Mollie Eshelman first met Graham Bullis in the winter of 2005 while both were in high school, but it wasn't until five years later that the two became a couple. Things took off and, three years after that, in November of 2013, Graham woke Mollie up early with breakfast and champagne in bed. They spent the day together, enjoying walking through the park where the first met and a romantic dinner at their favorite restaurant in Seattle, along with a proposal.
The couple knew they wanted to celebrate their wedding at home in Seattle, so they invited 188 guests to the bride's parent's house on Lake Washington for romantic, open-air ceremony and reception on August 9, 2014. "We wanted something timeless and elegant," Mollie says. "As for the feel of the day, we wanted it to be a good old fashioned party! No rushing, no strict timelines or long speeches. We really wanted all of our guests to enjoy the property, food, drinks, and company." And that they did! Keep reading to see their entire day, as photographed by Michele M. Waite Photography.
Mollie and Graham turned to stationer Jenny Wittlinger of Wendu Ink for their invitations and paper goods. They chose a classic navy and white color scheme — a subtle nod to their destination on the water — and completed the suite with a map enclosure.
The bride walked down the aisle in a strapless Monique Lhuillier wedding dress. "I felt amazing in it!" she remembers. "It's true what they say — you know exactly when you've found your dress." Mollie knew she wanted a loose, manageable bouquet with a natural and effortless feel, so her florist, Melanie Benson Floral Design, created a berry, pink, and green-hued arrangement with dahlias, Japanese anemones, peonies, and roses.
Her four bridesmaids each chose their own classic black cocktail-length dress and carried smaller versions of Mollie's bouquet.
Graham turned to J.Crew for a classic Ludlow suit, which he accessorized with a small rose boutonniere.
James and Emma, the bride's cousin's children, served as the couple's flower girl and ring bearer; he wore linen shorts with a white shirt and black suspenders while she wore a sweet tea-length dress. The sweet brother and sister walked down the aisle hand-in-hand, kicking off the ceremony officiated by the bride's cousin, Reid. Mollie's father walked the bride down a stone aisle where she met Graham beneath a floral arch. "We wrote our own vows. He promised to make me tea every morning and I promised to consider playing golf," Mollie says. "Neither of us have held up those vows very well."
The couple and their guests stayed by the water for cocktail hour, where everyone indulged in cocktails, a selection of wine from a local vineyard, and plenty of oysters. Dinner was served near the family home on an upper lawn. There, round and rectangular tables were decorated with lush centerpieces, vintage dinnerware, and lots of candlelight. Mollie and Graham's florist used many of the flowers found in the bride's bouquet for the reception, but added additional blooms and lots of fruit for decoration. "Melanie did such a spectacular job incorporating other elements for colors like blackberries, plums, pears, and greenery," she says.
In addition to the plated meal, which included a grilled nectarine caprese salad, herb-crusted beef tenderloin, and summer vegetable torta rustica, the couple set up food and beverage stations around the property where guests could grab snacks and sips throughout the night.
As night fell, caf&eaute; lights lent a romantic glow to the backyard reception and guests had the opportunity to take in stunning views of Mount Rainer.
Dessert was almost too pretty to eat — almost! "We wanted the cake to look good!" Mollie says. "I don't like those stiff wedding cakes that are common. They don't look appetizing to me, so we went with a swirled buttercream frosting, chocolate cake, cream cheese filling, and a layer of fresh strawberries." The confection was decorated with a cascade of berry-colored flowers.
Mollie and Graham partied with their guests until 1 AM, and paused the dancing only briefly at 10:30 PM to serve late night snacks from Dick's Drive In, a local Seattle favorite.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private residence || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Hair & Makeup: Erin Skipley Hair and Makeup || Groom's Attire: J.Crew || Florist: Melanie Benson Floral Design || Stationery: Wendu Ink || Décor: Vintage Ambiance || Catering & Cake: Herban Feast || Videographer: Patrick Kehoe || Photographer: Michele M. Waite Photography
Did you love this backyard wedding? Then watch another at-home celebration in the video below.