This O.C. Couple Moved Their Wedding to a Backyard

Saying ’I do’ at home
Photographs by Jerome Park

When new COVID-19 restrictions were put in place a month before their big day, Samee and Kathy Aboubakare were forced to shift gears quickly and plan a backyard wedding. The wedding was held at Samee’s parents’ Garden Grove home, which was also where the couple got engaged. “In 23 days, with the help of our friends, family, and vendors, we were able to transform the backyard into the wedding venue we never imagined,” Kathy says.

Some of the O.C. vendors included wedding coordinator Roselyn and Co., The Flower Boutique, and Twenty Eight Restaurant & Bar, which provided beautifully packaged, individual dinner boxes that came with an entree, salad, hors d’oeuvres, and a cocktail or other beverage. The standout design elements included a floral arch, a rustic backyard fence, and pipe and drape backdrops by Ben’s Events. “A backyard wedding is not often what many people imagine their weddings to look like,” Kathy says. “In the end, we were able to create our special day because we never limited ourselves to what ‘normal’ weddings look like.”

5 Questions with Samee and Kathy

Can you share more about the local vendors you worked with?
One of our top local vendors that made this backyard transformation so unique and memorable was our coordinator, Roselyne and Co. Roselyne was our coordinator throughout the whole planning process. She really helped us adjust to changes and adapt new ideas to make our wedding safe and beautiful. We knew we had to trust every idea that she brought to the table. She helped envision the flower arch to make the backyard feel like a wedding garden. This was extremely important for us because our altar was decorated with an arch of flowers that made our ceremony look beyond breathtaking. She also made sure we had a great team of vendors and handled all the details so we didn’t have to. Roselyne also worked really well with the Flower Boutique to deliver their promise to making the backyard fence look rustic and authentic. All of the floral arrangements and decorations from the flower boutique were truly stunning.

Another great vendor that we deeply appreciate was Twenty-Eight OC. Without this vendor, we wouldn’t have gotten to experience a safe and delicious meal with our family and friends for our reception. We believe that people really appreciated how clean and dainty the meals were since it came in boxes. When we booked with Twenty-Eight restaurant as our wedding venue a few months before the shutdown, we knew that we’d want them to cater because we were pleased with our food tasting. We were delighted to see our guests’ faces light up when each person got to open their individual packed boxes as if it was a present. Each box came with a full entreé, salad, snacks, hors d’oeuvres, and a beverage. The best part was seeing everyone recording their boxes as they were opening them up!

We also are so thankful for our live-stream producer @realdealkevinle, photographer @jeromepark, and videographer @davidhuynhphoto for giving us incredible photos and videos for us to remember our special and unique day.

What was the timeline for everything?
February 15, 2019 was our proposal date and we started planning the day after. And then one month later, COVID shut down everything. At this point, we had no idea when we could even have a wedding so we paused a lot of our plans. In the summer, we saw that COVID was getting better so we proceeded with planning our wedding and decided on January 2, 2021. We finally booked our venue with Twenty Eight OC on June 21. We knew it would be a smaller wedding because of COVID, but we began crafting our guest list, our food options, and finding other vendors. Then, on December 3, 30 days from our wedding, we were on a call with Twenty Eight to go over final plans and they told us that we were not going to be able to have our wedding at the restaurant due to the new COVID restrictions. We shifted to doing the wedding ceremony in front of the restaurant with only our immediate families for a week. Then on December 10, our coordinator Roselyne suggested that we do our entire wedding ceremony and reception at Samee’s parent’s house. We thought this was a great idea because we could invite more family and close friends, and because this was where (we got engaged) 10 months prior. And then in 23 days, with the help of our friends, family, and vendors, we were able to transform the backyard into the wedding venue we never imagined.

What was the biggest takeaway from a backyard wedding?
Our biggest takeaway about having a backyard wedding was that it was very flexible and we had the freedom to do whatever we want. We had the opportunity to dream up whatever we wanted as long as we had the ability and willpower to get it done. There weren’t many moments where we were told we couldn’t do something and even if
we were, we always were able to find another solution.

We would also say another takeaway from doing a backyard wedding is that it kept reminding us why we were having a wedding. The purpose of our wedding was to celebrate our relationship with those we love. So whenever we were overwhelmed or discouraged, we knew that a simple, intimate wedding was no worse than an extravagant
and grand wedding as long as we were able to celebrate with our loved ones.

What do you recommend for people who might be considering one?
First off, we would recommend having more time to plan the wedding. It would have been a lot less stressful if we had more than a few weeks to plan and execute our backyard wedding. Secondly, don’t be afraid of adjustments and be open to thinking outside the box. A backyard wedding is not often what many people imagine their weddings to look like. But we knew we had to keep an open mind and be able to shift quickly in order to have a memorable wedding. In the end, we were able to create our special day because we never limited ourselves to what “normal” weddings look like. Thirdly, we thought that live-streaming our wedding was a great idea. This allowed us to invite more people to our ceremony who were out-of-state or who couldn’t fit in our backyard. And many of our friends and family who tuned in online still enjoyed watching our ceremony
and they left comments on the livestream so it felt like they were there with us. We don’t mean setting up a phone/laptop to Facebook live, but we had a professional livestream done for us with multiple camera angles and high quality audio. Thanks to our
producer (@realdealkevinle), our virtual guests had a great view of our wedding and we still get to watch our wedding livestream today! (https://evt.live/aboudangtime)
Lastly, the most important encouragement we held onto was this one simple truth: your wedding day is one single day, but your marriage is for a lifetime. Yes, the wedding day is important, but even more important is enjoying each other and building the foundation
for a joyous marriage that will last decades!

What were your expectations versus reality?
Our expectations were that it would look more like a typical backyard with less decorations and we were really concerned about the weather leading up to the wedding day. Our expectations were quite low for the situation that we were in and it really pushed us to choose more simple and practical choices. However, on our actual wedding day, it turned out to be a grand wedding that we both couldn’t have dreamed of and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We had only rehearsed the night before with no official arch or table set ups because the vendors came the morning of our wedding, so we really had to trust our vendors to work last minute with us. Throughout our wedding day, we were blessed to have family, friends, and vendors gather together to flip the backyard from ceremony to reception, all in roughly one hour. The reality turned out to be one of the greatest memories that we get to relive forever, thanks to the hard work and effort that our family, friends, and vendors put in.

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