A Floral-Focused Front Yard Wedding with Just 18 Guests

bride and groom embracing
Brittany Williams

Emily and Dan met while attending the same university in November 2010; they were at a bar, and when Emily saw her friend talking to Dan, she asked him to introduce her. The couple spent the next nine years supporting each other as they started their careers (he's a coffee roaster and she's a wedding florist). On a trip to their favorite city—New York—in December 2019, to celebrate Emily's birthday and see Bon Iver in concert, Dan popped the question with a custom ring in a temporary setting (so that his bride-to-be could participate in the bauble's design).

As soon as the pair became engaged, they hit the ground running. "When we realized that September 19, the date of both my parents' wedding anniversary and Dan's grandparents' wedding anniversary, fell on a Saturday in 2020—and it happened to be a weekend that I was not yet booked for a wedding—we decided to go ahead with that!" Emily says. Their original guest list was around 100, but the pandemic caused them to change their plans and invite just 18 guests on their intimate big day (they're planning on throwing a larger celebration down the road). They had to pivot quickly: Instead of sending formal invites, the couple expedited the process with quick texts, asking family members and close friends if they were available on the date. Then, the bride's sister and brother-in-law offered their property in Fenwick, Ontario, as a potential venue. "We knew it was a place all our guests would feel comfortable and they were so gracious to welcome us having our wedding there," Emily says.

The duo chose a vibrant color palette of pink, cream, and yellow for the décor and took on the planning process themselves. They established several safety precautions on the big day, including seating immediate families together for both the ceremony and the reception. "After our wedding, the thing we heard most from our family and friends was that it gave them something to look forward to," Emily says. "So often, it's the things we look forward to that give us the most joy and we haven't had as many things to get excited about over the last year with COVID-19. I'm happy our wedding acted as an exciting moment for the family and friends who joined us."

01 of 19

Rosebud Bride

bride in floral dress with bouquet
Brittany Williams

Emily never planned on purchasing a traditional wedding dress; she loves color and embellishments too much. With little time to waste, she bought her Needle & Thread gown online, with express shipping. Luckily, it fit perfectly! The garment featured light tulle embellished with sequins, lace trims, and embroidered rose details. "I had always loved Needle & Thread dresses, and when we had decided to have a small backyard wedding, their style felt perfect for the occasion and was still very in line with my original vision," she says.

02 of 19

Cozy Sweater

bride wearing fuzzy pink sweater
Brittany Williams

The bride threw on a vintage pink sweater later in the evening when the temperature dropped. She added gold hoop earrings, which she has had for years, at the last minute. The bride stepped into her florist's shoes on the big day and made her own petite bouquet of mixed dahlias, peach ranunculus, zinnia, and feverfew. "I was able to get two flowers that I love, but don't get to use often from the wonderful local farmers I work with—platinum blonde dahlias from Feeder Flower Farm and some feverfew from Wendalane Farms," she says.

03 of 19

Groom in Gray

groom in blue suit and tan shoes
Brittany Williams

Dan wore a light blue tailored suit with a bow tie and pocket square from Gary Waters.

04 of 19

A Surprise Wedding Party

little flower girl holding floral bouquet
Brittany Williams

Emily and Dan didn't have a formal wedding party, but they did ask their four nieces and three nephews to walk down the aisle ahead of them as flower girls and ring bearers. "The intention was that they would walk to the end of the aisle and sit with their parents, but they missed the memo and ended up standing beside us at the front for the whole ceremony," Emily says. "We loved having our unplanned, adorable mini bridal party!"

05 of 19

Bunny Bouts

boutonniere with pink and purple flowers
Brittany Williams

The bride created boutonnières for their ring bearers, complete with light brown lisianthus and bunny grass.

06 of 19

An Unplanned First Look

bride and groom first look
Brittany Williams

The duo didn't plan on sharing a typical first look; they figured they would simply get ready together and inevitably see each other before the service. But, their photographer, Brittany Williams, set them up for a proper first glimpse on a quiet walkway in front of the house—and they're grateful she did. "We both cried, which was such a surprise!" Emily says. "Up until that moment, it really felt like any other day. We were at my sister's house, which is somewhere that we always hang out and earlier that day, we were just setting things up. I think this was the first moment that we really thought about it being our wedding day."

07 of 19

Landscape-Centric Florals

pink floral wedding arch
Brittany Williams

Emily created a floral archway with limelight hydrangea in varying shades of pink. Her dad pitched in and built some planters, so Emily and her brother-in-law could fill them with potted plants, creating the look of a "planted" bed. "I wanted a dramatic, lush garden look at the back of the aisle and potted shrubs were the best way to achieve the desired scale," she says. "My background is in landscape design, so working with perennials to create in a way that I typically would using cut flowers was a true combination of my two passions."

08 of 19

The Ceremony Music

wedding violinist
Brittany Williams

The bride's father walked her down the aisle while a family friend played "Concerning Hobbits" from Lord of the Rings, Dan's favorite movie, on a violin. "I have always joked that I would walk down the aisle to that song—sure enough, it happened! As much as it started out as a joke, we think it is such a beautiful song and both love it," says Emily.

09 of 19

Traditional Vows

Bride and groom exchanging vows
Brittany Williams

Emily and Dan were married by a reverend during their traditional Anglican ceremony.

10 of 19

Clink!

bride and groom toasting
Brittany Williams

In lieu of a cocktail hour, Emily and Dan decided to host a toast with a Niagara sparkling wine directly after the ceremony. "Living in a wine region, Dan and I love visiting the local wineries and have a long list of our favorites!" Emily says. After the toast, they moved on to a seated dinner.

11 of 19

Seating Cards

customized seating chart
Brittany Williams

With such a small number of guests, Emily and Dan created a seating chart card with table numbers assigned to each family in attendance. Guests grabbed a bottle of wine from a local vineyard to take to their socially-distanced stations.

12 of 19

Floral Clouds

long guest tables with floral centerpieces
Brittany Williams

Their dinner reception took place in the front yard. "The highlight was the location," Emily says. Round tables for two and rectangular tables for four were placed between two 100-plus-year-old trees and beside a pond. The bride created unique floral clouds, composed of baby's breath and hydrangeas, that hung on fishing line between the trees and hovered above the long tables. They were lit with fairy lights after sunset.

13 of 19

Back to Earth

colorful floral centerpieces
Brittany Williams

Each table held a garden-style centerpiece with local dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, feverfew, and lisianthus.

14 of 19

Botanical Numbers

table number with floral accents
Brittany Williams

Emily wanted to highlight her love of flowers throughout the tabletop décor, so she used vintage botanical prints as the table numbers and as thank you cards, which they hand-wrote to each guest.

15 of 19

Simple Settings

Table setting with blue napkins
Brittany Williams

The tables were topped with blush linens; place settings included brass flatware, pale blue linen napkins, and white plates with scalloped edges.

16 of 19

Local Cuisine

bride and groom at dinner
Brittany Williams

It was important to Emily and Dan to offer guests the best of the Niagara region by sourcing local food, wine, and flowers. They chose Yellow Pear to cater the meal; they love their focus on native, seasonal ingredients. "Many of our guests, including ourselves, are vegetarians, and they were great about accommodating all of our dietary needs," the bride says.

17 of 19

Coffee Time

pour over coffee
Brittany Williams

Dan served coffee after dinner. "As a full time coffee roaster, Dan is so passionate about coffee and it was really special for him to do his 'thing' for our family," Emily says. "He's in his element when brewing and talking about coffee. It was a nice few minutes that he got to spend with each guest as he made them their drinks."

18 of 19

Tiny Cakes

mini wedding cakes
Brittany Williams

The duo wanted to serve one small cake at each table, rather than provide one large confection. So, they selected miniature vanilla cakes with vanilla buttercream; the ultra-tiny sweets went to two-tops, while the larger ones fed families of four.

With the pandemic in mind, the couple decided against dancing, but are looking forward to grooving the night away at their larger celebration. To couples that are currently rethinking their wedding plans, Emily has this advice: "Think about what will bring you the most joy throughout the day as a couple and focus on making that aspect of your day everything you would hope for. In the end we especially loved our small wedding because it meant that we were able to chat and spend valuable time with each guest."

19 of 19

Sources

bride and groom
Brittany Williams

Photography, Brittany Williams
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Threads & Blooms
Flowers,
Threads & Blooms
Catering,
The Yellow Pear
Bride's gown,
Needle & Thread
Groom's attire,
Gary Waters
Cake,
Custom Country Cakes
Rentals,
Simply Beautiful Décor

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