I love this line from Jess and Alan’s wedding write-up: “The most amazing thing about our wedding day was the thing we couldn’t have planned or predicted…the rain! The thing that had us worried it would ruin our plans for a beautiful garden wedding, actually made it an epic, memorable fairytale.” And as you’ll see it really was such a beautiful day, in spite of – or perhaps because of – the rain. Also, these two kindly shared their complete wedding ceremony with us, including the vows they wrote themselves. So romantic!
“We wanted a fairytale. We were looking for a place with stunning natural beauty and a sense of history. We also knew that we wanted to get married on the East Coast, near where Jess grew up. We looked a number of different places – everything from grand ballrooms to an old country mansion – but when walked through the garden walls at Greenville we got chills. Set atop a hill overlooking a beautiful valley, the property was built at the turn of the century as a summer estate for the DuPont family. The old brick walls, the slate roof, and the mature grounds gave it the perfect fairytale feel. After wandering happily for about an hour, Jess’ parents reminded us that she won the Delaware state tennis championship on the courts behind the house when she was thirteen. Just one more sign that it was the perfect place for us.”
Your ceremony in three words. Timeless, Romantic, Fairytale.
How did you go about planning your wedding ceremony? Having a personal ceremony was really important to us, and we wanted to find an officiant that could give weight and significance to the ceremony without relying on religion. In our search we came across Journeys of the Heart and selected Bob Pileggi. We were able to collaborate with Bob via Skype and phone calls in the months leading up to the ceremony to come up with something that was uniquely our own. We felt strongly about including a few key themes: the idea of finding your soul mate, the importance of family, and the commitment to always put each other first. Bob helped find a number of passages that captured those themes, and he also helped guide us along the process of writing our own vows. After a few rounds of editing, trimming, and reworking, we landed on a ceremony that was perfect for us.
What was your ceremony music? Since our ceremony was in a garden, the idea of having string music was something we latched on to right away. We loved the idea of using classic instruments to play a few modern songs that meant a lot to us. Our grandparents walked down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun,” which Jess listened to all the time with her family when she was growing up. The bridal party walked in to “Sweet Disposition” by Temper Trap, which was on a CD that Alan gave Jess when they first started dating. Then Jess walked down the aisle with her dad to “Fix You” by Coldplay – it’s one of Jess’ favorite songs, plus the way the strings build up in the song is so romantic! Then, once we were finally announced as husband and wife, we dashed down the aisle to “Home” by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros just as the rain started to come down.
What were your vows like? We knew from the get go that we wanted to write our own. It went back to that idea that we wanted our ceremony to be uniquely ours, and we felt strongly that only our own words would be able to capture how we felt about our commitment to one another. While it was actually a pretty intimidating idea at the start, it ended up being one of the best parts of the whole day. We also didn’t practice them with each other in advance, so the first time we heard it was during the ceremony. It was really personal and romantic. (Read Jess and Alan’s personal vows along with their complete ceremony right here.)
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? One of our favorite things was that we each wrote our vows in a journal that was a part of a very special memory for us. When Alan proposed to Jess a year earlier in a tiny restaurant in NYC (where we had our first date), he hid the ring in a journal that was used to bring the bill at the end of the night. Typically, patrons will sign their name and date, write a little review etc. That night, when Jess opened the book to write a little something, she found a diamond ring tied with a bow in the pages that Alan had hollowed out to hide the surprise. There were a few pages left uncut in the front of the journal and this is where we each read our vows from on the big day.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? The most amazing thing about our wedding day was the thing we couldn’t have planned or predicted…the rain! The thing that had us worried it would ruin our plans for a beautiful garden wedding, actually made it an epic, memorable fairytale. Despite ten days of absolutely perfect weather leading up to the wedding, we woke up that morning to a forecast of major storms. We knew that they would be a gamble, and spent the day watching the radar and waffling back and forth if we should take the risk or just plan to be inside.
Thanks to some support and guidance from some amazing people (our awesome photographer, the manager of Greenville County Club, and our planner), all hands were on deck to take the risk and make it happen in the little window of time in between the storms. The chairs were dried off, the aisle set up and we went for it! Throughout the ceremony the skies darkened and faintly in the distance you could hear the rumbling of thunder. But someone was looking out for us and the rain held off! Just as we finished our vows and Alan had kissed his bride, the first few drops of rain started to fall as we dashed down the aisle. We made our way back to a little tea house in the back of the garden with our parents and our bridal party and the skies opened up! The energy was incredible! Everyone couldn’t believe that we had just snuck in the ceremony. A lot of laughter and a lot of happy tears – now it was time to party!
“We hoped to create a feel of effortless elegance in terms of decor and details, but more than anything wanted it to be intimate. It was the only time we would ever have all of the important people in our lives in one place, and we wanted to create an atmosphere where everyone felt connected to the day’s events. The tent attached to the back of the house was the perfect backdrop for tons of string lights and loose arrangements of garden flowers. Our favorite details were the amazingly illustrated and designed paper items that Jess’ sister created for the event. From the program to the beautiful menus, escort cards and place settings, it really tied everything together.”
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We loved that we were able to make use of all the amazing spaces at Greenville for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. While we snuck off to enjoy our first few moments together as husband and wife, guest mingled around the bar in glass rotunda that looked out over the terrace. The escort cards were placed on a large wooden table in the foyer with a grand fireplace in the background where guests could relax and chat in cozy couches.
First dance song: A few years ago we saw Ray LaMontagne in concert, and he played an acoustic, un-recorded version of “You Are The Best Thing” that totally blew us away. We weren’t engaged yet, but Alan remembered thinking that was the exact song he wanted to dance with Jess to on our wedding day. We were later able to dig up a live recording of the song, and the band was able to learn it for us. It made that first dance even more special!
Father/daughter dance: “Have I Told You Lately” by Rod Stewart
Mother/son dance: “Connected” by Eric Bibb
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? Something old: The diamond from Alan’s mother’s original engagement ring was turned into a pendant necklace for Jess to wear. // Something new: Dress, shoes, and veil! // Something borrowed: Jess’ mother’s tennis bracelet. // Something blue: A vintage hat pin held the ribbon on her bouquet.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We have so many! The toast from Jess’ dad was one of the most memorable and poignant moments of the reception. He told an incredible story that captured how he felt about the two of us together and how special it was to have such an incredible group of loving friends and family in one place. There was also the spontaneous dance circle that broke out on the last song of the night: Phil Phillip’s “Home.” Everyone at the wedding was linked arm-in-arm moving around us in a circle and singing along.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We tasted a bunch of different flavors and all were amazing, so it was really hard to decide. We ended up picking two flavors: lemon poppyseed cake with lemon curd filling and butter cream frosting, and dark chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache frosting.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We had three! Jess picked a classic French 75, while Alan (a whiskey lover) went with a Manhattan. We also wanted to incorporate our puggle puppy, Velvet, in some way, so we added a third cocktail in honor of her: a sangria punch with late-summer fruit. Then Jess’ sister designed a really fun bar sign with each of our faces along with our signature drinks.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Embrace the unexpected! We spent so much time working through the tiniest details and timelines, but some of the most memorable moments came from things we couldn’t have planned for! It can definitely be a little scary when you have to deviate from the plan on the big day, but we’d encourage other couples to just embrace the opportunity to create something special out of every moment.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? The whole night was capped off when we got to race out through what felt like a tunnel of sparklers, cheered on by all our loved ones and friends. The mist from the rain was still hanging in the air, and we jumped into a vintage Rolls Royce limousine and whisked back to the hotel. That was our favorite moment.