Glamorous Jewel-Tone Garden Wedding at Winterthur Estate

November 23, 2010 ,
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World travelers and keen business owners, Chanell and Chris chose to marry their contemporary sense of style with the formal elegance of a traditional country estate.  Pairing the boldness of summer’s raspberry, garnet and magenta with the muted tones of vintage silver and platinum, we were implored to make it “sparkle like a piece of jewelry!”  [Photos courtesy of Laura Novak]

Classic ecru, platinum and aubergine letterpressed invitations from Elum set the tone from the start.  Reminiscent of vintage papers from days gone by, the richness of the paper and the elegance of hand calligraphy screamed “open me!  open me!” in mailboxes otherwise filled with junk mail.   Sadly, it seems each year we see the artistry of hand calligraphy only manage to survive through the mercy of purist traditionalist hostesses and insistent event planners who recognize its gracious warmth and welcoming personalization.  When Chanell insisted on addressing her wedding invitations in such a lovely, timeless manner, it only made us applaud her that much louder.  [And we were already pretty loud!]  Not to mention her stationer, Carolyn Brandhorst of The Papery who offered such gorgeous calligraphy options and guidance on formal etiquette.

From head to toe, Chanell was dressed in luxurious satin, shimmering platinum and glittering crystals.   Tempted by many gowns that looked sensational on that oh-so-gorgeous model-figure, Chanell contemplated wearing a second, sexier gown later in the evening.   But the lure of her sweet strapless Kenneth Pool “Europa” ballgown was too powerful!  Instead, she gave herself some inner “sexy” by donning some sassy Jimmy Choo sandals.

Chanell carried a classic hand-tied bridal bouquet of creamy roses, white ranunculus, orchids and stephanotis.  Crystal pins were inserted into each stephanotis blossom and an heirloom diamond brooch was pinned into the stems for extra sentimental sparkle.

The bridesmaids wore flowing Vera Wang gowns in aubergine and carried mixed floral bouquets of purple, garnet, lavender and magenta.  Stems were wrapped with platinum gray taffeta ribbon and secured with vintage rhinestone brooches, earrings and buttons their wedding planner, Melissa Paul, found at local flea-markets.

Flowergirls carried floral “evening bags” and wore white ‘ballerina” tulle gowns with platinum sashes. Fresh flowers were tied into the ribbons just minutes before they departed for the church.

Chanell and Chris chose the picturesque Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church for their intimate wedding ceremony.  Dating back to 1720, the Church is located in the luscious Delaware countryside just opposite the main gates of Winterthur Estate.  The Papery designed stunning ceremony programs using an old watercolor of the church printed on layered soft cotton paper and tied with plum double faced satin.  Small enough to put in your pocket but large enough to sing along in the service, the ceremony programs were easily one of our favorite details of the day.  

You wouldn’t know it from the beautiful blue sky over the church steeple (shown above) but just hours before the wedding a violent summer storm came rumbling through the Brandywine Valley.  In fact, the storm brought down trees, power lines and potentially, our blissful atmosphere.  Luckily, we were able to push back the ceremony and celebration to allow Mother Nature her tantrum.  Instead, guests enjoyed the cozy accommodations of The Inn at Montchanin Village before hopping onto shuttle buses for the short ride to the church.   Our floral wreaths were re-hung on the front doors to the sanctuary and our flower boxes at the base of the stairs managed to weather the storm in fine fashion.

After the ceremony, guests were transported just across the road to the gorgeous 60-acre estate and American decorative arts museum, Winterthur.  Founded by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) offers many scenic spots for weddings, from formal gardens to indoor galleries and tented fields.  Although originally intended to be celebrated outdoors around the Reflection Pool, moving Chanell and Chris’ wedding to Plan B meant guests would enjoy cocktails in the Conservatory and in the Main Gallery.  Of course, as soon as we made the tough decision, wouldn’t you know it?  the skies cleared up enough to allow us to use the terraces overlooking the Reflection Pool for additional cocktail space.

On the way to the dinner dance in the Main Gallery, guests passed by large silver frames holding hand calligraphed place cards, vintage beaded brooches and floral accents.

The Main Gallery was turned into a glittering ballroom with long feast tables holding gilded trees covered in flowers, votives and crystals.  Elegant and somewhat “weathered” silver vessels, compotes, bowls and urns were filled with mixed bouquets of garden flowers such as peonies, roses, sweetheart roses, hydrangea, stock, lisianthus, astilbe, tulips, coxcomb, clematis and muscari.  A favorite flower of the bride’s, we also included several varieties of orchids in brilliant shades of purple and magenta.

Linens and chairs were kept soft and muted in tones of Pewter.  Cut crystal chargers, silver-rimmed stemware and dozens of votive candles added table top sparkle.  French floral-patterned menus and place cards were designed by The Papery and our  mirror-topped table added that last bit of over-the-top glamour for the bride and groom.

The sexy, soulful sounds of Dreamtime guaranteed a packed dance floor all night long.  Of course, the notable exceptions included the bride and groom’s first dance (which went from proper to playful in 5 seconds) as well as the impromptu torchy tune from a friend.

Nicole Bailey of Restaurant Associates, the exclusive caterer at Winterthur, designed an amazing menu of food and beverage for Chanell and Chris.   We heard many rave reviews of the solid ice raw bar straight through to the dessert station that just magically appeared at the end of the evening.  Not many caterers have the gift of making miniature desserts like RA does!

Once again, as we continue to say over and over, lighting turns a lovely room into a spectacular space!   We’d like to thank the entire team of creative and flexible event professionals who braved the storm with us!  Most notably Video One, Laura Novak and Restaurant Associates.   No one stops, drops and rolls quite so effortlessly as you do.


  1. Melissa, so great to see the your vision come to life. The colors are beautiful, the details breathtaking…and Laura’s photography is stunning. So glad The Papery was able to help on this project…and you’re right, the programs were an amazing detail, one of my favorite of all time!

  2. Chanell is my cousin, and when i see this article it makes me remember her amazing fairytale wedding.. something everyone should have and when I get married I want all my dreams to come true just like Chanell’s. The reception, the flowers, the dinner, the transportation to and from places and the atmosopher of each place was truly amazing, and i’ve never seen anything like it!

  3. The wedding is absolutely gorgeous! I am planning my own wedding and would love to know where they got the sqaure diamond-like vases on the sweetheart table if anyone can help me out! Thanks!

  4. Hi Julianne, aren’t those crystal vases awesome? we love them too! they’ve been in our decor warehouse for years and always glam up the room! We purchased them ages ago at the NY Gift Show from a company no longer in business. You may ask your florist/event designer if they can find something similar for you… luckily, the last couple years have highlighted the use of crystals in event design so there are options on the market. Best of luck!

  5. I just love the colors of this wedding – so vibrant and cheerful, sexy and cool. Not your usual wedding day fare. Stunning details, fabulous job done by all…so jealous!

    In answer to Julianne’s question about the vases, I found a tall vase (15″) with what appear to be the same detailing at Z Gallerie for ~$100. (If I see details for a wedding I love it is the first place I look.) I know it isn’t exact but its close…. 🙂

    Hope that helps and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

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