Lilly and Carter’s Easygoing Backyard Bash in a Coastal Massachusetts Village
Lilly and Carter’s story began at an anti-Halloween party in 2005, when both were students at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. At the formal dinner party, Carter (who was dressed in a borrowed suit that was about three inches too short in the arms and legs) glanced up and saw Lilly’s “big intense eyes” staring at him from across the room. He introduced himself, and the two hit it off and talked for hours before heading to a wild costume party in their clothes that were far from a disguise.
The duo began dating, even long-distance after Carter graduated, until they eventually settled in New York City and moved in together. Carter, now an architect and furniture designer who founded CBR Studio, planned to propose on the couple’s seventh anniversary. However, the night before, they were making homemade pasta and having such a great time that Carter pulled out the ring and proposed in the kitchen. “My hands were covered in dough!” says Lilly, the senior designer of ready-to-wear at Proenza Schouler.
The Brooklyn-based couple wed on June 28, 2014, at a family-owned property in Padanaram Village, located in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. About 150 guests attended the celebration, which was full of originality in everything from the dress to the multiple wedding cakes. “We both come from very creative backgrounds and we have a very special group of friends and family who are all talented in so many ways,” says Lilly. “We really tried to incorporate them into the process and that really showed in the details.” With a loose theme revolving around the moon and its mythology, the pair set out to tie the knot at their out-of-this-world destination soirée.
Carter’s family has owned the coastal Ricketson’s Point property for generations, and the couple used to visit often when they lived in Providence. “It’s where we really fell in love,” says Lilly. The wedge-shaped piece of land juts out into Buzzards Bay and boasts a beautiful lawn with old trees, stone walls, gardens, and paths winding to the water—a picturesque setting for any special event.
The save-the-date cards reflected the lunar theme, playing on the phases of the moon. Lilly loved the idea of a visual calendar—she even added a red watercolor heart to represent where their wedding date fell. “It was just a tiny sliver because it was the first night of the new moon,” she says.
The Stationery Suite
Images of the moon anchored the stationery suite, which was created by the bride’s graphic designer friend, Keri Bronk. The couple further personalized the paper goods with hand-painted flourishes.
Lilly has worked at Proenza Schouler for several years, so her coworkers helped her design a custom gown. Her first step was finding fabrics that she loved; she chose a delicate lace from a Spanish mill and a hand-painted tulle from Le Studio Anthost, a small textile studio in Brooklyn. As for the silhouette of her dress, the idea popped into her head one day while she was stuck in traffic. Lilly accessorized with an embroidered belt from India and vintage gold Prada sandals that her sister found on eBay—although she was dancing in Vans slip-ons by the end of the night.
Carter donned a black Prada suit and kept his look low-maintenance. “I don’t think he even combed his hair!” says Lilly.
Lilly’s parents, who collect antique jewelry, surprised their daughter with some special pieces to wear on her wedding day: Art Deco earrings and a gold diamond bracelet they had been saving since Lilly was 13 years old. The bride’s grandmother gave her an antique sapphire ring to be her “something blue.”
Lilly’s rose-gold and diamond wedding ring from De Vera was custom-made by Sayumi Yokouchi. Carter’s cousin, Gogo Ferguson, designed his wedding band and Lilly’s engagement ring, both made of gold and cast from rattlesnake rib bones.
Daniel Martin, the bride’s friend and a professional makeup artist, helped her with makeup. “He sat me in a quiet bedroom with all the windows open and the breeze coming in, and he just massaged my face with all these wonderful lotions from Clark’s Botanicals,” says Lilly. “He spent hours on my makeup, really drawing it out, and it was such a peaceful and relaxing moment—a way to pause and reflect on what was coming.” Daniel created the bride’s pink lip with Benefit’s Lollitint lip and cheek stain, applied in thin layers. Lilly says the color stayed put the entire night—even while kissing her groom.
Lilly wanted the floral arrangements to feel loose, wild, and “as if you’d grabbed a fistful of wildflowers and stuck them in a jar,” she says. The couple reserved the entire week’s worth of crops from a local flower farm, Eva’s Garden, and cut greenery from the bushes at Carter’s family home. Honey Bee from Eva’s Garden assembled the bridal bouquet, all of the boutonnieres, and bouquets for mothers and grandmothers using the seasonal flowers, peonies, and greenery.
The Wedding Party
The wedding party was a mix of friends and family. Carter chose his buddies to be groomsmen, while his cousins shared the duty of flower girl. Lilly’s sisters served as maidens of honor, her closest friends were her bridesmaids, and Brendan, whom she met on her first day of college, was her designated bridesman. “I couldn’t imagine getting married without him by my side, and I wanted him there with me getting dressed with all the other bridesmaids,” says Lilly. “Carter and I love each other’s friends. We’re all a huge family, but it felt right to each have our own best friends by our sides that day.”
As for the fashions, the bridal party chose their own attire so they felt confident and comfortable.
The couple took portraits right before the ceremony, even though Carter was a bit sad to see his bride before she walked down the aisle. “I understand doing the pictures before, because the last thing I wanted to do was stand for photos right after we got married,” he says. “But in a perfect world, I wouldn’t have seen her until she was walking toward me in front of everyone. It would have been really overwhelming in a good way. Either way, she was beautiful and it was an incredibly powerful moment for us.”
The 1930s Mercury hot rod that brought the couple to the ceremony was a last-minute surprise. The day before, Carter drove past an old family friend’s house just down the road from the venue. The friend, Dave Hall, fixes old cars as a hobby and offered his chauffeur services with the just-finished car.
A Little Guest
Olin, the grandson of the car owner, was excited about his tuxedo and bare feet.
Lilly’s father, Bruce, walked her down the aisle while her friend, Mark, played ethereal music on his guitar. A close friend of the couple, Alexander Williams, officiated and wrote the 6:30 p.m. ceremony, keeping it a surprise until the big day. The couple asked another friend, Ben, to read from the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, because it embodied their views on marriage. The bride and groom penned their own vows, which they transcribed in a tiny marbled notebook carried in Carter’s pocket during the ceremony. “It was amazing hearing everything in that moment without knowing what to expect. It kept our emotions raw and real,” Lilly says of keeping the vows secret. Carter also appreciated the heartfelt oaths. “Lilly’s vows were more complex than mine. I think she knows we’re a bit of an odd couple, and she acknowledged that in a sincere and loving way. I’m very glad we read to each other—it wouldn’t have been the same day without that,” he says.
The Cocktail Hour
The Oyster Bar
An oyster bar was well-received during cocktail hour.
The Escort Cards
The bride and groom wanted fun yet inexpensive escort cards, so wedding planner Jove Meyer suggested tying tags with guests’ names written by Lilly to small plastic animals found on Amazon. The jungle animals were grouped by table, with elephants for one table, tigers for another, etc. The full animal kingdom present that day included gorillas, cheetahs, lions, rhinos, and zebras, too.
A Makeshift Pocket Square
While most of the animals wound up as toys for the kids, Carter’s grandfather, Read, displayed his cheetah escort card like a pocket square. Lilly approved of the unique fashion choice. “I thought it was so cute and stylish how he put it in his pocket!” she says. The couple kept a white tiger as a keepsake of their big day.
The Reception Tent
Even though the night got a bit chilly, the couple couldn’t bring themselves to close the sides of their sailcloth tent and block the magical ocean view. Dimmed string lights hung at random heights so they drooped softly throughout the area. Lilly, Carter, and the wedding party sat at one big table in the middle of the tent, while other guests sat on benches and chairs at smaller surrounding tables.
The Table Arrangements
Determined to make the venue homey, Lilly scouted décor that was true to her aesthetic. She found vintage indigo-dyed table runners from Thailand on Etsy and bought a unique one for each table. The bride also came up with the idea for marbled candles to resemble the surface of the moon and recruited Kristian Henson, a marbling expert, to hand-marble more than 200 pieces of paper. The sheets were then wrapped around plain white Santeria candles bought at bodegas in Brooklyn. There were so many jars, napkins, candles, and runners that guests were encouraged to take as many as they could carry home with them the next day. Many also found their way back to the couple’s household.
The Place Settings
Smoke & Pickles catered the meal, which Lilly says was delicious, sustainable, and beautifully crafted. Some of the recipes came from Lilly, like the summer potato salad and the watermelon salad with feta, mint, basil, and cornichons. Guests also enjoyed locally raised lamb and Rhode Island-caught striped bass, both cooked in portable smokers. The couple chose to have many vegetable sides and salads, since Lilly was raised vegetarian and still has many vegetarians and vegans in her family. The food was served buffet-style, using vintage copper and wood bowls. “They care so much about sourcing all of their ingredients locally and partnering with farms and fisheries who share their values, and I really connected with them on that,” says Lilly of the team behind that evening’s meal. “I am a very avid cook and I wanted guests to feel like they could be eating at my home.”
Carter’s cousin and his wife, John and Lisa Lofberg, who own Beach Plum Bakery Café in South Dartmouth, gave the couple three cakes as a wedding gift. The first confection, which the couple cut into, was a large olive oil cake enrobed in frosting and topped with fresh strawberries and macarons. The newlyweds cheerfully fed each other pieces, and in the moment realized how much fun they were having at their wedding.
Hold the Frosting
A naked almond cake with powdered sugar was topped with flowers.
A Third Sweet Treat
A petite strawberry-meringue pavlova confection rounded out the trio.
The First Dance
Lilly and Carter danced to “Don’t Be Cruel” by Billy Swan.
Guests left with tote bags made by Keri Bronk. The bags, displayed in a flower-covered wooden crate, were printed with an image of the crescent moon.