REAL STORIES: An Elegant At-Home Wedding for Abby & Andrew

December 22, 2010 , , Evantine Design
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What is it exactly about at-home weddings that makes them so endearingly special?  Perhaps it’s that they’re an extension of the home itself; a throwback to a time when all family celebrations were shared year-after-year under the same roof and within the same walls.  Or, is it the lure of the garden you’ve grown with and wandered through as a child?  Whatever the reason, weddings in your own home are, well, simply put, incredible. 

[Photos courtesy of Marie Labbancz].

Without a doubt, Abby and Andrew’s Main Line Philadelphia wedding was all about elegance and tradition.  From the creamy satin bow on the back of Abby’s sweet floral Oscar de la Renta gown to the subtle styling of Andrew’s white orchid boutonniere, the wedding design was classically appointed and thoughtfully detailed.  


Choosing to forgo the formality of a structured bridal party, Abby invited her dearest girlfriends to share in her bridal preparations in a more casual and relaxed manner.  Gathering at The Rittenhouse for a fortifying brunch and stress-beating spa treatments kept the atmosphere light and focused.  The joyful mood in the bridal suite proved contagious as Abby and Andrew traveled the city with photographer, Marie Labbancz, shooting candid wedding photos at one historic location after another.   Abby’s only accessory was her handsome groom Andrew – no bridal bouquet or veil was needed for the couple photos taken in Center City.

From the moment guests turned into the drive at Abby’s childhood home, they were greeted by the lovely traditional face of an English country manor.  Perfectly situated amongst tall evergreens and towering walnut trees, the residence couldn’t have been more ideal for an elegant garden wedding.  Softening every rough edge in the landscape, wedding planner and event designer, Brian Kappra, made sure to plant shrubs and flowers in waiting floral beds for a festive welcome.

As the first impression upon arrival as well as part of the wedding ceremony aisle, the carved wooden banister had to be dressed with a lush application of whispy white orchids, pale green hydrangea, cream roses, fragrant white lilies, and every possible cascading lacey green leaf we could find. 

With its rich wall-to-wall mahogany wood paneling, the couple chose the formal living room as the ceremony location.  Dark wood chivari ballroom chairs with ivory satin cushions were carefully lined up to create a simple aisle to the ceremony “stage” placed against the French doors.  A dark iron chupah frame was naturally-adorned with moss, leaves, roses, orchids, smilax, hydrangea, stock, snap dragon, seeded eucalyptus and lilies.  Following traditional etiquette guidelines, the bride and groom seated guests to each chair in the ceremony setting to ensure elders and honored guests were given the best and most appropriate seats.

Cocktails took place throughout the lovely home using familiar rooms and spaces originally designed for entertaining.   With its wrap-around Pennsylvania fieldstone terraces. the favored spot for socializing was most certainly the patio off the living room.   Peachtree & Ward Catering provided tables of delicious tapas-style foods to sample while their waiters butlered silver trays of champagne andstylish hors d’oeuvres throughout the house.

Although originally slated to be an open tent with gorgeous views overlooking the gardens, the chilly and somewhat misty Fall weather forced changes be made to the plan.  Not usually our favorite decorative element, even the shiny sidewalls of the entrance tent looked stunning through Marie’s lens.   Later during the evening, when the heaters were at full-bore, we were infinitely grateful for the warmth and protection those sidewalls provided!

Having dreamt of a “formal garden wedding with magical twinkly lights” since she was a young girl, it was Abby’s heartfelt wish to walk into the dinner tent and see them in some fashion.  In his usual “if you’re going to do it, do it BIG” fashion, Brian made sure to envelope the entire dinner tent in lights, fabric, flowers, candles and vines.   The soft ivory and taupe color palette evoked the feeling of weathered stone urns found in the home’s garden.  Modern silk shantung linens in traditional damask and stripe patterns alternated on tables across the room.  Mixed ivory, soft green and warm gold bouquets of garden roses, hydrangea, lilies, lisianthus, stock, hypericum and orchids were placed in low crystal compotes and high faceted glass vases.  Distressed ivory iron candelabra held floral arrangements and thick pillar candles high overhead.  On each table top, vintage accessories in rubbed gold and sterling silver added the finishing touches.

Far be it from us to dictate what is “in” or “out” in seating options for the bride and groom.  For some couples, such as Abby and Andrew, the placement of a small “sweetheart” table at the foot of the dance floor is the ideal solution to a challenging seating puzzle.  

A family occasion meant to last into the wee hours, we placed our mahogany bar along one wall and situated groupings of comfortable brown leather furniture nearby.  As the evening progressed, and guests began to collect and drape on chairs and sofas as they would in the living room, Peachtree rolled out our dark wood cheese carts with sweet bites, coffee and cheeses for a little pick-me-up.  As expected, the bride and groom were almost the last to leave the party having thoroughly enjoyed sharing their day with their family and friends in such a beautifully warm fashion.