This Bride and Groom Made Most of Their California Wedding's Décor—and Were So Good, They Started a Design Company
When a dating site brought together Shelana Philip-Guide and Kevin Kraeer at a coffee shop, Shelana never dreamed that Kevin would, one day, propose just outside it. She also hadn't planned on working together to create the majority of their wedding's details—but that's precisely what this couple did, utilizing Kevin's skills as a professional animator to create the wedding invitations, signage, and more. "We pressed our wedding logo onto 200 napkins ourselves, [created] bridal party t-shirts, bridesmaids' tote bags, escort cards, wedding programs, the cake topper, the welcome sign, bar signs, and seating charts," says Shelana. "Since the wedding, friends have asked us to design a few small items for them, so we decided to start a little design company using our new nickname! We decided to call ourselves "The West Coast Kraeers," as Kevin is from Pennsylvania and is the only member of the family to move west."
In addition to creating custom details, the pair did all the planning themselves—a stressful, but fun course, but one they don't recommend to other couples. "Most venues will either supply you with or require you to hire a day-of coordinator, but this really isn't enough," says Shelana. "A planner will be with you through the entire process and know what your wishes are. I did not sleep for longer than 90 minutes at a time the last week leading up to the wedding!" Their other best piece of advice to couples current planning? "Find a photographer who will do your engagement session, as well; it helps if you are already familiar with how they work and that they know how much (or how little) experience you have in front of the camera," they explain.
The stress was worth it though, they say. For Kevin, one memory of the day stands out the most: "Seeing my wife for the first time in 24 hours, walking down the aisle looking amazing, flanked by my father-in-law on one side, and my stepson on the other." A universal highlight, however, was the couple's handwritten vow exchange, since the bride and groom customized those, as well.
Invitations Designed by the Groom
Shelana couldn't find what she was looking for amongst predesigned invitation suites, and—after hours of viewing the work of different custom artists—remembered that she was marrying an artist herself. "I explained to Kevin what I was looking for and he gave me 10 designs to choose from a few hours later!" she says.
A Fated Wedding Dress
Shelana first caught a glimpse of her delicate lace wedding dress years before her engagement, when she passed a BHLDN salon on her way to an Anthropologie dressing room. "I looked at the tag and remembered the name of the dress, and nothing spoke to me during the dress-shopping period the way the Jenny Yoo 'Leila' dress had," she says. An online search turned up the design in her size on Tradesy, a site that connects brides with pre-owned wedding dresses. "When it arrived, it fit right out of the box," Shelana shares. And while she visited two traditional bridal salons with her mother in tow to try on dresses, the experience simply reinforced that the pre-owned gown was "the one." One of the garment's prettiest details? The sheer lace back—which matched the cap sleeves' fabric—with covered buttons.
She carried a hand-tied bouquet on the big day; the blush-and-ivory arrangement was accented with sage foliage and purple succulents and wrapped with an ivory satin ribbon.
The bride wore satin Jimmy Choos in her favorite color—teal!—for her big day.
The bride wanted her bridesmaids to wear different dresses, so she suggested shades of blue and had each choose their own style from Jenny Yoo. She gifted all her bridesmaids a pair of Jimmy Choo sandals, which they wore with their gowns; her bridesman wore the same suit as the groomsmen (except his suspenders were pink instead of gray).
Kevin wore a light blue suit jacket and pants from The Groomsman Suit, which differed in color from the groomsmen's gray ensembles. Suspenders and a floral-patterned pocket square and bow tie completed his look.
A Custom Tux
The couple's pup, Chase Muttley, was suited in gray for the occasion (to match the groom!) and sported a coordinating bow tie for his role as ring bearer.
Inspired by the invitation suite that Kevin designed, the couple's welcome sign was displayed in a weathered frame and topped with flowers.
Arched French doors were framed in flowers for the couple's ceremony; rustic, cane-back chairs added visual intrigue to the outdoor space.
A Personal Ceremony
Shelana was accompanied down the aisle by her father and son, Tristan; when the officiant asked who was giving the bride away, Tristan responded with, "She gives herself away freely with the blessing of her parents and my approval." Religious elements were incorporated into the service, and the couple exchanged beautiful, thoughtful vows they wrote themselves.
A Unique Seating Chart
The couple also created their seating chart using Kevin's design elements and another classic French door.
Lights Lead the Way
During the outdoor reception—hosted exactly where the ceremony unfolded—a tree was lit up with hanging lanterns, which cast a warm glow over the party.
Table for Two
The couple sat at a table for two—topped with flowers and greenery—during dinner. "We knew that the arched doors from the ceremony would be repurposed as the backdrop for our sweetheart table," says Shelana, "so we designed one of our two neon signs to be the perfect size to hang in the center of the open doorway."
A mix of round and rectangular wooden tables defined the space, lit by candlelight and string lights overhead; each station was topped with a lush arrangement. "We showed our florist a few inspiration photos, but gave her carte blanche for the design of the centerpieces," explains Shelana. Garlands of eucalyptus leaves also served as table décor, as did white hurricane candles.
Textured white plates were place at each setting and were topped with a monogrammed napkin and a rosemary sprig.
Custom Table Numbers
Shelana and Kevin also created table numbers for the reception, utilizing the heart motif that was threaded throughout the day.
Photography, Rachel Stelter Photography
Venue, Tiato Garden Cafe
Event planner and designer, The West Coast Kraeers
Videograph, Karl Stelter
Flowers, Una Yeh for The Flower Lab
Invitations, The West Coast Kraeers
Invitation printer, Reb Peters Press
Calligraphy, Teresa Writes Things
Officiant, Pastor Ken Ballard
Bridal gown, Jenny Yoo
Bride's shoes, Jimmy Choo
Engagement ring and wedding bands, Tiffany & Co.
Bride's necklace, Handpicked Inc.
Bride's earrings, Madewell
After-party dress, Jill Stuart
Veil, MD Tailoring
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Bridesmaids' shoes, Jimmy Choo
Custom clothes hangers, BridesmaidHangers
Hair, Janice Moss for Hair By Janice Renee
Makeup, Cristin Foley for Beautyfol
Hair accessories, Rosy Rose Studio
Groom's attire, The Groomsman Suit, HoBo Ties
Groomsmen's attire, The Groomsman Suit, HoBo Ties
Dog's attire, Olivia's Doggie Designs
Rentals, Archive Rentals, Found Rentals, Premiere Party Rentals
Music, Organic String Quartet (ceremony), Rob Goodmonson for Vox DJs (reception)
Catering, AN Catering by Crustacean
Cake, Vanilla Bake Shop
Cupcake tower stand, Wooden Shop Co.
Neon signs, MK Neon
Photo booth, Photomatica
Share the Gallery
- This Couple's Intimate Hotel Reception in Washington, D.C., Hinted at Their Future Wedding in Cancun
- Six Women Explain How They Decided to (or Not to) Change Their Last Names After Marriage
- "Queer Eye" Star Tan France and His Husband Rob Are Expecting Their First Child!
- This Romantic, Edgy Hotel Wedding in Washington D.C., Was Attended by Just 17 Guests