The story of Megan and Joe’s minimony is romantic and meaningful, and we are thrilled to see it grace the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings. We are so excited to share it here, too!
After postponing their 180-guest wedding celebration planned for 9.12.20 at Glen Magna Farms, Megan and Joe decided in August that they wanted to have a small ceremony on their original date in the backyard of their new home in Reading, Massachusetts. Already faced with the difficult decision of postponing, we thought they deserved the freedom to focus on what mattered most – their love and marriage. So we asked if they would allow us to completely surprise them with every detail of their minimony, and they enthusiastically agreed.
With just a few weeks to plan, we wanted to ensure they weren’t bogged down by too many details! Because we had been working with them for almost a year to plan their large celebration, we knew the couple well and were so excited to do this for them. Here’s how we pulled it together.
The design of the minimony was a nod to the original celebration we were planning. We blended old-world romance, music, vintage elements, and the Parisian-style gardens at the venue. Plus, the couple, both musicians, Megan, a singer, and Joe, a drummer in a punk-rock band, met and bonded over music. We wanted their wedding day to feel like an old song – the kind that transports you to a special place in your heart and mind – one that you love more every single time you hear it.
We kept the design for the minimony soft and romantic, but brought the drama with old-world Provincial garden touches (and slipped in a few disco balls!) in both the ceremony and reception decor. It felt as if their backyard was made for this small celebration.
We chose the coziest nook in the yard for the ceremony, which was down the hill from the dining area and surrounded by trees. We wanted the space to feel like a private vintage garden, tucked away from the festivities of the night. We procured a black iron arch which perfectly resembled the garden gate at Glen Magna and covered it with overflowing greenery, blush dahlias and roses to create a private and romantic space.
Each guest was given a glass of prosecco upon arrival, and a music-note cone of toss petals to celebrate the newlyweds following the ceremony. Megan and her father surprised her mother by walking down the aisle to her parents first dance song “Here and Now” and their officiant gave a spiritual ceremony including a hand-fasting ceremony that incorporated traditionally Catholic blessings from their mothers.
During our earlier planning, Megan was drawn to soft and cozy vintage seating, vintage china and floral patterns that mimicked wallpaper. Joe liked refined-rustic textiles. And the best part, both musicians knew that disco balls had to be involved somewhere in the day!
We hosted cocktail hour on the lawn and terrace, where Uncommon Feasts served an abundant rustic charcuterie and grilled oysters. We offered a self-serve bar and a lounge from Kadeema Rentals that mixed vintage and rustic elements, which made for a perfect spot for guests to chat and for the couple to take photos. And just days before the wedding, we snagged a few large disco balls so we could accent the terrace and bar space. It was so fun when the disco balls cast a glittery glow on the house when the sun was setting!
As Megan arrived at the house, she noticed signs scattering the yards on their street that read “Congrats Megan and Joe” and “Bride and Groom Ahead.” She pulled up to the house to a sign in the yard that said, “If you lived here, today would be your wedding” with balloons and flowers around the yard.
They had moved to this neighborhood 10 months earlier, and with COVID consuming most of the year, they hadn’t had a chance to meet many of our neighbors. But that didn’t stop the children a few doors down from designing a great poster in magic markers for their new neighbors getting married in their backyard! What a wonderful surprise from their neighborhood.
After cocktail hour, Megan and Joe had their first dance on the terrace, as guests surprised them by lighting sparklers all around them! Prior to the minimony, we had asked their band, the Hudson Project if they could send us a pre-recorded version of their first dance song “the Luckiest” as a surprise for them! Megan and Joe were pleasantly surprised and happy to hear their wedding singer’s voice coming out of the speaker that day! It was so beautiful and added such a special element to the day since the NYC band couldn’t be there.
For dinner, we set two long dining tables and a sweetheart table directly under the bistro lights, already perfectly hung over their lawn. We mixed classic, vintage and modern for the table settings, and we brought in the romance with lush, blush centerpieces filled with dahlias, roses and anemones. We covered the tables in a Lacy Pearl LaTavola linen, and accented with modern elements, including Rose Quartz Velvet napkins and Slate Chargers from BBJ. We finished the tablescape with classic pieces like the fan flatware, Cheerful china and Charlotte glassware from Peak Event Services.
The letterpress menu from Fete Collection sat atop everything and featured a vellum overlay, torn edge paper, a vintage floral pattern and individual place cards. The design was a nod to the original save the date and invitation we had been working on. And of course, we accented with dusty grey taper candles and Megan and Joe’s favorite Louis chairs! The sweetheart table was a bit more distinct – featuring a soft, dusty blue runner and a trailing floral installation.
The menu was seasonal and fresh. Uncommon Feasts started with a late summer salad with greens, late summer fruit, harissa roasted nuts, and buttermilk dressing. The main course was grilled filet mignon with salsa verde served with greens, grilled peppers, and frites. It was so special because the chef cooked completely out of their kitchen and grilled the filet right in the yard!
The cake cutting was also a blast – of confetti! Megan’s mom brought biodegradable confetti poppers, and they set them off just after they cut the cake. It was magical. We served a lemon poppy seed sour cream cake with cream cheese frosting from Soul Cake, which was designed to resemble a renaissance floral painting. And their officiant gifted them with a beautiful cake topper to use too!
Says Megan, “We stood there with these little biodegradable pieces of paper falling around us like snow, as two blissfully-in-love married people and feeling like we were in a happy, perfect snowglobe, and I thought, “we will find this stuff in our grass for years to come.” Sure enough, it’s still out there!”
We asked M&J for some advice to future couples dealing with COVID. Here’s what they had to say:
Says Megan, “If you have to shift, dream big and be creative about how you adjust. COVID be damned. Celebrate each other. Not everyone can have their backyards turned into a magical wedding venue for 12 people, but think about what is important to you because incorporating the little elements that you were originally so excited about can make a huge difference in creating a different day than you ever knew you wanted, but one that can turn into something spectacular you’ll never forget. And once you make your decision, stick with it. It’s going to be an amazing day no matter what.”