After Canceling Their Big Wedding, This Couple Tied the Knot in Their Wedding Planner's Backyard in California

bride on wooden swing held up by ropes and floral accents kissing groom standing behind
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey and Jake met through mutual friends in September 2015—five years later, in February 2020, Jake was down on one knee. He decided to pop the question on a ski trip in Utah, surprising Kelsey with a path of rose petals and lit candles placed throughout their cabin. Although they originally planned for a big wedding in June, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in their timeline.

After pushing their wedding date back a month, hoping that they would be able to celebrate with every person on their guest list, it soon became clear that they would not be able to have the wedding they had initially envisioned. "It took a long time for me to accept it, but I just had to tell myself that the most important thing about all of this is that we wanted to be married and that the most important people in our lives were there," the bride says.

With help from their planner, Heather Balliet of Amorology, the couple spent five months preparing for a completely different backyard wedding with just their closest family and friends. The hardest part of the planning process was making big decisions with so many unknowns about the pandemic—this was especially challenging when choosing a venue. Luckily, Heather saved the day: She kindly offered her own backyard for their celebration. Most importantly, Kelsey and Jake wanted to give their 30 guests a memorable experience while doing everything they could to keep them safe. The result? An outdoor summer wedding, complete with a lilac, blush, bone, tan, mauve, and curry green color palette, that, first and foremost, prioritized social distancing.

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On-Palette Invitations

pink and green themed wedding invites
Jessica Mangia

The invitations—created by Epoch Design—spoke to the overarching color scheme of the couple's backyard wedding. A bone-hued letterpress invitation was filled with lilac script, while a blush ceremony card was lettered in tan; a green RSVP envelope offered a pop of color. The envelope liner included an illustration of two intertwined hands. "It was the perfect unique touch and everyone complimented it!" Kelsey shares.

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The Only Dress

bride wearing wedding dress looking in bathroom mirror
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey went to four stores on the search for her dream wedding dress. After trying on garment after garment, she was blown away by a simple, but modern Leanne Marshall gown with a V-neckline and long sleeves. "I hated every dress I tried on after it!" she explains.

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Simple Accessories

white strappy wedding heels
Jessica Mangia

The bride wanted her gown to be the focal point of her look, so she kept her accessories simple. She wore a diamond necklace and earrings from Nordstrom, strappy sandals from BHLDN, and an elegant veil from Alta Moda.

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Colorful Bouquet

bride holding blush and purple toned floral bouquet
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey held a large bridal bouquet from Posey Pop; the arrangement included cream, lilac, blush, and peach floral varietals with some greenery for texture.

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Dapper Groom

groom smiling wearing traditional black and white tux with bowtie
Jessica Mangia

Jake donned a black suit from Nordstrom paired with a crisp white dress shirt and a black bow tie from The Tie Bar. Bruno Magli dress shoes finished his look.

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Pastel Ladies

bride standing with 12 bridesmaids in various colored flowy dresses
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey's bridesmaids wore different dresses sourced from Show Me Your Mumu, ASOS, and Lulus; all of the garments fit into the event's color scheme.

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The Men

groom standing with six groomsmen outside
Jessica Mangia

Jake's half of the wedding party kept it classic with black dress pants, white dress shirts, and sleek accessories from the The Tie Bar.

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The First Look

couple during first look
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey and Jake shared their first look at a nearby olive tree grove a few hours before the ceremony began. "I was so excited to see Kelsey in her wedding dress. It had been about two days since I had seen her, and hearing her voice while my back was turned filled me with butterflies," Jake says.

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Safe Ceremony Setup

small wedding outdoor ceremony set up
Jessica Mangia

In order to keep guests safe, lilac velvet chairs and white cross-back chairs were spaced accordingly on either side of the aisle.

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Biggest Fan

purple tufted wedding chairs with gold legs and fan on the seats
Jessica Mangia

Upon their arrival, each guest found a rattan fan on their chair; they used them to keep cool during both the service and reception.

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Tonal Backdrop

various pink toned wedding ceremony backdrop
Jessica Mangia

The couple worked with Backup Backdrops to create an ombré structure, designed around sunset hues, for the altar. The suspended piece was then adorned with a garland of baby's breath—and anchored with a colorful ground arrangement—for a romantic touch.

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On the Aisle

large floral accents on ceremony aisle
Jessica Mangia

Loose arrangements, which appeared to have grown out of the earth, lined the aisle, punctuating the space between each row. They matched the day's palette and featured organic stems in a variety of heights.

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On Dad's Arm

bride walking down processional aisle holding her fathers arm
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey's father, Chris, walked her down the aisle while an instrumental version of Hozier's "Cherry Wine" filled the space.

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Finally Married

bride smiles at groom during wedding ceremony outside
Jessica Mangia

Jake's father also played a key role during the service: The couple exchanged vows in a religious ceremony that he officiated (he is a leader in their church).

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Soda Hour

white cocktail bar outside
Jessica Mangia

During the mocktail hour, the newlyweds served Italian sodas in lieu of alcohol. They switched up the passed appetizer process, too: Light bites were plated and brought to each guest, personally, to limit contact as much as possible. A cactus plant served as the backdrop to the bar.

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Lounging Around

pink and green wedding lounge outdoor seating area
Jessica Mangia

Multiple furniture vignettes—including chairs, cushions, and couches in blush, ivory, and green—were set up throughout the backyard, so guests could safely lounge from a distance.

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Warming Up

fire pit seating area outside behind wedding ceremony space
Jessica Mangia

A fire pit was arranged underneath bistro lighting—guests warmed up around the fire and mingled as the evening went on.

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The Escort Display

green checkered backdrop behind assorted cakes table
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey and Jake always say, "If you'll have me" whenever they invite themselves to something—it's an inside joke they've had for years. They decided to incorporate the phrase, using thin gold lettering, onto the green gingham backdrop in front of their cake and escort card table.

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Chocolate Lovers

wedding reception chocolate bar escort cards
Jessica Mangia

Chocolate bars, which were calligraphed with each guest's name, directed Kelsey and Jake's nearest and dearest to their assigned seats.

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Gated Community

white gated reception area with guests sitting under string lights
Jessica Mangia

The reception was held directly behind the house. Guests entered the space through a gate, dressed up with two floral nosegays.

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Backyard Dining

long wooden tables outdoors with white chairs and overhead string lights
Jessica Mangia

For dinner, long farm tables were placed throughout the yard; they were surrounded with the same lilac velvet chairs and modern white chairs from the ceremony. Bistro lights was strung overhead, creating a romantic vibe as the sun set.

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On the Table

pink and green decor covered reception table tops
Jessica Mangia

Tables were topped with mauve table runners, lime green taper candles in marble holders, and lush centerpieces with blush-and-ivory florals.

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Textured Settings

pink and green themed reception place settings
Jessica Mangia

Every place was set with a rattan charger, a white dinner plate, a gray floral salad plate, gold flatware, and a lilac linen napkin, looped with a gold holder. Green glasses and ceramic tumblers punched things up; blush votives held tea candles.

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Let's Eat!

groom extends his arm around bride while they sit during reception dinner
Jessica Mangia

The duo served a three-course meal that began with appetizers like ahi poke wonton crisps, peach and burrata bruschetta, and chips with guacamole. The salad was, according to Kelsey, the best one she had ever had; it included seasonal fruit, goat cheese, candied nuts, and a vinaigrette dressing. Guests had their choice of a chicken, steak, or vegetarian entrée.

Sharing a meal with their loved ones, even from a distance, is one of Kelsey and Jake's favorite memories from their big day. "Looking out at the sunset and sipping Italian soda after we had finished the ceremony was incredible and a moment we will carry with us forever," Kelsey says.

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Loving Spoons

groom twirls smiling bride during first dance
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey and Jake took their first married spin to "Loving Spoons" by Tim Hill. "Jake showed me this song when we were first dating and we always think of each other when we listen to it," says the bride.

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Dessert Time

groom hold cake piece for bride during cake cutting
Jessica Mangia

Hey There Cupcake baked the couple a series of cakes, which ranged in size. The one they cut into featured vanilla layers with cream cheese frosting and strawberries, along with chocolate tiers with whipped ganache and dark chocolate pieces.

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A Sparkling Exit

bride and groom hold hands smiling under guests with sparklers
Jessica Mangia

Kelsey and Jake exited their celebration—running straight into married life—under a tunnel of sparklers. "A lot of people do this, but it was such a fun and memorable way to leave the best party of our lives," the bride shares.

For couples currently planning their nuptials during the pandemic, Kelsey and Jake have some advice. "There will be a time when you can have a big celebration, but if you love each other and want to get married, I say do it. With all your favorite people by your side, it will still be the best day!" Kelsey says. The couple plans to have a larger reception sometime soon, complete with the guests they couldn't include this time around.

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bride and groom smile holding hands during recessional walk
Jessica Mangia

Photography, Jessica Mangia
Venue, Chez Balliet
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Heather Balliet of Amorology Weddings
Videography, Rachel Draper
Flowers, Posey Pop
Invitations and Paper Products, Epoch Design
Bride's Gown and Veil, Leanne Marshall via Alta Moda
Bride's Accessories, Nordstrom; BHLDN
Hair and Makeup, Danielle Ryan
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Show Me Your Mumu; ASOS; Lulus
Groom's Attire, Nordstrom; The Tie Bar; Bruno Magli
Groomsmen's Attire, The Tie Bar
Catering, Harvest Kitchen
Cake, Hey There Cupcake
Music, Extreme DJ Service
Rentals, Folklore; Catalog Atelier; Hostess Haven; Backup Backdrops
Favors, Mast Chocolate
Transportation, Preferred Valet Parking
Lighting, Bright Rentals
Bathrooms, Diamond Rentals

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