Backyard Wedding During Coronavirus

Christi & Doug – Backyard Wedding 

We have realized that backyard wedding and intimate wedding are  becoming a trend wedding  of 2020. This more relaxed and intimate celebration just become a great alternative for brides and grooms who have decided to scale back their original wedding plans because of COVID-19. Same for Christi and Doug. Christi is Diana’s best friend. We photographed her BLOOMINGDALE GOLF CLUB WEDDING back in 2015.

Christi and Doug have decided to do an intimate wedding in 2020 and a grand reception on 2021. 

This was also a great opportunity for the couple to get wedding photos in downtown Chicago since there was no time pressure as the large weddings have. 

getting ready in Lake in the HIlls getting ready home First look backyard first look first look surprise lovely first look backyard wedding Dog in wedding pics

So, after a first look in their backyard, Christi and Doug embarked their friend minivan and to the Windy City for some gorgeous urban background.


Chicago Theater wedding  Kimpton Hotel Indoor wedding LaSalle Bridge View over Chicago river LaSalle Bridge pic from Trump Tower view towards East Chicago Wrigley Building pics under the Wrigley Building Sky rez LaSalle Bridge Michigan Avenue Wedding Photo on DuSable Bridge wedding pic at Wrigley Building Chicago River Magnificent Mile Chicago Best Hod Dogs wedding candid shot Christi Gustafson Chicago Skyline Chicago

The ceremony took place at First Congregational Church in Crystal Lake. 

First Congregational Church sand ceremony ceremony at First Congregational Church first official kiss First Congregational Church


Finally, we’re back at Doug and Christi’s Backyard which looks very festive in this beautiful fall colors. 

Let the party begin!! There was dances, speeches, sparklers, fireworks and of course delicious food! 

Room Shots from the Backyard wedding
Lake in the hills backyard wedding reception in a tent in backyard


backyard cake cutting fall sunset light

sparklers shooting fireworks backyard wedding with fireworks

We asked Christi and Doug few questions about the wedding preparation and thoughts after it:

1.) How did you two meet? – We met when we were teenagers, I was 16 and Doug was 18. We worked together at Outback Steakhouse. We were friends back then. I got married and Doug was a guest at my wedding. He even caught the garter. We lost touch and actually ran into each other at a party back in 2012. We exchanged numbers, but never pursued anything. Doug moved back to Florida and out of the blue contacted me 6 years later. We talked over the phone as friends and quickly discovered that there was a lot more there. I went to see him in July of 2018 and he moved back to Chicago in October 2018. The rest is history.

2.) How did he pop the question? – We were at my dad’s campsite in Wisconsin. We had just gotten our preapproval for a mortgage and had put in an offer on a house. That next morning we got the call that our offer was accepted. We were ecstatic! Little did I know, Doug had already planned on proposing that weekend before we even knew about the house. He took me down by the water, just the two of us to a beautiful spot and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

3.) What was your favorite moment(s) from the wedding? – We really enjoyed having the opportunity to take amazing pictures downtown Chicago in a way that we never would have been able to if everything was normal. The day was beautiful down there and the pictures are stunning. Amidst all of the chaos of this pandemic, we were still able to find some joy in being able to celebrate our special day with some of our immediate family and closest friends. Having the reception in our backyard allowed us to enjoy our hom, keep people safe and still experience the thrill and excitement of getting married to each other as we had long wanted to do. Some of our favorite moments were the sparklers and fireworks, having our DJ play music and the neighbors all coming out to cheer from their backyards, and the ability to still become husband and wife in the church as we originally planned. Oh and there is no other way we would have been able to have our dog enjoy the entire day with us as well!

4.) How long have you been together? A little over 2 years, but we have known each other for over 20 years.

5.) How would you describe your overall wedding experience?  Very different than we had planned, but it was very special in a way we didn’t expect. Having such a small group of people allowed us to really spend quality time with everyone.

6.) What advice would you offer to other couples planning a wedding? Be patient and flexible! Rely on each other and those closest to you for support and help. Realize that everyone knows that making a guest list in this situation is nearly impossible, but they understand the restrictions. We found it very difficult to do this and worried about hurting people’s feelings about being left off. Work with each other as a team and allow yourselves to grieve what you thought your day would look like, but find a way to make your day special in a way you may not have taken the time to do before. Keep an open mind, it will be great! At the end of all of it you are marrying your partner and starting your life together. The rest is just details

8.) Tell me about your dress. Where did you find it, how did you choose it, how did you know it was the one? – It was so not what I thought I originally wanted, but when the guys at the shop convinced me to try it on, it was perfect! We originally planned on getting married in March, so I was planning a wedding in less than 6 months. I knew this would limit the opportunity to order a dress and make appointments, so I just started looking. There were quite a few bridal shops that didn’t even want to try to meet the expectations of having a dress in less than 5 months. I found Complete Bridal by Bridal boys in Dundee by chance, and they made me feel so welcome and took the stress off. They worked with my body type and style preferences until we found the perfect dress. They made the entire experience more like shopping with friends, than a consumer in a store.

9) What were you most anxious, nervous or fearful about regarding your wedding day and what was the outcome? – We were anxious about having the reception outside in September in Chicago as the weather is always unpredictable. We were very concerned about everyone’s health and safety, so an inside reception was not possible. We had planned and replanned the wedding so many times that we just wanted to have a nice day with those we loved. We are having our full reception next year on our one year anniversary, as we were only 2 weeks away from getting married when everything shut down and still have contracts with vendors. We are looking forward to the massive one year celebration and having fresh cake instead of frozen that day! We were also concerned that having such a small wedding, (we went from 200 people to 20), that it may not feel like a real wedding day. However, it was better than expected. It turned out to be an amazing less stressful day that really allowed us to take in the gravity and excitement of it all.


 Sean – Wed Start’s Dj 

 Doru & Claudia – H Photography 

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