Stephanie and Dan had an at-home Arizona wedding with just 22 guests.
“At first we looked at many locations, but we kept coming back to the idea of a backyard wedding. Somehow, it just felt like us — an intimate dinner party surrounded by the people we love. We wanted it to be very, very special. And a small guest list allowed us the flexibility to concentrate on the parts of the day that were most important to us, while making the day feel just as important to our guests,” says Stephanie.
After an intimate, heartfelt ceremony, the couples celebrated with close friends and family in a charming, evening reception.
“Being that the reception occurred after sunset, the candlelit dining tables and walls, and overhead lighting were spectacular. The family-style, tray-passed Italian food was characteristic of an intimate wedding in Tuscany,” says Stephanie.
And they pulled it off for only $8,000.
Thanks to photographer Mike Olbinski for the fab photos!
Stephanie, 37 & Daniel, 52
Wedding Date: May 26,2012
Number of Guests: 22
Wedding Cost: $8,000
Wedding Ceremony Location: Groom’s backyard which is now our home.
Wedding Reception Location: Same
Why did you have an intimate wedding?
We wanted the day to be about the merging of our lives into one. We wanted it to feel as powerful to those around us, as it felt to us.
What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?
Having it in our backyard meant space limitations. And space limitations meant a verbal confirmation from the guests even before the invitations were formally mailed out. The small size of the wedding was also considered when planning the flow of the wedding day schedule and flow of people traffic in and around the space. There were things you don’t think about in the beginning when you open your home up to such an event. We had to thoroughly walk through the activities in our minds, opening up the living space and preparing the home for the event — making accommodations for the big day.
Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?
It was challenging to pare down the guest list because there are so many friends and family who have blessed our lives. But as we refined our goals for the day, the guest list became clear. And as the wedding date approached, we became more excited about spending quality time with our guests and sharing our new family home with them.
Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?
Some friends and family were disappointed we had to limit the attendee list, but once we explained it was being held at our home which limited our space and number or guests, they understood. We are planning a larger reception for all our friends and loved ones in early Fall.
What were the highlights of the ceremony?
Live string instruments playing some of our favorite classic Masters music. A natural archway made of intertwined tree branches. The decor, including plaster columns, flower arrangements, rose petal covered backyard and unique lighting. Our individually written vows to each other. We also included a family-style unity candle lighting with Dan’s children, and signed the covenant marriage license, making known our commitment to each other.
What were the highlights of the reception?
The beautiful toasts by:
Dominic, Dan’s son and Best Man; Ashley, Stephanie’s sister and Maid of Honor; Jim, Stephanie’s father; John, Dan’s brother; Sandra, Stephanie’s best friend.
Being that the reception occurred after sunset, the candlelit dining tables and walls, and overhead lighting were spectacular. The family-style tray-passed Italian food was characteristic of an intimate wedding in Tuscany. After enjoying the tasty home-make cake with real fruit frosting, we all enjoyed dancing under the stars with our family and friends.
What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?
We were hoping the wedding day and reception would meet our expectations for festivities, as well as, intimacy with our family and friends. The evening came together smoothly, delivering everything we had hoped, including the gathering and support of everyone around us. This was an expression of the true family nature of the event and fun fellowship together. By the end of the wedding weekend, our two separate families had become one, sharing true friendship and joy.
What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?
Define clearly in your hearts and minds what is important to you and hold true to these priorities. Establish a budget and stick to it. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with open communication, reasonable expectations and a handy Excel spreadsheet.
Bride’s Dress Alterations: Janet Kirkman
Groom and Groomsmen Tux, Purchase, Rental & Alterations: Men’s Wearhouse
Photographer: Mike Olbinski
Florist: Wendell Design Group Florist
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Cake: Jacque Robertson (mother of the bride)
Caterer: NYPD Pizza
Officiant: Pastor Manny Mello, Cornerstone Church
String Musicians: Sweetwater Strings
Nails: Scottsdale Nails
Invitation Design & Event Branding: Stephanie (Bride) New Shades of Gray