A Vintage Bohemian Backyard Wedding at a Private Residence in Shaker Heights, Ohio

Tonya Brown (39 and a pastry chef) and Michael Bradford (34 and a business development manager) met at a common friend’s house, when Tonya was challen

Tonya Brown (39 and a pastry chef) and Michael Bradford (34 and a business development manager) met at a common friend’s house, when Tonya was challenged to a game of darts (she won). Even though she beat Michael, he told her “I like you the best.” Those five words became their inside joke. “All these years later, it is still true for both of us,” she says. After Michael proposed with his great-grandmother’s 19th-century diamond cluster and yellow gold ring, they got married in the backyard of Michael’s childhood home in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The Bohemian-inspired celebration included colorful Moroccan fabrics and textiles in mismatched patterns, whimsical hanging glass bottles along a wooded path and an outdoor tented ceremony complete with white Chinese lanterns. Tonya’s dad walked her down the aisle (to “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen), Michael’s dad gave a welcome speech, and Michael’s mom incorporated a bit of her Scottish heritage into the day with a quaich, a special two-handled drinking cup. “In marriage, it symbolizes a couple’s lifelong commitment, a lifelong friendship, a life of shared love,” Tonya says. They surprised Michael’s family by hiring a bagpiper as the processional entertainment. The bagpiper brought the couple down a decorated wooded path to the reception area. Guests enjoyed signature cocktails of pomegranate margaritas and local hors d’oeuvres before sitting down at farm tables to enjoy an “upscale barbecue” meal of smoked-pork sliders, flank steak tacos and an array of seasonal, local salads. For dessert there was a doughnut bar and a naked wedding cake made by Tonya. “Most people called me crazy when I told them I was making my own wedding cake,” she says. “It was the biggest cake I had ever made. It was one of my greatest accomplishments.” With the help of a number of professional vendors, including a talented wedding planner, we had “the most perfect wedding,” Tonya says. “More [perfect] than I could have imagined.” —Chrissy Sorenson

The invites, ordered online through weddingpaperdivas.com, “really suited our fun and unconventional style,” Tonya says.
“I wanted a romantic, Bohemian no-fuss look,” Tonya says. Her light cotton floor-length gown had fitted sleeves, lace paneling on the sides and an open back. She wore a crown of flowers and simple jewelry with gold vintage open-toed heels. “I loved that I felt beautiful yet comfortable,” she says.
Little bottles of lavender hung from trees along a wooded path, leading to the ceremony site, creating a romantic vibe.
The 5-year-old flower girls wore flower crowns and simple white dresses, going with the free-spirited bohemian theme. They carried baskets of dried coral roses and scattered the petals as they walked single file down the aisle.
The ceremony took place in Michael’s parents’ backyard, complete with a brick courtyard, a water fountain and white Chinese lanterns hanging from the tent's ceiling. A colorful Boucherouite rug separated the 57 guests from the couple. Originally, half of the wedding and part of the reception were going to be outdoors, but a week before the celebration, with rain in the forecast, the couple rented tents. That turned out to be a good move, because it rained (and rained and rained). Tonya jokes that if rain is good luck on your wedding day, “our cup runneth over.”
As soon as Tonya and Michael were pronounced husband and wife, a bagpiper played and the couple followed him on a “magical wooded path to happily ever after,” Tonya says. (He led them to the reception area.)
Tonya and Michael’s first dance was to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.
A vintage settee in a floral fabric and a red vintage velvet slipper chair helped create a small lounge area.
The signature cocktail was a pomegranate margarita, served before the ceremony and during the cocktail hour.
The signature cocktail was a pomegranate margarita, served before the ceremony and during the cocktail hour. Hors d’oeuvres consisted of local meats and cheeses, olives, pickles, and assorted dried fruits.
Instead of having large centerpieces on the farm tables, the couple opted for small bud vases showcasing assorted blooms.
Vintage medicine bottles served as vases, adding to the tablescape of candles, colorful water goblets, potted terra-cotta succulents and mini potted rosemary and thyme.
A whitewashed farm table featured a doughnut display (on vintage cake stands) and a naked vanilla cake made by Tonya.
Tonya, a full-time pastry chef, made the vanilla cake, which was filled with toffee crumbles, caramel and vanilla buttercream. The naked cake had two tiers (four layers per tier) and was topped with coral peonies and draped with fresh rosemary. Blue supernova thistle decorated the base. “I was very proud of how beautiful it turned out,” Tonya says. “And it was quite tasty to boot.”