Whoa. With the from-the-movies way they met, to their crazily romantic proposal, and on to their wonderfully warm and personal wedding, Joyce and Jon’s story is sure to make you smile. Read and enjoy.
Joyce and Jonathan | May 31, 2008 | Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont
How he proposed Jon and I met in December 2004 through a stealth “set-up” by my sister. I had just graduated from business school and moved back to NY from Boston. My sister threw a dinner party where, unbeknownst to me, she had stocked the guest list with single, “eligible” young men. Jon was her #1 draft pick, and as it turns out, mine as well. We hit it off immediately and started dating from there.
Jon proposed on June 8, 2007. We went to dinner at Blue Hill in New York – a fantastic restaurant in Greenwich Village that incorporates organic and locally grown ingredients (including much from their farm on the old Rockefeller estate, Stone Barns, about 2 hrs from NYC). After the dinner, Jon wanted me to go with him to the Gramercy Hotel to meet up with a friend who was in town. On our way to the hotel, we walked past Gramercy Park – a private, gated park where you need to have a key to enter (to get a key, you have to live in one of the buildings surrounding the park). I had just caught a rerun of Notting Hill on TV – Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant movie where they scale the walls of a private park on one of their dates – so I guess that inspired me to suggest to Jon that we try to sneak into the park. Jon somehow managed to get the gate open and we were able to walk around this beautiful park that neither of us had ever seen before. The park officially closed at 11 so we were totally by ourselves, and at this point it was close to midnight. It was during our midnight stroll that Jon dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him. It was a wonderful, romantic surprise. (As it turns out, Jon was able to finagle a key from a friend of a friend, whose mother lived on Gramercy, so while I thought we had “broken in”, Jon had always planned to propose in the park). Afterwards, we spent the night at the Gramercy Hotel (and there was no friend to visit… that was just a ruse to get us to the Gramercy area).
The ceremony We were married at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Charlotte, Vermont (about 20 minutes from our reception) in a Catholic ceremony fused with some Filipino traditions like encircling the bride and groom with a silken cord to symbolize our bond and pinning a veil between us to symbolize our union (“clothed as one”). Our priest, Father David Cray, went to college with Jon’s father in Vermont so there was a nice connection to our families. We were able to incorporate traditional Catholic songs and readings with some favorites of our own – our third reading was Marriage Morning by Tennyson and one of the songs was “Jerusalem” (a favorite of Jon’s; we passed out lyrics for everyone to sing and luckily had a group of Australian friends and fellow classmates of Jon’s at his boys’ school who knew the song well and could carry it along). My nephew Owen (2 at the time) was the ring-bearer and my niece Sophia (8) was our flower girl. We’re told that Owen stopped halfway down the aisle once he realized he was amidst a sea of gaping faces and was about to burst into tears; Sophia turned around and asked – do I need to walk you down the aisle? Owen tearfully nodded yes, so Sophia retrieved him and and the two of them walked arm in arm down the aisle… so they both made it to the altar!
The reception Our reception was at Shelburne Farms, a former Vanderbilt estate that is now an 1800+ acre working farm and non-profit promoting conservation. Jon and I knew we wanted to get married on the East Coast (he is from the Boston-area and I’ve lived in Boston or NY since college. Getting married at Shelburne – a working farm with dairy cows and set next to Lake Champlain – had echoes of my home state of Wisconsin (I’m from the town of Racine, which sits right on Lake Michigan). We both fell in love with the place as soon as we were able to walk around. Once we found out we could also book the entire Inn for our family and wedding party to stay for the entire weekend, we were sold.
The reception was held at the Coach Barn, which in the late 1800s was where the carriages and horses were kept. Although it had rained all morning, it miraculously cleared up as my parents and I were driving to the church so we were able to have cocktails on the lawn overlooking Lake Champlain, with music by a string trio from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Dinner and dancing were held inside the Coach Barn, which our great florist had turned into a spectacular setting with lanterns, lighted branches and candles everywhere. You enter the Coach Barn through a main courtyard into the “elevator room” – to the right was the East Wing (where dinner would be served) and to the left was the West Wing (where we’d be dancing). We had an amazing DJ, Tom Finn, who was formerly the Studio 57 DJ and he read the crowd perfectly and threw an amazing party. I didn’t use a wedding planner, but lucked out with amazing vendors who really understood and helped me carry out my vision for the wedding.
I have a big sweet tooth so desserts factored in heavily throughout the evening. Place cards were a chocolate-espresso shortbread cookie with our initials; we had someone hand calligraphy name tags on each one. We had several Kringles on hand, a danish pastry filled with things like chocolate/caramel, pecan, almond-macaroon etc. from my hometown which my parents sent in. In lieu of a wedding cake, we had 4 different types of cupcakes (including my favorite – red velvet). Towards the end of the evening, we had a Ben & Jerry’s cart serving ice cream and treats.
My colors were chocolate brown and ivory. My flowers were all whites, creams and ivories with accents of spring green and lime green. Our florist incorporated hydrangeas, peonies, lilies and other lush-looking flowers. The groomsmen’s boutonnieres were lilies of the valley. I wanted an elegant but simple wedding and I think the venue and my wedding dress reflected that. I wore Monique Lhuillier’s Anju dress in Ivory with an Ivory sash and my sister’s wedding veil (from Carolina Hererra) as my “Something borrowed”. My bridesmaids wore J. Crew dresses in espresso (I picked 4 bodies and they chose whichever suited their body best). Our groomsmen wore spring green Vineyard Vines ties with blue and white checked shirts.
The moment Joyce will never forget Walking into the reception and feeling the love and support of a roomful of our closest friends and family as they stood up and cheered for the new Mr. and Mrs. Barnes. It was magical.
What made her wedding dress the “the one” I went to several boutiques before finding my dress at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier in NY. I wanted a simple, classic and elegant dress that was still comfortable. As soon as I put on Monique Lhuillier’s Anju dress, I knew it was the one. I had brought along my mother, mother-in-law and sister and they’d rate the dress on a scale from 1-10… this dress got the highest marks from them too. The dress perfectly suited my style – it was figure skimming without being too va-va-voom, the neckline was beautiful and simple and the style was sophisticated yet simple (modified A-line, strapless with a row of buttons along the back). The layers of silk organza created a wonderful sense of movement – the dress looked light and graceful as a result, while equally as important to me, the dress *felt* incredibly light and comfortable. I still felt like myself in the dress (only better); unlike other dresses where it felt like the dress was wearing me.
Advice for other brides Prioritize what you want and find vendors that understand and share your vision and that you enjoy working with. This is a 9-12 month planning process – a big chunk of your engagement – so try to set it up so you can enjoy it. Ultimately, these vendors should be your partners in helping you realize one of the happiest and momentous day in your life. The best ones anticipate what you want and once you trust them, help you so that you don’t have to feel the need to micromanage everything. If you don’t hire a wedding planner (as I didn’t), do hire a day-of wedding coordinator. She will make sure all the details important to you happen (and gets the parents on the bus to the church, pays the and etc. etc.) That all being said, once the wedding weekend starts, don’t sweat the details and just enjoy the moment. Make sure you pause frequently to take it all in because it is such a blur. Get a videographer (even if an uncle with a flip camera) for the rehearsal dinner speeches – it’s one of my biggest regrets that we didn’t record these…