Mike and I met at work. We worked together for over a year before we talked for the first time. We started dating shortly after a work party we both attended in 2014. At one point, we were living together, working together and driving to work together. That was a lot of time together. I stayed at that company but Mike moved on a couple years later.
I was away at a sales conference all week in Orlando and my flight back to NJ kept getting delayed – I was so tired and ready to get home. Mike kept asking me my ETA, he really wanted to go out to dinner that night. After my third delay I told him we should just get take out. Once I finally landed in NJ and was on my way home, Mike asked me to let him know when I was at the traffic light by our house so he could order a pizza. I thought that was weird, and I was annoyed that he wouldn’t have the pizza home waiting for me, but I obliged. When I walked into our house, Mike was on one knee and asked me to marry him! There were flower petals all over the floor, pictures of us hanging from the ceiling, glasses filled with champagne. I was completely surprised. I had no inkling that he was planning to propose. It was the perfect proposal for us. I never wanted to be proposed to in public or with a lot of people around. I wanted it to be our moment and it was.
The minute we canceled our Aruba wedding, I immediately hopped on Pinterest and searched for tented backyard weddings. We loved how whimsical and elegant tented weddings could look. We decided to shift from “beach wedding” to “elegant backyard garden wedding.” We pictured lots of string lights, greenery, white flowers, touches of gold. We wanted guests to walk into the backyard and see it completely transformed! We ultimately went with a tented wedding because we wanted to be married this year and start our life together. We didn’t want to have to wait to get started on the rest of our lives. Guests were led inside a white tent, filled with twinkle lights and white flowing accents. Elements of wood and greenery warmed the tent as guests dined at tables featuring a mix of gold flatware, light blue linen napkins, gold lanterns, greens and beautiful white florals. Our arrangements were white hydrangeas, spray roses, ranunculus, dahlias and greens were featured in key locations inside the tent. My favorite installation was the statement piece, a stunning boxwood backdrop floral creation by Jardinière Fine Flowers.
When our original Aruba wedding was canceled four weeks ahead of time due to Covid, Mike and I knew we wanted to keep our September 12th date and get married regardless. My parents have a big backyard so we figured we would do a tented wedding in their yard so everyone could be outside. We were super lucky, we originally planned to have a “legal” wedding at Mike’s hometown church after our reception in Aruba. We were able to work with our Deacon to change our church wedding date to September 12th so we were able to get married in the church and then go to my parents’ after for the reception.
We only had four weeks to plan our backyard wedding so we didn’t have time to ask guests for their entree choices. We decided on a dual entree of short ribs and crab cakes. We didn’t want to do passed appetizers or buffet style appetizers due to Covid so we had family-style appetizers placed at each table for when guests arrived. We decided on cupcakes for dessert. Guests had a choice of lemon cake with lemon chiffon icing, carrot cake with cream cheese icing, vanilla cake with raspberry icing or devil’s food cake with peanut butter icing. We knew we needed a cake for Mike and I to cut into so we had our 14 -year-old neighbor, who loves baking, make us a sweetheart cake. Our cake was Funfetti with buttercream frosting! We also had late night food for guests – we did sliders with tater tots. They were a real hit!
My dress, by Maggie Sottero, featured a beautifully detailed lace bodice, adorning a luxurious, Talin stretch, crepe, sheath dress. The plunging V-neckline lined with beads and sequins, and illusion straps completed the look. I picked this dress with my Aruba wedding in mind – I loved how light and airy the dress felt for the beach. When my wedding was moved to NJ in my parents’ backyard, the dress also complimented the garden wedding vibe I was going for. I loved the train on this dress and the beading on the bodice. It wasn’t the typical lace dress you see so many brides in lately.
It’s so hard to pick one. Walking into the tent and seeing all of the design elements we discussed with The Joy Standard come to life was amazing! Our favorite moment was definitely seeing our family and friends there to support us and our love. We hadn’t seen many of them in months due to the pandemic, it was so nice to have everyone we loved in one place. Our second favorite moment would be dancing the night away with everyone – socially distant of course!
My favorite design element would be the flower wall. Mike’s favorite design element would be the cigar station which was outside of the tent. Jointly our favorite design element was the rememberance table. We have some very close family that is no longer with us so it was nice to have a special table dedicated to them.
Of course! Once Aruba was canceled, we struggled to find vendors that were available in four weeks’ notice. Our original caterer backed out with two weeks to go so we had to scramble to find a new one. On the actual wedding day no one could figure out how to bustle my dress. It was our wedding planners, The Joy Standard, who figured it out. That was tiny though in the scheme of things. The day of our wedding everything went pretty smoothly.
“Everything” by Michael Bublé.
You can totally have your dream wedding in the midst of a pandemic. There isn’t a single thing that we would change about our wedding, restrictions and all. Now we can’t imagine ever being married in Aruba – it all worked out for a reason. It was the perfect day! Your wedding day will likely look different, but it will still be amazing. Having a group of amazing vendors is the only way Mike and I were able to pull off our dream wedding in four weeks. Stay close to your vendors and lean in for help- you can’t do it all.