DIY Picnic Wedding in Providence, Rhode Island | Jen & Jesse

I always say that if I’d gotten married during warmer months, I would have had a picnic wedding – they’re just so perfectly laid back and charming! Promise, once you see Jen and Jesse’s wedding you’ll start dreaming of a picnic celebration, too.


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The Ceremony

“Our marriage counselors helped a lot with outlining our ceremony and deciding what and who to include,” says Jen. “Jesse and I then spent hours writing the actual script of the ceremony including our own custom vows and declarations. We were inspired by the wedding ceremonies of family members and friends as well as the values and ideas we learned from the Bible through our counseling. It was important to us to have a simple ceremony: one that conveyed the seriousness of the promise being made, while still being filled with joy.”


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Your ceremony in three words.  Relaxed. Thoughtful. Personal.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony?  Jesse and I picked two readings from the Bible that represented our values when it comes to marriage. Our favorite part of the ceremony was having our moms do those readings. For a moment, it allowed us to relax and focus on something other than ourselves.

Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  We finished the ceremony with a unity tree planting. We planted a tree together with soil from the home I grew up in and water from the house Jesse grew up in.

Anything else?  Jesse’s brother played acoustic guitar for the ceremony music. // The backdrop to the wedding ceremony was magical. It was set inside of an ivy-covered cedar grove that was made even more green by the brief rain that fell just before the ceremony.


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The Reception

“As Jesse and I arrived at the Eliot Hotel in Boston on our wedding night, we could not think of a single thing we would change about the day. And a month later we still feel the same way. As we planned our tiny wedding over the span of nine months, we knew we wanted to stray away from a lot of wedding traditions that people seem to do simply because tradition compels them. We didn’t have a giant wedding party, dancing, a DJ, or a bar. Instead we modeled our wedding after our first date: a picnic with sandwiches, cheeses, fruit salad, lawn games, and chatting on a blanket for hours. We really did not discuss any other options when it came to the theme of our wedding; it was such an obvious decision for us. ”


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Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  From the time we got engaged, we had planned on having our wedding at Jesse’s family home. But 6 weeks before the wedding those plans fell through and we had to scramble to find a new venue. We were blessed to have Jesse’s family friends offer their beautiful property to us. We were able to pick up our wedding plans and move them to the King’s Cottage with almost no changes. Jesse and I always pictured having a backyard wedding and the King’s Cottage gave us just that: the backyard of all backyards. The result was even better than we’d planned.

Tell us about your reception!  We invited our 60 guests to be adventurous and picnic with us. We all sat on blankets or picnic tables while munching on sandwiches from our favorite bakery, Flour. Afterwards we broke open a piñata and played lawn games together – Jesse and I have always enjoyed playing lawn games at events in the past, so we asked a few friends to bring their favorite games with them, like croquet, bocce, and kubb. The soundtrack of the day was a giant playlist created by Jesse and me with a lot of our favorite artists like Iron & Wine, Matt Pond PA, Fleet Foxes, and Elijah Wyman. For our guest book we set out an iPad and asked everyone the take videos of themselves for us, the end result was amazing and hilarious. As it got cooler later in the day, everyone was able to sit by the fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, ending our wedding on a low-key note.

Are there any other special details we should know about?  One of my favorite details from the wedding were the plants; the florals were one thing I knew I wanted to do myself. I planted tons of succulents in pots that my mother and I painted. I made the bouquets myself with flowers from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. // My other favorite detail was the weather — as New Englanders we were so thankful for 60/70 degree weather. There was a light drizzle just before I finished getting ready and it poured as we drove into Boston at the end of the day, but otherwise the weather was absolutely perfect.

Menu:  Sandwiches (Herbed Tuna, Grilled Chicken, Hummus & Veggie) // Chips, Fruit Salad // Watermelon, Earl Grey Cookies, Almond Cake with Vanilla Buttercream


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What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  Our favorite moment was getting to smash the piñata with the rest of our wedding party.

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Some of the best advice that I received from my mom while planning (and feeling stressed) was that we are just planning a party, to celebrate love with people we love, and that no one is coming to our wedding to point out imperfections.

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  I think something that we can’t mention too many times to couples planning a wedding is that it’s okay to take a break from planning. Have a date night where you don’t talk about the wedding. Jesse and I also recommend pre-marital counseling to any couple planning to get married. For us counseling brought us closer together and allowed us to talk about difficult topics in the right environment.

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Use your skills and the skills and generosity of your family and friends. Some examples: Jesse’s brother played acoustic guitar for our ceremony music; our venue is the home of a family friend; our marriage counselor coordinated our reception; I did all of the florals and decorations myself; and Jesse did all of the music preparation and vendor coordinating. We felt that we should only pay for things that we couldn’t do ourselves or with the help of family and friends. Jesse and I spent countless hours designing, making and setting up everything, but it all came together with the help and support of our friends and family — I could write a novel about all of the people who helped with absolutely everything.


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Vendor Credits

Photography: Firm Anchor / Venue: private residence in Providence, Rhode Island / Bride's Dress: Beatriz, J.Crew / Shoes: Latigo via Anthropologie / Cuff: Alkemie / Earrings: Fossil / Headpiece: Whichgoose / Groom's Suit: Proper Suit / Shirt: Proper Cloth / Shoes: Allen Edmonds / Calligraphy: Cindy Pendergast / Rentals: Sunshine Tent Rentals / Catering: Flour Bakery / Cake: Cake Monstah / Hair: Maddie Harkins, The Beauty Lounge at Magnolia


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