It’s a little hard to believe a year and some has passed since our backyard wedding celebration. But as always, it simultaneously feels like it was yesterday and forever ago. Today I am sharing the things I would change and the things I absolutely loved and would keep the same if we were planning a wedding again.
Let’s start with some background story for those of you who are new here. Ryan (my husband) and I started dating in October 2017 when I was studying abroad at a university in Montana. How we started dating is a whole another story, but let’s leave that for a different day. Ryan was born and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado and my family and I are from Bratislava, Slovakia. We had a long distance relationship for about two and a half years and would visit each other probably twice a year. Those were some rough times, not gonna lie… In December 2019 I came to Colorado to spend Christmas with him and his family. Little did I know that a month later we would get engaged and I would end up canceling my flight back home and would start planning a wedding. Oh and even better, that a pandemic would soon change our whole world. We first got married officially in March 2020. Together with Ryan’s family and some of our friends, we drove up to a reservoir above town, we exchanged our vows, our rings, signed the papers and voilá, we were married. A short week later, we moved into our first apartment and got quarantined. A great start to a marriage, lots of quality time!
It was beautiful and very unconventional, but we still wanted to throw a party and have a more ”proper wedding”. Our plans kept changing over and over again, but we settled on having a small backyard ceremony and reception at the end of August. We didn’t have a large budget and did not hire a professional to help with planning, yet things went mostly according to plan. All in all, the wedding celebration turned out wonderful, but there are some things I would do differently now.
Let’s start with the great things we would keep:
1. The effortless and casual atmosphere
We loved how casual our wedding was. We love being fancy from time to time, but to keep it true to ourselves, we knew we needed to keep it pretty low-key. Having our reception at our friends backyard, hanging fairly lights and candles all over the place, and our choice of dinner and drinks all helped create a comfortable and fun atmosphere.
2. Dinner and drinks
We decided to serve pizza and salad for dinner and cookies and fruit for dessert. This was absolutely perfect of you ask me! Everyone loves pizza and cookies, right? Don’t worry, we had gluten free and dairy free options too! It was so much fun and even more so, it saved us a lot of money. For beverages we also kept it pretty casual, we had a lot of beer and sparkling water, some fancy rosemary and blackberry water as well as some wine.
3. Minimal decorations
I love clean and minimal design and really wanted to keep all the decorations simple. I ordered a lot of greenery in bulk, borrowed white table cloths from a friend and added just a few small touches here and there, but nothing too crazy complicated or extravagant. And honestly there was no need for more in my opinion because of the location. Backyards are pretty as is and they provide a lot of atmosphere naturally so you don’t need to overdo it with your own decorations. Oh and when the sun set and the lights were on, it was just perfect.
4. Doing my own makeup
I loved doing my own makeup, because it allowed me to do many many trials before the wedding day and work out exactly what I wanted. I also just really enjoy doing makeup, so that’s a big part of why I wanted to do it myself. Oh and a good plus is, again, saving some money!
5. Arranging my own bouquet
Making my own bridal bouquet was BY FAR my favorite wedding experience. I love flowers so much and getting to arrange it all myself was such a blast. I spent hours putting it together— not because it necessarily takes that long, but because I loved the entire process. When I was younger I thought I would have a super minimalistic bouquet. Either just fully green, or maybe a couple white flowers. But because all of our decor was like that, I decided to splurge and spice up my own bouquet. Best. Decision. Ever!
6. Having a short wedding video made
One of our good friends was super kind and created a video of our wedding day for us. It’s such a sweet thing to have. I love all our photographs, but watching an actual video just hits different. I would a 100% do this again!
And now let’s move to the things that I would do differently….
1. Setting up the day of
I created a whole document all about the decorations and set up. I even created my own illustrations to give directions on where to put what and how I wanted things to look. I went over this document with my mother in law as well as some other people because I knew I wanted the morning of our wedding to be relaxing. I didn’t want to run around like crazy and be super stressed about the execution of everything I had planned. I thought that if I created an in-depth document and walked my friends and family through what I wanted, it would all work out perfectly. And it mostly did, they all did an incredible job, but there were just a couple of things that didn’t go quite like I wanted them to. So while I loved having a slow and relaxing morning (we went on a walk, got coffee, and did a workout together with Ryan), I kind of wish I had gotten up early and went over to the backyard to give further directions OR that I would‘ve spent more time making sure everyone knew what the plan was.
Here are a few of the things that ended up a bit differently:
the placement of some greenery—somehow the two kinds got switched. I really wanted our olive branches on the tables and the assorted eucalyptus and other greenery used for everything else (like the chairs and the aisle…)
the set up of tables— the tables were supposed to be arranged in a circle after the ceremony, but somehow this was misunderstood and all of a sudden there were just tow lines of tables and I was starting to stress. Thankfully, Ryan’s aunt noticed I was looking a little distressed and asked how she could help. Then she organized everyone to move the tables. Bless her!
And lastly a couple minor things with the food serving tables—this wasn’t too terrible, but the water flavors got switched. We had planned for rosemary+blackberry and lime+cucumber. Somehow we ended up with lemon+cucumber and rosemary+cucumber. It’s pretty laughable now, but I remember feeling particularly sad about this detail.
But you know what, as much as it annoys me when I think about it, I know it’s fine and they were details no one else even noticed. It was just because I spent so much time planning it that I saw every “imperfection” in my design That I noticed every little detail. But at the end of the day, it was amazing the way it was.
2. Delegation of tasks
I thought I did a really good job of delegating tasks, asking for help, and making sure everyone knew what I needed from them. But when I look back, I can see that I could‘ve organized it all better. I could’ve reminded people when and where I needed them a couple of days before the wedding, but I assumed that since I asked about a month prior, they would all remember. I can’t blame anyone because life happens and things slip from our minds—especially if we forget to put them in our calendar. But because of this, our MC never showed up and we very much had to improvise. It ended up being okay, because one of our closest friends happens to be amazing at MCing, but it did make us sad to throw him under the bus like that. Similarly, there were just a couple of other tasks that got left more unorganized than originally planned. Thankfully our friends were absolutely AMAZING at stepping up and helping wherever they could, but looking back I wish I had created a document with a schedule, and assigned tasks for everyone to see so that everyone could feel super organized and confident in what they were supposed to do and when.
3. Rehearsing our first dance
Let‘s just say we did not put much thought into the actual dance. We picked a song, but we never once rehearsed dancing. At all. And it was very painfully obvious. Ryan tried to twirl me and do some fun stuff, but I felt so awkward and so out of control that I kept squeezing his shoulder sooo hard and giving him a glare to communicate not to try doing some silly stuff. It ended up being okay hopefully, but man, if I could go back, I would definitely rehearse the dance at least once or twice…or a thousand times.
I know there is absolutely nothing I could‘ve done about our world’s circumstances last year, but I WISH there was something to be done so that my family and friends could‘ve travelled to be there with us. It still makes me so very sad to think about the fact that my mom couldn’t be there, that my bridesmaids couldn’t be there…that a lot of the most important people couldn’t be there to share our joy with us. I didn’t dwell on it much the day of because I wanted to be in the moment and be thankful for everyone that was there, but the week leading up to the wedding was so very sad for me. There were a lot of tears and honestly a lot of anger, too. I still don’t think I would’ve waited to have the wedding until they all could come…because let’s face it. It’s a year later and the borders are still closed…But I just wish the circumstances could’ve been changed.
To sum it all up…
Weddings can be A LOT. It can feel so overwhelming and exhausting to plan and throw a big party and make it meet all your own expectations and dreams. (Or the expectations your family has!)
But the truth is, most of your guests probably won’t even notice any of the details you put so much energy into and all they will care about is having fun and celebrating your marriage with you.
I think we managed to do that quite well. Even though some details didn’t quite work out, the celebration as a whole was preeeetttyy awesome. There are so many more things I could talk about (both good and not so good), but this covers the most important ones. And a word of advice to those of you in the midst of planning your own wedding: just have fun with it! Focus on throwing a party you and your partner and all your guests will ENJOY. Focus on making it your own and don’t do something just because it’s ”expected”.