This Couple Loved Their Family-Only, Flower-Filled Wedding So Much, They Stopped Planning a Bigger One
Tricia McLister had recently gotten out of a relationship when her father and oldest brother decided to take matters into their own hands by setting her up with their golf buddy, Josh Mearkle, who was also getting over a breakup. As it turns out, family knows best: Josh proposed at home less than a year later, in October 2019. "With both of us going through recent heartbreaks, it was the most perfect timing to find each other, and start our lives together in such a short period of time," says Tricia.
Tricia, the owner of event planning company Tricia Christine Events, already had a vision for their day when Josh popped the question. "I was always 100% sure I wanted the large dream wedding," she says. The couple planned a 230-person event for May 2020 at Goodstone Inn and Restaurant in Middleburg, Virginia, but COVID-19 made it impossible to host such a large group—so, after touching base with their vendors, Tricia and Josh rescheduled for June 27, 2020, and hoped they would be able to accommodate their entire guest list then. "I was watching what the Governor of Virginia would say every Tuesday, and then going back to my fiancé and crying, knowing we weren't going to host the 'dream' wedding," says Tricia. "I began planning for a wedding for 100, then 50, then 25, then 10."
A little more than three weeks before their new date, Tricia and Josh agreed to move forward with a June 27 ceremony no matter how many guests were allowed to attend. "It became too stressful with too many opinions about people hosting weddings in a pandemic," says Tricia. At that time, local regulations allowed 25 guests, which—luckily—just covered the couple's immediate family. "Once we decided on the smaller wedding it took such a huge weight off our chest and then were able to get excited for our day," she says. "Although it was a hard decision to not include all the rest of our loved ones, we know it was the best decision for us as a couple."
Though they originally planned to host a larger wedding when social distancing restrictions are lifted, the joy and love they felt at their smaller event made them rethink that plan. "Now that the day has come and gone, we found that we got everything out of our special, intimate wedding that we wanted—so, we've decided we'll just continue to be happily married!" says Tricia. "We were so focused on the big celebration and making sure all of our friends and family were there, but COVID made us realize our marriage and love for each other is the most important thing to focus on. Maybe one day we'll throw an anniversary party whenever things really calm down!"
An ivy-covered wall at the couple's venue inspired the save-the-date design, which combined Tricia and Josh's engagement photos with laser-cut green detailing.
A subtle floral print on the invitation and envelope liner contrasted with blush-colored card pockets and envelopes. A crest with the couple's last initial—M—adorned the top of the invitation, while delicate floral elements brightened up the RSVP card and a wax seal secured the entire set, designed by Steph B. and Co.
Lovely in Lace
The illusion lace top on Tricia's Pronovias wedding dress caught her attention on the hanger—"Immediately, I knew it was different with the intricate lace," she says—but that didn't stop her from scoping out her other options. "Try, try, try on as many dresses as you can," she says. "The one you fall asleep dreaming about is the one."
A Little Extra Sparkle
Tricia's earrings were a lucky find that she bought even before she found her gown. "I ordered earrings from Amazon when we originally went dress shopping, just so I had some fancy ones to wear, and those turned out to be the ones that looked best with my dress," she says. She paired them with a gold and diamond bracelet Josh had given her as a birthday gift.
Together at Last
Josh and Tricia planned their first look for the venue's poolside terrace. "This was probably my most memorable moment of the day," says Tricia. "I didn't realize how impactful that moment was going to be and how intimate of a time it really is. It was such a sweet time with just us getting to share a second before our celebration."
Before joining Josh for their first look, Tricia added a tulle BHLDN overskirt to her gown. "When I asked [Josh] what kind of dress he envisioned me in, he said a princess dress—so I got the tulle skirt for our first look and first dance so he could see me in two looks," she says. Her cascading bouquet from Petals and Hedges included blush and ivory roses, anemone, peonies, tulips, astilbe, and ranunculus.
Clear and Present
An acrylic sign reading "Love Is Patient" greeted guests upon entry; it was draped with delicate mauve fabric and accented with lush floral arrangements. A table nearby offered frosé popsicles for guests to enjoy before the festivities began.
At the entrance to the ceremony space, guests were welcomed by a guest book puzzle, large white urns, flowers, and votive candles—but the couple kept the ceremony space itself simple. "I didn't need to do much, since the ivy wall speaks for itself," says Tricia. "But we covered the turquoise awning with greenery, hung tulips underneath the awning, and added flowers to each side."
Up in the Air
Under the awning that framed the couple during the service, pale pink tulips suspended upside down created an unexpected focal point.
Tricia's father walked her down the aisle to meet Josh at the altar—a sentimental moment that followed their equally memorable father-daughter first look. "My dad came to pick me up to take me to my first look [with Josh]," says Tricia. "The excitement on his face to see his only girl—out of five kids, with four brothers—all dolled up on her wedding day, was such a special moment to share."
With This Ring
A friend of the couple officiated their ceremony, which included prayers, Bible readings, and vows Tricia and Josh wrote themselves. More than 75 friends and family watched the couple exchange their promises via Zoom. "A lot of guests spoke up that they couldn't hear us and the WiFi connection was bad," laughs Tricia, "and they had to tell other people on the call to stop talking!"
After saying "I do," Josh's best man set off confetti cannons for the newlyweds. "His hands were so sweaty because he was nervous, he didn't want to mess it up, and it was 95 degrees out," says Tricia. "Walking through the confetti cannon snowfall after being pronounced husband and wife was such a magical moment. I didn't realize those six cannons would produce all that confetti!"
The couple's signature drinks—a skinny strawberry margarita and an old-fashioned—mimicked their usual night-out order, while small bites at the cocktail hour, including crab cakes and chicken and waffles, were served individually to prevent guests from sharing dishes.
Although Tricia and Josh found cutting their guest list stressful and disappointing, two special last-minute RSVPs lifted the mood. "Two of my four brothers are currently serving in the U.S. Army," says Tricia. A military travel ban meant the family had prepared to celebrate without them. "We found out 24 hours in advance that both were given special exemptions to leave and attend the wedding. This is all I needed to realize having my immediate family there just made the day complete."
One and Done
The single farm table that sat the entire guest list was a sharp contrast to Tricia's first plan. "I originally envisioned a large tent with all the drapery swag, hanging florals, and bistro lighting, with a band and dance floor," says Tricia, "but I had to pivot to a new idea once I realized this would no longer be a reality." The intimate table under the venue's poolside greenery terrace didn't feel like a second choice in the end, though. "The woven ivy throughout the covered wooden terrace area spoke for itself and I didn't need any hanging florals," says Tricia. "That space is just as magical, if not better than my original idea!"
The couple alternated two place setting pairings—a beaded silver charger with a floral dinner plate, and matching white scalloped chargers with dinner plates—topped with knotted blush napkins and scrolled place cards.
Vintage silverware and cut crystal stemware at each place setting added a lavish complement to the gathered mauve runners. Modest centerpieces varied along the length of the table, showing off pristine anemone, tulips, peonies, and roses in shades of pink, white, and blush.
Acrylic table numbers included pressed flowers that backed scripted text, while taper candles and hurricanes with pillar candles added a warm glow.
A Dream Come True
For Tricia and Josh, one of the most difficult parts of planning a smaller event was giving up a reception full of dancing. "We both love live music, [but] we let the band idea go because we weren't sure how dancing would have been perceived," says Tricia. Instead, they asked guitarist Shane Gamble to play their first dance song, Matt Stell's "I Prayed for You," during the cocktail hour. "I've always prayed for my husband and he fell into my life at the most perfect time—when I was not looking," says Tricia. "So the song was perfect for us."
Dancing with Dad
Tricia and her father also put together a few custom steps for their time together on the unofficial dance floor. "My dad and I had scheduled dance practices where we would each bring a new dance move to practice," she says. "Choreographing a silly father-daughter dance and learning each other's moves was such a fun time."
Iced in White
A textured three-tier cake from Sweets by E. offered guests their choice of flavors, including red velvet, vanilla with chocolate, and carrot cake. "The bottom had white ruffles, the middle had a geometric criss-cross design, and the top had small little polka dots," says Tricia.
Photography, Liz Fogarty Photography
Venue and Catering, Goodstone Inn and Restaurant
Event Planning, Tricia Christine Events
Flowers, Petals and Hedges
Videography, Josh Gooden Cinema
Stationery, Steph B. and Co.
Cake, Sweets by E.
Music, Shane Gamble
Rentals, Barnes Farm Tables; BBJ Linen; La Tavola Fine Linen Rental; White Glove Rentals
Bride's Gown, Pronovias
Bride's Accessories, Pronovias veil; Badgley Mischka shoes
Hair, JKW Beauty
Makeup, Makeup by Shirin
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Bella Bridesmaids
Groom's attire and Menswear, Jos. A. Bank
Confetti Cannons, Superior Celebrations
Day-of Paper Goods, Leah Letters
Guest Book, Leelanau Woodworking
Rings, Anschar Diamonds
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