A s the seasons change and winter comes upon us, let me share a story that is bound to warm your heart. I am sitting here with a warm brew, a knit blanket and fuzzy cozy socks revelling in the details of this backyard wedding. I came across this wedding on Instagram and instantly felt connected to the couple in the images - and lucky for me, they were wonderful enough to share their love story with us.
Meet our bride and groom: Nadiya has a BFA in Photography and Film. She currently runs Imani Fine Art Photo, a film photography company that focuses on non-traditional weddings and elopements. Evan has a Masters of Public Administration (MPA). He currently works in local government finance and is working towards a career in state politics.
Happiness and relaxed vibes are oozing from these images and I’m sure you’ll agree. Everything about this couple seems organic, natural, relaxed; in describing their relationship, Nadiya said something that really resonated with me:
“The good friend who officiated our wedding described our relationship as seamless. That accurately depicts the way we organically transitioned into being a couple, to living together, to buying a house together, and to getting married. In our relationship everyday events are momentous occasions and momentous occasions are everyday events. ”
To have a love like that, to find a piece of your soul in someone else, so naturally and sincerely – it is breathtaking. And so is the manner in which they chose to celebrate their love. Nadiya and Evan confirmed their commitment to one another in an intimate backyard ceremony, at a beach house in Colonial Beach, Virgina owned by the groom’s parents, under a shady tree, surrounded by their friends and family on the 6th of September 2015.
Nadiya and Evan believe in turning everyday moments into something wonderful. With that in mind, it was truly a priority for them to have a wedding that was truly reflective of their relationship – their synergies.
“It was really important for the focus of the wedding to be as authentic as possible with it being so easy to get lead astray. We are a very low key couple. We did not want this day to be over extravagant or showy. Truth be told we really wanted to elope but in the end we realized our mutual priority of family and shot for a small, intimate, and homey backyard wedding. We wanted it to feel welcoming, inclusive, and happy. We are Tuesday people, that value the everyday and we truly wanted our wedding day to exude that.”
As I was compiling the images for this post, what struck me was that there seemed to be people everywhere helping, mingling and some basking in the glorious warm sun. Family and friends rallied around the bride and groom; from hand built picnic tables to home made food, loved ones generously gave their time and talents to bring Nadiya and Evan’s wedding to life.
“Both of our families were absolutely amazing throughout everything. While spending all our summer weekend at the Bach house building picnic tables, Evans parents helped us out in every way and were so patient with us along the way. Nadiya’a family helped cooked almost all of the food, and helped to support and organize everything as well. Nadiya’s Lola even baked her famous taisan a Filipino desert for everyone as well. Considering how close we are to our families it meant the world to us that they were so involved and so a part of the process of bringing our wedding to life”
Can we take a moment to admire these stunning floral arrangements? They are simply crafted, heavenly full, dreamy and romantic. A floral enthusiast, Nadiya explains her botanic vision:
“I have a propensity for swooning really hard when it comes to flowers. More specifically garden roses. We chose garden roses and ranunculus, in s variety of pink, peachy pink and white. We also both wanted to do a more non-traditional set up by using tons of bud vases to include one or two roses in, and have multiple small arrangement cover the tables. We thrifted several times and collected the different vases from various stores.”
These arrangements turned out beautifully!
Evan and Nadiya worked on various DIY elements for their wedding – most notably their gorgeous multipurpose picnic table and benches!
“We spent several weekends building the picnic tables and benches for the wedding. The detachable benches doubled as seating for the ceremony and dinner. With the help of our family and friends we also did the most of the food, put up the tent, constructed the dance floor, decorated all the tables, and did all the flower arrangements.”
Like most couples, Nadiya and Evan had a vision and plan for their day – but when their day took an unexpected turn, they were happy to go with the flow.
“The reception started before the ceremony with a cocktail hour. We had planned for it to be after but once people started having drinks, we joined in and made the most of greeting our guests. We had not planned what to do after the ceremony, which was evident to us only immediately afterward. So we walk ourselves to the dance floor and had our first dance right away.”
This wasn’t the only little hitch in their big day…
“We forgot Evan’s ring inside the house and forgot to take off Nadiya’s ring before the ceremony. No one notice when we pretended to put his ring on.”
Despite all the little hiccups, the day turned out exactly the way Nadiya and Evan wanted.
Nadiya and Evan’s backyard wedding took place under a tree where little white doilies hung. Nadiya and Evan exchanged private vows on the porch of The Bell House before the wedding ceremony – a private and intimate moment shared before a public commitment in front their loved ones.
“The ceremony was not religious. Our officiant was a good friend and writer that lives near us in Richmond. He’s known us both for a long time and knew us through all the developments in our relationship. He met with us and we discussed our values and relationship and wrote the ceremony based on our meeting.”
So many emotions ooze from the images of Nadiya and Evan’s nuptials. You can feel the joy, the excitement and the sweetness of this moment. Their wedding day was captured so beautifully by their selected photographer, Sarah Mattozzi. As a photographer herself, Nadiya found herself in an unfamiliar place – in front a lens, rather than behind it.
“We both knew we want good portraits that felt real and felt like us. Nadiya, being a film photographer really wanted someone who would shoot tons of film as well. And when it comes to portraits, a good friend I went to art school with came to mind. Her eye for portraits is expressive and unique, we were so exited for her to be our photographer! She was kind enough to document not only our wedding but more importantly the hour right before the ceremony in which Evan and I checked into our B&B off the water and then exchanged wedding vows on the porch, just the two of us.”
Nadiya’s wedding dress with its dreamy skirt, low swoops and darling draping was everything this low key bride wanted.
“I grew up with a very unrealistic and romanticized idea of wedding dresses, as do a lot of women. They’re expensive, white, and poofy whereas I’m much more understated, off beat and vintage. So it was very challenging for me to find something that spoke to me in terms of design and even color within the super short time frame of our engagement. I also didn’t want spend a fortune on something I wouldn’t be able to wear again, it just didn’t feel right to me. After months of searching and a suggestion from a friend I finally found a dress I loved online from ASOS based in the UK. It was vintage inspired but still modern and was a really light shade of yellow that I adored. It had such romantic details around the shoulders, It fit perfectly, and didn’t need to be altered. I absolutely love wearing my dress, it’s really comfortable, and just feels so me! On the day of our wedding, I truly felt like myself in it, and that’s exactly what I wanted. Also, I totally intend to wear multiple times later in life.”
Nadiya paired her dress with a pair of heels from BHLDN which tied together with her look. Nadiya’s engagement/wedding ring was picked out by the bride and groom together, a vintage ring from the 30’s. Nadiya’s complete bridal look is so effortlessly vintage chic: I adore it!
Not to be outdone by his stunning bride, Evan looked ever so sharp in his Ermenegildo Zegna suit paired with a vest from GANT. For a sentimental touch to his attire, the groom Evan wore a gold tie clip and a lapel pin that belonged to his grandfather.
Nadiya did her own hair and make up; she was absolutely radiant on the day!
“I wanted a very simple but specific classic Hollywood look with finger waves and volumous curls. A very Lauren Bacall mood. I contemplated having it done and everything but decided on doing my hair and makeup myself, it turned so well! It was super easy and just took one night of rollers.”
Ladies, make note!
Nadiya and Evan’s venue hold a special place in their hearts, and though it wasn’t their first choice, it certainly became the right choice for the couple over time:
“When we picked a wedding date we were in the early stages of a house hunt. Our original intent was to find a house and have the wedding there but after two contracts had fallen through we got cold feet and decided to host it at a beach house Evan’s parents own. At first it was not our ideal but we spent many weekends there before the ceremony building tables and benches for the wedding. We grew quite attached to it over that time and it made it a very special and personal place to be married. Ironically, we found and closed on a house before the wedding but stuck with having it in Colonial Beach. It was a wonderful space in a great community. We spent the weekend at a B&B on the water down the street that we walked to after the reception.”
For their intimate reception, the couple paired their home cooked dishes with dishes from a local caterer.
“Some of the food we ordered from Tanglewood Ordinary in Goochland, VA and the rest was prepared by our families. The remainder of the night was spent eating, drinking, dancing, and talking with all of our friends and family that had made the trip to Colonial Beach.”
The rest of evening was spent dancing, with everyone joining in to celebrate with the bride and groom on the dance floor.
“Nadiya loves to dance. As a form of expression, with emotions of happiness running high dancing the night away was perfection.Our friend Gabe DJed. He played an amazing set of songs. We provided him a huge list of our favourites that he used to put a whole set together. We walked down the aisle together to Black Bird by the Beatles. “
I wanted to summarise Nadiya and Evan’s love story and wedding day in a some meaningful way, but I think the bride says it best herself:
“There are a lot of things we haven’t quite figured out yet but we know we want to spend the rest of our lives figuring them out together. Our love story is really one of everyday moments transformed into once in a lifetime moments when we spend them with each other. “
Advice From The Bride:
Spend time being in the moment. Even during the planning and arranging, just breathe and live. Don’t fuss over what your hair is going to look like, or your style of make up. Your hair is going to fall out or sweat out and you will still look just as beautiful. Also, include your partner!!! It’s about the two of you. Spend time sharing ideas or just incorporating each other in the process. I can be more challenging to collaborated instead of designate separate tasks, but your relationship will grow because of it.
Advice from the Groom:
Try to enjoy your wedding. Try as you might to slow it down the day will fly by and so you should try to take in as much as you can. Also, do not worry too much about things going off perfectly, they won’t. Something will happen that is not perfect but it will still be an amazing day and you get to spend it with the person you love.
Wedding Ceremony: Evan’s parents beach house in Colonial Beach, VA
Wedding Reception: The Bell House (The B&B Nadiya and Evan stayed in the two night after their wedding)
Florist: Wholesale from Flower Muse
Make up artist & Hairdresser: Nadiya did her hair & make up herself
Wedding Dress: ASOS
Bridal Accessories: Local eclectic
Grooms outfit: Suit: Ermenegildo Zegna ; Shoes: Cole Haan ; Tie: Black and Brown; Vest: GANT
Bridal Shoes: BHLDN
Wedding Rings: Milano Jewellers & Cowardins Jewellers
Caterer(s): Honey Bee Cakes & Tanglewood Ordinary
Invitation and Stationery: Paperless Post
Wedding Decor: Local Thrift Stores
Music and Entertainment: Gabe Smith/Yohannes Music
Wedding Photography: Sarah Mattozzi