An English Garden Wedding in the Bride’s Backyard

The couple headed back to their hometown to celebrate in gorgeous black-tie fashion

Updated 04/30/18

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

Kelly Nicastro and Anthony Hrusovsky first met in high school in 2004, when he was a senior and she was a freshman. “I had the biggest crush on him, but probably only spoke a few words to him while we were in school,” says Kelly. Thankfully, they reconnected four years later, and by that time she’d worked up the courage to say a little more. “We started dating six months later, and were together for eight and a half years—through college, graduate school, and stints abroad—before getting married,” she says.

In July of 2016, Kelly was hard at work planning a surprise party for Anthony’s 30th birthday, but didn’t know he was in on all the details. “We were setting up the party at my parents’ apartment in downtown Chicago, and my mom handed us a few things to take up to the rooftop," she recalls. "When we got up there, I looked over the railing and saw my brother, Anthony’s brother, and his brother-in-law holding a huge banner that read ‘Kel, will you marry me?’. Everyone on Oak Street Beach was cheering!” Kelly remembers.

The birthday party turned into an engagement celebration as friends and family—including Kelly’s closest friends from out of town—gathered to mark the occasion.

Kelly has always known she would get married in her parents’ backyard in Lake Forest, a Chicago suburb. “I’ve said so since I was a little girl, and it’s where Anthony and I had our first kiss,” she explains. The bride worked with The Creative Planners (and her mom!) to design a gorgeous English Garden wedding for September 2, 2017. There, all 160 guests gathered for a black tie celebration beneath a clear tent, filled with lush blooms, soft colors, and a true feeling of family.

Keep reading to see all the photos by Olivia Leigh Photographie—you’ll wish your backyard looked like this!

brides childhood home

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

The home is built in an English country style, making it the perfect setting for an English garden wedding. “I loved getting ready in my childhood home with my mom,” says Kelly.

getting ready satin robe

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

monogram robes

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

Kelly spent the day getting reading at home. She wore a silk robe as she got ready, while her bridesmaids wore printed blue robes with their initials embroidered in a coordinating hue.

mother of the bride helping bride

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

The bride chose a simple lace sheath gown from Vera Wang, with an open back and a sheer lace neckline. “I tried on a total of four dresses, and knew this was the one as soon as it was zipped,” she says.

bride illusion neckline wedding dress

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

blue bridesmaids dress

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

bride with bridesmaids and dog

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

Kelly’s bridesmaids wore light blue Amsale dresses in a variety of silhouettes, and the couple’s pup, Macie, was on hand for all of the excitement!

bride back of wedding dress

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

bridal hairstyle updo

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

A few days before the wedding, Kelly, Anthony, and Kelly’s parents were in the yard testing out the dance floor and practicing their moves for the Big Day. “We were having so much fun, and my parents surprised me with diamond earrings to wear on my wedding day,” says the bride.

ring bearer

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

dog in wedding

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

Anthony’s nephew served as the ring bearer, wearing a tiny tuxedo and carrying a sign that read “Here comes the bride!”. He was closely followed by Macie, who wore a wreath of flowers as she headed to the altar.

bride and groom first kiss

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

ceremony exit groom fist bump

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

Anthony and Kelly exchanged traditional vows beneath an arch draped in white roses and greenery before heading to the front of the house for cocktail hour.

groomsman navy suits playing reception games

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

wedding games corn hole

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

At cocktail, guests played lawn games, like cornhole on a board personalized with the bride and groom's names.

gift table

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

pedestal urn cocktail tables

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

The couple stuck to their garden vibe, especially with the topiary plants that were shaped into a dog silhouette! “We used glass tops to turn pedestal urns into cocktail tables, which really added to the garden feel,” Kelly says. They also had coasters made, where guests could leave the newlyweds advice!

escort card display

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

Escort cards were arranged on a grass-topped table, placed in front of a hedge decked out in white roses.

clear tent with chandeliers and wooden chairs

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

menu on place setting silver charger

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

The clear tent was transformed into the reception location, where 40 chandeliers lit the space and tables were surrounded by cross-back chairs. A long king’s table was draped in pale blue runners and topped with floating arrangements of white roses and hydrangeas. Each silver charger featured a menu that was marked with the couple’s monogram.

white cake with couple monogram

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

white cake with couple monogram

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

After a dinner of grilled lake trout and hand-rolled ricotta gnocchi, Kelly and Anthony served two types of cake: Chocolate cake with raspberry conserve and fudge filling, and vanilla bean cake with lemon curd. “The cake was decorated with a lace pattern that matched my veil,” says Kelly.

bride and groom reception chairs

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

The couple sat together at a sweetheart table. There, chairs were covered in greenery to match the garden party vibe.

couple kissing and dancing under lanterns

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

couple kissing sparklers

Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

A band played everything from Frank Sinatra to current hits, and the newlyweds shared their first dance to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli. The caterer passed limoncello pops on the dance floor, and at the end of the night, food trucks served grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh doughnuts.

Suggests Kelly, “Make a point to sneak away with your new spouse and take it all in. We stood at the top of the stairs, overlooking the dance floor, and loved seeing all of our family and friends in one place, having a blast together!”

Wedding Planner: The Creative Planners || Venue: Private Home || Bride's Dress: Vera Wang || Bride's Veil: Vera Wang || Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Bride's Jewelry: Jewels of Lake Forest || Hair & Makeup: Sonia Roselli Chicago || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale, from Bella Bridesmaids || Groom's Attire: The Black Tux || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring: Jewels of Lake Forest || Wedding Bands: Jewels of Lake Forest || Floral Design: Art Quest Florist || Paper Products: Sarah Drake Designs || Catering: Food for Thought || Cake: Elysia Root || Food Trucks: Toasty Cheese, Beaver’s Donuts || Music: Rendezvous Music || Rentals: Halls Rentals, BBJ Linen, Blue Peak Tent || Transportation: Second City Trolley || Videography: Charlie Hilbrant Films || Photography: Olivia Leigh Photographie

Related Stories