Ready to do a double-take? You just might after seeing Monica and Jesse’s backyard DIY wedding! Despite all intentions of having a large celebration, the COVID-19 pandemic came knocking. That’s when Monica and Jesse, along with their close friends and families, all put their creative minds and crafty hands together to pull off the sweetest outdoor celebration! Pops of burgundy, blush pink, ivory, and gold were scattered throughout a family friend’s backyard. The sweetest homespun touches included a ceremony arch built by Jesse’s dad, a homemade, 3-tiered cake designed by the bride and her maid of honor, and signage, table numbers, and place cards all designed by the groom himself. It was a do-it-yourself kind of day that was done SO right and that blended with pieces from All Occasions Party Rental flawlessly. The special touches and unique details were all captured by Jeannine Bonadio Photography. We think you’re gonna love it!
About the Couple
Monica and Jesse met in their college theater club at Penn State University. Monica was on the casting side of a production and Jesse was auditioning. For Monica, watching Jesse audition was love at first sight! She openly admits that she was hilariously obsessed with him before he even knew she existed. She eagerly asked mutual friends about him, and when word got around to Jesse that he was being crushed on, he reached out and they started talking. Their big personalities and mutual love of the arts were a perfect match for each other.
On a vacation to California, Jesse and Monica were staying with a friend in Huntington Beach. Jesse told Monica that the two of them would be taking a day trip to Laguna Beach. They had an incredible lunch at a beach cafe, which was followed by a romantic walk along the shoreline. The engagement story takes a hilarious (and convenient) turn when Monica *really* had to use the restroom, but wasn’t sure where to go since they were walking along the beach in a mostly residential area. Jesse found a nearby hotel on Google maps, and they rushed there so that Monica could use the restroom. When they arrived, they approached the concierge desk and Jesse walked right up. Monica was expecting him to ask if she could use the restroom, but her jaw dropped when Jesse told the concierge that they were “checking in for Monica Mazel”. She was STUNNED. The concierge led the way through the boutique hotel and they arrived at a deluxe suite with an ocean view. A bottle of champagne was waiting inside, as well as Monica’s luggage. It turns out that their friend from Huntington Beach was in on Jesse’s surprise plan and drove the suitcase down. Monica was so overwhelmed with emotion and tears were flooding her eyes because she knew what was to come. Jesse led her back to the beach as the sun was setting. He took her by the hands, expressed his love for her, and then went down on one knee to pop the question. It was an overwhelming, tear-filled YES from Monica.
About the Wedding
Monica and Jesse postponed their 200+ person reception due to COVID, but they still wanted to have a small wedding on their original date. To save money on an additional wedding event, and due to Monica’s love of crafting, the wedding was very much filled with DIYs. Jesse’s dad built the wooden ceremony arch, and Monica and Jesse used faux flowers from Ling’s Moment, faux greenery from Amazon, and chicken wire to create the arch floral structures. The faux flowers were also used for the table centerpieces and other decor. Monica and her maid of honor, who both love to bake, spent several days making a 9-layer, 3-tier cake. Jesse is a graphic designer and designed all of the signage, table numbers, and place cards, and Monica used her Cricut crafting machine to bring the designs to life.
Family friends of the couple were kind enough to offer their stunning, enclosed, green-filled backyard in Squirrel Hill as the wedding location. Due to COVID, the guest list was limited to immediate family and the wedding party. ables were spread far apart throughout the backyard and were divided among household family members to allow for social distancing. Red, heart-shaped stickers were provided for those who wanted to maintain extra COVID precautious and only remain in close contact with those that they share a household with. This was a symbolic way for cautious guests to express their love with the symbolic heart, and was a signal to other guests in attendance to respect their safety wishes and to give them space.
The ceremony was casual, entertaining, and joyous. Thanks to their years in college theater, Monica and Jesse became close friends with talented vocalists. The ceremony was essentially a backyard concert; three members of their wedding party each performed a love song! They also asked each member of their wedding party, as well as their parents, to individually describe their love in one sentence. The wedding party put it together prior to the day, and it was read during the ceremony, with Monica and Jesse hearing it for the first time in that moment. Some friends/family described their love in a romantic way, some in a comedic way. It was a perfect embodiment of their relationship.
With the bride, groom, and closest family and friends having their hands in nearly every element of the micro-wedding (design, decor, carpentry, setup, performance, dessert), it made the event endlessly special knowing that love was put into every single detail.