Just 10 Loved Ones and a Puppy Were All the Guests This Couple Needed at Their Intimate Wedding
In February of 2016, Megan met up with friends at a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, following a Jack Garratt concert; her group was mingling with another, which included Joe. The two instantly hit it off—they chatted about his talent as a drummer and her passion for singing. It was a monumental day, and they both knew it. Now, they return to that same bar—People's Republik—to mark that first encounter each and every year.
On their three-year anniversary, just ahead of that annual trip, Joe rushed Megan out the door, telling her that a car was ready to take them to the bar. But when she stepped outside their home, Megan noticed a trail of rose petals, which led her eye straight towards one of Joe's friends (he was holding a sign that read, "Mr. and Mrs."). She turned around to find Joe down on one knee; "Is That Alright?" from the A Star Is Born soundtrack began playing. Megan enthusiastically accepted Joe's proposal, while her sister hid nearby to capture the moment on camera. The pair did make it to the bar—where they found their families and a few close friends waiting to celebrate with them. "Our cheeks hurt from how full our smiles were all night," Megan remembers.
Shortly after, the couple hired Whim Events to help them plan a garden wedding on the North Shore of Massachusetts, complete with 175 guests and an amazing band (they had even planned to hop on stage for a special performance). "We were finalizing plans for disco balls and dance floor accessories when we learned COVID might be a real concern," Megan says. "We hesitated to make the call initially, thinking, as most people did, that this would fade away within a few months, maximum. And then it didn't!" With some nudging from Megan's dad, the couple postponed their big celebration to the same date in 2021.
As their initial date, September 12, 2020, drew nearer, Megan and Joe realized they wanted to tie the knot sooner rather than later. But with siblings in Texas, Illinois, and Alaska, they weren't sure how to make a wedding in Reading, Massachusetts, work. "Once we mentioned it to our siblings and parents, they asked what took us so long. They'd secretly been hoping we would go forward with a ceremony in 2020—we had no idea!" Megan says. The couple had recently bought a house and welcomed a new puppy (who participated in the eventual soirée!), so they were excited to host a small event in their backyard for 10 members of their immediate families. For a fun twist, their planners at Whim Events asked if they could surprise the duo with every detail—incorporating their design style, of course. The result? A Parisian-style backyard garden celebration with vintage elements and a white, cream, blush, dusty gray, and blue color palette. "We wanted their wedding day to feel like an old song—the kind that transports you to a special place in your heart and mind. One that you love more every single time you hear it," says the Whim Events team.
A Touch of Blue
To invite loved ones to their "minimony," the couple sent their families a simple invitation with a blue floral border from The Paper Source.
When Megan went wedding-dress shopping with her mother and sisters, she couldn't find anything that excited her—until her stylist brought out an ivory off-the-shoulder A-line dress with a sweetheart neckline from Allure Bridal, that is. "Though I was trying my best to be open minded, I was very much expecting to reject it immediately upon zipping it up," Megan says. "It had sequins! It was poofy! But then suddenly, it fit like a glove." It needed some changes, however, for the smaller celebration; Megan removed the train and a few layers of fabric from the skirt to make it easier to move and dance in.
She paired the gown with the "Colette" veil from Toni Federici, which had romantic pearl detailing. "It was my favorite accessory," Megan says, noting that she loved the classic, elegant pearls. "I felt so glamorous!" A new diamond bracelet—a gift from her parents on her wedding day—her mom's tennis bracelet, and white Keds sneakers finished her look.
On a preliminary trip to the flower market in Boston, Megan gravitated towards flowers with feminine ruffles. So, Whim Events had all the intel they needed when they took the lead and surprised her with a natural arrangement of dahlias, garden roses, anemones, and greenery.
The Groom's Look
When Megan and Joe went shopping for the groom's big-day look, the stylist they worked with suggested the "Tom Brady look." "Joe was sold," Megan says. "Nothing else was even an option anymore. This was apparently a similar look to a tuxedo Tom Brady wore to the Met Gala a few years ago—so Joe was going to wear this, no questions asked."
The ensemble featured satin lapels, which worked well with a black bow tie and shiny loafers. Joe also donned a watch that was given to him by Megan's grandfather, who told him there are no "in-laws" in his family—just family. He used a handkerchief from his own grandfather to wipe away tears throughout the day; a simple boutonnière, composed of a blush garden rose, complemented his bride's bouquet.
Something Blue Beauties
Since the pair only had a few members from their immediate families with them on the big day, they asked everyone to wear one color. "They were all my 'something blue!'" Megan says.
A Neighborly Welcome
While driving to their house, Megan and her sisters noticed signs on some of the neighbors' lawns that read, "Congrats Megan and Joe" and "Bride and Groom Ahead." When they got to their home, there was a sign that read, "If you lived here, today would be your wedding," along with balloons and flowers.
"We moved to this neighborhood 10 months earlier, and with COVID consuming most of the year, we hadn't had a chance to meet many of our neighbors," Megan explains. "But that didn't stop the children a few doors down from designing a great poster in magic markers!" Another kind neighbor even reached over her fence to offer Megan her fur stole for her "something borrowed."
The couple decided to share their first look in their backyard, where Joe had spent the day watching their planners transform the space into a breathtaking venue. Megan hadn't seen any of the details, so she was eager to get there. "I was overwhelmed with excitement for that, while also feeling pure joy going up behind Joe to touch him on the shoulder and say hi," Megan says.
Joe agrees. "I couldn't wait to see Megan, and when I finally did, it was magical," he says. "She was absolutely stunning in her dress and seeing her just made all the nerves of the day melt away."
The ceremony took place in a nook of the backyard that was surrounded by trees and slightly downhill from the dining area. The couple's planners sourced a black iron arch that resembled the garden gate at the couple's original venue, and covered it with overflowing greenery, blush dahlias, and roses. Black iron lakko chairs were set up to match.
Prosecco and Petals
Upon arrival, each guest was given a glass of Prosecco and a note-covered cone of petals to toss post-ceremony—a nod to the couple's shared love of music.
Here and Now
Megan initially asked her father to escort her to the altar and threw around some song ideas for their part of the processional. He rejected them all before sending her "Here and Now" by Luther Vandross, and then asked if Megan's mother could also join in. "He wanted to surprise her with the first dance song from their own wedding as they walked me down the aisle—across our backyard—and gave me away," the bride explains. "When she realized what was playing, she started crying and then laughing at herself for already crying."
Soon after they became engaged, Megan and Joe decided they would write their own vows. "We are both romantics who love to write, so it felt appropriate to share our proclamations of love to one another in this formal setting," Megan says, noting that a smaller guest list which preferable because of this. "I cried my eyes out trying to read them!" They also included a hand-fasting service with traditional Catholic blessings from their mothers.
Their grandparents attended the wedding via Zoom. "They couldn't hear very well, and there were some technology challenges, but they were so excited to be part of the day," Megan says.
Their cocktail hour took place on the lawn and terrace, where guests enjoyed grilled oysters, house-made sausages, and an artisanal meat board with assorted accompaniments. The couple served Joe's favorite beer, Lone Star, along with red and white wine, rosé, and Megan's favorite, LaMarca Prosecco, at a self-serve bar. They also created a signature lemonade vodka cocktail called "When 2020 Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade."
Joe hadn't seen the neighbor's signs yet, so he and Megan stepped away from the festivities to take a walk down the street with Champagne. "A few cheered from their doorways for the dressed-to-the-nines couple wandering the street, and we were able to thank the family who orchestrated the whole neighborhood gesture," the bride says, explaining that they kept some of the signs as keepsakes. "It was a part of our day that we will never forget, and something that never could have happened without these crazy circumstances."
The couple's planners set up a cozy lounge area, using an area rug and antique-inspired seating to create some Old-World charm. They made sure the design incorporated details that mimicked vintage wallpaper to suit the bride's taste, using hints of rustic textiles and elements to fit the groom's. The couches ended up being the perfect place for guests to chat and take photos.
The Whim Events team knew from earlier conversations that Megan and Joe wanted to incorporate disco balls into their décor to showcase their love of music. The team used them to accent the terrace, bar, and dining areas, along with greenery and candles. "The disco balls cast a glittery glow on the house when the sun was setting!" Natalie, their lead planner, says.
Two long tables were positioned in front of a sweetheart station, where the newlyweds and their loved ones dined underneath bistro lights. Tables were topped with vintage white lace linens and surrounded by chairs Megan had her eye on from the very beginning. "Saying no to 175 of those chairs was difficult—we got so excited before seeing that price tag. So, when Natalie and the Whim team surprised us with 12 of them for our smaller event, it was just another perfect and thoughtful detail!" the bride says.
Lush centerpiece arrangements, featuring blush dahlias, roses, and anemones, topped each table; dusty gray taper candles in glass votives cast a romantic glow once the sun set.
Table for Two
The newlyweds' personal table stood out thanks to a soft blue runner and trailing floral arrangement.
The Place Settings
Modern elements, like rose quartz velvet napkins, alabaster slate chargers, and fan flatware, defined each setting.
When the couple made the decision to postpone their large event, they were in the process of designing their stationery suite. They had just discovered a beautiful torn-edge invitation, so Whim Events decided to surprise them by using the same cards for their menus—which also incorporated a floral pattern from the original invite's design and each guest's name, written in calligraphy.
The couple went for a seasonal menu, starting with a late summer salad with greens, fruit, harissa roasted nuts, and a buttermilk dressing. Guests enjoyed grilled filet mignon with salsa verde served with greens, grilled peppers, and frites for the main. "It was so special, because the chef cooked completely out of our kitchen and grilled the filet right on our grill in the yard!" Megan shares.
During the meal, Megan's father delivered his speech, and mentioned that he was disappointed that there were loved ones who couldn't be there in person—and promptly informed the couple that they should have received a link in their inboxes that evening. The link contained a video compilation of well wishes and marriage advice from their friends and family all over the world. "We watched the hour-and-a-half-long video the next day. and went through every emotion," Megan says.
The First Dance
Megan and Joe were excited about having The Hudson Project Band play at their large wedding, but knew they couldn't include them in the smaller event. Instead, they created a playlist of songs for the evening, knowing they wanted their first dance to unfold to "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds. As another surprise, the couple's planners worked with their band to pre-record a performance of the song for this special moment, which they shared on the back terrace. Loved ones lit sparklers around them as they swayed—yet another surprise!
How Sweet It Is
The couple's petite cake from Soul Cake was designed to look like a floral Renaissance painting, but with contemporary colors and a modern shape; the lemon poppy seed confection was layered with cream cheese frosting. Megan's mom bought confetti sticks for guests to throw over the newlyweds as they cut into the dessert. "We stood there with these little biodegradable pieces of paper falling around us like snow," says the bride, "as two blissfully-in-love married people feeling like we were in a happy, perfect snow globe."
Photography, Elizabeth Laduca
Wedding Planning, Event Design, and Flowers, Whim Events
Videography, Stop Go Love
Invitations, Paper Source; Minted; Fete Collection
Officiant, Maureen Cotton
Bride's Gown, Allure Bridal
Bride's Veil, Toni Federici Veils
Bride's Shoes, Keds
Hair and Makeup, KC Bridal Beauty
Groom's Attire, Madeleine's Daughter
First Dance Music, The Hudson Project Band
Catering, Uncommon Feasts
Cake, Soul Cake
Rentals, BBJ; La Tavola; Peak Event Services; Kadeema Rentals
Video Compilation, Tribute
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