"Believe it or not, Dan and I met on spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!" Elise Silvestri says of her first encounter with Dan Hendrickson in March 2010. "I was a senior in college at Saint Josephs University and I had yet to go on a real spring break trip." When Dan, who was on vacation with friends, was looking for another player for a game of water volleyball, the pair locked eyes and the rest, as they say, was history! The couple dated long-distance until January 2011 when Elise made the move to Fort Myers, FL to be with Dan.
Two years later, on July 26, 2013, Dan popped the question while on a weekend getaway with friends. "I really didn't think anything of it because we really needed a vacation," Elise remembers. "Out first night there our friends wanted to test a new camera on the beach. He asked to get a picture of Dan and I so we posed, but Dan stopped him and said he had to 'clean his sunglasses.'" A moment later, the groom pulled an engagement ring out of his glasses case and asked her to marry him.
On September 27, 2014, Elise and Dan said "I do" in Haddonfield, NJ, in an event planned by Melissa Brannon of Uncommon Events. Keep reading to see the photos of their big day, as captured by Asya Photography.
Elise and Dan wanted a ceremony and reception that spoke to their rustic elegance theme. Finding a venue that fit their aesthetic proved to be a breeze — the bride had seen it ever since she was a child! "I was five when I first said I wanted to get married in the backyard," she says of her at-home wedding. "It was a dream that I always had and I am blessed that my parents made my dream come true."
The bride loved the fit and feel of her Monique Lhuillier wedding dress. She chose the strapless gown, complete with lace and tulle details, while on a shopping trip with her mother. Elise completed her look with a veil borrowed from her sister-in-law, custom-made earrings, and her mother's tennis bracelet.
Inspired by Pippa Middleton's royal wedding reception dress, Elise asked her bridesmaids to wear emerald green gowns from Dessy. Each of her seven 'maids picked the style they felt most comfortable wearing. The bride carried a bouquet of white hydrangeas, peonies, and garden roses, while her bridesmaids all toted different arrangements of mixed garden roses, hydrangeas, stock, peonies, roses, and lilies.
Dan and his seven groomsmen wore black Calvin Klein tuxedos from Men's Warehouse.
Transforming a backyard into a wedding venue required a little creativity. The couple had a platform built over the family spa where they exchanged personalized vows. "Guests sat on the pool deck and in the grass yard," the bride remembers. "My dad's yard is so beautiful, we didn't want to take away from it." To make the space special for her wedding, Elise opted to add only white hydrangeas around her ceremony space.
Before moving to the tented reception space, guests found their seating assignments on black escort cards. Once inside, tables were topped with arrangements of white-and-green flowers, including hydrangeas, roses, stock flowers. Elise and Dan brought in a few wooden farmhouse tables and chandeliers to play up their rustic elegance theme. And, instead of traditional table numbers, the bride used photos of her and Dan at different ages for a fun twist.
After a dinner of braised short ribs and roasted chicken, guests enjoyed slices of the couple's four-tier wedding cake. Flavors included pumpkin chocolate chip, vanilla Oreo, and lemon butter cream.
For guests that didn't get their fill of dessert with cake, Elise and Dan offered an extensive dessert bar. Miniature cookies and bottles of milk, an assortment of cupcakes, and a full candy bar provided additional options to please guests with a sweet tooth.
At the end of the evening Elise and Dan left their reception in a flurry of sparklers before setting off for a honeymoon in Saint Lucia. "Keep calm and have fun," Elise reminds other brides. "Even when you think everything is falling apart, trust that it all works out in the end."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private home || Planner & Florist: Uncommon Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier from The Wedding Shoppe || Hair: Robert of LCRJ Salon || Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Bradley's Jewelers || Earrings: Haddonfield Fine Jewelers || Bridesmaids Dresses: The Wedding Shoppe || Groom's and Groomsmen's Attire: Calvin Klein || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Papery || Rentals: Event Equip; Uncommon Events || Catering: STARR Events || Cake: Cakes by Kelly || Music: Rock & Soul || Photo Booth: ShutterBooth || Accommodations: The Westin; Aloft || Photography: Asya Photography
Want to see more backyard wedding inspiration? Watch another couple wed at their D.C. home in the video below!