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The Bride's Guide Blog

Real Weddings: Amy and Josh

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Former Readymade editor Amy Palanjian stayed true to the magazine's DIY ethos for her July 1 wedding to Josh Dolezal in Des Moines, Iowa. Not only did she make the favors, place cards, and arrange the flowers herself, but she opted for an Alabama Chanin wedding dress that she personally beaded and embroidered by hand. (Amy documented some of the incredible 120 hour process, as well as the making of her sister's bridesmaid dress, on her blog.)

Family and friends played a huge part too, says Amy: "I have a very close winemaker friend, Elizabeth Vianna, who makes wine at Chimney Rock and we served her Cabernet Sauvingnon and Fume Blanc at the reception. Now, instead of planning to have cake on our anniversary, we're making sure to save some of the leftover wine!"

And, photographer and friend Bethany Kohoutek captured every moment. "Having a friend be with us all day made the photography process so much more enjoyable and comfortable," says Amy, who was kind enough to share the rest of her intimate affair with us here.

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We had the ceremony at the Rose Garden behind the Des Moines Art Center where we had our first date. We both love the outdoors so it was important for us to be married outside. Luckily, it was bright and sunny. It was, however, 99 degrees, so we were fortunate to have planned a short ceremony!

1 We had the ceremony at the Rose Garden behind the Des Moines Art Center where we had our first date. We both love the outdoors so it was important for us to be married outside. Luckily, it was bright and sunny. It was, however, 99 degrees, so we were fortunate to have planned a short ceremony!

This is my wedding dress. To learn how to bead and embroider it, my mom and I attended an Alabama Chanin weekend workshop in Alabama. We started stitching in November and I was able to send the panels back to be assembled by their master seamstress in January. Amazingly, the dress fit perfectly without any alterations.

2 This is my wedding dress. To learn how to bead and embroider it, my mom and I attended an Alabama Chanin weekend workshop in Alabama. We started stitching in November and I was able to send the panels back to be assembled by their master seamstress in January. Amazingly, the dress fit perfectly without any alterations.

I made this hair comb using thin gold wire and the same beads that I sewed onto my dress.

3 I made this hair comb using thin gold wire and the same beads that I sewed onto my dress.

This is my bouquet. To make it, I studied online tutorials and on the morning of the wedding my best friend and I went to a local floral wholesaler to pick up an assortment of peonies, ranunculus, and spray roses. The rosemary and sage in the boutonnieres were from our garden.

4 This is my bouquet. To make it, I studied online tutorials and on the morning of the wedding my best friend and I went to a local floral wholesaler to pick up an assortment of peonies, ranunculus, and spray roses. The rosemary and sage in the boutonnieres were from our garden.

I wanted Josh to have something handmade to wear, so I worked with Anabela of Fieldguided (fieldguided.blogspot.com). I sent her Liberty of London fabric and she made two ties for him.

5 I wanted Josh to have something handmade to wear, so I worked with Anabela of Fieldguided (fieldguided.blogspot.com). I sent her Liberty of London fabric and she made two ties for him.

Our families congratulating us after the ceremony.

6 Our families congratulating us after the ceremony.

I really wanted the reception to be very intimate so we rented out Cafe di Scala (http://www.cafediscala.com/), one of the best Italian restaurants in Des Moines. It's in an old Victorian house, so it's welcoming and interesting architecturally. The meal was huge—this homemade pizza was just one of many appetizers we served.

7 I really wanted the reception to be very intimate so we rented out Cafe di Scala (http://www.cafediscala.com/), one of the best Italian restaurants in Des Moines. It's in an old Victorian house, so it's welcoming and interesting architecturally. The meal was huge—this homemade pizza was just one of many appetizers we served.

One of the reasons we had dinner at a restaurant after the ceremony on Friday was that we didn't have to decorate. But I did want a handmade element so I made these stitched place cards.

8 One of the reasons we had dinner at a restaurant after the ceremony on Friday was that we didn't have to decorate. But I did want a handmade element so I made these stitched place cards.

The day after the wedding, we hosted a potluck at a state park lodge. It was built in the 1930s and features beautiful limestone and local walnut wood. It's about ten minutes from our house so the proximity was nice.

9 The day after the wedding, we hosted a potluck at a state park lodge. It was built in the 1930s and features beautiful limestone and local walnut wood. It's about ten minutes from our house so the proximity was nice.

We asked friends to bake pies for our potluck. We love pie! Josh's mom brought frozen huckleberries from where they live in Montana and baked two pies that morning. The cake stands were reused from my best friend's wedding.

10 We asked friends to bake pies for our potluck. We love pie! Josh's mom brought frozen huckleberries from where they live in Montana and baked two pies that morning. The cake stands were reused from my best friend's wedding.

I used a large scalloped hole punch and two large stacks of paint swatches from Yolo Colorhouse to make these garlands for the lodge.

11 I used a large scalloped hole punch and two large stacks of paint swatches from Yolo Colorhouse to make these garlands for the lodge.

We had a live band called the Porch Stompers at the potluck and they brought a square dancing caller with them. Josh plays the guitar and sings for fun, so he did one number with the band.

12 We had a live band called the Porch Stompers at the potluck and they brought a square dancing caller with them. Josh plays the guitar and sings for fun, so he did one number with the band.

I square danced a lot as a kid and last spring we were at a conference that ended with a barn dance, which made me remember how much fun square dancing is. It's also much more my speed in terms of dancing. I prefer to be told what to do along the way than to remembering fancy steps myself.

13 I square danced a lot as a kid and last spring we were at a conference that ended with a barn dance, which made me remember how much fun square dancing is. It's also much more my speed in terms of dancing. I prefer to be told what to do along the way than to remembering fancy steps myself.

Honestly, the sparklers just appeared! I still don't know who brought them but at one point, I looked outside during the end of the potluck and saw sparkly streaks. It was lovely. Another fun detail is that my friends got up and sang with the band and Josh played his guitar during the busride back to the hotel (where we had a little drinks gathering). Pretty awesome.

14 Honestly, the sparklers just appeared! I still don't know who brought them but at one point, I looked outside during the end of the potluck and saw sparkly streaks. It was lovely. Another fun detail is that my friends got up and sang with the band and Josh played his guitar during the busride back to the hotel (where we had a little drinks gathering). Pretty awesome.

Find more real weddings here.

Comments (4)

  • So beautiful! I love how you kept it so simple but let the handmade details speak volumes. The texture on that dress is absolutely wonderful. Love love love... (PS, great photography!)

  • Amy you are amazing! That boy is a lucky duck!

  • [...] Amy said “I do.” [...]

  • Hey, beautiful stuff! What lodge in Des Moines did you use? Is that Walnut Woods? Thanks!

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