Photography by Katherine and Luke for Max & Friends.
If you daydream of a wedding at home, but the idea of pulling that off for 100 of your nearest and dearest breaks you out in a cold sweat, read on! It can totally be done, and done with serious style. Preeya & Dan turned their front yard into the most personal ceremony space, featuring an archway of greenery and colorful florals over their own front door. This was the spot they read the coolest vows to each other (including a Friday Night Ligths reference, can’t lose with that!) which they’ve shared with us! For the reception, their backyard was transformed into what Preeya calls a vampy, sexy, British garden party – not a wedding reference you hear every day, but one we can definitely get on board with! Dramatic fall florals, black tapered candles, and twinkle lights everywhere you look… I am so taken with this wedding. A little different, so much fun, and oh-so-personal. And be sure to check out the budget breakdown of how they pulled this all together for $50,000!
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We visited a few outdoor venues in the early months of planning and kept feeling weird picturing the day leaving our home to go somewhere else to get married. We both felt so much happier and more comfortable thinking about spending a fun night at a hotel, getting ready there and then driving to our house to get married. So many of our friends & family live on the east coast so it was really fun (and we felt really proud) to showcase the life we’ve built together here on the west coast by inviting everyone to our house. It kept things feeling really intimate, which is what we wanted more than anything. How cool is it that our aisle was the walkway up to our home and the altar was our front door?! We get to walk down the aisle every day!
What was your ceremony music? Processional: Soft Shock, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (played on piano by our good friend Jacob Yoffee) / Recessional: Electric Love, Børns.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? We kept things really minimal and didn’t harp on age-old traditions at all – it felt forced in the moment to think about the borrowed & blue items, so my mom, my sister and I just drank champagne and took our time getting ready. The one thing I felt strongly about was having both my mom & dad walk me down the aisle – which is not so novel anymore, but was something I wanted to make sure each of them knew was meaningful to me.
Your ceremony in three words. Casual, Intimate, Playful
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Our good friends Danny & Kahlea officiated our wedding. They have been best friends for years and of our circle of friends these two most exude the casual, funny, caring vibe we wanted the evening to have. We have both been friends with them since our very first date – Danny was even there for some of it! – so we felt confident in their telling our story as a couple. They are both creators, producers and writers for television and film, so we knew they’d be organized, thoughtful and not intimidated by the ask. They did the most amazing job and we couldn’t be happier with the memory of having them be such a big part of that day.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We really left that up to Kahlea & Danny who did such an amazing job in keeping the ceremony short, authentic to us as a couple, but also surprised us. They made a really sweet ask of our guests to drop precious stones waiting on their seats into beautiful wooden bowl. The idea was to harness their well wishes for us as a couple and for us to keep the bowl in our home as a keepsake – to fill our home and lives with the good vibes from that moment, always.
What were your vows like? We didn’t want to include readings in our ceremony – we wanted to get to cocktail hour, stat! – but our vows were super important to us. This was honestly the easiest part of the planning process. We both agreed to write our own vows in keeping with the intimate tone of the wedding and treat this as if we were talking each other lounging on our couch. We kept things casual and even addressed each other as “Sweets” since we never call each other by name. We both wound up saying very similar things to each other which was funny since we hadn’t shared anything ahead of the ceremony – it was really nice to stay away from the formalities and be real about why we decided to marry each other. Dan stayed 100% true to form and embellished on bullet points he had written out on his phone… it was classic Dan to be referencing things he jotted down over the past few months about why he loves our relationship in the ‘Notes’ app. We also both love Friday Night Lights so much that I ended my vows with “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts… Can’t Lose!” and most of our close friends in the guest seats shouted it along with us – it was so weird & so special.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Reading our vows to each other was far & away both of our favorite parts of the ceremony and the whole day.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? It makes sense that some people like to use the wedding as an opportunity to have a more formal event. But for us and the ceremony itself, it felt way more intimate and authentic to speak in our own voices and to have our best friends marry us – it kept things from feeling like a Hallmark card and more like real life.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I would have done less in the days leading up to the wedding – instead we squeezed in our bachelor and bachelorette parties, a welcome dinner for out of towners, our rehearsal dinner and a brunch the day after the wedding. There was not much time built in for relaxing – a massage would have been nice!. I would have spread things out a little more… maybe made the brunch two days before and made that the event for out oft owners, moved our bachelor and bachelorette parties to a month out, etc. It would have been great to have spent more time together as a couple
How would you describe your reception? Warm, light hearted, casual and romantic. The ceremony ended and we asked everyone to follow us through our home to the backyard for cocktail hour. It was a casual, cool setting with a photo booth ready to go (before our guests got too deep into the bar), a charcuterie table and amazing passed appetizers. Our processional kicked off a cocktail hour playlist that we both worked really hard on to keep the vibe fun, casual and appealing to all of the age groups :) It’s really cool to have been in control of the song selection throughout most of the evening ( we created a Guest Arrivals Playlist, Cocktail Hour Playlist &Dinner Playlist) – so now when we listen to those groupings of songs, it triggers memories from that night.
How did you go about planning your wedding? I created a few schedules, excel sheets and Google Drive folders (and Pinterest boards!) to keep everything organized in the 11 months spent planning, budgeting & scheduling. We were so thankful once the time with Natasha at Gather Events, our month-of planning & day-of coordinator, kicked in so that we could relax and think about the more fun, pamper-y stuff!
As a couple, we cared most about the vibe & the cocktails, so we focused on locking in our rental company and bar service first – once we felt good about the styling and the drinks, everything else really fell into place! We also made sure to hire vendors that were easy going, nice, that had worked together in the past and were passionate about the area they were focused on. We made a conscious effort to hire more specialized vendors vs. one or two jack-of-all-trades which really made the evening feel unique.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We had four! We love The Whaling Club so much and couldn’t decide on just one of their cocktails. We wanted to have a little something for everyone so we decided on some fall colored, crowd-pleasing flavors: Vodka, rosemary, blackberry, lime, cane sugar / Tequila, spiced pear liqueur, lime, agave / Bourbon, orange, ginger, lime, angostura bitters, club soda / Rye, ancho chili liqueur, sweet vermouth, amaro di angostura, orange bitters.
We named them “The One With the Tequila”, “The One With the Vodka” etc., since we know that’s what people would get up to the bar and say anyways. It was so funny seeing people tell each other they loved “the one with the bourbon”, not realizing that it was the actual name of the drink on the bar menu.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to to tell us about? I also had a lot of etsy fun and especially liked the bar napkins we ordered with “The Marcellus…es” written on them. It has been a running joke that we can’t figure out the best plural configuration of Dan’s (and now our) last name – The Marcelluses… The Marcellus’… The Marcellusi… so we thought it would be funny to bring that light heartedness to the cocktail hour.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? You’ll start out with a budget and by the end of it, it will have doubled or even tripled. Everyone thinks they can avoid that – but you’ll have to sacrifice a ton to keep the budget at your initial amount. We thought we would save a lot of money in having the wedding at our home, but we wound up paying more since we had to rent everything down to the coffee spoons, plus re-jigger some electrical to make sure all of the added lights and kitchen equipment didn’t blow a fuse! In the end, we wouldn’t change a thing, but it was a lot more work and a many more calls to the parents to ask for more money :)
Here’s a breakdown of how we spent our total budget of $50,000:
Flowers: 8%, $4,000
Bar Service: 5%, $2,500
Food Service: 18% , $9,000
Rentals: 24%, $12,000
Month-of Planning & Day-of Coordination: 8%, $4,000
Photo Booth: 2%, $1,000
Photographer: 10%, $5,000
Landscaping & Lighting : 25%, $12,500
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? After an hour or so, the front yard had been turned over from the ceremony setting to a dinner one and everyone came back through the home to sit for dinner. The changeover really took our breath away. It was such a cool moment to come back out to the same yard & see it in a new more romantic setting, with all of the rentals and things we had carefully chosen. It looked even better than we had pictured and made us so proud of our home. It was such a cozy atmosphere for dinner and really embodied our personalities in styling. We all spent the rest of the evening there – ate dinner, gave speeches, had our dances, drank cocktails & danced with our friends & family.
(Our equally favorite moment was watching the video my dad had been working on for months. Playing on my obsession with the Bachelor & Bachelorette franchises, my dad’s speech led into this video which had us laughing the most we had all day. We’ve re-watched it dozens of times since the wedding!)
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. My favorite prep work for the reception were the Compartes chocolate bar thank you gifts. I kept seeing images of menus slid into napkins on a ton of blogs and thought it might be a cute way to present thank you gifts – each with a special little handwritten thank you note – to our guests. It gave the tablescape some fun, LA vibes.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We both knew we wanted a fall wedding, but wanted to stay away from going too far down the ‘fall theme’ path. Since we wanted our yard to feel expensive and like a real venue, we went with a (bear with me here!) vampy/goth British Garden Party vibe. Lots of string lights to give the whole yard a golden hue, brass, dark wood, black tapered candles and hints of black in the florals helped us inject some of that more sexy vibe into a backdrop of fall tones like blush, mustard, burgundy and lots of green. Vibe and flow-wise, we also wanted to make sure to keep things casual, no fuss. Like a really awesome house party, so we didn’t over-plan the evening which gave us more time to just hang out with our guests. Our favorite nights are ones with our friends sitting at a bar & talking – so we wanted to emulate that same feeling at our wedding.
What was your wedding menu? Serving dinner family style felt like it fit the intimate vibe of the whole day and would get people at the dinner tables interacting with each other a little more, so we went with it! Little Nelly did such a wonderful job- everything was so tasty & came out hot!
Mains and sides: Seared creekstone flank steak with red wine- shallot butter / Slow-roasted sustainable Scottish salmon with basil pistou and herbed breadcrumbs / Roasted market vegetables with herbs and preserved lemon / Baked torchio pasta with braised kale, roasted mushrooms, parmesan fonduta, and calabrian chili.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? We loved & would recommend all of our vendors to anyone getting married in the LA area. They really made this all a much less daunting experience and our guests felt so well taken care of. We kinda wanna throw another party just to make that magic again with their insane combination of awesomeness.
We also tapped our friends for a lot of the help we needed and it made the evening that much more special knowing our super talented circle of friends made it happen for us. Kahlea & Danny officiated, my dress was made by my friend Patrice of Aliceanna, Dan’s friend Jacob played the piano for the processional, our friend Eric Kelly filmed the whole evening and cut together an amazing video, all of Dan’s friends surprised him with a song as part of the best man speech, our friends Larry and (the best man) Chris DJ’d late into the evening… it was really a team effort and we were so thankful to have our friends so heavily involved.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? To let go and enjoy the evening – which to be honest, I wish I took more seriously. I can be a bit of a control freak and having been so heavy in the planning of the event, it was hard to separate from that come the wedding day. My advice in turn, would be to hire a planner from the onset – it’ll force the more controlling bride to let go and act as more of a consultant than a full on planner.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? It sounds cliché, but don’t let others tell you what the ‘right’ way of doing things is. What a perfect evening means to each of us is so subjective. It was so much more meaningful to bring our guests into our idea of a perfect evening vs. catering to our guests, vendors or parents’ tastes. YOU DO YOU!