This backyard wedding from Paul von Rieter is guaranteed to inspire with a couple who knows a thing or two about how to have fun. Bride Tess realized early on to focus her attention on the things that mattered most to her and soon-to-be-husband Joey, a priority list that included good food, good music, and of course a great photographer. We’ll let Tess tell you a bit more about her thoughts behind her big day:

newlyweds in orange field

From the bride, Tess: About the wedding, Joey and I really just wanted it to feel comfortable, intimate, fun, and reflective of the things that we like. We were limited though, by the fact that we had a tiny budget, we live in Chicago but the wedding was in California, we were both graduating (I needed to pass my nursing boards 2 weeks before we left for the wedding) and once we arrived, we only had a few days to set everything up. I had to choose my battles wisely and not stress out about what didn’t come together.

plum pretty sugar robes

bride getting readybride doing hair

ceremony setup lanterns

gifts for groomsmen

We wanted to spend the bulk of our budget on three things: good food, good music and a good photographer. We had a small wedding with about 90 guests. We didn’t care about traditions, we wanted everything to feel personal. No cake cutting, no lame-o chicken or salmon dish and most importantly no impersonal ceremony. Joey’s parent’s backyard was such a lovely place to get married. We wanted our ceremony to celebrate all of the people who’s relationships were inspirational to us, so we had friends and families wedding/commitment ceremony pictures hanging from the tree behind our homemade altar.

bridal party california

orange dahlia arrangements

groom in orange grovebride in orange grove

sweet first look
vintage dresser altar

Joey used to live in Spain, and before he moved there he had spent time there in Pamplona for the running of the bulls with his family. So his ties to Spanish culture and his Cuban heritage were part of the reason we chose Allegria Cocina Latina (Long Beach) to cater. They were AMAZING! I couldn’t recommend them more. I also love the communal feel of family style dining, that was a must for me. To top it off, an old family friend of Joey’s is in an incredibly talented Latin band (Cafe Fuego) who played our ceremony, dinner, and then stayed for a salsa session. They now play at Allegria and my in-laws go to see them regularly!

ceremony hanging pictures

bride groom portrait
bride getting readybride doing hair
vintage suitcase decor

The bar had to keep up with the great food so I used some of my past Chicago bartending experience to come up with a few signature drinks. We had boozy snow cones (basil syrup with blueberry vodka and lemon rosemary simple syrup with hendricks gin). The bartender was churning out lots of mojitos, sangria, and Goose Island’s Matilda (had to represent Chicago).

seed packet escort cards

bride and groom dancinggroom succulent boutonnieres

groom and bride posing

Dennis Owens and Patrick Miller of Proper Sound were our DJs. Wow. They were so good that I made a “no requests” sign to ward off any Lady Gaga or YMCA requests. Joey and I LOVE soul music, so the guys took all of our suggestions and built up an awesome set from just a few songs.

lantern reception setup

white modern place settingbride drinking

bride and groom in orange grove

All of the decorations were either bought at thrift stores, found around the house or handmade with the exception of the colored lanterns. We rented lights from a guy who puts up Christmas lights in the winter and put them up ourselves. (Saved soo much money that way). We had a great deal of help from our families in the days leading up to our wedding. My in-laws put in countless hours of work on the house to get it wedding ready (and it looked great!). Overall, it was a lot of work, but not overwhelming because of our awesome support team.

bride and groom kiss

View all images from this wedding in the gallery

Wedding Vendors (Yorba Linda, CA):

Wedding Venue: Private residence / Wedding Photographer: Paul von Rieter / Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Broach: Lulu’s / Bride’s Reception Dress: Vintage / Bridesmaids’ Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar / Bride’s Makeup: Dana Delaney / Wedding Band: Cafe Fuego / DJ: Dennis Owens and Patrick Miller of Proper Sound / Wedding Caterer: Allegria Cocina Latina