Real Wedding | Hilary & John

This wedding is such a perfect reflection of the bride and groom.  Everything from the significance of the church to each of them, to the charmingly executed library theme, to the fun choreography of the first dance. And I love how the bride coordinated it all herself – and found a hidden talent she didn’t know – but very obviously –  has.

Hilary & John | May 15, 2010 | Cambridge, Massachusetts

How he proposed
John and I were the same class in college, but we never met! We met the year after our graduation when we both studied in Cambridge, England at the University of Cambridge. This was the fall of 2002… We were friends for a long time, and then we weren’t. We started dating in January 2008 and we were engaged March 2, 2009 in Napa Valley. We had both just gotten job offers together back in Boston, and we went away for the weekend to celebrate. The last night, when we got in the car for dinner, he said he left his wallet upstairs. After waiting in the car for some time, he finally called me to say he needed help looking. I was suspicious, but went… As I approached our room I saw rose petals outside the door. He has transformed our room in that time– covered in candles and two dozen roses and lots of rose petals.  He proposed with his grandmother’s ring, which he had flown to Louisville, KY to get a few weeks before (unbeknownst to me!).

The ceremony & reception
We threw a party that truly reflected our personalities and style.  John and I are bookworms—but we also can have a lot of fun.  We both graduated from Harvard, and we both work there now, so we married in The Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, where a college classmate officiated.  Many special people in our lives contributed to our ceremony.  We had three reading, each reflected our pasts and our future.  John’s aunt and uncle read the Sheva Brachot in Hebrew and English respectively to signify our Jewish backgrounds.  One of my high school history teachers did a reading from Corinthians, as I was raised Catholic.  Finally, my dissertation advisor read selections from economist Gary Becker’s seminal articles on an economic theory and model of marriage; John is an economist, and I’m a sociologist, so this symbolized the two disciplines coming together in our household. I’m not sure anyone has ever had a reading like that at their wedding before, but it definitely reflected us.

We also were honored to have one of my high school friends, and her fiancé, sing at our wedding—both are professional opera singers.

When guests arrived at The Charles Hotel they were greeted with another “very us” item. Instead of a traditional escort card table, we used a library card catalog.  Each guest had a card that mimicked the old Dewey Decimal system cards; on the back of each guest’s card we wrote personal notes.

[For our Save the Dates I had a graphic designer use childhood photos to create an image that looked like the old Little Golden Book covers.  On the inside of the Save the Dates it looked like a library book (on the left side is a bookplate with our names and on the right side is a library card pocket).  Inside the card pocket in an old-style check-out slip with our wedding date stamped on, along with other significant dates in our relationship.] Continuing the library theme, our favors were bookmarks, using the same image as our Save the Date book cover.

Inside the ballroom I had the hotel use conference tables, and place them on a diagonal, to give the sense of a library, but create a more intimate setting.

Our table numbers were also books, and each numbered “Volume” had two pictures—one of me and one of John on each side at the same age as the volume number.  Inside the ballroom, we used a palate of periwinkle, lavender, and plum for our flowers, linens, and lighting.  Each guest had a personalized menu card at his or her place, which had been hand calligraphied.

At the end of the cocktail hour I changed into a shorter dress, because I LOVE to dance.  We started the night off with our first dance, which was choreagraphed to “It Had to Be You.”

We had an amazing night filled with amazing food and dancing (like the Hora, but also heavy on the Lady GaGa and Madonna), and we felt completely surrounded by friendship and love!  I did not have a wedding planner or coordinator and discovered a creative side that I hope to make use of in the future!

The moments Hilary will never forget
Dancing with the girls to Like a Prayer (classic!) and Closer to Fine (Indigo Girls), which was a total moment with my girlfriends.

Favorite moment though was our last song, which was These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs. Everyone who was still there (it was about 12:30 am), made a big circle on the dance floor and by the end, John and I were in the middle of the circle completely surrounded by love!

Splurges & Savings
Saved by not having a videographer! We also used a DJ, who was AMAZING. I splurged on my dress and on our photographer, who we flew in (but who was more than worth it!).

Why she decided to sell her wedding dress
When my husband and I committed to buying it, he made me promise I would so it wouldn’t be “wasted money sitting in a closet.” I was initially reluctant, but after two months, I realized I would never wear it again and I have many, many pictures in it, so I should help make someone else happy!

Her advice for other brides
Just think of the wedding as a big party!

Get fun shoes. 🙂

Figure out what you really care about and don’t worry about the rest.

Make it personal.

My philosophy with vendors and everything was to see up to three and then make a decision (and I often did after one). In the end, it’s just one day, so don’t stress too much!

Invest in an amazing photographer.

Surround yourself with the people who really love you. I’ve decided weddings bring out the true nature of relationships, so remember who is there for you, for always!

Hilary’s Wedding Dress: Priscilla of Boston 4509 / Photography: Michael O’Bryon