A winter wedding was never something I saw in my future. That was until James suggested it shortly after our engagement. My husband, a huge fan of cold weather and everything that goes along with it, broached the subject during one of our initial wedding planning sessions. While the thought had never crossed my mind, I recalled seeing some gorgeous Pinterest photos of bridal parties posing against a background of freshly fallen snow. After doing some additional research and being inspired by other ideas and photographs, we decided that February 6, 2015 would be our date. Thankfully, we were blessed with a gorgeous (but cold!) February evening – wedged right between two huge snowstorms. To make the most of our winter wedding, we decided to make it a formal affair. What better time is there to wear a long gown or tux then in the dead of winter? So it was decided then and there, we would have a black tie optional wedding. To accompany our theme, I chose to use an equally formal and festive color palette – Black, White & Gold.
All the stationary for our wedding was designed and printed by yours truly. I was excited to design the invites myself and even more thrilled to save some money. While the designing part was fun, printing was not. In my opinion, I’d say leave this one to the professionals. For the amount of time invested, it’s just not worth the money saved. Despite my struggles, I was very pleased with the way they turned out. Our invitations were printed in the same color scheme as everything else – black, white and gold. Thankfully, white paper, black envelopes and black ink were easy to get my hands on. I added gold to our invitations in the form of matting paper and ribbon. James and I also wanted to create a crest for our wedding. With the wedding monogram phasing out, crests seemed to be popping up everywhere. We both loved this idea and decided to design our own. We created a digital file that was easy to use on our save the dates, invitations and all other paper goods.
The wedding dress I chose was one of the first ones I tried on, it was my favorite from the beginning. My gown was ivory in color and lace from top to bottom. It had a slim mermaid silhouette with a scalloped lace sweetheart neckline. The back featured a deep V with buttons all the way down the bodice. The train of the dress extended about 3 feet behind me. To help combat the cold weather, I purchased a vintage gold sable fur stole.
My “something old” was my clutch, which was worn by my mother at her wedding. It is made of ivory lace almost identical to the lace on my dress. My “something new” was a pair of nude patent leather Christian Louboutin pumps, purchased specially for the big day. My “something borrowed” was my little sister’s cathedral style wedding veil. It was the perfect ivory color to match my dress and extended just past my train. For my “something blue”, I held my Grandmother’s beautiful iridescent blue rosary beads in my clutch. I love that I was able to use something special from the three closest women in my life.
I don’t typically wear a lot of jewelry, so my wedding day jewels were minimal. I wore a gold toned bracelet and earrings from J Crew. My makeup and hair were also very simple and true to my normal style. I wore my hair down in lose curls and insisted on doing my own makeup (despite everyone telling me not to!) It was important for me to be comfortable and feel myself on our the wedding day.
It was important to me that my friends felt comfortable in what they wore on my wedding day. I’ve always preferred the look of mismatched bridesmaid dresses, so had them choose a style they liked best, while keeping the color and fabric consistent. Each of my friends wore a different style long black satin gown, while my sister (MOH) wore a black lace gown with satin belt. My sister was pregnant with my niece Ayla and the dress complemented her bump perfectly! I also bought black merino wool pashminas for girls to wear during our outdoor photo session.
Considering it was the middle of February, flowers were a challenge. Getting the flowers I wanted delivered to the Northeast in the middle of winter was difficult. As such, we stuck to a hearty floral choice – roses (I had originally ordered peonies to mix in, but they literally froze on their way to CT!). We used a variety of roses in all different shapes and sizes. Each of my bridesmaids held a bouquet featuring a different type of rose. My bouquet encompassed all four varieties. My mother and mother-in-law both carried a single long stem orchid.
James had his tux custom made by Alton Lane. James chose a black, shawl collar, one button tuxedo with a traditional white flat front button down shirt. It’s difficult to make a tuxedo “pop” while keeping it looking classy. James added some flair by selecting a velour bow tie. The matte look of the velour bow tie contrasted beautifully with the silk collar of his tuxedo jacket. His boutonniere was made of 2 garden roses wrapped in lace fabric from my gown (a lovely detail suggested by my florist). James’ groomsmen all wore matching custom tuxes and black silk bowties tied in a diamond fashion. Their boutonnieres were made with a cluster of spray roses. Our fathers wore a single orchid, to match our mothers.
Our ceremony took place at the breathtaking St. Peter Church in Hartford. Built in 1859, it is the oldest Catholic Church in central CT. It is a cathedral style church, constructed of Portland brownstone. Its long isle leads to the most intricately designed golden communion rail, with a gate leading up to a gothic style alter, made of all white Carara marble. I had always pictured myself getting married in an old cathedral style church, very much like St. Peter’s. Upon visiting the church for the first time, I knew immediately it would be the perfect place for our ceremony.
We planned a very traditional catholic ceremony. We even insisted on waiting until I was walking down the isle to see one another. There is something to be said about the moment when a bride and groom see each other for the first time from opposite ends of the isle. That very moment was something I had been looking forward to since the day we got engaged. I will never forget the look on James’ face as he watched my father walk me down the isle. After all the chaos leading up to the big event, it was so nice to finally see each other and start enjoying the day we had put so much work into planning! The remainder of our ceremony was orchestrated perfectly and was one of the most spiritual and unforgettable experiences I’ve ever been a part of.
Our reception was held at The Society Room in Hartford, Connecticut, formerly known as the Society for Savings building. It was the state of Connecticut’s first mutual savings bank built in 1893. After one hundred years in service the bank relocated and the building underwent several renovations, becoming the structure it is today. Remarkably enough, the building still holds the original light fixtures, columns, ceiling mural and bank vault. With its sweeping staircase, grand marble columns and exquisitely painted ceiling, the venue was a perfect fit for or reception.
The focus on our tables was candles, candles, candles! I wanted to take advantage of the sun setting early to create a romantic candlelit atmosphere. Each table was lined with dozens of candles of all different shapes and sizes. My centerpieces consisted of large pilsner vases filled with flowering branches and hanging votives. The small white blossoms on the branches mimicked light snowflakes, while the suspended votives cast flickering light above the tables. Our menu for the night was displayed atop gold chargers which were laid over a hanging fold black napkin at each guest’s seat. The table assignments were simple folds of gold matted paper displaying our crest above the seat location. James and I elected to sit at a King’s Table – a long rectangular table with guests seated opposite one another. This arrangement allowed us to be surrounded by our entire bridal party and their guests. The King’s Table was a perfect fit for our venue and created a more intimate dining experience than the traditional head table.
James and I have always loved champagne; it is our drink of choice for almost all occasions. It only seemed fitting to concoct a signature drink that featured our favorite spirit “The Black & White”, which was simply brut champagne adorned with a single blackberry. We requested that this cocktail be hand-served to our guests upon their arrival to the cocktail hour. In keeping with this theme, we gave our guests a mini bottle of champagne for a favor, with a note saying, “Thank you for joining us on our special day. Please take a favor and continue the celebration!”
Last but not least, and possibly one of my favorite details of our wedding, was the champagne glasses we drank from all night. The glasses were brass goblets that we had polished by an industrial metal factory. Not only were they gorgeous, they also had sentimental value. They were the glasses my parents used on their wedding day nearly 35 years prior. My mom gave them to me years ago, with a note that read “When a couple is presented with these Glasses of Good Luck, they alone are to use them on their Wedding Day. Then, on each succeeding anniversary, the Glasses are used to toast each new year. These Glasses of Good Luck are to be used only by you or your children. Display them always in your home, and you will surely find all they promise!” There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we would use these glasses and carry on the tradition. My parents have had an amazing marriage and life together, and I can only hope these glasses will bring the same luck to James and me.
James and I were honored to have our wedding featured in the nationally distributed magazine publication, Couture Flowers! Our spread is included in the Winter ’17 issue (available online and at select Barnes & Noble stores across the country.) To see a preview of our feature, click here.
To see my wedding inspiration, click here.
Venue: The Society Room
Ceremony: St Peter Church
Videographer: First Up Films
Photographer: Paul Vincent Photography
Florist: Ruth L
Hair: Modern Design Salon