are bound to happen) and remember to step back and take it all in.

Proud to say, Maggie Heinzel-Neel is a mywedding member.