An Outdoor Wedding at Aunt Martha's
How do childhood classmates turn into grown-up partners in life? With a nudge from Facebook, the support of old friends, and a sophisticated celebration at a favorite family member's farm.
Kristina and Barrett
"He was the class clown, and I was the perfect audience, shamelessly laughing at every joke," says Kristina Christiansen, describing her early relationship with Barrett Miningham when they attended first through fourth grades together in Fairfield, Connecticut. "Mrs. Meachen, Ms. Kleinecht, Mrs. Drummond, and Miss Reilly—they all learned that we couldn't sit next to each other without disrupting those around us," she recalls. In fifth grade, they ended up in separate classrooms, and in seventh, Barrett's family relocated to Tampa, Florida. "I was disappointed," says Kristina. After a while, they lost touch.
By 2010, each of them was living in New York City and even working in the same office building: he at Tommy Hilfiger, she, in digital ad sales for her aunt Martha Stewart's company. But they didn't bump into each other until fate—or, actually, Facebook—intervened. Kristina popped up on Barrett's "People You May Know" feed on the app. He messaged her, and, after a week of cyberchatting, asked her to meet him at a friend's gallery opening a few blocks from their offices. Kristina wasn't positive it was a real date—although she hoped so. "We went out for sushi afterward and shut down the restaurant because we couldn't stop talking," she recalls. As for Barrett, he says, "I knew she was 'The One.'"
Five years after that first, very real, date, Barrett, who now works for Chilewich textile design company, proved himself right, marrying Kristina in front of 98 guests at Aunt Martha's farm in Katonah, New York, on September 19, 2015. The wedding combined the couple's love of the outdoors with the bride's sense of style. "I grew up competing in equestrian events," says Kristina, who now works at Bark & Co, which sends monthly goody boxes to subscribing pet owners. "I wanted to bring horses into the day without having a rustic wedding." Instead, she set out to create a black-tie celebration that would call for a glamorous dress.
They got the best of both worlds. The duo had their first look in a paddock and exchanged vows in front of Martha's stone stables. "It was a dramatic backdrop, which let me have the red carpet gown I wanted," says Kristina. During the ceremony, she could hear horses "whinnying, neighing, and snorting," she recalls. "Everyone was laughing; I loved every second."
Post vows, guests gathered for cocktails and live jazz. The father of the bride, best man, and maid of honor offered toasts, the couple welcomed everyone, and the barn doors opened to reveal a space transformed with swags of fabric, strings of lights, and tables set for what Kristina calls "a really lively, fun dinner party." After a meal of rack of lamb and halibut, the newlyweds started dancing to Michael Bublé's version of "Can't Help Falling in Love," and didn't stop until the lights came on at the end of the night. "Barrett and I were the last to go," recalls Kristina. "When we walked out through the doors, everyone was holding sparklers." It was a surprise that had them laughing together, just as they did back in grade school, before they had any inkling of the sparkling future that awaited them.
The Stationery Suite
The save-the-date showed a photo of the ceremony site, while the letterpressed suite featured a fern motif and foil-stamped monogram. The pieces were designed by The Nouveau Romantics.
A Welcome Box
Guests received boxes put together by A Signature Welcome, which included Champagne, water, and canisters of the couple's favorite snacks (Cheetos for him, caramel popcorn for her, and Tate's Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies for both).
A White and Green Bridal Bouquet
A Letter from the Groom
Barrett had a love letter delivered to Kristina as she took her pre-ceremony portraits.
The First Look
The couple had their first look in the paddock. "The horses were in the field with us," says Kristina—which is just how the equestrienne wanted it!
Kristina wore a fit-and-flare gown with a beaded bodice by Alon Livné White and Barrett Miningham donned J.Crew. Though she tried on more than 100 dresses over the course of her three-month search, the bride was delighted to find the winning dress at Mark Ingram Atelier. Her tip for dress shopping? "Have someone film you walking in the dress you're considering, because so much of what the gown is about is how it looks when you're walking down the aisle, or when you twirl in it," she notes.
A Family Portrait
The couple paused for a photo with their parents and siblings before the ceremony. "The first time I cried was when I saw my mom all ready," says Kristina. "I was so excited."
"It was the one dress that looked good on every single girl," says Kristina of the peacock-green Jenny Yoo gown she chose for her 'maids. Two of the bridesmaids had known both the bride and groom in grade school.
Bridesmaids carried clutches that included parrot tulips, anemones, ranunculus, lisianthus, mini calla lilies, hosta leaves, cotinus leaves, hellebores and privet berries.
A Gift for the Bridesmaids
Kristina gave her bridesmaids gold bracelets by Miansai.
The Bride's Entrance
The stable doors opened and Kristina's father, Martha Stewart's brother, walked her down the aisle to the outdoor ceremony.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would be like when Kristina walked down the aisle, and everything about her and the ceremony exceeded my expectations," Barrett recalls.
The officiant created a custom ceremony, loosely based on a United Church of Christ Congregational framework and her meetings with the couple. "Our goal was for everyone to know how we met, why we're together, and why we want to start a life together," says Kristina.
The couple chose three of the four texts recited during their wedding from a book their officiant recommended titled Into the Garden: A Wedding Anthology. The ceremony began with the celebrant reading the poem Fidelity, by D. H. Lawrence. Next, Martha read A Wedding Toast, by James Bertolino, which Kristina had found online. After the Declaration of Consent, a groomsman read A Pavane for the Nursery, by William Jay Smith. The concluding poem was Elliott Arnold's Now You Will Feel No Rain.
The Flower Girl
Kristina's cousin's daughter did flower girl duty, wearing a dress from Laundry by Shelli Segal.
A Photo with Aunt Martha
The newlyweds took a photo with Martha and her new chow chow, Peluche.
The Seating Chart
Seating assignments were digitally printed onto frosted Plexiglas and suspended from barn rafters with clear fishing line.
The Place Settings
Vellum menus were personalized with each guest's name and wrapped around a Chilewich navy linen napkin.
The Table Décor
Long tables held centerpieces of white anemones, tulips, orchids, hellebores, ranunculus, calla lilies, and ladyslipper orchids, along with an abundance of ferns. The floral arrangements were flanked by votives in an array of green glass holders from Glassybaby.
The Reception Setup
Guests sat at long tables under garlands of smilax, swags of fabric, and strings of lights.
The barn was aglow as the sun set on the autumn evening.
"Neither of us likes cake, but we wanted that cake-cutting moment," says Kristina. The solution? A croquembouche. The dessert holds fond memories for Kristina, who says, "Martha made these at holidays when I was little."
Desserts, by The SoNo Baking Company, included profiteroles and lemon, raspberry, and blueberry tartlets.
The same fern motif that graced the invitations was embossed onto green dessert napkins from ForYourParty.com.
Dancing with Mom
While his bride looked on, the groom and his mom took to the floor as Ed Sheeran's "Photograph" played.
As foodies, the pair gave guests favors of two varieties of gourmet salts: smoked alderwood and cypress flake.
A Sparkler Send-Off
The couple left their reception as guests waved sparklers. Kristina changed into a short number by Kate McDonald Bridal for The White Dress by the Shore in time for the after-party. Though the newlyweds anticipated about 45 guests would join them for the continued celebration at the Bedford Post Inn, 96 ended up showing up.
Event planning, design, stationery, and flowers, The Nouveau Romantics
Catering, Michael Stuart NY
Photography, Charlotte Jenks Lewis
Videography, For The Love Of It
Officiant,Dr. Katherine Kurs
Calligraphy, Nicole Black of The Left Handed Calligrapher
Desserts and Bread, The SoNo Baking Company
Doughnuts, Doughnut Plant
Hair, Once Upon A Bride
Makeup, Daisy Schwartzberg at the Rita Hazan Salon
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Flower Girl dress, Laundry by Shelli Segal
Groom's tuxedo, pocket square, and bow tie, J.Crew
Menswear, The Black Tux
Lighting and draping, Stortz Lighting
Transportation, Green Light Limousine Service
Bridesmaids' bracelets, Miansai
Wholesale flowers, FiftyFlowers.com
Custom cocktail napkins, ForYourParty.com
Dessert table runners and dinner table napkins, Chilewich
Styling and dressing service, Beth Chapman Styling
Martha’s dress, Lanvin
Salt, The Filling Station
Salt jars, SKS Bottle & Packaging, Inc., item # 0605-50
Welcome Boxes, A Signature Welcome