And the floral-filled ceremony arch was a beautiful backdrop to the celebration.
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Over the past year, backyard weddings have become the de rigueur setting for myriad couples who wanted to find a way to say “I do” amid the pandemic. It’s a trend that’s resulted in charming, intimate gatherings and meaningful moments in unexpected places. This small New Jersey backyard wedding is a beautiful example. Gorgeous pink-hued florals were everywhere, with a ceremony arch that was beyond the couple’s dreams. UBara Weddings captured the sweet soiree, which you can see below.
Janel Robertson was friends with Honore Haughton’s sister long before her groom really came into her life. Janel, a Cheltenham-born registered nurse at Johns Hopkins, had just started college at Penn 15 years ago and begun attending West Philadelphia Seventh-Day Adventist Church when she met sister Calina, whose family also went to services there. “They were very kind to me over the years,” she says.
Flash-forward to 2018, when the groom-to-be entered the picture. The West Philly-born eighth-grade math and computer science teacher had recently moved back to the area from Maryland, and Calina set the two up. Janel was a bit skeptical at first; she valued her friendship with Calina and was worried what would happen if she and Honore didn’t click. Luckily, it all worked out, and by their second date — at the Cheesecake Factory in Willow Grove — they knew they’d be together forever. Honore proposed at that same restaurant exactly a year later. “It was private because he understands that I have social anxiety, but meaningful because he acknowledged our journey,” says Janel.
The couple, who now live in Bowie, Maryland, set their 100-person wedding for May 31, 2020, at The Madison in Riverside, New Jersey, but were forced to change their approach due to the pandemic. “We both underestimated the extent to which COVID-19 would disrupt our wedding plans,” says Janel. “I started to hear of people canceling their weddings on social media and the news, but I figured we would be able to decrease the number of guests and keep our date.” When their venue had to close due to the state’s health and safety guidelines, the couple began reassessing every few weeks. They each had a cousin pass away from COVID, and they considered the amount of money they would lose as well as how long they wanted to postpone their ceremony. “We decided to just have something small, because the marriage matters more than the wedding,” says the bride.
They ultimately settled on September 13th, at Honore’s parents’ home in Sicklerville. Twenty of their closest friends and family members attended the floral-filled backyard affair, which the pair describes as “short, sweet, beautiful and simple.” Both the bride and groom loved the decor and agree it was their biggest surprise. “We were so happy that it looked as beautiful as it did,” Janel says. “It turned out better than we dreamed.”
The ceremony arch was among the unique details. Florist Cathy Johnson used blooms from female-owned and locally operated growers, including Jig-Bee Flower Farm. “I was speechless,” says Janel. “It looked like something a celebrity designer could have made.” There were garden roses, amaranthus, antique hydrangeas, zinnias, snapdragons and celosia, as well as some of the flowers in the bride’s bouquet. (She carried a mix of ‘Playa Blanca,’ ‘Nena,’ black ‘Baccara’ and ‘Pink Floyd’ roses, with pink ‘Marshmallow’ and ‘Damask’ veronica, zinnias and hydrangeas.) The bridesmaids — Calina among them — all donned blush-hued gowns.
For dinner, Jamaican food was served in honor of Janel and Honore’s heritage — rice and peas, macaroni and cheese, jerk chicken, sautéed cabbage, beef patties. They skipped the first dance to keep things safe and comfortable but did stream their wedding via Zoom. Their favorite part was their first kiss. “We were finally married and could move forward with our lives,” says the bride. “We had a beautiful wedding day, given the circumstances, and that is enough for us.”
Photographer: UBara Weddings | Venue: Private home | Planning/Design: UBara Weddings & Royal Weddings by Cathy Johnson | Florals: Royal Weddings by Cathy Johnson (some sourced from Jig-Bee Flower Farm) | Bride’s Gown: Stella York from Sabrina Ann (West Chester) | Bridal Alterations: Irina Sigal Dressmaker | Bridesmaids’ Attire: David’s Bridal | Hair: Loreen Brown of Zazi Au Naturals Solutions & Zazi Brides | Makeup: Erica Nikole | Groom’s Attire: Sean John suit from Macy’s | Cake: Bredenbeck’s Bakery & Ice Cream Parlor | Invitations: Janel Robertson (the bride) | Officiant: Pastor William “Nick” Taliaffero of West Philadelphia Seventh-Day Adventist Church | Rentals & Lighting: Ocean Tents & Party Rentals | Custom Face Masks & Signage: EricaLynn Cotton
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