From start to finish, this charming Warwick wedding can only be described as “joyous.” The kind of joyous that leaves you smiling from ear to ear while perusing the beautiful gallery captured by Amaranth Wedding Photography… and just downright happy to be a part of this darling bride and groom’s big day. But that’s kind of what happens when a wedding includes sweet DIY details, lovely book-themed stylings and a stunning bride wearing her grandmother’s (+ mother’s) gown. It’s a glee making machine, lovelies, and you can see every last moment in the full gallery.
From the Bride… Danny and I met at Pier 59 studios, New York, on set for a photo shoot. When Danny came over to introduce himself the connection was immediate, we lived within a couple of blocks from each other, we both loved to read, we both loved music and art. For both of us there seemed to be a synchronicity that intertwined our lives. Danny’s grandmother turned out to be from my hometown Brisbane, Australia.
We wanted the wedding to feel intimate and personal. I wanted each person there to feel as if they were entering into our world, to feel at home in “Emma & Danny.” With so many people travelling from so far (we had friends and family travel from all over Australia, England and the U.S.) I wanted to honor their love and commitment to us by pouring my heart and soul into the day.
It really began with the dress. My dress was handmade for my Nana’s wedding in 1959. In 1989 my Mum wore it to marry my Dad in the bush in Australia, and in 1999 my Nana took it in for me to wear at my Mum’s wedding to my stepdad. The dress is steeped in the history of our family and I could not have imagined wearing another dress. Once word got out in my family that I was going to be wearing the dress, one of my aunts unearthed a box containing pieces from Nana’s wedding, including her veil and some silk horseshoes. My tailor, Keke, reworked the veil with new tulle and we hung the horseshoe at the top of the flower arch in the ceremony.
Almost as soon as we started planning the wedding we decided we wanted it to be book themed. Both Danny and I love reading and it was one of the first things that brought us together. We chose to have the wedding at a small bed and breakfast called the Inn at Stony Creek in Warwick, New York. Danny’s father had retired there with Danny’s stepmother and two younger siblings, and so Danny, Tierney (Danny’s daughter and my soon-to- be stepdaughter) and I frequently visited them up there. We fell in love with the Inn, its quaint charm, and of course Bill and Joe, the owners, who are a delight. They even mowed the aisle itself into the field behind the Inn just for us.
My dad walked me down the aisle but we all wanted to honor my stepfather as well, so we came up with a plan. He had a beautiful Swarovski Crystal heart made, that I sewed into the inside of my dress so that he was walking with us. It was something just between him and me.
Danny’s father’s side of the family is Irish and I wanted to find ways to honor our heritage. I discovered that traditionally in Irish weddings the bride’s bouquet is wrapped in a handkerchief so I asked my amazing florist, Amy, if she would use my Nana’s handkerchief to wrap mine.
I wanted to do something a little different for a ring pillow, so I bought the 50th Anniversary hardcover edition of J.R Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings and hollowed out the inside creating a little box for our rings (Danny’s, mine, and the ring I had made to give to Tierney) that could be tied in place with a ribbon. We are both big fans of Tolkien. In fact, one of Danny’s running jokes the entire planning process was that his groomsmen were the fellowship of the ring, he himself was the ring, and I was Mount Doom with my bridesmaids starring as the Nasgul. Very funny.
On the ceremony table was my mother’s tablecloth that adorned our dining table all through my childhood. On top of that sat my great great grandfather’s bible that was over a hundred years old, his gloves from his wedding day, a small fiddle-leaf fig tree, and a wooden engraved box. We wanted to personalize the ceremony, so instead of a unity candle we decided to plant a tree. The fig tree symbolizes nurturing and fertility and we had each of our mothers come up with soil, cultivated from their backyards (or in my case the compost heap all the way back in Brisbane) and we planted and watered the tree. The box that we dubbed “The Unity Box” was found at a second hand store called Furnish Green. We had asked people to bring along something small and significant to place in the box that we would open on our tenth anniversary.
I made confetti cones lined with vintage sheet music that Danny’s grandmother had collected in Australia. We filled it with lavender, which had the house smelling beautiful for months before!
We decided to use books on the tables instead of numbers. The tables were by author and each table had at least three books from our personal library. My Mum and Nana had collected and lovingly preserved almost a hundred doilies over the years, and were happy to give them over to me as table decorations. Each table had a unique set of doilies to go with the books.
Danny created a beautiful playlist that I burned onto cds and hand-stamped (quite a trial because the ink took at least two days to dry, our dining room table was completely taken up for a long time!) I made one hundred paper origami cd cases that I got a little carried away with and soon became the bane of my existence. I decided to doily cut the edges of a separate piece of paper that I would then stamp with our stamp and glue onto the front cover. I stamped the back with “Thank You” and tied ribbon and string into a bow on the front of each case. It took me months!
All of the accessory tables were rented vintage pieces of furniture from Antique Barn. On the card table we had a vintage suitcase that I found at Brownstone Treasures in Brooklyn. Inside this we draped lace curtains that were given to me by a stylist at one of our first shoots together. On top, I strung a lace and burlap banner saying “cards” that I found on Etsy. On the table was the same style banner with our initials.
For escort cards I made mini books with each person’s name individually stamped on the cover, and the name of their table author stamped inside. On the opposite page were pieces of vintage sheet music that Danny’s grandmother had collected in Australia.
In honor of the guests that had travelled from so far and wide, my stepdad made the “Down Under Map.” He had ribbons pinned on an upside down map of the world from where each guest had started their journey to where they ended it. This was displayed on a vintage easel.
The cake topper was brought from Australia by my Nana and had been the topper at her wedding. It was a little silver vase that was then filled with flowers. She also brought the family cake knife with her. The knife has been used to cut the cake at all weddings in the family There is a slip of paper with the dates and names of all who have used in in the case.
It was truly a magical day. I have never seen so many people so happy all at once. We had a thunderstorm during cocktail hour that was a blessing in disguise. It brought everyone together under the tent, with their muddy feet; shoes were dispensed and everyone let go of their inhibitions. When the storm cleared there was a beautiful rainbow arching over the sky at sunset. I sang to Danny one of our favourite songs, In This Heart, off a playlist he made for me when we first began dating. A friend of Danny’s wrote a quartet score for me out of the vocal harmonies that back Sinead O’Connor, and our string quartet accompanied me.
Danny wrote a story for me – the story of us – and when the music cut out from the rain, he stood on top of a speaker to tell it.
We are so blessed to have had a day like that in our lives that we shared with our closest friends and family.
Wedding Photography: Amaranth Wedding Photography | Wedding Venue: The Inn at Stony Creek (Owners: Bill and Joe) | Floral Design: Amy at Corwin Florists | Catering: Ed Fava and Fava Catering | String Players: The Devonshire Players | DJ’s: Joe Ballance + David Berg | Rentals: Warwick Party Rentals | Makeup: Ashleigh Ciucci