1/10 {Real Wedding} Lilia + Lou’s Southwest Charm DIY Wedding

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Hope everyone’s 2011 is starting out with a bang and lots of throwing confetti!  So excited to share this little charm of wedding with you all!

Lilia and Lou both come from enormous families and while the thought of eloping had surfaced, they decided they still wanted to surround themselves with 175 loved ones with a wedding.  Lilia, the bride was kind enough to share some details:

“We spent more than we planned on Lou’s suit. Since my mom made my dress, it was a perfect fit and I felt awesome in it. Lou has very particular taste and department store suits just weren’t fitting right. I felt that he should be able to feel just as smashing as I did in my wedding outfit so we bought a brand new suit for him from Banana Republic.”

“We didn’t do any fresh flowers. Instead, I used some beautiful silk fabric that my mother had in her collection, buttons and a die cut machine to make the bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages. It was labor intensive but it saved us a LOT of money. I probably spent about $300 in supplies. With nine (yes, nine!) bridesmaids, I can’t imagine what our flower costs would have been! Plus, I think it made our wedding really unique.”

Seed paper escort cards/favors made by cousin of the bride!

“We saved big on the flowers, my dress and the decorations. My mother is so talented and I’m quite crafty so I figured we could just use our creativity to make things look great rather than spend a fortune on fresh flower centerpieces and arrangements. I think it translated well — there was a lot of DIY at our wedding and it offered a unique look and I really think the guests understood that many loving hands went into this event.  All tissue paper pom pom decorations were made by bridesmaids (pom poms were our main decor and part of the centerpieces).

We relied heavily on our friends and family to help put this thing together. My mother made my dress and the neckties. My bridesmaids made the tissue paper pom poms. His musician friends provided BEAUTIFUL sound and music throughout the night. My maid of honor, a pastry chef, baked our cake. My aunts crocheted and knitted wraps for the bridesmaids. A family friend gave us free dance lessons. My cousins made the escort cards and table numbers. The day of the wedding, all of our out of town guests arrived early and decorated the place.

In the end, I think everyone took some ownership over what happened that day.

It wasn’t just OUR day… it belonged to everyone who was there!”

“Our venue had in-house catering and we chose a unique menu — all vegetarian. Initially, some of our family members were concerned but the Italian dinner buffet was delicious and it seemed like everyone was pleased. It actually saved us a bundle because we used the fact that we were going with a vegetarian menu as our bargaining point and got the cost down to $18 per person.”

Cake and cupcakes were made by Maid of Honor (she’s a pastry chef) and the cupcake tower was made by the brother of the bride.

“We splurged on the bar. At first, we thought that we would do a cash bar but after saving so much money with all of the DIY projects, we reconsidered. Plus, I kept reading in all the bride magazines that it’s considered rude not to provide drinks. We counted up how many drinkers we had and allotted the cost of 3.5 drinks per drinker. The venue allowed us to pay for drinks up to that amount which worked out great — our guests enjoyed complimentary beer and wine all night. And we decided to include a champagne toast because it didn’t feel right not to have one (although the venue didn’t serve it on time so we sort of lost out on that one…bummer).  And our other splurge was the photo booth. It was 100% a luxury item but MAN, it was worth it! Everyone climbed in and took goofy photos all night. It was a huge hit!”

Memorable moments? Too many to describe! Everything was such a blur… my mother looked amazing. One of our guests was a dog… in a tuxedo. Lou’s parents cut a rug on the dance floor. The families and bridal party did a group tequila shot. Our photographers — could they be more amazing?!?! My three older brothers gave me tear-filled hugs after the ceremony. My dad and I had a blast when we danced. As soon as the DJ started spinning, our guests made a soul train on the dance floor. The way Lou looked at me when he first saw me…he didn’t take his eyes off me all night. And, someone took a photo of their butt in the photobooth! Ha! What a night.”

“We saved HUGE on our music as well. Lou is a musician so we called in a few favors from friends. We had a live pianist for the ceremony, a live violinist for the cocktail hour, a professional audio engineer, and a tremendous DJ for the reception. Since they were friends of ours, they all offered to do it for free or at a super discount.

We did the thing that everyone says not to do and didn’t have a strict budget. That said, we tried extremely hard to save in every way that we could. We ended up spending 21k. That’s a lot of money. But, with such a large guest list, we feel like we got a LOT of wedding for what we spent!

What would I have done differently? I think I should have negotiated more on a few things with the venue. I always feel too guilty to barter effectively. And, I wish we had hired a coordinator-type person for the entire evening. We had someone with us for the ceremony and cocktail  hour but I felt like the reception fell apart without someone directing things — one of my bridesmaids had to step in, and I wish she hadn’t had to spend the evening doing that. Our venue, while beautiful, was not very helpful (and was downright problematic at some points during the night).

Loved Lilia’s advice to all those planning weddings now:

“Use your creativity and the talents of friends and family. Everyone has a talent and usually they’re willing to lend a hand.
Look for alternatives. People looked at me like I was nuts when I explained what I was doing with the flowers. And some were horrified that we didn’t offer meat at our wedding. But on the day-of, it all came together and people thought the non-traditional parts of our wedding were great! We used alternatives to save money but it turned out that it made our wedding details more memorable.  Let people help you. It’s a little frightening to involve others in the planning process and I did end up compromising on some things but, overall, our wedding was a team effort and I think it made it all the more special.”

And here’s the budget breakdown:

with 175 guests: total cost $21,450

Venue (includes food and alcohol): $12,000

Wedding dress & Groom’s suit: $1000

Flowers and decorations: $600

Music: $800

Transportation:  $900

Photography & photo booth: $3100

Gifts: $1500

Wedding Rings: $1100

Hair, Makeup, Mani-Pedis, Facials: $450

Again, congratulations to Lilia and Lou!  Many thanks for sharing your big day with us!  Loving all the DIY details and hope it inspires you all!

Lastly, here’s a bit of wedding vendor info too:

photography:  Simply Knot Photography

venue:  Corona Ranch

dj:  DJ Hartbreaks

XoxO, Lydia from Ever Ours

  • Thanks for featuring such an amazing couple! Their wedding was an absolute joy to capture 🙂

  • Another wedding with a budget that most, if not all of us, can only dream of. Unless we get the bride to show us some of the DIY stuff she did, why is this posted on the Broke-Ass Bride?

    • BrokeAssBride

      Lira, this wedding has almost twice the number of guests as the average american wedding, yet comes in under the budget for what a "normal size" average wedding does. We chose to feature this couple for their inspiring use of DIY, friendors and bargaining which made a huge wedding look like it was worth a huge price tag.

      Its not for us to judge what dollar amount counts as "broke-ass" – its all a matter of perspective. Our mission is focused on spending wisely, living richly, and thriving creatively… which this couple embodies, without a doubt.

      • Ah, Dana, you are absolutely right.

  • Love this! How adorable is the couple and all the details of their wedding! Those little boots are so cute and I love both of her dresses, gorgeous! Love all the DIY elements. Congrats!

  • I am having a fall wedding and would love instructions on how to create those pom poms.

  • Bell


    Congratulations! Beautiful wedding!

    but, can someone tell me what is those cute colorful little hearts?

    i loved them but can’t figured out what they are!


    • Lilia Menconi


      The hearts were made of seed paper and doubled as our escort cards and favors. Again, labor intensive (my poor cousin had to cut out, paste and hand write names and table numbers into 175 of them!) but we killed a few birds with one stone by choosing to make them 🙂

    • Julie

      It's paper with flower seeds embedded in it! Each one had a guest's name and table number on it. Sweet! (I was there.)

      I loved loved loved the autumn color scheme, and you can't necessarily tell from the photos, but the flowers Lilia made for the bouquets and boutonnieres looked sort of like cookies. They were super-cute and modern and professional-looking; I was floored.

      I'm glad Lou and Lilia hired such superb photographers. That's an obvious place to cut back on the budget, but the pics are works of art. The couple also gave business to a lot of local and independent vendors and artists, and that's a nice way to choose to spend money. Nothing seemed either stingy or extravagant about the evening, and that's a great balance to strike!

    • Amber W.

      I loved the heart escort cards as well!

  • M.Rogers

    Having attended this beautiful wedding, I can say that all of the hard work paid off. Everyone was so impressed with the decorations, flowers, setting, food, music and especially Lilia's dress. It truly was a dress made perfectly for her.What a fun, wonderful, memorable night.
    Future brides–take her advice and you should be happy.

  • Gorgeous color palette – I love it! And I love your crafty little bouquet and the groom's boutonniere! 😀

  • "only when i realllllly like you, will i start wearing shorter shoes when we hang out so i don't tower over you."
    LOVE that!

  • I love this! Gorgeous wedding and happy people!

    Even if we don't have the 21K to spend on a wedding, the information here provides lots of ideas to implement or to use as a seed to begin your own brainstorming.

    I love the tissue flowers and can see those being translated into a bouquet in our antique blue canning jars for centerpieces. The flowers will also look lovely to decorate the bandstand.

    Congratulations to the couple! Thank you for sharing.

  • Jamie

    love the dress? what designer?

    • It's a Vogue pattern: http://voguepatterns.mccall.com/v2965-products-83

      My ridiculously talented mother constructed it — we made a practice version out of polyester then shortened it for our photo shoot so Lou would still be surprised on the wedding day with the long silk version.

      The dress was beautiful and simple but it was tricky to fit! Give yourself a lot of time and try not to lose or gain any weight (I know, impossible, right?) while you're working on it 🙂

  • BriAnne

    Awesome wedding… totally want to copy the flowers! How did you make those?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Lilia Menconi

      It was quite the process…and a lot of trial and error.

      I used stitch witchery (a fabric adhesive) to attach the silk to felt, backed with polyester. Ran those through a sizzix die cut machine for the flower shapes. Then glued the dome buttons to the middle of each flower and threaded the button with floral wire. Then I arranged and wrapped the stems with floral tape, then wrapped them with ribbon and attached a ribbon bow. It was the same for the corsages, more or less. I also used Fray Check on the edges of the flowers to keep the clean lines on the raw cut fabric.

      Yes, it took forever! But I worked on it months in advance and stored them until the big day.

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