Getting Married in Yosemite’s Backyard Has Never Looked This Good

Also, cuddling with rabbits on your wedding day? Yes, please.


Brooke, actress & Chase, writer/director

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A handmade, vintage, backyard wedding in the woods.

Planned budget: $10,000

Actual budget: $15,000

Number of guests: 70


Where we allocated the most funds:

The food, venue, and photography were our top budget items. For the food, we actually ended up hiring the local donut shop owner because we just clicked so well with her and everything she made was incredible. Miraculously she agreed to do all the food, including homemade soups for the rehearsal dinner. For the wedding we had prime rib French dips on handmade sourdough rolls with au jus, green beans almandine, and rosemary potatoes. For dessert, we filled vintage cake plates with the most incredible doughnuts that she makes completely from scratch. We really lucked out there.

The venue was tricky. Getting married near Yosemite was Chase’s only request. He grew up camping in Tuolumne Meadows every summer with his family, and it’s where we got engaged. It’s such a magical place, but options are limited when it comes to venues and we decided to rent a house. One of the biggest things for me was not feeling rushed in or out of a venue. The owners of the adorable cabin were so sweet and agreed to let us host all of our events right at the house. We arrived Thursday, had our rehearsal dinner Friday, the wedding Saturday, a brunch Sunday, and then Chase and I stayed until Tuesday. It was perfect.

Photography was one of my biggest priorities so I happily put that at the top of the list as well. Evangeline and Evan are a great team, and they captured the feeling of the day so perfectly. I think Evangeline is best at capturing who you are as a couple and those sweet private moments.


Where we allocated the least funds:

We probably spent the least on our attire, which is so funny to think about now! My cousin actually handmade my dress which was great because we had so much fun every time we would get together to work on it. The boys, including Chase, wore Calvin Klein slacks and they all choose their own shirts, (as did the bridesmaids with their dresses) to create a more eclectic feel.

The floral design and flowers were actually gifted (though I included the cost in our budget breakdown). My aunt is a retired florist and graciously gifted that to us.

I started collecting vintage dishes when we got engaged, almost two years before the wedding. I quickly became obsessed and turned that passion into a business, which was flourishing almost a year later. Since I had made back what I invested by the time our wedding rolled around, the rentals were essentially free since I pulled them from the Fern & Bone collection.


What was totally worth it:

Our venue couldn’t have been more perfect for us. It truly felt like we were having a wedding in our own backyard.

We had a Polaroid “guest book,” and after the wedding we put all of them in a little glass terrarium on our coffee table along with our own Polaroids from the weekend. Every now and then we will look through them.

The vintage lawn games were a hit during the cocktail hour. Chase’s father handmade a pair of beautiful beanbag toss boards and Courtney from Typecastcourt did an incredible job hand lettering them.

The flowers were probably my favorite element. For me, it just doesn’t feel like a proper wedding without flowers. (I probably should have been a florist!) I used to sit with my aunt at her home studio and make arrangements from her discards, and she’d promise to do my flowers when I got married. In the year before the wedding I would spend the night at her house in Redondo Beach and we would wake up early to go to the LA flower market. We even did a test run in March and made samples of everything. It was such a special, emotional time.


What was totally not worth it:

I did SO many DIY projects… in fact, pretty much every element of the wedding was handmade. I went a little overboard and completely stressed myself out trying to fit in every little detail I originally planned. I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to include every element of every wedding you’ve every seen.


A few things that helped us along the way:

We gladly accepted help from our friends and families as the wedding got closer. Since we were bringing everything ourselves we packed multiple cars and trucks.

I also recruited my girls to help with our invitations and save the dates, which were also completely handmade. Our calligrapher created the suite, which I then had made into rubber stamps. Chase cut a roll of wood veneer into little cards and my girls and I would do them in an assembly line. I’d stamp, someone would apply the embossing powder, and someone would heat them.

On the wedding day itself, I was up at 8am, and we recruited everyone to help with setup. My bridesmaids and our mothers helped set tables, iron tablecloths, work on florals, etc. It absolutely would not have been possible without everyone, including our day-of coordinators Lars and Steph, who helped things run smoothly from the rehearsal dinner through the end of the wedding.


My best practical advice for my planning self:

Simplify. Accept your limits and only choose the most important things to focus on.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

Our ceremony outline was actually from APW! We just personalized it and it was so completely perfect. We felt so present in that time. The sun was just about to set and trickled through the trees, it was like a dream. After the ceremony we snuck off and had a little private moment that lasted through cocktail hour. We just sat on the front porch hanging out and taking in what had just happened.

My dad’s speech was incredible.

Our groomsman, Kevin, played a folky version of Queen’s “You’re my Best Friend” for our first dance. He introduced us into the reception that way and we went straight into it. It’s one of my favorite moments in the photos and videos because we are just talking and laughing and hugging all the way through. And it’s beautiful. He did a gorgeous job with the song.

The flowers! Oh the flowers. I loved my crown; I can still smell the garden roses. Our ceremony hoop is now hanging over our bed, and I’ve re-created the look with silk flowers.



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