A good celebration becomes more special when many hands help create it — and you rely on talented people and a lovely venue. Read more about this garden wedding and reception to help you create your own perfect party. If you would like us to feature your celebration, send a note and one photo, with the subject line “celebration” to tiffany@todayspublications.com. (Photos by Trina Whalin, Lulu Photography)

Jarret Oldham and Anna Patterson married on July 23, 2016 at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens. #SomethingOldham

Bride’s Favorite Memory of the Event:

“My favorite memory was the moment before we were introduced at the reception. All our guests were lined up, rose petals in hand, waiting for us to enter for our first dance. However there was some technical mix up, so we had to wait a few minutes. Jarret and I were just standing there when he turned to me, held up an imaginary camera and went, “click!” – taking a mental picture. If you’ve ever seen the show, The Office, you’ll know this isn’t anything original. But for me, time stood still in that moment. It hit me right then and there: that’s my husband – my husband. After that moment, the rest of the reception was a complete blur. Just a rush of smiling faces, dancing, hugs. That moment though is forever engrained in my mind.”

The Bride’s favorite photo because “this photo is so genuine – our laughs, our poses, even the fact we have coffee in our hands. This is us. Our love, our friendship, and now, our marriage.”

One Thing You Would Have Done Differently/Advice to Others:

“I would have stressed out about the planning process way less. I was so worried about everything I broke out with shingles. Also, about three weeks before the wedding, I had a bike accident and ended up getting fifteen stitches in my left arm, adding even more stress. Needless to say, I was kind of a mess. And yes, there were little things that didn’t go absolutely perfect on our wedding day, but in the end, we still were married. And those little things I spent so much time worrying about didn’t really matter.”

Best Planning Tip/Money Saving Tip:

“Now is the time to cash in on every favor anyone owes you. Make use of all those connections you’ve built up. I’m not saying take advantage of people – always offer to pay – but you would be surprised at how many people are willing to help. Whether it’s addressing wedding invitations, making centerpieces, or recommending a good caterer, having friends and family help out is one of the best planning (and money saving!) tips out there. That being said, that doesn’t mean you cave to every extra invitee and decor change aunt so-and-so is pressuring you to make. It is still your wedding. Everyone has an opinion, but in the end yours is the one that matters.”

Location of Ceremony: Yew Dell Botanical Gardens – Event Lawn

Special choices: “The venue was so beautiful and expansive, we could have had the ceremony just about anywhere. We chose to have it outside by the Holly Allee – it was just too gorgeous to pass up.”

Why it worked: “The wonderful thing about getting married in a garden is there is little need for decorating. We just added the arbor, a few floral and natural decorations, and ta-dah – the ceremony venue was complete!”

What you would have changed: “Honestly, the wedding venue was better than I ever imagined. It was like getting married in a magical garden – a true picture of God’s beauty, as well as the beauty of the commitment we were making. The one thing I would have changed was beyond anyone’s control: the heat. Our wedding day landed on arguably the hottest day of the summer. But everyone was a good sport about it. And those who really didn’t want to sit in the heat stood in the shade of the trees at the edge of the lawn.”

Location of Reception: Yew Dell Botanical Gardens – Old Pavilion and Gardens

Special choices: “Jarret and I didn’t want a traditional, sit-down reception. Since our rental included the whole garden, we wanted to use as much of it as possible. We wanted people up and moving, exploring, dancing, making memories. We spread out chairs across the reception area, had very few tables, and threw blankets and pillows on whatever else could be used as seating. We had lawn games, food stations, a soda bar – whatever we could think of to keep guests entertained and moving.”

Why it worked: “The reception was probably the most controversial part of our wedding planning. Questions kept popping up like, what about elderly people? Where will close family sit? How will food work? Will people want to stay if they don’t have a table? But in spite of all these issues, it worked wonderfully. We had enough open tables for those who really wanted to sit, but most people really embraced the outdoorsy, picnic vibe of the reception. We had included extra information in our invites so people would have an idea of what to expect, and everyone ended up having a wonderful evening.”

Dress: Melanie by Maggie Sottero from Rebecca’s Wedding Boutique

Special choices: “When I ordered the dress, I requested a light gold/champagne underlay instead of traditional white.”

Why it worked: “The dress was perfect for a hot, outdoor summer wedding. There were only two layers of material, lace and silk, so it was light and easy to move around. The dress was sleeveless, but not strapless, so I could dance the night away worry-free.”

What you would have changed: “I would have watched a lot less of Say Yes to the Dress. While I waited for my dress to come in, I would lay in my bed stressing about if I made the right choice. And while my dress ended up being perfect, it was something I didn’t need to really worry about. I was marrying my best friend. The dress was just a nice extra.”

Bridesmaids Dresses: J Crew Wedding Collection – blush chiffon in various styles

Special choices: “Since all of my bridesmaids have such unique personalities, I wanted their dresses to reflect their individuality. So I hopped on the trend train and had them each pick their own style of dress (but all in the same color).”

Why it worked: “It’s a challenge finding one style of dress that looks good on everyone and is still somewhat fashionable. J Crew has a stylish line of bridesmaids dresses at reasonable prices in a wide variety of designs. Having each bridesmaid pick a different style from the line solved a lot of potential problems.”

What you would have changed: “Picking out bridesmaids dresses was the first decision I made in the wedding planning process. So there were no issues with timing, and though they were ordered online, everything fit well. It was a relatively easy process.”

Tuxedos: Navy blue suits from Macy’s with white shirts, floral ties and boutonnieres

Special choices: “We decided black tuxedos would be too formal – not to mention too hot – for an outdoor summer wedding. The blue suits were fresh and fun, and looked great with the blush bridesmaids dresses. The floral ties and faux flower boutineers were a last-second find (and a surprise for the bride), but tied in the outdoorsy garden theme.

Why it worked: “Jarret’s family has a habit of wearing blue. Sometimes they’ll all wear the same color blue without even planning it. So somehow we had to incorporate blue into the wedding colors. The blue suits were a perfect fit!”

Photographer: Trina Whalin, Photo Lulu

Special choices: “Having our photographers there for the “getting ready” part of the day resulted in some really fun photos! Also, I can’t recommend enough doing a “first look” before the wedding. It allowed Jarret and I to have a moment for ourselves before the wedding chaos began. It was such a special moment, and the photographers captured it so perfectly!”

Why it worked: “Let me just say, Trina Whalin is the most incredible photographer and human being. I would use her again a hundred times over. Trina captured our wedding so perfectly. Even though we were hot and sweaty, even running around like mad men at a few moments, not one photo showed it. Looking back through our photos, I have never felt so beautiful.”

Video: Surprise “love story” video by Grant Oldham and Kayla Oldham (brother and sister of groom)

Why it worked: “Early on, Jarret and I made the decision not to hire a videographer for the wedding. It seemed like an unnecessary expense and felt the money would be better used elsewhere. We were happy with our decision, but received a huge surprise at our rehearsal dinner. Grant and Kayla – with some help from our parents – made a video about our love story! They had pictures of us growing up, did interviews with family, had memorabilia from when we dated as teenagers, it was so perfect!”

Food: Liz Martino – Adrienne and Co., food stations

Special choices: “Since both our wedding ceremony and reception were outdoors, a sit-down meal seemed to formal. Lizzy Martino and the Adrienne & Co. staff worked incredibly hard to make our picnic-style food stations work seamlessly. We had four different stations throughout the night: first, a simple appetizer station with fresh fruits and veggies while Jarret and I finished our photos. We had an entree station with fried chicken and biscuits, as well as pulled pork sandwiches with pineapple and jalapeno. Our sides station had potato salad, a strawberry summer salad, corn on the cob, and pasta salad with sundried tomatoes. And last but not least, a beautiful dessert table with assorted cupcakes, mini pies, jam bars, and cookies.”

Why it worked: “Our guests loved the picnic feel of our food stations. It was easy to grab one little thing at a time and just walk around. Or you had the option to load up your plate and dig in. It was versatile and charming – just what we hoped for.”

What you would have changed: “There was a communication error and people started eating before we entered for the reception. We loved the food stations, but people were unsure of when to start filling their plates. It wasn’t a big deal, just a little hitch.”

Drinks: Soda bar, with a variety of glass bottled sodas

Special choices: “Since the groom and many of his family members are proud Purdue Boilermakers, we had plenty of West Lafayette’s Triple XXX Root Beer. We also had Ale-8-One and several sodas I had never even heard of – Strawberry Crush, delicious!”

Why it worked: “Guests enjoyed the whimsical nature of the soda bar – the paper straws, bottle cap openers, the local varieties of soda. They were also very refreshing since it was so incredibly hot outside.”

What you would have changed: “I would’ve taken the time to actually drink one.”

Cake: Lemon Blueberry with Cream Cheese frosting, Adrienne and Co.

Special choices: “Jarret and I are fans of non-traditional cake flavors. While cake tasting, we fell in love with Adrienne & Co.’s blueberry lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. However, we realized not everyone is a fan of fruit-flavored cake. So instead of having one cake for all of our guests, we had an assortment of cupcakes – black forest chocolate, red velvet, strawberry, etc., and just ordered a small cake for ourselves.”

Why it worked: “I am a huge fan of cupcakes. They’re my absolute favorite dessert to make. So having cupcakes at our reception just seemed like the right thing. Plus, people like choices. Having a wide variety of cupcake flavors made it fun for guests to choose what they wanted, and maybe try something new.”

What you would have changed: “Our “small” cake ended up being way bigger than we anticipated. We are still working on finishing the bottom layer. Now I’m not one to complain about too much cake, but in retrospect we should have stuck to a one-layer cake.”

Flowers: Lavender Hill

Special choices: “I wanted our flowers to be “wild,” like we just picked them out of the garden before getting married. Lots of greenery with pops of color. I also wanted a flower crown (very trendy, I know), which turned out beautiful. Lavender Hill did an excellent job bringing together the garden and the floral decor.”

Why it worked: “I appreciate the beauty of floral arrangements, but know virtually nothing about flowers. I had no idea what would be in season, what would survive the heat, what would look good together, nothing. Carolyn, owner of Lavender Hill, was an absolute life saver. She took an hour to learn all the details about our wedding, asked if there was anything special we wanted, then went to work. She created these stunning floral arrangements – and my bouquet! It was a total surprise, and yet exactly what I wanted.”

Music: Ceremony – cello, piano and voice/Reception – jazz trio

Special choices:
Processional: Better Place by Rachel Platten, arr. for cello, piano, and vocals
Bride: Julie-O by Mark Summers, for solo cello
Recessional: The Gambler by fun., arr. for cello and piano

Why it worked:
Ceremony – “As a musician who has played countless weddings, I was set on the type of music I did not want played during the ceremony. However, picking the music I did want was a little more difficult. I ended up going with non-traditional songs, arranging them for cello, piano, and even vocals for one. Better Place was incredibly special because my sister (Maid of Honor) sang vocals and did such a beautiful job. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Reception – “Jarret’s one musical request was to have a live band at the reception. After searching for a while, it dawned on us: what about a jazz band? I had gone to school with several fantastic jazzers, one being Kendall “Keyz” Carter – a jazz pianist. We hired Kendall and two other musicians, an upright bass player and a drumset player. They were incredible!”

Decor: DIY/Party Central Rental

Special choices: “I am proud to say, with the exception of the chairs and a few extra tables, we made all the decor ourselves. A friend cut wood slabs from a tree, which we sanded and stained, then used as centerpieces. Some even became rustic chalkboards. We repurposed old wood pallets. A relative built a beautiful wedding arbor out of old French doors. We glued moss to little gold buckets that contained candy for guests, cut and tied colorful ribbon to chairs, made our own outdoor games, the list goes on.”

Why it worked: “I am blessed to have both a mother and mother-in-law who are incredibly crafty. I also enjoy making things, so all the DIY decor wasn’t too much of a burden. This method isn’t for everyone, and often times a lot of stress can be saved by just paying someone else to take care of it. But all those nights laughing, painting chalkboards, the floor covered with fake moss, I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Planner: Melissa Goodlett and Jennifer Quillo, family members

One of the coordinators, Melissa Goodlett, finally relaxing at the reception after a hard day’s work.

Special choices: “In the spirit of our outdoorsy, DIY wedding, we decided not to hire a wedding planner. Yes, it is possible to plan a wedding without one. However, you do need people to help manage things the day of the wedding. You, your fiance, your mom, your bridesmaids, everyone who helped with planning will be occupied with getting ready. So we asked two close relatives to step up and facilitate things on the wedding day. They coordinated set-up, signed for flowers, assisted the caterer, and dealt with the million other little things no one thinks of in the midst of wedding chaos. I am eternally thankful for everything they did to make our wedding the magical event it was!”

Rings: Shane Co.

Special choices/Why it worked: “Jarret did such a great job picking out my engagement ring – by himself, I might add – that I didn’t want the wedding band to take anything away from it. I chose a simple rose gold band with small diamonds that matched my engagement ring. Jarret also wanted something simple – just a solid gold band with a matte finish.”

What you would have changed: “Be careful when you go to pick out wedding bands. You might think you’re getting something simple, but it can still end up costing a small fortune. The first time we went to the jewelers, we accidentally spent way more than we had budgeted. We ended up going back and exchanging one of the bands for another that looked virtually identical and cost a good deal less. Moral of the story: ask about all your options before swiping that credit card.”

Invites/Programs: Emilee Stites, Save-the-Dates, invites/Kayla Oldham, programs

Special choices: “It is truly a blessing being related to so many creative people. I knew from the start that I wanted my aunt, a graphic designer, to design our wedding invitations, and she did an amazing job! Our wedding programs ended up being a bit more involved than most. Since our picnic-style wedding was a new concept to many of our guests, we used the program to help guide them along. My sister-in-law, a landscape architect, made a beautiful map of the grounds, showing where everything was located – games, food, you name it. She then went above and beyond to design our programs, including the map on the back. It was so cute and original!”

What you would have changed: “We had a bit of an issue with the U.S. Postal Service regarding our stamps. Even though we paid the correct amount of postage, some of the invites didn’t reach their recipient or worse, they were charged extra postage. We eventually resolved the issue (USPS’s fault, not ours), but we ended up having to call up half our guests making sure they received their invite.”

Honeymoon: Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Special choices: “Before our honeymoon discussions, I had never heard of Acadia National Park. Jarret found it while researching national parks, and we both decided it would be a fantastic place to honeymoon. We first flew in to Portland, Maine and spent a night in the city. The next day we took a car and drove up Highway 1 to Acadia. We drove through fishing towns, stopped to have lobster rolls, and enjoyed the beautiful state of Maine. Once we arrived in Acadia, we had a blast. Hiking, sunrises, delicious food – it was amazing!”

Why it worked: “Jarret and I aren’t really beach people. There’s nothing wrong with the beach, we just get bored quickly. Acadia has several small beaches (with freezing cold water!) and also hiking, kayaking, and delicious seafood. It ended up being the perfect getaway for us.”

Length of Planning Time: Approximately nine months (engaged in October, married in July)

Cost per person for reception: $18/adult, $10/child