A Vintage at-Home Destination Wedding in Kentucky
Dean and Mike
Dean Fisher and Michael Renaud have destiny to thank for their meeting. Dean was living in Los Angeles in 2009, and Michael was there visiting a friend. They ended up sitting next to each other during trivia night at a bar. Luck played a big role: He almost missed his flight to LA; She was late to trivia that night so she had to sit in the back of the bar—which prompted him to invite her and her friends to his table in the front, to which she first said “no thanks.” It all ended up working out, and just over three years later, on October 6, 2012, they both made their flights and arrived on time for a heartfelt wedding in her home state, filled with vintage touches, golden details, local charm, and more good fortune.
Small cards with the couple’s wedding website boasted a small horse bit icon, fitting for the Kentucky nuptials.
Horse Country Venue
Growing up, Dean had visited the Woodburn Farm—an estate owned by family friends—a couple of times. When she went back with Mike shortly after their engagement, they hoped it would work out for a wedding venue. Wanting a “Kentucky Proud” wedding, it was the perfect fit (it’s the site of the birth of the state’s horse breeding industry). Providing a beautiful backdrop for a celebration, the location also felt like home and allowed the couple to personalize their big day from the ground up.
The First Look
Dean and Mike met in front of the barn in the middle of the afternoon to see each other for the first time. It was a emotional part of the day, to say the least.
Vintage Wedding Style
Dean, a vintage-loving gal, wore a dress from the 1960s that she found on Etsy. With help from her friend Veronica Sheaffer, she had the sleeves shortened and added a kick-pleat to the back. The bride wore jewelry that belonged to her late grandmother to honor her memory, and a pair of pearl earrings from a friend to complement the dotted pattern of her dress. For her “something blue” she sewed a small glass Nazar to the inside of her frock. Like the wedding itself, the ensemble reflected the bride’s personal style—which she puts to good use on a daily basis at South Social & Home, her interior design, styling, and event production company.
The Groom's Garb
Small bundles of astilbe, hypericum berries, and mint were wrapped in twine with a thread of gold.
The groom and his groomsmen started their day with a straight-razor shave and then rode to the venue in an old-school limo.
Sparkling Bridesmaids and Dapper Dudes
Mike’s attendants looked sharp in navy DKNY suits and gray J.Crew bowties. Vintage pocket squares added a pop of color and tack belts given to them by the groom finished the look. The accessories are commonly worn by gents in Kentucky, and are made from the same leather used for horse halters. Each had a brass nameplate bearing the guys’ initials.
The bridesmaids sparkled in gold-sequined mini dresses paired with messy topknots and bright semi-matte pouts. “I wanted my girls to have fun,” Dean said. “It was definitely a different look from the vibe of my dress but to me, it was the perfect balance.”
Edyta Szyszlo snapped portraits of the couple before the ceremony in various spots on the estate.
For Good Luck
Even though October is typically the driest month and still warm, in the days leading up to the wedding the forecasts called for storms and temperatures in the 40s. Being an optimist, the bride hoped for the best and, wanting to showcase the property, made no plans to put up a tent. Sure enough, Saturday arrived with bright blue skies and sun. So what does Dean attribute their good fortune to? In line with Southern tradition, the couple buried a bottle of bourbon earlier that year on the grounds of their wedding location on a day with weather they wanted for the nuptials.
A garland of ferns, leaves, and herbs bordered the door to the house, which is where the processional began.
The Bride's Entrance
Dean’s dad escorted her down the aisle. It was a long walk from the house to the ceremony spot, and along the way he whispered funny quips. “Jim Cane” by Bill Callahan played as she approached her beau.
Mike screenprinted the programs that were printed three per page and cut down to narrow strips. Guests signed a full-page test print as an alternative to a guestbook later in the evening.
Dean donned a very special veil for the service first worn by her great grandmother. Sent to live in a convent at age 16 to be safe from the Civil War, nuns made the veil's lace for her wedding which took place after the war ended. Friends of the couple played slower instrumental versions of “Hybrid Moments” by the Misfits for the guys’ entrance and “Melt With You” by Modern English (played on a toy piano) for the bridesmaids’ walk down the aisle. The bride’s godmother led the ceremony, which included readings from The Velveteen Rabbit and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The couple wrote their own vows separately and then went on their “last single date together” and combined them to create what they recited to one another on the big day.
So Happy Together
As the newly minted husband and wife kissed, the band busted out with a rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” complete with a saxophone. Guests hung back at the ceremony site to sing along with the band.
The bride’s mom, Ann Evans, catered the feast that followed the ceremony. “She was a caterer for 30 years and so was her mother,” Dean said. “It’s because of them that I grew up in the world of Southern soirees and now entertain for a living.”
From the start, the couple planned on having a bourbon bar during cocktail hour. A friend made a sign to tip guests off what was on hand. Since they wanted their guests to enjoy a variety of the state’s best offerings, they had a bar made to display a few of the classics, like Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace. Five signature drinks were served: a Manhattan (the groom’s favorite), mint juleps, Kentucky cocktail (bourbon and Ale-8), hot toddies, and a Marydeane Sour (in honor of the bride’s grandmother, it was a take on a traditional bourbon sour).
To add another layer of classic Kentucky, a bugler played the “Call to the Post” before everyone entered the reception area. It was recognizable to any out-of-town guests who’ve watched the Kentucky Derby. Immediately after, the newlyweds stood on the steps of the estate and joined hometown attendees to sing “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Two giant wooden horses (on loan from Jon Carloftis, designer of the estate’s home and gardens) flanked the entryway to the lawn, where the reception awaited.
Julep Cup Toasts
Some couples have crystal toasting flutes, but this couple opted for antique sterling silver julep cups. Belonging to the mother-of-the-bride, the cups were used for the Champagne toast, and again later for hot toddies when it got chilly.
A tub of Ale-8 soda was on hand as a non-alcoholic drink.
Chocolate Bourbon Wedding Cake
During the tail end of cocktail hour, the couple cut into a two-tier chocolate bourbon cake covered with vanilla icing and edible gold leaf. Sheet cake in the same flavor was served to guests but it was iced with sea-salt caramel frosting and topped with crumbled bacon.
Simple Reception Decor
To play up the beautiful surroundings, the reception tables were kept simple, with white cloths, wood chairs, glowing candlelight, and centerpieces of greenery and flowers. Guests dined on corn pudding, roasted vegetables (many grown on Dean’s dad’s farm), orzo salad with feta, pulled pork sandwiches, and Kentucky Burgoo with sweet potato biscuits.
Gilded mercury glass votives and vessels decorated the tables, which boasted arrangements of roses, baby’s breath, hydrangea, and hypericum berries made by family friends.