It Was All Hands on Deck at This Backyard Micro Wedding in Midlothian, Virginia
Hillary Carr and Joseph Anderson met in 2009 when Joey, a musician, joined a band with several of Hillary's high school friends in Richmond, Virginia. "We always found being in each other's presence so effortless and natural, but we were always just friends," says Hillary, who was living in Colorado at the time. In 2016, she moved back to Richmond. "We started hanging out again in spring of 2017, making dinners together, going to concerts, and soon realized we were spending all of our time together every day," she says. "Just like before, it was just so easy to be with one another." After about two years of dating, they made it official: "Joey popped the question in our living room after getting home from walking our Australian Shepherd around our neighborhood," says Hillary. "It was super casual and very much us."
Hillary, a floral designer, and Joey planned to host 120 guests for their wedding on October 10, 2020, but with "the unknowns of COVID," she says, "so much of our guest list would have been traveling from out of state, so it just felt unrealistic as time went on." Four months before their nuptials, they decided to host an intimate ceremony with their immediate family on August 1, 2020, under a mulberry tree at Hillary's parents' home. "I had always dreamt of getting married under their tree and since our guest list was cut down by 100 people, we were able to do so!" says Hillary.
The couple called on many of their industry friends and family to personalize their celebration: Joey's bandmates provided the music; a designer friend of Hillary's created the floral aesthetic; Hillary's mother, who owns a wedding venue and home boutique helped design the tablescapes; a photographer friend snapped portraits and Polaroids; a pal who owns a bakery whipped up the cakes. "Our team was incredible, and it felt so sweet that they were all our friends," says Hillary. "It just really fell into place so effortlessly in two months, it was such a communal effort and we couldn't have imagined it any other way."
After exchanging vows under the floral-wrapped mulberry tree and escaping a sudden downpour during dinner, Hillary and Joey spent the rest of the evening relishing the chance to watch their families bond. "Sometimes downsizing can allow you to have more fun with the planning process and really let yourselves as a couple shine through the day," says Hillary. "Our day ended up absolutely perfect and we really wouldn't change a thing."
Mother Knows Best
During a wedding-dress shopping trip to BHLDN, Hillary let her mother choose an "ethereal" off-white gown with a plunging neckline and back and airy split sleeves. "She picked out the dress and it was my least favorite of all I had reserved to try on—I would have never picked it," says Hillary. "But once I put it on, I fell in love. It felt like I was wearing pajamas but it also made me feel like a Grecian goddess."
All That Glitters Is Gold
She added mustard-yellow wedge heels, a brass floral comb from Mignonne Handmade, and amber-colored drop earrings. "Strangers at the bridal shop were commenting, 'That's the one,'" Hillary recalls. "It was a pretty quick trip celebrated with gelato afterwards."
Tears of Joy
Hillary asked Amanda Burnette Floral Design to create the days' arrangements. "I had a small part in planning the florals but also wanted her to have creative freedom," she says. "As a florist, I understand the importance of being trusted to bring a vision to life." Her bouquet of garden roses, picotee ranunculus, zinnias, scabiosa, honeysuckle vine, smokebush, phlox, and other local plants exceeded her expectations. "I cried so many tears of joy when she handed off my bouquet," says Hillary; luckily, she had prepared with another key accessory. "I carried around a handkerchief that my Nana gifted me because I'm a crier," says Hillary. "It was so sweet and was my something borrowed."
Groom in Tan
The groom wore a tan linen suit for the occasion.
The established mulberry tree in the bride's parents' backyard served as an anchor and backdrop for the ceremony. "We wanted to keep our intimate celebration outdoors so that we could still be safe, even with our small guest list," says Hillary. "We also just love the canopy of the mulberry branches, so it felt very seasonal and cozy." Antique church pew benches and wooden folding chairs were safely distanced; the couple stood on a natural-fiber mat to exchange vows.
The couple's floral designer incorporated the tree's lowest sections into the ceremony design, wrapping a curved branch with flowers that coordinated with the aisle markers, altar arrangements, and reception pieces. "It was important to me to go hard on the florals, so she created a stunning ceremony installation that wove through the mulberry tree and designed beautiful centerpieces," says Hillary.
Hillary and Joey saved their first look for the ceremony, but Hillary and her father set aside time for their own official first look before he walked her down the aisle. "I'm his only daughter, so it was such a sweet moment before he walked me down the aisle," says Hillary. "My photographer took multiple Polaroids throughout our day and the one she took of my Dad and I during that moment is my favorite of them all."
The pair treasure their decision to see each other for the first time during the ceremony. "Joey had no idea what my dress looked like and we decided against a first look," she says. "Seeing each other as I walked down the aisle was a favorite part for both of us. From that moment through reading our handwritten vows to each other in front of our immediate families was so special and intimate."
In Their Own Words
One of the couple's friends officiated the customized service, which included readings from each set of parents and vows the duo wrote themselves. "[He] kept everything very short, but Joey and I were able to read our vows to one another in front of our family which was very intimate and so special," says Hillary. "We both cried throughout our vows and to this day, it's the most I've ever seen Joey cry." The musicians—two of Joey's bandmates from his jazz band, Sweet Potatoes—played the couple's song, "What a Difference a Day Makes," as the newlyweds kissed.
So Happy Together
The newlyweds used the moments after their ceremony to take in the joy of their intimate big day. "I strongly believe that downsizing doesn't mean it can't be beautiful," says Hillary. "For us, downsizing made us focus even more on the details—we put so much heart and intention into it and made every detail so memorable."
Hillary's gold engagement ring from Emily Warden Designs complemented the heirloom gold bands the couple exchanged during their ceremony. "They were the first wedding bands my parents had," says Hillary. "They gifted them to me and Joey."
One of Hillary and Joey's top big-day priorities was capturing the moments in photographs. "I love taking film and Polaroid photos so we set out cameras on our dessert and guest book table," says Hillary. "We are super laid-back people so we just wanted it to feel casual and intimate. Our dog was there to chill with us all night as well."
A single long wooden table offered space for all the guests to sit together at dinner. Hillary and her mother, owner of boutique home store Gather, designed the tablescape, leaving the details of the "sprawling floral centerpieces" to the florist. "My florist friend and I dubbed the color palette 'moody nudey,'" says Hillary. "Complex neutrals with seasonal pops of yellows, corals, and greenery. It was important to me to utilize local flowers from our Virginia flower farmer friends, which she did, and she absolutely knocked the florals out of the park."
Bistro chairs surrounded the table, lending a casual, café vibe to the space.
Mixed and Matched
Hillary and her mother incorporated family heirlooms, items from the store, and antiques into the place settings, all backed by light fabrics and textures. "My mom and I had so much fun just focusing on making the few details we had so beautiful. Focusing on 20 place settings really just allowed us to have fun with it all," says Hillary. "We had white linens, neutral linen napkins, textured white ceramic plates from Park Hill, heirloom gold rimmed glasses from my Nana, antique salt cellars, fresh peaches as a fun pop of color, and place cards from another friend vendor."
Catered to Them
The couple also called on a friend from one of their favorite restaurants, Saison, to design their dinner menu. "Joey's buddy is a local chef, so we asked them if they'd cater, which is not something they typically do, but they made an exception," says Hillary. "The food they make is absolutely phenomenal so we trusted them to make a seasonal, customized menu. They came out to my parent's home the day of the wedding, prepared a beautiful summer meal right in the kitchen and catered the event." The menu included chicken wings rubbed with charred pineapple and smoked jalapeño, blistered shishito peppers, tomato salad, lemon-sumac grilled chicken, lamb tenderloin, and monkfish with coconut-tomato curry.
Rain and Shine
As the couple and their guests began eating, the weather turned: "It started pouring rain," says Hillary. "Everyone hustled to the covered front porch, grabbing chairs, and benches, and we enjoyed dinner as we watched a summer thunderstorm roll through. It passed quickly and we were able to dry everything off, light our candles, and enjoy cake and the rest of the night under the mulberry tree."
Lighting the Candles
The groom and a few guests lit the artisanal candles after the storm cleared and the sun went down.
The bride's mom gathered up the vintage salt cellars after the storm; Hillary and Joey's celebration was an all-hands-on-deck affair!
After the rain soaked her wedding dress, Hillary changed into a dry frock—a white linen short-sleeved shift—before the couple cut their two cakes from Fat Rabbit. "My friend specializes in beautiful, simple cake designs packed with flavor," says Hillary. "We had two separate cakes, with no tiers, and they were simple and white." Flavor combinations included almond cake with almond buttercream frosting and vanilla cake with blood orange curd and almond buttercream frosting.
A Night to Remember
The smaller guest list allowed Hillary and Joey to create an unforgettably evening that bonded their two families. "We wanted the night to feel like an intimate dinner under the mulberry tree. We strung bistro lights under the canopy of the branches and just enjoyed our immediate families together over our amazing food," says Hillary. "We both have two older brothers and it was the first time they had all met. It was so special to have such an intimate guest list and really have sincere conversations with one another. We just hung out for hours after dinner and cake, listening to a playlist my brothers made and allowing everyone to organically get to know each other."
Photography, Peyton Curry
Wedding Planning, Sabrina Allison Design
Flowers, Amanda Burnette Floral Design
Calligraphy, Our Curated Design
Cake, Fat Rabbit
Music, Sweet Potatoes
Rentals, The Floral Society; Gather
Bride's Gown, BHLDN
Bride's Accessories, Lucky Brand shoes; Mignonne Handmade haircomb
Hair, Ken Langston, JAK Salon
Groom's Suit, Murano
Engagement Ring, Emily Warden Designs
Favors, Sydney Hale Co.
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