Offbeat partner: Lara, Legal Assistant
Offbeat partner: Nick, Director at a software company
Date and location of wedding: Our backyard in West Seattle, Washington — May 27, 2018
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
When we started planning our wedding, we quickly discarded a lot of traditional elements. What we did want in a wedding was an opportunity to celebrate with our loved ones, to gather around a table and enjoy a meal together, to welcome our people into our home, and celebrate as a group. So we focused on the most important stuff to accommodate our vision: a small event in our backyard, a menu and cocktails that reflected our tastes, handmade décor, yard games, and a non-religious ceremony officiated by a dear friend.
We’re big fans of craft cocktails, so we incorporated that into our wedding favors by commissioning four different artists to create artwork for us based on our cocktail menu. We included that art on recipe cards so our guests could replicate our cocktails at home, as well as take home some beautiful work by artists we love. We also painstakingly planned a menu that would utilize local, seasonal ingredients and showcase the brilliance of our chef.
Our photographers, Jonas and Mary, were an irreplaceable part of the success of our day and the photos they took are beautiful keepsakes we get to keep to remember how special and joyful that day was for us. The biggest highlight was that the relaxed nature of our event meant we were able to spend a little bit of time with each of our guests (all of whom traveled from out of town), and time with each other. Our wedding felt like it perfectly reflected our personalities and it was exactly what we had hoped it would be.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We wanted a ceremony that wasn’t religious or exceptionally long, but that still felt special and personal. We crafted an altar space between two olive saplings using a canopy we'd borrowed to serve as Plan B should Seattle weather decide not to play ball. Somewhat unexpectedly, it was a beautiful day, and the temperature was perfect. So the canopy became simply a part of the altar space (which I dragged Nick to a little earlier than scheduled because I was too excited to wait the extra ten minutes).
We had a friend officiate our ceremony and asked our siblings to read a couple of poems we had selected. It was pretty short and sweet. We wrote our own vows independently and, although we both initially felt self-conscious about reading them in front of a group of people, when the time came, I couldn’t wait to share what I had written with Nick. Fortunately, we’d written them down because I was so overcome with emotion I think I fully blacked out for a minute while Nick recited his. This made for a cute moment after our guests had left when he pulled out his little notebook and read them to me again. We had a stash of hankies available for our guests which came in useful when I, ever the crier, set off a chain reaction of tears among our guests. Everyone told me “I wasn’t going to cry, but then YOU started.” Oops!
Tell us about your reception:
Because we held our wedding in our backyard, and everything was in bloom at that time, we felt we needed minimal décor; the fruit trees and flowers in our yard were plenty. The few extra pieces we added were all handcrafted. The day before the wedding, our families hung out in our backyard, tirelessly stringing together pieces of greenery for a garland for our dining table. My mother made a bouquet for me using pieces from her yard and ours, and I used herbs from our garden to make Nick’s boutonniere. A lot of love and effort went into every detail and contributed to how cozy our celebration felt.
We don’t dance so we wanted alternative activities for our guests to do at our reception. We ended up choosing some yard games like cornhole and giant Jenga, and found a tarot reader who came and did readings for our guests. We had a personalized bottle of Jameson we’d purchased on a trip to Ireland, so we busted that out, as well as having an incredible bartender on hand to make cocktails.
Our chef used herbs and edible flowers from our garden in the meal, which she cooked in our kitchen, and provided ample vegan options for our vegan guests. A generous friend gifted us petit fours and a croquembouche for dessert which we supplemented with a small vegan cake. The toasting glasses my grandparents used at their wedding also made an appearance that night. We got such joy from being able to feed and entertain our guests and provide a cozy evening of fun for everyone.
What was your most important lesson learned?
The thing that gave us the most control over our wedding was to keep our guest list small, inviting only our immediate families and closest friends. A micro-guestlist isn’t for everyone, but it was absolutely perfect for us and the kind of night we wanted to have and it gave us the ability to focus on little details (custom favors, a really “us” menu, tarot readings) that made the night feel special.
On the other side of the “control” coin is another important lesson: SOMETHING is going to go “wrong.” The first thing I did after I put on my dress was to bust the hook-and-eye closure in the back clean off. (Another important lesson: buy the right kind of dress for the kind of person you are and the kind of night you’re planning on having. If you’re planning on physical activity beyond walking serenely down an aisle, buy an outfit that accommodates that. Or else you’ll end up like me, running around in your underwear an hour before your guests arrive while your mother makes alterations by hand to your dress.) The whole thing got back on the rails after that little moment, but I’m grateful that I had both a sense of humor about it AND the resources/craftiness to figure out a fix.
Flexibility is key. (Not physical flexibility. Or you’ll Hulk out of your dress. Trust me.) Most importantly, we had a wonderful celebration to kick off our marriage and we got to include the people we love most. That is really what it’s all about and what I cherish most about that day.
Photographer: Jonas Seaman • Dress: Renz Bridal • Chef: Olive Huang • Patissiere: Jean Claude Ferré • Bakery: Flying Apron • Bartender: Karen Johnson of Honey and Rye • Tarot Reader: Hanna Brooks Olsen
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Comments on A backyard garden party wedding with yard games & cocktail recipe cards
Everything about this is PERFECT! I love the intimate setting with their close family and friends. Also, the GAMES?!?! Brilliant!
Where can I get a puzzle like that?
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