This Couple Transformed Their Backyard for Their Intimate Wedding in Toronto
Khrystyna Kulyasa and Nick Moro grew up with plenty of opportunities to find each other: They attended the same elementary school, lived in the same neighborhood, and attended multiple birthday parties for a mutual friend without ever meeting. "And then in January 2014 we went to that friend's birthday, connected, shared a look that both of us can't forget, and the rest was history," says Khrystyna. "I truly believe we were meant to meet at exactly the time that we did."
The day they were scheduled to leave for a trip celebrating their five-year anniversary, Khrystyna got a frantic call from a friend who said Nick needed immediate help at the house she and Nick were renovating. But instead of finding her boyfriend in danger when she arrived, Khystyna found him ready to propose. "He told me all about the dream home we were building and how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me in it," she says. "I also proposed right back [on our trip] with a ring I had had for months!"
As the founder, creative director, and principal planner of Pastiche Events, Khrystyna had designed enough weddings to know what she and Nick wanted: A June church ceremony and country club reception with "lots of classic Italian garden-inspired details and personal touches." But by April, as her clients began rescheduling their weddings due to COVID-19, she realized that the original plan—which included 120 guests, including some of her family who would travel from Ukraine—needed a makeover. "Ultimately, we could not picture a wedding where we could not hug or dance with our friends and family safely," she says. "We decided to postpone and miraculously all of our vendors were available for a date next summer."
Khrystyna and Nick still wanted to get married as soon as possible, so they turned to a natural location: The backyard of their home—the same home where Nick had proposed. "We spent about a month completely gutting and renovating the yard to make it wedding worthy," she says. "After we decided on going through with the wedding in the backyard, I pictured lounges, bright florals, the modern wardrobe, and it spiraled from there. 'Backyard Magic' was the theme that came to mind as soon as we decided to go ahead with a small backyard celebration—we wanted warmth, joy, color, twinkle lights."
On June 27, 2020, Khrystyna and Nick exchanged vows in front of 30 guests, celebrating afterward with Champagne, Sicilian-style pizza, and some classic wedding music. "I love that we got engaged at home and now married here, too—to look out in our backyard and always remember the place we said our vows and became officially husband and wife is such a magical feeling," says Khrystyna. As both a wedding planner and a recent bride, her advice to couples currently facing a change in plans is simple. "Don't wait," she says. "These are the cards we were dealt, but that doesn't mean the pandemic gets the final word. Do what feels right for you. Make it yours. Celebrate love now."
Khrystyna printed one copy of the subtle white-and-blue digital invitation she created for the backyard ceremony. "Although we re-sent our gorgeous printed save-the-dates for next year's celebration, I designed a minimalist floral motif invitation for this micro-wedding and emailed it to our guests," says Khrystyna. "Our invitations for next year's wedding include a custom crest, maps, and personal elements, so we thought we'd keep that for their own special moment and wanted something more fresh and modern for this micro-celebration."
Planning to save her already-purchased wedding dress for her formal celebration, Khrystyna visited her local bridal consignment store in search of an alternative for her backyard event—and found a Martina Liana Bridal gown that felt like "a two-piece tulle dream," she says. "The sweetheart bodice and the multi-multi-tulle layered skirt felt simple enough and epic enough at the same time for this re-imagined celebration. I wanted something fun that I could feel like a bride in but also be comfortable in—this dress had it all. I loved the movement of it." She added a pearl-embellished cape from Daughters of Simone, her favorite blue Kate Spade tassel earrings, and blue bow Seychelles slingbacks.
Bright and Beautiful
Flowers from Bellwood Blooms added a dose of bright color with peonies, ranunculus, anemones, delphinium, foxglove, and caramel antique David Austen garden roses, previewing the palette for the reception. "Because our original wedding palette was a lot more neutral, I wanted to have fun with some bold colors and asked the florist to incorporate punchy seasonal hues," she says.
Surprise and Excitement
Khrystyna and Nick met for their first look before the ceremony. "I was just so excited to get to Nick and experience this day together," she says. "It felt like we fought to even get here, and I couldn't wait to just see him." Khrystyna kept her wedding day outfit a secret from Nick, so he spent the moments before her arrival imagining the gown. "Before, I was nervous and excited and was trying to guess what her dress would look like," says Nick. "During, I was so happy to see her and was surprised by the cape and loved how happy she looked. After, it hit me that this was our day and she was finally going to be my wife."
Lucky in Love
Like Khrystyna, Nick chose to save his planned outfit for the larger celebration; for the backyard wedding, he wore a navy RW & Co. suit he already owned. "He's known in the family as 'Mr. Lucky,' so we had bought him these horseshoe cuff links on a trip to Venice a few years ago and he added another touch with lucky dice socks," says Khrystyna. "It was casual, yet classic and was very Nick's style."
A Special Spot
The couple chose the University of Toronto—where they met—as the backdrop for their first look. "Throughout our entire relationship, U of T has been in our lives in one way or another," says Khrystyna. "Nick almost proposed on Philosopher's Walk so that, coupled with the classic architecture and lots of green space, gave us the perfect spot for a first look and photos. I loved this time to just be together and have fun. It was just so nice to walk around campus for a little while, slow down, and just be together."
After a month of landscaping their backyard, the couple had created a lush corner that offered a pretty background for the bright blooms in their floral arch. "After everything we've gone through in the last few months, I figured we needed some joy, some color, some magic," says Khrystyna. "I just couldn't believe how perfectly our florist captured the essence of the day in that piece. The colors and combination were a true masterpiece and you couldn't help but feel joy just looking at it."
At the Altar
After Khrystyna's father walked her down the aisle to an instrumental version of John Legend's "All of Me," she and Nick clasped hands at the start of their ceremony. Mary Montanari officiated while a friend read a passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin. "During the signing and tree planting ceremony, a string version of 'Home' by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played, which seemed like the perfect time and place for it," Khrystyna says.
Saying Their Vows
With a Ukrainian Catholic ceremony planned for the future, the couple jumped at the chance to write their own custom vows for the backyard ceremony. "We mixed some fun ones—like that I will always make his pierogi with a higher proportion of meat to sauerkraut and that he will always take care of all the bugs—with really emotional ones about being partners and supporting each other, which is very much our style," says Khrystyna.
So Happy Together
For Khrystyna and Nick, the wedding ceremony remains the most memorable part of their day. "On typical wedding days, so much happens that sometimes it can slip away," says the bride. "It was very much the center of everything, and considering how impossible it seemed and how incredible it was to just be there with those few loved ones and make it official—that's our favorite memory."
Near and Far
Family members and friends who couldn't attend in person watched the ceremony—beginning with a photo slideshow Khrystyna made—over Zoom, and the couple made it a point to greet them virtually before moving onto the reception. "Some of my friends and family in Ukraine had waited up until the early hours of the morning to join in!" says the bride.
Comfortable lounge furniture in shades of pink, ivory, and blue from Tufts and Toile created cozy—and safe—seating areas. "I had a vision for vintage lounges throughout not only to help aid in social distancing, but also to add character to the backyard and encourage a slower pace," says Khrystyna. Small side tables held petite floral arrangements and photos of the couple, while throw rugs added to the intimate atmosphere. "Working with the 'backyard magic' vision in mind, I pictured a relaxing, fun, and safe celebration," says Khrystyna.
Raising the Bar
The couple and their friends created a custom bar and backdrop, which they stocked with their favorite wines, local beers, and the ingredients for their signature cocktail—an Aperol spritz with peach schnapps. "Nick and his brother Zack custom-made the backdrop and my friend Sara added the 'Together is our favorite place to be' script," says Khrystyna. "I added some florals, mixed pink candles, and bubbly, of course. Having the glassware and everything set up on pretty shelves and trays complete with the lush garland from Bellwood Blooms is everything my detail loving heart desired."
Clean and Clear
A dressed-up display of hand sanitizer, tissues, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and a small wastebasket provided a pretty solution to a practical problem. "Although I've dealt with my share of problem solving at my clients' weddings, nothing compares to trying to figure out seating, dining, details, and sanitizing to ensure all of your loved one are as safe as possible," says Khrystyna. "This definitely overtook the planning process and was my primary concern."
Khrystyna and Nick turned to one of their favorite local restaurant groups, Gusto 54, for their post-ceremony catering. "Their Cavolo Nero kale, pecorino, and pine nut salad is famous around town and, along with the Sicilian style-pizzas, was the main attraction," says Khrystyna. "There was a little bit of everything, from an Italian cured meat harvest station and pasta to roasted salmon and beef, as well. It felt like the perfect comforting and easy meal to celebrate with at home."
Nick and Khrystyna requested a two-tiered Earl Grey cake with lavender buttercream frosting and hand-painted abstract florals—which tied into the garden theme—from Crumb & Berry. "It was beyond gorgeous and tasted absolutely incredible," she says.
The newlyweds popped a bottle of Champagne and shared a toast with their guests to begin the reception.
Their First Dance
Khrystyna and Nick created a simple Apple Music playlist for the wedding day, including "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, which they chose for their first dance. "We wanted something that had a classic energy and this was one that we often have on the record player on Sunday mornings," says Khrystyna. "I played it for Nick last summer while watching a sunset in Tofino and he said 'Yup, that's the one,' and that was it."
Light the Night
As a wedding professional, Khrystyna knew they needed to include one iconic song before winding down the party. "For some sparkler fun at the end of the night, we had to play 'Shout,'" she says. "This is truly a quintessential song and it was perfect for that moment. It felt very 'wedding' and considering all the things we've had to change and give up, I loved that we still had that feeling."
Happily Ever After
Though adjusting to the change in plans and coordinating a new ceremony wasn't easy, Khrystyna and Nick made it work. "It's been a rollercoaster of emotions, mourning the loss of the celebration we dreamt of and feeling so grateful for the day and intimate wedding we did get to have," says Khrystyna. "The vision of going through with it and seeing those smiling faces of our closest few is what kept me going. We wanted to be married and we didn't let anything, even a pandemic, stop us, and that's the easiest and best decision we made."
Photography, Simply Lace Photography
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Pastiche Events
Catering, Gusto 54 Catering
Flowers, Bellwood Blooms
Videography, Amanda Soriano
Officiant, Mary Montanari
Cake, Crumb and Berry
Rentals, Simply Beautiful Décor; Tufts and Toile (vintage lounge rentals)
Bride's Gown, Martina Liana Bridal
Bride's Accessories, Daughters of Simone veil; Seychelles shoes; Kate Spade earrings
Makeup, The Bridal Party
Groom's Attire, RW & Co.
Groom's Shoes, Steve Madden
Engagement Rings, Emilian Jewellery (bride); Enso Rings (groom)
Favors, Stems Flower Farm
Ring boxes, The Mrs. Box
Vegan ribbon, Our Vows
Vow books, Elmo Paper Stories
Wedding rings, Bandlands Coin Rings (groom); Tiffany and Co. (bride)
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