Our Backyard Wedding

We got engaged in November of 2008 over two cokes and a slice of cake atop the Hancock Tower in our third most beloved city (right behind Estes Park and Wichita, natch) Chicago.

From then on we tried endlessly to find a place to get married that met all three of our criteria.
1. Cheap
2. One-of-a-kind
3. Cheap

It was looking pretty hopeless.
Conan spied what is now our house on his way to lunch one day. We looked at the house, put an offer in and about a month after that picture up there was taken we were firmly in the throes of home ownership. That took presedence over everything. Including wedding planning. We're not sure exactly when we decided to get married at the house but it was definitely early on as we began painting, cleaning and working on the back yard pretty much immediately after moving in. The first order of business was sodding the yard which was, when we moved in, a big piece of dirt.

This was probably the most expensive aspect of our wedding at about $600

But honestly, if there was one thing worth spending money on, this was it. After all, I would much rather spend the money on a yard we still enjoy to this day than a dress or a cake. Call me crazy.

In the weeks leading up to the big day it was a family affair around our house. Everyone pitched in. Even my niece and nephew helped make these lanterns that we hung around the yard.

And those flags up there? We cut out the diamond shapes with pinking sheers and Katherine's sister and mom stayed up til' 2 am the night before the wedding, securing them to white rope from the hardware store. We strung them from the upstairs sunroom windows to the trees in the backyard on the day of the wedding.

We rented chairs from a local party supplier and set them up in the yard immediately after it stopped raining the day of the wedding. That's right...it rained on our wedding day!

We rented the table cloths from the same local supplier and we borrowed the tables from Katherine's hometown high school cafeteria for free! As for the chair situation, it was a casual affair and we were all down to have a good time so we just asked our guests to take their chair after the ceremony and put it wherever they wanted to sit.

For the centerpieces, we took some books from each of our collections (including several of Conan's mother's books which was a nice touch), stacked them and sat white glass vases we got at the DAV on top of them. Katherine took a piece of rounded green floral foam and put it in each then covered it with dried moss and stuck little flags made from toothpicks and old scrapbook paper in top to mirror the flags hanging overhead. We also got some old frames at the DAV and put pictures of us as children in them.

Being the camera nerd that he is, Conan borrowed a few old Brownie cameras from the store he works at, wound them with film and put them on the tables with directions for how to use them. Way more fun than those cheap, disposable cameras! The guests had a great time with them and some of the pictures were pretty nice!

That's our cute friends Katie and Sabrina holding up our fan programs - also a big hit in the July heat.

For those, we just bought some tongue depressors, a roll of double sided tape and blank greeting cards from Michael's. Katherine drew the flags and fan on the back, we printed them at home and spent an evening assembling them. We parked our bikes on the front porch and put the programs in our bike baskets for people to pick up as they went inside.

As people moved through the house, we had Conan's old typewriter set up for messages for the bride and groom. People loved that and it was so fun to read them later that night.

Outside we had a "Candy Bar" set up with all sorts of vintage candies we bought from different stores around town. We downloaded some cool (free) fonts and made labels which we taped to the containers we bought at the DAV and Goodwill. We just used tables that we had or borrowed from family and put old embroidered tablecloths found at thrift stores over top of them. This was the biggest hit of the day, by far!

We bought some bubble wands for $1 at Wal Mart for the kids to play with. It was beautiful to watch the bubbles float around in the yard.

Conan's dad and Katherine's brother-in-law manned the grills. They cooked up delicious hot dogs, hamburgers and veggie burgers for our guests.

Instead of just one cake (where's the fun in that?) we got a whole smorgasbord from Cheri's Bakery here in Wichita. Our good friend Alexandra also baked up some delish vegan cupcakes which as you can see from the one left in this picture, were a big hit.

I got my dress from Etsy and we got Conan's duds from Target.

We all got dressed upstairs while our guests were arriving. It was a mad house up there! Blow dryers, makeup, hairspray! Luckily, our best, best friend Aaron was there to document the whole thing. Especially amazing moments like that one up there.

It was the most beautiful day ever. Made even more so by our friends and family and our old house. It really stole the show that day. So many "Ooooh I love your house!" comments. We were beaming with pride the whole time.


  1. This was a treasure post to reread.. sorta got all fuzzy and teary, actually. !

  2. Bawwwww. It was the most beautiful day ever. I go back and look at these all of the time.

  3. Nicely done! Wished I could have been there. ;-)


  4. Thanks! My uncle just asked me yesterday how long ago that was, and I can't believe we're already coming up on our fourth anniversary.

  5. Hello! I randomly found your blog and was wondering if you could tell me how many guests you had at your wedding, and what size your yard is? Thanks! :)


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