From just the intro image alone, we know we’re going to have a hard time deciding which are our favorite elements from Francesca + Matt’s colorful, backyard wedding in Stow, Massachusetts! Because when the photos are as good as these pretties by Ashley Caroline Photography, it definitely makes it impossible to play favorites. What we will say, however (and with confidence, too), is that we are loving F + M’s main source of design + palette inspiration: fruit! The tables exemplified the colorful theme, with vibrant, tropical florals and fresh fruit scattered artfully around. Cut grapefruits, whole cherries and oranges were spread among some farm tables while other tables had eucalyptus leaves and candles. These (yummy!) details gave a fresh spin to the idea of an al fresco summer reception feast.
On their close-to-home venue, Francesca spills, Growing up, first time visitors to my house would often comment on the big yard, and say to my sister and me, “You girls should get married here.” And we would reply, with disgust, “Ugh nooo thank you.” In our minds, it was just home, not a place for a fairy-princess wedding. But, of course, when it came time to actually get married, it was the only place I even seriously considered. Matt and I grew up playing and exploring in the woods of New England, and their lushness in summer is something we have come to relish now that we live in Austin and San Diego. Our current long distance was also a factor in choosing “home” for the wedding. It was where “we” began, so it felt right to make it official there.
And the bridesmaids each picked out a dress that suited them, opting for citrus-hued finds from ASOS, Mango and Alice + Olivia. The end result was a pretty, relaxed look that paired so perfectly with their loose, lush bouquets crafted by Forêt Design Studio!
Shop dresses like these in our summer hues bridesmaid guide below!
(Mega cute first look moments!!)
Processional: Advanced Falconry – Mutual Benefit
Recessional: Oh Yoko – John Lennon (Performed by the bridal party)
First Dance: You’re All I Need to Get By – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
We wanted the day to echo our lives together—to feel relaxed, easy, full of laughter, music and good food. The backyard itself went a long way to create that feeling. But it was important to us that we write our own ceremony. Words have come to carry a certain weight for us; in distance, that’s sometimes all you have. We knew that shaping the ceremony and writing our vows would be the way to best capture our relationship and to set the tone for the rest of the night. As serious as we are about our love and the commitment to be made, we are pretty goofy. And it only made sense that the ceremony reflect that. So we asked a few musically-inclined friends if they would “play us out” with a rendition of John Lennon’s “Oh Yoko.” The rest of the bridal party joined in on egg shakers and we all danced down the aisle singing and laughing.
That would have to be our first dance. Matt and I had only been to a couple weddings, but we agreed very early on that we didn’t want a traditional, 3 minute long slow sway. It seemed painful, for the audience perhaps, but also for the couple. I had found “You’re All I Need to Get By,” which we thought was perfect for us. The only problem was that Matt, well, he wasn’t much of a dancer. But getting lessons and choreographing the dance was his idea. Once we found Liza Marians (of “Dance with Liza” in San Diego), it all came together. We had some Motown moves, some swing dancing, even a lift. We suspected that it would be fun for people to see—since most had probably never even seen Matt dance before—but we could never have anticipated the response we got. I mean, people were LOUD, whooping and cheering the whole time. We were amazed that everyone was so onboard with this cornball thing we made. But the very best part came in the days following the wedding, looking at the photos and videos people had posted of the dance. Because here we could see for the first time, the huge grins, people bent over in laughter, and Matt’s mom with both arms, straight up in the air, like she was at a church revival. Ultimately, we wanted people to have as much fun as we do when we’re together. And it seemed that we had succeeded.
1. Even if many of the people attending your wedding are from nearby, have a welcome party before the big day. We did it the night before and it took so much pressure off talking with and thanking everyone at the wedding. We felt like we really did talk to everyone and for much longer than we would have, had we just seen them on the day.
2. To that same end, do most of your wedding portraits as a “first look” and go enjoy the cocktail hour with your guests.
3. I didn’t have a “vision” for the wedding, so much as a feeling. I think this is the case for a lot of couples; though Pintrest goes a long way, it’s often hard to articulate what exactly you’re looking for. So when deciding on vendors, search for people/businesses who feel good to you, who you think share your general aesthetic and approach to the big day. I went with my gut every time and was thrilled with the results.
4. Lastly, even if you don’t think it’s in the budget, putting money toward a day-of coordinator is sooooo worth it, especially if you are DIY-ing the rest of the wedding. Matt and I planned the whole thing ourselves, and it was a real joy (honestly, I loved it), but we wanted to be able to stop planning on the actual day. With the help of Wendy Harrop, we truly did just float through the wedding day, relishing every moment without having to anticipate what would come next.
photography: Ashley Caroline Photography // venue name: Private Residence, Stow, Massachusetts, USA // planning: Wendy Harrop Events // florals: Forêt Design Studio // wedding dress: Houghton // wedding dress boutique: The Dress Theory // bride's ring: Mociun // bridesmaid dresses: ASOS, Mango and Alice + Olivia // getting ready robes: Made especially for Hotel San Jose in Austin, TX // hair stylist: Kacie Corbelle // makeup artist: Kacie Corbelle // paper goods: Hello Tenfold // catering: Fire Roasted Catering // cake: Mayflour Confections // tabletop rentals: New England Country Rentals // music: Search Party // officiant: Matt’s cousin, “uncle” Kevin Flagg