Floor-to-Ceiling Florals Brought the Outside in at This North Carolina Wedding

wedding couple kissing in garden
Perry Vaile

After growing up in North Carolina towns only a few hours away from each other, Stephanie and Andrew were living 1,700 miles apart when they met in 2016: She was visiting a mutual friend in Austin, Texas, where Andrew was attending graduate school, from her home in New York City. Despite the distance, the pair met up several more times that year. "We were living in different cities, but both knew there was something important worth pursuing," says Stephanie. A trip to California in early 2017 made it even more obvious that they had something special, and after Andrew finished school, he joined Stephanie in New York City. In June 2019, he proposed on the rooftop of their Brooklyn apartment building, and surprised Stephanie with a dinner for their out-of-town families that night. "Afterward, we walked home together along the waterfront, holding hands as the stars and city lights twinkled," says Stephanie. "It was perfect."

Stephanie and Andrew planned their wedding for August 20, 2020, but when COVID-19 forced them to reschedule, they eloped, exchanging vows in front of four friends—and their golden retriever, Rosie—on a cliff over the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. A year later, on August 21, 2021, they held a second wedding—this time at The Farm at Old Edwards in Highlands, North Carolina, where they celebrated with 110 of their nearest and dearest. "We loved the idea of bringing everyone to the state where we grew up, so they could experience some of the great things about the place: the serenity of the Blue Ridge mountains, artsy and eclectic small mountain towns, and the warmth, kindness, and hospitality epitomized by the staff at our venue," says the couple. "We loved that Highlands offered our guests a low-key, cozy mountain weekend."

Stephanie and Andrew chose a color palette that reminded them of "the last days of summer in the Carolina mountains," and Stephanie let her love of florals and gardening take center stage with lush, summer-inspired blooms that decorated the venue from floor to ceiling. "We saw our wedding as an opportunity to host our loved ones and put on a great weekend," says Stephanie, "so I was buzzing about the dreamy florals in the ceremony space as he had some tricks up his sleeve later for the dance party." The reception—inspired by the couple's love of music festivals—included lights, a glitter face-paint artist, and no shortage of wild dancing. "As a couple, we are free spirits who keep each other grounded in values of humility and kindness," says Stephanie. "Mostly, we wanted to honor our loved ones who supported us and each other through a trying year, with a weekend that celebrated what we all missed so much: simply being together."

01 of 24

Sky High

elegant blue, coral, and white floral wedding invitations
Perry Vaile

An invitation suite from Kelsey Malie Calligraphy incorporated the couple's color palette—sunset hues contrasted with saturated sky blue—while the bumblebee motif and floral envelope liner previewed the "natural, ethereal" aesthetic of the wedding day. The paper suite also included a custom crest and a sketch of the property's farmhouse.

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An Easy Choice

bride in floral overlay dress on deck
Perry Vaile

Stephanie found her Oscar de la Renta wedding dress at San Francisco boutique Jin Wang. "I shopped solo because of COVID, which I was actually grateful about—I'm uncomfortable being the center of attention, and with loved ones, always take their preferences and opinions to heart," she says. "Jin and Lily made me feel so special, dedicating an hour to helping me try on dresses in their private studio." The strapless silk bodice joined a tulle skirt, hand-embroidered with wisteria vines. "It was romantic, ethereal, light—it felt like something I could comfortably glide around in all night," Stephanie says.

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Bushel of Blooms

bride in floral overlay dress holding pastel flowers
Perry Vaile

Stephanie's "wild and overgrown" collection of roses, dahlias, foxglove, ranunculus, hellebore, chamomile, and other blooms complemented the pattern on her gown's skirt.

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A Lifetime Bond

bride and bridesmaid in pastel pink dress
Perry Vaile

Her sister, the maid of honor, donned a strapless, blush-colored gown and carried a scaled-down version of the arrangement. "Getting ready in the same mirror side by side with my sister reminded me of our 20 years growing up together in the same house, then going to college 20 minutes apart at Duke and UNC," said Stephanie. "Getting ready with her, holding hands while our mom zipped our dresses, brought back some of the happiest memories of my life."

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A Perfect Fit

groom in rich blue suit adjusting sleeves
Perry Vaile

Andrew chose custom Italian blue suit from Zegna, and added a personal touch with socks that featured the couple's golden retriever, Rosie, who didn't attend the wedding. "Rosie was a puppy during our elopement last year—we tethered her to a tree while we said our vows, but she immediately chewed through and bulldozed through our ceremony to lick everyone's faces and steal the show," says Stephanie. "So she did have her moments in the spotlight."

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Ready to Wed

couple smiling portrait first look in garden
Perry Vaile

After a morning of pouring rain, the sun came out as the couple met for their first look. "As I tapped Andrew on the shoulder, butterflies and hummingbirds were moving in the flowers and tall grasses around us and the gospel choir could be faintly heard while rehearsing 'Amazing Grace,'" says Stephanie. "Once I reunited with Andrew, the rain stopped and it felt like the fun was about to start."

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Star of the Show

flower girl in vintage dress and shoes
Perry Vaile

Along with the maid of honor, the couple's bridal party included Andrew's father, who served as the best man, and the couple's two-year-old niece, Elle, as the flower girl. "She wore a light pink dress and turned her basket of petals upside down when she got to the altar, then ran into her Nana's open arms and sat happily on her lap," says Stephanie. "Despite never seeing many people at one place in her first years of life due to the pandemic, she did so great!"

08 of 24

Outside In

vaulted ceiling wedding ceremony location covered in flowers
Perry Vaile

A wall of windows backed the couple during their ceremony, while an arbor of flowers and vines from Floressence ran along the front of the space and up to the ceiling. "It looked like it was growing into the venue space, reclaimed by nature," says Stephanie. Ivory rose petals covered the aisle, growing installations blossomed behind the last row of seats, and paper cones filled with chamomile waited at each chair for guests to shower the newlyweds.

09 of 24

Window with a View

wedding ceremony windows filled with florals
Perry Vaile

"The venue was nestled in an apple orchard sprawling into a wildflower meadow and extending into the woods, so we aimed to bring the outside in, with romantic, ethereal florals and vines that felt wild, rambling and overgrown," says the bride.

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Bud Toss

white cones of flower petals for ceremony toss
Perry Vaile

Tiny cones of chamomile were tied to chairs; guests tossed the buds at the newlyweds when they recessed back up the aisle.

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Look of Love

bride and father processing at wedding
Perry Vaile

Stephanie shared a sweet look with her mother just before arriving, on the arm of her father, at the altar.

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In Their Own Words

couple during wedding ceremony with flower petals on ground
Perry Vaile

A friend of the couple officiated the "soulful, but secular" ceremony, which Stephanie describes as "meant to be beautifully inclusive, while bringing together some of the things we love about church ceremonies." Since Stephanie and Andrew had written their own vows for their elopement, they based their promises on the traditional script. "We committed to being equal partners, acknowledging that it would be a choice we'd make to re-commit to each other every day, promised to protect one another and offer patience, faithfulness, kindness and gratitude for all the days of our lives," says the bride. Gospel Touch Choir performed "Let It Be" for the processional, "Canon in D" as Stephanie and her father walked down the aisle, and "Lean on Me" for the recessional.

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Branching Out

escort cards hanging on mossy tree
Perry Vaile

One of the property's most striking apple trees became a living escort card display, with a floral installation wrapping the trunk, and seating assignments suspended from a flower-covered branch.

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Custom Cocktails

wedding cocktails with flowers
Perry Vaile

The couple joined their guests for cocktails in the apple orchard, where round tables were placed under apple, peach, and Japanese maple trees. "The chic bar served up three signature cocktails, including a chamomile gin fizzy—we loved seeing the fresh chamomile carried through the event design," says Stephanie. "It was important to us to offer non-alcoholic versions for all drinks so everyone could enjoy them in good health. We were excited about a refreshing 'mojito' mocktail with fresh mint and watermelon. Another cocktail was a chamomile gin sour sprinkled with fresh chamomile petals."

15 of 24

This Way In

wedding reception entrance with florals and lanterns
Perry Vaile

Impactful florals continued throughout the reception, beginning with a winding collection of flowers and branches climbing past the entry doors, and accented with candles in metallic lanterns. "The floral design was sweet, gentle, wild, and unfussy, with attention to beautiful details that remained authentic to the natural place, aiming to avoid pretension or formality so that our guests could feel totally relaxed," says Stephanie.

16 of 24

Floor-to-Ceiling Florals

long wedding tables with florals and candles
Perry Vaile

The floral theme continued inside the reception space, where the couple layered centerpieces, climbing greenery, and ceiling installations for a natural, garden-inspired aesthetic. "The grand chandelier was adorned with heavy greenery trailing, and touches of floral dripping loosely around bottom rung," says Stephanie.

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17 of 24

Natural Beauty

wooden long tables with elegant flowers and candle decor
Perry Vaile

Earth-toned taper candles in brass and gold candleholders accented flowers arranged in low, terra-cotta compotes that ran down the center of each wooden table.

18 of 24

Personalized Settings

round elegant wedding reception guest table
Perry Vaile

"The top layer of each place setting," says Stephanie, "was a letterpress menu accented by a sprig of fresh greenery affixed with a wax seal."

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Colorful Compotes

canvas table numbers with floral bouquet
Perry Vaile

A variety of garden roses poked out from one of the guest stations' compotes.

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Open-Air Dinner

guests eating reception dinner in outdoor garden patio
Perry Vaile

The open-air venue offered a gentle breeze during dinner.

21 of 24

The Wait Is Over

couple kissing and dipping during wedding dance
Perry Vaile

The couple booked B-Boy Productions and DJ Drew Pierce to keep their dance floor crowded all night, but invited one of the singers from the gospel choir that provided the ceremony music to perform "At Last" by Etta James for their first dance.

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Party Time

guests dancing in hazy light at reception
Perry Vaile

After their "reflective, soulful ceremony," Stephanie and Andrew envisioned their reception as an opportunity to throw a memorable celebration. "People flowed inside and outside all evening—it felt like an intimate, candlelit dinner party in the forest," says Stephanie. "[We] ended with a music festival-inspired dance party incorporating playful lights, glitter face paint, and everyone joyfully throwing flower petals from the dinner tables into the air as we danced!"

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So Happy Together

bride and groom smiling during wedding toasts
Perry Vaile

Stephanie and Andrew spent the entire weekend "appreciating the slow stillness of the mountains, surrounded by tranquil, natural beauty and cherishing each other's company as we reconnected in celebration of love, joint families, and new beginnings, with reverence for all the people in our lives who help shape our story."

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wedding couple kissing on stone path in garden
Perry Vaile

Photography, Perry Vaile
Venue and catering, The Farm at Old Edwards Inn
Event planning, Eva Clark Events
Flowers, Floressence Flowers
Videography, Justin Peay Productions
Stationery, Kelsey Malie Calligraphy
Music, B-Boy Productions (reception); DJ Drew Pierce; Gospel Touch Choir (ceremony)
Rentals, Crush Event Design; Professional Party Rentals
Bride's gown, Oscar de la Renta
Bride's shoes, Alexandre Birman
Makeup, LBC Beauty
Bridesmaids' dresses, Marchesa Notte
Groom's suit, Zegna
Lighting, B-Boy Productions
Face painting, Color Me Happy

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