Marriage Material: Step Inside Claire’s AMAZE Backyard Wedding

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I’d never really harbored any wedding fantasies before I got married, except for one: I’ve always wanted it to happen at my childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s such a personal space: My dad has poured countless hours and his whole heart into the garden, and my mom’s design sensibility is evident everywhere you turn. So when it came time to do the damn thing with Chris, I wanted all of the elements to feel just as personal as the setting.  —claire

 Here’s how it went down:

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My Grandma Shirley was an amazing artist whose work perfectly embodied her personality. She died in between the time we got engaged and got married, so using her paintings of my parent’s house on the invites and program ended up being a really special way to give her a presence. My cousin Anna (who also designed the Of a Kind logo!) did the graphic design and layouts of them, so they were 100% a family affair.

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My dress is by (CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist!) Juan Carlos Obando. I had a vision of nineties, Calvin Klein-style minimalism in my head, and this really delivered. It’s not a wedding dress—just a white cocktail dress pulled off the rack at Barneys—which is the first piece of advice I give all my friends who are stressing about their wedding dresses: Go try on fancy dresses somewhere that is not a bridal salon. It’s a laid-back and low-pressure way to figure out what types of silhouettes actually look good on you. If you’re lucky, you might even find the dress, but if nothing else you can go into the rest of the process with a much clearer idea of what you’re looking for.

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My mom made my veil herself (using a YouTube tutorial, even). And that’s our nephew and ring bearer, Lucas, who picked out his outfit all by himself. (More on that here!)

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The so-sweet and so-talented Lauren Wolf custom-designed our rings and, man, do I love them. That’s a gray diamond on my engagement ring. Right after I said “yes,” I excitedly pointed out how well it would go with my collection of chambray shirts. And the wedding band is a bunch of tiny white diamonds in Lauren’s signature stingray setting.

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Armed with my new favorite technology, the curling wand, I styled my own ‘do—if you have curls, you know that basically nobody else can be trusted. My girl Chelsa Crowley is the best makeup artist I know, so I roped her in for my face. We came up with a term to describe her signature look: “aggressively natural.” She kills it every time. 

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My dad made that trellis from two of these $15 bad boys from Home Depot and some lathes of wood. The musicians who played during the ceremony are my dad’s community-orchestra posse—he plays the french horn. Cute, right?! And the tall guy is our friend the filmmaker Ben Nabors, who officiated.

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My attitude about party decor is that if you pick three or four elements and repeat them over and over (and over!), it’s gonna look good. We brought in a bunch of peonies, ranunculus, and baby’s breath and stuck ‘em in brown glass bottles from SKS. Farah Sit of Light + Ladder told me Russell’s Bromeliads has the best air plants around (and she would know!), so we got 100 and scattered them all over.

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Caroline Z. Hurley made metallic-printed table runners for us—which I’m now having cut and sewn into cloth napkins for everyday use.

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But let’s get real: I let my dad’s garden do most of the heavy lifting when it came to decoration.

What we didn’t do:

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We didn’t have a photo booth, but I passed around my Fuji Instax and adore the shots we got from it. They’re a totally different feel from the professional pics, and they’re  just so…tactile.

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We didn’t have a set dinner hour or assigned seating, which I was a little worried would throw people off, but it turns out everyone was psyched about not being told where to sit or when to eat. The pros at Talula’s Table served everything buffet-style and we bought lightweight, disposable, and earth-friendly plates and bowls from Verterra that were sturdy enough for people to eat standing if they wanted, and they also helped convey a more casual vibe.

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We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen (my brother and Chris’s sister served as our witnesses), but our friends did come over to keep us company beforehand—which turned out to be one of my very favorite memories from the day. 

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We didn’t luck out with the weather. But we did have 50 white golf umbrellas that created a really pretty scene when they were all opened up. And by the time the dancing got going, barely anybody noticed what was falling from the sky.

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And, speaking of dancing: we did not sit still. We danced so hard the cops came to shut us down at the end of the night. And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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THE END.

Photos courtesy of Brigitte Sire, John Cary, Ann Street Studio, Winnie Au (and our instagram army!).

Want more wedding? You got it.

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Make Marry: 4 Bits of Wedding-Planning Wisdom from 3 Way-Savvy Designers

As we get deep into the heart of wedding season, it feels like the right time to dive into a trio of the so-gorge ones we’ve featured on this site—which, by the way, all have one thing in common: The designers who tied the knot were all down to do things their own way. Get into it. —erica

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Don’t feel like you have to do the wedding-dress salon thing.
Julianne Ahn of the line Object & Totem went off-the-rack with this Suno awesomeness.
Get the deets.

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Look beyond peonies and poppies.
Erica Weiner’s flower arrangements included beets, carrots, and kale. And! She highlighted all of the veggie action happening by using clear glass containers.
Get the deets.

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Let an unexpected backdrop set the tone of the pics.
Um, how crazy-amazing is this shot?! Lauren Wolf and her husband got married in Death Valley and did photos at Zabriskie Point (where part of Star Wars was filmed).
Get the deets.

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Get creative with seating.
Want to avoid renting 100 chairs—or, in Erica Weiner’s case, hauling said chairs a quarter mile to a lake? These hay bales were happy to stand-in.
Get the deets.

Want to fall down a bridal rabbit hole? Here’s the way…

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Great White: 19 Off-the-Rack Wedding Dresses By Super-Cool Designers

We completely get the excitement of scheduling a fitting at Kleinfeld (or trying on a stack of gowns at Lovely Bridal or Stone Fox Bride). But we also get that the classic wedding-dress hunt might not be for everyone (and, hey, might not be for us!). So we went ahead and rounded up some really fly options that can be delivered right to your door—created by the sort of up-and-coming labels we love. They’re all white, to keep your great aunt happy, but that’s hardly to say you have to abide by that tradition either. —erica

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Clockwise from top left: Lindsey Thornburg, Jason Wu, Elizabeth and James.

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Left to right: Thread, Halston Heritage, Rachel Zoe.

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Left to right: Christopher Kane and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

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Clockwise from top left: Alice + Olivia, Carven, Rachel Roy, Apiece Apart, Hunter Bell.

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Toujours Toi Family Affairs

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Clockwise from top left: Acne, Erin by Erin Fetherston, Zimmermann.

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Left to right: MSGM and Derek Lam.

Looking for the perfect *gift* for a bride? Well, we have that right here.

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How Rachel Rose Designed Her So-Stunning Wedding Dress

The grandmother of all gowns.

Secret recipes, killer stories, excellent hand-me-downs—all reasons to give it up for grandma. And badass designer Rachel Rose really hammers home that last point: “Before I was even engaged, my grandmother gave me a piece of lace. I kept it out and saw it every day—I always knew I wanted to use it for something,” recalls Rachel. That something turned into her wedding dress, which she designed all by herself. Here, Rachel takes us behind the design, from her first drawings to the day she said “I do.” —alisha prakash

“My grandmother found a few pieces of lace when she was going through some old things and instantly thought of me. She wasn’t even sure where the specific piece I used came from—she bought a lot of patterns for all her daughters growing up. The strips of lace she gave me were quite small—I knew I couldn’t use it for the entire dress—and I even had to bleach them because they were old—so the first step was finding all the materials. I went to a fabric stores for satins, chiffons, laces, and crepes de chine.”

“I knew I wanted to use the lace she gave me, so I started sketching ideas of ways I could incorporate it. The sketch evolved slightly after I started looking at the fabrics. For example, I wasn’t going to have the chiffon underneath the lace, but I thought it added more fullness to the skirt. I knew I wanted something strapless because I love the sweetheart shape—it’s very flattering. I also loved a sheer overlay because of how romantic it looked on the skin. Lastly, I knew I wanted buttons on the back.”

“The top row of lace on the dress is my grandmother’s lace. The bodice has satin boning. The chiffon top is very delicate, and the buttons are self-covered with the same chiffon. There are five different pieces of lace that alternate down the dress, as well as pieces of chiffon lining each piece of lace. And underneath, the skirt has a silk lining.”

“My husband and I got married last spring at the Metropolitan Building in Long Island City, Queens. The final design was very easy to move in, sit in, dance in. I wanted to surprise my husband with the design. I was nervous about it—I wanted him to love it. And he did, so that was great.”

Come back tomorrow to score another of Rachel’s creations (that, er, does not require a trip down the aisle). Get on our email list to make sure you get it!

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Katie Ermilio's latests are enough to make you wanna get married. At City Hall. —erica

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