This Backyard Wedding in Texas Was Predicted—Decades Ago—by the Bride's Father

wedding couple portrait kissing in backyard
Charla Storey

Peyton Evans and Joe Lang only dated for two years before he proposed in Aspen, Colorado, in 2019, but their relationship goes back much further. "We met in our third grade class back in 2001," says Peyton. "We went to the same elementary school, middle school, and high school, we dated for a brief moment in eighth grade, [and] we were really close friends all through high school." They went to different colleges but returned to their hometown of Dallas after graduation, picking up where they left off as friends, until they officially began dating in August 2017.

Joe's proposal in Aspen was a perfect fit for Peyton, who had always envisioned getting married there; the couple began planning their wedding for fall 2020. "Everything shut down due to the pandemic in March 2020 and we thought that our plans would be unaffected, as COVID would definitely be a thing of the past in the fall—think again!" says Peyton. "Aspen was out of the question for our September wedding, but we knew that we still wanted our celebration to be there the following year. We also knew that we did not want to wait an entire year to get married—we had already waited 10 months and that was long enough! So we decided to have our intimate ceremony in our backyard and save the larger event for next year."

The couple kept their original date—September 26, 2020—and invited 20 friends and family members to an intimate service and dinner, followed by a gathering that included other loved ones (but stayed within the parameters of social distancing guidelines). Peyton's vision for the backyard nuptials included many choices made while thinking of her mother, who passed away when she was 13 years old. "I had her in my mind for every decision I made in regards to the planning and décor," says Peyton, including a color palette based on her mother's favorite shade, orange; playing her mother's favorite song while Peyton's father walked her down the aisle; and wrapping a piece of her mother's wedding dress around her bouquet.

And though Peyton and Joe look forward to hosting their original guest list at their rescheduled Aspen muptials in 2021, "We were so happy with our decision to get married instead of waiting another year," says Peyton. "While it wasn't what we originally envisioned, our new plan ended up being so much more special. We got to really soak in the magnitude of what we were promising each other that day and what the true meaning of marriage is. The whole day truly reflected Joe and I and we felt like it was just the two of us."

01 of 16

Short Story

bride in short white dress holding orange, yellow and white flowers
Charla Storey

Peyton decided to reserve her already-purchased wedding dress for the larger Aspen wedding, and set out to find something "simple but still beautiful" for her backyard ceremony. One of her friends suggested a Molly Moorkamp shift dress in silk faille with paillette embellishments, which was an unexpected choice: "I immediately knew it was the one," says Peyton. "It was a short dress, which wasn't what I was originally looking for, but it felt like it fit the mold of my small backyard event. I'm also a sucker for a shift dress." Though the company's made-to-order ensembles often require three months' lead time, Peyton was able to get hers within 30 days. "I was so thankful for them," she says. She added short and strappy Stuart Weitzman sandals. "I needed a block heel for the grass and wanted them to be short, since I was trying to go for a more simple backyard look."

02 of 16

Heirloom Moments

portrait of bride and father in backyard wedding
Charla Storey

The bride chose her accessories carefully, incorporating sentimental pieces from the women in her family: She donned her mother's diamond bracelet and engagement ring as well as the veil her stepmother wore to marry Peyton's father. "I had a handkerchief made from parts of my mom's wedding dress," she says. "I monogrammed her initials and my own initials into the handkerchief. The goal is to pass it down to my daughter, and so on."

03 of 16

Wrapped with Love

bride holding pastel orange and pink flowers
Charla Storey

Branching Out Events created Peyton's medium-sized arrangement from a collection of wildflowers and ranunculus in pale white, peach, and yellow tones. "I had cut the sleeve off of my mom's wedding dress," says Peyton, "and the florists wrapped it around my bouquet."

04 of 16

Citrus Splash

oak tree in backyard with pink, orange, and yellow floral decorations
Charla Storey

An existing tree in the couple's backyard created a natural backdrop for the vows; a floral garland in shades of cheerful orange, peach, and pink with rich emerald greenery added color to the space. The aisle between two sets of white garden chairs was lined with lanterns, and Peyton marked the first chair on her side with a vase of sunflowers to honor her mother's memory.

05 of 16

With This Ring

couple laughing during ring exchange at wedding ceremony
Charla Storey

Peyton and Joe saw each other for the first time that day as Peyton's father escorted her down the aisle to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," her mother's favorite song. Tova Sido of Be the Remedies officiated the couple's religious ceremony, incorporating details from questions Peyton and Joe had answered before the wedding day and leading them through traditional vows. "We are both Christian and wanted God to be very present in our ceremony," says Peyton.

06 of 16

Furever Love

Australian shepherd wearing wedding wreath
Charla Storey

After the ceremony, the bride and groom posed with the newest member of their family: Their dog, Millie, whom they had spontaneously adopted two weeks earlier. "It makes my heart so happy that she was a part of our wedding," says Peyton, "and that we have pictures with her from this day."

07 of 16

Cocktails on the Porch

cocktail hour set up on back deck
Charla Storey

Post-nuptials, the group enjoyed snacks and drinks on the deck, which had been set with just a small stations.

08 of 16

On the Menu

person holding white tray of wedding appetizers
Charla Storey

Proper Catering put together small bites for the cocktail hour—including brioche grilled cheese and Italian herb-crusted crab cakes—and followed it up with a dinner of bibb lettuce salad topped with smoked goat cheese truffles and prosciutto; then came the Parmesan chicken Milanese and salmon piccata.

09 of 16

Light the Night

wedding reception table set up on side of house with string lights above
Charla Storey

Peyton's vision for the post-ceremony fête was simple: "Quaint and romantic with lots of orange, lots of string lights, and lots of candles," she says. "Above all, I wanted to feel my mother's presence."

10 of 16

Bright and Bold

long white wedding table with orange and yellow flowers and decorations
Charla Storey

Though Peyton wanted to use orange as the key shade in her palette, she knew picking the right tone would be essential. "I made sure to ask the florists to steer clear from burnt orange since I am a UT graduate," she says. "I didn't want to look like a crazy Texas fan! The coloring they chose was perfect."

11 of 16

Golden Glow

elegant orange and yellow place setting for wedding reception
Charla Storey

On the tables, white linen served as a flawless background for rich velvet napkins, white ceramic plates, crystal stemware, and white-and-gold flatware. Pillar candles on dramatic stands—mixed with tiny votives in textured holders—were placed between the low floral arrangements.

12 of 16

All Together

wedding couple smiling at reception table
Charla Storey

The newlyweds and their guests sat at one long table to create a cozy dinner-party atmosphere during the meal. "As a couple, we are very personable and easygoing," says Peyton. "We also wanted it to be fun and lively while also being calm and intimate. Relationships with our friends and family are so important to us and we wanted to create a welcoming environment for all."

13 of 16

A Sweet Finish

couple kissing with champagne and wedding cake
Charla Storey

After dinner, Peyton and Joe sliced a two-tier white chocolate and raspberry cake with textured buttercream frosting from Panini Bakery.

14 of 16

Fortune Cookie Predictions

slice of cake and fortune cookie on plate at wedding reception
Charla Storey

One of the biggest surprises of the day for Peyton came when she saw that her father had placed a fortune cookie on each plate—a nod to their weekly visit to a favorite restaurant when she was growing up. "After dinner, I would open my fortune cookie and ask my dad to read the fortune inside, since I couldn't read yet. Every single time he would say, 'You will have a small wedding in your own backyard,'" says Peyton.

15 of 16

From Trick to Truth

wedding fortune ribbon and cookie and rings
Charla Storey

It took her years to realize the trick, and though her father reminded her of the fortune often while she and Joe were planning their Aspen wedding, "we never thought it would be our reality," she says. But it wasn't just the secret cookie order that floored her: She had done the same. "I proceeded to bring out a huge dish of cookies that I also ordered," she says. "Both of our jaws dropped as we died laughing over the situation. I cannot believe a pandemic caused my dad's fortune cookie joke to come true, but I will forever be thankful for the most special day."

16 of 16


couple portrait with dog at backyard wedding ceremony
Charla Storey

Photography, Charla Storey
Event Planning, Kirstin Rose
Catering, Proper Catering
Flowers, Branching Out Events
Officiant, Tova Sido
Stationery, Ellis Hill
Calligraphy, Catherine Cartie Calligraphy (invitations); Jill Henderson
Cake, Panini Bakery
Music, Shayne Green; Absolute Entertainment
Rentals, BBJ Linen; Posh Couture Rentals
Bride's gown, Molly Moorkamp
Bride's accessories, Stuart Weitzman shoes; Lele Sadoughi jewelry
Hair and Makeup, Maitee Miles
Lighting, Beyond Lighting
Rings, Melinda Wheeler

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