English Garden Party Inspired Wedding at Crane Estate
May 5, 2015
New England
Classic WeddingsEstate WeddingsFall Weddings
I'll always be a fan of pretty photos (and this gallery from Hello Love Photography is chock full of them) but when I come upon a Bride whose story is so well told that I feel like I know her and her Groom, well, it doesn't get much better than that. Brighter Lights Media captured this love live and with Mayflour Confections and White Label DJs, a good time is guaranteed. Make your Tuesday better right here!
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From the beautiful Bride... Playful, wholesome, personal - those are the three words I used as inspiration while designing our wedding day on September 28th, 2014 at The Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Walt and I met in college, and although I was a geography major and he a theater major, we share a love for art, history, mysterious things, and Michael Jackson music. Before our engagement last August in Paris, we spent two weeks exploring the Scottish and English countryside. We both have deep roots from that area, and were so awestruck by the classic gorgeousness - the rolling hills endlessly dotted with sheep, the warm people, the ancient ruins, the lush gardens. We knew our dream for our wedding day would be to combine the feeling of that place with the beauty of New England’s coastline for some of our favorite people in the world (minus the sheep, unfortunately).

We chose to have our ceremony and reception at The Crane Estate for several reasons. The winding drive there through the marshes and past grazing horses definitely echoed our drives through the UK countryside. The historic house and knockout view - complete with rolling lawns, sunken gardens, and the Atlantic Ocean - were something both Walt and I knew we wanted our guests to experience and enjoy. Most importantly though, the beach at Crane is where I played while growing up, where we take our dog, Bella, to run in the winter, as well as the first place I ever flew a plane (a life dream and first anniversary gift from Walt), so it had also become quite personal to us over the years. We had found our place.

Although the Estate itself is quite grand and even somewhat imposing, our vision for the day was a simple and sincere old-fashioned daytime family affair. Over the months of planning, sticking to that vision despite the grandeur of Crane became a fun puzzle.

First and foremost, we wanted our guests to feel completely comfortable - as though they had arrived at a friend’s home for a relaxed garden party - so we decided that as they entered through the majestic house to the lawn where the ceremony would be held, the first things they would see, hear, taste, and feel would be: ocean, acoustic guitar, basil-infused lemonade, and sunshine.

One of our favorite aspects of Crane are two massive, stone griffins that guard either side of the rear terrace. They were gifts given to the original owner of the Estate from his employees, so naturally, we had to dress those two up a bit for the occasion! Erica Gregory of Lilac and Lily Floral Design draped gorgeous green garland around their necks, as well as around the cake and sweetheart tables. She worked with us to create the feel of a typical English garden with soft arrangements of garden roses and greenery, fragrant potted lavender and other herbs, as well as large potted ferns.

While we wanted our day to be inspired by both our heritage and love of all things English and Scottish, we did our best to be subtle while infusing that into our decor. Bits of tartan ribbon could be found throughout (including bows on the back of my shoes), and our naked Victoria Sponge Cake baked by Mayflour Confections was every bit as delicious as the ones we devoured in teashops across the pond.

To create a more intimate vibe, we chose to forego a large bridal party, and instead had our closest family and friends participate in other ways. My mother served as my matron of honor and Walt's best friend from college was his best man. My five nieces -whose ages range from 10 to 24 - were our gorgeous flower girls, complete with hand-tied floral crowns and ethereal ivory chiffon dresses. The youngest walked down the aisle in the traditional style, while the older girls handed out programs and cones filled with rose petals for post-nuptial tossing. My four nephews served as ring bearers. The youngest two carried our wedding bands down the aisle and the older assisted with the Ring Warming Ceremony led by my sister, Hayley. It was important to us that every guest there felt that they were an active part of our beginning, so having them each take a moment to hold our rings and put their well wishes into the gold is truly a treasured moment.

As Walt waited patiently in his handsome plaid Ted Baker London suit, I walked down the aisle escorted by my oldest brother carrying a bouquet of delicate roses, fresh lavender, white Scottish heather (for good luck!), dusty miller, and ranunculus wrapped in an ivory ribbon and a gold locket which held a picture of my late father. To complement my ivory silk Kelly Faetanini ‘Genevieve’ dress, I also wore the pearl earrings my father had given my mother for Christmas before he passed away when I was seven.

After officially becoming Mr. and Mrs, the day continued with our wholesome, laid-back theme. Lawn games, lounge furniture dotted with pretty floral throw pillows handmade by my mother, and fun parasols to shield the (surprisingly strong) late September sun put people in a playful mood. Our amazing friend Jesse Ciarmataro lovingly played his guitar, and before long there were children running and dancing everywhere while our guests soaked up some rays and indulged. We opted for a fun brunch-inspired menu featuring a bubbly bar with assorted fresh fruit purees, ‘Old Cuban’ signature cocktails, miniature pancake muffins, lobster rolls, yogurt parfaits, crepes (a little nod to our Parisian engagement!), and frittatas.

Walt and his friends are avid Dungeons and Dragons players, so as a surprise to him, I ordered navy blue dragon-shaped escort cards exclusively for that select group. Also, rather than seat everyone with only their friends, we did our best to thoughtfully mix people up. As an icebreaker of sorts, I had our stationer type up tented cards for their tables pointing out what everyone had in common and to hopefully get them talking. For instance, one card said, “Two of you have run Tough Mudders” and another said “Three of you are yoga teachers” - it was really fun to see what interests and experiences people from totally separate pieces of our lives share. We finished off the decor with framed pictures of our pets, family members who were no longer with us, as well as a personalized watercolor map of Ipswich.

After two heartfelt speeches by Walt’s best man and my brother, we had our first dance, and then our guests joined us on the dance floor for an impromptu ‘Thriller’ flash mob attempt. As the merriment continued, everyone cooled off with frozen espresso drinks made by the wonderful Espresso Dave. Hiring him was one of the last additions we made to our wedding plans, but we are so glad we did. An espresso cart is the perfect way to keep a dance party going!

As the afternoon was coming to a close, we both went off and changed into our going away outfits for our last dance. We were headed to Hawaii the very next morning, and as a surprise, my family bought us leis to wear as we swayed to Jack Johnson’s song “Lucky.” A traditional London cab waited for us outside, and as we walked out of the house, a husband and wife bagpiper duo played as we said our goodbyes and left to begin our adventure as husband and wife.

Handcrafting this wedding was one of the greatest joys of my life thus far. As a woman whose father passed away at such a young age, planning a wedding was challenging... something I can honestly say I’ve actually dreaded for a long time. However, when creating this day I truly tried to honor his spirit and embrace life. I worked hard to create a day that not only Walt and I would enjoy as a couple, but that would also give our most beloved family and friends a wonderful love-fueled afternoon to remember.

Not being a stereotypically thin bride myself, I will admit the pressure of gown shopping was not the most enjoyable aspect of the wedding planning experience for me. I waited until the last minute to look, and it was painful to try on samples that in no way fit... there were most definitely some tears happening. After visiting several salons, I found the team at Allegria Bridal, and I am thrilled to say I felt so unbelievably beautiful on my wedding day because of them. The gown I chose was fashion-forward despite being made in a larger size. It was light, had an amazing twirl factor, and the unique peplum detail echoed the waves of the ocean. I didn’t want to take it off!