After their November 2019 engagement, Grace and Dustin planned to tie the knot in California in 2020, but they ultimately began to pivot to the idea of a backyard wedding when COVID-19 forced them to scrap their original dream. An at-home wedding, they quickly learn, “required way too much work!” says the couple, so they reconsidered there options yet again.
The laid-back, minimalist duo knew they didn’t want a traditional venue or an oversized guest list. “We’re not big on crowds, we’re not big on over-the-top weddings—we wanted it to be intimate, fun, and modern-rustic,” says Grace. “Twinkle lights and lots of nature!” After considering all of their options, they chose a cliffside spot at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, for their 50-guest wedding, and celebrated with pizza and beers at Oxbow Brewery Co. in nearby Newcastle after. “We loved the natural rawness of Two Lights State Park—we barely needed to accessorize with a view like that,” says the couple. “Oxbow Brewery was the perfect setting for our reception. We both love their beer and the setting felt like the upscale backyard wedding that we had been wanting.”
Grace and Dustin organized every detail of their wedding day, from hiring a wood-fired pizza oven and sourcing local oysters for dinner to creating their own stationery and hand-dyed table runners. “We did it all, from the invitations to the floral arrangements,” says Grace. “It was our goal to stay in budget and work with all local vendors from Maine, which we did!”
The bride and groom created a day full of memorable moments “by pouring our creative efforts in together,” they say. Ahead, see how their hard work paid off in photographs from Madeline Barr.
As a longtime fan of Reformation fashions, Grace knew their gowns would fit her wedding-day style. She found her pre-owned crepe georgette v-neck on resale site Stillwhite—”It still had the tags on!” she says—and accessorized with Crown Nine Jewelry earrings and Bryr Clogs. “I’m a minimalist for sure,” she says. “It was important to me to shop small for everything.”
“Simple, warm, and natural” makeup, applied by the bride’s sister, aligned with her day-of beauty vision. “My now father-in-law is a hair stylist and has done a lot of wedding updos,” she says. “I worked with him on the Nordic braid look that we ended up going with. I’ve always wanted to do a crown braid—it turned out perfect.” She upgraded her understated look with lash extensions (“Great for all the emotional moments”), a spray tan, and glycolic peels. “Oh, and a gallon of water a day for a few months before made a big difference in my skin and gut,” she says.
Grace asked six women to join her bridal party. “I ordered them in the chapters of my life: My sisters, my high school best friend, my college best friend, my San Francisco best friend, and my East Coast best friend,” she says. Each woman chose her own dress in any style and any shade of green.
The bride and her friends created all the floral arrangements, including her attendants’ bouquets of dried and artificial blooms. “I put some special dried flowers from bouquets Dustin has given me over the years,” says Grace.
Dustin chose a three-piece suit from Indochino with a custom lining and embroidery, a tan hat, and boots. “The boots were something Dustin had been coveting for years—they really made the look,” says Grace. The groom and groomsmen invested minimal time in their wedding morning preparations: “Dustin and a few of the groomsmen stayed the night at the reception venue the night before, drove the vintage Land Rover down to the venue and changed in the state park bathroom!” says Grace.
The couple opted not to share a first look before the ceremony, saving the moment instead for Grace’s walk toward the altar on her father’s arm. “My dad was so proud [to escort me] and took it seriously!” says the bride. For music, Grace and Dustin chose “a Gaelic folk playlist that was perfect for the energy of the day,” they say.
The groom’s stepfather, Steve, officiated the ceremony, which took place on a small section of pathway overlooking the water. “We chose to not do vows, but worked with Steve on the wedding sequence and also chose a passage for my best friend Monica to read,” explains Grace.
During the ceremony, Dustin and Grace stepped through a wooden doorway. “Dustin surprised me after work one day with a rectangular altar!” says Grace. “It was sweet—he said, ‘Will you walk through this into the rest of our lives?’” A secondhand vase sourced from Goodwill and foraged dried flowers sat on the small mat that anchored the space.
A tiny but sentimental beauty moment for Grace came with her manicure, which included 13 petite flowers painted on the nails of each hand. “We got engaged on the 26th, we got married on the 26th, and my husband’s birthday is on the 13th,” she says. “It was a small touch that felt special.”
Dustin’s five groomsmen chose their own suits in any shade of gray, complementing the women’s green dresses. “Dustin is 6-feet, 4-inches, and I’m 5-feet, 11-inches,” says Grace. “It was a tall wedding party!”
Before departing from the park, the couple hiked out onto the rocks for their newlywed portraits. “We wanted it to feel like us,” says Grace.
One of the couple’s favorite touches was the vintage 1960’s Land Rover that they rode in together from the ceremony space to the reception.
Picnic tables and benches outside the brewery provided the backyard atmosphere the couple wanted for their reception. Grace used avocado pits to hand-dye the table runners pink, and borrowed vintage flatware and plates from the venue for their table settings; the couple also created and printed the table numbers and place cards.
“We gathered over 100 varying glass vases from Goodwills all over town,” says Grace. “With the help of some friends we created all of the centerpieces with a combination of cut greens from the venue, dried flowers from my bouquet purchase, and dried flowers and grasses from our travels.”
During the reception, Grace changed into a bell-sleeved dress from Kamperett. The couple served Oxbow brews alongside pizzas from Uproot Pie Company—wood-fired on site. “We also served oysters that Dustin kayaked to buy a couple days prior from an oyster farmer we know,” says Grace.
For dessert, the couple served favorite homemade recipes in jars. “We did two flavors,” says Grace. “My mother made her vegan chocolate cake and Dustin’s mom made blueberry cheesecake.”
The couple created their own playlist for the reception, adding Chris Stapleton’s “When I’m With You” for their first dance and “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves for the parent dance. One of their favorite touches for their outdoor reception was a bubble machine, which “added a little whimsy” throughout the evening.
During the reception, several of the couple’s guests surprised them with live music. “The spontaneous serenades from Jackie, my stepsister, who is a full time jazz singer, Garrett, the best man, and then Dickie and Elizabeth were all so moving,” says Grace “Unplanned perfection!”