Colorful Backyard Wedding
June 4, 2014
WhimsicalBackyardSummer Weddings
Whimsical weddings are a beautiful thing, especially when combined with vibrant colors and a gorgeous backyard setting.  The team at Flour And Flower Designs went above and beyond with one stellar detail after another (think baskets of florals and yummy cookies) and every last magical moment was captured by Ashlee Raubach Photography.  You know what that means?  One seriously stunning gallery.  Join me there for more.
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From Flour and Flower Designs... This was no regular reception for blue-eyed bride Natalie and her groom PJ. From the very beginning of their engagement we knew this would be no ordinary wedding. It was more like a barn-raising than a wedding reception, as loved ones and family came together and celebrated these two and their commitment to love and each other. There couldn't be more detail packed into their perfect day. Everything the bride chose for her reception had special meaning and value attached. From the generations-old family recipes pinned on the chicken wire frames to the hand-embroidered tea towels by the honey favors, every aspect that caught the eye reminded their guests why they were there -- to celebrate PJ and Natalie, love and family.

The whole day was captured by Ashlee Raubach -- one of our absolute favorite photographers. She is one of those talents that not only takes phenomenal pictures but has a gift in bringing out the personality of her subjects. There was no exception for PJ and Natalie's shoot. There couldn't be a better representation of the couple than her photos of PJ and Natalie walking in the bare foothills of Southern California: Natalie holding eggs (she raises chickens), PJ holding her pale pink dress up as they walked so it didn’t get dusty, and the two stopping mid-shoot (while assistants held reflectors and family members trudged along with props and extra clothes) to admire the small caterpillar that they found along their trail. It is just so perfectly them, captured perfectly by Ashlee.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Natalie and PJ married in the Newport Beach Temple and the reception was held in Natalie's parents' backyard in nearby San Clemente. There just was no other place that reflected the couple better. A ballroom dripping in crystals is not who they are. They are all about one another, who they are together and how grateful they are for everyone who loves and supports them along their way. That is what Natalie wanted to reflect in her reception. We could not get her to pick a theme or even settle on a color scheme (she knew she wanted orange), she simply wanted a feeling. So we went about to create that - feeling.

We discovered that Natalie loves to quilt, and she showed us the smooth worn hand-stiched seams that a pioneer relative had sewn more than a 100 years ago. So we pulled out all the old quilts that her family had collected that represented warmth and enduring commitment. The groom's great aunt graciously let us haul her antique buffet to the site to use as the cake/pie table where we strung his great-great grandmother's wedding napkins that she had brought with her from Holland when she immigrated to Canada. The small octagon honey jar favors we made contained pure Tupelo Honey, which can only be found in NW Florida where PJ served a full-time Mission for the LDS Church. We displayed the 300 mini jars on Natalie's old-fashioned armoire that we moved downstairs and outside into the courtyard for the day.

Natalie wanted everything bright and colorful with an organic earthy feel. She did not want cookie-cutter table toppers that copied one another. We used chocolate brown floor length table covers topped with a truly rustic burlap runner. We created centerpieces from crates of rich produce and flowers. Some guest tables had dark stained wood boxes filled with artichokes and colorful produce and others had worm-wood framing milk and mercury glass containers filled with simple flowers like Circus Roses, Stock and Queen Anne’s Lace. We made sure to represent Natalie and her horticulture background (she is getting her degree in Landscape Management) on the centerpieces with small terracotta pots filled with herbs and (here comes our favorite table detail…) we hand punched small tin plant markers that said "PJ & Nattie."  Too dang cute.

As desserts is one of the things that we do best, we whipped up over 1200 of the couples favorite mini-desserts, including the groom's all-time favorite sumptuous maple cupcakes, mini lavender-vanilla cakes, super-yummy lemon tarts made with the Kate's (the bride's mom) curd that she made fresh the day before. We also made special olliaberry tarts (from Natalie’s favorite place in northern California where the couple honeymooned) and to-die-for chocolate coconut cakes with toasted merengue tips. But, the biggest hit on the dessert table was by far the strawberry shortcakes in a jar with the wooden spoons tied on with colorful baker's twine. We made these especially for the bride's father, Mark, who along with the other 300 guests absolutely LOVED them. (They were the first to go.)

Cookies! We also wanted to make sure the guests were pumped full of sweetness at every turn and who doesn't love homemade cookies? So many people who loved the couple wanted to contribute to their special day and this was the perfect way. Ann Myer, family friend to both the bride and groom made her famous (and for good reason) double chocolate cookies. We made PJ's favorite peanut butter cookies complete with fork crosshatch marks and other favorites like frosted sugar cookie hearts and chocolate chip. The vintage copper tub was so truly vintage that we had to line it with plastic to be sure it wouldn't leak to keep the milk icy cold, but it looked so gorgeous on the cookie table filled with the old-fashioned milk bottles and their guests loved it. We made a bunting from the couples engagement photos and crisscrossed it against the old paned window we found.

Beyond all our professional planning and preparation, months of thrift shopping, collecting and the hundreds of texts and emails (the couple lives in Utah) the most meaningful part of the day was to see all the women who came together and provided the extra love and detail beyond what a hired hand can do. It was truly heart warming, and ultimately defined the whole event, to see those who love the bride and groom make something even more than all it’s amazingly executed details separately. The loving hands that stacked the honey on the shelf, and another friend on her knees (in her dress) arranging the potted flowers under the cookie table so it looked perfect impacted more than just decor. We sat for hours with sisters and friends of the couple who helped us bring our vision for Natalie and PJ together at every level --tucking snippets of rosemary from the garden into the burlap wrapped napkins, fishing stray leaves from the pool before other guests arrived, cleaning up after us as we scurried around creating, they cheerfully set up tables, washed dishes, and so much more.

The whole experience was more than what can even be described. As much as we would like to say it was purely our professional expertise and experience as wedding planners -florist and baker- it is really more than that. It was the families and people who love Natalie and PJ that created that feeling that the bride ultimately wanted when she set out to describe the wedding she wanted all those months ago –and everyone, especially the bride and groom, felt it: Happy!