Sentimental “Secret Garden” Backyard Elopement

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Since love is not canceled, wedding planner and designer John Campbell Weddings created an inspirational wedding shoot that fits in any size backyard.

“Our concept was that a couple has decided to elope in their backyard and hold a large reception at a later date, with close friends and family attending the ceremony and enjoying a cocktail at the outdoor bar,” John explained. “The couple is using items from around their house to create a romantic dinner-for-two outside after they say their ‘I do’s.’ Using the existing style of their landscaping, the couple has decided to go for a Secret Garden aesthetic.”

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To plan a styled shoot around this modern-day concept, John reflected on the events of the last six months and considered every detail of having such a significant life moment in one’s own home.

“I wanted to do something timely and relevant that showed couples they still have options during a pandemic. You can create special memories with your loved ones while remaining safe,” the wedding planner explained. “A lot of this shoot was my own emotional response to COVID-19. The backdrop for our mini reception look is a hedge arch that leads from my parents’ backyard into my grandmother’s. Having not seen my grandma since March, I thought of her a lot while planning the shoot. She’s always been an accomplished rose grower, even after she moved to Florida, and I made the choice to emphasize roses in the overall design in her honor.”

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To transform the ambiance from backyard to “secret garden,” John strategically placed personal details throughout the tablescape and decor. The custom-designed stationery featured elements from the couple’s personal china pattern and served as a wedding day keepsake.

“We created all of the stationery to pull elements directly from the china pattern. Using photos of the plates, we photoshopped elements and manipulated them to create something minimal, romantic, and timeless,” John shared.

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Using the natural surroundings as inspiration, a triadic color scheme was selected to tie in an eclectic and romantic setting. The vibrant organic roses shipped in from California created a layer a luxury fit for a bridal bouquet, while the locally sourced greenery made a seamless transition between the natural flora of the space and the design inspiration.

“I decided to go with a Triadic color scheme using the primary colors. It’s something I don’t see often, especially in our market, and I wanted to take this opportunity to play with it,” the wedding planner and designer explained. “I used the pink, peach, red spectrum as my focus, and incorporated pops of Tiffany blue and finch yellow in the tablescape. Using a foundation of neutral tones and textures, I was able to design something bright and Summery while maintaining a soft, romantic feel.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT JOHN CAMPBELL WEDDINGS EMAIL

The bride’s soft A-line wedding dress from Nikki’s Glitz and Glam Bridal Boutique featured a delicate lace appliqued bodice with a flirty pink tulle skirt. The groom’s formal plaid suit was paired with a relaxed unbutton white collard shirt that kept him stylish and comfortable for the entire day.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NIKKI’S GLITZ AND GLAM BRIDAL | EMAIL

For a cohesive hair and makeup look, Michele Renee The Studio highlighted the bride’s radiating personality with a sweet and romantic glam inspiration. Her ringlets were twisted back into an elegant chignon updo, which perfectly complemented her natural hairstyle.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MICHELE RENEE THE STUDIO | EMAIL

Bartenders Spunky Spirits brought an elevated simplicity to the wedding day experience with their mobile bar.

“Having a bar service might seem like an unconventional choice for an elopement, but I loved the idea of having an unexpected element like a bar trailer. If you’re going to invite guests to any outdoor event in Florida, you better provide drinks and lots of them,” the seasoned wedding planner advised. “Using a bar service rather than something self-serve has two functions: it’s a more enjoyable guest experience, and it’s more sanitary. We’ll be seeing a lot of alterations to food and beverage in the coming months as guests all touching the same items remains a health hazard. Having Spunky Spirits at an elopement like this means that one person has touched the bottle of wine instead of 20.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT SPUNKY SPIRITS | EMAIL

For a memorable wedding meal, Olympia Catering created a custom menu that would impress even the most refined palates.

“Olympia has been pumping out some incredible dishes over the last year, and they’ve continued to up their game during the pandemic,” John explained. “As I was planning this shoot, I was also planning a three-person micro wedding reception that Olympia did a five-course meal for. I was so blown away by the plans they came up with for the wedding that I knew I had to include something similar for the shoot. The highlights for me were the Pan Seared Black Grouper with Charred Onion Purée and the Baklava Sundae with Pistachio Gelato.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT OLYMPIA CATERING | EMAIL

Even the photographer’s beloved French bulldog made is way into the shoot, emphasizing the importance of making meaningful memories.

“I think it’s really important to put a lot of yourself into your wedding, so I always put a lot of myself into the shoots I plan. The tablescape was full of personal items, like my great-grandmother’s vintage flatware, the signature drink was based on a cocktail from one of my favorite restaurants, and I used my grandmother’s sewing chair at the sweetheart table,” John detailed. “All of these little elements might go unnoticed by the average guest, but it adds a layer of memorability to your day. When all is said and done, you’re paying for a memory; you might as well make it a good one! All of that said, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that our Frenchie pup model stole the show!”

What was unique about this inspirational shoot?
Having a bar service might seem like an unconventional choice for an elopement, but I loved the idea of having an unexpected element like a bar trailer. If you’re going to invite guests to any outdoor event in Florida, you better provide drinks and lots of them! Using a bar service rather than something self-serve has two functions: it’s a more enjoyable guest experience, and it’s more sanitary. We’ll be seeing a lot of alterations to food and beverage in the coming months as guests all touching the same items remains a health hazard. Having Spunky Spirits at an elopement like this means that one person has touched the bottle of wine instead of 20.

What was your inspiration for this shoot?
I wanted to do something timely and relevant that showed couples they still have options during a pandemic. You can create special memories with your loved ones while remaining safe.

A lot of this shoot was my own emotional response to COVID-19. The backdrop for our mini reception look is a hedge arch that leads from my parents’ backyard into my grandmother’s. Having not seen my grandma since March, I thought of her a lot while planning the shoot. She’s always been an accomplished rose grower (even after she moved to Florida), and I made the choice to emphasize roses in the overall design in her honor.

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How would you describe your theme?
Our concept was that a couple has decided to elope in their backyard and hold a large reception at a later date, with close friends and family attending the ceremony and enjoying a cocktail at the outdoor bar. The couple is using items from around their house to create a romantic dinner-for-two outside after they say their “I do’s.” Using the existing style of their landscaping, the couple has decided to go for a Secret Garden aesthetic.

What were your colors?
I decided to go with a Triadic color scheme using the primary colors. It’s something I don’t see often (especially in our market), and I wanted to take this opportunity to play with it. I used the pink, peach, red spectrum as my focus, and incorporated pops of Tiffany blue and finch yellow in the tablescape. Using a foundation of neutral tones and textures, I was able to design something bright and Summery while maintaining a soft, romantic feel.

What was the menu inspiration?
Olympia has been pumping out some incredible dishes over the last year, and they’ve continued to up their game during the pandemic. As I was planning this shoot, I was also planning a three-person micro wedding reception that Olympia did a five-course meal for. I was so blown away by the plans they came up with for the wedding, that I knew I had to include something similar for the shoot. The highlights for me were the Pan Seared Black Grouper with Charred Onion Purée and the Baklava Sundae with Pistachio Gelato.

Estimated cost:
Elopement Planning: Starting at $1,500 (Something similar to this shoot would be in the area of $2,000) | Custom Graphic Design: Priced per project (exclusive to full-service planning clients) | Bridal Bouquet: $200+ | Boutonnière: $40+ | Centerpiece: – $200+ | Bar arrangement: $100+ | Mobile Bar Services: Starting at $295

Venue: Private Residence
Planning, Design, Florals, and Stationery: John Campbell Weddings *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Photography: Stills by Hernan
Videography: Patel Creative
Hair and Makeup: Michele Renee The Studio *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Pet Coordination: Furry Ventures Pet Care
Menu concept: Olympia Catering *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Bar Service: Spunky Spirits *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Attire: Nikki’s Glitz and Glam Bridal Boutique *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Models: Khrystle and Joe

MEET THE EDITOR

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor, Anna Coats, created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area's best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talkshow Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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