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A Flowering Backyard Micro-Wedding in Connecticut

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Charlotte Jenks Lewis

Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.

Margaret “Molly” Merritt Christian and James Brendan McGuire Jr. forewent their original wedding venue in Brooklyn out of concern for COVID-19. The former Ralph Lauren buyer and stylist-turned holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach and her fiancé re-planned their entire wedding, only keeping their wedding date intact. Here, they reminisce over their backyard Connecticut wedding.

The original wedding invitations read that the couple would marry at Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn on September 5th, 2020. By early June, Molly and Brendan realized this simply could not be. “When we thought about our wedding, we thought of dancing and hugging our family and friends, and we just weren’t sure when that would be possible comfortably at the scale of a wedding we’d originally intended,” Molly says. “So we adapted!”

They found the perfect small wedding venue in Molly’s childhood home. Not only is it one of Molly’s favorite places to be during the summer, but the home is also where the couple quarantined with Molly’s family for six months during the pandemic. “It was such a relief to commit to the decision, remove some level of uncertainty, and finally move forward with making our alternate plans.”

Thankfully, planning a wedding at home meant Molly and her mother were already familiar with Connecticut vendors. A family friend, who was Molly’s sister’s florist for her 2016 wedding, composed the most thoughtful flower bouquets. And Molly had her hair done at Mancini Westport, the same luxury salon she went to in high school.

Despite working in the fashion industry, Molly didn’t have an idea of what she wanted for her wedding dress. “I couldn’t really even picture myself in a wedding dress!” she says. With her mother and her sisters, Molly visited bridal ateliers and salons to figure out what kind of dress she wanted. “We specifically went to Gabriella New York Bridal Salon because they carried a few designers that had caught my eye: Alex Perry, Lela Rose, Lihi Hod.”

Molly’s decision came between two very different gowns, but she ultimately chose a Lihi Hod dress. “I am so happy with my decision, especially with the change in venue and plans,” she remarks. “It worked for a more casual backyard wedding and felt very special while also having classic elements.” Plus, she even has plans to turn it into a jumpsuit for the one-year anniversary party! To tie the look together, Molly purchased her veil off of Etsy.

While Molly was unsure about what kind of dress she envisioned for her wedding day, she knew exactly what kind of makeup style she wanted. “I don’t wear a lot of makeup so looking like myself and using as clean of products as possible was important to me,” she explains. “We used a referral from my sister’s wedding, and Jessie was amazing and was able to give me the natural look I was going for, using high quality—mostly clean—products.”

The groom wore a custom navy suit the couple designed together, while Molly worked as a stylist at Trunk Club. “It was my favorite—and first—suit he ever got through me!” She says. He paired the look with an Hermès tie and Gucci loafers. His groomsmen also wore navy suits with gifted Hermès ties. “It felt very classic and easy, given the circumstances.” The oldest ring bearer wore a navy suit as well, “so he felt like he was one of the boys!”

Molly let her bridesmaids select their own Amur and Rent the Runway dresses. “It was really important to me that they were wearing dresses that they loved, could reuse again, and felt comfortable in,” the bride says. She also cherishes the fact that Amur and RTR are both sustainable brands, something she strives to accomplish in her own wardrobe.

Molly’s two sisters wore the dresses they had chosen for the original venue. The elegant gowns elevated the casual setting. “Kate wore one of my favorite designers, Ulla Johnson, and Annie was in Needle & Thread,” Molly says. “Our flower girl is a bit of a tomboy, and if it was up to her, she would have been wearing a soccer jersey down the aisle, so we compromised on a jumpsuit instead of a dress!”

Molly’s family friend, Karen of Lemon Dahlia, arranged the flowers, which practically tell Molly and Brendan’s love story. Molly’s bouquet of locally grown, cafe au lait dahlias, foxglove, and zinnias served as a nod to Molly’s Connecticut upbringing. The white garden roses from Grace Rose Farm in Santa Ynez, CA symbolized the couple’s adventure living in California. The Stephanotis in both Molly’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonniere represented the bond between husband and wife; the white ranunculus in the bridal bouquet and in Molly’s father’s boutonniere represent the bond between father and daughter. The flower girl wore a crown of Gypsophila and carried a bouquet of nine white roses surrounded with geranium leaves symbolizing the family members who had passed on.

Initially hoping to marry at the Congregational Church in town, the couple found out two weeks before their wedding that the church’s sanctuary would be closed. They, once again, adapted and had the ceremony in the backyard.

The reverend from their church officiated, and the couple exchanged traditional vows. “There’s just something so beautiful and sacred about saying those words, and we shared other thoughts in letters we wrote to each other.” Molly’s brother-in-law handled the ceremony music, strumming melodies on his guitar. Molly and Brendan both agree, “the ceremony was perfect- short and sweet.” Brendan adds that he was just “so excited to finally experience this day that we had put so much thought, planning, and preparation into over the last few months.”

Afterward, cocktail hour commenced. The wedding party was able to celebrate freely, knowing that every guest had been COVID-tested prior to the ceremony. The delicious dinner was catered by School House at Cannondale and enjoyed while speeches were made. The festivities continued in the form of “the most epic dance party” with ice cream cake, s’mores, and late-night pizza—not to mention the bonfire and firework display. “Growing up, my dad has always loved lighting fireworks off for special occasions,” Molly says. “There was no better excuse than for him to do a little firework show.”

While reflecting on the process of replanning her wedding, Molly says that she learned “to accept what was outside our control and embrace the fact that our changed plans were not going to be exactly what we had in mind or imagined.” Additionally, “2020 has put so much into perspective, and the day/night/weekend will end up being just as beautiful and special—if not more—in its own way.”

“In the end, it did feel like we planned two weddings, plus a one-year anniversary party in twelve months,” Molly laughs. “But we were so fortunate to be surrounded by so much love. It was a special night celebrating, and I wouldn’t change the process one bit!”