Luscious greenery, DIY bouquets and boutonnieres, and a quaint backyard reception—we can’t think of a better COVID-conscious wedding than Stephanie and Stephen’s. Although it wasn’t their first choice of venue, this smaller celebration proved that shifting your original plans can be done beautifully. And with a backyard as luscious as this one, we don’t blame them for opting for this venue.
Not only were they utilizing an incredible venue, but this DIY couple literally made their own wedding dreams come true. From creating individual charcuterie boards to having a custom beer brewed, every detail of this wedding was unique and thoughtful. Stephen and Stephanie truly made their wedding day their own and had fun along the way. Thankfully, J.Olson Weddings captured every laugh and every detail of this COVID-conscious wedding. Get ready to see nature working its magic and get your Pinterest ready.
Stephanie and Stephen
Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
Have Fun And Savor Important Details
You can have fun no matter where you are if you’re with your person! We feared the pandemic conditions would make our wedding less special and less fun, so we spent a lot of time on a few key details that were really important to both of us. We really wanted to have some of our best people around us, take photos by the Mississippi River, and have really great food for our guests. It made it easy to let go of the big wild ideas that weren’t as important, and we were able to have fun and savor those most important details.
Choosing A COVID-Conscious Wedding
Pre-pandemic, we’d picked a nearby wooded park with a lodge that had a great way of showcasing nature with some hiking trails and a small lake nearby. When we shelved our ‘big party’ and our venue along with it, some generous family members who live down the street from us offered up their backyard, and it seemed perfect! They have a gorgeous flower and vegetable garden, which provided a comfortable and COVID-safe way to still enjoy a little nature in our day without the stress of navigating the logistics of a typical venue. The proximity to our homemade it really easy to shuffle décor and food back and forth as well! And of course, living in Minnesota, the weather is not always cooperative, and we were lucky to have the foresight to rent a tent so we could escape the rain while enjoying our garden party celebration
A friend gave us a goofy idea to have wedding mad-lib letters to the couple for guests to fill out since social distancing was bumming us out. We were skeptical, but went with it, and made a copy for each guest and invited them to read their mad-libs aloud before official toasts. We were in stitches laughing at the silly things our family and friends came up with, and it warmed up the crowd for the best lady and dude of honor speeches from our siblings.
DIY Florals And Charcuterie Boards
There were a lot of DIYs that made our wedding magical—honestly, they were some of the best parts! We selected our own flowers from a floral market and picked some wild sweet fern to hand-tie our own bouquets and boutonnieres, in addition to table arrangements. We found a great Esty shop—Leaf Décor—that makes forest-themed art that we used for table escort cards along with some leaf clippings from local trees that Stephen’s dad snipped the day before our wedding. Plus, we asked around for family members to collect enough wooden cutting boards to make individual charcuterie boards, which were assembled with top-notch wild venison salami.
Handmade Cakes And Custom Brews
A close friend bakes cakes on the side. So, we asked her to create a custom wedding cake with our favorite flavors—lemon, blueberry, and rosemary. It was gorgeous and delicious. We also had a family member who brews beer make a custom brew for our wedding. It was a Maple Marzen called “The Perfect PH”, which was made with maple syrup we harvested and produced on some family property.
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We’re both goths, and my favorite color (besides black) is purple, so I guess that was our theme. We just went with whatever we wanted, and everything else we threw out the window. The pandemic did of course affect our wedding a lot, dwindling the guest list down from 80 to 35 people. We had to have restrictions, but it was still wonderful. I can’t imagine it any other way. We got married with family and friends there, had a cemetery photoshoot, a bunch of fun details, great music, and a lot of laughs. What more can you ask for? Oh yes, nobody got sick! SUCCESS.
As an autistic bride, I feel like I need to have control over everything and plan out every single thing I do — that’s just how I live my life. So it was the same for wedding planning too! I probably read most of Offbeat Bride’s archive (I LOVE to do research, we autistics can really get obsessed with our special interests), and the Offbeat Bride timeline checklist was a LIFESAVER. I just picked out the things we wanted and wrote them down in a notebook.
I was a little nervous about having planned for 80 guests, and just in general about the day stressing me out so much that I would be exhausted for a week afterwards. But since COVID caused the guestlist to dwindle to 35 people, it made it much more manageable, so I can’t imagine how it would have been with 80!
Thanks to my smaller guestlist thanks to COVID, I also didn’t have to hug people, shake hands, or mingle a ton, which was greatfor me. I don’t really understand or like these social norms, and I hate small talk. The pandemic has been nice to us autistic brides that way!
Tell us about the ceremony: We did your typical courthouse style wedding — cause it was free (haha). Since half my family is Filipino, they couldn’t have made it to Norway pandemic or not, and since almost 50 people couldn’t make it because of the pandemic, we live-streamed the ceremony.
We were only allowed to be 10 people total in there. My sister used my phone to stream it on Facebook, and I even had some family standing outside watching! Plus friends around the world, of course. We still haven’t watched it back, but I think it’s gonna be nice to look back on.
We totally stole the show with our extravagant looks, we got so many compliments from people connected to the weddings before and after us, and the people inside the courthouse themselves!
I’ve never really understood why people think a courthouse wedding isn’t worth dressing up for. It’s still your wedding day!
Also, there are SO many wedding traditions that me as an autistic bride just react with “why” to and feel no obligation to follow. We question and see right through those things everybody does “just because that’s the way it’s done”. Which is why in local wedding groups when people ask “do I HAVE to do X?” I advocate for doing whatever the hell you want! It’s your wedding, you decide what is right for you.
Tell us about the reception: Originally I didn’t really want a set seating chart, maybe just group certain people, and after dinner they could mingle. Buut the pandemic changed that. We got hit with the second wave the month before, and luckily there was a dip in numbers around our wedding, so we decided to go ahead with the party.
We had a sweetheart table, and seven tables with about five people at each. Families got their own tables, and friends who would see each other otherwise got to sit together, but some had to sit about a meter apart. We bought SO many bottles of hand sanitizer that we put EVERYWHERE. In our invitation, we asked people not to hug and shake hands, and keep to other restrictions we had at the time.
We had a friend as toastmaster, who did a wonderful job.
For dinner we had a taco buffet, which everybody loved.
Our cake and cupcakes matched our theme of course, and I got the topper custom-made.
Cutting the cake was much more complicated affair than I imagined! I’m so glad my sister filmed it so we can laugh again and again at the clunky logistics of it.
We are all for gender role reversal, equality and feminism, so we took some hilarious photos! We also took each other’s surnames. His family’s surname is actually his mother’s, which I think is pretty cool.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? People told me that your wedding day will never be just like you planned it to be. It definitely wasn’t. A global pandemic and other factors left us with a huge drop in guests, it rained, and yeah. It was still a wonderful day.
I was surprised at how chill I was, I didn’t feel any stress at all, even though everyone around me did!
I only have two regrets, really:
Time went by so fast that I felt I didn’t take enough time to talk to every person (can you imagine if there were 80 guests?!)
The playlist I had made wasn’t put on until after dessert. So I will share it with you! It’s 100 songs and about 8 hours long, and features mostly goth, post-punk etc., but also metal, electronic and pop. Mostly love themed! The entire party cheer-pressured Simen into dancing with me, so we danced to “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs. A pretty fitting song! It was just as awkward as first dances tend to be. It was mostly Simen taking super long steps and me trying to follow with my stubby legs. After a minute he stopped and said “Happy?” and I went “No wait! Dip me!” and made a dramatic pose. He did, and everyone cheered.
Like most other couples of 2020, Daniella and Nelson had a small family wedding planned in the Dominican Republic before a pandemic changed the wedding world as we know it. But rather than let that stop them from tying the knot, the couple moved their ceremony to the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in Boston. After saying “I do” in the courthouse, the newlyweds went to lunch, cheered to their future with champagne and cake, and throughout the process took some stunning photos around the city with photographer Scarlet Roots.
Although their special day was small, every detail was well-thought-out–especially their fashion. Daniella looked beautifully casual in her Staud short wedding dress, Jennifer Behr birdcage headband, and Refine chunky headband–all of which accentuated her colorful bouquet from Central Square Florist. Meanwhile, Nelson opted for a more traditional look in a linen guayabera, a button-up shirt typically worn in the Dominican Republic. Who says courthouse wedding fashion has to be boring?
It was important for us to keep in mind the true end goal–our marriage and life together and not necessarily the day. Since everything came together very quickly, we didn’t have much time to plan. To keep things as safe as possible, we had our ceremony with two witnesses, snapped some pictures, and then went to lunch together. Back home, we called our families and shared some cake and champagne.
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Laidback Vibes At The Romantic Courthouse Wedding
We decided to elope after COVID-19 complicated our plans for a small family wedding at home in the Dominican Republic. It was important for us to have a relaxed and fun day, so we kept everything laid back. My look was an easy linen dress from Staudwith block heels. I couldn’t decide between the Refine satin headband or the Jennifer Behr veil, so I wore both. Nelson wore a linen chacabana or guayabera that’s traditional in our country. I ordered my bouquet from our local florist the day before.
Maisie and Ques were engaged during the pandemic and, after watching others schedule and reschedule their weddings or opt for elopements, the two decided to quickly tie the knot. Two weeks before their wedding, the United Kingdom announced that wedding numbers would need to be reduced from 30 guests to just 15. The change was set to kick in weeks before their planned wedding date.
Maisie pulled her wedding forward and reorganized the event—in one hour. They had their wedding ceremony at a venue built in 1609, Tissington Hall with a reception in the rose garden. Maisie looked stunning in her gown with thousands of flowers stitched in.
We’re so glad Natalie J Weddings was there to capture this intimate Tissington Hall wedding. Keep scrolling to see the perfect English micro wedding planned in an hour.
The Couple: Maisie and Ques
The Wedding: Tissington Hall, Peak District, England
Incorporating Themselves Into The Wedding
We wanted our wedding to represent us both as individuals and as a couple. I wanted people to walk in and say “oh that’s so them.” We didn’t cater to anyone else but us—it was a day dedicated to Ques and I, the way a wedding should be, and I actually believe our guests enjoyed it more because of that. There was no worrying about what other people wanted. We stayed true to ourselves completely and it paid off.
A Tissington Hall Wedding Memory
After we were married and we’d just had a few moments to ourselves, we were announced into The Carriage House for our Tissington Hall wedding and we walked into the room to see all the faces of the people dearest to us, all bursting with love. It was quite surreal as we’d hardly seen anyone for most of the year after being in lockdown. That image sticks in our minds and we talk about it all the time.
Building The Dream Wedding Team
When I selected the vendors I wanted to use, I made sure I had a good connection with them all. I believe that every detail for your wedding is important, no matter how small. It’s the finer details that bring it all together. So don’t just pick someone for the sake of it. For example, even our cake was carefully selected for its style. I didn’t just pick a cake because we needed to have one, I’d followed BAKE Ashbourne for ages. I knew she was the lady for our wedding cake because she suited our style. The same goes for every wedding vendor we used.
Get Organized Early On
Being super organized helped me a lot, I had lists, schedules, apps which all came in handy when Boris Johnson changed lockdown restrictions which made me move the date last minute! We were very lucky that we found a venue with a wedding planner. Fiona, the wedding planner at Tissington Hall saved my life. She saved me from having wedding and personal meltdowns numerous times.
Personalized Wedding Favors
We had beautiful personalized boxes made by The Cross Eyed Fox who I found on Etsy and filled them with a packet of wildflower seeds. I adore flowers and wanted guests to take these away and plant them and see them grow. We also included delicious Macaroons (inspired by Marie Antoinette) made by Petit Pithivier from Etsy—but local to Derbyshire. She also included a couple of vegan cupcakes for our vegan guests.
Working with Natalie J Weddings
Natalie was an absolute dream to work with. I feel honoured that she took our booking. I was totally fangirling when she arrived. She just knew everything, had so much advice to offer, and was so professional. Natalie whizzed around all day and looking back on the photographs I can’t even remember her being there snapping half of them, she wasn’t intrusive at all. Everyone felt comfortable around her and she was just perfect.
Congratulations to Maisie and Ques on their beautifully intimate Tissington Hall wedding! Special thanks to Natalie J Weddings for sharing it with us. If Maisie and Ques’ intimate wedding has you feeling inspired, you’re in luck. Whether you have a small or large guest list, we can show you how to make it an intimate affair to remember.
This uniquely personalized micro inspiration wedding in Brooklyn, New York proves that when talented wedding vendors come together, magical things happen. From the decor to the fashion, no detail was short of amazing. The peachy floral arrangements by Yellow Bow Florals tied together the existing venue features—from the exposed brick to the draped twinkle lights—of this outdoor wedding venue garden space, the Tuffet. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Photographer Lucie B. Photography captured the unforgettable elements of this unique micro wedding shoot perfectly—sure to be used for inspiration by couples planning their celebrations.
More From Lucie B. Photography On Capturing Unforgettable Memories
First and foremost, this shoot excites me because it is inclusive—featuring an LGBTQ couple. We need more diversity in the wedding industry, so any opportunity to show more inclusivity, I’m all about it! It also reflects the type of weddings that are taking place due to COVID. We wanted to show that although smaller, COVID weddings can still be so full of life and completely personalized.
There were many elements of this micro wedding that were unique to the couple: their choice of florals and ceremony decor, their custom signature drinks and guestbook designs, and their photos in their laundromat and on their skateboard. Even though our couple’s weddings are looking a little different these days, it doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their vision or personal style.