This Joyful Orchard Wedding Will Make You Smile


What's NOT to love about a body-positive apple orchard wedding?

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Ciarra & Christopher

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Deliberately pared down and perfectly us.

Planned budget: $5,000

Actual budget: $10,000

Number of guests: 70

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Where we allocated the most funds:

From the beginning of the wedding planning process, I knew preserving the memories from the event would be the most important to me. For this reason, I budgeted quite a bit for a videographer. I already knew of the company, as the founder was a classmate of mine in art school. All of the staff at 822 Weddings are such a talented bunch that putting up most of our hard-earned funds for their services was totally worth it.

Close behind were food and the photo booth service.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Décor. My beau and I are artists and care about aesthetics, but we also work in the nonprofit world, which means we had a very lean budget. For that reason we decided the settings should be so visually appealing that all we would need was candles and flowers for the day of. Mission accomplished! Any other décor was borrowed from our apartment, with the exception of a few candlesticks and small glass containers purchased at our favorite thrift store, Boomerangs.
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What was totally worth it:

Going through the heartache of losing a venue. We originally secured a date at a local arts nonprofit, but they closed their doors permanently a few months after we had confirmed our date. Initially, it was devastating and sent me into a panic; however, it ultimately freed us up to make other venue choices that worked better for us.

Also, the agony of making my invitations by hand was worth it in the end. I got this idea in my head that they would feature a piece of art on wood veneer with the information printed on vellum and laid on top. The only problem was that I would need to silkscreen said artwork, and I didn’t know how. So, with the advice of a friend, I taught myself how to silkscreen, design an invitation suite, use Photoshop, and print on vellum. Three weeks, several trips to the stationery store, and a lot of sweat and tears later, I had the invitations that I wanted.

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What was totally not worth it:

Worrying about what one is “supposed” to do, or things one “has” to do for their wedding. For the most part, we stayed away from convention, but it was hard not to worry about what well-meaning friends and family advised us to do.

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A few things that helped us along the way:

  • APW. Like, seriously. Through APW, I was exposed to lots of nontraditional versions of weddings, given lots of advice, and guided through confusing wedding etiquette. APW provided loads of templates, tutorials, and examples that helped me shape my loosey-goosey ideas into a real wedding plan.
  • An online DIY wedding planning course. At an alternative wedding expo, I met the woman who runs the program and decided I needed some guidance.
  • Talented volunteers. The flowers, photography, ceremony site, day-of coordination, and cutting cake were all donated by my talented friends. Each of them volunteered their respective talents when they learned we were planning our wedding.
  • Staying true to ourselves. I know this sounds trite, but talking about what was important to us before we started planning helped. I constantly referred back to our initial wedding conversations when I felt pressure from the outside world to do things differently from how I wanted. I also identified a friend who had planned and executed her own DIY wedding (and also knows me very well) to vent to, bounce ideas off of, and lean on for support. She helped remind me what was important when things seemed tough.
  • Not gonna lie: financial support from our families. We originally hoped to pay for everything ourselves, but as the guest list evolved, so did our funding strategy.

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My best practical advice for my planning self:

Believe people when they say you’ll need help, and believe people when they say they want to help. I’m an only child, kind of bossy, and pretty independent. I was convinced that I could do this all by myself and it would be perfect and all anyone else would need to do would be to show up. I. Was. Wrong.

After some extensive scouring of APW’s “How We Did It” pieces and a few weeks into my online course, I realized I’m not an expert at everything and I don’t need to be. It took a bit of introspection and swallowing of pride, but I began to let people in. I’m so glad I did. Once I let go of how things were executed and who was executing them, I was less stressed, and the creativity of the people around me made something more beautiful than I could have created on my own.

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FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE WEDDING:

Am I allowed to answer “EVERYTHING!”? No? Okay. Truly, my favorite thing was that the wedding ceremony took place exactly where my beau had suggested long before he proposed. When we first met (and he was trying to woo me) he suggested we get married in an apple orchard. I thought that sounded like a line (it was) and totally unrealistic (although gorgeous). Four years later, it came to fruition.

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Anything else TO SHARE:

We really stuck to our vision of making this wedding all about us, and I believed it paid off. We decided that elements that would last beyond the one day were worth putting time, energy, and money toward, and everything else was superfluous. We chose to forego an engagement party, engagement shoot, groomsmen and bridesmaids, rehearsal dinner, etc.

The things we did spend time, money, and energy on were the personal touches—from having my cousin perform the ceremony, to enlisting friends to decorate, document, and coordinate, everything felt immensely genuine. We decided to incorporate our own “union” tradition. We chose to untie the knot demonstrating our partnership as one built on figuring out life’s problems together. That concept resonated with us more strongly than us tying the knot to symbolize us being bound together by marriage.

We are lucky in that we had the support of our friends and family, no religious or cultural restrictions, and a bevy of talent at our disposal. If you can, we recommend throwing caution to the wind and making the day your own. You probably won’t have time to worry about all of the little details on the day of, and your guests won’t notice what is or isn’t executed perfectly, so don’t worry about them in the planning process either. Who cares if all of the bridesmaids have their toenails painted the same color, or if the caterers ran out of the house dressing? All that will last after the wedding are the photos, the feelings from the day, and your marriage.


The Info:

Photography: Emily Chivaelli | Location: Harvard, Massachusetts | Reception Location: The Citizen Wine Bar | Christopher’s Suit: H&M | Ciarra’s Dress: Recherche Clothing | Ciarra’s Ring: Claire Kinder Studio | Videography: 822 Weddings | Décor: Boomerangs | DIY Wedding Planning Course: Feel The Wedding Day Love

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  • Bethany

    Getting married in an apple orchard is the most perfect thing I can imagine.

    • Ciarra

      It was a plan born of my beau’s imagination. He’s pretty great!

  • emmers

    Love this. Beautiful wedding. And this quote is so true! Such wisdom: “Who cares if all of the bridesmaids have their toenails painted the same color, or if the caterers ran out of the house dressing? All that will last after the wedding are the photos, the feelings from the day, and your marriage.”

    • Ciarra

      :)

  • Scalliwag

    I love the symbolism of untying the knot! That’s a really lovely take on it, and a great twist.

    • Keri

      I know, me too! I actually teared up a bit imagining the words you would use in that part of the ceremony. So sweet!

      • Ciarra

        My cousin, who officiated, read this as we untied the knot:

        “Margaret Atwood aptly illustrates the adventure of learning, building and persevering in partnership. As I read this piece, they will untie the knot. This act symbolizes not being bound to one another, but rather their choice to be a partners in life, supporting the other through trials in life.

        Habitation

        by Margaret Atwood

        Marriage is not/ a house, or even a tent/ it is before that, and colder:

        the edge of the forest, the edge/ of the desert/ the unpainted stairs

        at the back, where we squat/ outdoors, eating popcorn

        where painfully and with wonder/ at having survived/ this far

        we are learning to make fire”

    • Ciarra

      Aw, thanks! It made sense for us so I’m glad other people understood its significance too!

  • Kaitlyn

    I neeeed to see these invites! They sound phenomenal.

    • Sara

      I was hoping for a photo of them too!

      • Sarah

        Me three!!

    • erin

      Agreed!! I’m also wondering about if we can get a link to the DIY tutorial??

      With everything with this wedding, I kept having these “I WISH I COULD BE THIS COOL” moments. Everything is so awesome.

    • gonzalesbeach

      yeahhh Am in love with the vibe of this wedding, location, hair, bride and groom’s outfits, everything. I really wish I could see the rest of their wedding hashtag so I can insta-stalk the rest of it lol

      • Ciarra

        Oh my goodness, you are so sweet. We used the hashtag #LatWoodsLove. Insta-stalk away!

        • gonzalesbeach

          thank you!!! seriously swooning over the insta photos as I type :-)

    • Kelly

      Same!!! I scrolled down looking for a photo immediately.

    • Ciarra

      Enjoy!

    • Ciarra

      Enjoy!

      • JLily

        OMG that skeleton art with the vellum over it is EVERYTHING.

        • Ciarra

          Thank you!

      • So cool these paper wedding cards. But i still want to design wedding ecards with music, text, elements, photos, on AmoLink. They are so convenience and green..

  • Emily C

    Beautiful wedding! I love the dress – and I love your giant smiles in the last photo, too! My one regret from our wedding was not investing more in the photography – we have some photos I love from our wedding, but many that were more staged and less fun. We were married 6 years ago and still haven’t made a photo album for ourselves… which is now going to be a new goal for this year!

    • Ciarra

      I have a terrible memory so I knew documentation would be super important for me. I worked so hard that I did want to remember all of the little details that my friends contributed. Kudos to one of my besties, Emily for her superior photography skills.

  • Jess

    Get out of here with your smile and making me cry at work!

    Seriously, the pictures of you laughing at the table and smiling while you’re dancing in the orchard are just so lovely and contagious.

  • Dess

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I want to channel your clear priority-setting skills!

    • Ciarra

      Thank you! It was tough at times, but so am I. ;)

  • Emily

    I love that you called it a Love Party! Gorgeous wedding!

    • Ciarra

      Thanks!

  • This is lovely, and the apple orchard is such a fun location. It’s clear that they really knew what was important for their wedding and didn’t worry about having anything else just because people “expected it.” I need to take a page out of that book.

    • Ciarra

      Thanks for the kind words. It gets tough out there when you have a vision and everyone is giving you advice for their vision. Talk to your partner about it and get on the same page. The solidarity from my beau helped a lot!

  • Danielle

    LOVE THESE ACCESSORIES! The crystal hair piece and necklace-thing (what is that? Never saw anything like it, and now I want one)… SWOON! <3

    • CMT

      Yes! The crystals made me stop mid-scroll!

      • Ciarra

        Thank you!

    • Kayjayoh

      I came here to say this. The crystals plus the flowers are so gorgeous together in your hair.

    • Essssss

      Yes me too! Where are the crystals from or how were they made?! Beautiful wedding.

    • Ciarra

      My friend, Cynthia made this piece! Another friend purchased it and lent it to me as my ‘something borrowed’. Check her other items out here: https://www.storenvy.com/stores/544722-zonum

      • Danielle

        What talented friends! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jessica

    All the pictures where the couple is looking at someone, they look like they are in love with that person. Then there is a picture where they are looking at each other and it’s like BOOM! SO MUCH LOVE!

    I adore this whole wedding.

    • Ciarra

      Thank you so much! That’s so nice read!

  • brakell-basicinvite

    Her hair accessories are amazing!! Love the two piece wedding dress as well!

    • Ciarra

      Thank you for saying that!

  • Brenna

    Oh my god. I could have written this in the future! I’m also an independent only child who started with a $5,000 budget and the insistence that we pay for everything ourselves, but now I’m staring at a $10,000 budget spreadsheet and a 75-person guest list and accepting my parents’ help. We also chose “to forego an engagement party, engagement shoot, groomsmen and bridesmaids, rehearsal dinner, etc.” and can’t believe how much everything costs, even when we’re going so minimal. Ciarra, thank you for sharing your beautiful wedding and your planning experience; It really helps to know that I’m not alone!

    • Ciarra

      I’m glad someone out there could relate. I felt alone (in terms of my pared down vision of a wedding) when I was planning! If I can be of help, let me know.

  • Jessica

    I know we aren’t usually supposed to connect these weddings to broader political themes (eg criticizing the wedding profiled for its environmental impact), but I just have to say, it was lovely to see this particular wedding featured today, after a week of such terrible violence and loss.

    • stephanie

      OMG, absolutely. We work on these 2-3 weeks ahead of time, and none of us even remembered this was today’s wedding until we woke up and saw it. I felt the same way!

      • Ciarra

        Fortuitous timing for some sad circumstances, for sure.

    • Danielle

      I would think it’s ok to connect to a broader theme as long as it’s positive. Right?

      The problem is where criticism comes in. No one needs haters at their wedding (post).

      • Ciarra

        Thank you!

    • Meg Keene

      Very much agree.

      • Ciarra

        Thanks, Meg!

    • Ciarra

      Thank you for saying that. There are no doubt that being in an interracial couple is challenging at times, especially these times but we talk about the toughest stuff so we can better understand each other which makes us stronger in the end.

  • joanna b.n.

    Congratulations and YAY!!! Wow, so much great laughter in all of those photos! I wish I had been a fly on the wall to hear what were clearly amazing jokes. It looks like the event was beautiful, real, and so joyful! I’m loving the hair crystals… tell us more??

    Also, thanks to APW for a shot of something really positive on a pretty tough day.

    • Ciarra

      Thank you so much. I’ve got a lot of super smart and funny friends and its usually non-stop laughs when we get together. I second your nod to APW for this bright spot on a grim week. It’s helpful for me to remember the love and support we were surrounded by on that day. It gives me hope.

  • laddibugg

    I’ll just say I love seeing body chains and crop tops on anyone, but especially so on plus sizes!

    • Ciarra

      YAS. Thank you!

  • LJ

    This wedding looks gorgeous. I’ve got some questions about budget…. I’m trying to differentiate what a $5k v $10k v $15k wedding looks like to see what ballpark budget I should have for my wedding next winter. The problem I’m encountering is that they have the proposed budget, the actual budget, but the blog posts never break them down beyond that. From what I can tell, this is a $15,000+ wedding that they got a 50%ish discount on (Free photography? there’s $3000+ right there). So this is what a $15,000 wedding looks like, not a $10,000 wedding. Which is fine – this looks beautiful and it’s great that it fit what they wanted. It’s just that the format of these posts is making it hard for me to figure out what I can get for the money I have. Saving money with DIY is one thing – saving money by getting professional services for free is another, insofar as the true “cost” of the wedding. Any change you could start giving more details, APW? :)

    • Alexandra

      It’s kind of hard to break down a wedding budget in a way that allows you to see what you can get for the money you have, because weddings have such enormous variables. It’s not like buying a Toyota Corolla, where it’s clear that if you spend X amount, you get X upgrade.

      There are a LOT of (old) posts on APW that have giant comment chains of people breaking down their exact wedding budgets. I haven’t seen something like that in years, but when I got married in 2013 there were a spate of posts like this. But again…so many variables! Budgeting and frugality are a big deal for me; three years later I could still probably lay out a line item budget of my wedding for you because it’s so deeply etched into my brain. Here are the things that are relevant to the point I’m making about variability, though:

      1. We got married on Oahu, which is a place that would usually be associated with high wedding expenses. But we’ve lived here for thirteen years and have a TON of hook-ups, so our $10,000 wedding for 150 guests probably looked more like a $25,000 wedding (my mom reported that my uncles from the east coast told my mom they were surprised that she spent so much, since she’s known for being a tightwad–she didn’t tell them the truth.)

      2. Free venue–we knew a member of a really nice country club in Lanikai who sponsored us so we didn’t have to pay a venue fee

      3. Free wedding planner–a friend who plans weddings as a hobby

      4. Free flowers–wedding planner friend had a lot of hookups with people who had local foliage in their backyards, and I wasn’t picky

      5. Free church–I’ve been a member of the church for 10 years

      6. Discounted photography–a member of that church is a great wedding photographer and gave me 10% off her already low rates (she raised them substantially after my wedding because she was getting more work)

      7. Cheap food–we designed an informal burger/salad cookout menu from the country club that was a lot cheaper than their usual wedding buffet menu

      8. Cheap music–I got my guitar teacher to play at a discount

      I could go on but I realized this is probably getting boring. Anyway, I think the theme of doing things on the cheap with weddings is not being obsessed with a certain look/feel and just going with whatever is on offer that is acceptable and has a deal going. And accepting what friends/family offer to help, because in our experience, they really wanted to help!

      Cheers to the couple in this post–lovely wedding!

    • Meg Keene

      I totally get it, and I have been there. We share all the details a couple is willing to share, and money is a personal thing, so… we don’t always get every last detail.

      Here are some helpful posts though:

      http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/01/creative-sample-wedding-budgets/

      http://apracticalwedding.com/2014/01/wedding-budgets/

      http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/01/real-sample-wedding-budgets/

      http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/04/wedding-budget-lessons-learned/

      And the most comprehensive help on crafting a budget is going to be in my most recent book, because I crammed a lot of real nuts and bolts research into that: https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Wedding-Planner-Step-Step/dp/0738218421?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0738218421&linkCode=as2&linkId=EBEFUSKWKVLHM2VD&redirect=true&ref_=as_li_tl&tag=aprawed-20

      • LJ

        thanks for your feedback :)

    • idkmybffjill

      Ugh this is so hard! We live in a big city (Chicago), and neither of our families are from here (so we don’t have alot of hands on deck other than friends – who are wonderful!). We just don’t happen to have any friends who are photographers/dj’s/etc and are the crafty/bossy ones in our friend groups (so I’d be the girl you’d ask to stage manage your wedding, letter your invitations, or do your flowers / he’d be the guy you’d ask to do your design or create your playlist). We were able to find a REALLY amazing place for our wedding that is very all inclusive, and had a flickr account of past weddings. Once we found that place I just asked how much weddings there usually cost (all-told), and that was really helpful.

      Good luck!!!

  • JC

    The joy on this couple’s faces is exactly what I needed to see today.

    • Ciarra

      Thank you, that was very kind of you to say!

  • They make a lovely couple. They should get their wedding and baby registries. http://ow.ly/Tajq3023WXH

  • Kyla

    I love the crystal head piece! I want it, I don’t know for what, but it is just so lovely!

  • Kelly

    “I’m an only child, kind of bossy, and pretty independent.” … you also apparently appreciate a good pun: “It came to fruition.” … Seriously, are we the same person??

    I <3 this wedding. Beautiful and authentic. That necklace is so badass. Thanks for sharing!!!!

    • Ciarra

      Hahaha! I love that there’s someone out there with a brain as silly as mine. Thanks for the positivity, Kelly.
      P.S. The body chain came from NastyGal.com. They’re sold out of that one but have tons of other cool accessories that have a similar vibe. The founder, Sophia Amoruso, is all about female badass-ery!

  • Suzanne Goodman

    “We chose to untie the knot demonstrating our partnership
    as one built on figuring out life’s problems together. That concept
    resonated with us more strongly than us tying the knot to symbolize us
    being bound together by marriage.”
    THIS speaks to me so hard

    • Ciarra

      I’m so glad! Like many things about this wedding, it was unconventional but, it felt authentic to us so we went with it.

  • K-TECH POINT ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆
  • Kelley Curtin

    Well, knowing your mom and the family you come from…I’m not surprised one bit! How simply elegant the entire affair seems to have been! Congratulations to you and your wonderful husband. A lifetime of happiness in creativity in all you do! – Kelley C. of Ayer

  • EF

    yay massachusetts pride!!!

    also harvard, mass is such an unappreciated little gem of a place. this was beautiful. thanks for sharing, ciara!

  • NC

    Tying the knot……friggin awesome! Love party; even more awesome!

  • Granola

    I haven’t gotten through the whole thing yet, but oh how beautiful and happy you look. Congratulations!

  • WEARRECHERCHE

    Wow the custom one-of-a-kind skirt and long sleeve crop look great Cierra! -Veronika @rechercheclothing on Instagram

  • My sister did the flowers for this wedding! http://www.melissariling.com

  • With warm congratulations to a very special pair. May you always find in each other the love, laughter and happiness that only partners in life share!
    Wishing your dreams
    Begin to come true,
    And every tomorrow
    Be happy for you!
    custom tailored suits online For Wedding

  • Lisa

    That picture of you two in front of the menu board is everything. The look of love and happiness on your husband’s face brought tears to my eyes!

  • Lauren Choate

    I love love love APW and all they do! But can we stop labeling any wedding with a larger than size 6 dress size a ‘body positive wedding’?

    • Rachel

      Yeah, I agree! I thought that note was odd since she didn’t mention anything about it in the rest of the writeup.

  • MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELIVERY
  • Rachel

    I love this soooo much! You guys look so beautiful and happy and it’s cool that without even knowing you this post really DOES give off the vibe that the wedding was perfectly tailored for YOU.

  • Abby

    I’m in love with your white croptop/skirt. Also you all look so joyful – Congratulations!!

  • Johanna

    What a beautiful, simple celebration of love. I am IN LOVE with the little wooden cake topper. Currently hunting on etsy.

  • Pingback: Guess What? This Is How You Solve Your Wedding DIY Problems | Gist Path()

  • Jessica ‘Chulita’ Clay

    Where were the cake toppers from? LOVE them!!

  • love and beautiful wedding, happy marriage life to both of them.