Philadelphia Wedding at Bartram’s Garden :: Naomi & Grant

Today we have a gorgeous rainy day summer wedding to inspire you! From the incredible bouquets by Love ‘n Fresh Flowers to the intimate stone barn ceremony to the candlelit dinner under a clear tent (under the pouring rain!), Naomi and Grant’s celebration will convince you that rain on your wedding day certainly means good luck.


Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink


“The day of the wedding Grant and his brothers got ready at our house while the girls got ready at my mom’s house. The atmosphere at my mom’s was wonderful, with family milling around and music playing while the bridesmaids and I had our hair and makeup done right in my mom’s living room. Then we rode in separate trolleys over to the venue. I was so nervous on the ride over, but one of my favorite parts of the day was when all my best friends and immediate family and I were signing along to Ain’t no Mountain High Enough on that ride.”


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


Naomi and her bridesmaids’ lush bouquets included dahlias in shades of pink and burgundy.


Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink


“Grant and I felt that our decision to commit our lives to each other was a personal one, but that the whole point of the wedding was to bring everyone important to us together,” shares Naomi. “We wanted to get married in Philadelphia, the city where we met and have made our home, but since neither of us are from here it meant that most of our guests had to travel. So our goal was to show off Philadelphia during the holiday weekend that our guests were in town, but to have the ceremony and reception feel like an intimate village wedding. Our venue, Bartram’s Garden, is the nation’s oldest botanical garden tucked away in southwest Philadelphia. It’s lush and peaceful, with turkeys roaming the grounds, and has the feeling that you’re in a secret garden totally removed from the rest of the city.”


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


The Ceremony

“The ceremony was supposed to be outside in the garden, but had to be moved into the old stone barn because of threatening weather, and this actually turned out to be amazing. The space was gorgeous, but big enough only to seat the older guests, and have everyone else standing. Having all of our 143 guests crowded in around us as we said our vows felt so warm and intimate – like a village wedding!”


Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink


Your ceremony in three words.  Warm, intimate, romantic.

Who officiated your ceremony?  The ceremony was performed by the Lance Sussman, the same rabbi who married my mom and step-dad, and was a friend of my grandfather.


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Tell us about walking down the aisle.  Grant and I didn’t have a first look. I saw him for the first time that day standing under the chuppah as I walked down the path, which was really thrilling, and just filled me with emotion. I loved that. We still had plenty of time for pictures after the ceremony and didn’t feel like we missed out on the party at all.


Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink


Did you include any traditions in your ceremony?  We included some Jewish traditions like the chuppah, and we modified some traditions as well, including signing our ketubah as part of the ceremony and having both of our mothers sign as our witnesses.

What was your ceremony music?  The wedding party walked down the path to the barn to Chopin’s Nocturne No. 9 and then I was escorted by my mom and dad to Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan Tutte. It was so romantic!

What were your vows like?  We recited traditional vows which were: “Wear me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is infinitely strong. Many waters cannot quench love, no flood can sweep it away, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”


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


The Reception

“The rain held out just long enough for our guests to have cocktail hour in the field while Grant and I slipped away with our photographer and then as everyone entered the tent for dinner, it began to storm violently. While 90 degrees and thunderstorms may not be ideal wedding weather, the atmosphere was actually gorgeous with rain falling on the clear top tent, tons of candlelight, and lush garden floral arrangements. We had long communal tables and served a family style meal. My dad, who is a medical illustrator by profession, made all the paper products for the wedding including the invitations, which we designed together, menus, programs, and seating chart.”


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Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about?  My dad and his wife were living in India while I was planning the wedding. They bought the fabric for the chuppah from a local fabric seller there and had the canopy for the chuppah made. As I said, my dad, who is an illustrator, and I created the invitations together. I came up with a general idea and he created a template. We went back and forth until we came up with a final design together. Then he had the invitations printed on handmade paper in India. He also made the menus, place cards, and programs and I made the flower basket for my flower girl.

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  The only tip I have is that sometimes trying to do things the alternative/DIY way ends up being more expensive than doing it cheaply and traditionally. For example, our invitations were made by my dad, but the cost of printing them, and purchasing vintage stamps from Etsy, and having them calligraphed probably ended up being more than if we had purchased some cute, pre-made ones off of Minted or something. In this case, it was totally worth it, as this was a project of love, but it’s just something to bear in mind. // Also, some smaller bakeries that don’t do wedding cakes per se, may be much less pricey than a wedding cake vendor. In our case, an adorable little bakery called Baker’s Jar had just opened up in our neighborhood. I stopped in to ask the young woman who owns and runs it if she did wedding cakes to which she replied, “Well, I made the cakes for my friend’s wedding. I can show you pictures on Instagram.” She ended up doing a wonderful job and being super easy to work with and way less expensive than most wedding cake vendors we checked out.


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What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Some things WILL go wrong and it won’t matter.

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  Offload as much of the logistical stuff as you can. Have a plan in place so that you don’t have to bother with anything on the day of the wedding.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I would actually have splurged on a wedding planner. I had assurances from the catering company that they would act as the day-of coordinators, but there was so much outside of their scope that I had planned myself (things to do with the rehearsal dinner, transportation, hotel, etc.) that I wished I had been able to delegate to someone else.


Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink


What was your favorite moment or part of the reception?  Grant’s family is really big on speeches and each one of his four siblings toasted us as well as his dad, my dad, my mom, and my sister. It sounds like a lot, but they all did such a good job, and had everyone laughing and crying.


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


What was your first dance song?  Our first dance was to Donnie Elbert’s “Everything to Me,” and we danced with our parents to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Then everyone got up for the hora, which was terrifying and super fun, and led into a dance party that had everyone out of their seats for the entire rest of the night! In fact, a lot of people missed our cake cutting because the DJ played “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch,” and everyone just kept on dancing, not realizing what was going on. I’m disappointed that more people didn’t get to try our delicious chocolate cake with mascarpone whipped cream, but I think it just shows how great a time everyone was having, which really was the whole point after all.


Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink






Vendor Credits

Photography: Olivia Rae James / Venue: Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / Officiant: Rabbi Lance Sussman / Dress: Bridal Garden / Jewelry: Anna Bellagio / Suit: Boyd’s / Ties: Bows n Ties / Floral Design: Love n Fresh Flowers / DJ: DJ Sound Choice / Catering: Birchtree / Cake: The Baker’s Jar

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