Although we had a small intimate wedding in Idaho where we celebrated with our immediate family, we still wanted to celebrate with everyone else! With that being said, we knew we wanted to stay true to our personalities and style by having a “Backyard BBQ” type of party.
The majority of our friends and family live in the Midwest, so we knew right off the bat that we’d want to have the party back “home”. We chose to go with Sean’s hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois. Chicago is a major hub for travel, making it easier for anyone that would be traveling from out of state, and it was also the location with the highest density of friends/family members nearby.
We chose to rent out a park pavilion at Three Oaks Recreation Area for the day. The pavilion we went with provided great shelter and included a fireplace, plenty of picnic tables, and a good amount of yard space surrounding it.
Color Palette & Theme
We carried over the same color palette from our ceremony to our party. Shades of blue were used throughout our decorations. We did not have any true decorations at our ceremony so for our “Backyard BBQ” we chose to go with a more rustic chic theme.
One of Hayle’s Aunts graciously helped with our decorations and they turned out beautiful. Each table was wrapped with brown kraft paper and included a layered burlap runner. Our centerpieces had a base of round wood chopped from Hayle’s family’s property in South Dakota – thank you Mom and Dad! Atop each wood slab was a combination of mason jars that were either painted and had flowers or were clear and filled with fairy lights. Hayle’s Aunt also made a handful of tiered cupcake stands for our dessert table and brought a variety of decorations to help add little touches here or there. Thank you so much to Jodi for helping us with these decorations and bringing our vision to life! We also printed off a dozen photos from our wedding ceremony two weeks prior and framed them to scatter across all of the tables.
We had another family friend help by providing a variety of gorgeous plants and flowers that we scattered throughout the pavilion area – making the place come to life with greenery.
Hayle spent some time decorating chalkboards as a welcome sign, dinner menu, and other little signs for cupcakes and snacks. Huge thank you Sean’s Dad for prepping our welcome sign for us – we had found a large old picture frame at Hobby Lobby and he was able to turn it into a chalkboard for us.
We wanted this to be a casual event for our guests so we encouraged them to wear whatever they’d like! Sean and Hayle chose to wear their “Cemermony garb” so we started off the party with Hayle in her wedding dress and Sean in his Suit. This allowed our guests to feel like they were part of our special day and provide more of a ‘wedding’ experience. After dinner, we changed into more comfortable/casual clothing.
Because we wanted this to be a fun family gathering we knew we wanted yard games for everyone to enjoy! Those that had them and lived nearby happily provided us with a variety of Corn Hole boards, Ladder Golf, and giant Jenga. We also considered our younger guests and had bubble wands for them to play with. For those that lived nearby or were traveling via car, we recommended bringing some bag chairs to relax in if they desired.
The photos that we had framed as part of our table decorations were multipurpose. At the end of the night, we chose to use these as gifts for our close family and friends – it was a special treat for them and they absolutely loved it!
As a more general wedding favor, we decided to give packets of wildflowers! We had each packet personalized with our names and wedding date and colors to match.
The day or two prior to the party we hit up Sam’s Club with our parents to stock up on a variety of Wine, White Claw, Hot Cocoa, Water, and Coffee to provide our guests. We also had two kegs of beer. Hayle’s brother also ran to get us a ton of ice the morning of the party!
White Claw was a hot commodity in the Chicagoland area during Labor Day weekend in 2019. But, we managed to find some and cleared out a local Jewel-Osco.
We told our guests that they could come and go as they please (between 2pm and dusk) so we had a snack and appetizer table available until dinner was served at 5pm. Our snack table included our two favorite candies Lemonheads (Hayle) and Butterfingers (Sean). We also had chips and salsa/guacamole, buttermints, Oreos, pretzels, and peanuts.
Again following our “Backyard BBQ” theme, we wanted to have a buffet-style meal with typical foods you’d find at a family gathering. We had a local pub & grill cater for us and they grilled Burgers, Brats, Chicken, and Veggie Skewers. They also prepped a fantastic chopped salad, fruit salad, and a red pasta dish.
Instead of going with a traditional cake, we chose to have a variety of cupcakes for our guests to enjoy. These cupcakes were DELICIOUS! We got these completely vegan cupcakes from a local bakery, Sweetpea Cakes. We even got a couple cupcake varieties gluten-free for our gluten-intolerant friends!
Our one and only slight regret is that we didn’t have a photographer to capture the day. It was thought of a couple of times prior to the party but was dismissed because we didn’t think it’d be that important (we had a photographer at our ceremony). As you can see from this post we still have a ton of great photos thanks to our wonderful family and friends!!
So because there was no set photographer there was a lot of this going on throughout the day… haha!
Feel free to watch a timelapse of our party and see if you can spot yourself!