Bethany and Ardie’s Beautiful Intimate Wedding at Home, in Texas
In 2020, Ardie was working in Italy and we dated long distance. Travel was difficult that year, but in December the restrictions loosened up enough to take a few days’ getaway trip to the Italian alps. The winter scenery there was jaw-dropping. While we were hiking beside a frozen lake under towering snowcapped peaks, he popped the question and I said YES. We spent the rest of the day falling into snowdrifts together, icicles forming on our eyelashes. He proposed on winter solstice, the shortest day of the year: December 21st.
At the end of that challenging year, full of separation, visa issues, and lockdowns, it was so significant to end with this promise to each other. It was our gesture of hope. In what could have been a bleak midwinter, we chose to believe that we would have a future together, the world would heal, and the days would get longer. We found so much magic in this season: far from being bleak, love made it hopeful! We wanted our wedding to share this magic of the season with our loved ones.
There’s nothing like a Wedding at Home, in Texas
Ardie’s family is from California and my family is from rural north Georgia. We had just bought a house in Texas, a perfect point halfway between the East and West coast to have our wedding. We searched for venues in the DFW area that could host our intimate wedding of 40 but quickly realized there was no place like home. We couldn’t think of a more special place to commit to our future together forever than our own hearth in midwinter.
We wanted a wedding that brought our guests out of the winter cold and into the warmth of our home. One of the things that makes me feel most at home in winter is luxurious textures that are also comfortably touchable.
The Winter Wedding Invitation
I worked with stationer Sincerely, Addison to design a winter invitation suite all about decadent textures reminiscent of home. The green velvet invitation was as soft as a favorite sofa.
Gold foil lettering shone off the page like lamplight from a window. A thick handmade paper envelope wrapped the whole invitation like a snowy blanket. Artist Rachel Heiss worked with us to design a custom toile envelope liner that evoked an elegant vintage wallpaper, weaving together winter greenery, florals, and blue viburnum berries. Each invitation was carefully addressed in calligraphy script with vintage Currier & Ives stamps.
Things To Consider When Having Your Wedding at Home
If you want to have a wedding at home, the first thing to consider is your neighbors. We personally delivered ribbon-wrapped boxes of gorgeous Linzer cookies to over thirty of our closest neighbors. We ordered them from Cake-aholics Bakery with our cake and they were delicious! On top of the box we included a short note about the event in case they weren’t home. It was a “sweet” way to “butter up” the neighbors and let them know there would be an increase in traffic on the day of our event.
To elevate the event, we used luxurious materials like silk, velvet, crystal, and gold leaf. The pink reception table napkins were even velvet. But we also kept things unfussy with raw ribbon edges and organic arrangements to help guests feel more comfortable at home with us for the evening.
Creating a unique Intimate Wedding
We didn’t just want “intimate” to be a euphemism for “small” when it came to our wedding! We worked hard to create an intimate atmosphere. Here are some of the special things we did:
Instead of buying each guest the same favor, we had a great time shopping for our family and closest friends, and bought everyone a small personalized gift. On our wedding day, they were all beautifully wrapped under our tree. The custom wrapping paper from Zazzle matched our invitation suite! We loved finding another way to incorporate this beautiful toile pattern.
The Seating Arrangement
The family-style reception seating arrangement was inspired by Tommy and Grace’s wedding in Netflix series Peaky Blinders. We loved how Tommy and Grace sat packed around the table together with their family and friends. Sharing a meal together is important to both our families, so we allowed plenty of time in our schedule to enjoy each other’s company around the table.
We styled a special seating area in the library to help guests linger and have easy conversations. It fit so naturally that I was flattered some guests thought the furniture was our own (it was rented from Party Rent DFW).
Our home’s open floor plan had enough floor space for the wedding and reception, but not quite enough space to host cocktail hour while the space was “flipped”. We rented a 10 ft x 10 ft tent from Taylor’s Rental in Fort Worth to extend the back patio. This provided an enclosed space for guests to enjoy seasonal drinks and appetizers.
The Benefits of having our Wedding at Home
There were many reasons we loved having a wedding at home, but the biggest benefit to us was having more time to decorate the space. Instead of a huge day-of setup effort, we were able to schedule the tent construction and rental deliveries during the week leading up to the wedding. This saved us money and definitely helped lower stress!
Having our wedding at home has so many benefits – like total decorating freedom. We hung special family wedding portraits on the walls, put up Christmas lights, hung wreaths, burned candles – the sky was the limit. The space even worked perfectly for the catering team. They had electricity, ventilation, and plenty of room to work in the two-car garage.
To clear floor space, we moved major furniture out and stored it in a spare bedroom. We also had the house deep cleaned before the wedding. We worried a little bit about whether we would have enough space because we had never hosted so many people in the house, but forty people plus vendors fit without an issue. If you choose to have a wedding at home, we recommend checking your homeowner’s insurance policy to be sure the event is covered. Also check your city and neighborhood noise ordinances so your DJ or band knows their limitations.
My Wedding Hair
I reviewed hair and makeup artists carefully because I knew I would probably be spending more time with them than anyone on my wedding day! I wanted to make sure they were a good fit with the party, too. I asked my aesthetician Kaitlyn Wood to do makeup and had Michelle Dollar with Pretty on Premises for hair. When they both arrived and worked side by side I realized that I’d chosen two excellent conversationalists.
As I listened to them chatter with the bridal party and family, I was so grateful for the way they made everyone feel at ease! The makeup artist stayed until late to make sure we stayed touched-up and flawless. They helped make our day happy, so much more than they know!
Winter has a reputation for being bare and bleak, but I loved its gorgeous seasonal floral options. Our florals from TCU Florist incorporated seasonal winter greenery: spruce and cedar. For more texture, we added blue viburnum berries and dried poppy seed heads with more traditional roses and ranunculus. Blue anemones were a special nod to north Texas and its glorious wildflowers. The fireplace mantel was covered in a lush, organic floral installation. It reached from the floor to the ceiling. Around the fireplace, each living room window was topped with greenery. Our living room felt like an enchanted garden. It was so romantic and whimsical!
The Amazing Ceremony
We had an amazing, meaningful ceremony. I’ll never forget waiting to walk down our aisle and hearing In The Bleak Midwinter (we chose David Archuleta’s arrangement). We wanted to get our guests involved as much as possible, so our officiant led everyone in a responsive reading from scripture.
My dress, with its whimsical snow pattern, made an elegant winter statement, and it had a journey of resilience of its own. The awesome team at Lang’s Bridal helped me through the dress purchase, and in December 2021 I chose this amazing dress from Ukrainian designer Luce Sposa. They made the dress in Ukraine, then successfully shipped it in April 2021 when many ports were shut down due to the war. They stayed in communication every step of the way and I could not be more proud to wear a dress made in a country that has come to epitomize resilience.
For my accessories, I chose timeless pieces to go with our theme. My sparkling statement earrings came from Twigs & Honey. I love wearing unique earrings. I knew I wanted long chandelier earrings in a timeless, versatile style, and the ones I chose were perfect. I shopped for weeks before making my selection and look forward to wearing these for years to come!
Ardie loved his blue suit with black lapels from Indochino Dallas. The team there treated him like a king. He accessorized with a custom button-down from Original Stitch featuring a unique Pokémon print! Since it shipped from Japan, he was thrilled it arrived in time for the wedding. The blue and green Bulbasaur print was super fun but subtle enough to match the elegant vibe.
We provided seasonal beverages for cocktail hour: cold horchata, hot apple cider, and coffee. Everything was crystal and silver, even the cut crystal punch cups collected from local antique stores. Passed appetizers were served to keep everyone from getting hungry since the ceremony space had to be flipped for reception setup.
An excellent local restaurant called Tinies catered our reception dinner. The Mexican cuisine was perfect for a Texas wedding and something both our families love. The cuisine could also easily be adapted for guests with dietary restrictions – without sacrificing quality.
Instead of a grand entrance for the wedding party, the DJ from DJ connections in Dallas introduced our guests using cards they had written during cocktail hour.
The Table Design
Our table set up was gorgeous: Chiavari chairs, dark green velvet table cloths, lush organic flower arrangements. We chose tall crystal votive holders shaped like lamps to help create an intimate, cozy mood for dinner. These were from the Godinger store on Amazon. There are few light sources more warm and comforting than lamplight.
In a sentimental throwback to our time in Italy, our wine was supplied by Francesco Casula from the Vini Casula vineyard in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. We experienced an afternoon of wonderful wine tasting there in 2019 (I can still picture Francesco saying, “Allora” as he served wine and snacks), and during the 2020 lockdowns, we took advantage of their wine delivery service. When we relocated from Italy to Texas in 2021, we shipped cases of Prosecco with us for the wedding. During dinner, we could hear the corks popping in the kitchen. It was a dream come true! We set up a little alcove to tell guests about the vineyard. Of course, the display wouldn’t have been complete without a Prosecco sword.
Our guests couldn’t guess what cake flavor lay beneath the buttercream icing: butterscotch? Red velvet? It was revealed to be snickerdoodle! “I’ll be thinking about that cake for a long time,” one person told me, and I agreed that I would be too. The warm snickerdoodle cinnamon and spices were perfect on that chilly December night. Our baker, Matt Wöhlinger from Cake-aholics bakery, helped us choose at our cake tasting and did not steer us wrong! Instead of a groom’s cake, Ardie requested specially made ube tarts as a delicious nod to his Filipino heritage and its diverse culinary options. Ube is a purple root vegetable, and the tarts were such a vibrant, delicious purple color that everyone wanted to try them.
For those newly engaged couples planning their wedding, our best advice is to give yourself plenty of time: to shop, to enjoy your engagement, and to allow for supply chain issues.
We mounted a snow machine on the roof to send down snow showers on us and our guests. We made our exit to Rusted Root’s “On My Way” through a whirl of snow flurries. A snowy exit was the perfect wintery send-off! We had done it: created another beautiful memory in the midwinter, this time with our loved ones. Our hearts were so full. And we’ll never, ever think of the midwinter as bleak.
Want to see more real weddings? check out this White Wedding shoot at San Francisco City Hall.