Ami & Chaz’s Foxy & Laid-Back Backyard Bluegrass Bash
Bride & Groom: Ami & Chaz
Wedding Date: August 15, 2015
Venue: Ami’s parents’ home in Pennsylvania
Number of guests: 190
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When the guest list for your wedding is nearly 200 people, you have to get a little creative with the details if you want to stay on budget. That’s what inspired Ami, a wedding floral designer, and her now-husband Chaz to craft a thrifty and mismatched bash in her parents’ backyard near Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Chaz and Ami made most of the wedding decor themselves. Ami sewed napkins for all the guests and, of course, designed the bouquets and centerpieces. Some of the latter were placed in wooden boxes and bud vases Chaz built from branches that had fallen in their backyard in Maryland, where the couple now lives. Anything that wasn’t made by hand was artfully thrifted, like the 200 mismatched vintage and antique china plates that Ami, her mother and grandmother bought to set the reception tables. All-in-all, the wedding came in under $13,000; an impressive feat for a guest list of 190.
The most captivatingly personal part of Chaz and Ami’s wedding, though, is how some of the elements of the wedding were destined long before the couple met. The dress Ami wore was one she tried on for high school prom – she memorized the designer and style number. Even the very spot where they said “I do” has a long history: It was the location of Ami’s favorite licorice plant when she was a kid. They also managed to work in a few fox-themed details to honor the name of the street where they live together.
Scroll down to read more about Ami and Chaz’s wedding in their own words, and open the gallery to check out all of the beautiful photos of the day captured artfully by With Love & Embers.
How did you meet?
Ami said: Chaz and I had mutual friends and had seen each other many times but had never talked to one another. One morning I stopped at our local Starbucks before heading to work and Chaz was walking in at the same time. I awkwardly said hello and started a conversation before we headed our separate ways to work. Only a few minutes after being at the office, I had a new Facebook friend request and a message from Chaz that said something like, “Sorry I didn’t say more to you at Starbucks this morning. I’ve seen you around many times and have never had the nerve to talk to you before. Will you be getting coffee again tomorrow morning?” Of course I wrote back! I was giddy the rest of the work day, then went home and picked out a really cute outfit. I made sure I left for work extra early so that I could meet Chaz at Starbucks again the next morning.
How would you describe your wedding style?
Ami said: Eclectic, colorful, handmade, eco-friendly and low key. Chaz and I knew that things were going to be a little mismatched and filled with crazy patterns. We recycled, up-cycled, and repurposed as many items as possible to keep things Earth-friendly and green. And our wedding took place in my parents’ backyard. It made it an even more emotional experience because everywhere I looked, I had memories from my childhood of things taking place in that spot of our yard.
What was totally “you” about your wedding?
Ami said: An abundance of flowers! As a wedding florist, I knew that I wanted flowers everywhere. It made my day to see Chaz running my floral creations to the reception tent and gently placing them on our tables. He helps me with wedding flowers nearly every weekend but seeing him setting up our own wedding flowers was amazing and so totally us. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Ami said: The biggest challenge was sticking to a budget. Things can get crazy expensive really quickly when your guest list is in the 200-person range. We planned strategically to make our money stretch as far as possible. We did so many DIY projects, I bought my wedding dress used on eBay, we up-cycled and recycled anything and everything, and it was all set up and decorated with the help of family and friends. We spent less than $13,000 on our entire wedding and it turned out absolutely better than how we had envisioned it.
Ami said: I collected different red fabrics from thrift stores, fabric wholesalers, and odds and end bins at local fabric stores to sew 200 napkins for our guests. Seeing the napkins in use after spending nearly 40 hours sewing them was my proudest DIY moment. It may have been the most minuscule thing, but knowing that Chaz and I picked out each of those fabrics with careful consideration and I sewed them myself was rewarding.
Most worthwhile splurge:
Chaz said: Having a band play during the reception. We hired one of our favorite bluegrass bands, Chester River Runoff, to travel to Pennsylvania to play during our reception. I had mentioned to Marc, the bass player from the band, that I had bought Ami a banjo for her birthday. Ami has dreamt about playing banjo with a bluegrass band in her wedding dress since the day I gave her that banjo, so the guys welcomed her on stage and let her play a few songs with them. The smile on her face as she played that banjo was priceless.
What we skipped or did without:
Ami said: We skipped out on having a tended bar. We opted to have a few kegs in wheelbarrows filled with ice, a station of tin buckets filled with bottled beer, soda and water, and a station of sangria and iced tea in glass dispensers. We also placed bottles of white wine, red wine, and a carafe of water on each guest table during the reception.
Ami said: We had an underlying fox theme to our wedding, since our house is located on Tail of the Fox Drive. Chaz included a fox on our invitation suite when he created them to pay tribute to our home together. We also had foxes on our beer cozies, favor bags and cake topper, and I even tied a tiny brass fox charm to Chaz’s boutonniere.
Favorite memory of the day:
Chaz said: The entire day leading up to the wedding ceremony was amazing, but the time spent after the ceremony, after the photos, after the speeches, was the best part. Once the pressure of timelines and things to do was off our shoulders, it was time to let loose and enjoy this giant party centered around Ami and I.
What’s your best advice for anyone planning a wedding?
“Get your wife to do the planning.” – Chaz
“Start planning early!” – Ami
Thanks Ami & Chaz!
- Photographer: With Love & Embers
- Venue: Private residence
- Floral Designer: Little Miss Lovely (the bride, Ami!)
- Band: Chester River Runoff
- Cake Designer: Desserts By Rita
- Equipment Rentals: Hess Tent Rental
- Caterer: It’s Just Barbecue
- Dress Designer: Jovani
- Jewelry: Kyle Edward Fine Jewelry
Submitted via Two Bright Lights