Enchanted Middle Earth Inspired Backyard Wedding in Portland

Both lovers off Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Hannah and Derek wanted their Portland wedding to transport their guests to Middle Earth. The theme was a botanical woodland and the day was unique, intimate, and moody, while reflecting their Oregon roots.

“We wanted a wedding fit for hobbits and elves”, began the bride. “We wanted it to reflect our love for fantasy, but also be elegant and not blatantly obvious. In the end, I think it was exactly how we imagined it would be.”

They met on OKCupid and with both of them being card carrying introverts, it was important to them that they both felt their most comfortable on the day. They opted for Hannah’s parent’s back garden as the venue. “We wanted to keep the ceremony short and sweet”, Hannah continued. “I came from the deck and walked through the garden to Derek. I walked down the aisle on my own to Iron & Wine’s cover of Time After Time. We had done a first look and photos before, so he wasn’t totally surprised seeing me, though he is a softy and cried. Our officiant went through his speech, which included a quote from Bilbo Baggins. We saved our vows for the honeymoon, as we both have a hard time talking in front of crowds. After kissing and being announced we exited to the song All I Want is You by Barry Louis Polisar.”

“After signing our marriage certificate, Derek and I got a few quiet moments and got to have a beer together before being announced. When the time came, we were greeted by all our guest on the deck and the song Concerning Hobbits from Lord of the Rings playing. It was truly magical.”

Since the wedding was held in the bride’s parent’s home it was a full-on DIY affair. They decorated the entire garden themselves which included sofas, table, chairs, the ceremony arch. “All of our signage was DIY – from table numbers to our Lord of the Rings inspired welcome sign (‘No Admittance Except on Party Business’). We had hand-stamped muslin bags with Wedding Tea from Harney & Sons for our favours. We even made a portable fence section, so the hot tub was out of view.”

“The antique velvet settee we sat on for the feast was a wedding gift from my sister/maid of honour, Elissa. She sourced and reupholstered it for us. The arbour and bar were built by my stepfather for the day. The macrame for the arbour came from Urban Outfitters. The cake table was an old farm table, borrowed from family. Wine barrels for the handmade bar were from Duck Pond Cellars, Dundee OR. The BAR sign was borrowed from family friends. My mum found antique punch bowls at a local thrift shop. The beautiful cake knife and server, and the cake top were all from artists on Etsy.”

“The most impressive item was the beer for our reception. Peter Wolfe, Head Brewer of 10 Barrel Brewing in Bend, came up with a special beer recipe for our wedding. It was an IPA he created for this day alone, not to be repeated! Derek loves IPA, and we live in the middle of beer country. Peter created the perfect brew for the occasion.”

Their biggest cost was hiring all the furniture (“Since we used a private location we had to pay for all our rentals such as tents, tables – including the beautiful oak head table – chairs, place settings, linens, etc. It was a blast picking it all out.”) However they saved a lot on the bride’s outfit with her dress costing only $350. “Doing my own make up was fun and a great way to save money. My dress was a ‘reception’ dress from BHLDN and only cost $350. We used disposable beer glasses and champagne glasses, rather than rent. We also found that purchasing wine and water glasses from IKEA was cheaper than renting. We saved on little things, so we could splurge on the things that made the look (like flowers!)”

All in all the day went off without a hitch, and there’s nothing major that they’d change about it. “As an artist, I had too many ideas and inspiration (my mother would heartily agree). I had a hard time narrowing down everything I wanted into a reasonable, affordable, and doable wedding. I felt the day was perfect. I wish we had a more organised day-of plan, as I don’t feel my mum was able to enjoy the first half of the day with me. She was so busy with questions from the florist, caterer, photographer, and overseeing final decorations, she couldn’t just be with the bridal party.”

“My advice for other couples would be to not  take anything too seriously! Getting worked up won’t fix a problem. If you don’t have a wedding planner, find someone to run the day-of. You’ll be happy you get to just enjoy your day. If your wedding is mostly DIY like ours, make sure you assign a clean-up crew. At the end of the night, you don’t want your exhausted family picking up trash and washing dishes!”

Supporting Cast

3 comments

  1. Susan Bearce

    I work with the brides mom and would anxiously ask how the planning was coming along for the wedding. I was blown away at how they transformed their backyard for this memorable day. The relationship between mom, stepdad and daughter is the closest I’ve ever seen. Oh, lets add the new husband in there. LOL.
    This is the BEST outdoor wedding I’ve ever seen. It should be used in a movie.

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