A Vintage-Inspired Backyard Wedding at a Private Home in Chesterfield, Michigan

For their early-summer wedding in Chesterfield, Michigan, Maria Manore (33 and a kindergarten teacher and a blogger) and Robert Gavin’s (31 and a lawy

For their early-summer wedding in Chesterfield, Michigan, Maria Manore (33 and a kindergarten teacher and a blogger) and Robert Gavin’s (31 and a lawyer) took their guests on a trip down memory lane. The pair planned an elegant, vintage-inspired affair with a soft pink and blue palette and plenty of DIY details. “It was really important to me that my wedding was memorable for all our guests, and I wanted to include as many personal touches into the day as I possibly could,” Maria says. The couple began planting the seeds for their vintage theme at the ceremony, gathering their guests at St. Peter Catholic Church in Mount Clemens, Michigan, where Maria’s parents had said their “I dos” and where Maria attended Mass and school as a child. Maria and Robert kept the decor simple, allowing the church’s ornate architecture to speak for itself, adding a few lush ferns to the altar and decorating the aisle with photos from family members’ weddings. “Rob and I had fun collecting wedding portraits from our aunts and uncles. We even found some wedding photos that went back so far that we didn’t know who they were of,” Maria says. “I matted each of them and placed them in gold 8-by-10 frames from the dollar store. Even the ribbon used to hang the frames around the church pews fit the vintage theme. 

After exchanging vows, the newlyweds and their guests made their way to Maria’s family home in Chesterfield, Michigan, for the reception. “When Rob and I decided to take the plunge and invest in a big wedding, I insisted that it be a special experience for all our guests, not just the two of us,” Maria says. From start to finish, the pair did just that, transporting guests to a simpler time with rose-colored glassware, pastel floral table linens, vintage silverware and dishes, and an old typewriter that guests used to express their well-wishes and advice for Maria and Robert. A vintage door served as the escort card display, and wood-burned chargers with playful messages—all handcrafted by Robert—graced each place setting. “Our guests enjoyed comparing messages when they arrived to their seats,” Maria says. After dinner, the Hello Ice Cream truck made an appearance, serving up decadent gelato from its cute mint- and cream-colored truck. Sugar Snaps churned out jazzy tunes all night, and a gilded tufted sofa provided the perfect place for guests to strike a pose. A tip from Maria and Robert, “Hire a wedding planner, or at least a day-of coordinator. Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you should be able to savor every moment of the experience without having to take care of all the little problems that will inevitably arise. Enjoy the day with your new spouse and your family members.” —Libby MacCarthy

Just over a year after they connected via online dating platform eHarmony, Robert proposed to Maria on a trip to Chicago to see Ingrid Michaelson perform. During a walk through Millennium Park, Robert got down on one knee and presented Maria with a rose gold princess-cut diamond engagement ring with a halo of pave diamonds. “It was a moment that only the two of us shared and it was perfect,” Maria says. “There was no surprise photographer. No applause. Just us.”
With two distinct venues on the agenda, Maria needed a versatile gown that could handle a formal Catholic ceremony and a backyard fete. “Comfort was essential to me, but I also wanted to keep things elegant,” Maria says. “I was looking for something in ivory with lace and for the lightest gown I could find, since I would be outside in June for much of the day.” She found the perfect match in a Justin Alexander design, a timeless sheath-style gown with a champagne slip, an airy overlay adorned with beaded lace appliques and classic cap sleeves. For a hint of sparkle, she added an Enzoani belt, and rounded out the look with a fingertip-length veil with embellished edging.
“I wanted the bridesmaid dresses to have a soft, romantic quality to them, and they needed to fit the theme,” Maria says. Dessy Collection had the ideal dress for the occasion: a floor-length chiffon number with an A-line silhouette and a V-neck. The women wore different shades of blue and gray to create an ombre effect, which also helped each bridesmaid’s look feel different. “The blue dresses were offset by pale pink and white flowers with a few pops of blue mixed in from the anemones and blue thistle. The result was completely stunning and was beyond my expectations,” Maria says.
While an aesthetic and a theme weren’t immediately apparent to Maria and Robert, the pair knew one thing for sure: They wanted to say their “I dos” in a traditional Catholic Mass. St. Peter’s was an easy pick. Maria had attended Mass and school there as a child, and it was where her parents had exchanged vows years earlier.
Maria and Robert kept the decor for their ceremony simple, allowing the church’s ornate architecture to speak for itself. The pair added a few lush ferns to the altar and decorated the aisle with vintage family wedding photos. “Rob and I had fun collecting wedding portraits from our aunts and uncles. We even found some wedding photos that went back so far that we didn’t know who they were of,” Maria says.
Instead of tossing rice at the end of the ceremony, guests showered the newlyweds in airy, whimsical bubbles. “I teach in a Catholic school that is affiliated with the church I was married in. I invited my students to the ceremony by giving them a personal invitation that I designed and printed myself,” Maria says. “I wanted them each to take home a small token of appreciation as a party favor, and I loved the idea of bubbles.”
No detail was left overlooked, including the guest book. Instead of a more traditional option, Maria and Robert brought in two typewriters that spoke to their vintage theme, which guests then used to share well-wishes and advice for the newlyweds.
A sound track with old-world appeal was essential for Maria and Robert's vintage theme. The Sugar Snaps knocked it out of the park with a repertoire of jazz standards from the 1920s to '50s. Dressed to the nines in retro garb, the duo played throughout cocktail hour and the reception until Mike Staff Productions took over for the dance party.
To help their friends and family members find the way to their seats, Robert and Maria provided escort cards, each boasting a watercolor floral motif and whimsical blue script indicating a name and seating assignment. The cards were placed on lengths of lace ribbon, which the couple draped across a reclaimed door, creating a display that spoke to their vintage theme.
Deborah from Fireweed Designs took Maria and Robert’s vintage vision and transformed it into bountiful bundles of breathtaking blooms in a variety of soft, pastel hues. For Maria’s bouquet, she created a large arrangement of garden roses, hydrangeas, tube roses, anemones, lamb’s ear, brunia berries and more that exuded romance, while maintaining a subtle retro flair.
The reception tables were a vintage dream, with pastel floral linens giving way to rose-colored glasses, retro dishware and bubbled glass vases overflowing with anemones, stock, delphiniums and roses. Floating candles added a hint of contemporary chic to the tablescapes, while casting a warm inviting glow over the open-air space.
In lieu of traditional charger plates, Robert handcrafted his own, personalizing each bamboo plate with a wood-burning technique he learned from his grandfather. “Every plate had the message ‘Gavins Est. 2015” burned into it with hot stamps,” Maria says. “Rob also burned various other expressions, like our wedding hashtag and "Maria hearts Rob." There were 10 different messages. Our guests enjoyed comparing messages when they arrived at their seats.”
Though Robert and Maria served homemade gelato from the Hello Ice Cream truck for dessert, they had a small two-tier confection made for the obligatory cake cutting. The petite cake was decorated with combed buttercream and lush, blush dahlias, and was displayed atop a playful pink floral tablecloth.
To put a sweet finish on dinner, Robert and Maria surprised their guests with a visit from the Hello Ice Cream truck. Decadent homemade gelato in flavors like salted caramel, mint chip, vanilla and strawberry sorbet were served from the mint- and cream-colored van, which happened to be named Ingrid—a nod to the couple’s engagement.