This Couple's Woodsy Wedding Paid Homage to Their Mutual Love of The Beatles

bride and groom embracing
Valorie Darling

Betty Jean and Cory's relationship started the way most pandemic romances do: on a dating app. A week after they matched and began texting, they shared their first date at a sushi restaurant, sitting outside—with plenty of hand sanitizer—to meet COVID-19 restrictions. Shortly thereafter, the couple found themselves quarantining together, along with their four dogs. "Love in lockdown turned out to be such a bright spot in an otherwise trying year," Betty Jean shares. Five months later, on Christmas Eve, Cory proposed with a ring that once belonged to his future wife's grandmother, her namesake.

The duo quickly began planning a wedding for an intimate group of guests, with safety as the priority. They chose to host an outdoor ceremony at the Sunken Garden in Mission Hills, Kansas, followed by a dinner reception that took place across the street, in the driveway of Betty Jean's parents' home. "It was extra special to have this wedding in such a personal setting," the bride says. Their stellar planning trio included Betty Jean's mom at the lead, Ken Sherman of Trapp and Company as the visionary (he wrangled the event design and florals), and Michael Nolte of Nolte's Bridal as the day-of-coordinator. With the help of their dream team, Betty Jean and Cory realized their vision of a woodsy garden wedding with organic elements and a color palette of green, pale lavender, coral, and white. They invited 80 loved ones to celebrate with them, including the pair's oldest rescue dog, Maiko, who served as the bride's maid of honor.

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Custom Stationery

formal wedding invitation suite with gold foil
Valorie Darling

The duo's invitation suite by JoEllen Bax was printed on white cotton paper with gold engraving in a rounded calligraphy style that felt less traditional; the pair wanted to give guest's an indication that their big day would be light and playful. They worked with Tara Jones Calligraphy, who created a custom blackbird monogram for the pink-and-gold envelope liner—a nod to the Beatles songs the their band would play at the reception.

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Searching High and Low

bride in garden wearing embroidered wedding dress
Valorie Darling

Betty Jean has always loved Naeem Khan's wedding dress, and had a particular gown from an old collection in mind for the event; she searched high and low for it, to no avail. Her day-of coordinator, Michael Nolte of Nolte's Bridal, however, has a personal relationship with the designer, and was able to source the exact number Betty Jean had been eyeing. The nontraditional nude-hued ensemble featured green, coral, and white floral embroidery over netting; she customized the dress by cropping the sleeves to a three-quarter length. Not only did Betty Jean track down the gown of her dreams—she also wore a custom veil, also by Naeem Khan, to match.

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Garden Touches

bride's white floral bouquet
Valorie Darling

The bride slipped on her grandmother's diamond bracelet, which her sisters also wore on their wedding days; she added Kenneth Jay Lane earrings for an extra dose of sparkle. Her organic garden bouquet, arranged by Ken Sherman of Trapp and Company, was composed of locally-sourced lilies of the valley and moonstone roses. The white florals were paired with loosely-gathered plumosa fern and eucalyptus and finished with trailing white ribbons.

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Black and Navy

groom in navy suit with boutonniere
Valorie Darling

Cory donned a navy blue Indochino tuxedo for the occasion, complementing his ensemble with black shoes and a silk bow tie from Tie Bar. Black pearl cuff links completed the look.

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Bridesmaids in White

bride with bridesmaids and flower girls
Valorie Darling

Since Betty Jean had decided on a colorful wedding dress, she wanted her bridesmaids to wear white. They went with Zimmermann numbers in different cuts and styles, but wore matching Loeffler Randall gold shoes and statement gold earrings from BHLDN. The flower girls stepped into off-white tiered dresses, also from BHLDN, and comfortable Golden Goose sneakers, a gift from the couple. They matched the bride and wore flower crowns, which were provided by Trapp and Company.

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Pup of Honor

dog of honor with pink bow
Valorie Darling

The role of Betty Jean's maid of honor was filled by one of her four dogs, Maiko. She wore a flower crown, too!

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Some Contrast

groomsmen in doorway
Valorie Darling

Groomsmen wore "simple and elegant" black suits, which stood out against Cory's blue tux.

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Matching Socks

groom with groomsman with funky socks
Valorie Darling

They also slipped on matching blue socks—with dogs on them, of course.

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Over the Bridge

bride and groom first look
Valorie Darling

Betty Jean and Cory took a walk down the street to Kansas City Country Club for their first look. The pair's photographer found a stone bridge on the golf course, which created an intimate setting. "The first look was perfect. It was a moment I will always remember," Betty Jean says. "We had such a blast taking pictures with Valorie Darling. She blended right in and felt like part of the family."

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Magnificent Ceremony Setup

garden wedding ceremony with wooden bench seating
Valorie Darling

Lander's Vision used wood staging to create the altar and aisle. Benches were set up on either side of the walkway; the hillside was embellished with flower beds and potted trees.

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Garden on the Aisle

aisle of flowers at ceremony
Valorie Darling

White-and-lavender florals, including larkspur, snapdragons, hybrid delphinium, floribunda, and Mondial roses, bordered the aisle.

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Asymmetrical Arch

wedding altar with floral archway
Valorie Darling

The focal point of the ceremony space was an asymmetrical arch constructed from organic cherry blossom branches and dotted with lilac, viburnum, double apricot lisianthus, and oriental lilies.

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Here Comes the Bride

bride walking down the aisle with father
Valorie Darling

Betty Jean's father walked her down the aisle as the Brookside String Quartet and singer Hale Wakes performed "Can't Help Falling in Love."

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Family Affair

Bride and groom exchanging vows
Valorie Darling

The bride's brother got ordained to officiate the couple's spiritual service. "He had a special gift of making friends and family feel like they were an integral part of the wedding," Betty Jean shares.

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An Everlasting Love

bride and groom walking down the aisle
Valorie Darling

After they exchanged vows, the pair recessed back up the aisle to their band's rendition of Natalie Cole's "This Will Be (an Everlasting Love)."

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Signature Sips

specialty cocktail with sugar rim
Valorie Darling

A wooden bar was constructed for the cocktail hour and embellished with floral and greenery garlands. The newlyweds served two specialty drinks—"The Urban Bourbon" and the "Blushing Spicy Margarita"—alongside beer, wine, and liqueur.

  • How to Choose a Name for Your Wedding's Signature Cocktail
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Gluten-Free Menu

reception appetizer cups
Valorie Darling

The pair's menu, from start to finish, was entirely gluten-free; guests enjoyed appetizers like shrimp cocktail, onion puffs, vegetarian spring rolls, antipasto charcuterie cones, hummus with crackers and crudites, and root vegetable chips, all prepared by Lon Lane's Inspired Occasions. The food was placed on tiered displays and arranged on barrels. As for the interlude's entertainment? Betty Jean and Cory hired Lonnie McFadden, a renowned Kansas City jazz musician, to serenade the crowd. The newlyweds joined their guests for a while, before taking off with their photographer for portraits.

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Blackbird Pickleball

groomsmen playing pickle ball
Valorie Darling

Cory and Betty Jean ordered custom pickleball paddles from Dink USA; they featured the blackbird motif seen throughout the day.

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Suspended Escort Cards

hanging paper bird escort cards
Valorie Darling

Guests found their seating assignments on tiny blackbird cut-outs, which were attached to red ribbons and suspended from several trees.

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Transformed Driveway

wooden reception tables with flowers and candles
Valorie Darling

The couple wanted an English cottage garden vibe during their reception, which took place in Betty Jean's parents' driveway. Harvest tables were set up underneath a clear tent.

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Colorful Tabletops

whimsical dinner table setting with gold accents
Valorie Darling

Each place setting featured gold accented chargers and china, pale blue patterned napkins, watercolor menus, and stemware in a mix of colors. Centerpieces displayed a collection of spring flowers in shades that nodded to Betty Jean's gown.

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Wine Guide

wedding table seating assignment on glass bottle centerpiece
Valorie Darling

The couple wrote guests' names on old wine bottles to make finding their spots simpler.

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Flower Chandeliers

wedding reception flower chandeliers with string lights
Valorie Darling

Floral installations were hung above the dance floor and head table. They were filled with the day's signature spring blossoms, with the addition of macrophylla sensation harlequin hydrangeas. Small fairy lights were the final touch, and garlands of greenery were strung around the tent poles.

  • 17 Overhead Wedding Decoration Ideas We Love
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Let's Eat!

outdoor wedding reception dinner
Valorie Darling

Dinner began with a creamy roasted asparagus soup and a salad with fresh blackberries, strawberries, roasted walnuts, and goat cheese. The main course, zinfandel braised short ribs and pan seared jumbo sea scallops, was paired with a mix of sides, like a gourmet bread basket, Yukon gold potato and parsnip mash with corn, saffron, and shallots, and oven roasted haricots verts bundles.

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Tribute Band

wedding Beatles cover band
Valorie Darling

Betty Jean and Cory share a mutual love for The Beatles (hence the blackbird motif!), so they hired Liverpool, a cover band, to play at their reception. The performers kept guests entertained while they were seated and safely distanced at dinner. Later on in the evening, Betty Jean and Cory shared their first song to the legendary group's "In My Life." "It's a beautiful, nostalgic song that acknowledges the complicated road that led us to each other," the bride shares. They chose "Blackbird," of course, for their dances with their parents.

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Woodsy Wedding Cake

four-tier wedding cake with flowers on tree stump display
Valorie Darling

Their four-tier vanilla and lemon cake was finished with floral embellishments to speak to the woodsy theme of the day. The confection's wooden stand included moss and was set up on a barrel.

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wedding cake details with fondant dog
Valorie Darling

Sweet Bliss Bakery fashioned the couple's dogs out of fondant and placed them peeking out from under the cake's layers.

The newlyweds spent their honeymoon on a ranch in Montana and say their best wedding-planning advice involves remaining present. "The night flies by, so find time to go off with your partner and just look over everything and everyone and take it all in—just the two of you," Betty Jean says.

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bride and groom on steps in garden
Valorie Darling

Photography, Valorie Darling
First Look Location, Kansas City Country Club
Ceremony Venue, Sunken Garden
Videography, Tye French, Like a Letter
Wedding Planning, Event Design, and Flowers, Ken Sherman, Trapp and Company
Day-of Coordination, Michael Nolte, Nolte's Bridal
Invitations and Paper Products, JoEllen Bax
Calligraphy, Tara Jones Calligraphy
Bride's Gown and Veil, Naeem Khan
Bride's Jewelry, Kenneth Jay Lane
Bride's Shoes, Naturalizer
Hair and Makeup, Hello Lovely and Makeup
Bridesmaids' Attire, Zimmermann; Loeffler Randall; BHLDN
Flower Girls' Attire, BHLDN; Golden Goose
Groom's Attire, Indochino
Ring Bearers' Attire, Vans
Music, Hale Wakes; Brookside String Quartet; Lonnie McFadden; Liverpool
Catering, Lon Lane's Inspired Occasions
Cake, Sweet Bliss Bakery
Rentals, Marquee Event Rentals; Supply Events; Ultra Pom
Favors, Stitch of the Time
Custom Pickleball Paddles, Dink USA
Lighting, Lander's Visions

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