This Boston Wedding Was Packed with Nautical Charm
Laura Kaesshaefer kept hearing stories about the guy who lived with her identical-twin sister's then-boyfriend. "Meg would tell me tales of this roommate who would traipse through the apartment singing," says Laura, a freelance crafter who works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "She said I had to meet him." They first came across each other after a concert (Meg's band had performed), at which she vaguely recalls seeing him. For his part, John Murphy distinctly remembers Laura's "cool, quiet confidence" at the show. When they were officially introduced a few weeks later, they hit it off. "I'm a worrier and a bit of a wimp," Laura says. "He was loud and funny and everything I'm not. I was like, Yup, that's it."
The couple began dating, and after four and a half years John, who works for a solar company, decided to propose. But because of the close bond between Laura and her twin, he first gave a heads-up to Kirk, the man Meg was now dating. "His eyes widened, and he told me he was planning the same thing," John says. "We realized there could be trouble if one of us proceeded ahead of the other." Instead, they chose to propose on the same day, when they were all together with Laura and Meg's family in Philadelphia for Christmas. John took Laura for a romantic roll in the Morris Arboretum, getting down on one knee in a greenhouse. (Meanwhile, Kirk was proposing to Meg on a hiking trail five minutes away.) "I loved that the engagement was just us, a quiet and honest moment, and it was followed by noise, family, and so many twin jokes," Laura says.
Laura and John wanted to get married near their home in Boston. To highlight the city's history, they chose locations with character, including a rehearsal dinner at the Ames Boston Hotel, which overlooks the site of the Boston Massacre; and Sacred Heart Church, across from the Paul Revere House. For their reception, they picked the Courageous Sailing School, located on a pier in the Charlestown Navy Yard. It was mostly asphalt, but they saw potential. "We wanted a big open space, and we ended up finding as open a space as you can imagine," John says. They transformed the spot, embracing the inevitable nautical theme and crafting many details themselves. "We wanted an elevated aspect but also wanted it to feel relaxed," Laura says. When they outsourced, they hired local vendors to showcase the "bounty of beautiful products" from their city.
After all the planning, the couple was ready to exchange vows on September 23, 2017. The reception featured oysters from the South Shore, where John grew up, and Cape Cod, where Laura spent summers. Then it was time to party. "I remember looking across a sea of people at John, who was beaming," Laura says. "Everything slowed down. It was awesome."
Save the Date
Laura designed all of the printed materials for the big day. For the save-the-dates, she letterpressed on textured bright white stock. "I wanted it to be cohesive, with all the elements speaking to one another without being too matchy-matchy," she says. "It feels modern to let those pared-down, classic design elements speak for themselves."
The invitations (also designed by Laura) featured a repeating wave pattern created by Black Lamb Studio.
The United States Coast Guard has a base in Boston's North End (where the couple live), so it felt natural to include boats as part of the big day. "Laura and I spend a lot of time walking down to the water and looking out at Boston Harbor," John says.
The Bridal Party
The Bridal Bouquet
All in the Family
The bride was all smiles with her twin sister (who got married 11 weeks later) and mother. On the morning of the wedding, Laura heard her sister calling her from another room and rushed around the corner, stubbing and breaking her toe in the process. That didn't slow her down one bit, though. "I just powered through it," she says. "I didn't feel it at all during the wedding." The next morning, however, was a different story—she was limping for weeks after.
A Gift of Thanks
Take Me to Church
Laura and John got married in Sacred Heart Church, which is close to their home in Boston's North End. "We fell in love with the interior," Laura says. "It's this beautiful space with old-world charm on a crooked cobblestone street. The fact that it was in this historic square and right around the corner from our apartment felt perfect."
John's cousin, Father James Cuddy, served as officiant on the big day. Currently a pastor in Greenwich Village in New York City, he's been a central figure and role model in John's life, so it felt right that he married the couple. "His homily was a gift we will cherish for the rest of our lives," John says.
"Simple Gifts," a Shaker song composed by Joseph Brackett played during the processional, and according to John, captured the essence of the wedding. Then Laura entered to "For the Beauty of the Earth," a hymn by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint. (It's also in the 1994 film Little Women, which is the "greatest story of all time," according to Laura.)
"Our siblings were in our wedding party because our siblings are our people," Laura says. She opted to have her bridesmaids walk down the aisle in the order she'd met them, so her three childhood best friends walked together, followed by three college pals, and then John's three sisters. Her sister, Meg, came last—"so it wasn't entirely in order, but she was special," Laura says. (John adds jokingly, "I had my groomsmen walk down the aisle in the order I liked them.")
Laura wore her mother's lace veil from her parents' wedding, 36 years before. She kept her hair simply swept back during the ceremony but then let it loose for the party.
A riverboat transported guests from the ceremony to the reception. "I wanted guests to have that 'aha' moment: 'I'm on a boat, there's a drink in my hand, and life is good,'" Laura says.
Nice to Sea You
After their 10-minute boat ride to the pier, guests soaked up the sun.
Stir It Up
The signature drink was a gin and tonic with a splash of grapefruit juice, in honor of Laura's late grandmother ("The Queen Bee of G&T"), who passed away just weeks after the couple got engaged. All 250 drink flags—some of which featured childhood photos—were handmade by Laura.
Revelers happily sipped the specialty cocktail and caught up before moving under the tent for dinner.
During cocktail hour, a tomato crostini was served. "It was a favorite during our tasting and celebrated the local abundance of the season," Laura says.
And of course, mini lobster rolls are a must at a Boston wedding.
Find Your Seats
In order to streamline the seating process and eliminate paper waste, Laura created two easy-to-read charts. She used the wave pattern from Black Lamb Studio to keep the design cohesive with her other printed materials.
A Special Place
They chose the Courageous Sailing School as their venue in part because of its mission—the center offers free skills programs for underprivileged kids and families. "We felt good about our site fee going to a hard-working nonprofit versus one of those more corporate spaces we had seen," Laura says.
Under the Tent
When it came to setting up, Laura and John had plenty of help. Family members assembled half of the sailboat kites (which came from design studio Haptic Lab) over the weekend—and their sisters' boyfriends assembled the rest at the venue early on the morning of the wedding. "We leaned on the ones that we love and it worked out really well," Laura says, who also tapped Margaret Cally as her planner.
Setting the Tables
Two dozen sailboat kites from Haptic Lab hung from the ceiling and went home with guests at the end of the night.
Sign of the Times
The ladies' room signs featured adorable photos of young Laura.
Going to the John(s)
A toddler-aged John adorned the sign for the men's bathroom.
Rocking the Boat
Dancing with Mom
John and his mother, Jane, danced to "In My Life" by The Beatles (one of his family's favorite bands).
Laura's sister, Meg, made everyone laugh during her maid of honor speech. This is probably around the time she called John a "weird and wonderful human." "Meg did a phenomenal job giving her speech," says the groom. "It was an emotional handing of the baton, in a way. You could feel the deep love and the deep bond that's between her and Laura. She made it palpable for everyone in the crowd."
Catching Some Air
Laura's bouquet made the rounds on the dance floor.
During the evening, picture-worthy fog started rolling in from the Boston Harbor. "It was absolutely stunning," John says. "We had a beautiful sunset and then it turned into this cool foggy night with the city behind us."
In honor of John's late grandfather, dessert was brownie sundaes topped with strawberries, one of his favorite treats.