When Nicole Wineland Thomson was a bridesmaid at a Pennsylvania wedding nearly four years ago, she expected to celebrate her friend’s happily ever after. But, little did she know, she’d be starting her very own love story when she met the videographer, Gregory Ross Fisher. “Once we started talking, we just couldn’t stop,” Nicole gushes. During their courtship, Gregory and Nicole shared a passion for trying new cuisines, so it was only fitting that he incorporated some foodie touches when he proposed in August 2019.
“I came home from work, expecting it to be a normal date night out with Gregory grabbing a ride downtown,” Nicole shares. “This afternoon, however, [he led me] into the backyard of our home to find the most extraordinary, beautiful display: a candlelit table, velvet tablecloth, flowers, market lights, tiki torches, wine glasses, and the most amazing catered private dinner. Gregory got on one knee right there and proposed! He had even arranged for our dear friend to capture the moment.”
For their October 10, 2020 nuptials, Nicole and Gregory envisioned a small, intimate wedding that prioritized their unique bond. “As we have both been married before, we wanted this wedding to embody every piece of our relationship and capture the love we share with one another,” the couple says. “Our children would walk us down the aisle. The attire would be black-tie. There would be a hand-selected chef’s tasting for dinner. The ceremony and reception would be an explosion of florals; and our vows would be hand-written, intimate, and honest.”
However, the ongoing pandemic would require them to pivot from a venue in Connecticut that was equidistant from their respective families to an outdoor—and Covid-compliant—ceremony in the parents of the bride’s backyard.
With a lush assortment of flowers, personal vows, and 30 of their favorite people, the couple’s wedding was “more perfect, special, intimate, and exclusive than we could have ever imagined.” Read on for an intimate look at this backyard wedding, as planned by Keri Ketterer Walter of Always Yours Events and photographed by Elizabeth LaDuca Photography.
“We chose a painterly palette with Keri that included an array of shades for depth and visual interest,” Nicole shares of the hues which incorporated soft white, candlelit cream, pale blush, taupe, dusty rose, pale blue, slate blue, and a hint of gold. “A plethora of greenery was a major part of how we kept the design feeling garden-inspired and dreamy,” she adds. The invitation suite from Sugared Fig Paperie kicked off the festivities in style, bridging the gap between elegant and ethereal.
Gregory sported a custom tuxedo by Christopher Cuozzo, which was finished with a sentimental lining. “Inside the tuxedo jacket, imprinted on the fabric, were photos of [us],” the bride shares. “It was a complete surprise for [me] at the first look when Gregory opened up his jacket!”
The bride enlisted Glamour Cosmetics and My Big Hair Day to get her wedding-ready. An ethereal, flower-clad updo perfectly matched the day’s garden party aesthetic.
Since the couple lives two streets away from their wedding venue, they were able to get ready and share their first look at home.
People would walk into the backyard and feel as if they were entering an elegant, hidden garden.
Floral designer Twisted Willow framed the aisle with an assortment of overgrown, lush blooms. With an array of garden roses and pampas grasses, the statement arch was the exclamation point of the ceremony’s setup. “We wanted it to be luxurious and ethereal, where people would walk into the backyard and feel as if they were entering an elegant, hidden garden,” the bride shares.
Before saying their “I do’s,” the blended family took a moment to soak up the big day.
Gregory walked down the aisle with his two children to the tune of “XO.”
As for the bride? She gilded down the aisle with her five-year-old son, Haden, and a fresh bouquet in tow. “The bouquet was filled with some of [my] favorite florals, including dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, snowberry, and blooming vines,” the bride shares.
The couple opted for an intimate ceremony, with a family friend presiding as the officiant. According to Nicole and Gregory, one of the day’s biggest highlights was reciting the heartfelt vows they wrote for each other.
Once the couple slipped on their Brilliant Earth wedding bands and shared a kiss, they recessed down the aisle to Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing.”
After the ceremony, guests headed to the reception area, which was designed to feel like an opulent greenhouse. The custom-sized tent, courtesy of Greenwich Tent, was layered with fresh flowers, overhead trellises, and candlelight to create a romantic atmosphere. “The [opening of] the tent was covered in thousands of blooms, greens, draping to create a grand entry,” the bride adds.
The tables were arranged in a unique U-shape, with guests seated by household to adhere to the ever-changing Covid-19 safety precuations. Rounding out the tablescape were velvet linens, fresh flowers, taper candles, gilded dinnerware, and customized menus to match each guest’s dietary restrictions.
Each place setting featured a homemade present, courtesy of the newlyweds. “We have a love of traveling and exploring the world together,” the bride shares. “While [in Italy], we experienced an incredible cooking class overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice and learned how to make traditional pesto. For our wedding day, we created little bottles of pesto with custom labels for all of our guests to take home.”
In true foodie fashion, the couple selected three cakes from Silver Whisk Bake Shop: a double chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and raspberry; a lemon cake with vanilla buttercream and strawberry compote; and a classic vanilla cake with mocha buttercream.
I wanted something really unique, modern, elegant, and sexy.
The bride stunned in a custom lace and tulle number from Berta. “I wanted something really unique, modern, elegant, and sexy,” Nicole shares. “Something that matched the overall theme of the day, and would also totally surprise Gregory! The moment I put on the Berta gown—the way it fit me and the way I felt in the dress—was breathtaking. I knew it was the one!”
Though Nicole knew her Berta dress was “the one,” she thought it was missing a whimsical, ethereal element. For the perfect finishing touch, Nicole tapped La Jolie Bride to create a detachable train. “The train was perfect because you could still see the details of my dress through the sheer fabric, but it added drama and a silky movement to the entire gown,” she shares. “Plus, it was almost as if I had two dresses because I wore the train during the ceremony and removed it for the reception!”
Thirsty? Guests could sip on one of the couple’s signature cocktails: a French 75 with micro florals and a twist on the classic old-fashioned. “[We] chose [our] two favorite [coupe drinks] to serve as signature cocktails, including an old fashioned that was ‘smoked’ on demand for guests to enjoy the way [Gregory] likes his cocktails,” the couple shares.
Connecticut-based catering company Forks & Fingers crafted a decadent, five-course menu for the occasion. Highlights included cold pressed watermelon with hearts of palm, Sorrento lemon granita, pesto house-made bucatini with a pancetta chip and peas, and Barolo braised beef short ribs.
As for dessert? Guests paired the three cake options with mini pavlovas and glasses of Champagne. After dining, guests hit the dance floor and grooved to a playlist by Elevated Pulse Productions. The couple shared their first dance to “Take the World” by Johnnyswim.
For Nicole and Gregory, it was their vendors that made their special day— pandemic pivots and all—go off without a hitch. “They are truly experts and wizards and will bend over backwards to help put your vision together,” they share. “We had to sacrifice a few things, like hiring a live band for example, which we had always wanted for our wedding. But having Keri at the helm to help us navigate was invaluable.”