College sweethearts, Dara and Andy, wanted to keep their wedding sweet, personal, and intimate. The first step was choosing a wedding venue near and dear to their hearts... the bride's backyard. They kept the guest list to people they personally knew to inspire a warm and comfortable atmosphere.
Keep reading to get the scoop on the personal details and yard games. Oh, and the bit about her father's tie might lead to a few happy tears. Don't say we didn't warn you! See all the DIY details from this sweet and simple backyard wedding in all their glory in the full gallery here, photographed by The Markows.
Words from The bride
It was perfect that my dream venue had been out my backdoor for my entire childhood. We decided to ask my parents to get married in our backyard and the hay field immediately behind it. Thankfully they were thrilled and helped with so many aspects of the wedding. It would have never come together without their help, support, and of course, their home.
Advice from the bride
My best advice if you're still planning is let your bridesmaids wear whatever dress they want but in a certain color palette. I recommend giving them a swatch to match. As you can see in the photos, most of my bridesmaids hit the mark with a blush dress but it was kind of stressful not having an exact color to match. Many of my ladies didn't end up getting a dress until a week or so before the wedding. In the end, it didn't really matter what colors they wore, but it would have saved us some stress if I just gave them a swatch and asked if they would get something close to it.
How to connect with your venue
In the middle of the field is a single black walnut tree. Farmers would put one tree in the center of the field so they had shade to rest under when it was time to take a break and eat lunch. We decided to get married under this tree and to leave it without decoration. It was important to us to let the natural beauty of the land speak for itself so our wedding mantra was simplify. We used this tree as a sort of theme for the wedding and chose a guestbook where guests could use their fingerprints to fill in the leaves in colors that matched the black walnut tree. We also decided to give "mini trees" to our guests as favors in the form of mini succulents with DIY "thanks" flags and DIY painted mini pots. I wanted my flowers and the centerpieces to look like we picked them that day out of the field to connect back to our place, which really set the theme for our entire day.
A big lesson I learned is that other people have lots of feelings about your wedding, and rightfully so. I had to think about the experience from the perspective of the other people my wedding was impacting like my close friends and my parents. For example, I wanted to walk down the aisle by myself at first because I didn't like the historical tradition of a bride being transferred from one man to another. When I told my mom this she told me that even if that was historically true, I needed to remember that my dad might want to walk me down the aisle. In the end, I had both my parents walk me down the aisle to honor the role they both played in making me the person I am today and to change what the tradition meant and respect the feelings of my parents.
Read on to see how much this sweet and simple backyard wedding cost, as well as details from the bride on her big day. Please note that costs change as the years go by, and prices are subject to change. This is just one couple’s breakdown to give you a rough estimate on how much a wedding like this may cost you.
Photographers (including 2 prints and an album, full day coverage, two shooters): $4000
Rentals (tent, linens, dishes, tables, bathrooms, dance floor, etc.): $9,000
If I could do it all again I would definitely hire the same photographers. They were perfect for us... not that many portraits and totally not demanding or intrusive. My husband absolutely hates taking photos and so we wanted photographers that would put us at ease and let us be ourselves. They were so supportive and wonderful and made me and my husband comfortable. We also didn't give anyone dates even though I knew many of our friends were dating someone. We went back and forth on this and felt really guilty about it and still kind of do, but it created a really intimate experience for us because we knew every single person at our wedding. In then end our guests said one of the things the loved best about our wedding (besides the food) was that our family and friends from all sides played games and danced together and it was truly a comfortable and inclusive atmosphere.
The best advice I received was passed on to me by a friend of my now mother-in-law. Don't be afraid to say "yes" when people offer to help... and really mean it! When it gets closer to the wedding you'll be thankful it's not all left up to you to accomplish things! In the end one of my bridesmaids made the DIY pots for the favors which I was really excited to do, but I was quickly running out of time.
When I went to college in the summer of 2005 I never thought I'd meet the love of my life just a few doors away. Andy and I met after living on the same floor our freshmen year of college. We were both 18 and started dating soon after. Fast forward 8 years... We got engaged on August 1st, 2013 while walking his parents' beagle only a few months before our 8 year anniversary. As you can imagine after dating for 8 years and living together for 4 we had talked about marriage and our wedding long before our engagement.
Food was the next thing on our list, but luckily my dad knew a local chef through coaching little league baseball who was able to use his personal and family recipes to create an amazing barbecue for our guests complete with sweet potatoes, corn bread, and of course, ribs! Andy and his dad are very handy and love projects so they built the boxes for our centerpieces as well as two cornhole sets to add to the other games we had: washers, horseshoes, kan jam, croquet, and bocce. [I'll talk a bit more about other DIY projects below]
Because our guests comfort was so important to us we asked that they wear whatever they want, including the groomsmen and bridesmaids. We just asked that bridesmaids wear blush and groomsmen wear gray. We encouraged our guests to wear footwear and clothes that were comfortable enough to dance and play games!
Our cutting cake was made by one of my bridesmaid's husband who loves to bake and made the cake for their wedding as well. It got a bit melted on the way over to the wedding, but somehow that made it more sweet and heartwarming... it certainly didn't look like a cake you would get at a bakery! ;) For our guests we had a selection of Italian desserts including cannolis, mini fruit tarts, and cheesecakes... a little something for everyone!
DIY didn't stop with our games and favors, one of my bridesmaids tied ribbons to the back of our chairs for our sweetheart table, just to add a little bit of DIY flair. The french door that I wrote the seating assignments was in the rafters of my parents' garage since our house was built. They salvaged the beautiful antique doors always hoping to use them in the house, but never found a space for them. But they were so beautiful they couldn't throw or give them away and I was able to incorporate one of the doors into the wedding.
My jewelry was heirloom. The earrings were worn by my mom on her wedding day and the pearls I wore as my necklace belonged to my Nana. Another small touch that was a surprise to me on the wedding day was my dad's choice in tie. I think many people planning their weddings obsess over every detail down to what everyone wears. I'm glad Andy and I kept with our "simplify" mantra and decided to let everyone express themselves in the way they dressed because it allowed for moments like my dad's outer-space tie. This of course didn't fit with our "theme" or our colors but it was the first tie I ever bought for my dad as a little girl and when I realized he had kept it and had it repaired for the wedding I was overcome with emotion. It was such a small detail but so meaningful.