People often ask if I ever tire of looking at weddings all day. If I ever don’t have something to say about a particular wedding. And the answer is absolutely not. Not only to I absolutely love every emotion, detail, and kiss that a wedding entails, but I get to have a backstage pass into the most special day in a couple’s life. I get to see the excitement on each and every brides face. I get to see the emotion of the guests, the parents, the bridal party, the couple. I get to see special moments very few at the wedding got to see. I get to wrap myself up in the emotion of someone’s most amazing day – and that always puts a smile on my face. Especially when I get an insiders peak into weddings as gorgeous, warm, personal as this one, sent our way by Cliff Mautner Photography. And there is so much more – all you have to do is click here!
After a day of interviewing at medical schools in Philadelphia, I was invited to a dinner party in Center City by my childhood friend, Kaitlin. Before fully committing to the evening, I inquired about the guests. Kaitlin secured my attendance by saying, “There’s a cute guy here I know you’ll love.” And she was right. The connection was instant. After spending most of the evening huddled in the corner discovering all of the things we had in common, he asked me to dinner “in a few weeks,” citing his upcoming medical exams as the reason for the delay. True to his word, two weeks later, he called and asked when I was free.
While our connection was easy, our relationship was tested with five years of long distance, while I completed my medical studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC, and he continued his schooling and residency at Jefferson in Philadelphia. We often spent our weekends absorbed in things we loved to do together, particularly spending time outdoors. On one of our weekend picnics, Brian handed me a card he’d written, thanking me for being his best friend. When I finished reading it, I looked up and he was on his knee, waiting to ask for my hand in marriage.
When we set out to find a venue, we were looking for a place with privacy, character, and depth. We looked at a dozen places, but nothing spoke to us like Hollyhedge. It was this little house nestled in the woods, that revealed its beauty slowly as you made your way up the long drive. In a way, it reminded Brian and I of our relationship, as we slowly came to know each other and fell in love through our long distance relationship. I wanted each of our guests to feel personally selected to be included in our special day. The courtyard, enclosed in its stone walls, promised to lend our ceremony the air of intimacy and togetherness we were striving for. Additionally, the ” Rain Plan,” which every bride has to be concerned with, would hardly have registered as a “second choice” at any other venue: it was a rustic stonewalled barn with 12 foot windows, a fireplace, and a wooden balcony that overlooked the first floor for an aerial view of the ceremony if you so desired it. No matter what the weather was, we were going to be nestled in and surrounded by our loved ones as we said our vows. The grounds were so layered, every corner you peaked around had something beautiful to discover. There was so much texture and detail to our surroundings. It felt inspiring.
I have never planned anything of this magnitude, and the task felt overwhelming at first. But, I considered my vision too personal and my personality too exacting to relinquish control to a planner. I basically started with a mental list of things that I love, that make me happy. Things that made the list included nature (particularly the woods and greenery), sunflowers, things of a vintage feel, literature, photography, warm vibrant color, my family, and my friends. After that, I perused various magazines and websites, including Style Me Pretty, to discover ways that other brides had incorporated these motifs into their own weddings.
As for the wedding colors, I picked colors that felt organic to the time of year we were getting married, and the vision I was trying to create. My girls were in burgandy, which is such a rich and warm color, and I accessorized them with yellow gold – I found a jeweler, Candace Marsalla at The Eastern Market in DC who helped me create green and gold necklaces at a reasonable price. I also found beautiful hammered gold and bejeweled bangles at The Scarlett Bride in Philly. So, in short, my inspiration came from things that I love, and from websites like SMP.
In addition to the place, my florist Pamela Hale, was really responsible for making this vision come true. She listened to qualities that were important to me and found a way to incorporated them into every detail, from the stack of vintage books under the birdcages, to the moss hanging from the flowers in the tall arrangements.
Brian and I always envisioned ourselves getting married in our places of worship. Since we each fell in love with someone of another faith, that vision was an impossibility. If we couldn’t be married in the “traditional way”, we decided to bring the tradition to us. Our wedding was chalk full of family history, religious and ethnic tradition, and personal touches. We had a priest and a rabbi. And they alternated throughout the ceremony. They ended by placing there hands on our shoulders and said a closing blessing in hebrew which was translated line for line by the priest.
I wore my mother’s wedding gown. An extremely talented seamstress, Linda Mesaros, from One Special Evening in Toms River, created an extraordinary, updated version of the dress that emanated a vintage romance with its cathedral train, rose underlay, scalloped V neckline and pearl studded lace overlay. It was spectacular.
We dug up old family wedding photos from our parents, grandparents and great grandparents and had them blown up to 11×14. I shopped flea markets for shabby, ornate frames and mounted each of the photographs in them. I had them dispersed throughout the reception room, which somehow made these family members feel truly present, celebrating our day with us. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. I found myself, along with many other guests, giving pause to these black and white photos of our grandparents beaming on their own wedding day, and realizing how much of who we are we owe to our past.
Bride’s Gown: Vintage Eve of Milady, updated and redesigned by seamstress at One Special Evening in New Jersey / Floral & Event Design: Pamela Hale, Passion for Petals / Band: Janis Nowlan Band / Photography: Cliff Mautner Photography / Ceremony & Reception Venue: HollyHedge Estate / Bridesmaid Jewelry: The Scarlett Bride + Candace Marsalla, The Eastern Market