This couple wanted their wedding to be intimate and so very them, but they did not want to sacrifice an inch of style or luxury. A tall order, but judging by Melani Lust Photography‘s the pulled it off with such ease in a wedding at the groom’s parents home complete with cupcakes, love, and the coolest band we’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of soiree that makes us smile a whole days worth, and it’s all right here.

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We wanted an intimate garden wedding with a casual elegance and managed to strike a terrific balance between formality and fun by keeping some traditional elements and incorporating ones that spoke to a more modern sensibility. What we ended up with was a very special and meaningful celebration that was sophisticated without being stuffy. We’ve highlighted a few ways we achieved this difficult balance.

Venue: The groom’s parent’s home in New Canaan, CT offered the perfecting setting with its rustic barn, old-timey stone walls, small pond and rolling lawns – all of which are beautifully offset by a very romantic English garden, elegant pool area and formal home. Two narrow tents were set up off the main house and the pool house to provide shade for guests and the musicians. The bride walked down to the lower lawn from the house to ‘La Vie En Rose’ where guests were waiting with parasols and paper fans on rustic wooden benches arranged in an arc.

Quality Food: We didn’t want to serve a formal dinner in a structured format that would dictate how, when and with whom guests spent their time – but we didn’t want to sacrifice on quality either. Our caterer delivered with incredible serving stations manned by chefs and related staff as well as very heavy passed hors d’oeuvres. At any point, a guest could walk up and receive fresh carved or prepared food and take it back to any table or standing cocktail table. As a result, we were able to create a relaxed, free-flowing ambience while still making sure everyone had plenty to eat.. And we saved ourselves the hassle of hammering out a seating plan! Many guests remarked to us how much they enjoyed this more casual format that allowed them to mix and mingle more easily.

Cake and Cupcakes: It was important for us to have a traditional cake cutting moment, but we wanted some thing yummy and fondant free! Our favorite baker, Laura Jayson, from the dough*girl baking company in Rowayton, CT, created a beautiful six-inch cake with fresh flowers for the ceremonial cutting but also baked cupcakes for each of the 65 guests. This allowed our friends and family to help themselves whenever it suited them, but also gave us our cake moment.

Tables, Linens and Flowers: In keeping with the ‘elegant garden’ theme, we chose neutral, linen table clothes for the serving, cocktail and small dining tables (36”). These were complimented by beautiful fresh cut flower arrangements in small urns in a soft, pastel color palette and votives. There were enough seats for every one to be comfortable, but not enough for every guest to sit at the same time so the reception would feel more like a cocktail party. Two large arrangements in urns were also used to denote the altar in the lower lawn where the ceremony took place and a stunning wreath of natural flowers welcomed guests at the garden gate when they arrived. The bridal bouquet was a timeless collection of garden roses, ivy and hydrangea.

Live Music: As music lovers, live music was crucial, but we wanted some thing in keeping with the wedding – something that wouldn’t dominate but rather would blend perfectly with the surroundings. We found that in the stunning jazz ensemble Carte Blanche, where all members were dressed in charming vintage attire. They played songs that appealed to all ages, across all continents from Manu Chao to Edith Piaf. They were a focal point without distracting, and permitted dancing without dominating the atmosphere. There was no structured dance time or dance floor, but the band picked up on natural cues from the crowd and people certainly danced!

Lighting: To add a romantic ambience and to ensure our guests they could linger into the evening, we scattered candle lanterns and torches across the lawns. However, the real highlight was the collapsible, paper lanterns stuffed with Christmas lights and hung from the rafters in the tents. The lanterns were of varying size and hung in bunches, some with lights and some without – which allows for a warm, defused effect. This not only hid the mental rafters of tent, it was gorgeous from both an aesthetic and lighting perspective – and an easy money saver.

Hide the Tent Poles: We didn’t want metal tent poles showing up in photographs and disrupting the natural ambience of the wedding overall, thankfully, our friend, Kate Moutenot, (who happens to also be an incredibly talented event designer – our luck!) showed us the magic of simply wrapping tent poles in fabric and securing them with zip-ties. The result was gorgeous and economical! A selection of the most prominent poles were covered with fresh summer garland.

Overall we stayed true to who we are, and that balance created a gorgeous wedding. We broke with formal tradition in a number of ways such as having Jennifer’s brother walk her down the aisle, having her Stepfather officiate the ceremony, writing our own vows, having both parents speak at the reception, and generally avoiding the formulaic eating, dancing and speaking times seen at so many weddings. And yet, we insisted on using only the best vendors and selecting details that were, elegant and sophisticated. This balance gave us our dream wedding.

Photography: Melani Lust Photography / Wedding Design: Kate Moutenot, ckmoutenot@hotmail.com / Flowers: Earth Garden, designer@earthgardenflowers.com / Catering: Marcia Selden Catering / Band: Carte Blanche Jazz Ensemble / Tent: Starr Tents / Dress: Tara Keely dress from Lovely Bride Store / Shoes: Prada / Make Up: Meredith at Cosmetic Boutique / Stationery: Small Field Papers / Bakery: Dough Girl Baking Company

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