A groom and bride look into each other's eyes in front of the pastel floral installation at the entrance to their home in St. Louis.

The Making of a Backyard Wedding for Jennifer and Tim

University City, Missouri
BY SHIRA SAVADA / 04 06 22
Photo by Bonnie Sen

Every wedding vendor team is created a little differently. In this series we explore how and why each couple selected the right wedding vendor team for their wedding day.

Originally planned for October 2020, Jennifer and Tim postponed their nuptials to May 2021 due to the pandemic. While they considered some of their favorite destinations—from Napa Valley, California, to Florence, Italy—they ultimately settled on a wedding at their home, outside of St. Louis. Inspired by their two families coming together to make one big, blended family, the setting was the perfect representation of the cause for celebration.

After making the decision to downsize to 75 guests and host the gathering in and around their house, the bride and groom got to work planning. They didn’t go at it alone, swiftly bringing a planning and design team on board to make their backyard wedding one to remember.


Wedding Planner/Designer

At-home weddings—even with smaller guest lists—aren’t easy to pull off. So Jennifer and Tim’s first move was to enlist a professional, to not only guide them with all of the logistics and required infrastructure, but to design their chic backyard soirée, with some preppy, garden, and 70s influences. Kate + Company called on a mix of frequent collaborators and newer vendor partners to make magic happen.

“The choice of a planner was the most important decision. Kate has an amazing network of other vendors who made our day special. Picking the right planner not only gave us access to that network but also took the headache out of planning and allowed us to spend the time leading up to the wedding actually celebrating each other, rather than slogging through the minutia of planning.” —Jennifer, bride

Our main goal for the design was to complement their historic Central West End home and incorporate the traditions they share there with their family.” —Kate Turner, planner/designer

A groom and bride pose for a wedding portrait in front of the floral-covered fireplace inside their St. Louis home.
A pastel floral installation at the front entrance of a Missouri house sets the scene for their at-home wedding.

Wedding Stationery 

Once Kate & Company was on board to design and produce the wedding, they started assembling an all-star team. Knowing that stationery and creative details were really important to Jennifer, the first member to join was Cheree Berry Paper & Design, who handled all things paper and branding. Also knowing that the postponement meant an opportunity to surprise guests with a save the date experience to truly savor, they immediately brainstormed out-of-the-box ideas: they ended up creating a save the date that included a cake tasting (with five different flavors!), and asking guests to vote for their favorite. To say guests were excited about what was to come was an understatement.

“Collaborating with Kate and her team on their one-of-a-kind events is creative bliss. Jennifer and Tim’s at-home wedding celebration was no exception. A custom invitation suite was inspired largely by their interiors—the checkerboard floor in the foyer, the French scroll detailing on the grand fireplace, the art on the parlor walls—giving guests that warm, welcoming feeling long before the big day.” —Cheree Berry, stationer

It was really important for the couple to make sure that every guest felt taken care of. A lot of this came together thanks to the collaboration between Cheree Berry and Kate & Company. With out-of-towners staying in a hotel directly across from St. Louis’ famous Forest Park, an Italian-themed picnic basket welcomed each guest and encouraged them to cross the street and explore (with a nod to the couple’s favorite European destination). During dinner, the kiddos had it made, with low tables set with paper placemats that they could color, which were customized with outlines of the couple’s dogs and other games to keep the youngest guests entertained.

A wedding save-the-date that includes a cake-tasting for guests to help the couple decide what the wedding cake flavors will be.
Interactive placemats for the enjoyment of children at a wedding reception.

Wedding Photographer

As the event started to take form, the next move was to choose someone to capture the wedding. The couple chose Bonnie Sen, a husband-and-wife team of destination wedding photographers out of Colorado who Kate proposed because of their true-to-color images and laid-back style. The duo perfectly captured the emotions and details of the day.

“We get to photograph the occasional at-home wedding and it’s always delightful to see our couples in their natural element, surrounded by the things and people they love. These settings always create an intimate look into their lives, compounded with their wedding ceremony and a party." —Bonnie Sen, photographer

Wedding couple standing on floral adorned stairway, looking into each other's eyes
Wedding couple standing at floral-adorned altar in front of the wedding officiant

Wedding Band & Entertainment

Next, it was on to entertainment. Longtime fans of Stephen Paul—a headliner out of Nashville—the couple was hopeful he’d be available to perform at the reception. Kate reached out and Stephen cleared his schedule, called a fellow musician friend to join him, and in their cowboy hats, they sang all the hits, interacted with guests, and made the party.

As a fun surprise for guests, Kate also enlisted Aquabatix, a synchronized swimming group. Only five people were in on it, and it went over swimmingly when they emerged, performed, and then introduced dinner.

A backyard wedding reception, with live musicians playing inside the reception tent.
Synchronized swimmers perform in the pool at a backyard wedding reception.

Wedding Flowers

Finally, the design evolved with the introduction of one of Kate & Company’s go-to floral gurus, Frankie Peltier of Festive Couture Florals. Not only did he seamlessly blend the blues, purples, and greens of the color palette, but he nailed the aesthetic. A show-stopping entrance to the house was where the magic began, but it continued with florals on the staircase that Jennifer’s son walked her down towards the ceremony, the installation at the fireplace where the couple wed, and all the way through to the towering arrangements in the reception tent.

A fireplace decorated with pink and blue flowers for an at-home wedding ceremony.
A pastel floral installation on the main staircase of a historic home.
A towering floral arrangement that provides a focal point in the reception tent of a backyard wedding.

Wedding Catering

With the groom being a part-owner of a local restaurant-style catering company, there was only one option for who would prepare the celebratory meal: 23 City Blocks Catering, now part of the Butler’s Pantry family. Stations were set up for guests to enjoy, and included one that utilized the pizza oven that the bride and groom added to the backyard during their home renovation. As many of their Sunday afternoons involve family swimming in the pool and making homemade pizza, Kate surprised Tim with a “Pop’s Pizza” set up (complete with branded aprons and to-go boxes) in honor of what the grandkids call him. Other stations included Southern-inspired fare as a nod to Jennifer’s Floridian roots, poolside oysters, and a piña colada bar featuring the bride’s famous recipe (which was printed on the cocktail napkins).

A custom bar at a backyard wedding channels Slim Arons and poolside vacations.
A piƱa colada bar at a wedding reception includes a pineapple cocktail shaker and paper synchronized swimmer straws.

Wedding Cake

The Cakery was hired not only to prepare cake tasting boxes pre-wedding for everyone in attendance, but of course to create the actual wedding cake at the reception as well. The votes were counted, and ultimately, a rum cake with chocolate buttercream was the winning flavor pairing. The three-tier confection was decorated with shades of blue and a few sprigs of sugar flowers.


Wedding Hair & Makeup

Next came the glam squad. Salon Fleur de Lis came on board to provide hair and makeup for the bride, her mother, and her daughter. And Heather B. Beauty joined the talented team of vendors to work with the groom’s two daughters.

A textured, soft blue wedding cake with pink sugar flowers.
A smiling bride is zipped into her wedding dress.

Wedding Rentals

For the cocktail and lounge-style backyard wedding reception, Kate & Company curated furniture, linens, and tabletop items from multiple rental companies. Staff (in themed attire of course) walked around with trays of flatware and cloth napkins to accompany the assorted blue-and-white plates from Casa de Perrin used at the various stations. When it was time to take a seat, many guests pulled up a chair that had been customized by BBJ Linen with fabric covers embroidered with the happy couple’s monogram, as well as a petite peplum skirt. The other linens of the day came from La Tavola Fine Linen, who, along with Décorum and Premier Party Rental, were utilized so that the gathering was as much a feast for the eyes as it was for the stomach.

A tent at a backyard wedding features personal touches like the couple's monogram.
Vintage plates and modern flatware were set out by the stations at this backyard wedding reception.
Wedding couple standing on a floral-adorned stairway, staring into each other's eyes.
An Intimate Wedding for Jennifer and Tim
Bonnie Sen