On Netlix's Queer Eye, we've seen host Bobby Berk transform spaces and make deserving couples (and, OK, us too!) cry countless tears of joy. Now, we have news: He's doing it again—this time for engaged couples with wedding plans impacted by COVID-19.
Meet the Expert
Bobby Berk is an interior designer based in New York City, where he owns a full-service design practice for residential, commercial, and hospitality clientele. He is best known as the design guru on Netflix's Queer Eye.
This summer, the famed interior designer has partnered with Lowe's to curate three collections—boho, farmhouse, and coastal chic—of backyard wedding décor designed for couples of all styles. Naturally, to kick off the launch, he worked with real couples (from Arizona, South Carolina, Ohio, and New York!) to reimagine their planned dream weddings into their dream backyard weddings.
Check out their stories below but don't feel overwhelmed by a huge reno project when you do! Berk is a pro at installing bistro lights and draping best-not-seen spaces, but it's OK if you're not a DIY pro yourself. He has tips, tricks, and advice to help any couple (no matter your style, budget, or expertise with a hammer) DIY a backyard wedding at home.
Berk's Top Tips
- Embrace Ambient Lighting: "If I could incorporate just one thing into a backyard wedding, it would be ambient lighting, brought in through bistro lights, candles, or lanterns," he says. "These items immediately elevate the mood and warm the space!"
- Maximize Small Spaces: Working with a small space? Berk recommends utilizing products—such as beautiful flowers, herbs, plants, or bistro lights— that will enhance the setting pre-and post-wedding. "Those foundational items won't take up extra space as décor might, but they will beautify the space and keep it often," he explains. "The simple backyard upgrades regardless of the size of your space can ensure your ceremony feels cohesive, romantic, and special."
- Consider the Weather: When hosting a backyard, it's critical to know your weather patterns. Does the sun hit in a certain direction that could be the most comfortable for you as a couple or for the guests? "Set up the backyard in a way that is most comfortable for guests and for you as a couple, so it is the most pleasant," Berk says. "You can add fabric and bring in greenery to help create shade where needed."
- Focus On What's Most Important: Berk encourages couples to think beyond the wedding day, saying, "Most importantly, a wedding isn't what makes your relationship, it's your marriage! Don't forget the value of why you want to get married—to spend the rest of your life with one another, not just to spend the most perfect day together."
Read on for more backyard wedding #inspo but remember: All you really need is your partner, a simple design vision, and a few statement pieces from his new collections—oh, and lots of ambient lighting!
Milo & Lance: A Destination Wedding at Home
When COVID-19 stalled their plans for a destination wedding in Spain, Milo Anderson and Lance Putnam decided to wed at home in Columbia, South Carolina—with the help of designer Berk, of course. Their goal? Create a Meditteranean oasis in their own backyard.
While it wasn't what they had planned, the at-home setting also felt appropriate for the couple: Five years ago, when Milo moved to South Carolina, he says Lance made the unfamiliar location "feel like home."
To execute what Berk calls Milo and Lance's "clear vision," he focused on natural and neutral enhancements. This translated to a stone base, wooden pergola, and plenty of potted plants and climbing greenery.
Set below the pergola, a long rectangular dining table took center stage—literally! Berk dressed the table up, adding a touch of the couple's romantic Mediterranean vision, with coordinating bistro chairs and a runner topped with votive candles in mercury glass vases and single-bloom flower arrangements. "My biggest recommendation was to add light (and lots of different kinds) to create ambiance," Berk says. They did this with blue-and-white taper candles and string lights, ultimately creating an elevated yet rustic look.
Nyanka & Brent: A Coastal Wedding in Brooklyn
Nyanka Noire and Brent Jules have been a couple since 8th grade (!!) so no matter what, they were determined to get married on their original wedding date: June 20, 2020.
With short notice, the couple worked with Lowe's to transform their unfished backyard into a cozy venue inspired by the bride's childhood in the West Indies. "The vision for this wedding was to strike the perfect balance between tropical plants and shades of teal and aqua while integrating neutral pieces to ensure they had the simple and elegant wedding they had always envisioned," Berk explains of the design process.
Another tip? If you're running with a coastal theme, he recommends keeping your décor and seating casual (with comfy chairs, throws, and pillows, et cetera) and utilizing natural materials such as rattan and wicker for furniture and accent pieces like rugs and lanterns.
Alexis & Mark: A Rustic Wedding at a Log Cabin
On June 13, 2020, Alexis Egeland and Mark Ford eloped at Mark's family cabin in Arizona—the site of their engagement! Their big dream wedding is postponed until 2021, but they didn't hold back on enhancing the intimate moment with romantic-meets-rustic décor.
"I fell in love with this space and knew that there was so much opportunity to showcase the natural elements of their beautiful venue," says Berk. Inspired by the rustic setting, he brought the couple's vision to life with a canopy of bistro lights, wooden folding chairs, and a candle-lined aisle. Rustic chandeliers were also suspended from pine trees, which Berk admits is his favorite part of the design. He says they "created the perfect focal point" and added "that extra touch of charm to the string light display they had always wanted."
Sonja & James: A Modern-Meets-Boho Wedding
Sonja Koehler and James Godfrey's wedding was planned as an outdoor ceremony, followed by a reception at a brewery with an industrial feel. However, when COVID forced them to change venues, the couple—known as "Sonjames" to their friends—recreated the same feeling in a new setting on June 20, 2020.
The couple got engaged while on vacation in Costa Rica so Berk used that location—and their self-admitted love of the beach—as his inspiration. Ultimately, their Ohio ceremony combined beach vibes (thanks to deep blues and bamboo chairs) with local wildflowers and unexpected, modern touches like a neon sign customized with the couple's nickname.
Torrey & Zach: A Succulent-Filled Wedding at Home
Torrey Zimmer and Zach Sheets now call Texas home, but they returned to Ohio, where they met at Green State University, to say "I do" in the groom's family's backyard. While they were marrying in Ohio, they wanted two things that are not native to the area: succulents and sand.
Gravitating towards Berk's bohemian collection, they worked together to incorporate their priority natural elements in the form of centerpieces. They even added more unexpected textures—all in neutral hues— like fringe poufs (around a fire pit!) and a homemade wooden sign displaying their new last name. "Torrey and Zach really leaned into natural elements as we worked to design their space," Berk recalls. "From greenery to wood and stone, it all set that neutral foundation and allowed us to bring their venue to life."