A Wedding Editor's Flower-Filled Celebration on a Sprawling Farm in Chesterfield, New Jersey

bride smiling while groom kisses her forehead
Abby Jiu Photography

After Sean Duffy proposed to Gabriella Rello in December 2018, the couple decided on a long engagement that would allow them to plan their September 2020 wedding at a slower, stress-free pace. The couple, who live on the property at Sean's family's landscaping business, Stone Mill Gardens, were immediately charmed by the Inn at Fernbrook Farms in Chesterfield, New Jersey. "We loved the garden center connection, of course, but were really drawn to the open spaces, the beautiful landscapes, and the tent," says Gabby. "The hidden garden, where we had our ceremony, was probably what sold me on the venue. It's so lovely and charming and exactly the type of space I would have dreamed up for our wedding if I could have." After nine years working in the wedding industry, Gabby, the deputy digital editor for MarthaStewart.com, had a few other dream details in mind, too. "I knew I wanted a light, airy color palette," she says, "and as many flowers as I could possibly get."

But what Gabby and Sean didn't anticipate was changing their plan to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines: holding a 26-person micro wedding in the greenhouse on their own property on their original wedding date, September 12, 2020, and rescheduling their 110-guest celebration at Fernbrook Farms for September 11, 2021. The couple's 2021 event included many of the same elements they had originally chosen—a focus on florals, Gabby's elegant wedding dress, the neutral color scheme with accents of green and yellow—alongside a few subtle callbacks to the smaller ceremony from the year before. "In a lot of ways, I think it felt like the big sister to our micro wedding," says Gabby. But as the availability of rental items and other materials had changed since 2019, other details had to be reworked. "I'm sure it goes without saying, but the pandemic did not make planning any part of any size wedding easy," says Gabby. "The hardest part about planning a wedding is just reconciling what you want with what is realistic; that's something I think every couple—regardless of when or where they're getting married—will need to remember."

After 13 years of dating, a two-year engagement, planning a micro wedding, and re-planning their larger event, Gabby and Sean relished in the joy and love surrounding them as they said their vows in front of their family and friends. "Finally getting to celebrate with everyone we love was incredibly special…[and] I think it's important to consider what this day is about," says Gabby, who kept her cool even when the rental delivery was 20 plates short and she spotted a lipstick stain on her ivory gown. "Every couple needs to remember that this day is yours to be whatever you want it to be—if you have a good attitude, even the things that go 'wrong' won't ruin it for you."

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Going Green

hunter green and white wedding invitation suite
Abby Jiu Photography

With help from a designer at Minted, Gabby and Sean created a custom invitation suite with a leaf design that carried through the vellum overlay to the envelope liners to the details card. "I don't really subscribe to the idea that a wedding needs to have a color palette; it tied into the whole natural vibe we were going for," says Gabby. "We used a lot of neutrals for things like linens and day-of paper, and we went with hunter green for our invitations, but we never sat down and chose a variety of colors that we wanted to use throughout the day. We did source vintage stamps for all of the invitations, which was a lot of work, but really fun."

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First Love

bride getting ready in front of large mirror
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby pictured wearing her Alexandra Grecco A-line wedding dress, with its silk crepe skirt and tulle-and-lace bodice, from the moment she saw it online. "I did my due diligence and tried on a variety of different dresses, but the one I bought was actually the very first dress I saved on Instagram years ago," she says. "I loved how I felt in it—it's classic and understated, which I think really speaks to my personal style."

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Always the One

bride wearing a-line lace bodice wedding dress
Abby Jiu Photography

When she and Sean decided to postpone their celebration in 2020, she had her gown expertly preserved by J. Scheer and Co., which meant she went months without being able to see the garment. "When we unboxed my dress for my first fitting, it was literally perfect. Not a single wrinkle. They are magicians," she says. Still, she never considered exchanging it for a newer frock. "I had my fun moment of buying something new for my mini wedding," she explains, "and this was also a dress I had loved for many years, so it wasn't something trendy that I had just fallen in love with at a salon."

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Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

Alexandre Birman "Clarita" Heels
Abby Jiu Photography

Along with her Alexandre Birman "Clarita" heels, which served as her something new, the bride wore a variety of accessories to fulfill the rest of the good luck rhyme: As her something borrowed, Gabby donned a pair of diamond stud earrings on loan from her sister; her something blue was a sapphire bracelet from Ring Concierge; and her something old was a diamond necklace she received as a gift from her sister on her own wedding day in 2017. Another lucky emblem? Sean surprised her with an additional something new in the form of a leaf-shaped anniversary band from Melanie Casey.

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Quick Change

bride custom made white vans with floral embroidery
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby worked with an embroidery artist at After August Co. to create platform Vans sneakers that she could change into "during the reception if my feet hurt," she says. "Highly suggest a second pair of shoes to all future brides!" The floral motif was a nod to the couple's first wedding, and the artist used a photo from Gabby and Sean's original ceremony to create the design.

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Neutral Territory

bride with bridesmaids wearing white tea length dresses
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby's bridesmaids, her sister and four sisters-in-law, wore matching BHDLN slip dresses. "I knew I wanted everyone in white—I don't like being the center of attention and I think all-white dresses are super chic!" she says. "Plus, with how lush and green our entire backdrop was, I felt like they would really stand out."

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A Bunch of Beauties

neutral colored floral wedding bouquet
Abby Jiu Photography

Amanda Twisted Willow Flowers created Gabby's "looser and ethereal" bouquet with white poppies, Japanese anemone, dahlias, honey Dijon garden roses, and white majolica, all tied with a trailing silk ribbon. "I gave Amanda, our florist, a lot of room to be creative with flowers, but she knew I wanted whites and greens for the ceremony, impactful pops of yellow, and a slightly more nuanced palette during the reception," says Gabby. "Everything evolved organically from that direction."

Her bridesmaids carried smaller posies compromised of similar blooms in a whiter color palette.

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A Perfect Fit

groom wearing hunter green suit
Abby Jiu Photography

Sean chose a custom hunter green suit—his favorite color—with a patterned jacket lining from Alton Lane, a black tie, and brown shoes. "His cuff links were vintage gold acorns, which I got him as a pre-wedding gift," says Gabby.

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Wedding-Day Surprise

Hand-Painted Bottle Wedding Gift
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby tapped artist Brenda Martin of BKgallerys to create a custom wedding-day gift for Sean: A bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label was painted with the dates of both their original wedding and their larger celebration—September 12, 2020, and September 11, 2021—as well as the floral-covered arbor from their first ceremony.

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Classic Black

groom standing with groomsmen wearing classic black suits
Abby Jiu Photography

The groomsmen complemented Sean's colorful suit in classic black.

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Little Attendants

Bride and Groom with Flower Girls and Ring Bearer
Abby Jiu Photography

Three of the couple's nieces and nephews served as their flower girls and ring bearer. The floral-patterned lace overlays on the flower girls' dresses were another subtle nod to Gabby and Sean's favorite blooms.

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Happily Ever After

groom looking at bride outside in wedding dress
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby and Sean planned a first look where he could see her gown in-person before the ceremony—"That was the big surprise of the day for him," says Gabby—but went into it without nerves or anxiety. "We spent the entire morning together up until I had to start getting ready, so we were really only apart for a little bit on the wedding day," says Gabby. "Plus, we're already married!"

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Sweet Signage

bride and groom wedding sign with floral decor
Abby Jiu Photography

A linen sign, created by Willow Louvelle, hung from an iron stand and anchored with a spray of blooms, guided guests towards the ceremony space.

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In the Garden

outdoor wedding ceremony set up with large floral arrangements
Abby Jiu Photography

"Since we were already getting married beneath big, beautiful trees, in a garden surrounded by shrubs and perennial flowers, we wanted the décor be brought in to feel super organic," says Gabby of the ceremony's floral adornments.

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Vintage Gate

iron gate covered in floral decor wedding ceremony
Abby Jiu Photography

A wrought-iron gate from the 1920s served as a backdrop for the ceremony in the property's secret garden. "Amanda created an almost vine-like display of greens and flowers, which was intended to make the gate look like it naturally existed in the space," notes the bride.

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On the Aisle

rows of white chairs wedding ceremony and floral aisle decor
Abby Jiu Photography

Grounded arrangements, which complemented the gate's swag, lined the aisle; they looked as though they had grown right up from the earth.

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Toss Your Petals

ring bearer and flower girl walking processional
Abby Jiu Photography

"Our youngest niece didn't want to walk down the aisle at the last minute, so our ring bearer happily took her basket of flower petals and tossed them with our other flower girl," the bride recalls. As for their other flower girl? "She ended up making a very adorable entrance all on her own shortly before they came down the aisle!" Gabby laughs.

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Surrounded by Love

father of the bride with bride for processional
Abby Jiu Photography

As Gabby and her father made their debut while a string group played Tom Petty's "Wildflowers," she took in all the loved ones who were (finally!) able to join them. "After waiting for this day for so long, it was so incredible to celebrate with all of our family and friends," she says. "Walking down the aisle and seeing everyone who couldn't be there for the first wedding was really one of the most special moments in my life. Of course, I was so excited to see Sean and to reaffirm the vows we made last year, but seeing how many people came from far and wide to be with us meant so much to me."

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In Their Own Words

bride and groom wedding ceremony iron floral decor
Abby Jiu Photography

After reciting traditional vows during their micro wedding, Gabby and Sean wrote personalized vows to exchange during their larger ceremony. "I was the one who really pushed for writing our own vows and I was nervous that Sean was going to feel overwhelmed by it, but he did such a good job," says Gabby. "Sean's vows were so sweet; I know I wasn't the only person crying."

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Petals Everywhere

bride and groom showered in floral petals for recessional
Abby Jiu Photography

Celebrants showered the pair with petals as they made their way back up the aisle.

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Plant Base

plant pots with table numbers and guests names
Abby Jiu Photography

A living escort display, presented in carefully arranged terra-cotta pots complete with calligraphy by Mary Fama, was one of the couple's understated references to their micro wedding.

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Floral Motifs

plant pot escort display table
Abby Jiu Photography

Twisted Willow Flower arranged a mix of fresh-cut flowers and live plants in the pots, which invited guests to "Please be Seeded" for the reception. "We definitely prioritized floral and greenery motifs throughout the décor, but beyond that, we really just chose what we liked," notes Gabby.

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Greens Party

wooden tables topped with linen runners and floral centerpiece
Abby Jiu Photography

Wooden dining tables were set up outside the inn on a brick patio, under a white tent draped in greenery and twinkling lights. Colorful patterned chargers, terra-cotta place cards, and customized menus sat at each place setting. Sheer white linen ran down the center of the longest table, complementing tall, glass-enclosed taper candles and centerpieces in stone vessels.

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Foraged Fruits

floral design plate with silver and glass placesetting details
Abby Jiu Photography

All stations held compotes filled with a "mix of largely seasonal flowers, including dahlias, roses, lisinathus, ranunculus, berries, chamomile, stock, and so much more," says Gabby. "They were so lush. Amanda even foraged some little fruits from the Fernbrook grounds for them!" Smilax greens strung across the top of the tent wove toward a large floral installation centered over the dance floor.

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An Antique Touch

Wedding Table Numbers with Floral Pattern
Abby Jiu Photography

The table numbers, printed on handmade paper, included a line-drawing of a sprig of lavender, and were displayed using Gabby's personal collection of antique flower frogs.

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Dinner Time

wedding guests cheers during reception
Abby Jiu Photography

"Fernbrook is a working garden center and farm, with a fantastic CSA, so there's a very large emphasis on fresh, seasonal farm-to-table food!" says Gabby. The meal included kale salad, beer-braised short ribs, herb-roasted chicken, and stuffed portobello mushrooms.

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Signature Sips

Cocktails with Drink Stirrers and Flowers
Abby Jiu Photography

Two drink stirrers—one with the couple's initials and one with an illustration of their dog, Milton—were placed in each of the couple's signature drinks. Their selections? The duo had three available at the bar, along with beer, wine, and other cocktails: "Hers" was a classic daiquiri, accented with fresh, edible flowers; "His" was a mojito with plenty of fresh mint; and "Theirs" was a dirty vodka martini.

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Sweet Stuff

bride and groom share a kiss next to wedding cake
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby and Sean asked for fresh flowers to decorate their two-tier vanilla cake, which was filled with white chocolate buttercream and fresh berries.

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Dessert Shots

tray with milkshake shot filled glasses
Abby Jiu Photography

"We also had mini chocolate mousse cups, mini strawberry shortcakes, mini blueberry pies, and then passed milk and cookie shots on the dance floor," says Gabby.

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Crown Affair

groom placing king crown on his head
Abby Jiu Photography

One of the evening's most memorable moments—even for the guests—came when Sean's brothers pulled out a selection of props to celebrate him during their toast. "His brothers gave a very funny speech that revolved around him being the prince of the family, which is an ongoing joke with him as the youngest of six kids," says Gabby. "They dressed him up in a crown and a cape and it got a lot of laughs."

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Away from the Crowd

bride and groom share a dance next to guests
Abby Jiu Photography

Gabby and Sean always knew they would choose a song from Coldplay's catalog for their first dance—"It's the very first thing we realized we had in common," she says—and opted for "Us Against the World." "The lyrics are really poignant after the year we've been through," says Gabby. "And our band"—AffinitiNYC—"just absolutely blew us away with their phenomenal performance. My biggest piece of advice if you're having a live band is to ask someone to record their rendition on your phone—it was so good and I only have clips of it!"

But the couple's favorite dance floor moment came just before they cut their cake, as they waited outside the tent for Pharell's "Happy" to end. "Everyone looked like they were having so much fun on the dance floor, so we started dancing alone in the back," says Gabby. "Looking at that picture really brings me back to that moment and reminds me how happy and special we felt all night long."

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bride and groom walking outdoor trail
Abby Jiu Photography

Photography, Abby Jiu of Abby Jiu Photography
Venue and Catering,
The Inn at Fernbrook Farms
Twisted Willow Flowers
Rivre Films
Love and Light Wedding Officiants
Day-of papers, August and White Designs
Affiniti NYC
La Tavola Fine Linen Rentals
Bride's gown,
Alexandra Grecco
Bride's accessories,
Alexandre Birman shoes; Vans sneakers; Ring Concierge bracelet; Melanie Casey ring
Gina Ribando of In Full Detail Hair
Michelle Shultz of Willow House Beauty
Bridesmaids' dresses,
Groom's attire,
Alton Lane
The Black Tux
Arrive in Style

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