A Whimsical, DIY Wedding at Ralston White Retreat in Mill Valley, California

From the get-go, Ellen Eoff (27 and a non-profit communications and development manager) and Michael Kelly’s (28 and a video game developer) relationship has been marked by experiences and events that so perfectly capture their fun-loving and outgoing personalities, which just so happen to compliment each other incredibly well. From their first date at a castle in Heidelberg, Germany to their proposal, where Ellen decided to buck gender roles and asked Michael to marry her via an animated video about the story of their relationship, the couple always did things their way and their wedding was bound to be no different. They started by booking the Ralston White Retreat in Mill Valley, CA. The historic home, which was able to host the couple and their families for the entire weekend, is tucked away on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County and surrounded by a forest of majestic Redwood trees. “We knew from the start that we wanted to forego a traditional wedding to create a party that reflected who we are — fun, silly, nature-and-music-loving crafters,” says Ellen. “It was important to us to personalize the wedding and make it our own with handcrafted details and we put a lot of thought and love into everything to make it ours.” Just some of those handmade touches include 400 ft of hand-sewn bunting, 100 vases, hand-stitched and hand-painted signs, the cake topper and even the beer served during cocktail hour. Ellen, Michael and their close family and friends also arranged all of the wildflower, fern and dahlia bouquets, centerpieces and ceremony greenery. All of the details came together to give the day a whimsical, laid-back feel. Another touch that added another personal element today was Ellen and Michae’s first dance. “Shortly after we got engaged, we bemoaned the likelihood that we would have a dull first dance. In fact, we had an ongoing joke about a goofy tap dance in which we were cane-yanked off the dance floor at the end like a bad vaudeville act,” says Ellen. “We enrolled in tap classes at the Shan Yee Poon Ballet School and our instructor, Jillian Talbot choreographed a fantastically fun first dance for us to ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ by Queen.” A tip for the taking from Ellen: “We were on a budget, but we were glad that we didn't forego things like a professional photographer or day-of coordinator. A year later, we still continue to love the amazing photos that Marisa got and with so much else to do, we were certainly in no shape to coordinate things on our own on during the wedding weekend!”