This New Jersey Wedding's Color Palette Was an Ode to Summer

wedding couple hug portrait on garden path
Anna Kardos

Jennifer Larsen met Ryan Hardin as a freshman at Montclair State University on the very first day of classes. She was one of the first to arrive for a religion lecture and started chatting with another early bird, who was saving a seat for her friend, Ryan; a few weeks into the semester, Jennifer and Ryan exchanged numbers when he invited her to a party. "To this day, Ryan's contact is still in my phone as 'Ryan Religion,'" says Jennifer.

She didn't go to that get-together—she was in a relationship at the time—but that didn't stop her and Ryan from becoming good friends. They sat together in class, tackled homework assignments as a duo, and exchanged notes during lecture. "Ryan will tell you how patient he was through this whole process, but I'm so grateful our relationship had such a strong foundation of friendship from the start," says Jennifer. During her second semester, she became available and invited Ryan to a Pearl Jam concert in May, just after school ended. By the summer, Ryan wanted to ask her to be his girlfriend, but her health took a turn for the worse on the Fourth of July, which put a wrench in his plans. She drove two hours north to be with him—and he ended up driving her two hours back south, so she could be comfortable at home. "That was the first time he met my parents," says Jennifer.

He got his shot, however, a few weeks later, at the New Jersey Hot Air Balloon Festival—and a few years after that, on New Year's Eve, he asked Jennifer another important question. The pair was watching the ball drop with friends when "Shout" (her favorite song) came on at midnight. "We all started dancing, goofing around, and having the best time. At the part in the song that goes 'a little bit softer now,' when you get low to the ground, Ryan dropped to one knee," says Jennifer. "I was obliviously still dancing for a few moments, not knowing what was going on. And then I realized." She immediately said yes, and the duo spent the rest of the night calling their families and celebrating with their nearest and dearest.

In 2020, Jennifer and Ryan, who are both wedding photographers, made the difficult decision to push back their original big-day plans—but tied the knot in a small ceremony just two days after their 10-year anniversary. They celebrated their union on a larger scale just over a year later, on August 14, 2021, at The Inn at Fernbrook Farms in Chesterfield, New Jersey. The event paid homage to the summer season in color and nodded to their micro wedding through a few key details, which included a time capsule box and dried floral petals from their 2020 event's floral scheme. "All of these special details were so meaningful and it was incredible to see everything come together in real life," says the bride.

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Personal Invites

summer colored wedding invitations
Anna Kardos

The pair's invitation designer, Alex of Summit and Sage, created a suite that nodded to their venue—an illustrated map of Fernbrook Farm's grounds was printed on the back of the main card—and their favorite motif: pineapples. "We love pineapples because of their symbol for warmth and hospitality, and wanted to carry that energy into our wedding," says Jennifer.

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Warm Welcome

blue wedding welcome sign
Anna Kardos

Jennifer tackled a bunch of DIYs ahead of the big day; she handled all the signage, including this acrylic welcome iteration with a painted blue background, herself. Pineapples appeared on these pieces, too.

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So Much Movement

bride twirling in white wedding dress
Anna Kardos

The bride's Madison James wedding dress was composed of a light fabric "that moved so beautifully," she says. She loved its draped off-the-shoulder sleeves and floral detailing, which appeared on the bodice. "I could visualize myself in every part of our wedding day wearing this dress," she says of how she knew it was the one.

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Organic Blooms

bride holding orange and yellow summer wedding bouquet
Anna Kardos

Jennifer's organically-shaped bouquet by Cassie of Cassandra Shah Flowers featured a variety of roses, dahlias, scabiosa, and zinnias; most of the flowers seen throughout the day's arrangements were sourced from New Jersey flower farmers.

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On-Palette Collar

bride and groom petting dog wearing floral collar
Anna Kardos

Cassie also made their pup, Lily (their flower girl!), a floral collar that matched Jennifer's bouquet.

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Bridesmaids in Blue

bridesmaids in pale blue summer dresses with bride
Anna Kardos

Bridesmaids wore varying cuts of blue dresses by Bill Levkoff and Jenny Yoo. "I wanted to have a mix of blues and a mix of styles so that everyone had something they were comfortable in," says Jennifer, noting that her three sisters made up her house party; they donned navy, rust, and yellow ensembles to round out the palette.

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Pop of Rust

bridesmaid in blue holding orange and yellow flowers
Anna Kardos

Burnt orange ribbons from Krasnova Silk were tied around the bridesmaids' posy arrangements; they contrasted prettily with their French blue gowns.

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Suited Up

groom in blue tux with flowered tie
Anna Kardos

Ryan donned a custom suit from Indochino ("It looked so good on him," says the bride), which he accented with a floral tie and brown shoes. "He wore a watch that I gifted to him on our wedding day," says Jennifer. "On the back of the watch, I inscribed all of our special dates."

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Huddle Up

groomsmen lifting groom in garden
Anna Kardos

Groomsmen matched Ryan in navy; dusty rose ties added a touch of warmth.

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A Joyful Moment

bride walking toward groom during outdoor first look
Anna Kardos

"I was excited," says Ryan of the duo's first look in Fernbrook's sundial garden. "As a wedding photographer, it's very easy to forget that you can feel all the same emotions that your clients feel. It was so joyful to be on that side of the lens, experiencing something we've captured for other couples so many times."

  • Pro Tips for Capturing That First Look Magic
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Little Treasures

bride and groom going through wedding keepsake box
Anna Kardos

As a nod to their micro wedding in 2020, Jennifer and Ryan opened a time capsule they'd prepared on that first big day; they displayed its contents for all guests to see.

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Cold Brew

elegant wedding coffee station with wicker baskets
Anna Kardos

"We included some of our favorite things," says the pair of how they personalized their celebration. This involved serving cold brew (and, later, Chipwich ice cream sandwiches at the reception!), which they love to make at home, pre-ceremony.

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Card Table Details

wildflower bouquet on wedding card table
Anna Kardos

Their card table was marked by a lovely vintage-inspired flower arrangement, which previewed the floral landscape of the party to come.

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The Ceremony Begins

bride and father wedding processional
Anna Kardos

Following the wedding party's processional to "Cherry Wine" by Hozier, the bride—on the arm of her father—made her aisle debut to "Strawberries" by Caamp.

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Wildflower Arch

colorful wedding floral ground arch
Anna Kardos

A massive maple tree served as the pair's ceremony backdrop; their florist crafted an organic wildflower garden below it. Spanish moss dripped from a few of the branches.

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Vow Exchange

couple exchanging vows under willow tree
Anna Kardos

Jennifer's sister, Danielle, officiated the service, which spoke to the pair's Christian faith; the ceremony also included a ring warming, a ritual Jennifer and Ryan performed during their micro wedding, too.

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Petal Toss

wedding petal cones in basket
Anna Kardos

Another way the pair honored their 2020 celebration? "I made dried flower confetti using the florals from the micro-wedding's bouquet and décor," explains Jennifer. "I then put them into paper cones—printed with the sheet music for 'Shout'—for our guests to toss during our recessional."

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Aisle Party

wedding party dancing in field
Anna Kardos

After the newlyweds were pronounced husband and wife, they left the ceremony space to the song spelled out on those paper cones. "Everyone danced back down the aisle to none other than 'Shout' by the Isley Brothers," says Jennifer.

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Introducing The Hardins

light blue wedding trinket wall
Anna Kardos

A lounge was set up for guests during the cocktail hour. "It was a great photo op," says Jennifer, noting the bookshelf lined with photos and Spanish moss. Loved ones left the pair messages on their voicemail gift book, which was placed on the coffee table. "They recorded them using a cute pink vintage phone, and we loved the unique messages we got from our guests," says the bride.

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Hot-Air Balloon Inspired

wedding escort card display with candles and flowers
Anna Kardos

A hot-air balloon inspired seating chart display—a reference to their relationship's origin story—guided attendees to their seats ahead of the reception. Calligraphy was handled by Lace & Belle.

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Farm to Table

sunny wedding patio with long wooden tables
Anna Kardos

Inside their reception tent, Spanish moss hung from chandeliers and a main floral installation suspended from the ceiling.

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Color Runner

bright summer colored wedding wooden long table
Anna Kardos

Guests were placed at round stations, while the wedding party sat at a long rectangular table, which was draped with a gauze runner and dotted with bud vases.

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In Bloom

wildflower themed wedding table number
Anna Kardos

The organic, wispy centerpieces, filled with local blooms, greens, and foliage, were arranged in eco-friendly blush bowls, so guests could take them home. Illustrated table numbers helped loved ones identify their stations.

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Up in the Air

groom lifting bride during first dance
Anna Kardos

The pair opted for a choreographed first dance. "We took dance lessons and still continue them today," says Jennifer, noting they wanted to pull off a big performance. "With our postponement, we had a lot of time to practice!" The groom's main request was to include a lift—and nailed it on the dance floor. "Nothing can top how crazy all our guests went when Ryan lifted me into the air!" says the bride.

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Dancing with Mom

mother and groom hugging during wedding dance
Anna Kardos

Ryan, who loves the classics, selected "Simple Man" by Caitlin Koch for his dance with his mother.

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Good Eats

wedding party sitting at long wooden table with wildflower centerpieces
Anna Kardos

Dinner was served family style, and included a choice of lemon chicken cutlets, beer-braised short ribs, or Insalata alla Griglia, a vegetable mix.

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Chocolate Cake

gold wedding cake with summer floral decoration
Anna Kardos

The pair's simple two-tier cake was filled with chocolate mousse and topped with mocha buttercream.

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wedding couple portrait standing in front of flower garden
Anna Kardos

Photography, Anna Kardos
Venue, Catering, and Cake, The Inn at Fernbrook Farms
Videography, ToneMedia
Wedding Planning and Coordination, Belfiore Bridal Boutique
Flowers, Cassandra Shah Flowers
Stationery and Day-of Paper Goods, Summit & Sage
Bride's Gown, Madison James via Belfiore Bridal Boutique
Bride's Accessories, Bella Belle (shoes), Olive + Piper (earrings, hair piece), Eden Luxe Bridal (bracelet)
Hair and Makeup, Michelle Elise Artistry
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Bill Levkoff and Jenny Yoo via Bella Bridesmaids
Groom's Attire, Indochino
Groom's Accessories, Hobo Ties (tie), Fossil (watch)
Groomsmen's Attire, The Suit Shop
Ribbon, Krasnova Silk
Calligraphy, Lace & Belle
Voicemail Guest Book, After The Tone
Rentals, All Things Possible Events
Dance Lessons, Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Music, Baseline Productions

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