Everything about this New York backyard wedding, from the Bride’s pretty flower crown to the mouthwatering tower of donuts, is such a delight! It’s a laidback affair with lawn games, DIY centerpieces and string lights, yet stays chic with accents inspired by the Italian coast. Daniel Cruz captures all the wonderful details in the full gallery right here.
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From Daniel Cruz… Filled with the love of all their family and friends, it truly was a wonderful night, and this couple is absolutely adorable and such kind humans. Their day was complete with a surprise live performance from the groom himself, set up lawn games for family and friends, and the setting of the most gorgeous New York backyard in a neighborhood built in the 1940s for WWII veterans! For portraits, I took the Bride and Groom to the historic Wantagh Train Museum and post office, which was perfect for such an adorable couple like Jacqui and Rob.
From the beautiful Bride… He’s a musician, and I’m a teacher. We met in college and were friends for 10 years before we started dating long distance. After 6 months, I moved to Portland, Oregon to be with him, and 2 years later we were engaged. We moved back to NYC a month before the wedding (which was crazy!) to be closer to our families.
We wanted a very laid back, non-structured day where our friends and families could relax and mingle. I used Pinterest for inspiration and tried to save money wherever I could. Instead of flowers, we had wood planks, lemons, and herbs potted by my sister on the table. We made the arbor with plant hooks and old lace curtains. I ordered the cocktail hour antipasto from an Italian deli; a family friend cut us a deal on the barbecue; and instead of a wedding cake, we had a tower of donuts, pie, and Junior’s mini cheesecake.
Our inspiration for the day was a trip we took to Tuscany and Sorrento in Italy. The wine we ordered was from the small medieval town of San Gimignano (only $10 a bottle!). The lemons and herbs on the table brought in the sights and smells of the Amalfi coast. The laid back feel of the Italian coast was reinforced by the strings of lights and the natural green setting of my aunt’s backyard.
The most special part of the wedding was that everyone came together to help us create a casual yet beautiful setting.
My husband would have been happy to elope, since he is not a fan of anything traditional or ceremonial. However, it was his idea to write our own vows- and when he read his to me, he cried! Everyone was moved- he’s usually a pretty stoic guy.
One of my absolute favorite parts was when Rob serenaded me with our first dance song, and even had his brother and friends set up instruments and accompany him. It was a total surprise! Rob says his favorite moment was the look on my face when he surprised me with singing.
Our ceremony was performed by our friend Tony and included a poem read by my sister and a Carl Sagan reading by his brother. We aren’t religious, so the ceremony was focused on the theme of friendship, togetherness, and the wonder of finding love in the midst of an immense universe.
Instead of bridesmaids or groomsmen standing up with us, we had friends and family play other important roles in our day, like taking video and helping us get ready. I had my sisters, cousin and friends pick their own dresses in shades of yellow, gold, blush, and silver, and I didn’t even see their choices until the day of.
Fellow brides, you will think that having a low budget wedding means less planning. It doesn’t. An expensive wedding and a backyard wedding both still mean the same number of decisions: music, decor, invites, food, tent, rentals, down to the dessert utensils. So be ready to spend some energy and time, and stay organized! I used an excel spreadsheet for everyone’s address, response, gift, and to keep track of thank-yous sent, as well as a separate online list of vendors, budget, actual money spent, and payment dates.
Be budget-conscious, but one splurge that’s worth it is your photographer. Your pictures will last forever, and when you spend money on looking great, you want the pictures to show it. I couldn’t be happier with my photos—they are so “us” and really show who we are as a couple.”
Photography: Daniel Cruz | Wedding Dress: Elizabeth Dye | Bride's Shoes: Miss L-Fire | Catering: Ace Caterers | DJ: Crowd Control Entertainment | Groom's Attire: Collier Clothier of Portland, OR | Venue: Private Residence | Cake & Dessert: Sugar Mountain Catering | Wedding Ring: Catbird