Haley & Riley | Backyard Summer Wedding At Home

There is something extra special about getting married in the backyard of your childhood home, and though it may not be quite as convenient as tying the knot at a dedicated wedding venue, for this couple it was well worth it…

Simply Jessie | Snippet & Ink

“I was lucky enough to be able to get married at my parents’ house, where I grew up,” says the bride. “I explored other venues, but it’s so special to get married at home and my parents were willing to host the wedding, so we went for it! It is definitely a lot of work to pull off a wedding at home, as we needed to rent everything, from a generator to bathrooms, but our team of vendors worked incredibly hard to make sure the day went smoothly, and my parents were troopers for having 165 people over for dinner!”

“The house has an incredible view of Mt. Tamalpais, and from the very beginning we wanted to incorporate the mountain into our wedding in some way. We knew it would feature prominently the day of, so on our save the dates we decided to use a silhouette of Mt. Tam in the design, and we carried that theme through to the event itself, using the mountain silhouette on our response cards, guests’ itineraries, ceremony programs, etc.”

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“I wasn’t sure that the house would even work for a wedding, and it was hard to find weddings on blogs that were actually home weddings. When I did find one, I would study it endlessly, and it seemed like the trick was to use every possible corner for the wedding. We had our family photos on our front path, because it was the only place free of rentals and catering equipment, and it ended up being beautiful, luckily! Plus, while wedding venues have already figured out where to have the ceremony, where to have the dinner, etc., we had to decide all of these things for our house! I think we changed the ceremony location three times, but in the end the layout we settled on was perfect.”

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From the bride: “In a family video from about 15 years ago, I’m on tape saying, ‘At my wedding, instead of a wedding cake, I’m going to have s’mores!’ So even though we did have a wedding cake, we also had to have s’mores, and they were such a hit! All of our guests crowded around the fire pit to cook their marshmallows, and some of our guests from Europe had never had a s’more before, so I was happy to introduce them to my favorite dessert!”

Simply Jessie | Snippet & Ink


What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  We wanted to have an outdoor wedding that was beautiful, but not over the top. I started calling our style “garden elegant.” Since we were getting married at home and in a garden, we chose to have simple details that complemented the beauty and personality of our location. We served our dinner family style, we had flowers that were all in season and could be found in a garden, and we used some of our outdoor furniture for seating during cocktail hour. We were lucky to have fantastic weather, so we didn’t need a tent, and everyone got to eat outside under the stars, just like the casual, outdoor summer dinners that we would have when I was growing up.

What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  There are too many great moments to pick just one. For our first dance, we decided to do a choreographed dance to “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. Our choreography didn’t start until the first verse of the song though, so during the intro music I think our guests just thought that we were having a first dance to Daft Punk, which was already funny. Then when we broke out into our routine, everyone was surprised and started laughing and clapping. In the second half of the song, our parents and bridal party joined in for a Soul Train line dance, and then we invited all the guests to join in. It was such a fun way to kick off the dancing part of the evening, and people didn’t leave the dance floor until the wedding was over!

Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  Our florist incorporated a handkerchief from my great-great-grandmother’s wedding day into my bouquet, which was incredibly special. My engagement ring is reset from my great-grandmother’s engagement ring, which my grandmother also wore, and I wore my mother’s earrings, so we had many generations of women represented on my wedding day!

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Early on in the planning process, someone told my mom that for her daughter’s wedding they used the mantra, “One Decision a Month,” to space out the wedding planning and not get stressed out with everything at the beginning of the planning process. So after we got engaged, we worked on one decision a month, choosing the caterer, then the florist, then the dress, then the save the dates, then the band, etc. It made everything feel so much more manageable when you’re just starting to plan and not sure what to focus on. Of course, the last couple months are more like one decision a week, or even a day, but at least the beginning of the planning process went smoothly!

What advice do you have for other brides?  I would say that even though you spend endless hours thinking through all the details, it’s important to remember that you are probably the only one who will notice if something is wrong or different than you thought it would be. So it’s best to just trust your vendors, and be happy about how everything turned out, because everyone else will think it was fantastic! I worked on various tasks all the way up through the Wednesday before our wedding, but then starting Thursday I stopped worrying and just had fun.

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  I tried to save money where I could. I chose to do a wedding Tumblr instead of a wedding website. I didn’t love any of the free designs that were available so with the Tumblr, we got to just have a very simple site. It actually ended up being great because we posted a few photos and a video to keep the Tumblr fresh and still provide all of the necessary wedding information. I also decided to go very simple with the welcome gifts, and we just provided itineraries and a small bag of chocolates for our guests. I designed the itinerary myself using our mountain silhouette theme and color palette, and printed them as well. It was a great way to save money and still provide our guests with something to signify that they were arriving at our wedding weekend. Also since they were just printed by hand, we made enough itineraries and chocolate packets to hand out to all of our guests, even the local ones, which I think they appreciated having.

Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day?  Both Riley and I went to Williams College, in Massachusetts, and there is a tradition to take a photo at your wedding with all the guests that are Williams alums in front of a Williams banner. Williams publishes these photos in the Alumni magazine and it’s always fun to see all the Williams banners at weddings around the world. Since my parents and my grandfather also went to Williams, we had three generations of alums in our Williams photo, and guests from my parents’ generation as well as our own. We had 51 alums in the photo, and it was so fun to see every Eph (the Williams mascot) together for one moment during our wedding!

Vendor Credits

Photographer: Simply Jessie Photography / Event Planner: Estera Events / Venue: Private estate in Mill Valley, California / Gown: Monique Lhuillier / Shoes: Jimmy Choo  Suit: Freeman's Sporting Club by Martin Greenfield / Shirt: Barney's New York / Shoes: Alden / Bridesmaid dresses: BHLDN / Stationery: Sarah Drake Designs / Floral Designer: Birch SF / Rentals: La Tavola Linens / Music: Double Funk Crunch, San Francisco Conservatory of Music / Catering: Betty Zlatchin Catering / Cake: Branching Out / Transportation: Soiree Valet & Transportation / Hair, Makeup: Cooper Alley Salon / Calligraphy:  Papineau Calligraphy


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