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Real Weddings: A DIY Backyard Brunch

Aug 14, 2014

by Victoria Allison handmade and vintage goods

Victoria Allison is a full-time jewelry designer in the Bay Area. She gets really excited about craft projects, food festivals, vintage trinkets and small details. She loves spending time with her husband and their dog, Butters.

Frank and I met at a concert in Boston in the spring of 2004 – he was a stagehand, and I was shooting photos for a music blog. His crew teased him while they watched us exchange numbers; little did they know that ten years later they would witness us say “I do.”

Today Frank and I live in California, but many of our friends and family are on the East Coast, so we chose to be married at my parents’ home in New Hampshire. Our vision was to celebrate with our families – kids and pets included – at a fun and beautiful backyard brunch reception. Planning a wedding from across the country was challenging, but we pulled it together with help from our amazing loved ones.


Our color palette was inspired by the purple and green hues of an artichoke. I designed our invitations with these colors in mind and the rest of the elements evolved from there. Our style united modern concepts with romantic vintage accents, which is a reflection of both of our personalities.

One of the biggest projects leading up to the wedding was my gown, which I made myself. The entire process took about seven months and involved draping fabric silhouettes on my dress form, making patterns, and sewing the dress out of ivory silk taffeta and vintage glass buttons from Kansas Kards Studio. I chose an A-line cut because I was inspired by mid-century dresses, but I also included contemporary details like an oversized flounce and a sweetheart neckline with curved trim. As a finishing touch, I embroidered our initials and wedding date inside the gown’s hem.


I also created accessories for our wedding party: personalized locket necklaces, ribbon boutonnieres, silk flower hair pieces, and corsages that incorporated leftover material from my gown. My friend Allison from Bishop & Craig whipped up an olive green bow tie for my nephew, and I converted a vintage purple bow tie into a collar for Butters. To keep warm, I wore custom-knit boleros from White Fashion – ivory for the ceremony and olive green for the reception.

Frank’s wedding ring and cuff links were passed down from his late grandfather, Francis. We purchased my antique engagement ring from Gold Adore, as well as a custom wedding band from Jeweler on the Roof. My mother loaned me a special pair of earrings to wear, and my sister Amity arranged our bouquets using peonies from a local farm stand and lilacs — New Hampshire’s state flower — from a family friend’s backyard.


We held the ceremony in front of the garden, next to a bamboo arbor that Frank had constructed. As the string quartet played “Here Comes the Sun,” our flower girls tossed dried rose petals from Starlight Room and presented our rings in a clay ring holder I’d made. As if on cue, the sun peeked through the clouds just before our vows.


After the ceremony, everyone gathered around rows of farm tables propped with burlap runners and nearly 100 vintage and recycled glass bottles that we’d cleaned and painted in a variety of purple hues. We also added paper-cut table numbers and bottles of homemade vanilla extract, which doubled as favors and seating assignments. The head tables featured vintage goblets from R and C Vintiques, as well as crepe paper rosette pomanders that I made.

The string quartet played pop and rock songs while guests stuffed themselves with DIY homemade waffles. Then it was time to cut the cake and reveal the main attraction: a gigantic, cupcake-adorned chandelier that Frank designed and fabricated.


Post-reception, Frank and I visited the renowned local ice cream shop and shared an enormous banana split, and followed it up with a stroll through a nearby field to catch the dramatic evening skies — and savor the sweetness of our day.

All photographs by Sarah Jayne Photography.


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