We’re captivated by some of the really beautiful moments in Allison and Chris’ Secret Garden-inspired wedding day at Bristol Harbour. The incredible lake scenery of the bride’s upstate New York hometown is absolutely breathtaking and sets the perfect scene for Allison’s gorgeous, classic bridal style. Her bespoke off-the-shoulder bolero additional dress lace from Watters and her spectacular cathedral-length tulle veil is a total scene stealer. Thankfully Mary Dougherty was on hand to capture all the loveliness of Allison and Chris’ big day.
What made the wedding special and unique?
The wedding took place in my hometown of Canandaigua, New York. The venue overlooked Canandaigua Lake (one of the Finger Lakes in Upstate NY); a place with great meaning to me and my family. The view is absolutely breathtaking and I was excited for all of our out-of-town guests to experience it. The venue was Bristol Harbour Resort which offers cottages nearby that overlook the lake. My wedding party and I got ready together here which was a blast. My favorite movie “Father of the Bride” was playing in the background. I ended up writing my vows that morning sitting on the deck looking at the beautiful view. It turns out that Chris was just as much of a procrastinator and wrote his at the exact same time. I love watching our wedding video when we recite them to each other at the ceremony. I think it added such a personal touch and represented our personalities perfectly.
One of the best memories of the night was my mother’s band getting together to play at the reception. When I was growing up I got to see them perform at several weddings and always hoped they would play at mine! Even though they technically don’t play at weddings anymore (they are now writing their own music and just completed their first CD) they got together to play some of my favorites. Highlights included the official Ohio State rock song “Hang on Sloopy” (OH-IO); Chris then got up to sing the Bruce Springsteen song “Dancing in the Dark.” They were then joined by my uncle and cousins to sing three songs that ended their set. I love that I have such a musical family.
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
My gown was by Watters Bridal. I found it in downtown Columbus, Ohio at the bridal shop La Jeune Mariee. My mother and I drove down in a snow storm (that’s how motivated I was to make it to my appointment!) and I knew as soon as I put it on. It was the first gown that I really felt like myself in. The shop owner Lindsay had the idea for the off-the-shoulder bolero. We ordered additional lace from Watters and my seamstress made me a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece. The plan was to only wear it for the ceremony but I ended up keeping it on for most of the day because it was so gorgeous and really made the dress feel complete. I did eventually take it off at the reception and added a Sara Gabriel belt. So many guests thought I had changed into a different dress altogether. I felt like I had two looks in one!
What were some touches added to make it personal?
I knew I wanted a garden-themed wedding early on. I feel like nature/gardens/flowers have followed me my whole life. As a child I loved “The Secret Garden” and would make believe that I was Mary Lennox. Antique keys hand tied with ivory ribbon were at each guests place setting. I also had a fascination with Monet after being gifted a children’s book on his life at Giverny. I used to look through that book and hope that one day I could see the Japanese Footbridge in person (haven’t made it there yet but hoping to go on our fifth wedding anniversary). Because I love to read I made sure to incorporate these original books into the reception decor as well as many other favorites I have collected throughout the years. My mother and grandfather are both avid gardeners and have taught me everything I know on the subject. My grandfather plants over 500 dahlias in his backyard by hand each year. I originally wanted to use these as my wedding flowers but silly me, wasn’t paying attention to the season and realized too late that they wouldn’t bloom by our wedding date. It was a big bummer at first but we were able to create a similar look with David Austin garden roses. My grandfather did end up providing many of the jars that held our flowers at the reception. A year earlier we were cleaning out his barn and came across boxes and boxes of beautiful antique mason jars. I knew right then I wanted to use them at our wedding! Each table had three unique floral arrangements meaning that we needed a lot of containers and most of these ended up having special meaning. Many came from family members’ homes and a particular white teapot had been a gift Chris had given his mother as a child.
I continued the garden feel with flowers in my bridesmaids’ hair and floral crowns on the junior bridesmaids and flower girl. At the last minute I also decided to incorporate my love of sewing by purchasing different floral and patterned fabrics for the tables. My mom and I spent an evening cutting out circles for the middle of each table and made a long table runner for the head table.
Since I am currently going back to school for graphic design and photography, I decided to design the wedding invitations as my first real-life project. That was a stressful but fun task. I created a Dahlia design so I could get a little piece of my favorite flower. All in all I am really glad I did it; I learned so much more about the graphic design world and it will be a great memory to look back on.
What was the most memorable part of the day?
The whole day was amazing. It is really hard to pick a favorite, however we both agree that saying our vows to each other was extremely meaningful and special. Seeing each other at the “first look” was equally great. The butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling and the anticipation of that moment were wonderful!
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
Chris and I met our freshman year of college at The Ohio State University. We lived in the same dorm that first year and became good friends. It wasn’t until the end of our sophomore year that we began to date. We have been together ever since. After college he moved back to his hometown near Cleveland, Ohio and I moved back to New York. We did the long distance thing for several years until I decided to pick up and move back to Ohio. It was about a year later that Chris arranged a weekend getaway with our friends to Kelley’s Island (a local vacation spot that has special meaning to us). He popped the question on the ferry ride to the island with our friends waiting close by with celebratory champagne. He even arranged one of his photographer friends to secretly take pictures of the proposal. I really cherish that I can look at those photos and re-live the moment.
Photographer: Mary Dougherty // Florist: Wegmans // Ceremony/Reception Venue: Bristol Harbour // Hair: Beautiful You by Katie Altobelli // Make Up: Bare Beau // Cake: The Incredibly Edible Cookie Company // Videographer: Cullen Studios // Dress Designer: Watters // Bridesmaid Dress: JCrew // Bridal Dress Shop: La Jeuene Mariee // DJ: Encore Events // Officiant: Tom Herbek