PHOTOS: Queer Eye’s Bobby Berk Designed Backyard Weddings for 5 Couples Impacted by Coronavirus
The interior designer tells PEOPLE about his new project with Lowe's, and how his now-husband surprised him with a proposal and wedding on the same day eight years ago
Bobby Berk is known for bringing smiles and changing lives through his role as the interior design expert on Netflix’s Queer Eye, so he was left with a little bit of a hole in his heart when stay-at-home orders started and filming stopped due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
That’s why he was so excited when Lowe’s reached out to ask if he’d be willing to help surprise five couples whose June weddings had been canceled due to the virus by turning their backyards into Pinterest-worthy wedding venues where they could hold an intimate ceremony.
“I was really missing that upbeat feeling that I get from surprising our heroes with their makeovers [on Queer Eye],” Berk, 38, tells PEOPLE. “So it was so nice when Lowe's came to me, because I was like, ‘Yeah, I'm going to get those endorphins I get when I get to surprise people again!’ It's been special for the couples, but it's also been very special for me."
The interior designer and the home improvement company chose five deserving couples from across the country to be the recipients of the makeovers, and Berk had in-depth, virtual discussions with each of them to determine how he could help them create the venue of their dreams in their previously underutilized backyards.
See the before and after shots for each couple, below.
Nyanka Noire and Brent Jules
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Wedding Date: June 20
Milo Anderson and Lance Putnam
Location: Columbia, SC
Wedding Date: June 19
Alexis Egeland and Mark Ford
Location: Forest Lakes Estates, AZ
Wedding Date: June 13
Torrey Zimmer and Zach Sheets
Location: Middleport, OH
Wedding Date: June 20
Sonja Koehler and James Godfrey
Location: Oregonia, OH
Wedding Date: June 20
Each makeover was completed using products selected by Berk from Lowe’s Bohemian, Farmhouse and Coastal Chic collections, which he curated. He believes each piece will remain useful for the couples post-nuptials — from market lights to bench seating and everything in between.
“If you're looking to use your backyard for a wedding venue, try to make sure you're picking things that you're going to be able to utilize throughout the year,” Berk advises other couples planning at-home ceremonies. “Really try to utilize landscaping as decor too, because it's going to be stuff that's going to stay in your yard, and you're going to be able to enjoy it year-round, depending on your weather.”
Beyond being a successful interior designer, Berk is also a bit of an expert when it comes to marriage — he’s been happily married to his husband, Dewey Do, for eight years, and has some great advice for couples: “Don’t be afraid to communicate, even if that means you snip at each other every once in a while."
“So many times, newlyweds especially are so afraid to really express themselves and tell their partners how something made them feel,” he explains. “But it's so, so important, because when you don't and you keep all that inside, it festers, and then it turns into a big fight. And sometimes the big fights are the ones you don't come back from.”
Even though he got married nearly a decade ago, Berk says he feels a special bond with these five couples — because he too was surprised with a backyard wedding.
“Long story short, every year in May, we usually go down to a friend's house in Cabo,” Berk explains. “In 2012, I thought we were going down just like any other year like we normally do, but this year everyone was like, ‘Oh, we're going to go to a white party. So you need to get some linen clothes.’ And I'm like, ‘All right, that's cool’ — little did I know those linen clothes were actually for me to get married in.”
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Berk shares that he was expecting to go on a catamaran ride with friends, but when he arrived at the water he realized that the sail of the boat read “Will you marry me?” and his now-husband proposed.
“After sailing, we went back to the house, and I was on the way back thinking about when we're going to have the wedding, how I'm going to plan it,” he continues. “And then I opened up the door, and the wedding was already going on at the back of the house. Our friend's backyard just happened to be right on the beach.”
“My husband surprised me with an engagement and a wedding all in the same day,” he laughs. This project with Lowe’s he says, was therefore “a quote-unquote, no pun intended, perfect marriage.”
See more photos from the weddings and get more information from Bobby about his curated Lowe’s collection using the hashtag #HomeUnitesUs.