Jessica and Matthew were joined by 35 of their nearest and dearest at their intimate wedding, first for the garden ceremony, followed by a dinner reception at one of their favorite restaurants, and Sara Hasstedt captured it all so beautifully! Some of the things that we loved most about this wedding: the bride’s bold bouquet, the restaurant venue, and that the couple moved to a different table for each course during dinner!
“As I was getting ready before the ceremony, my sister brought me a note from Jessica,” says Matthew. “I hadn’t seen her all day and I had written her a letter that morning as well. It was a moment to reflect, read her words, and prepare my heart for the approaching hour. From that minute until I saw her come down the aisle, was the most exhilarating anticipation I have felt. I was overcome with joy when we finally joined hands in front of friends and family and the rest of the day was like a dream.”
“I was so anxious for the beginning part of the day,” says Jessica. “I am shy and I don’t like being the center of attention, so the thought of expressing something so intimate and personal in front of others was very nerve racking for me. But it was so wonderful that while Matthew and I were standing up there with his dad, everyone else melted away and it was just us. As if no one else was there. It was such a powerful feeling. Since I noticed nothing else, I also loved hearing from our guests what they saw while we were up there. Everyone said there were hummingbirds that were hovering over us for the entire ceremony, which just contributed to how magical the gardens felt that day.”
Your ceremony in three words. Classic, Timeless, Romantic.
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? Jessica: We really wanted a timeless, romantic, outdoor look that felt like it could be anywhere and didn’t feel tied to a specific location and time. The Denver Botanic Gardens was the perfect fit. It was magical there that day. We could have been in any garden throughout the world. // Matthew: Our love for the outdoors and the beauty of nature drew us to an outdoor ceremony. The garden in particular was a sprawling, yet private setting with a timeless feel. From the tree-lined lawn and reflecting pool, to the courtyard and flower-canopied paths, it is an oasis in Denver’s unassuming capitol hill.
How did you go about planning your wedding ceremony? We left the order of the ceremony up to Matthew’s dad. He had never officiated a wedding before, but he is very thoughtful and wise, so we knew we were in good hands and allowed him to plan the ceremony. It was his gift to us and we were open to the order and message he felt was best. It was also meaningful for Matthew’s siblings to honor us with a reading of their choice.
What was your favorite thing about the ceremony? It was very meaningful to have Matthew’s dad officiate the wedding. It made it very special and personal to have just the three of us up there for the ceremony.
“Our main goal for the reception was to have the best dinner party ever with our very closest friends and family. This meant featuring the best food and beverages in a comfortable environment, so selecting one of our favorite restaurants over having a caterer was a no brainer for us. The Kitchen was an urban compliment to the natural, intimate ceremony, and a perfect setting for a dinner party and celebration, which fit our simple criteria: phenomenal food, drinks, and conversation. All were had in abundance.We also loved not having to select chairs, linens, place settings, etc. It allowed us to use our entire reception budget on the food and beverages. ”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Jessica: I am an interior designer, so I am very detailed oriented and really treated wedding planning like I would one of my design projects. So naturally I scoured Pinterest, wedding magazines, social media sites, and blogs to gather inspiration. But it is so easy to get bogged down in everything that is out there, so I handled this by just giving myself a month or more of just browsing and thinking, not necessarily making any decisions. This allowed me to see a pattern in my inspirations and then go from there.
Please tell us about any special details from your wedding. We had a very small wedding, only 35 guests, which to us was the perfect number. We were able to spend time with each and every person that was there. In order to further ensure that we could visit with everyone and that we were able to eat (we have always heard that most people don’t get to sit down or eat for their entire reception, so we were determined to make sure that didn’t happen to us!), we had four courses and four tables of guests. We had the restaurant set a place for both of us at each table and we changed tables with each course, so no one had to get up or miss out on their meal to talk to us, as they knew we would be at their table soon. This worked out perfectly and our guests really appreciated this.
Any other details we should know about? We loved our guestbook. We had a blank album created by Blue Sky Papers and then had everyone take a selfie with an instant FujiFilm camera and place it in the book. This made its way from the ceremony over to the reception and everyone had a blast taking pictures and writing messages in the book all night long. By the end of the evening the pictures and sentiments devolved. It was awesome to see all these pictures and read through the book the next day. // My (Jessica’s) sister canned vegetables, jellies and sauces as the favors for everyone to take away and then we packaged them in drawstring linen pouches and used a custom date stamp to personalize them. It made the favors very personal and allowed my sister to showcase our Southern heritage.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The advice to be as present as possible on your wedding day can never be heard too many times. It all goes by so quickly. Everything you have been working on and looking forward to for months goes by in the blink of an eye, so I really tried to breathe deeply and think about where I was and what was going on around us. After the ceremony, Matthew and I wandered the gardens for a bit and sat under one of the gazebos in the garden and just sat there with each other, taking it all in before we headed over to the reception. It was so nice to be alone for the first time that day and enjoy the fact that we were now married.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Stay true to yourselves and your vision. If you are lucky, you only do this once, so focus on the ideas and details that will matter to you both in the end, and, if possible, don’t feel obligated to do something if it doesn’t match your expectations for the day. Others will all have their opinions about what and how you should do things; be patient and kind in listening, and then follow your own hearts. // Also, enjoy the planning and everything leading up to the wedding. It can be really stressful and overwhelming at times, but once it is over, you will wish you could do it all over again, so savor everything. // Lastly, at minimum, hire a day-of coordinator to handle the logistics of the day. This will allow you to be worry free and focus on the important things on your wedding day.
Signature Drinks: “The Oral Dilemma” (Cucumber-Infused Cap Rock Gin, Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, Celery Bitters / “Brazilian” (Mell vodka, Limes, Simple Syrup) / “The Aztec” (Bourbon, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Chocolate Bitters, Splash of Soda / “Manhattan” (Bulleit Bourbon, Vya Sweet Vermouth, Angostura Bitters) // Cocktail Hour: Raw Bar (Oysters, Chilled Smoked Mussels, Littleneck Clams, King Crab Legs) / Artisanal Cheese Boards and Accoutrements / Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich Bites // First Course: Bruschetta with Fava Bean, Pea, Parmesan // Second Course: Escarole Salad, Bleu d’Auvergne, Almonds / Spring Risotto, Asparagus, Hen of the Woods, Broken Shovels Chèvre // Third Course: New York Beef Roast, Escarole, Roasted Potatoes, Mushroom Jus / White Sturgeon, Potato, Celery, Capers, Olives, Salsa Verde / Crego Farm Roasted Lamb, Braised Beans, Sautéed Greens, Anchoyade // Dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding with Housemade Vanilla Gelato / Pavlova and Berries with Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream