A Backyard Minimony Full of Modern Romance in Castro Valley, California

Planned by Lea Stafford Events.

bride and groom kissing

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

June Williams, a global tech policy advisor at Google, and Stuart Glenn, a senior development manager at Apple, first met back in 2007 in Washington, DC, at a barbecue. Ten years later, they’d find themselves both on the West Coast. June reached out to invite Stuart to a professional networking event, but found her future husband. 

Stuart popped the question on a surprise trip to Maui in November of 2019 with an engagement ring by Zameer Kassam, and the couple set their wedding date: October 10, 2020. Little did they know that the world would change after sending their save the dates.

COVID challenged us to ask ourselves whether we would even have a wedding anytime soon because the safety and health of our loved ones is our primary concern,” June says. “We really wanted to honor our wedding date despite the challenges that 2020 delivered. We decided that we should make the day special and celebrate love and life.”

Working with Lea Stafford, the couple put on a backyard wedding at their home in Castro Valley, California. The couple cut the guest list from 150 to 13—just immediate family—but kept plenty of personal details, like a focus on food and music. They maintained their mission of hiring vendors with businesses owned by Black women and people of color. June even managed to surprise Stuart during the reception by flying in his cousin to sing India Arie’s “Beautiful Surprise.” And hosting the wedding at home motivated the couple to finish their landscaping amid lockdown.

“It was the most beautiful backdrop to a magical day,” June says. “We spent most of quarantine between these walls, and it’s the place where we will make many memories together as husband and wife."

Read on for all the details of June and Stuart’s romantic, backyard wedding, planned by Lea Stafford Events and photographed by Lynn Dunston Photography.

stationery suite

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

June admits the most stressful part of her COVID wedding planning was the guest list. They went from 150 to 13 guests, just parents and siblings, but it was after they had sent their save-the-dates. “We did not want to leave anyone out, but realized that we’d create a potentially risky event, unless we scaled down,” she adds. 

bride getting ready

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

The dress symbolized the beginning of our union and I wanted to look back at pictures with pride.

bride posing in wedding dress

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

“The dress symbolized the beginning of our union and I wanted to look back at pictures with pride,” June says of her beaded Essence of Australia gown. In fact, it was the first dress she tried on, and she liked it because it “was interesting from all angles.” She paired it with a long veil, since she had originally looked forward to a church wedding.

bride and her bridesmaid

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

Since the couple initially planned for a black tie affair, they kept that dress code for their minimony. June’s bridesmaids wore dusty pink gowns from the Dessy Collection

groom posing in his suit

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

groom showing off his watch

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

Stuart took inspiration for his look from James Bond, donning a classic Zegna tuxedo and a sweet gift from June: a Tissot Gentleman timepiece. 

bride and groom posing

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

“When we started wedding planning in December 2019, it was important to us to celebrate and promote businesses with a social equity lens,’ June says of carefully choosing their wedding vendors. “We located some of the best in the business and also wanted to support Black women businesses and people of color.”

Bride and groom reading vows

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

bouquet

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

June and Stuart wrote their own vows but shared them privately after the ceremony.

wedding day signage

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

June and Stuart say that hosting the wedding at home was the best decision, and seeing the ceremony and reception décor—in their backyard—was one of their top three memories of the day. 

ceremony aisle with rose petals

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

rose petals down the aisle

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

To fit with their modern romance theme, the ceremony decor features two simple plexiglass pillars topped with arrangements of blush-hued blooms. Guests sat at French country chairs and the aisle included white flower petals.  

walking down the aisle

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

June’s father escorted her down the aisle as the couple’s DJ played “Fall for You” by Leela James.

bride standing at the altar

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

holding hands at the altar

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

officially married

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

Bishop Nathaniel A. Bullock presided over the traditional ceremony, where the couple exchanged rings and vowed “until death do us part.”

bride and groom posing

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

We wanted our guests to forget that they were in a pandemic and receive VIP treatment for a day.

bride and groom posing

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

“We wanted our guests to forget that they were in a pandemic and receive VIP treatment for a day, make it a night to remember,” June says of the celebration. 

cocktail hour

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

For cocktail hour, the couple served their signature drink, Moscow Mules, alongside wines from the McBride Sisters Collection.

reception tablescape

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

floral table runner

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

floral table runner

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

For the reception, guests sat at a long kings table covered with a lengthy floral garland. To make guests feel more comfortable with the arrangement, Lea Stafford spaced out the seats, set up a sanitizer station, and gave all guests a safety kit with a mask, hand wipes, and sanitizer. 

place setting

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

outdoor reception tablescape

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

menu

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

“Since we were having a fall wedding with family, we leaned into comfort food in an elevated way,” June says of the meal. She and Stuart flew in Chef Brian Stansberry to design the menu, which included mini lobster rolls, shrimp and grits, bronzed salmon, and coq au vin. 

floral details

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

cake

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

Lambert Floral Studio designed all the flowers for the day, including the potted arrangements that decorated the couple’s deck. 

cake

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

The couple’s two-tier cake included a duo of flavors: lemon cake with strawberry filling on the bottom and chocolate dulce de leche on the top.

cake cutting

Photo by Lynn Dunston Photography

After the celebration, June and Stuart headed inside to their living room where they plopped on the couch to relax. “Stuart has poured his blood, sweat and tears into designing and renovating this home—and it was the most beautiful backdrop to a magical day,” June says. “It’s the place where we will make many memories together as husband and wife.”

Wedding Team

Venue Private Residence

Planner Lea Stafford Events

Officiant Bishop Nathaniel A. Bullock

Bridal Gown Essence of Australia

Bridal Salon J’aime’s Bridal

Shoes BHLDN

Rehearsal Dinner Attire Anthropologie

Hair Ariahnn

Makeup Tori Camille Heyward-Bey

Bridesmaid Dresses Dessy Collection

Mother of the Bride Dress Alex Evenings

Groom’s Attire Ermenegildo Zegna

Engagement Ring Zameer Kassam

Wedding Bands Zameer Kassam; David Yurman

Floral Design Lambert Floral Studio

Stationery Minted

Other Paper Goods Handlettered by Tiffany

Music TeeBros Studios

Catering Brian Stansberry

Cake Old Danville Bakery

Rentals La Tavola Fine Linen; Standard Party Rentals

Favors The Cookie Jar

Accommodations Claremont Hotel

Photography Lynn Dunston Photography

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