Urban, Rustic, DIY Wedding in Philadelphia

Iris and Echo

November 23, 2023

Sam and Evan, who went to the same high school but didn’t really know each other, reconnected over Tinder while they were both home for Thanksgiving. From there, a long-distance romance blossomed, with Evan living in Brooklyn and Sam in Philadelphia. In October 2022 they were finally married, back in the city where it all started.

Planning the entire thing themselves was no mean feat, especially as their venue of choice, The Sculpture Courtyard, is not usually a wedding venue. Although in hindsight they do now wish they’d hired a wedding planner, they still managed to pull of a beautiful DIY day.

The bride made the favours which were drinking glasses designed with images of their cat and dog and a tooth (because she’s a dentist) and a video camera (because Evan is a filmmaker). She also put together the wedding website, all the signage, made custom sweatshirts for the bridesmaids and they built the chuppah.

Describing their wedding theme as an “urban-ly rustic comedic display of sentimentality,” the pair wanted a celebration that reflected them. Although there were many challenges along the way, they’re so happy with what they achieved. As Sam explains, “Our biggest challenges were deciding who to invite; we could only fit a certain number of people in the space. We also made the decision to have a child-free wedding (other than nieces and nephews). We selfishly made this decision because we’ve been to enough weddings to know that the sound of a crying baby or unruly toddlers can be a big distraction.”

Another struggle they experienced was co-ordinating and working with lots of different suppliers, some of whom were not the best at communicating in the run up. “We most definitely should have hired a wedding planner,” Sam admits. “We LOVED our venue; however, it’s not an actual wedding venue and there were a lot of things that could have been made easier by selecting somewhere more honed towards weddings. It also would have been nice to have had someone else to set up and break everything down. We ended up missing a lot of our rehearsal dinner because of the amount of work that needed to be done! Break down was on Sunday morning and waking up at 7am the day after the wedding was not ideal. We also didn’t have a lot of help in doing this – in short, it was exhausting!”

However, on the day itself, the highlights outweighed the stresses, particularly when it came to the ceremony. Led by a friend, it was all really personal and special. She referenced Greek mythology to demonstrate their love for one another and the road ahead.

The couple wrote their vows together, and even though they’d heard them before, the moment they got to read them out was the best part of the whole day. “Hearing them again, in front of all our friends and family, we were able to take them in more fully and appreciate what the other was actually saying”, Sam remembered. She also really loved how they incorporated Jewish traditions in a modern way. They exited to Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon, a upbeat song which got everyone in a great mood for the party ahead.

After their photo session, Sam and Evan arrived at the reception accompanied by the opening sequence music of 2001: A Space Odyessy (at Evan’s request!) “We bowed to each other and the crowd and then immediately went into our first dance to I Love How You Love Me by The Paris Sisters.”

“My Dad’s speech was also really special to me. He had a hard time writing it because he’s dyslexic and he was also worried about it not being good enough and disappointing me. It meant a lot that he got up there and did a great job speaking from the heart. Evan’s favourite moment was playing the two songs he had written for me.”

As stressful as the planning process was, Sam and Evan were so happy with how their wedding turned out. Their advice for other couples? You do you: “You’re going to get a lot of suggestions and advice from people but if it’s not something you want or feel comfortable with, feel free to inform them that their input is not wanted”, Sam concluded. “Pinterest and bridal magazines can also put this idea in your head of what you should have at the wedding. These details can add to the price and can be completely unrealistic for some couples. Just do things the way you want to; it’s your day.”