Dreams came true this past year. Not only did I marry the love of my life but we exchanged vows at my favorite place…my parent’s backyard in Mansfield, Ohio. The ceremony was overlooking Charles Mill Lake, the reception under an open-air tent with drapery billowing and we danced the night away among the stars. It was such a magical day, finally having all of our favorite people, from all chapters of our lives, at my favorite place. And even though my Dad couldn’t be with us, we didn’t feel loss, only love….and he wrapped us all up in it.
Being a wedding planner in LA, I already knew the elements that were important to me. I wanted to create a space that flowed, that was welcoming and fun! My design was clear; I wanted full bodied colors sprinkled with sentimental details! My sister said my jewel toned colors reminded her of the Crayola Bold markers…which makes sense since those were always my favorite!
For those who don’t know where Mansfield, Ohio is…it’s about an hour between the two major cities, Cleveland & Columbus. Nestled between an Amish buggy and a corn field. Our total guest count was 180 with about 100 guests coming in from out of town, staying in downtown Columbus. All were a bit apprehensive when learning about the 1 hour shuttle they would have to take to get to The Lake, but soon realized it was all worth it!
Upon entering my parent’s driveway, which doesn’t look like much from the road, we were able to create an element of surprise for our guests as they came down the gravel lane, with perfectly manicured woods my Dad would always be working in and an old barn that literally has every tool you can think of. Once you get to the house you are met by two beautiful ponds. My Mom, along with help from family and friends, had spent the past few months working in her flower beds that wrap around them to create a colorful masterepiece in the landscaping.
Everything was perfect, however that did not seem like it would be the case just a few days before the main event. Ohio was getting hit by all the residual weather from the hurricanes. When we landed, the Wednesday before, it was pouring rain and I was mildly freaking out. I was trying to listen to the advice I always give my Brides, that everything is going to be ok…we have a plan B. But of course, I was stalking the weather reports and having mini hear attacks every few minutes. By the time Friday came around the weather broke and the sun was shining and by Saturday the forecast was predicting the most gorgeous day of the month. There is no doubt in my mind that my Dad had everything to do with it. He always knew how to turn any situation around!
The morning of the wedding was a sleepy, delicious haze. My Mom, Sister, Jacqueline & Leigh (my Bridesmaids and best friend from high school) and my soon-to-be Mother-in-law had all spent the night since we needed to be up early. Our make-up artist, Amber Preston, arrived promptly at 7am and went right to work alongside my amazing talented hairstylist, who was also my Bridesmaid, Leigh. It was wonderful! No fuss, we weren’t in a hurry. My mom made breakfast and we shared stories and squeals of excitement since we couldn’t’ believe the day was finally here! Michael Segal, our photographer who came all the way from LA, arrived in the early afternoon. I was so excited when he agreed to come to Ohio (it wasn’t hard, he said yes right awayJ). I had vetted him for previous clients and always kept him in the back of my mind for our big day. Once Steve proposed he was the first person I called! Steve and I both love his bold style and how his shots really showcase feelings and emotions. Plus, he’s loud, just like we are!
Steve, his Dad and Groomsmen arrived via shuttle from Columbus to start getting ready. They all were wearing the same custom Italian blue suits from SENE with matching white shirts and ties from the Tie Bar. My Bridesmaids were wearing long jade dresses from Le Jeune Mariee and Madison, my Sister and Maid of Honor, was wearing a high waisted mustard colored skirt, also from Le Jeune Mariee, with a white crop top from Nordstrom’s. My Mother was in a beautiful long strapless burgundy dress by Hayley Paige and my Mother In-Law a gorgeous plum sparkly number. I never pictured myself in a ball gown but that’s exactly what I ended up with and I loved it! It was the first dress I tried on at JLM Couture in Beverly Hills, just for fun to appease my Sister, but once it was on I didn’t want to take it off. Hayley Paige’s Pepper gown made me feel so good all I could do was giggle and that was exactly what I wanted. I wanted our wedding to be full of laughter. There was no question, that was my dress, and putting it on the morning of our wedding I got that same feeling and knew this was going to be the most amazing day!
Guests arrived via shuttle and were dropped off at the house. They walked down the gravel path around the house and past the ponds to where our back yard opened up. They were greeted by our acrylic welcome sign by Rich Design Co. and sign in book which had all our engagement photos from our shoot with Micahel against all the graffiti in Venice. We used a piece of pottery my Dad had made, which was supposed to be a pedestal bathroom sink, for our card box. And of course I had to incorporate my Dad’s 1969 Porsche Roadster, nicknamed, The Barron, as the back drop to our Welcome Table. It created the perfect photo op for our guests, especially for those who knew my Dad. We looked at it as his way of being in every photo.
To create the ‘venue’ we wanted we rented from our planner, MMJ Events’ specialty rental company, Aiden & Grace, their beautiful 360 degree round bar that we made sure was ready to serve while our Guests arrived and took their seats for the ceremony. I wanted the ceremony to be simple, under a huge sycamore tree, gold chiavari chairs from All Occasion Events, a gorgeous colorful arch created by our florist, Evergreen Flower Co. and in the background Charles Mill Lake. The lake I had been looking out at my entire life.
The music for the processional and recessional was very important to me. I wanted to be sure it set the tone for the rest of the evening so the songs were nothing but ordinary. For the Wedding Party’s processional I chose the song “Over” by Kings of Leon. Not for its lyrics, since they’re actually about a relationship being over, but for its music and beat. I had my friend in LA, DJ Art, remove the lyrics and re-mix the song to create the perfect entrance for the Wedding Party. Our guests had to wait in anticipation until the song got to 0:15 when it was time for Steve and his parents to walk. Cheering erupted as Steve got to the alter. After Steve, it was our Bridesmaids and Groomsmen who all took a seat in the front row. Finally our Best Man, Josh who stood next to Steve.
For my processional I chose “Feel the Love” by the Rudimentials and again made our Guests wait in anticipation until 0:45 in to make our grand entrance. For some reason I always knew my Dad wouldn’t be around to walk me down the aisle. It was a feeling I always had but never understood until he passed away in May 2016. I knew I didn’t want to walk down the aisle by myself, I need my support system, I wanted my Mom next to me. But my support system also includes my Sister, so it was clear I was going to walk with both my Mom and Madison. And when we got to the aisle everyone started cheering. I’ve never been at a wedding where they literally cheered the bride down the aisle but it made it all the more special and was exactly what we needed.
We had asked our good friend, Colm, to officiate our wedding. We knew he would make it fun, personal and full of love. It was perfect! I was literally throwing my head back laughing and next would erupt in the happiest of tears. It was so personal yet everyone felt included. After the ceremony we headed off for more pictures while cocktail hour started. Guests found their escort cards, from Minted, on the round bar and made their way to their seats. I decided on a mix of rounds with light grey linens, form Event Source, and dark wood farm tables from Aiden & Grace.
Our place setting was simple but meaningful. Since my married name was going to be Pine I wanted to incorporate pine cones...but vamp them up by adding gold leaf to the edges. My loving sister Madison, took on the task of making over 200 bedazzled pine cones that we placed at each table setting and 2 on top of our cake. The head table that sat our wedding party and parents was lined with a colorful garland down the center, while the other tables had mixtures of small and medium arrangements among candles of all sizes. Everything was bursting with color!
One of my favorite things about Ohio are the puffy clouds during the day and the stars at night. I’m also in love with drapery! I think flowing drapes are so romantic and dreamy. While talking to Able Tents, they quickly knew what I wanted and came up with a drawing for my draper, Events 2NV, to incorporate their white drapes. The interesting thing about having a wedding in a backyard is working through the logistics….like finding out there is a 4’ slope and you can’t have your tent where you initially thought. After a few conferences calls and google earth layouts we found the perfect spot.
Everything turned out just as I had imagined. It was my goal to make the wedding flow, to feel like there wasn’t a pause or break in events. I wanted to get the energy to a certain level then let it build. Our ceremony definitely set the tone, followed by a bustling cocktail hour as our groups of friends merged into one. Next a delicious dinner, catered by Cameron Mitchell Catering, then to my favorite part of a wedding, the speeches! Which created another round of throwing our heads back in laughter. After dinner it was time for the dances. Steve and I danced to Rhianna’s ”Love on the Brain”. Then I danced with my three uncles, Uncle Danny, Uncle Don and Uncle Dick to “The Boxer” by one of my Dad’s favorite artists Simon & Garfunkel. Finally it was Steve and his Mom’s turn. They started off slow to Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” then the song quickly switched to Beyoncé’s “Love on Top” accompanied by a choreographed dance number that I put together for them the week before. After a few steps they waived us all to come join them! Immediately after “Love on Top” with everyone on the dance floor we started the “Hora” which I had never danced to but did my best! Steve was a pro being hoisted up in the chair but I was terrified and you could see it in my white knuckles.
When the Hora was over Steve’s Mother, Susan had a little surprise for us! She and her friends had re-written the lyrics for “Sweet Caroline” to “Sweet Morgan Pine”! They got up on stage with all the Groomsmen (who called themselves The Pine Nuts) and gave us an amazing performance and had everyone singing along. After the performance it was our bands turn to take over and keep the party going! Booking SWAGG was one of the best and easiest decisions we made. They are beyond amazing and talented and kept everyone on the dance floor the entire evening.
The whole day was perfect! And while a big part of my heart, my Dad, couldn’t be there to celebrate with us we could all feel him in the sun, the air, even in the hugs we were giving one another and especially at the end of the night when we closed out with a seven-minute fireworks show, he was wrapping us up in his love.
Because I’m a planner I thought for sure I wouldn’t get that feeling of shock at how fast it all goes by. Not true at all…it happened and still today I can’t believe it’s over. As a planner, the best advice I can give to other brides is to focus on the love. As long as love is filling your hearts and driving t
he reason you’re putting this amazing wedding together nothing can go wrong. As a bride, the best advice I can give is take moments to look at everything. Look at your husband, look at your family, your friends. See them and take mental pictures of this most amazing day.
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Cake: Miam Cake | Paper Goods: Minted | Fireworks: Rozzi Fireworks | Invitation: Unique Custom Products