If you’re thinking New Year’s resolutions are a silly tradition, you might think again once you hear this delightful story from the groom in today’s wedding…

In January 2011, Kate made two New Years resolutions: 1. To dress more ladylike and 2. To adopt a No Fear mentality for that year. It was Resolution #2 that prompted Kate to ask me on our first date. Kate arrived at the agreed Brooklyn restaurant in a Ford pick up truck, with a can of Budweiser in the cup holder playing Bruce Springsteen—for a boy from England, that was it. Continuing with the No Fear theme, date two was a trip to visit Kate in Aspen, where she was working at the time. A few days turned into a week with convenient snow storms stopping all flights; it was during this week that our love for each other began.”

Photography by Olivia Rae James.

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What was the best advice you received as a bride? Take time to step away with your groom and admire the moment. You’ve created the most unbelievable day; you’ve brought your favorite people together in one place for the best party of your life! The perfect wedding gown is a mix of elegance and comfort. You want to look effortless in photos and be able to dance all night. My dress designer, Kate McDonald, did just that. She killed it. I would wear that dress to events if I could! I need to start a “Wear Your Wedding Dress” gala.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t forget it’s not all about you two. Family is very important in the process. This is so special for them. Include them. They want to help. But not too many opinions! And don’t sweat the small stuff. No one notices but you.

 

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The Ceremony

“Our wedding was inspired by our annual trip to the Wilderness Music Festival that is a wonderful celebration of arts, music, food, and wildlife in the majestic woods of a stately home in the Cotswolds. The wonderfully decorated tents and costumes are mind blowing—as is the music, food trucks and pop-up restaurants. We even rented festival flags from a man in Cornwall, England—Ben’s home town—who supplies the flags for Glastonbury Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in the UK. Ben’s brother brought them over in his suitcase!”

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

Your ceremony in three words. Whimsical, Mother Nature, Personal

How did you go about planning your ceremony? We had great wedding planners—Gold Leaf Event Design—and our best friend Phil is an event designer who helped us with a lot of playful details too. Most important was it felt more like a festival of love than a wedding, and the location really solidified that—a big open ranch with mountains all around. Those mountains are magic and everyone felt the love.

 

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Who officiated your ceremony? Our dear dear friend Nigel Winser. He is a world renowned explorer and conservationist and speaks so beautifully. He knew exactly what we wanted.

Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? The passing of the Festival top hat.

 

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What was your ceremony music? We surprised our guests with a reading that turned into a song—the band popped out of the trees! Our very talented and wild friend Jamie, our official MC, lead the crowd in “When I’m 64” by the Beatles. Such great lyrics. It was priceless.

What were your ceremony readings? A line from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a poem written by Ben’s sister and The Beatles “When I’m 64”.

Ceremony Music by Otone Brass Band.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

What were your vows like?  Nigel wrote them. They were perfect.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The location. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. My father and I hid in a teepee a few hundred yards away and walked a very long beautiful walk to the altar. I wanted to have this long walk to slow down the moment and really remember it.

 

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Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? Very sadly, Ben’s stepfather Charles could not be there, as he was very ill back in England. To include him in the ceremony, we had a friend holding her cell phone with Charles on FaceTime. We even sent him a cowboy hat to don during the ceremony. He passed away a few months after the ceremony. We were happy he was able to see us marry, and now he will always be with us in spirit.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Music and food is most important. Keep both simple and quality. The songs people want to sing to, the food people want to eat. Nothing fancy. Always buy more booze than you think! Also, if you want to save a few bucks, e-mailed Save The Dates are just fine and the welcome bag is overrated in my eyes. An itinerary of the weekend at the hotel for each guest is fine enough—make sure to have all info online too.

 

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The Reception

“We found the most beautiful ranch land for our wedding. There was a ranch hand on the property that became our great friend, Arturo, and he helped us build the festival. For the structure we were married under, he found us fallen Aspen trees and we all built it together. My favorite part was Tipi Village. We drove two hours away for the tipis to a small village in the mountains. It took us two days to work out how to get those things up – the top knot was very challenging!”

 

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How would you describe your reception? The biggest most beautiful dinner party we’ve ever been to.

 

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What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? A vision of all of us dancing under the stars.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

The couple selected beautiful mismatched china for the tables, and paired it with a handwritten menu and a bundle of fresh herbs at each guest’s place.

Did you have a signature cocktail? Pink Gin & Tonic—a G&T is a classic English cocktail and you don’t get sick of them. Plus our friend Brooks makes a beautiful artisanal tonic called Jack Rudy. It’s delicious.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

What was your wedding menu? A farm dinner served family style—tomato basil salad, pesto pasta, lamb and potatoes.

What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Croquembouche

Catering and dessert by Caribou Club Catering.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Benj’s speech.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?Blow up more 6 foot helium balloons. They took way longer than we thought! And were the coolest things ever. So basically, nothing.

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

What was your first dance song? “Rebel Rouser” by Duane Eddy. The horns from the band played and danced along with us on the dance floor. It was heaven!

Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. As the night picked up, our guests began getting into costume and suddenly I saw a rabbit head and giant carrot dancing with a galaxy girl. Benj is a big fan of “fancy dress” as he calls it – it makes everyone let go of all inhibitions. We have a Fancy Dress Box in our parlor at home. It’s very important to never take yourself too seriously.

Reception Music by DJ Paul Harris.

 

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Photography: Olivia Rae James / Venue: Private Ranch – Woody Creek, Colorado / Event Planning & Design: Gold Leaf Event Design / Floral Design: Carolyn’s Flowers / Dress: Kate McDonald Bridal / Shoes: Vince / Jewelry: Lizzie Fortunado Jewels / Bridesmaid Dresses: Suno / Suit, Groomsmen Attire: Suit Supply / Stationery: 42 Pressed / Rentals: Premier Rentals / Ceremony Music: Otone Brass Band / Reception Music: DJ Paul Harris / Catering, Cake: Caribou Club Catering
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Black Oak by Bryan Nash Gill Black Oak by Bryan Nash Gill

Just discovered Bryan Nash Gill’s tree prints and I want one. A really big one to hang over my living room sofa. Beautiful.

Is it too soon to start talking about cookies yet? Because I am ready for more cookies. Like these.

Diamond shaped cocktail glasses because why not?

I’d really love to get rid of all the ugly cleaning supplies in my home and replace them with prettier versions, but the question is, do high-design housecleaning tools actually work?

Loving this gorgeous Modern Mexicana table setting from Coco + Kelley.

Is a $10 bar of chocolate really worth it?

All I want in life is a lovely farmhouse kitchen. Until I see a kitchen like this

Would love one of these necklaces – perfectly minimalist and romantic.

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Jacquelin on her wedding day, 1952.

Thanks to Anne Sage who shared this photo. From Anne: I love this snapshot of my grandmother on her wedding day. She passed away in July at the age of 85. She and my grandfather were together for 70 years, and first met when she was 16 in 1946. When I was sitting by her bedside with my grandpa right before she passed, I asked him what drew him to her so long ago. His answer: “She was a smart-ass,” he replied. “And she was pretty darn cute too.” Humor is one of the building blocks in a marriage that stands the test of time, and it’s one of the many characteristics she passed to me that I’m most proud to carry on.

 

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