We can't get enough of this lovely and whimsical handmade wedding!
Shea Shoemaker
Shea Shoemaker July 17, 2019

Whimsical Nature-Loving Backyard Wedding

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“Ben and Meredith love all things nature, agriculture, and genuine. They are the most selfless and sustainable people I have ever met, and incorporated every part of that into their wedding day. First, they started at a vintage bed and breakfast in their small hometown to get ready in. Meredith grew all of her own bouquets in a garden and assembled them herself. Her sister is a talented seamstress and hand made all of the bridesmaid’s dresses and ties! This meant so much to Ben and Meredith as they wanted this to be purely rooted in community and family. The barn at Ben’s grandparents, where the reception space is located, is a place where the Alexander family gathers every week to have a meal and play music together. They wanted to keep this atmosphere for the wedding…just with more people and a larger gathering space. Ben’s grandparents added the pavilion patio area just for the wedding. They were just happy to have a day where all of our families can celebrate together in a place that is home to them! Utilizing their grandparents backyard barn area as the reception area, they personally served each of their guests dessert that the brides family made. As a party gift, they gave their guests sunflower seeds to grow. Meredith asked the guests to grow them, then give her a call when they have matured so she can come cut them down and use them for her sisters wedding in the fall.

In the midst of planning a wedding, Ben has been renovating a grain bin on his parents property for him and Meredith’s future home. Yes, a grain bin house! It was important for them to document this part of their lives. Meredith has always dreamt of living in a grain bin as a child, so Ben wanted to give her that dream. Every unique detail of Ben and Meredith’s day was thought about in the most meaningful way and it shows!” –McKenzie Bigliazzi Photography

What is your favorite wedding day memory?

We got married in an old stone country church which is about a country block away from where Ben grew up and where we are working on our grain bin house. The first Summer we were together, we would always say that we would get married in that old church someday. Our reception was at Ben’s grandparents’ place where his family gathers weekly for food and live music. I just loved being able to introduce my close friends and family to my new family and stomping grounds, and our new life together!!

I also loved riding as newly-weds in an old-car caravan with the wedding party from the church to our grain bin home and then to the reception. Ben’s family completely organized it and it was a blast!

What did you DIY for your wedding?

A lot was DIY-ed for our wedding, but not by just me! Planning for a wedding brought out the best in our friends and family and many people pitched in to make all of our ideas work!

Reception venue: Like I mentioned, our reception was at Ben’s grandparents’ place. Every Saturday night they gather at their grandparents’ barn for eating and playing music together. We wanted our wedding to be kind of like the usual Saturday nights, but we needed space for more people! So, Ben, along with many friends and family, built the pavilion behind the barn where we had our reception.

Music: the usual on a Saturday night at the barn – live music by Ben’s family!

Bridesmaid dresses: I knew I wanted floral, mismatched dresses and I couldn’t find just the right ones anywhere. So, I picked out three different floral fabrics and decided to have them made. My sister {and Maid of Honor} sewed her own dress and Ben’s mom sewed the dress for my sister-in-law.

Veil: I decided last minute that I wanted a veil, but didn’t think it was worth buying one {they seem so overpriced!}. So, the seamstress who altered my dress cut out a piece of tulle and sewed an edging around it. We attached it to a wire piece that I wore underneath my floral crown! Bow-ties: The floral fabric of the bow-ties matched the fabric of the Maid of Honor’s dress. My mom sewed all of the bow-ties for the groomsmen.

Florals: I grew over half of the flowers that we used for the wedding. We supplemented with buckets of cut flowers from a local flower grower, Kira’s Flowers. The bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, floral crown, and arrangements were all created by wonderful ladies from my hometown church.

Cake: I love angel food cake and we also wanted to use locally-grown blueberries in our dessert, so my mother-in-law made a three-tier angel food wedding cake with buttercream frosting and fresh strawberries and blueberries. Then, we had individual cakes at each table so guests could help themselves to however much frosting and fruit they wanted to pile on! Ben and I wanted to be able to help serve dessert, so we brought toppings to each table for their cake.

Other projects we did ourselves include invitations, programs, chalkboard signs, guestbook, seating chart {with table numbers}, gingham fringed table runners, wedding favors and the heart garland.

Did you have a something old, new, borrowed and blue?

Yes! My something old (and borrowed) was my necklace. It was Ben’s great-grandmother’s and is now worn by by the ladies in the family on their wedding day. My wedding dress was my something new and my engagement ring was my something blue.

Any advice for brides currently in the planning process?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, do not do it all yourself! Delegate family members and friends with tasks. Those that are eager and helpful will probably assist with more than you even expected. Also, make the wedding what YOU want. Don’t let yourself be limited by current trends of what is popular. Do not be afraid to do something unique and different. -Meredith, the Bride

Event Credits

Photography: McKenzie Bigliazzi Photography // Ceremony Venue: South Henderson Church // Reception Venue: Ben's Grandparents' Pavillion // Flowers: Kira's Flowers // Rentals: Kempker's True Value // Engagement Ring: Penelli Belle // Bride's Attire: The Bridal Boutique of Naperville // Bride's Shoes: TJ Maxx // Groom + Groomsmen's Attire: JC Penny

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