This Backyard Wedding in Texas Was All About Color Contrast

When Conor proposed to Ellen in April 2019, the moment was nothing less than “euphoric,” says the bride. “We got engaged at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,” she shares. “Conor surprised me by flying in early and proposing minutes before our favorite band performed.” This idyllic start was followed by plans for a dazzling September 2020 event for 200 in Washington, D.C.. A church wedding would be followed by a traditional New Orleans second line parade to the reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

“Our vision was always all about designing for the guest experience,” says Ellen. “Contrary to the adage of your wedding being ‘the best day of your life,’ we focused on creating a weekend that was an outward expression of the inner joy, creativity, laughter, and love we get to share with each other every day.” When the pandemic led to a postponement, a location change, and a smaller guest list of 64 loved ones, the pair made sure to stay true to their original “guests first” priority.

“This was a particularly interesting time to design a wedding focused on the guest experience, something that has changed a lot between 2019 and 2021,” Ellen points out. “In that spirit, we put in place a few measures to help us design a fun and safe event for all—including hosting all events outdoors.” With the help of some very loyal D.C. wedding professionals who agreed to work with the couple at their new destination, the pair successfully transferred their event to the backyard of Ellen’s childhood home, the property owned by her parents in Dallas, Texas. “There were very few things that fell within our scope of control,” says the bride. “So, instead of trying to predict what might happen, we pivoted to a place and space that would maximize flexibility as we adjusted plans for safety.”

While Ellen and Conor didn’t have a “theme” in the traditional sense, they borrowed a lot of inspiration from the power of contrast, which led them to weave bright colors through a backdrop of black and white. “The single best decision we made in the planning process was hiring Laura Ritchie with Grit & Grace Inc.,” the bride asserts. “She was a fearless advocate for us and our vision, even when it deviated from tradition or expectation. She put her entire heart and spirit into our original wedding at the NMWA, and yet, Laura was nothing less than fired-up to help us make Dallas a reality. Within one visit, she had struck up a remarkable vision, seeing opportunity in places we had never even imagined.”

In the end, the couple’s greatest joy was the number of family and friends who expressed that they felt touched by the level of thought, creativity, and personality that went into the celebration. “Our guests felt like they were top of mind as we designed each moment to be accessible, while also a fun and creative reflection of us,” Ellen shares. “We are eternal optimists, but we believe that one silver-lining gain from the pandemic is that it has given couples permission to redefine what a ‘wedding’ means—to pick a venue, a size, and a slate of events that truly reflect the pair without any preconceived expectations or judgment of what a wedding should be. We leaned into that permission and built something authentic and delightful as a result.”

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