Their story: Michael and I met when we were teenagers at Red Bank Catholic High School. We attended the same elementary school together right next door, but never crossed paths until we were 15 and 16 years old. We bonded over our love for music, design and similar sense of humor. We also were a little offbeat—okay, weird!—for the very straight-laced crew at RBC. After we graduated, we went our separate ways throughout our college and post-college years, which helped us grow as individuals since we were able to find our own paths and explore life on our own. However, we always remained friends and our roads always kept coming together. While I was living in Brooklyn working in fashion and Mike was in architecture in Chicago, we pushed through with a long-distance relationship, but finally made the jump to move in together at my tiny Brooklyn studio apartment. It was a definite “real moment” for us where we were finally able to be together full-time and we never looked back! We definitely don’t miss all of those ugly cries at airports and months of not seeing each other face to face. After living in Brooklyn and Montclair together, we just bought a house a few months before our wedding right in the heart of Red Bank— where we first met and now will start our own family in. “Will you marry me?”: Asbury Park has always been such a special place for both of us. During our “off” years when we were living in other cities and weren’t necessarily together, we always made it a point to meet for a drink or dinner in Asbury Park during the holidays and catch up. Since moving back to New Jersey, we spend a lot of our time (especially in the winter) exploring all of the great cafes, restaurants and shops there, and truly love the history behind the place. So, two years ago in February during a snow storm we were having a long leisurely brunch at Talula’s on Cookman Avenue and spontaneously (or so I thought) decided to go see how the snow looked on the Atlantic Ocean down on the boardwalk. Little did I know Mike had the ring in his pocket the whole time and got down on his knee right as we watched the snow fall on to the beach. It was so peaceful, quiet and magical.
Details of the day: Our wedding felt low key but still warmhearted, fun, and romantic. Our special day took place on a big farm in beautiful Holmdel (right in the area we both were born and raised in). We utilized two barns for our ceremony space and reception area. In addition to playing around with the organic beauty of the space itself, and the dreamy backdrop of big gorgeous trees and rolling green grass hills, we had a big white tent with groupings of chandeliers strung above long tables topped with white and blush flowers, gold silverware and white tablecloths for a classic sit-down dinner. Dessert, drinks and dancing took place under a sea of strung lights in a big 100 year-old red barn where we had a lounge area with antique furniture and vintage concerts lining the walls and an area where guests were served a variety of cocktails (including His and Hers options—an Old-Fashioned and a Lavender Vodka Lemonade) and local craft beer (from our favorite brewery Carton) served from a bar that the groom built himself using repurposed wooden doors. The location: My Mom is a florist and worked a few weddings a couple of years back at Bayonet Farm, and the classic beauty of the farm always pulled at my heartstrings. The first time I ever went there to assist her with a wedding, I had a very distinct vision of marrying Mike there and one day bringing our future kids/grandchildren there to go walk around the property or have picnics. Sounds CRAZY and I even thought I was being a little too day-dreamy but we were lucky enough to make this daydream (atleast part of it – we still have time for the rest!) a reality. It’s so beautiful, open and low-key. We also loved that there was so many opportunities to make it our own. Traditional venues never felt like “us,” and we really wanted a blank slate that we could transform but also honor the natural beauty of the space, too. It represents Monmouth County so well and we are totally proud products of being born and raised here.
Menu: Cocktail hour was a fantastic selection of passed hors d’oeuvres such as petit lobster rolls, coconut chicken and porcini mushroom sliders in addition to charcuterie and antipasto stations. At our sit-down dinner, guests dined on braised short ribs, truffled mashed potatoes and garlic haricots verts or organic frenched chicken breast with roasted spring vegetables and wild rice risotto. Our cake was a beautiful white buttercream with chocolate inside—the cake was adorned with a vintage topper from the 1960’s that we found on Etsy. Brennan’s in Rumson did an outstanding job with our wedding menu! They took care of everything and absolutely hit it out of the park with keeping the selection interesting, delicious and of great quality. Honestly though? We took about two bites of our entree and didn’t even get to taste our wedding cake! Being the bride and groom is no joke 🙂 We plan on calling Brennan’s up to re-create our wedding menu on our one-year anniversary to really get a chance to savor it. The gown: I really loved my gown because it felt timeless and something I can look back on in photos when I’m old and gray and not cringe that it was too trendy. To be honest, when I first started dress shopping, I had a totally different image in my head of what I wanted. Something more boho, loose with embellishments or lace. But when I tried this one on, it just felt right—especially when I saw that it had pockets! A few months after buying it, I was looking at photos of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy’s elegant farm wedding, and her dress is actually super similar. She’s such an inspiration to me, and I loved the similarities and how the style still holds up regardless of the era. Favorite moment: We had so many special moments from start to finish. Aside from walking down the aisle and seeing Mike standing there, the first one that sticks out in my mind is when we were able to sit down for dinner and glance out at all of our guests, the flowers, the tables all lined up and everyone seemed to be having so much fun. It felt so cool to look out and see everything (and everyone) come together so beautifully. I made it a conscious decision to make sure at numerous moments, I stepped back and took it all in throughout the day. To have everyone we loved in one place is the most special memory for both of us. It felt really beautiful and elegant yet like one big crazy party, too. Couldn’t live without!: I’m so detail-oriented that I literally need ALL of the details to live 🙂 But aside from the basic wedding necessities like beautiful flowers, good food, good drinks, great music and even greater company, I really realize how imperative it was for us to have Gilded Lily Events with us for the day of (and month of) coordination. They were just so amazing with making sure the timeline of the day ran smooth and everything was in its place so we could have fun and enjoy our day. Our venue was so untraditional and we had many different “moments” happening throughout the whole day throughout the entire premises, and they just really worked wonders! I couldn’t recommend them enough to other New Jersey brides.
Anything go wrong? Aside from certain guests really having a little TOO much fun toward the end of the night (which hey, we took that as a good sign that the party went well!) and not being able to taste our cake, nothing really went wrong that I can pinpoint! If it did, we didn’t know about it, so that’s good!
First dance: “Into the Mystic,” by Van Morrison.
Advice for other brides: Get all of your ducks in a row early on, and book vendors early. Have a clear concise vision of what you want and realize that things do change and life happens—nothing is perfect and shouldn’t be! A good piece of advice I kept reminding myself when I was getting stressed out was that if the bride and groom are having fun, then everyone (or almost everyone) will feel those vibes and they will have fun, too. The wedding can be picture-perfect and look like a magazine ad, but if the bride isn’t feeling her best or is totally burnt out, the guests will feel that.
Honeymoon: We took a quick trip to Los Angeles last year after getting engaged and totally fell in love with it and felt we didn’t have enough time to explore. So for the honeymoon planning, we were looking into a ton of tropical resort spots but kept returning to the idea of going back to Cali. So we rented a place in Venice Beach on the water and had a base but drove down the coast and spent a few days in Laguna Beach—a place we are completely obsessed with now!
Bayonet Farm, Holmdel
Grace Brown Photography+ more