If your swanky downtown, 300-person reception has been forced to become a backyard wedding with a few dozen people (thanks COVID), try not to be too heartbroken (much easier said than done, we know). With extra attention to those special details and a focus on your love, your celebration can still be magical. We guarantee it…but just in case you need some extra proof, we’re sharing this outdoor party planned and perfected by none other than Pittsburgh’s own Ashley of Afternoon Espresso. Ashley and her husband Joey recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary and they wanted to mark the milestone with a soiree fit for the occasion. Needless to say, COVID had other plans and the couple – along with an all-star cast of talented Pittsburgh wedding vendors including Olive & Rose Events, Windswept Entertainment & Event Rentals, ILLUME Lighting + Event Design, Oh Joyful Day, and Tasty Bakery – had to adapt, pivot, and find new ways to create an Instagram-worthy event. Mission accomplished! The result was a dreamy dinner party for 20 under a canopy of twinkle lights in the couple’s very own backyard at dusk. Various measures were taken to ensure their guests remained safe and healthy, including masks, hand-sanitizing stations, socially distanced seating, and individually plated servings. But even with these very modern efforts that truly are a sign of the times, this anniversary party was romantic, whimsical, and completely memorable. The very spot where Ashley and Joey’s daughter plays suddenly became the locale where sweet memories were made with dear friends and their 10+ years of love were celebrated. These images from Julie of JK Fotohaus will not only inspire you, but remind you of what your special day is really all about.
P.S. Catch me on Instagram chatting live with Ashley on Sunday, February 7 at 7:30 p.m. She’ll be dishing all of the details about this anniversary party and we’ll be sharing our best advice for COVID-era engaged couples!
Tell me about yourselves! How long have you been together and how long have you been married?
Joey and I are both from the same town in West Virginia and have known each other since the 6th grade! We had similar circles of friends and even went to our 8th grade and homecoming dances together. I always had a crush on him, but we never actually dated until college, though. Flash forward to today and we’ve been married 10 years and have a daughter.
What inspired the party’s style and vibe? How did you work with your vendors to bring it to life?
Years ago, I saw this pin on Pinterest with a gorgeous light tunnel. It looked like it was for a casual dinner party, but I never forgot about it. I really wanted that to be the focal point of our dinner. I knew the rest had to be as romantic as it could be. I still wanted to incorporate darker florals for fall with a hint of gold and some wood pieces to balance it all together. Elegant and romantic.
Illume Lighting + Event Design really brought our vision to life with the light tunnel – it was exactly as I dreamed. Windswept Entertainment & Event Rentals and Old Souls Event Rentals provided the furniture and really helped create that romantic, elegant atmosphere.
Why did you want to celebrate your 10th wedding anniversary with a party?
I am a huge believer in celebrating life’s moments, especially our anniversary. It’s interesting because I have learned that a lot of people don’t actually celebrate their anniversary. Life can be hectic and chaotic, but taking the time to celebrate each other is something that has always been important to us. Ten years of marriage is a milestone, so what better way to celebrate than with a party! I had envisioned doing this party for several years, and I’m so happy we did.
How did you adjust to the latest COVID restrictions when planning the event? How did you keep guests safe during it?
Being as COVID-safe as possible was something that was really important to me. It was so important that we considered cancelling the party, but instead we worked with our vendors to come up with a plan to follow COVID restrictions.
- First, we reduced our guest list to 20 guests (including Joey and me).
- We had our party outside.
- Masks were required for anyone who needed to go inside for restroom use.
- Windswept provided us with two extra tables so that we could distance each couple 6 feet apart and still maintain the long farmhouse table look I wanted.
- Masks were provided and available in multiple locations.
- We created two hand sanitizing stations and provided individual sanitizer at each place setting for our guests to use through the night and take home.
- We distanced our cocktail tables and added additional seating areas to allow for social distancing while mingling.
- We really wanted to do the charcuterie display table, so I purchased disposable tongs and hung them on a display so each person would have their own tongs to use.
- We opted for a plated dinner to avoid any contamination at a buffet and additional tong use.
What resources were helpful to you during the planning process?
Honestly, my number one resource through the entire process was Burgh Brides. I found so many articles helpful because it had been 10 years since I actually planned a wedding. Not only have things changed, but I had forgotten things as well One of the articles I used was A Guide to Tipping Your Vendors. I also LOVE the Inspiration page where you can filter the pictures by style and color of whatever detail you are looking for.
I also utilized my Pinterest – it’s always a go-to for any inspiration I need.
What advice would you give to couples who are planning a small, backyard wedding or celebration?
I definitely recommend being flexible and to be kind. It has been such a difficult year for everyone. There is so much uncertainty right now dealing with this pandemic that it’s important to just be flexible. If that’s not your personality (that’s okay!), I would recommend postponing your wedding until after the pandemic has calmed down. Things have constantly changed, and I think it’s important to be prepared for that.
Secondly, be kind to everyone. This is such a stressful time and I know from friends who are in the industry how hard they have worked this past year to make sure they are supporting their customers in the best way they know how.
What was your wedding like? Looking back, is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
Our wedding was in October 2010 and we went for all the fall vibes. The colors were ivory and gold with a touch of brown. We incorporated a few whimsical touches by adding feathers into the bouquets and some animal print on our cake. Our venue was The Historic Jordan Springs, which dated back to the 1500’s. Our ceremony was held outside and the reception was inside. My favorite part was my wedding gown. We splurged on the Monique Lhuillier Sunday Rose and it will forever be my favorite!
Looking back, I certainly would have changed a few things. After all, it was 10 years ago and my style has changed. I always joke that it was right before Pinterest really became popular – so I’ve always told Joey that I needed a do-over. Honestly, it truly was a beautiful wedding and day, despite not having Pinterest for inspo!
What was your favorite moment of the night?
The whole night was my favorite. I truly can’t pick a moment. It was such a difficult year given the pandemic, and it was a night that we needed. Our friends have not stopped talking about the party and neither can we. We laughed, we cried, we air hugged. Our anniversary party made me as happy as our wedding day did.
Head to Afternoon Espresso for Ashley’s full recap on this 10th anniversary celebration in Pittsburgh!