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Whether a lazy meal on blankets in the grass or a jazzy affair with candlelight and dancing, entertaining should be a delight—here's a little inspiration.
My husband, David Melançon, and I met in Washington, D.C. twenty-four years ago. When we decided to get married—and quickly decided against the City Hall option—we had a great time creating a space and ceremony that celebrated all the years leading up to it.
Letterpress invitations on a double thick card stock with a loose calligraphic font from Greenwich Letterpress.
We never even considered a wedding planner. I had a perfect picture of our wedding in my head, and it felt like too much work to translate that to someone else. Instead, we trusted the recommendations of friends—and our own instincts—to find the best partners for venue, food, flowers, music, and photography.
Because we enjoy entertaining in our homes and because we wanted to keep the guest list pretty tight, we approached the wedding like we were throwing a great dinner party. We wanted to be sure that everything, from the menu to the lighting, felt familiar to our friends and family, felt like “us.” It was going to be a sharp Manhattan wedding, but it couldn’t be fussy in any way.
The idea of “elegant woodland” was really appealing to us. I envisioned lots of foliage and soft candlelight that would create a warm and welcoming space for an early winter wedding.
Emily Thompson, who designed the flowers, created several magical arrangements, including hundreds of feet of bayleaf garland that served as the sole floral ornamentation for the ceremony.
Paula West, a close friend and talented jazz vocalist, performed during the ceremony. During the ring warming ceremony, she sang Adele’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love" and selected Burt Bacharach’s “This Guy’s In Love” for our first dance.
The ring warming ceremony allowed everyone to be a part of our wedding: The rings were passed to every guest to make a wish or a blessing before we exchanged them with each other.
We chose Haven’s Kitchen, a carriage house in Chelsea, for its charm and because they serve only sustainable, seasonal food.
One of our specialty cocktails was called The Brooklyn, a mix of Bulleit bourbon, lemon, and sweet vermouth.
The salad was a toss of roasted and shaved baby beets, kale, red onions, toasted almonds, and vegan caesar dressing.
For the main course, we served pan-seared striped bass family style, over le puy lentils, piquillo peppers, roasted fennel, crushed hazelnuts, with a sherry brown butter sauce.
Housemade Ricotta Crostini with pickled red cabbage were passed around as canapés.
Panna cotta with cranberry compote and spiced shortbread was served for dessert.
Live moss runners designed by Emily Thompson, several dozen vintage brass candlesticks that David and I foraged for during the weeks leading up to the wedding, and herbs from our Maine garden for the napkin rings were all woven into centerpieces.
The weekend before the wedding, I drove a car-full of topiaries from Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunkport to Manhattan. We'd discovered the topiaries in the summer, and I knew immediately that we had to create a mini forest of them for the escort and cake tables. Multiple “Sweet & Salty” salted caramel chocolate cakes from Baked (and embellished by Emily) were perched on cake stands of varying heights.
The highest compliment our guests paid us was, “We never wanted the evening to end.”
Photos by Khaki Bedford Photography