Real Weddings: Eliza and James’s Pretty-in-Pink Backyard Garden Party

Private Residence, Salt Lake City

June 17

Planning and Design by Michelle Leo Events 

Photography by Heather Nan


Eliza and James’s first encounter occurred nearly a decade before their marriage, when they followed each other on social media. Eliza was a high school sophomore and James a senior upon their first connection, but until adulthood they remained virtual friends only. The two finally met in person in 2021 and the rest, as they say, is history. 

One of the pair’s favorite activities while dating was sharing dinner together on the balcony of James’s Salt Lake City apartment. One evening about a year into their relationship, James surprised Eliza during their nightly meal by getting on one knee and asking her to marry him, with the lights of the city shining as his backdrop. Of course, Eliza accepted.

“We ate dinner on the balcony together almost every night the first summer we were dating,” Eliza recalls. “We like to say that is where we fell in love.”


The couple tied the knot in a bright June ceremony at a relative’s home in Salt Lake City. “I’ve always wanted to get married outside, in a place that is special to me,” says Eliza. “My mother was married at her family home and as the first child to get married in my family, carrying on the tradition felt right.” 

Eliza’s wedding day vision included luxurious blooms and loads of color—a true garden party. 

The first garden-chic moment (delivered by event planner Michelle Leo Events and Artisan Bloom) was the ceremony arch. A towering stone installation in the residence’s backyard served as the ideal backdrop for a bursting pink arch, where the ceremony vows and speeches took place. 

Opposite James in his classic black, Eliza wore a multi-layered Lazaro A-Line gown with floral texture and a hand-embroidered floral veil to match the garden scene. Two bracelets from her late grandmothers played supporting roles in the accessory department, delivering shine to the bride’s otherwise sleek presentation. As Eliza walked down the aisle, she carried an equally sleek bouquet of pale pink calla lilies, in beautiful contrast to the full-bodied blooms which made up the event’s other arrangements. On either side of the couple, six bridesmaids wore peach-colored satin gowns, while the groomsmen stood uniformly in black suits and pink-accented boutonnieres. 

The couple exchanged rings handed down by the groom’s family, following speeches about love delivered by James’s older sister and Eliza’s grandfather. 


Following the big “I Do,” the couple and their guests moved the party to a soaring sailcloth tent. In perfect harmony with the bridal party’s gorgeously paired attire, the guests’ attire also reflected the “garden party” theme. Every attendee arrived dressed to the nines in florals and linens, creating a guest lineup that appeared as curated as the design itself. 

Peach and pink floral arrangements dotted the space, sitting atop vine-patterned linens that accentuated the garden-style appeal. Twinkling lights, strung along the seams and supports of the tent, sparkled in the reflections of tall floating candles, delivering a delightful dose of magic to the summer evening. 

At the bride’s request, a side table included a “legacy display,” showcasing the wedding photos of family members, and tributes to loved ones who had passed away. “This was one of my favorite parts of our wedding,” Eliza says. 

Guests dined on peach-and-burrata salad and an elevated version of “steak frites,” the bride’s favorite meal. Culinary Crafts presented hanger steak with chimichurri sauce and fries, with a side of classic Utah fry sauce. For dessert, two tiers of decadent wedding cake featured the couple’s favorite flavors: double chocolate and strawberry lemonade. 

Following dinner, the party hit the dance floor. Eliza & James shared their first dance to “Forever After All” by Luke Combs, then spent the rest of the evening dancing with their loved ones. At the end of the night, the couple made their getaway in style, driving off in Eliza’s grandfather’s vintage Thunderbird before flying away to a Hawaii honeymoon. 


Wedding Planning and Design: Michelle Leo Events,
Photography: Heather Nan,
Venue: Private Residence, SLC
Florist: Artisan Bloom,
Videography: Ryan Hinman Films,
Makeup Artist: Kristen Packard Artistry,
Hair Stylist: Kali Chris,
Rentals: Diamond Event and Tent,
Lighting & Draping: Moonlight Utah,
Catering: Culinary Crafts,
Cake: Flour and Flourish,
Transportation: Intermountain Golf Cars,
Ceremony & Cocktail Music: Barbara Scowcroft
Stationery & Signage: Twelve30 Creative,
DJ: DJ Dolph, 

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