Etsy Journal

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How 3 Creative Couples Made the Most of Their Mini-Weddings

by Jackie Buddie

Oct 21, 2020

Three newlyweds at Etsy show us that all you need to achieve the “I do” of your dreams are a few meaningful details.

Sarah and Chris Schalago embrace on their wedding day.
Photo by: Tori Kelner

In our Real Weddings series, we share stories of recently wed couples who used Etsy to source items for their celebration, and learn more about how they planned the day they said, “I do.”

Magical, memorable, masked. True, they weren't exactly the “I do’s” these Etsy staffers originally had in mind—but with a little imagination, a sprinkling of custom touches, and the promise of a forever to look forward to, these three creative couples dreamed up intimate minimonies filled with enough heart and happiness to last a lifetime. If you, too, have had to tweak your wedding day plans this year, let the meaningful details of these modified celebrations inspire you. Read on to discover how each set of newlyweds simplified their special day to focus on what matters most: their own personal love story. 

An enchanting elopement

A portrait of Sarah and Chris Schalago standing in a meadow on their wedding day.
Photograph by Tori Kelner

“This year really changed our perception of what was important to us,” says Retention Marketing Manager Sarah Schalago, who recently got hitched to her partner Chris. In lieu of holding a large reception with friends and family, the couple opted to elope in the middle of a meadow with just two witnesses. 

A portrait of Sarah and Chris Schalago standing in a meadow on their wedding day.
Photograph by Tori Kelner

Keeping things laid-back and natural was key for the lovebirds, and once they put a pin in their party, their scaled-back ceremony came together quickly. “Within two weeks we got our marriage license, contacted our photographer, and gathered all the things we needed,” Sarah says. Just one day before tying the knot, the couple finally found the perfect spot: a New Jersey nature reserve where they could frolic freely. “It was magical,” she says. “We exchanged vows in a tiny gazebo overlooking a field of wildflowers.” 

A collage of Sarah's bouquet and bouquet accessories, available to shop on Etsy.
SHOP (top to bottom): Pampas grass bouquet from H Botanics Weddings, from $53; macrame bouquet wrap from Macramel Shop, from $18

Portrait (left) by Tori Kelner

A collage of Chris's lapel pin, tie, and suspenders, available to shop on Etsy.
SHOP (top to bottom): Dried floral lapel pin from H Botanics Weddings, $15; groom's bowtie from Etsy, prices vary; leather suspenders from Etsy, prices vary

Portrait (right) by Tori Kelner

To let the surrounding rows of pink and yellow blooms really pop, Sarah stuck with soft neutrals and natural textures for the boho-chic ceremony—details that felt true to the couples’ down-to-earth personalities. Accordingly, her flowy, off-shoulder dress allowed for easy, breezy movement, while Chris’s suspenders-sans-suit jacket kept him cool and dapper-casual in the August heat. 

A collage of jewelry items Sarah wore on her wedding day, available to shop on Etsy.
SHOP (left to right): Glass ring box from Etsy, prices vary; personalized wedding band from GLDN x Layered and Long, from $50; gold star necklace from Fawning in Love, from $30

Still life (top) by Tori Kelner

A collage showcasing Sarah and Chris's vow books, available to shop on Etsy.
SHOP: Vow books from Etsy, prices vary

Portrait (right) and vows (bottom left) by Tori Kelner

“We also really wanted it to feel personal to us, so we worked in as many custom details as possible,” Sarah adds. “Little trinkets and keepsakes, that sort of thing.” For example, to preserve the mood of the moment, they penned their vows in sweet little handmade books. “We took the time to write our own words, and both sobbed while reading them,” she says.

A portrait of Sarah and Chris Schalago in front of a rustic gazebo on their wedding day.
Photograph by Tori Kelner

Sarah tied the whole look together with a macrame-wrapped bouquet of dried pampas grass, which now sits on display in their bedroom at home. “I get to wake up to it every morning,” she says. “It’s a nice, quiet reminder of our wonderful day.” 

Romance right at home

If you’d asked them earlier this year, Diversity & Inclusion Senior Program Manager Adetoro (Addy) Adegbola and her fiance Joel Ceballos would’ve said a destination wedding in sunny Mexico surrounded by family and friends was hands-down the ultimate “I love you.” But once the pair (and all 140 of their guests) had to table their trip, they set out to make an equally swoon-worthy splash here in the states. 

A collage of decorative reception items and florals from Addy and Joel's wedding.
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Floral table garlands from Etsy, prices vary; black paper menus from Etsy, prices vary; burgundy boutonnière from Etsy, prices vary

Photographs by Dreamlife Photos & Video

Turning to options a bit more local, the Brooklyn-based couple decided to host an intimate October ceremony in nearby Queens, New York with a largely pared down list of loved ones. The setting? The Foundry: an airy event space ideal for a seasonal, socially distant celebration. Then, it was time to dial up the drama in the details.

“Our vision was to put our own spin on a classic red and white wedding,” Addy says. “We wanted to create a super-romantic, glowy space tied together with crimson roses, lush greenery, and blush tones all around us. And we wanted it completely lit up by candlelight.”

A collage of Addy's jewelry and accessories, available to purchase on Etsy.
SHOP (top to bottom): Crystal bridal headband from Etsy, prices vary; rose gold chandelier earrings from Etsy, prices vary

Photographs by Dreamlife Photos & Video

A collage of accessories Addy wore on her wedding day, available on Etsy.
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Lace bridal robe from Etsy, prices vary; customized acrylic bridal clutch from Mod Party, from $22; "I do" shoe stickers from Etsy, prices vary; personalized "Mrs." slippers from Etsy, prices vary

Photographs by Dreamlife Photos & Video

To complement the glam vibe, Addy set about accessorizing. Sparkly rose gold chandelier earrings danced in the soft light, and a delicate crystal-encrusted headband perfectly topped off the bride’s intricate pin curls. Coupled with a few extra getting-ready perks—like a luxe robe and plush “Mrs.” slippers—each little embellishment thoughtfully upped the opulent-factor. Meanwhile mod touches, like a custom acrylic clutch and coordinating card box, playfully reflected the pair’s clear connection. 

A collage of gift items that Addy gave to her guests, available for purchase on Etsy.
SHOP (clockwise from top): Personalized gift bags from Gold and Glamour, $1.75 each; scented soy wax candles from Pontie Wax, $32 for set of two; personalized mini champagne labels from Gardenia Labels, from $9

As thanks to their loved ones who attended, Addy and Joel supplied masks for the festivities, and assembled extra-personal gift bags for their wedding party filled with everything from mini champagne bottles to Addy’s favorite scented candles from Pontie Wax.

A family affair

A portrait of Megan Oppenheimer and Imran Hoosain holding hands on their wedding day.
Photograph by Samm Blake

After canceling their 55-person indoor wedding back in June, high-school sweethearts and life-long besties Megan Oppenheimer, an executive assistant, and Imran Hoosain, a payments engineer, began to reimagine their entire event. “We were going to wait to see what 2021 would hold,” Megan says, “but by July we’d decided we just wanted to get married and started looking at every possible option.” Determined to bring their parents together safely, the engaged Etsy employees sourced an outdoor setting they could reserve for just the six of them, ultimately landing on Glenmere Mansion in upstate New York. 

A collage of masks and robes that Megan chose for her wedding to Imran, available on Etsy.
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Floral bridal bathrobe from Etsy, prices vary; satin face masks from KGVCX, $35 each; bride and groom face masks from Etsy, prices vary

Dressing room candid (top) and couple portrait (bottom left) by Samm Blake

“We’re both very close with our families and pretty introverted people, so in a way, having it with just our parents was extra-special,” Megan says. To limit outside contact, she chose to do her own hair and makeup (but treated herself to a beautiful new bathrobe to still feel fancy), and as an added layer of protection, the couple purchased satin masks to match everyone’s outfits, so they could all stay safe and chic while sharing common spaces. 

A collage of Megan's wedding jewelry, available to shop on Etsy.
SHOP (top to bottom): Art Deco baguette diamond necklace from Liesel Love, $612; Art Deco diamond engagement ring from Artëmer, $1,900

Portrait by Samm Blake

To top off her own look, Megan wore a Liesel Love necklace that Imran had made to replace a sentimental piece she’d lost a few years back. “It’s similar but not identical by design, and makes me feel so loved,” she says.

Megan and Imran exchanging vows as Megan's father officiates.
Photograph by Samm Blake

The undisputed highlight of the day? Having Megan’s dad perform the ceremony as originally planned. “At that point, we were so ready to be married that hearing, ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife’ was the best ever,” she says. “Plus,” she adds, “my dad had some pretty impressive quarantine hair going on, and frankly it gave us all a good chuckle.” 

A collage of Megan and Imran's custom cake forks, available to purchase on Etsy.
SHOP: Custom-stamped cake forks from Etsy, prices vary

Photographs by Samm Blake

Megan and Imran and their parents enjoy dinner and drinks on the terrace.
Photograph by Samm Blake

After the "I do's," the family celebrated with a champagne toast and dinner on the terrace overlooking the lake, followed by cake complete with custom-stamped “I love you” forks for the couple. “All in all, we wanted to create a vibe that was elegant, but also relaxed and full of happiness,” Megan says. Mission accomplished.

A portrait of Imran twirling Megan on their wedding day.
Photograph by Samm Blake

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Jackie Buddie

Jackie Buddie is a writer and wilderness explorer working full-time as a content producer at Etsy HQ in Brooklyn.