On This Couple's Big Day, a Floral Arch Transformed Their Ohio Backyard Into an English Garden
College sweethearts Marina Rosales and Evan Pannell dated for three years before Evan proposed on a West Coast vacation in 2018. "During a road trip from San Diego to San Francisco, we were taking the 5 highway and had pulled over for a quick break when Evan popped the question," says Marina. "It was just the two of us, and it was perfect."
After buying a house in Akron, Ohio, that same week, the couple anticipated a long engagement, but had a few details set from the start: After working in the wedding industry for nearly a decade, Marina had several vendors on her must-hire list and a dream location—a friend's home overlooking the Pacific Ocean—confirmed for July 11, 2020, in Del Mar, California. "We originally planned for an intimate backyard wedding with about 80 of our closest family and friends," says the couple. But as COVID-19 restrictions began to make it impossible for out-of-town guests to travel, Marina and Evan quickly reimagined their day. They decided to keep their original date but host a small celebration for 30 guests in their own Ohio backyard instead, rescheduling their larger event for July 2021. "Letting go of the original vision for our wedding that we planned for two-and-a-half years was very hard. It was also especially difficult for Marina because she would not be able to have her family and friends by her side," says the groom. "But we absolutely love our home and loved the idea of creating something small and intimate there."
With the help of their florist, the couple turned a quiet corner of their backyard into a ceremony spot marked by a trailing floral arch. They ordered two kinds of barbecue—traditional and vegan—from local restaurants, and added thoughtful, personal touches to customize their day. "We love spending time together with our friends and family and always love hosting at our home so we treated our wedding like any other get-together," says the couple. "We provided the space and our family and friends filled it with love. It doesn't take much to please us! We just love to keep life simple and make the most out of any situation."
Marina decided to save the wedding dress she'd already purchased for the couple's future ceremony—"Since my mom was not going to be at my wedding, I did not want to wear my original dress without her," she says—so she ordered a long-sleeved boatneck dress made of Italian lace with a tulle skirt, grosgrain ribbon belt, and embroidered flowers from Rime Arodaky. "It was perfect for our intimate wedding," she says. "I loved the unique lace on the sleeves and that it still felt very bridal, even though it was a short dress."
Asymmetric bows on the bride's Jimmy Choo heels helped Marina put her best foot forward. "I also wore my great-grandma's gold opal ring on my right hand—that was very special to me, as she is no longer with us," says Marina.
Old Slate Farm provided an "elegant, garden-style bouquet filled with gorgeous and fragrant summer flowers," including roses, scabiosa, and flouncy cosmos. A mauve silk ribbon coordinated with the couple's vow books and other décor details.
Dressed to Impress
Evan wore a favorite blue suit and gray tie, adding a boutonnière that matched Marina's bouquet before the couple's first look. "As a commercial realtor, Evan always has nice suits, so it was not hard for him to choose one he already owned," says Marina. He kept his final choice a secret from his bride until the wedding day, but she "trusted his great taste," she says.
So Happy Together
The couple met for their first look at nearby Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, where stone buildings and secluded gardens offered beautiful backdrops for their portraits. "We had not seen each other since the night before," says the duo. "We were so happy that our day was finally here."
During their first look, Marina and Evan read each other vows they had personalized. "We loved reading our vows in private together, where we could truly be present with one another," they say.
When they decided to move their ceremony to their home, Marina and Evan knew how they wanted their event to feel. "Our vision was intimate and simple," they say. "Our backyard is not very big, so it was not hard to make it feel cozy and intimate. We worked with our florist to design a beautiful arch for our ceremony which would be the focal point of the wedding. The arch was filled with roses, foxglove, delphinium, nicotiana, and whimsical texture that gave the design a natural, interesting feel."
In Their Own Words
Personalized vow books included the couple's names, wedding date, and a custom crest—a paper memento the couple cherishes. "Since the wedding was planned so quickly, we decided to not have invitations and wait until next year to send out a formal invite," they share. "We did want to have something with our date on it, so we had Ciarra Claire design vow books, which we will always cherish."
Though Marina encouraged her family and friends in San Diego to avoid traveling for safety reasons, her brother surprised her by arriving to escort her to the altar.
Ready to Wed
Evan waited with minister Sharnise Sears as Marina and her brother walked down the aisle to "Is This Love" by Corrinne Bailey Rae.
Saying "I Do"
The couple held hands as they exchanged vows during their religious ceremony. The backyard's brick patio and understated landscaping allowed the trailing florals on either side of the arch to accent the space.
One of the couple's favorite moments of the day occurred when the minister surprised them with a group prayer during the ceremony. "We were surrounded by our very close family and friends, and even Marina's family and friends were praying through Zoom," says the couple. "At the end when everyone said 'Amen,' Marina's nana shouted 'Amen!' through the computer and everyone broke out into laughter, which was so sweet."
A Virtual Hello
The couple checked in with their virtual guests, too, to thank them for tuning in.
A Little Bit of Heaven
Instead of a DJ or band, the couple played their favorite songs through their phones, including Johnnyswim's "Touching Heaven" for their first dance. "We really connected to the words of the song and knew it reflected who we are together," says the couple. "Our favorite part from the song is, 'If touching love is touching God/No wonder I'm in heaven when I'm holding you.'"
Marina and Evan sliced into a small funfetti cake from Tiffany's Bakery; the confection was iced with white frosting and featured gold foil detailing and garden roses.
Hand-painted mauve and metallic cake bites from Jenni Pops came in three flavors—red velvet, funfetti, and chocolate espresso.
Love Is All You Need
Despite the last-minute rush to re-plan their wedding, Marina and Evan stayed calm and focused on the big picture. "The easiest part was knowing that we had each other at the end of the day and that was all that truly mattered," says the couple. "We were so thankful to still celebrate our love with our close family and friends and they truly made our day so perfect. Your wedding day is about the two of you. Don't get overwhelmed by all those little details and enjoy the celebration with your partner, family, and friends."
Photography and Videography, Jenny Haas
Catering, Old Carolina; Squash the Beef
Flowers, Old Slate Farm
Officiant, Minister Sharnise Sears
Cake, Tiffany's Bakery
Bride's Gown, Rime Arodaky
Bride's Accessories, Bony Levy earrings; Jimmy Choo shoes
Makeup, M. Kleinman Artistry
Cake Pops, Jenni Pops
Vow Books, Ciarra Claire
Wedding Bands, Spiegal & Son