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A Whimsical and Intimate Backyard Wedding in Pennsylvania

by Staff

When Ryan Guss and Alexis Foglia first met on the sandy shores of Margate Beach in 2016, the spark was instant and unavoidable. In fact, since their families each had homes at the New Jersey destination, they spent the rest of the summer meeting up at the beach. Of course, this was a lot more than summer love. After two years of doing long distance, Alexis moved to Philadelphia. Then, Ryan popped the question in their first apartment together in 2019.

Since she’s the first-born and eldest daughter, Alexis’s father, joked that she could just get married at her family’s beautiful backyard in Pennsylvania to avoid planning a large wedding. However, Ryan and Alexis decided to swap vows at Philadelphia’s Fitler Center in June 2020. But, due to the ongoing pandemic, the couple’s big day was postponed by two months. Then, just two weeks before their August 15, 2020 nuptials, the couple decided to take up on the father-of-the bride’s offer. They swapped their venue to the Foglia family’s backyard and hired a new wedding planner to turn their vision into a reality. 

“It turned out to be the most stunning venue and day,” the couple said. “It was calming in a way that most weddings are not, and felt so serene.”

The intimate, 20-person wedding was a dream come true, filled with personal moments for each guest, as well as an idyllic, fairytale backdrop. Keep reading for an in-depth look at their special day, planned by Everlemon Events and photographed by Du Soleil Photographie.

“My vision was to feel like a woodsy fairytale—simple but chic—with our most treasured people around us,” the bride shares. “It was a moment in time when being surrounded with your healthy loved ones felt like the most special place to be in the world, and it felt like that exactly.” The traditional invitations—complete with sweet, botanical details—that the couple sourced from Moontree Letterpress laid the groundwork for a whimsical, woodsy wonderland.

The Foglia family’s property was the homebase for the entire celebration. In fact, the whole family—including the wedding party—got ready at the bride’s parents house; the girls primped upstairs while the boys got ready downstairs.

The bride donned a strapless trumpet dress from Ines Di Santo, finished with a cowl neck and lace appliqué on the bodice. “I found a photo of it on Instagram on a bridal shop’s account that I was following,” she shares. “I went in and tried it on. It was the only shop I went to and the only dress I ever tried on!”

Alexis accessorized with a custom veil, Jimmy Choo heels, and a pearl clutch from Cult Gaia. As a special touch, the bride wore her grandma’s old Chanel perfume and pinky ring. “She was in the nursing home at the time of the wedding and could not attend as they were locked down,” says Alexis. “I went to see her in my wedding dress the next morning—she loved it.”

The groom looked dapper in a custom tuxedo and bowtie. And, similar to his bride, Ryan found a heartwarming way to pay tribute to his ancestors. “He carried a photo of his grandfather who couldn’t be with us that day in his pocket,” Alexis shares. “My mom had them made for us and surprised us with them on the wedding day.”

The bride and her father had their first look in the family’s front yard. According to the bride, her dad “crying hysterically” during the first look was one of the most special moments of the entire day.

From there, the bride moseyed to the property’s backyard, where she shared a first look with her husband-to-be. Though the couple had to pivot their plans a few times, they were thrilled the day was finally here. They said the easiest part of planning was “sticking with the date and knowing that no matter what version of our wedding we were having, that it was happening,” the couple shares. “We didn’t want to wait any longer.”

Before they kicked off the festivities, the couple had a brief photoshoot at the Kindle Hill Foundation, a neighboring farm and the location community non-profit that offers horse therapy. “I grew up walking down the street to watch the horses,” Alexis shares.

The Foglia family’s backyard was the perfect backdrop for a romantic and airy ceremony. To elevate the space’s natural beauty, Carl Alan Floral Artistry carefully crafted an acrylic arbor topped with subtle pink baby’s breath and elegant pedestal urns arrangements at the end of each aisle.

Though the ceremony was streamed for the couple’s socially distanced circles, Alexis and Ryan made sure their in-person guests had special roles throughout the day. “[Each one] walked down the aisle—for no audience—and we dined at a large group table where every guest was able to give a speech,” the bride shares. 

“We had to cancel our band to reduce the total number of guests at the event,” Alexis shares. “My parents literally went and bought a boom box the day before our wedding. The groom and his parents walked down the aisle to an instrumental rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”

Our two grandmothers that were able to attend were our flower girls.

“Our two grandmothers that were able to attend were our flower girls,” the bride adds. “They both wore black, but threw white rose petals down the aisle on their way down. They were adorable!”

The bride glided down the aisle to Coldplay’s instrumental version of “Paradise,” with her parents in tow. Throughout the day, she carried a tonal bouquet of baby’s breath and Phalaenopsis orchids.

To make the day extra special, the couple swapped personalized vows. “I wrote them at my childhood desk,” the bride adds. “We didn’t read them to each other before the actual ceremony.”

After saying their vows, the couple exchanged wedding bands by AR Morris Jewelers, who also designed the bride’s engagement ring.

For the couple, it was important to represent their families’ backgrounds throughout the special day. “We come from different religious backgrounds so the whole day was a mashup of our favorite traditions,” Alexis shares. “From first looks to ceremony flow to an archway and chuppah comb to breaking of the glass and more. We did both the hora and the tarantella, a traditional Italian dance.”

We are super family oriented and our families really feel like one. It’s so special.

The ceremony concluded with a brief drizzle—almost like a good luck gift from Mother Nature herself. “We are super family oriented and our families really feel like one,” the couple shares. “It’s so special. We spent the whole day as one big family. The groom’s parents even slept over at the bride’s parents house that night. Then we all woke up the next day and had breakfast together!”

Before they headed to the reception, the newlyweds posed for a photo-op and caught up with their virtual guests.

The reception mastered modern elegance, thanks to a mélange of candles, mirrored bar, and atwinkly tent above. A floral canapé of white phalaenopsis orchids, hybrid delphinium, baby’s breath, ruscus, amaranthus, and anthurium gave the tablescape a botanical touch.

Handwritten place cards and subtle vellum menus by Willow Wynn were placed at each setting with individually-tied white ruscus and hand-picked rentals. Speaking of the menu, dinner featured a cucumber and grilled squash salad to start, followed by a choice of miso-glazed cod and gnocchi. “My family is Italian and we wanted to keep a family favorite on the menu,” the bride shares.

During the reception, guests enjoyed the couple’s signature drink: mojitos made with mint from the Foglia family’s nearby garden.

The happy couple slowly built a wedding playlist during quarantine with all their favorite songs. As for their first dance? Alexis and Ryan swayed to “Speechless” by Dan & Shay.

Alexis and her father took to the floor to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” while the mother-son dance was“My Wish” by Rascal Flatts.

The bride didn’t don a second dress for her reception, but she did swap out her kicks for the dance floor. She spent the latter part of the night in stylish and comfortable high-top Converse sneakers.

Of course, no reception is complete without dessert. The couple opted for a simple tiered cake from Termini Brothers, complete with raspberry and buttercream icing. Additionally, they also had a few flavors from Philadelphia-favorite Federal Donuts.

We danced the night away like no one was watching—because no one was.

Though the gathering was small, the couple made impactful memories to last a lifetime. “We danced the night away like no one was watching—because no one was,” the bride shares. “There is no feeling quite like that!”

Her final piece of advice? “Don’t overlook your backyard,” she says.

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