When asked about their inspiration for their wedding day, Veronica + Justin gave us an answer that we just loved. Veronica said, When we started planning our wedding, we realized we had a big opportunity to share what was important to us and in our lives with the people we love most. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and Justin grew up in Rhode Island. However, we met and started our life together in Chester County, Pennsylvania. We LOVE the rolling hills, the rustic stone barns, and small family owned farms that surround us. We really wanted our family members and friends from our hometowns to experience a little slice of our everyday life. When we found the Rodale Institute , a beautiful, experimental organic farm, we knew right away that this was the perfect place to host our guests. Everything stemmed from there.
Since they had a lot of ideas of their own + designed most of their day with the help of friends + family, it was key to team up with a creative who could help execute their vision. We Are Wildflowers did so beautifully, mixing Veronica + Justin’s thoughtfully sourced + handmade decor with her beautiful florals to create the ultimate “garden fairytale” setting. And everyone’s hard work was captured perfectly to cherish for years to come in the photos by With Love and Embers.
Isn’t Veronica the most gorgeous bride?! She wore a custom Watters gown – the Farah’s top paired with the Jacinda’s skirt – a stunning statement bracelet, and lace-up boots by Jeffery Campbell from Free People.
We love all of the whimsical touches these two incorporated into the setting. Veronica says, We are pretty easy going people and we really wanted the day to be comfortable and relaxed. We stressed comfy shoes to our guests (I wore boots myself), and because we both have worked a lot in the wedding industry (I do wedding flowers, and Justin is a photographer) we wanted to get away from the rigidity of traditional weddings.
Veronica: One of my favorite parts of the day was taking some alone time with Justin right after the ceremony. We decided not to do a first look, so it was really important that we took a moment to soak in the vows we just made, and to take a relaxing breath together.
Justin: I agree. As a photographer who does a lot of weddings, these days most people opt for a first look. It may make things easier from the photographer’s stand point, but I think it takes away some of the magic and the high you get to share with your new wife, right after your ceremony. I loved that alone time.
Another great moment that sticks with me was during our reception. We are not jewish, but I do shoot Jewish weddings from time to time. After watching couples do the Hora, I always tell my shooting partner Sasha that it looks like the best time ever! So during our reception, Sasha leans over to me and asks, “Wanna do the Hora?” I immediately said yes, and we were swept up onto chairs by all of our friends. I have never seen so many smiles. While we were up on the chairs and holding on for dear life, a friend of mine yells “ JUST LET GO!” I proceeded to let go and at that moment I had this really freeing moment. It’s still so vivid in my mind.
On the reception design, Veronica shares, My girlfriends and I hand painted the terra-cotta pots we used for table decorations. Our friend chopped up a bunch of old wood from his yard that we used as pedestals. Since we couldn’t find table runners we loved, we ordered fabric and cut them ourselves. I used extra lace I ordered from my wedding dress. Since it was spring, the color palette we chose was bright spring greens with hints of pastels and bright pops of color. We added lots of glass details and fairy lights to give it that ethereal feel.
Processional: Wedding Party: I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday; Bride: La Vie En Rose – Louis Armstrong
Recessional: Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship
First Dance: Be Here Now – Ray LaMontagne
First, sign up for pre-marital counseling! You won’t regret it! When I first mentioned the idea to Justin, he wasn’t totally into the idea, and yet, it became one of his favorite parts of the planning process. You might be thinking, “Why do I need pre-marital counseling right now? If we had any problems, we wouldn’t be getting married!” We didn’t think it was possible, but we learned so much about each other that we didn’t fully understand before. You learn things like your communication styles and how to assertively talk to each other. We also took this time to craft a ceremony that was unique and extremely special to us.
Second, you probably hear it a lot nowadays: “be present” as much as possible. It’s one thing to say it, and other is to do it. Get in the habit of practicing mindfulness now, such as yoga and/or meditation. This won’t just help your planning process to be less stressful, but it will help your life to be less stressful. It was also important to me to incorporate mindfulness into our day, so our officiant lead a morning yoga class for immediate family and my close girlfriends.
Third, know that a DIY wedding can be extremely stressful and time consuming, and it’s not always the cheaper alternative. If you decide to go this route, it can be really rewarding and one of a kind, but be prepared for unexpected costs, and a lot more time than you originally anticipate. This also goes hand in hand with #2. I can’t stress it enough!
photography: With Love and Embers // venue: Rodale Institute Kutztown, Pennsylvania // event design: The bride + We Are Wildflowers // event planning: Liz Clark // florals + hairpieces: We Are Wildflowers // wedding dress: Custom Watters gown; Farah top and Jacinda skirt // shoes: Jeffery Campbell ’s Joe Lace Up Boot in light grey from Free People // hair: Dustin Fischer of Emily Alice Salon // makeup: Laura Kopaczewski of MAC Cosmetics // groom’s suit: J. Crew // paper goods: DIY // catering: 14 Acre Farm // cake: The Master’s Baker // desserts: Homemade by Justin’s Aunt Jeanie // rentals: Maggpie // officiant: Dawn Smelser // music: We made our own playlists for the ceremony and cocktail hour. Reception was Dan Fisher of Love City DJs