Wedding Blog

Dreamy Candlelit Winter Wedding

I'll be the rainbow...
wrap you in my colors and keep you warm
- Otis Redding

It all began with a language school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a Norwegian girl and a block of brown cheese.

Our bride, Melody (a beautiful girl from rural Northeast Pennsylvania), was studying Amharic at a language school in the same town where our groom, Dereje (a handsome film student from the capital of Ethiopia), was living. They had a mutual friend, Heidi (an amazing girl from Norway), who was in Addis Ababa working for a non profit organization. Although Melody and Dereje had bumped into each other several times at the school compound, their true connection came when Heidi entrusted Melody with a block of brown cheese for Dereje before she left for Norway. 

Dereje (hereafter referred to as 'Glad' - his childhood nickname), eager for his cheese, made an appointment to meet Melody for the drop off. Unfortunately, Melody forgot the cheese. This happened several times: Glad scheduling lunch dates to get the cheese, Melody showing up empty handed. Over time, the two became friends and began talking about their work, their lives and their dreams. Their friendship grew into romance which blossomed into a proposal of marriage. Then the separation began. Melody moved back to Northeast Pennsylvania to begin preparing for the wedding and advocating for Glad's visa.

After months of being apart, paperwork, lawyers, bureaucrats, and wedding date changes, Glad was granted a visa and the final wedding date was set! You could not find a happier couple.

The plan was to have the wedding in Melody's family barn. It was a fantastic space and I could not wait to get my hands on it! Unfortunately, it needed a very good cleaning, lighting installed and tons of work to make it into the dream space we were hoping for. This is a picture of the barn semi clean and semi lit. The task was daunting, but Melody and Glad and Melody's father were tireless in their efforts to make it happen (Melody's mother supplied hot meals, good tea and lots of emotional support. Afterall, someone has to be behind the scenes to hold it all togehter). My team and I also spent many, many hours in this barn in the cold of November and December, but it was a labor of love.

This is how it started.

And this is what we did to it.


Because it was December and the potential for cold was real, we decided to have the wedding ceremony inside the barn at one end of the barn. It was filled with candles, vintage chairs and sofas, a beautiful chandelier and flowers. Simple and beautiful.

So much beauty and so very much love here in their barn wedding ceremony

Instead of a wedding arbor, I decided to make this gorgeous old barn door a focal point by adding flowers and greens. The parents' property was an old Christmas tree farm, so I had lots of choices for evergreen foraging. I love the whites and soft pinks.

Melody's winter bridal bouquet was white with just the palest of pinks.

Melody's floral crown was wax flower and lisianthus buds: simple and perfect for her dark hair.

Even though they had worked so hard to hang hundreds of grapevine branches, Melody and Glad were not allowed to see the final product until this moment. And this moment makes all the planning and work and angst worthwhile. I love revealing a space to my couples: all the magic and all the feels.

This is one of the most romantic weddings I have ever designed.

Twinkle lights, hanging Edison bulbs and floating candles made this space the dreamiest I have ever seen. This is why I am an event stylist.

Winter Wonderland Wedding

Small details make all the difference.

I just love this bride and groom.

The dance and bar space for the wedding reception were heavily draped with cedar and spruce branches. We also carried out our theme of light throughout the entire barn.

Father-daughter dance.

Without a doubt, the most international wedding party I have had the privilege to work with - and one of the sweetest. I believe there are five nationalities represented here.

(By the way, our heroine, Heidi, is the bridesmaid wearing the cardigan.)

Over the wedding dessert table, we suspended a vintage shutter decorated with greens, flowers and candles.

Crossing oceans and countries and cultures, we have our Happily Ever After for Melody and Glad. Perhaps love...and cheese...really do conquer all.

ps Glad never got the cheese, but he did get the girl.

If I was the sun way up there
I'd go with love most everywhere

I'll be the ocean so deep and wide
And catch the tears whenever you cry

- Otis Redding


The most excellent photographer for this wedding was

i carry your heart Part II

                                  Chalk art:                                     Photos:

WELCOME BACK! The last time we met, our beautiful bride and groom (Rachel and Jared) had just said their vows and been pronounced husband and wife on a hilltop in the middle of an enchanting meadow (see i carry your heart Part I). It was a happy, happy time. 

The next section of the day was an additional challenge: translating Rachel's aesthetic of 'natural, whimsical and untamed' into the cocktail hour and reception setting. Thankfully, the gardens and containers on the property itself were in peak bloom, so I used those components wherever I could to bring the garden into the design. 

Chalk art by Abigail Bakke

There is an herb garden on the patio that we turned into a focal point by planting this sign right in the middle of the parsley and thyme.

For the cocktail hour, we placed the bar next to a vintage trough of flowers and used it as a centerpiece of sorts. NOTE: I want to point out the importance of detail here. This chalkboard (artwork by the amazingly talented is an integral part of the entire concept. It is functional, elegant and in keeping with the whimsy of the day. Why not make every aspect beautiful? (the Farmhouse Lemonade was delicious, by the way!)

The Reception. Where to begin? It was so magical, I could write parts III, IV and V, but I will exercise a little self control and condense it into Part II.

Let's begin by setting the stage: The Barn. 

The Barn is located on Rachel's parents' property and was built in the 1830s. For over 150 years, it was a working barn but gradually fell into disrepair. Several years ago, the Sandneses began painstakingly repairing, restoring and renovating it. The result? Amazingness!  Decorating was daunting because of the scale of the space, but it was a job I attacked with glee! 

The head table was the most important design piece of the evening. This gorgeous (and massive) stone fireplace became the the backdrop for the table that was center-stage. I draped it in smilax and eucalyptus vines, and garnished it with wildflowers. The steel marquis letters were the perfect addition to balance out all the softness of the live elements.

As you can see, I made a runner out of several different types of eucalyptus and dotted it with flowers and tangerines. 


The meal was served buffet style in a tent attached to the barn. Again, I knew it called for a menu that would be artistic and memorable. So I scrounged around and found this adorable old door which we made into a chalkboard. Details.

Amazing chalk art:

Seven months later, I am still in love with this door!

Then there was the food...

Drooling yet?  ANYway...

The tables were so much fun to do! Again, the theme was gardens and nature and effervescence so I wanted to give them a very unaffected and ethereal feel.

All bundled up and ready to go! These escort card/ french linen napkins were rolled with twine, sprigged with lavender cut from the property and placed on each plate.

These floral frogs came from my personal stash and were the perfect stand for the table numbers. 

The tables were strewn with every kind of bottle and vase you can image. I used wild flowers cut from the property mixed with flowers I purchased at the NY Flower Market. It was a delightful mix of the elegant and the untamed. 

Simple yet delightfully elegant

Simple yet delightfully elegant

Barns are marvelous spaces for parties and receptions, but with all the wood beams and wood walls and wood floors, they can be a bit...woody...and heavy. I attempted to brighten all this denseness with the lightness of the flowers. Additionally we strung vintage Edison carnival lights, and more smilax vines. The vines were delicate and green and lush.I think the overall effect was clean and delightful.

So much joy and so much love...and it isn't over yet. When the meal was finished, the guests were asked to assemble on the front lawn for a stretch and surprise. 

We lined the pathway with candles to show the way.

"here is the deepest secret nobody knows...

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart..."

"i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)"