Katie & Velinda shared their first kiss in their home, why wouldn’t they choose to marry in the same location? They pulled together the modern DIY Backyard Wedding of their dreams.

DWH: Who is Kate & Velinda?

K: So, I’m Kate, and I’m currently a grad student working toward becoming licensed in Marriage and Family Therapy while nannying part-time. My wife, Velinda, is an architectural interior designer with Emily Henderson Designs. In our free time, we love a good board game, a glass of wine and to travel… or just hang out at home with our dogs.

We met six years ago through mutual friends at a show at Hotel Cafe. I had a crush on her right away (though she had no idea)! We got to know each other as friends, and over time got to be really close. We lost touch for a while until I accidentally drove by her house after getting lost one day trying to find a freeway. I reached out, we grabbed a drink down the street from her home, and we were engaged a year later.

DWH: Sounds like it was meant to be! Tell us about the proposal.

K: Around Christmas, I had just found out that I had missed out on an ongoing job with a non-profit that I had been working with for months. She suggested dinner. I was willing to take her up on the offer, for what I thought was an attempt to cheer me up.

We went and had an amazing dinner at Bowery Bungalow, then she suggested we go home and make a fire. We got the fire going, and Velinda ended up reading me the Andrea Gibson poem, that I had read to her when I asked her to be my girlfriend, and she proposed.

I was totally surprised, I had no idea that she had been planning anything, even though I had been doing the same!

She then pulled out my favourite bottle of scotch from under the bench, and we slow danced to “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith (because that song was the epitome of romance to me as a 14-year-old and as a 29-year-old, made me laugh). It was magical and such a strong validation that I was spending my life with exactly the right person!

We were engaged for a year and a half and loved the long engagement.



DWH: How did you go about the tradition of changing your last name in marriage?

K & V: We also had a lot of stress around deciding what to do with our last name. Neither of us were married to our given names, but we wanted a shared, family name.

After months and months of brainstorming, we decided to change our last name to Hellen.

Kate’s grandmother, who played a huge role in her upbringing, was named Helen. She was a kind, intelligent, strong woman, who taught me empathy and resilience, who loved birds and a good card game. Velinda’s great-grandmother, a Helen as well, was a woman who took no shit; who would patch a roof herself rather than ask a man for help, a woman who was strong back in the days where being a strong woman wasn’t considered an asset. As two strong women raised by strong women, it was important to us to carry on that legacy in a very tangible way. And so, we became the Hellens. And we are excited to pass on the name to some (if any) future generations of strong humans.

DWH: You got married at your home, why did you choose that as your wedding venue?

K & V: We did get married at our house! We both wanted an incredibly intimate, family and friends only wedding and it just made sense to do it in the place that already holds so much meaning for us. This house is where we had our first kiss, where we got engaged, where Kate met Velinda’s family for the first time… on and on.

We really wanted a modern-industrial, bohemian wedding. It was already the vibe of our space. We are minimalists at heart and wanted to keep the warm environment of a backyard wedding.



DWH: We assume with a backyard wedding came DIY project, did you undertake a few?

K: So many! And honestly, we wouldn’t have been able to do all of them without the help of many friends. We built a deck, did a full yard renovation, made the benches for the ceremony out of old restaurant tables, and a lounge for our back deck.

Our friend also made our photo booth backdrop, and another friend did a DIY photo booth. We felt so lucky to have so many insanely talented friends helping us out.

DWH: And the outfits…

K: Both of us miraculously found our dresses in friends’ closets! Mine was an unused wedding dress that magically didn’t need alteration. Velinda’s friend, who happens to be a stylist, helped design hers from a dress she had found at a second-hand store.

DWH: Perfect! And when it came to the wedding day, do you have a favourite moment?

K: It was such a blur, it’s so hard to pick a favourite moment! I mean at the risk of sounding cheesy, kissing my wife for the first time was definitely my favourite part.

At the end of the day, we got to share a space with the people that are closest to us, and we knew that would be the only time everyone would be in the same place at the same time. It was just perfect.

The only thing that went not so according to plan was the food truck we had hired hit our friend’s car upon arriving… in the middle of the service (we magically didn’t hear it)! It’s all taken care of now, but that was not part of the plan!

DWH: Whoops! Did you incorporate any religious traditions into the day?

K & V: No religious traditions, but we tried to incorporate our families as much as we could. Kate has a sister who passed away a few years ago, and we struggled with how to have them represented at the wedding, as they would have been her maid of honour. We ended up lighting a candle next to my bridesmaids, it felt like a soft way to acknowledge their presence.

We also felt so lucky to have Velinda’s mom there to walk her down the aisle. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. For a long time, we didn’t know if she would make it to the wedding, much less be strong enough to walk her down the aisle. She’s an incredibly strong, wonderful woman, and getting to witness that moment brought so much joy, and there were so many tears!

And, Velinda’s brother married us – and should make a career of it! He killed!


DWH: Now that you’re married, what does marriage mean to you?

K & V: Making our wife our number one priority, always. Doing our best to always be working on bettering ourselves so that we can continue to be a good partner to the other. Giving back rubs you know all too well won’t be returned and having a best friend to move through life with.

DWH: And, now that it’s all over, do you have advice for others planning their wedding day?

K & V: Have a longer engagement and keep it intimate.

We loved having a small wedding. We got to talk and spend time with everyone who was there.

Also, spend time picking out the details you want to get caught up in. Most details will go unnoticed, but some make it special. We didn’t want a wedding cake, instead opting for a selection of our favourite doughnuts from a store down the road from our house.

And lastly, set aside one on one time with your new spouse on the day – this one was so important to us. We snuck off for a few minutes immediately after the ceremony to revel in being newly married together. It helped create a staple memory in a day that goes too fast.

Photography by The Dream Choice