A Black-Tie Beachfront Wedding on Martha's Vineyard
Jillian, who grew up in Wisconsin, and Sebastian, from Sweden, might never have met if they hadn't signed up for the same class at Columbia Law School in 2011. "It was a small seminar on the architecture of the United States' financial regulation—maybe having to sit through three hours on that topic every week would make you fall in love with anyone?" jokes the couple. "Well, it worked!" Four years later, on the night they moved into the apartment they'd just purchased together, Sebastian dropped a diamond engagement ring into Jillian's glass of Champagne and, she says, "gave me until I had finished the glass to decide."
Over the next 12 months, they planned a week-long wedding celebration for August 27, 2016, on Martha's Vineyard, where Jillian's family has a summer home. Nearly 250 guests, including many of Sebastian's friends and family from Europe, joined the couple for a ceremony, dinner, and dancing on the beach. "We set the bar high and tried to get a rustic but polished Nordic-New England feel," says the couple. "We wanted to take into account our natural surroundings, while dancing the night away in black tie."
A minimalist color palette of white, green, and pale gray let the scenery at Allen Farm shine, while thoughtful touches—like parasols and hats for guests at the sunny ceremony, zucchini bread favors intended for breakfast the morning after, and welcome bags with the couple's favorite snacks—gave the large wedding an intimate atmosphere. "We were two Type A control freaks trying to pull off a perfectly choreographed event with the most eclectic, unpredictable mix of guests imaginable," says the couple. "But the guests made it special. We had a large European contingent that came to Martha's Vineyard for the first time, and they were welcomed with open arms by a big group of people who had summered there for decades."
Jillian and Sebastian chose a paper suite from Regas in a palette of crisp white with deep green accents, mixing a calligraphy-inspired script with a traditional all-caps font for a look that was both summery and elegant. "To this day, I am still obsessed with our paper products," says Jillian. "I don't think they could have been any better."
The couple treated their guests to carefully curated welcome baskets that included bottled water and Champagne alongside the couple's favorite treats: granola bars from local standard The Black Dog; Burke chocolates from Jillian's home state of Wisconsin; and Sockerbit Swedish candies in honor of Sebastian's background.
Her Couture Gown
Jillian had a clear vision for her wedding dress: "Simple silhouette, off-the-shoulder, only of lace, very soft, and swished when I walked," she says. She and her mother tried five different boutiques looking for a match, but came up empty-handed. "I never got that feeling you see in the movies where you feel you're trying on your dress," says Jillian. "I didn't even get close to that feeling." She turned to Guillermo Couture
who created her dream gown from scratch. "He sourced the lace for my dress and we had many, many fittings," says Jillian. "In the end, the dress was perfect."
Fresh and Floral
Jillian returned to the white-and-green color palette of the invitations for her bouquet by Tea Lane Farm, adding a burst of bright, fresh color to the neutral grays and ivories used elsewhere in the color scheme.
A Family Portrait
The picturesque fences, emerald green grass, and bright leaves of Martha's Vineyard in summer created a lush background for family photos, which were taken before both of Jillian's parents escorted her down the aisle.
On the Waterfront
Jillian and Sebastian chose a beachfront location for their ceremony; rustic wooden benches and leafy ferns created a wide aisle overlooking the water. A majestic floral arch dressed up the open-air spot, while a chalkboard invited guests to "pick a seat, not a side."
As experts on Martha's Vineyard's August weather, Jillian and Sebastian knew their guests might need a little shade—so they offered panama hats and parasols to their friends and family before the ceremony.
A Meaningful Ceremony
The couple asked their friend, civil rights activist Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., to officiate their marriage. "The ceremony itself was one of the last things we worried about," says the couple. "We let Vernon put his sermon together without any supervision. He absolutely blew us away." Though Jordan received a one-day dispensation from Massachusetts to perform the ceremony, it was still considered non-religious—"technically not religious," says the couple. "We had asked him to give it all the gravitas of a religious ceremony which he did—and then some."
After the ceremony, guests showered the newlyweds with white petals as Jillian and Sebastian left as husband and wife. They chose a Swedish Baroque tune by J.H. Roman for their recessional.
Ready to Party
Guests moved to designated tents by the water for cocktails and small bites, including oysters, Swedish seafood, cheese, and Champagne. The scenery and socializing were so enjoyable, says the couple, "it was nearly impossible to get people to leave—it made everything subsequent about an hour late!"
Chalkboards in polished wooden frames displayed the couple's hashtag, #jillastian, alongside sketches and ingredient lists for their two custom cocktails: the "Drag Along," a blend of Prosecco, elderflower, and mint; and the "Tag Along," a mix of vodka, ginger beer, lime, and lavender.
Walking and Talking
The social atmosphere of the wedding continued as guests moved from the cocktail area to the reception tent, a short walk that—like the rest of the week—encouraged the couple's friends and family to get to know each other. "We still get messages from guests asking for email addresses to reconnect with people from the other side of the pond they met during our wedding week," says the couple.
A large tent left plenty of space for dinner and dancing, while hanging paper lanterns lit the festivities after sunset. Wooden cross-back chairs contrasted with clean white cushions and linens. "We wanted everything to feel as natural as possible," says the couple, "rustic, but polished."
A Bounty of Blooms
Pale gray runners spanned the lengths of the tables, offering a subtle way to offset the centerpieces: collections of arrangements in small vessels and bud vases, interspersed with white taper candles and low votives.
On the Menu
Guests had their choice of four entrées—including fluke, rack of lamb, and filet mignon—and custom menus at each place setting included their selection. "The dinner itself was inspired by and created with as much local food as possible—tomatoes from Morning Glory Farm, greens from North Tabor, local fluke," says the couple. For dessert, they served a cake from their favorite New York City spot, Momofuku Milk Bar.
For the Morning After
Each guest received a boxed piece of zucchini bread for breakfast the next morning, wrapped in the couple's signature green grosgrain ribbon, with a tag featuring two sheep—a nod to the wedding's location—on one side and an illustration reading "Leaving Martha's Vineyard" on the other. "We just tried to think of everything," says the couple.
Romance on the Dance Floor
For their first dance as husband and wife, Jillian and Sebastian chose "Begin the Beguine," played by their band, The Sultans
, in an "uptempo, big band style," they say. "We wanted something old-school and romantic." After the reception ended, the couple continued celebrating with their guests at Jillian's family home nearby.
Photography, Kristina Adams
Location, Allen Farm
Event planning, With Grace
Catering, V. Jamie Hamlin
Flowers, Tea Lane Farm
Videography, Blueberry Creative
Cake, Momofuku Milk Bar
Music, The Sultans
Rentals, Big Sky Tents
Bride's gown, Guillermo Couture
Bride's shoes, Jimmy Choo
Hair, Mahogany Grace
Bridesmaids' dresses, Amsale
Groom's suit, Paul Stuart
Menswear, Sid Mashburn
Groom's accessories, Sid Mashburn