It’s been so funny to refer to today’s wedding in the office, because this handsome couple shares a name with my own marvelous husband and me! Yep, we’ve got another Emily + John on our hands. And if I had to choose a pair to share a name with, I don’t think I could do much better. I love the romantic fall details they planned with Atrendy Wedding (especially the hot drink bar at their ceremony!), but what struck a chord with me most was Emily’s thoughts on their first look: the whole morning while I was getting ready, I felt anxious that John wasn’t with me. He’s been with me for every important thing that has happened since we met, and it seemed so odd not to share those moments of anticipation with him. As soon as we were reunited at our first look, all my nerves immediately evaporated. It allowed us to really savor the wedding and reception, and it was one of the rare quiet moments we had together all weekend. My own John is definitely my best friend, and I felt the same way on our wedding day.
Big hugs to Abby Grace for sharing these lovely photos with us!
From the minute I walked into Lovely Bride’s boutique in DC, I felt like I would find my dress there. We had been to a handful of shops that day, but nothing had stood out. When I tried my dress on, my first impression was that it was so incredibly comfortable. I loved the silhouette, the lace back, and the way it fell. I always thought I would design my own wedding gown, and I wanted to make a few changes, so I worked with the seamstresses at Green and Blue Studio to redesign the neckline. My dress was one part classic and one part glamorous, and most importantly, it felt like something John would recognize me in.
I wanted to avoid the Thanksgiving/fall look, so I opted for soft neutrals–mostly whites, with blush, peach and soft gray accents, as well as my favorite flower-I-had-never-heard-of: dusty miller. At the end of the night, my wedding planner arranged for a nonprofit called Petal Share to pick up the flowers and deliver them to hospitals, retirement homes, hospices, etc., which I thought was neat!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I met in Fall 2009 during our first semester at Harvard Business School, where we were in the same section. John DJs as a hobby, and he DJ’d some of our section’s events that fall. I was the section photographer, and around the holidays, I was putting together a slideshow video for our school formal. I asked him to help me mix some music for the video, and we spent a whole day working on this project together. We went on our first date to a French restaurant called Aquitaine about a week later. The way John tells it, he knew I was the one by the end of that dinner. We’ve been sharing laughter and adventures ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! On Saturday, June 15, we were in Boston on a beautiful, sunny day. We were pulling up to check-in at the hotel where that formal had been held during our first year of school. Instead of going to the front desk, John gave me a love letter marked “#1,” and hailed another cab. We ended up going on a tour of places that were meaningful to our relationship, with love letters at each stop. He gave me Letter #3 on the Weeks Footbridge, which crosses the Charles River, took my hands, and dropped down on one knee. While this was happening, I heard a flurry of camera shutters clicking away. I had thought they were tourists, but they were actually there to photograph the proposal! They took us around Cambridge to do engagement photos before we continued on to stops #4 and #5, ending with lunch at Aquitaine, the site of our first date.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We started with traditional vows, but we personalized them so that each line really held meaning for us. My favorite line was one we added: “from this day forward, my home will always be with you”. To me, marriage has always been about finding an anchor and constancy in a life that is otherwise unpredictable and full of change. No matter what life brings us, all I need is John with me and we’ll be home.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? The Old Testament reading was from Tobit 8:4-8, which we chose for the final line, “… bring us to old age together.” That has always been our shared vision for marriage–that we would be hand in hand when we’re old. The New Testament reading was Colossians 3:12-17, which was also one of the readings my parents used at their wedding. The Gospel reading was John 15:9-12: “Love each other as I have loved you.” It can’t get more straightforward than that!
Mini grilled cheese sandwiches! And mini bottles of champagne to guide guests to their tables! Y’all know I am in heaven.
The things I love about the South revolve around family, tradition, soft colors and Chick-fil-A (I lived in Georgia for a long time…). I think the South is simultaneously casual and elegant, and that was the feel I wanted at our wedding. I loved the soft color scheme, the historic venue, and the combination of black tie in a totally relaxed atmosphere. We incorporated family heirlooms and tradition, and had my cousin officiate. We spent a lot of time thinking about how to best host our guests–most of whom traveled from out of town–and we planned things like the cider station, pashminas, welcome cocktails, and a farewell brunch for them. Finally, the red velvet groom’s cake was obviously a Southern touch, and the mini chicken and waffles during cocktail hour were my personal favorite.
I absolutely LOVED John’s groom cake. The pastry chef made a cake shaped like a DJ turntable, complete with a record saying “DJ Kos.” His cake was classic red velvet–the good Southern kind that’s actually cocoa-based, not just food coloring!
When did y’all get married? November 16, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 140
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. John is a music fanatic, so we spent a lot of time thinking about this! We went fairly traditional with the ceremony music. Our first dance was to our band’s rendition of John Legend’s “Stay with You”; it’s a beautiful, soulful song. John and his mom danced to Rascal Flatt’s “My Wish,” and I danced with my dad to Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” Both John and my dad are huge Dylan fans, and this particular song is one my dad and his late sister used to sing at family events, so it was a special way to honor her memory as well.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I went with a sweet and simple cake: three round tiers, textured buttercream, and a large beaded border. The cake was almond with strawberry meringue buttercream filling. The pastry chef put little chocolate crunchies in the center, which reminded me of the ice cream cakes we used to get for our birthdays growing up.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I did my own calligraphy on the invitations, escort cards, place cards, and signs. For the signs, I found all the frames on Etsy, and my mom figured out a way to turn the black chalkboards a soft gray color. I spent hours doing all the design and lettering by hand. I was also thrilled with the way our guestbook turned out–we had a photo booth, so our guests used their photos to make a scrapbook for us. It was so much fun reading it when we got back from our honeymoon.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For my something borrowed, I wore my great grandma, grandma and mom’s original engagement rings on my right hand. For something old, I wrapped my flowers in lace from their wedding dresses. My mother-in-law gave me a locket passed down in her family to pin to my flowers as well. To me, this was like a good luck symbol to be carrying the strength and wisdom of all those long marriages with me as I started my own. My something blue was a monogrammed handkerchief I carried, just in case John or I teared up during the ceremony. My mother gave me a beautiful pearl and diamond bracelet as my something new.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The hardest thing for us was planning the wedding in five months from a different city during a busy period at work. I had one “super weekend” in Virginia where we booked the rehearsal dinner, hotel, and band, had the food and cake tastings, had my first dress fitting, and did hair and make up trials all in one. My wedding planner helped by recommending the vendors, but my mom was really the star. She did so much of the heavy lifting to bring my vision to life, including hand-making the ceremony decorations and helping with all the DIY elements.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I’m torn between my photographer and my wedding planner. As a photography fanatic, I was most excited for the photos, and Abby just did a superb job. It’s one of the few times in my life that the photos actually look the way I felt. But, having Pam and her team there on the wedding day to worry about everything so my mom and I could just relax and have fun was an incredible blessing.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Reading John’s letter to me before I got into my gown and went to meet him for our first look, and then finally seeing him and feeling like we could take on the world together. John says his favorite moment was catching a glimpse of me through the trees as my dad and I made our way down the brick path to the garden where the ceremony took place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Let go of the need to make your wedding perfect. Our wedding was made perfect by all the little things that didn’t go according to plan that day, experiencing the love and support of our friends and family as they helped us resolve the mini fiascos, and laughing through it all.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Right now, we are really focused on our careers and getting settled in Chicago. We are getting ready to buy our first home!
Photographer: Abby Grace Photography / Planner: Pam Barefoot at Atrendy Wedding / Venue: River Farm / Florist: Toulies en Fleur / Cake Baker: Fluffy Thoughts / Caterer: Well Dunn Catering / Rentals: Party Rental Ltd and Rent-All Center / Band: Hipshack via Sam Hill Entertainment / Bride’s Gown: “Lauren” by Nicole Miller / Alterations: Green and Blue Studio / Paper Products: William Arthur and Minted / Hair Stylist: Bridal Artistry DC / Makeup Artist: Audrey at Bridal Artistry DC / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Dessy, After Six and Joanna August / Groom’s Attire: Balani Custom Clothiers / Photo Booth: Monumental Moments Photo Booth / Ceremony Music: Halley Schoenberg Jazz Trio
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