A Leafy, Floral-Themed Wedding in North Carolina
Brooklyn-based couple Leah and Michael met the way a lot of modern pairs do these days: on Hinge, a dating app that connects people through their friends. They instantly bonded over their favorite parks and outdoor restaurants in the city, so it made sense that the couple ultimately got engaged outdoors. Michael, a startup founder, proposed in Brooklyn Bridge Park with a 1980s vintage gold band with a flush-set stone. (Leah is a jewelry designer, so they discussed her preferred ring style beforehand.)
As they got to planning their wedding, they knew the venue had to be somewhere that would feel inviting and intimate, but could also inspire a leafy and floral theme throughout design details, starting with invitations and welcome bag materials. Because of their love of the great outdoors, the duo chose to make it official with a scenic ceremony on North Carolina's Albemarle Sound. Since they're also big on good food and spending time with friends, they also made sure that their celebration was centered around bringing their closest family and friends together for a weekend of great eats among nature's finest.
After seven months of planning, the couple exchanged vows on June 2, 2018, in front of 40 guests at the historic Penelope Barker House in the heart of Edenton, North Carolina, a quaint county seat halfway between where they were each born. Sticking to theme, they hosted as much of the day as possible outdoors so that their guests could mingle over small plates. "People that didn't know each other are friends now, and our parents loved getting to know all of our friends," Leah says. "It was the perfect way to start our marriage."
Mapping It Out
Because the pair didn't send out traditional paper wedding invites (they used Paperless Post instead), Leah spent extra time designing a hand-drawn motif using floral imagery that appeared on the weekend itinerary and maps in the welcome bags. "The map ended up being the star, because the day of the wedding all of our guests were running into each other on the streets, at the farmers market, and lunch spots," Leah says.
A Warm Welcome
The night before the wedding, the pair hosted all of their guests for a feast at the Cotton Gin Inn, a bed and breakfast in town where the couple stayed. On the menu? Suckling pig, Korean BBQ (made by Michael's mom), and a low country boil, all topped off with a Southern summer staple: strawberry rhubarb pie.
Small vases of blooms arranged by Yeopim Flowers dotted the tables while string lights twinkled overhead. "The toasts were dinner entertainment," Leah says of nine friends and family who spoke that night. "They helped everyone get to know each other, hear new stories about Michael and I, and laugh a ton together!"
DJ Nay Fong filled in the moments between toasts during the relaxed BBQ.
What Not to Wear
The pair had a loose dress code for their Friday night affair: "Don't wear anything too precious that can't be dressed in smoked pig or Old Bay!" Leah opted for an ivory shift she bought in an antique market in Florence and earrings she designed for Bottega Veneta. Michael wore a Bonobos button-down shirt and J.Crew shirt.
Leah says that "white sparkly lacy exhaustion" quickly set in during her search for a wedding dress, so she started to look beyond bridal collections. "When I saw this one online I started sending it to my friends to ask opinions, but no one thought I was serious, because I usually dress super minimally," she says of her Monique Lhuillier pick. "Something about it was perfect for me!" The floral appliques inspired the rest of the day's nature-filled motif. "It made everything much easier, from the illustrations to the guest gifts," Leah says. "The only thing that was not easy was hiding the source of inspiration from Michael!"
In lieu of fresh buds, Leah fashioned a glass-blown boutonnière for her groom to wear on his J.Crew jacket's lapel that he could keep forever.
First Look Feels
Michael's favorite part of the day? "Seeing Leah for the first time in her new wedding dress. It was intimate, special, and a memorable moment that we got to share privately together."
Handcrafted Wedding Bands
"We made our wedding bands together at home with wax, and had them cast at Carrera. We heated the wax and pressed our fingerprints into each other's bands. We walked around with burnt fingers for a bit but it was worth it!" the bride says. For the big day, the couple stored their bands in a heart-shaped ring box they found in an antique store in Hudson, New York.
The couple decided to tie the knot at the Penelope Barker House because of its beauty and history. In 1774, it's where patriot Penelope Barker organized the first political demonstration by women in western cultures, the Edenton Tea Party, in which 50 women in the town signed a resolution to boycott British tea.
Leah added appliqués from her wedding dress to the flower girls' Aline dresses. "The boys are in reality way too young to walk alone, so we paired them with the girls as leaders and kept our fingers crossed," the bride says. "Of course in the moment, the girls were laser-focused on the flower throwing, and the boys just wanted to run!" Leah and Michael (who entered the ceremony together) watched the kiddos from inside the house, and shared a laugh before making their debut.
By the Water
After walking down the aisle together to Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," the pair exchanged vows in a ceremony written by Reverend Kathie McCutcheon that incorporated the day's nature theme: "You recognize that like a young tree, marriages are tender. Just as trees need sun, soil and water, marriages need constant nourishment."
A Wonderful Walk
Post-vows, the couple strutted back down the aisle to the The Isley Brothers' "Between the Sheets." Shortly thereafter, a massive rainbow filled the sky.
A Special Surprise
Michael bought a brick emblazoned with their wedding date and hashtag as a surprise for his bride on the big day.
The Dress Code
The event called for semi-formal attire, and without any direction many of the guests arrived in shades of blue or nature-inspired prints.
During cocktail hour, guests sipped Paloma cocktails that were kept cool with rose-petal ice cubes. Leah made the blown glass stirrers as favors for everyone. "Making things for people is one of the main ways I show my love, and the wedding ended up being a big art project," she says. "Looking around at everyone using their straws was so fun."
Let the Music Play
Live jazz, courtesy of Connected, floated through the air during cocktail hour, where crab cakes and pimento cheese biscuits made the rounds.
Before cutting their cake, the pair changed into traditional Korean hanboks designed by Michael's mother. "It was a special experience for us to share with her, choosing the colors and materials, and learning about the importance of hanbok in Korean culture," Leah says. "They are so comfortable and elegant that I would like to find more opportunities to wear it again!"
Three different cheesecakes were on offer from Cheesecakes by Alex in Greensboro, North Carolina, the bride's hometown.
All of the guests gathered on the porch for a group photo, one of the couple's favorite shots from the day. "I am so glad we were able to make it happen!" says Leah.
Off They Go
Guests waved sparklers as the newlyweds exited, but the party wasn't over then. The bride, groom, and their loved ones headed to an outdoor after-party complete with porch swings, rocking chairs, and leftovers from the BBQ the night before. They skipped the brunch the next day as everyone was traveling home. "By that time we had all spend a ton of time together and felt like family, a lot of people said that was their favorite part of the weekend," Leah explains.
Photography, Gui of Weddings by Nato
Location, Penelope Barker House
Catering, Inner Banks Inn
Flowers and Rentals, Yeopim Flowers
Officiant, Kathie McCutcheon
Cake, Cheesecakes by Alex
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Flower Girl dresses, Aline
Groom's suit, J.Crew