Exclusive: Blogger Noelle Downing Married Her Best Friend on a Christmas Tree Farm in Rhinebeck, New York
Blogger Noelle Downing of Noelle's Favorite Things met her husband Danny when he entered the store where she worked in February 2013. While chatting, it came up that Danny had just moved to New York a week earlier—and Noelle blurted out that one of her roommates was moving out soon, so if he needed a place to stay, her apartment would be perfect. "I write down my number," Noelle shares on her blog, "and as I'm doing so I realize, 'What am I doing? A cute boy I seem to make nervous is here and I'm asking him to be my roommate? Am I insane?'"
Luckily, Danny was as intrigued as he was confused, and texted her later that day to ask her out for a drink. A few nights later, the pair met up for a magical evening that lasted for hours. "After the ups and downs of being together for six years, there hasn't been one day where I didn't feel like Danny was the love of my life," Noelle says. "I've never felt a connection to anyone like the way I do to him. He is the person I can be the most myself with, who I can share my biggest fears with, who I could do nothing with for hours and hours and have the greatest time of my life." On September 30, 2017, Danny surprised Noelle at a photo shoot in Paris, proposing on one knee with the Eiffel Tower in the background; the whole event was captured on camera.
The pair share a love for both fall and Christmas, so they decided to merge the two by marrying on a Christmas tree farm in November. "I also loved my online friend and favorite Instagram account Kiel James Patrick's Christmas tree farm wedding, so we also had major inspiration from that," says Noelle. "I knew I wanted a custom venue, as I wanted it to be the first wedding to take place there—and wanted it to be a night to remember that truly couldn't be recreated. Sort of a once-in-a-lifetime experience under the stars!"
The challenge of creating something from the ground up was exciting to the bride, and although she found it stressful, she wouldn't change the experience. "That's the thing about it being fully custom and from scratch—it's every single detail!" she says.
Torn-edge paper and romantic calligraphy gave the couple's invitation suite a vintage vibe. "They were custom created down to every detail, from the color of the ink, to the crest, to the leather string that each was tied with," explains Noelle of their paper goods by Papira Design.
A True Princess Gown
Originally, the bride didn't know what she wanted her wedding dress to look like—then she came across the Cinderella-inspired Paolo Sebastian gown for Disney online. "It has the lyrics to [the film's song] 'So This Is Love' hand embroidered on the tulle in the lightest shade of gray—it always was the most dreamy option to me and seemed fitting for my life," says the Noelle, who lost both of her parents at a young age. "I ordered the dress and had a Skype session with the designer to go over the details, and he came up with the idea of adding in 'Danny and Noelle' to the lyrics to make it custom. Over the next few months, we had Skype sessions to measure me; they mailed a muslin, and a few weeks before the wedding I got the dress in the mail. I tried it on and it was perfect."
She completed her look with a veil, also by Paolo Sebastian, and sparkling accessories, including a starburst headpiece, from Jennifer Behr.
Elegant High Tops
Noelle donned a pair of beaded Converse sneakers that were customized with the pair's initials and wedding date.
Danny was outfitted in a maroon velvet Tom Ford tux for the big day. "He originally wanted to go the traditional route but fell in love with the velvet," explains Noelle. The couple's pet wore a miniature iteration—both groom and pup were a united front.
The couple's venue, the Battenfeld Christmas Tree Farm, presented striking vistas.
An Emotional First Look
Noelle and Danny took a private moment to see each other before the ceremony. "We both felt so nervous!" Noelle recalls. "But once I saw Danny and how his eyes welled with tears seeing me, I felt so at ease. I could tell just by his eyes that he thought I looked beautiful—and I thought he looked perfect."
The couple spent an hour together, talking to each other while posing for photos. "They were some of the most memorable moments I'll ever have—the last hour we would have together before being husband and wife," adds the bride.
An Exquisite Ceremony Site
Christmas trees formed a beautiful natural backdrop for the mountaintop ceremony. Vintage rugs lined the aisle; glass hurricanes edging the path. "We even placed the mismatched chairs with spacing for the baby trees growing," explains Noelle.
A vintage dresser was stocked with amber glasses and mulled wine for attendees to enjoy before and after the ceremony.
You're My Home
The couple exchanged handwritten vows—and, coincidentally, both referenced feeling at home with one another. "For me, that was really special, since I have felt for a long time after my parents passed that I didn't have a home," says Noelle. "So we are each other's home."
To keep her mother and father with her during the service, the bride wrapped her pine, pine cone, and white rose bouquet—created by their planner Monica of Monica Relyea Events—with a locket holding her parents' photos.
A Graceful Exit
Guests tossed rose petals as Noelle and Danny recessed back up the aisle to "Our Year" by The Zombies.
A Gracious Display
Guests were treated to an epic grazing table, filled with fruits, meats, and cheeses, during the cocktail hour.
Lovely Lounge Areas
As the merry-makers sipped and noshed, they lounged on elegant velvet couches and divans set up in a small tent, which led into the main tent, where the reception was held.
Surrounded by Christmas Trees
Farm tables were set with mismatched wooden chairs for the latter half of the celebration. Christmas trees were lit with fairy lights for the occasion; they sparkled throughout the massive tent—which was also lined with twinkle lights—lending a magical feel to the space.
Tabletops were set simply with a myriad of antiques; pine branch garlands and taper candles were placed directly onto the bare wood. Pinecones contributed to the woodsy feel, and mixed crystal and amber glassware added a sophisticated touch. Old books, which served as pizza stands when dinner began, were also included.
Table for Two
Danny and Noelle sat at a sweetheart table during the reception: "We really got to talk and enjoy our food and the moment together," explains Noelle.
A Fabulous First Dance
The pair chose the song "Longer" by Dan Fogelburg for their first dance. "We didn't decide on this song until literally that night!" shares Noelle. "We kept going back and forth, but all my life, I thought this was the most beautiful love song of all time." The song references a love that's as everlasting as the stars in the heavens—"and that's truly how I feel about Danny," says the bride.
A Gorgeous Reception Dress
Following their first dance, Noelle changed into a tiered, strapless gown by Vagabond Bridal for the rest of the evening. "This dress was so whimsical and fun to dance in!" she explains. "The frills made twirling so special, and the dress was actually almost the same light gray shade as my first, which I loved!"
The couple's guests shared a multi-part meal by candlelight; following a kale salad and pizza first course, celebrants dined on their choice of braised short rib, jumbo scallops, or ricotta gnocchi.
A Classic Wedding Cake
Rather than indulge in one large cake, Noelle and Danny opted for several little confections. "I love how adorable they were!" says the bride of the simple desserts, decorated with pine to match the surrounding Christmas trees and sugar crystals. The almond-flavored cakes featured rose-water frosting, while vanilla layers were iced in buttercream.
Photography, Christy Johnston Photography
Venue, Battenfeld's Christmas Tree Farm
Wedding Planning and Flowers, Monica Relyea Events
Videography, Shark Pig Weddings
Invitations, Papira Design
Paper products, Coppola Creative
Officiant, Tim Harber
Bride's Gowns, Paolo Sebastian (ceremony); Vagabond Bridal (reception)
Veil, Paolo Sebastian
Bride's Jewelry, Jennifer Behr
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Gray and Davis
Bride's Shoes, David's Bridal
Hair, Patrick Kyle
Makeup, Eric Vosburg
Groom's Attire, Tom Ford
Music, Eric Vosburg
Catering, Lola's Café
Cake, Nine Cakes
Rentals, Events Unlimited; North Country Vintage
Lighting, Stortz Lighting