Real Weddings: Stephanie and Daniel’s Arizona Backyard Wedding

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!

Arizona backyard wedding


Stephanie, 37 & Daniel, 52

Scottsdale, AZ

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.


Arizona backyard wedding

ruffled wedding gown

off the shoulder wedding gown

pink rose boutonniere

pink rose boutonniere


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.

Arizona backyard wedding

wedding program

pink and white rose bouquet

rose petal decor

Arizona backyard wedding


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.

wedding rose petals

wedding violinist

Arizona backyard wedding recpetion

rose bouquet

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.

Arizona backyard wedding

diamond wedding band

Arizona backyard wedding ceremony


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.

rose petal covered aisle

Arizona backyard wedding

Arizona backyard wedding ceremony

Arizona backyard wedding ceremony

unity candles

Unity candle ceremony

Arizona backyard wedding

Arizona backyard wedding ceremony

Arizona backyard wedding


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.

Arizona backyard wedding

Arizona backyard wedding

rose centerpiece

rose topped wedding cake

Arizona backyard wedding reception

Arizona backyard wedding

Arizona backyard wedding



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.

Arizona backyard wedding

Arizona backyard wedding

Arizona backyard wedding


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.

bridal corset

Arizona backyard wedding

Motorcycle wedding getaway

Motorcycle wedding getaway



 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



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2 Comments  |  Filed Under: At-Home Weddings, Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Real Weddings

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  1. Posted by ama on February 2nd, 2014 at 2:35pm

    I love the decor for the reception. Beautiful!
  2. Posted by Jackie on April 3rd, 2014 at 12:58pm

    I have always wanted a small, intimate wedding and seeing this one in detail has nailed down my choice. I think that this is the ideal way of joining families and taking the event to truly bond with everyone. I have been to so many weddings where the bride and groom are too busy or there are too many people to enjoy with them. I love that everyone is sitting together and can talk without yelling over loud music. Very beautiful and perfect!
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