Long before it was a marketable acronym or a trendy hashtag, “do it yourself” — or DIY as it is known — was an accidental sort of credo for folks looking to save a little cash and handle the dirty work themselves in a wide variety of endeavors. And so, for the budget-conscious couple angling to get hitched, the DIY approach has long sung one heck of a siren song. And when done right, it guarantees that your special day will, without a doubt, be YOUR special day.
Such was the case this past New Year’s Eve when a couple of high school sweethearts from the shores of Alabama tied the knot in the hills behind Rincon. Some 200 people came together on the last day of 2014 to celebrate Johnny McCann and Caitlin Blum in one of the most memorable and love-soaked DIY weddings I have ever been a part of. (There was even a streaker on the dance floor at one point, but that is another story for another day.) It was a party of epic proportions, and, more to the point, it was a pitch-perfect reflection of the couple themselves, the love they share, and the community they both come from, as well as the one in which they have chosen to grow roots. As Johnny said, “Pretty much everybody helped in some way, but nobody told us what to do.”
After kicking the tires on a few possible wedding sites in the area, the duo realized they could get more bang for their buck by hosting it at the house they rent with friends just off Highway 150. Not only did this move save them money, but it also allowed guests to pitch tents in the sprawling and scenic “backyard.”
Then, with a little help from Carpinteria’s brewLAB, Johnny made a big batch of mead to keep the party well lubricated. The cups we were all drinking from — and then took home as our gifts at the end of the night — were unique pottery pieces made by Caitlin’s sister. A wedding guest who also happens to dabble in the dark arts of professional photography (Donnie Hedden) was on photo duty; another friend and wedding guest, Mary Gonzalez of Sweet Mountain Top Baking, handled cake duty with a stunning variety of vegan/organic delights; all the signage was handpainted by yet another friend (Travers Adler); the food was local, delicious, and more than affordable, thanks to the folks at Reyes Market in Carpinteria; and the live music featured Johnny’s band Afishnsea the Moon, as well as wedding guests Pacific Haze.
And really, that is just the start of the DIY elements of the McCanns’ cosmic wedding. Other details provided via the intersection of elbow grease and ingenuity included a custom bar from the Brothers of Industry, a 16-foot geodesic “Love Dome,” a galaxy of hanging dream catchers, an eye-popping henna job on the bride’s hands, and an officiant who also happened to be one of Johnny and Caitlin’s dearest friends from childhood. “Really, all we paid for [in a traditional way] was a couple porta-potties that we probably didn’t need, the flower arrangements, the food, and the ‘just in case’ tent that never really got used,” said Caitlin. “All in all, I think we spent right around $5,000 for the entire thing.”
So for the same amount that most wedding venues charge just to hang out for a few hours, the McCanns, with a little help from their friends, were able to put on the wedding of their dreams.