Say ‘YES’ to the backyard wedding


By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer

Mr. and Mrs. Neil Harrington underneath the chandelier in their fairy tale backyard wedding in Marlborough.

Marlborough – The event industry was hit hard with the pandemic, leaving brides-to-be in 2020 weighing the pros and cons of everything from the venue to the guest list.

“We went from having 125 family and loved ones down to just 25. It was too hard to cherry-pick our guest list, so we narrowed it to immediate family and the bridal party,” explained Sarah Baldelli. 

She and Neil Harrington had chosen Aug. 28, 2020 as their wedding day long before COVID-19, but suddenly some hard decisions had to be made. 

“In the beginning of June my Mom kept saying that we should have a Plan B. Did we want to keep that date?” she said. “Neil and I know that life is fragile, and we wanted to be married, so that was easy. And if we couldn’t have dancing anyway, the next decision was easy, too, we would use my parents’ backyard.” 

Their vendors were agreeable to the move, but the original site had its own food services. The backyard didn’t! 

“One of my clients at the hair salon is a chef, and his son is as well,” shared Coleen Baldelli, Sarah’s mother. “They assured me it would be no problem to have individually plated meals and passed hors d’oeuvres, all adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines. And they were phenomenal.”

“In a real way the whole perspective changed. We focused on what was really important, and it’s not about the party, it’s about the true meaning of the wedding, of getting married,” Sarah said. 

Sarah Baldelli and Neil Harrington helped her parents transform the backyard into a magical setting for their wedding.

“The hardest part was not having all our loved ones share the day with us, but safety was the main priority. We know we made the right decision.” 

Her mom echoes that sentiment.

“It was hard to watch her big dream get taken away, but we made this happen. It ended up being magical and intimate, and there were a lot of special moments that we wouldn’t have had in a traditional setting.

“It was crazy, yes, but it all worked out. When I think that even though we had 10 weeks to put it together, the rules kept changing, and just when we’d think something was all set, a new rule would come out and we’d have to adjust. I feel bad for those brides that decided just to postpone for a year, because I think this is reality for a while, you kind of have to embrace it and just move forward.” 

Ken Rosales and Cassidy Pearson had to change their venue from a country club to a Hudson backyard.
Photo/Michael Silvano Photography

A Hudson couple, Cassidy Pearson and Ken Rosales, have found themselves in a similar situation. Their Saturday, Oct. 17 wedding was all set, but the new rules at the country club where it was to be held only allow 32 guests, no dancing and no bar. Once again, the wedding at home will be the answer. The backyard in Hudson will be transformed under a tent that will hold 80. 

“We had to cut our list in half, but most people were really understanding. We are using all local vendors, and we rented a bar trailer and a bathroom trailer. When we first pulled the plug on the big wedding, I think I cried all weekend,” Cassidy said. 

“And having people say things like ‘It is what it is!’ doesn’t help at all. It’s the little things that are tough, like not having my Mom be able to come to my hair trial, or my alterations. Those are special times and we couldn’t share them. But I am getting excited now that everything is coming along.”

Fairytale weddings can still happen, but they might require turning some roadblocks into mere speed bumps. Just ask the Brides of 2020.