On a crisp October afternoon—as couple Mary Kate and Sean explored a set of abandoned railroad tracks and snapped photos of fall foliage—Sean snatched Mary Kate's hand and held it over his heart. "It was going insane," Mary Kate recalls, "beating a million times a minute. That's when he got down on one knee. I yelled at him, 'What? Now? Are you serious?' And then I said yes, standing right in the middle of the railroad tracks with no one around."
But on their September wedding day, the couple was hardly alone—they were surrounded by 65 of their closest friends and family, who gathered in the back of Frankies Spuntino restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, to watch them wed.
"We knew we wanted an intimate wedding," Mary Kate says, mentioning that the couple even considered a destination affair to keep the guest count low. Frankies Spuntino "just felt like us."
Frankies Spuntino's location—within walking distance of the couple's apartment, Mary Kate says—and its intimate outdoor garden were two plusses in the venue's favor. But the restaurant's real appeal? "We didn't have to wait a year to get a date," says the bride. "We booked in March and were married on September 1."
Mary Kate tried on 10 dresses before falling for a slim-fitting Nicole Miller sheath. "I wanted something simple, straight, with a little something that made it special," she says.
"Accessories were the last thing on my mind," the Mary Kate admits. The bride chose a flesh-toned pair of pumps from Anthropologie, then turned to online retailer Rent The Runway for accessories.
"In retrospect, I pretty much left that whole thing to chance," Mary Kate says of her accessories, "but I picked the best pieces when they came a few days before the wedding, and they worked." Rent The Runway's jewels bedazzled her ears, while a crystal clip from Untamed Petals added sparkle to the bride's hair.
Mary Kate's gold, sequined clutch added a dash of vintage-style pizzazz.
Florist Flowers & Flowers weaved succulents into the bride's bouquet, which was made from a mixture of ivory and cream-colored roses.
Mary Kate didn't have bridesmaids—instead, the bride asked her sister to serve as her maid of honor. "Because we chose the strangest, most specific colors—mint green and pinkish red—we figured a neutral dress was the way to go," the bride says of her sister's cream-colored dress, which the pair picked out at Nordstrom.
The maid of honor's bouquet looked much like the bride's, but it also popped with pink-hued roses.
Sean sported a custom-made gray suit from 9 Tailors and Converse sneakers.
The bride admits she "quickly became overwhelmed with the wedding planning process and felt paralyzed to make a decision." But deep breaths and advice from wedding blog A Practical Wedding brought things into perspective for her.
Mary Kate's father escorted her down the backyard aisle and toward Sean. "Because we were all close together in the backyard, it made for a very personal, intimate ceremony," the bride says.
"One of the big questions for us, because we have been together for so long, was, 'What will change?'" Mary Kate says. To address that all-important question, the couple offered their answers in their vows. "Sean and I wrote what will change when we get married, and what will never change."
A color scheme of mint green and watermelon red repeated throughout the couple's wedding, from their do-it-yourself invitation suite to the hand-sewn ribbon arbor that served as the backdrop for the ceremony. "This was something I became obsessed with," says the bride, who pieced together the arbor herself.
As the ceremony came to a close, the officiant announced, "You may now high-five the bride," Mary Kate recalls. "So we gave each other a high-five, and then we did the real kissing thing."
An amazing atmosphere topped this couple's list of wedding must-haves, but with Frankies Spuntino's natural neighborhood charm, an amazing atmosphere was almost a given, Mary Kate says. "So then," she says, "we just started picking up things around our neighborhood that fit in."
When a nearby thrift store stocked dozens of vintage cameras, the photography-loving pair scooped them up and repurposed them as table decor.
A self-proclaimed "fan of succulents," the bride bought bunches of the small plants and placed them in silver pails. The potted plants became both escort card holders and favors for guests, who found their seat assignments scrolled across Kraft-colored flags speared into the soil.
"We didn't really have a big-picture vision," Mary Kate admits. "We kept making decisions on things we loved and that reflected our style, and it came together."
The groom—a graphic designer—created the couple's menu cards, which were silkscreen-printed onto Kraft paper. Their design echoed that of the invitations, another of the groom's custom creations, which were printed by Mama's Sauce.
Mary Kate and Sean made guests' place cards from Kraft paper and homemade buttons. On the back of each card, the couple included a small map to lead guests to the after-party.
"Our guests are still talking about the gnocchi and meatballs," Mary Kate brags of the couple's wedding dinner, which also included greens, sausage and an antipasto selection.
"Doing things ourselves made for a lot of memorable memories," Mary Kate says.
Some of those memories included: "Cleaning the silkscreen we used for the save-the-dates with an industrial spray hose at a gas station in Williamsburg in the rain; transferring 80 succulents to their tiny little pails over wine with my friend; pulling together all the finishing touches on the do-it-yourself elements the night before the wedding while watching Father of the Bride with Sean and my sister."
Tables were lined with centerpieces in small glass jars.
A friend of the bride assembled the centerpieces, wrapping greens inside glass jars, then filling them with assorted ivory blooms and berries.
When Mary Kate looks back on their wedding—from tearful readings at the ceremony to a groomsman showing up without a shirt—she sees a beautiful day. "All those imperfect moments are the most memorable and funny stories now," she says.
Ceremony & Venue: Frankies Spuntino
Bride's Wedding Dress: Nicole Miller
Bride's Shoes: Anthropologie
Bride's Wedding Ring: Conroy & Wilcox
Groom's Tux: 9 Tailors
Groom's Shoes: Converse
Groom's Wedding Ring: Spexton
Bridesmaid's Dress: Nordstrom
Mother of the Bride's Dress: Neiman Marcus
Florist: Flowers & Flowers
Caterer: Frankies Spuntino
Stationery: Designed by the groom and printed by Mama's Sauce
Cake Baker: Baking Stone
Favors: San Pedro Cactus
Entertainment: Hot Club of Flatbush
Photography: Chellise Michael Photography