An Avian-Themed Wedding at the Bride's Parents' Home in Connecticut
Something about Daniel Katz looked familiar to Hillary Coleman the moment she spotted him at a former high school classmate's engagement party. Then it dawned on her: He was the boy from the library at New York University, where she was studying to become a lawyer—right here in her Connecticut hometown. Daniel didn't place her, but he was instantly charmed, and asked her to go out for coffee a week later. Within six months, the two were serious and sharing an apartment. "From the beginning, it was so easy to be with him," says Hillary, now an attorney. A year in, the couple went on a safari in Botswana, where they were enthralled by the kingfishers of the Okavango Delta. They began planning vacations around bird-watching and, closer to home, visiting the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and taking it in together through their binoculars. The next three years flew by, bringing a new apartment, job changes, and the occasional indigo-bunting sighting. In July 2018, Daniel suggested a weekend in the Hudson Valley. But rather than drive up, he diverted to a small airport, where a chartered plane was waiting to whisk them to Burlington, Vermont, a place close to Hillary's heart since her undergraduate years at nearby Middlebury College. He proposed seconds after takeoff, with a ring he had designed himself. Says Daniel, "We had really good, fancy Champagne and a whole hour and 15 minutes to ourselves."
On June 22, 2019, the couple welcomed 200 family and friends to the Colemans' home for a ceremony overlooking the water, followed by cocktails, a vegan feast, and dancing. To get the party started, the groom's mother, retired opera singer Patricia Katz, serenaded them with "Fly Me to the Moon," then teamed up with the band for a Katz family favorite, "Love Shack." For a couple who adore a quiet morning spent looking for snowy owls, however, a few stolen minutes together stood out. "The part I enjoyed the most, besides the ceremony," says Daniel, "was the 15 minutes we had alone as cocktail hour started. We were upstairs, looking down on the party, and able to have a moment, just us." For that instant, these keen observers only had eyes for each other.
As for how the party started? The couple kicked things off with a welcome dinner at the yacht club Hillary grew up going to; she greeted guests in a Carolina Herrera A-line dress that trumpeted the weekend's avian theme.
A Rare Find
"I never expected to choose the wedding dress I did—I was looking for sleeves, or a high neck," says Hillary, shown here with her mother. "But when I tried on this Lela Rose gown, we knew it was the one."
Hillary wore her mother's jewelry and carried a bouquet of seeded eucalyptus, garden roses, peonies, astilbe, lisianthus, dusty miller, and ranunculus inspired by the great blue heron.
The leggy local also appeared on their invitations, which were mailed out using coordinating stamps, including some with binoculars on them.
Celebrating at Home
The reception took place in a custom-built tent in Hillary's parents' backyard.
The avian theme continued at the party, where seating-assignment cards were attached to hand-carved ornaments that hung from a clematis-covered trellis.
Table-number cards with watercolor illustrations of local bird species perched near bowls of marinated olives for snacking.
When it was time for dessert, blooming basil, lavender, thyme, and rosemary ringed the vanilla-bean icing of the vegan dessert. It featured two flavors: vanilla- bean cake layered with basil icing and fresh-peach filling, and lemon cake with lavender-rosemary icing.
Wedding Planning and Production, Michelle Rago Destinations
Event Design and Production, Flowers, Linens, and Rentals, Renny & Reed
Photography, Greg Finck
Videography, East West
Catering, Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning
Cake, Lael Cakes
Stationery and Calligraphy, Cheree Berry Paper
Bride's Welcome Party Dress, Carolina Herrera
Bride's Gown and Veil, Lela Rose via Mark Ingram Atelier
Bride's Shoes, Huntd; Veerah
Bride's Hair and Makeup, Annie Rush; Souraya Hamdi
Groom's Shirt and Suit, Armani
Groom's Cuff Links, Patrick Mavros
Sound, KM Productions