A Modern, Confetti-Filled Wedding at a Gallery in Philadelphia
As an event designer, Sara Murray thrives on the stress and excitement of planning a wedding. But when it came to her own, to videographer Ryan Beacher, her goal was to relax. "We wanted it to feel like everybody was just hanging out at our house," Sara says. No hours of dancing, no toasts, no spotlight.
The laid-back Pennsylvania natives met in May 2012, when their respective bands (she plays ukulele, he bass guitar) performed at the same Philadelphia club. Even before speaking, they knew of each other—Ryan had used one of her songs in a movie, and she was curious about the filmmaker's unique eye. But their initial interactions were stilted. When Sara tried to chat him up, "he said about two words," she laughs. "I was clueless," he admits. "I thought she was too cool for me." Then she pressed her number into his hand, and it dawned on him that she might be interested. They started dating that fall, and in June 2015, he proposed without fanfare in their bedroom.
Since both work in the industry, friends expected an elaborate celebration, but the couple postponed planning when Sara got pregnant. After Brady was born, they chose a date just four months later for the small wedding they'd always wanted.
The timing was possible because they fully trusted their vendors, all friends. Sara knew the perfect venue, a white-box gallery near their old Philly home (they've since moved to Audubon, New Jersey), and convinced the manager to fit them in between exhibitions.
On the afternoon of Sunday April 23, 2017, 55 guests gathered for a self-uniting ceremony, based on the Quaker tradition, in which the couple acted as their own officiants. After their self-penned vows, they passed a microphone to anyone who wanted to speak. To their surprise, nearly everyone did. "They had such lovely things to say about us as a couple, as a family, as parents," says Sara. "We were sobbing." The ceremony went longer than anticipated, but it didn't matter: They weren't on a schedule. Afterward, they feasted on food-truck fare and sat around talking, music playing in the background, while Brady napped in the next room. "It was so chill—there was nothing remarkable about it," says Sara. In other words, it felt like home.
The Bridal Bouquet
Sara held the card that Ryan gave her on their wedding day. The couple have exchanged notes throughout their relationship, celebrating even the smallest milestones. "We have a box of 150 cards that we've written over the years," says Ryan. "We brought them to the wedding."
The groom wore a bulldog lapel pin, by TheIvyLeash, which Sara enclosed in her card to Ryan.
With These Rings
Sara's half-moon wedding band hugs her diamond-and-rose-gold engagement ring; both are by Bario Neal. Ryan's matte yellow-gold band is from the same Philadelphia jeweler.
Bags of popcorn, calligraphed by Alyssa Desiderio of GGandgold, awaited guests before the ceremony. After the couple's two-year engagement, the message "this is finally forever" was apt.
Mark the Spot
Even the couple's dog, Millie, was given a chance to "speak" during the service. She later roamed the reception freely. "She had the best time," laughs Sara.
Simple Seating Assignments
Calligraphed place cards pointed guests to their seats, in the only formality of the night.
Neon and Balloons
A neon-and-pine sign stood above a DIY balloon installation, which friends made by tying balloons together with twine.
Raising the Bar
Aaron Gordon, of 13th Street Cocktails, set up the mobile bar, constructed in a 1976 horse trailer. Serving signature drinks—a mojito, old fashioned, and orange margarita—and flavored ice teas, Gordon took the casual reception up a notch. "He really completed everything and made it feel like a full event," Sara says.
Stained pine dining tables, which were built by friends Jason Hoak and Kyle Derricott of Maggpie Rentals in their Philadelphia workshop, and loose arrangements added texture to the all-white palette of the reception.
Centerpieces of eucalyptus, Italian ruscus, anemone, ranunculus, and tulips brightened the white décor.
The Place Settings
Screen-printed menus, laid on stoneware plates, directed guests to the pizza and barbecue food trucks parked in the courtyard.
Guests had the option of getting real tattoos—an X, O, ampersand, heart, or Saturn—from Red Lotus Tattoo Company. "We had never seen it done before and thought it would be cool," says Sara. They didn't expect so many people to take them up on the offer. "My aunts, my cousins, everybody wanted one," she marvels. "Ryan's grandparents got matching knuckle tattoos!"
A petite vanilla confetti cake, from a bakery the couple frequent, was among the four confections on offer, each frosted in a different style with white vanilla buttercream.
Photo Booth Fun
Friends mugged with a custom prop in the photo booth, all provided by Ryan's former bandmate.
Location, Crane Arts
Event planning, Confetti & Co.
Flowers, Fivefork Farms
Photography, Redfield Photography
Cakes, Cake Life
Ceremony music, West Philadelphia Orchestra
Bride's veil, BHLDN
Hair, Cabrina Sulimay
Makeup, Aleksandra Ambrozy
Groom's suit, My.Suit
Bride's and groom's shoes, Clarks
Wedding rings, Bario Neal
Photo booth, Clique Bait
Tattoo artist, Red Lotus Tattoo Company
Balloons, Oh Happy Day
Guys' getting-ready location, Keystone Mini-Golf & Arcade