I went back and forth on how to set up this post– whether it should be one or two posts. I actually drafted this twice and I think it’s going to make the most sense to break it up into two parts. This part will have all of the details of our wedding… and the second part, which I’ll publish on Tuesday, will be more about the planning elements (which you were all so helpful with!). This is obviously a weird time to plan a wedding, but I want it to be encouraging for other brides switching plans or wondering if they should/could do a small backyard wedding. So up first though… our wedding:
Mike and I got married last Saturday September 5, 2020. It was the loveliest, happiest day. It was romantic and, honestly, perfect. I know it’s cliched for brides to gush about how “perfect” their wedding day was, but it’s so true. Looking back, I can’t believe it was real?
I’ve never felt so loved or so celebrated. Being in the spotlight like this in real life is not exactly my forte, but everyone really went out of their way to make the backyard wedding special for Mike and me and I will forever be grateful. It was truly beyond anything I could have dreamt up.
I’ll go more into this decision on Tuesday, but the short story is we sat down and decided together that we didn’t want to wait just to have a party. Mike and I just wanted to be married. I think that’s one positive about the pandemic– it made us really evaluate what we wanted most and what was most important to us. We couldn’t think of a venue more us than our own home. And we wanted our backyard wedding to have a “barefoot black tie” feel. Like, fancy… but also laid back. (This also is just how we are as a couple. Mike and I are both just as happy going to a Michelin star restaurant for a 14-course tasting menu as we are sitting in our backyard with pizza and beer.)
We will remember this day forever.
(Also… it was really hard to narrow down photos 😂)
Our Backyard Wedding
Since we were getting married at home, I really went crazy with the flowers. I had been introduced to Kerry Patel at the beginning of the pandemic when I purchased some bouquets she did for a fundraiser. I am OBSESSED with her work and even took a Zoom floral arranging class she hosted a few months ago. I told her I wanted flowers everywhere– on the mantles, down the stairs, on the porch, on my little library, down the dining table. And the pièce de résistance? A floral arch to wed under.
She took my vision and brought it to life in such a beautiful way. It ended up being better than I envisioned. I mean, there are 500 roses. It legitimately smelled like someone had sprayed rose perfume everywhere. It made our home feel extra special.
(Since we planned for a backyard wedding, I wanted to make sure we had indoor as well in case it rained.)
Mike and I started watching the weather for our backyard wedding like hawks. September is no guarantee, especially Labor Day weekend. Anything from cold snaps to oppressive heat/humidity to hurricanes are a possibility. A week out, my weather app labeled Saturday as “pleasant.” I had to cancel our backup tent Tuesday morning and the forecast still looked good so I decided to cancel it and cross my fingers. Miraculously the weather forecast did NOT change. When does that happen?!?! It was seventy degrees, clear skies, and no humidity. Absolutely glorious.
Mike spent the night at his parents and my sister and I bunked together on the daybed + trundle bed. It was so fun. We did what we do best… watched some of our favorite nostalgic movies.
To keep things completely safe, everyone did their own hair and makeup. Because our intimate wedding was at home, we actually spent most of the morning just getting the house and everything prepped and ready. I was glad to have the distraction because I was just so happy-anxious to get the wedding going!!
Finally it was time to finish my hair and makeup. I was watching everyone start to gather in the backyard from the window of my office. I had my best friend on Facetime while getting into my dress which was special in a very 2020 kind of way. Propped her right up on my desk and it was like she was in the room with us.
I also have to share the amazing story behind my dress. Back in 2015, I lusted over the J. Crew bridal collection even though I had no wedding on the horizon whatsoever. Just loved the dresses. There was one in particular that I loved named (!!) the Karlie. It’s pinned on a very, very early Pinterest board of mine– and I have always thought that if I got married I’d want to wear it. (I’ve definitely mentioned this at some point on my blog/social.)
Early in our planning, I found a never worn Karlie with tags in my size on Tradesy. I ordered it from my phone at 5:45am in the morning after waking up in a cold sweat from a wedding stress dream. BUT, the seller never confirmed the order so Tradesy refunded me and canceled the order a few days later. I was honestly pretty sad because I really wanted that dress. And I couldn’t find another one in a close enough size.
After I shared my first dress trying session on Instagram Stories, a reader emailed me saying she remembered that I had always loved the Karlie and her older sister was going to sell her dress. I bought it and she overnighted it to me! It was perfect and everything I wanted in a wedding dress. I wanted to feel myself. I wanted to be able to move around and not feel like I was tugging on fabric or uncomfortable in anyway. (Every other wedding gown I had tried on was so heavy– this was lightweight! And it’s actually a very warm ivory in person which I think worked so much better with my skin tone than a stark white.)
Danielle & Alexandra– thank you thank you thank you!
Mike’s dad officiated the wedding and it was so memorable.
My whole family drove up from Florida, including my grandma Charlotte– who turned 93 on September 1! I’ll share more about this in the planning post on Tuesday. It was obviously complicated by the pandemic, but it was really important to me that my grandma was included in the wedding. (She told me she would have walked– she wasn’t planning on missing it!)
Also, if you’re looking for flower girl dresses, I’ve got you covered. I searched high and low. It was an obsession. I knew exactly what I wanted in my head and had the hardest time finding something. (That wasn’t $500/dress… I found plenty of those, ha.) These are from Etsy and remakes of Pippa Middleton’s flower girl dresses. You can choose the sash/trim color– if you message Maria she can send you all the color options available. They are mini works of art. Trust me, you don’t have to look any further. (She also makes other styles for different seasons.)
Hamilton and Teddy had the time of their life– running round the backyard, getting love from everyone. Such a fun perk of having an intimate wedding.
Everyone 💙 (I feel like I have to note here that I did not tell everyone to wear blue, I swear.) Again, I’ll touch on this in the upcoming planning post but we did parents, siblings + their partners, one of Mike’s aunts who is like an big sister to him, and my grandma. It was really hard deciding not to have any friends, but we had asked everyone to lock down for two weeks and squeezed in the wedding before school started (multiple school administrators/students/teachers involved) so we could be as safe as possible. Nothing is risk free, but we eliminated as much risk as possible.
Mike’s nieces and goddaughter were our flower girls and I can’t tell you how amazing it was. The older girls are two but totally understood what was happening and what their role was in the wedding! They PARTIED.
Mike and I are so happy we had a backyard wedding at home! What a way to kick off our marriage right at home surrounded by our families.
I’m sure you’re not surprised that I used these plates. One nice thing about such a small backyard wedding is that you can buy exactly what you want instead of having to rent in bulk or just use what vendors have available.
For the napkins, I had Shuler Studio do a custom monogram for us and then I used my sewing machine and embroidered them all! Each one took about forty-five minutes and you have babysit the machine so it was a bit of a labor of love, even with a micro wedding. But… totally worth it.
After the ceremony and family photos, we moved into a little cocktail hour. We didn’t do catering– again to avoid outside people due to the pandemic, plus with a micro wedding we didn’t have to. Mike’s sister and brother in law put together all the seafood and it was such a fun transition. Big hit.
It makes my heart so happy that our families get along so well. The first time everyone met, my family had come up to visit me when I still lived in Connecticut… and we all spent the night at Mike’s parents’ house. The next morning everyone was sitting downstairs in pajamas for coffee and bagels and I just thought…. how lucky did we get?
At some point, the disco ball was pulled out. It’s Mike’s sister-in-law’s and was left behind at our Christmas party… it was a big hit with the girls who carried it around all night with flashlights to make the light dance.
Mike was in charge of the menu and, again, we did all the cooking ourselves. Mike smoked short ribs and then my mom made mac and cheese, corn bread, and arugula salad. I never really think wedding food is that great but a backyard wedding barbecue is the way to go!!
We sat down for dinner right at the start of golden hour and then… magic happened! As darkness set, the table came to life. Honestly, I felt like it was a movie. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful or more picturesque backyard wedding. Mike’s brother gave a best man speech, my dad gave a father of the bride speech, and my sister did a maid of honor speech. I kept taking mental snapshots of the night. Mike and I felt ridiculously loved. Now I can’t imagine not doing a micro wedding.
Then cake cutting and dancing on the lawn!! Lots and lots of dancing!
Linking to as many things as I can remember, but if I missed something and you want the source, leave a comment and I’ll respond and update! (Also, I feel weird even saying this but nothing is sponsored or comped. I really vetted all of these vendors/things because I wanted our wedding to be exactly what we wanted with no strings.)
Photography: Carter Fish
Florals: Kerry Patel Designs
Table/Chair Rental: Dovetail Vintage
My dress: J. Crew Collection “Karlie”
Veil: Bliss Wedding Veil (in Dark Ivory)
Flower Girl Dresses: Maria Platero
Custom Monogram: Shuler Studio