“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.” – Katharine Hepburn
We love how Rachel and Chris described their intimate summer wedding: “Hamptons Midsummer Night’s Dream: Two New Yorkers-turned-Californians celebrated their nuptials with a garden wedding under a super moon starring peonies, garden roses, mint and lots of magical details.” And it was just as beautiful and special and it sounds…
“The bridal party consisted of my closest friends including my sister-in-law,” shares the bride. “They wore flowy, chiffon dresses in dove gray that had convertible panels attached that could be styled in various ways, so that each girl could express her own unique style. It was important to me that they felt beautiful. One of my oldest friends isn’t the dress-wearing type, so we decided she should be herself and wear a suit in a matching grey. My friends are all so different, so I’m really happy that they were able to be their true selves.
“We worked very closely with our floral designer and my bouquet was a romantic assortment of my favorites – peonies, garden roses, sweet pea, astilbe, clematis and lots of mint that looked as if it was floating above the bouquet. I can still smell the enchanted scent of mint and roses since we used them for my bouquet and all the centerpieces. That combination will always remind me of our wedding day.”
“I had a recurring dream a few months prior to dating Chris about a French blue door in the middle of an enchanted garden. After dating Chris for a few weeks, I mentioned the dream and he immediately grabbed his laptop to pull up pictures of his family’s home in the Hamptons – Villa des Amis – complete with European-inspired gardens and blue doors. It’s one of the most magical properties on the East End of Long Island, and I knew that I would marry Chris in that garden and walk through the blue door as his wife one day. For the ceremony, our guests were greeted with welcome drinks and a whimsical bud vase tree as they entered, with wedding programs displayed in a French country basket on a vintage nightstand beneath the tree.”
Your ceremony in three words. Spiritual, romantic, whimsical.
Who officiated your ceremony? We interviewed several officiants but when we met Rev. Annie Block Pearl, we knew she was the one. We visited her at her home two days before the wedding and meditated with her outside. She really got us and her positive energy and understanding of spiritual partnership is powerful. We ended up including two minutes of silent meditation at the beginning of our ceremony to center everyone… especially us!
Seating of Parents: “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Puccini
Processional: “Flower Song” by Delibes
Bride’s Processional: “Ave Maria” by Schubert
Recessional: “The Arrival of The Queen of Sheba” by Handel
What were your ceremony readings? “Love Sonnet VXII” by Pablo Neruda and The Buddha’s Sermon at Rajagaha, verses 19-22
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows along with the entire ceremony script. Our vows were very personal, slightly traditional, and reflected our shared spiritual path and practice, and of course our personal feelings and commitment to one another. We each wrote our own in small vow books and surprised each other at the ceremony. We kept our vow books and look forward to sharing them with generations to come.
What was your favorite part of the ceremony? From the bride: Two days before the wedding, we decided to write the entire ceremony script ourselves not just the vows. We pulled an all-nighter and ended up writing the script together in my in-laws’ kitchen. That probably sounds crazy but in the end, we’re really glad we did it because that one project led us into a beautiful conversation about our vows and what our marriage means to us. The ceremony was very personal and unique, and writing it together ended up being one of our best memories. // From the groom: I’ll never forget the feeling when our eyes met as Rachel walked down the aisle through all those rose petals while the string musicians played ‘Ave Maria’. In that moment, it was as if we were the only two people on the planet. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and love for her.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? #1 Make sure you practice using the restroom in your gown before the actual wedding day because surprisingly this can take up to 35 minutes depending on the gown! #2 Hold hands with your husband so that you share the same experience and don’t get separated during the night. Kiss often! You won’t regret the pictures. #3 When your wedding day finally arrives, it’s time to let go and be present for what really matters. You’ve found true love and that is a rare blessing in these times. Focus on the love and savor every second because the day goes by so quickly.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Do yourself a favor and hire a day-of coordinator, if not a full planner. There’s no need to stress over what time to cut the cake or start the toasts. The coordinator will enable you to truly relax and enjoy your big day.
“We had a tented reception at dusk just beyond the ceremony location. After the cocktail hour by the swimming pool, guests were led through the garden ‘hallway,’ past a reflecting pool, through the blue door, and into an artist studio where Pablo Neruda Love Poem books with escort card bookmarks awaited. We wanted the entire weekend to be a romantic and whimsical celebration of love, not just ours, but the collective love of everyone in attendance since they’ve all been an integral part of our journey. It was pure magic and we even got fireflies at dusk and a Super Moon; love was definitely in the air.”
Tell us about your special escort cards. Chris’ brother read a Neruda poem during our ceremony, so the escort cards were bookmarks tucked inside Pablo Neruda Love Poem books. Each bookmark had a Neruda quotation printed on them and the poetry books served as our wedding favors. We love hand calligraphy so we had the bookmarks and menus done by hand with each guest’s name.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? The lush beauty of the property and its emotional connection to family, plus my obsession with all things timeless and romantic inspired our design concept for the entire event. We describe it as a Hampton’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our color palette was blush, dove gray, white, with darker shades of pink for some contrast. There was obviously tons of green from our natural surroundings, plus we added mint and fresh herbs whenever we got the chance.
What was your first dance song? “Myth” by Beach House. In the midst of all the wedding planning, we completely forgot about the first dance, so we choreographed something really late the night before our wedding day. I’ll never forget how much we laughed while trying to come up with dance steps at 3 o’clock in the morning. By that point, we were beyond delirious but it’s one of those memories that we’ll always remember.
Menu: Signature Cocktails: Moscow Mule / Watermelon Mojito // Appetizer: Artichoke, Tomato and Avocado Napoleon, Micro Greens, Tomato Vinaigrette // Entree: Organic Crispy Salmon, Tuscan Farro, Sauteed Summer Greens, Basil Butter / Roasted Crystal Valley Farm Organic Chicken, Early Girl Farm Vegetables, Lemon Thyme Jus // Dessert: Macarons / Artisan Chocolates / Vanilla Wedding Cake with Fudge and Fresh Berries // Late Night Snack: Mini Banana Dulce de Leche Sundaes
Tell us about your reception decor. Centerpieces included white porcelain pedestal vases with surreal floral arrangements including white, blush and magenta peonies and roses, mint, sweet pea on the vine, herbs and more. Eclectic silver mercury glass votive candles in two sizes and porcelain white lovebirds discreetly perched on satellite arrangements of bouvardia. White Irish linen napkins were tucked with hand-calligraphy menus and tied with swigs of fresh herbs.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Our wedding felt like one big love fest and I’ll always cherish the burst of joy I felt watching our two families become one. There was an incredible Super Moon and I remember walking with my Dad through the garden towards the end of the night feeling incredibly blissed out, and it was in that moment that I realized that this was it…I finally got my happily-ever-after.
I loved our first dance. I honestly felt like we were in a dream. We danced to a song that we both love and had seen performed live by the artist. The night we went to that live show, Chris decided that he wanted to marry me. He stuck the concert sticker onto his steering wheel after dropping me off at my apartment and it’s still there!
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. One of our happiest memories was also the most unexpected. After most of our guests had gone home, a small group of us walked out to the labyrinth and set off flying Chinese lanterns. Our friends wrote prayers on them with Sharpies and we all watched these bursts of light fly through the sky. After the remainder of the night owls left, Chris and I took off our shoes and walked through the gardens under the full moon until the wee hours, arm-in-arm, chatting away – full of joy and excitement about our future. It was really late so the grass was wet with dew but we didn’t care. For as long as I live, I’ll never forget that experience. It’s probably my most meaningful memory.
SEE THE FULL GALLERY
Hamptons Garden Wedding by Cappy Hotchkiss6 August 2015
A couple shares a kiss after their Catholic ceremony, 1953. Image via Former Days.
Today’s Mini Moon feature comes from one of our favorite photographers in the South, Nina & Wes…
When I first came to Kentucky from Upstate New York, I knew virtually nothing about it. I knew that some fried chicken restaurant was started there by some colonel….I knew that the people spoke with that southern drawl that we northerners so often poked fun at….but beyond those few trivial things, Kentucky was a mystery to me.
Nearly 20 years later, I now proudly call myself a Kentuckian. I went to college here. I got my first career job here, and I met my husband (of almost 12 glorious years!) here. I even seemed to collect a little bit of my own southern drawl here…and I’m okay with that. And aside from a three year stint in South Carolina, I have called Central Kentucky, home, all this time (we tried giving South Carolina a chance, but we missed our beautiful Kentucky home too much, and she welcomed us back with open arms).
Some people may wonder why they should make a visit to our small city of Lexington, Kentucky. Well, Lexington is known largely for basketball and horses. So let’s start there.
University of Kentucky men’s basketball is more than just a sport here. It is a tradition. It is a legacy. Some may even call it a dynasty (I know I do!). Kentucky Basketball is a way of life. We are the winningest basketball program in history, and arguably the best program since the inception of collegiate basketball (okay…so maybe I am a fan). One of the first outfits a baby of a Kentucky fan receives, is a Wildcat Onesie. It is inevitable.
When it comes to Kentucky basketball and its fans, there are no strangers. You could be walking the streets of Jerusalem wearing your favorite Wildcat t-shirt, and inevitably someone will shout out, “Go Big Blue!”, because Kentucky fans span the globe, and when they find you, you are considered a friend (this may have happened to us while we were in Israel). When you make a trip to Lexington, try to visit during basketball season, and see our beloved Rupp Arena covered in a sea of blue, as fans come out to support their Cats, who are basically Kentucky royalty. There is nothing like it in college basketball. Yes, we have some crazy fans out there (what team doesn’t?!), but for the most part, you will find that Kentucky fans, while passionate, are a happy lot (especially when we are winning), and will welcome you in to enjoy a game with them. So you get my point….We love the Kentucky Wildcats.
Horses. Everywhere you go in and around Lexington, you will see horses. There is a reason they call Kentucky the Horse Capital of the World. They are beautiful and majestic creatures, and they are the royalty of the animal world here in Kentucky. You will find that many horses here in the Lexington area have better homes than we do. I’m only a little jealous. No visit to Lexington is complete without a visit to Keeneland Race Course, which has been running races here since 1936. Keeneland has made appearances in movies such as Sea Biscuit and Secretariat, and its spring meet offers several preps for the Kentucky Derby. So if you come to Lexington in October or April, you need to make a visit to Keeneland’s live race meets. You may just meet a future Triple Crown Winner. If you visit the track any day of the week from 6-10am, you can watch the trainers/jockeys circling the tracks with their equine partners, training for their next race. And don’t forget to make a stop at the Track Kitchen. You just may find yourself eating breakfast next to a famous jockey.
And right next door to Keeneland, you could stop by and snap a shot of our one and only castle, The Castle Post. But that’s all you’ll get out of it. It’s not open to the public, so unless you’ve scheduled a meeting there, or pay top dollar for a wedding or special even there, you won’t be getting past those turrets.
And just past the castle, you’ll find old Pisgah Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1784. It is a beautiful old church, and draws many visitors from all over as it is surrounded by breathtaking views of vast horse farms and the roads are lined with Kentucky’s historic dry-laid limestone rock fences.
So we’ve covered horses and basketball (although to be honest, I could go on about those two things for days!). Let’s move on to the every day of life here in Lexington, KY.
Kentucky summers are hot. Not only are they hot, but they are sticky. If you have kids and you need some relief from the heat, you could drive to the outskirts of Lexington and head to the Jessamine County Aquatics Center. They have slides and pools for all ages and its very affordable. But if free is your game, then you can simply park near the courthouse downtown, where you will find fountains in the square, where adults and children alike have fun in the crossing spurts of water.
After cooling off in the fountains you can drive a short distance over to Manchester Rd. (passing some super cool art work on the way), one of the newer food scenes in Lexington, and grab a scoop of delicious, hand crafted ice cream at Lexington’s own Crank & Boom. Honey & Bourbon flavor is my favorite!
Once you finish every last bit of that creamy treat, take a 50 foot journey over to Kentucky Knows. There you will meet Tony. He is a passionate artisan who takes extreme pride in all that he does. He loves taking his customers through the history of his company. He takes old bourbon barrels and brings them back to life by turning them into functional pieces, such as bottle openers, cutting boards, plaques and Lazy Susans. And, as he is very quick to point out, he is not there to push his products on any customer. He is there to share his passion for what he does, and integrity in business. You will not be disappointed with a visit to the little gem. If you have a mind that loves to learn, and a heart for people, you will love meeting Tony and hearing his story. He also makes delicious bourbon infused coffee beans, as well as bourbon infused charr that will bring your grilled burgers and steak to life.
If you’re still in the mood for libations – you don’t want to miss taking a pub crawl tour on a 15 passenger pedaler!
Now for the food. There are so many amazing restaurants in Lexington, and it seems more and more are popping up every day. Here are a couple of my favorites.
National Provisions. This restaurant is housed within the walls of a former soft-drink bottling plant at National and Walton Avenues. It includes a bakery, brasserie-style restaurant, Beer Hall, wine shop and a large market with fresh, locally produced food and delicacies flown in from around the world. This place is full of atmosphere, and gives you a taste of Europe which most certainly comes from the French owner. This place wins my heart with its brightly lit glass cases, filled with pastries and fresh meats and cheeses!
Wines on Vine. This restaurant is my newest (new to me, but it’s been around for years) favorite in Lexington. I could seriously eat here every day! The owner has made this place feel like home. You will see regulars here all the time, because they are treated like family. If you love wine, the sommelier, Mick, is top notch. And the chef, Bryan, is amazing! He will come out and visit, and take special care of you. Be sure to get the cheese plate when you visit. The raspberry chutney is like christmas in a ramekin, and when paired with the cheese and baguette, heaven on earth will be experienced. And for the main course, the Kentucky Proud Filet Mignon is food bliss for my soul.
And then if you want to finish off the night with a little entertainment, try the Kentucky Theatre (originally called simply, the Kentucky), a Lexington landmark since 1922. You can watch current blockbusters, or smaller independent films at this beautiful old theater.
If you want to venture just a little ways outside of Lexington, you should visit Shaker Village. This is one of my favorite spots in Central Kentucky, and it is home to about 3,000 acres of gorgeous Kentucky landscape. It is home to 34 original Shaker structures, and the largest National Historical Landmark in Kentucky. It is a great spot to take your family and learn about the way of life of the Shakers, including activities like sheep shearing, wagon rides, and soap making. It is also home to a beautiful restaurant, The Trustees’ Table, which serves seed-to-table southern food, meaning much of their food comes straight from their land and the surrounding farms.
And finally, before you leave Lexington, and before you leave Kentucky, make a few stops on the Bourbon Trail (if not all nine stops!). We Kentuckians are proud of our horses, we are proud of our basketball, and we are proud of our bourbon! Take a tour of Woodford Reserve Distillery and you might just see the guide shed a tear as he passionately explains the history of their bourbon, and all the drive and passion that went into making it a reality. Makers Mark is another favorite of mine, where you can even dip your own bottle of bourbon into that iconic red wax. The distilleries are often found on beautiful pieces of Kentucky landscape and the scenic drives alone are worth the visit.
And if you are just passing through Lexington, if nothing else, hopefully you’ll catch a glimpse of one of our magical Kentucky sunsets. I’ve traveled the world many times, and I’ve seen the sun set over many different landscapes and oceans. But this is where I find the most special kind of beautiful sunset, and it’s what always calls me home when I’ve been far away.
We hope to see you soon in Lexington, a hidden gem in the South.