Happy Labor Day LBBers! I hope it's time for a quick break from your summer celebrations, because boy is it worth it. The fantastic floral and event designers at Bea & Company sent this charming wedding our way all the way from Maine, and I am in love. It's the perfect mix of Americana Summer and Classic Chic for your holiday (and it even took place over Labor Day Weekend last year!). Every single image from Emilie Inc. has me giddy. Seriously. Every single one. When you're ready, click here for even more. You'll be so glad you put down your hotdog for just a few minutes.
Just days after our engagement, Joe brought me to Paris Hill, Maine for the first time to spend the Fourth of July holiday with his immediate and extended family. I knew that Fourth of July was Joe’s favorite holiday, but I did not fully grasp why until I went to Paris Hill that year and partook in the fantastic Brooks family annual celebration. What I saw when I got there was a pristinely beautiful setting filled with people who went out of their way to create family togetherness, preserve tradition and honor history.
Paris Hill is like a time capsule. An historic township, the beautifully preserved buildings are centered around the open, grassy Common. The landmarks are simply the church (built in 1803), the courthouse, the old jail, jailer’s house, registry, and the old Paris Hill Academy. You can’t help but feel transported back in time when you’re there. The Hill is set against the backdrop of a spectacular view of the White Mountains. The physical beauty of the place is trumped only by the family traditions that made the visit truly visceral for me. From the family softball game played in vintage baseball jerseys to the lobster dinner in the barn, I fell in love with Paris Hill and the deeply rooted family traditions that my fiancé’s family was bringing to life. Paris Hill is slice of pure Americana, so few places could be more apropos of celebrating the Fourth of July. It also turned out to be the perfect setting for our wedding…
On the plane ride back to California, as I watched the tiny islands off Portland fade into the distance, I leaned over and asked Joe if he ever thought of having our wedding in Paris Hill. A broad grin swept over his face and I knew that’s where we would be exchanging our vows. Joe had assumed I would want to get married in Laguna Beach, where my family lives. Laguna would be a no-brainer because of the natural beauty combined with my family’s history; but Paris Hill just felt right. Not only was it such a special piece of Joe’s family history, but his Grandmother lived steps from church! From that day on, we began what would become one of the most fun projects I’ve ever been part of. Because we had such a wonderful, authentic setting, all we really had to do was not mess it up by trying to get too fancy or overdo it. We knew that we wanted a rustic, understated, elegant affair that was all about family, but the challenge was how, from 3,000 miles away, we would find someone who could understand what Paris Hill meant to us and execute our vision.
Joe was a fantastic partner in the wedding planning because he wanted to be involved in everything and helped with all aspects. In fact, he is the one who found our AMAZING wedding planner, Sandy Shapiro-Hurt, founder of Bea & Company in Portland, Maine. Once we were in her hands, it was smooth sailing. During the first of many phone planning sessions to come, we told Sandy we wanted our wedding to have the feel of “Anthropologie meets rustic Maine.” She knew exactly what we were saying. We did only one wedding planning trip, and Sandy helped us do a one-stop shop that weekend. We went to her house to do the tasting with our caterer, Chi Chi Chef, and the moment I walked into her house I knew we had chosen the perfect person to design our wedding. The aesthetic and décor in her house was exactly what we wanted at our wedding and from that moment on, I knew we were in good hands. She listened carefully to what we ruminated on and helped us pull together all the elements that would create the perfect celebration for us. One of our best resources we used for accents was etsy.com, on which we relied heavily for those random custom items (wooden signs, vintage candy jars, table and name cards, etc.).
We were married over Labor Day weekend, and when we deplaned in Portland, our spoiled Southern California senses were hit with a wall of heat and dense humidity. In addition to the heat, we had the looming threat of Hurricane Earl that we heard was causing last minute location changes to weddings all along Maine’s coastal areas. I could hear my family and friends whisper about the weekend forecast, doing their best to insulate me from worrying about it. Despite the imminent wrath of Earl, we managed to stay calm and optimistic over in Western Maine. The night before the wedding, it began to rain torrentially just as the last guests dispersed from the rehearsal dinner, and that had us a little worried. Luckily, I awoke the next morning to my sister excitedly pulling the drapes in my room apart to reveal blue skies and news that the hurricane had passed us overnight. And in fact, the storm had lifted the unbearable heat and humidity and the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Another thing the morning revealed for me was that my sisters surprised me with hand-made programs for the ceremony. They used vintage paper and apparently it was quite the undertaking, and even caused them to have to pull an all-nighter the previous week to finish them!
Our wedding day was perfect and I still savor every detail to this day. Sandy took our vision and elevated it to a level Joe and I never imagined possible. The wedding was designed to be a procession from the church to the cocktail hour and finally to the Paris Hill Academy for the reception, all located on the same winding road. It all unfolded gorgeously as I had hoped. On the advice of my best friend and maid-of-honor, Stephanie, I was adamant that we take a group shot of everyone immediately after the ceremony. That is one thing I truly recommend if possible. There is something so American Gothic about those shots.
At the backyard cocktail hour held at Joe’s cousin’s home, guests sipped prosecco with a single blueberry and local beer, while the bluegrass band played at the edge of the lawn. Our reception was held in an antique building that was formerly the Paris Hill Academy. Multi-colored dahlias of all sizes were arranged delicately in vintage glass bottles, along with several other rustic accents. The ambience was simple and reflected the relaxed elegance of Paris Hill. We dined on an Italian-inspired menu (Joe’s favorite) served family-style (my favorite). We wanted people to pass and share food, and refill their wine glasses from bottles open on the table. We had a delicious red velvet wedding cake, as well as homemade whoopee pies, but guests went crazy for the candy buffet (go figure!). We danced late into the night to the Beatles and Elvis, as sleepy kids went home one by one (unless, that is, they fell asleep on the benches that lined the dance floor, and allowed their parents to sneak a few more songs in ). Being surrounded by our families and closest friends in a place so special to us – I couldn’t have imagined it any other way.
Photography: Emilie Inc. / Flowers: Bea & Company / Event Design: Bea & Company / Event Planning: Bea & Company / Ceremony Location: First Baptist Church / Reception Location: Paris Hills Academy / Catering: The Chichi Chef / Wedding Cake: Two Fat Cats / Make-up & Hair: Lisa Satorn, Ken Paves Salon/ Stationery: Maida Vale / Wedding Gown: Vera Wang via Saks Fifth Ave / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Groom’s Shoes: Calvin Klien / Groom Attire: Hugo Boss, Brioni / Groomsmen Attire: Burberry / Bridesmaid Dress: Lela Rose via Bella Bridesmaids / Engagement Ring + Wedding Band: Tiffany & Co. / Bride’s Earrings & Necklace: Joy Baxt Collection