At Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, in a pocket garden hidden amongst hedges, Jillian and Jonathan’s wedding stirred every feeling of wonder and magic of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Planned by Scarlet Begonias Customized Events, the day was elegant and ethereal, yet pastoral and organic. Jillian’s bouquet by Spring Ledge Farm included florals native to the nearby fields and forest, a nod to the New England charm that exuded from every moment of the day. Even the greenery seemed to grow and intertwine through the reception tent creating an extension of the surrounding landscape. Lucky for us, the couple enlisted the skills of Ashley Helen Photography to capture the beauty of their day in these stunning images.
What made the wedding special and unique?
Because we had so many guests coming from out of town, we wanted to present the best of what rural New England has to offer. We chose outdoor venues with views of the mountains, at a sculpture garden and a private home designed by local artists Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles Platt, and held our rehearsal dinner at Simon Pearce, a local glass-blowing factory. My husband and I are United Methodists and we asked a pastor from a nearby church to perform the ceremony, so our faith was incorporated even though the wedding itself was held outside in a secular venue. In keeping with the theme of an evening wedding surrounded by forest, the motif was “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with lots of trailing greenery, fairy lights, and long flowing bridesmaid gowns.
I wanted to bring the forest into the tent as much as possible, so for the centerpieces I chose tall branching greenery decorated with delicate fairy lights. Our outstanding wedding planner found more than a hundred dirty antique brass candlesticks for rent and polished them up to a soft gold that perfectly matched the flatware. They were all mismatched, which added a bit of whimsy.
All of our florals were grown and arranged by Spring Ledge Farm. I chose a cascading bridal bouquet with white flowers and smaller pink-blossomed bouquets for the bridesmaids. My father and fiancé wore white flowers in their boutonnieres, to match me, whereas my father-in-law and the groomsmen had pink rosebuds. One of my favorite decor items was the pre-planted decorative pots; Spring Ledge designed and grew the pots for us, then delivered them to rent out the weekend of the wedding. We used them to cover up the tent pegs. They were all different; my favorite was the one with a tiny Japanese maple growing in it.
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
I knew from the outset I wanted a gown with simple lines and fabric. When you walk into a bridal store and say you want no lace, tulle, rhinestones, or ruffles, that really narrows your choices down! However, I fell in love with the illusion back on my Justin Alexander gown, so I had to backtrack on my opinions about sparkly embroidery. Because the cathedral-length-plus train of the gown made such a statement, the rest of the dress’s simple lines didn’t seem too plain, and the deep v neckline and exposed back added an air of sophistication and subtle sexiness. Between the sparkly back and the length of the train, I didn’t want to overdo my accessories, so I wore only a pair of silver crystal drop earrings from BHLDN and a sapphire bracelet my sister had designed for me – four stones to represent the members of our family as my “something blue.” Badgley Mischka heels with a spangle of rhinestones on the back (and heel protectors to keep me from sinking in the grass) completed the look. We wanted to preserve the formality of the occasion despite the outdoor setting, which is why we chose a black tie dress code. My husband wore a tailored tuxedo from Jos A Bank and subtly textured shirt from Bonobos. He and all his groomsmen kept to the traditional black bow ties for the event.
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
Aside from having the wedding in my (the bride’s) hometown, my favorite and most personal touches were sleeping in my childhood bed and getting ready in the same house I grew up in. It made the moment when we all bundled into the shuttle to go to the wedding all the more poignant. We brought in my husband’s family tradition of using his grandfather’s Naval Academy saber to cut our wedding cake. It’s been used to cut three generations of Shonerd wedding cakes, and even though his grandfather passed away several years previously, I was glad to be part of his legacy in that way on the day I married into the family.
What was the most memorable part of the day?
My sister gave me the excellent idea of doing “first looks” with my bridesmaids and my dad before driving to the ceremony. She and my mom ushered the bridesmaids and Dad out of the house, got me into my dress, and then I walked around the house for the surprise. Only one of the bridesmaids had seen pictures of my final dress choice, and their reactions to the final effect made for great pictures! The reveal moment with my dad was very sweet. I pinned on his boutonniere and I’ve never seen him look so proud.
My husband and I agree on our favorite “wedding day hack” – after we were done with bride and groom portraits after the ceremony, when everyone else was at cocktail hour, we sneaked into the tent to share a drink and some appetizers together in a quiet moment as newlyweds. It gave us a chance to see all the decor in its pristine glory and try the delicious southwest egg rolls and coconut shrimp from chef Doug Langevin that we’d carefully picked out months before!
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
We met via Match.com just after New Years in 2015. I immediately liked his smile and the fact that he’d visit his grandma after work to help fix her computer. He (apparently) liked the fact that my profile specified that any interested parties would have to know the difference between “their, they’re, and there.” We met for coffee and had so much to talk about that we stayed until the shop closed. Two and a half years later, Jon proposed while we were staying at Ballyseede Castle in Ireland. After a day of travel and last-minute sightseeing (I had insisted on an impromptu day trip to the Cliffs of Moher that threatened to ruin his plans!), he suggested we take a picture in the castle garden before going in to dinner. As soon as we reached the gazebo, he went down on one knee, and the photographers that he’d booked got every stage of my total shock on camera! My favorite line from his memorized proposal speech was “you are the one I’ve prayed for my whole life.” I couldn’t have designed a more personal, romantic proposal if I’d done it myself.
Photographer: Ashley Helen Photography // Wedding Planner: Scarlet Begonias Customized Events; Owner Meg Tenney // Florist: Spring Ledge Farm // Ceremony Venue: Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site // Reception Venue: Private Estate // Gown Designer: Justin Alexander // Bridal Shop: Vivid Bridal Boutique // Cake: MC Confections // Live Band: Wellfeet // Makeup Artist: Candace Kennedy // Hair Stylist: Vanessa’s Salon; Jaclyn Fortin // Tuxes: Jos. A Bank // Rentals: Special Events of New England