A Massive Flower-Covered Tree Branch Was the Focal Point at This Couple's Classic Backyard Celebration
Annie and Sam first met at a share house in Montauk in 2015, but though they shared a few quick conversations, it wasn't love at first sight. "Then three or four months later, I was riding the subway in New York City during rush hour one morning, and Sam tapped my hand and said hello," says Annie. "I did not recognize him at first, but once he jogged my memory, we started chatting and then exchanged info." Three years later, while dog-sitting for Annie's parents at her childhood home in Pasadena, California, Sam tied a to-do list to one of the pup's collars with one item marked: "Propose to Annie." When Annie saw the list, Sam popped the question immediately. "It was super casual and just the two of us," says Annie.
As Annie and Sam started planning their wedding, one reception venue immediately jumped to the top of their list: The same backyard where they got engaged. "I love my parent's house and knew that I wanted a fall or winter black tie, tented, old-school celebration with the intimacy of a backyard wedding," says Annie. "Both my brother and sister had held their weddings at our home in Pasadena and it seemed like a beautiful tradition." She envisioned a rich, seasonal color palette of hunter green, crisp white, and silver accents for their nuptials on November 16, 2019, and an atmosphere that felt intimate and cozy, despite the 300-person guest list; the team from The Lynden Lane Co. helped them pull it off. "I wanted a classic, timeless wedding of a different era combined with a warm, casual Southern California charm," says Annie.
The couple's invitation suite from Katie O'Brien Design included a hand-sketched map of Pasadena with images of their favorite spots; a watercolor of the bride's family's home on the save-the-date; and an envelope liner that previewed the reception florals. "The floral liners, the font style, the colors, and the paper were all picked carefully and curated into something extremely personal and reflective of our style," says Annie. "Classic and beautiful."
Annie's crepe silk Carolina Herrera wedding dress elicited an instantaneous reaction. "I tried it on and knew immediately," says Annie. "I always wanted something simple, timeless, and elegant without a lot of frills. The front was subtle and elegant and the knot at the back gave it the perfect glam moment without feeling over the top."
Her bridesmaids wore sage-colored strapless floor-length gowns. "It really was a flattering style on everyone and the color was a nod to our green theme," says Annie. The bridesmaids carried bouquets of white roses, while Annie opted for lily of the valley secured with an emerald brooch from her grandmother.
Sam and his groomsmen stuck to the black-tie dress code with the groom in a custom peak lapel tuxedo. His accessories included a Ferragamo pin from Annie, gold cuff links from his father-in-law, and black oxfords.
Kids at Play
Three flower girls wore sweet white Isabel Garreton dresses, while the ring bearer looked adorable in shorts, a dress shirt, and black socks. "The ring bearer kept hitting his head with the ring pillow—luckily the rings weren't on it—and one of the little girls spilled her basket of petals and insisted on picking each one up before she walked down the aisle," says Annie. "It made for a great laugh in an otherwise nervous moment."
Step by Step
After getting ready separately, Annie and Sam met for their first look at Pasadena's city hall on an open-air spiral staircase. The moment inspired a variety of feelings, says Annie: "Nervous, yet excited, followed by sheer happiness once I saw Sam and realized it was really happening."
Through the Archway
Annie and Sam chose to exchange their vows at All Saint's Episcopal Church in Pasadena, which Annie attended throughout her childhood. "I knew I wanted some of the gravitas and ceremony of a traditional church wedding, but without something too formal or stuffy. All Saint's fit the bill," says Annie. At the entrance, guests walked through an archway of smilax, ferns, peonies, roses, and delphiniums arranged by Lark Farnum Design. "We wanted to set a tone of warmth, softness, and magical elegance that would unfold throughout the evening," adds the bride.
At the Altar
Staggered floral arrangements along the aisle included delphinium, roses, and smilax. "The interior of the church is very ornate, so we only wanted small touches of florals to make sure it flowed with the rest of the evening's décor," says Annie. A cellist and pianist played a Bach piece while the bridal party processed in, and switched to Pachelbel's "Canon in D" for the bride's arrival. After Annie's father escorted her to the altar, the couple exchanged traditional vows in a ceremony that included a Catholic homily—then they exited to Mendelssohn's "Wedding March." "It was classic and kind of felt like a real old-school wedding celebration," says Annie.
The New Mr. and Mrs.
As the newlyweds left the church, their friends and family tossed flower petals and cheered. "The energy was just so amazing and we felt so overwhelmed with joy," says Annie.
On the Road
They then climbed into the Cadillac Sam's parents drove on their own wedding day for a very short trip. "It's a classic, awesome vintage car," says Annie, "but the funniest part was the brakes were broken so we could only drive about 50 feet without killing ourselves. We then switched into another car to drive to the reception."
Raising the Bar
Annie and Sam took a few moments to themselves during the cocktail hour, as guests in the yard sipped two specialty cocktails—spicy margaritas and gin and tonics made with kumquats from Annie's parents' yard. "We looked out over the balcony in the front yard and got to see everyone," she says. "It was so fun to see everyone down there and it was nice to make our big entrance in the tent later."
The Lynden Lane Co. arranged custom green paneled bars around the space, which were lit with overhead brass lanterns; outdoor lounge furniture offered plenty of comfortable seating. "The perimeter was lined with wood benches and pillows," says Annie, "and gave a beautiful nod to the parks of New York City."
Inside the tent, green velvet tablecloths coordinated with the green-and-white dance floor, which the couple rotated to create a diamond pattern. Annie and Sam wanted to evoke the atmosphere of a cozy outdoor restaurant, so they draped the tent's sides; a tree branch overhead played host to an oversized floral installation. "We were absolutely blown away by how beautiful it looked," says Annie. "The candlelight, the florals, the tablescapes, the branch! It really felt like a dream."
When Annie and Sam began considering the backyard for their reception, a large tree branch posed an immediate issue: They couldn't figure out how to fit a tent around it. Though Annie's father agreed to cut the branch, the couple decided to work with their vendors to design a party space that could accommodate it—and then incorporated it into the floral design. "I wanted it to feel as though the florals had been growing on the tree for years," says Annie. "I think there were no less than ten on-site meetings about the branch and how we were going to get the tent to fit. They did it! And it was spectacular."
Pewter-colored ceramic vases held low arrangements of gardenias, anemones, sweet peas, roses, hellebores, and ferns, while cut crystal drinkware gleamed in the light of pillar candles in footed hurricanes and tapers on silver candlesticks.
The plates' detailed leaf design added an unexpectedly playful element to the table setting. "We wanted the whole night to feel formal, but like a comfortable restaurant in Italy," says Annie. Hand-stitched custom napkins featured one of six different embroidered flower patterns.
A Perfect Match
A custom watercolor painting of Annie and Sam's two English dachshunds graced the covers of personalized matchbooks, which doubled as favors for their guests.
Annie and Sam asked The Butter End to create a four-tier white cake with two flavors—carrot and coconut—wrapped with hand-dyed silk ribbon in the day's go-to shade of green and accented with fresh gardenia blooms.
Party All the Time
After opening the party with their first dance—to Aretha Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer for You"—the couple's band, from West Coast Music, switched to "Best of My Love." "Everyone flooded the dance floor and broke out into a huge dance party," says Annie. "It was just such an amazing, fun moment and felt like something out of a movie. We've never had that much fun." The dancing continued long past the end of the reception. "The dance floor was never empty and in fact we literally tore up the vinyl flooring by the end of the night," says Annie. "We never wanted the band to end, but when it did, we danced the night away in our after-party pool house with RedShoe; they kept the night going until 3 a.m. It was truly amazing."
Photography, Twah Dougherty
Ceremony Venue, All Saint's Church
Event Planning, The Lynden Lane Co.
Catering, Kensington Caterers
Flowers, Lark Farnum Design
Videography, Elysium Productions
Stationery, Katie O'Brien Design; Pitch Black Printing Co.
Cake, The Butter End
Music, RedShoe (after party); West Coast Music (reception)
Rentals, The Ark; Bright Event Rentals; HCD Portable Dance Floors; La Tavola Fine Linen Rental; Theoni Collection
Bride's Gown, Carolina Herrera
Bride's Accessories, Carolina Herrera veil; Manolo Blahnik shoes
Hair, Sheila Ray Stone
Flower Girl Dresses, Isabel Garreton
Groom's Accessories, Ferragamo pin
Lighting and Draping, Amber Event Production
Engagement Ring, Coquillard Consulting
Favors, The Little Flower
Monogram, Heritage Monograms