Backyard DIY wedding – and with a taste of Bulgaria

September 30, 2016 8:26 pm | Leave your thoughts

Evelina and Jeremy hosted their quaint, personalized wedding ceremony in the backyard of their home in Carol Stream which is a western suburb of Chicago.  I met the couple over a year before the wedding and enjoyed getting to know them throughout the planning process.  Evelina, the bride, is originally from Bulgaria and so they wanted the reception in the banquet facility at Saint Sophia Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, Illinois but were undecided about the ceremony.  They didn’t know if it would hold all the guests and if it reflected both of their cultures and what they wanted in a ceremony.  The couple started looking to buy a house and once they found a home, they decided it would be so meaningful to host the ceremony right there in their backyard!

Evelina & Jeremy made all of the decorations by hand.  I think they even cut the logs for the flowers themselves.  The LOVE letters were given to them by friends as decorations at their Surprise engagement party.  We even used the letters in their engagement portrait session!  And the vintage doors came from the home of their friends who are part of the bridal party.  Evelina even covered and painted the vases and also the wine bottle decorations that were used at the reception.  So creative and talented!  But that is only the start of it … The bride’s mother MADE her dress!  Like sewed it completely herself from start to finish!  Check out these lovely details – and the lovely bride, herself!

Not only did she keep the dress a surprise from the groom, but from all of her bridesmaids, too!  She did a “first look” with the bridesmaids and their reaction was great!  Speaking of bridesmaids, check out their cool graduated color scheme.  A gradient of color down the line!  And these colors match the LOVE sign above.  Love this attention to detail!  Also can’t get enough of this cutie flower girl and beautiful bride.

And then, there is the groom and his attendants.  I would say “guys” except one person on his side is a woman – a “groomsmaid” maybe?  She is a good friend of both the bride and groom and her family didn’t even know she would be standing up in the wedding – a great surprise for them as she walked down the aisle!

You’ll probably notice that the best man is the groom’s identical twin brother.  Turns out, twins are a theme in many of my weddings – 4 weddings in a one year span where either the bride or groom is a twin!  The groom’s older brother, also pictured with the wedding party, actually was the wedding officiant!  So much thought and meaning came in to this very special wedding day!  And if you can’t tell – the brothers AND their dad are total goofballs – loved it!

Continuing the DIY trend of this wedding, not only did the bridal party make the boutonnieres, but also all of the bouquets!  Anyone who knows me knows my love of wine, so I thought the boutionnieres were super cool not only because of the feathers (I know, right?!?!?) but for the wine corks!  And one of the bridesmaids even had a clever idea for using the wine corks to help prevent her heels from sinking in to the ground!  The bright yellow sunflowers reflect the bride’s bright and energetic personality, and her bouquet also served as memories for family members not physically with them on their day.

So it was time for the ceremony – the highlight of the day.  It was so special that the brother of the groom officiated.  The bride has just as much humor as the goofy groomsmen, so when asked if she “takes this man…..” she looked to his parents and asked “Should I take him off your hands?”  They readily shook their heads yes!  But what really was a surprise to the bride (because who says she gets to do all the surprising with first looks and friends) but the groom’s brother learned phrases in Bulgarian for the end of the wedding.  Her expression was priceless when she heard them and couldn’t help but to give him a big hug!  Evelina and Jeremy had the BEST smiles as they walked down the aisle as husband and wife!

On to the reception, the DIY continues.  They created all reception decor themselves.  And remember how Evelina’s mom handmade her dress with the lovely rosettes?  She also made all of the burlap chair covers and the awesome flower details on them!  But what made this reception so unique was how it incorporated Evelina’s Bulgarian culture.  First there was the breaking of a traditional wedding bread.  They broke it over their heads and whoever had the bigger piece will supposedly be the “breadwinner” – ha!  It turned out to be the bride!  Traditional Bulgarian dancers then entered the reception and wowed everyone with their colorful, energetic dancing.  Next think you know, the bride and groom join in, and then half of the crowd is joyfully snaking through the tables  with rhythm, smile, and laughter!

Finally, the lights come down, and it’s time for the first dances.  What a wonderful moment with Evelina’s dad and Jeremy’s mom.  And then Mom and Dad are the ones to get the party started!!!  And then the party Continues….!!!!

Like what you see?  To see more photos or for more information about Melissa Leigh Hansen Photography, call or email 773-218-4983 or

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