It’s not so unusual to feature a wedding with homemade invitations, an extraordinarily meaningful chuppah, and a vegetarian menu… But arriving by canoe, personalised pencil favours, a custom neon sign, and a joint breaking of the glass on the same rock where revolutionists, Henry David Thoreau and Nathanial Hawthorne once sat? Now that is a little more unusual!
Jennifer and Jessica had a very personal wedding like no other. It was so very authentic to them, and they incorporated many wonderful personal and thoughtful details.
I absolutely LOVE their ‘how we met’ story too…
The report today is written by them both, and photography is by the brilliantly talented Prinos Photography.
how we met
Jessica: I was jumping rope in my apartment on the top floor of a high rise in Manhattan overlooking the East River and I was saying to myself, “I just want to meet my own Jen.” My eldest brother is married to a beautiful Jen with curly red hair and my other brother is married to a beautiful Jewish Jen from New Jersey. Two weeks later I met my Jen and she’s Jewish, from New Jersey and has curly red hair!
Jennifer: We met in February 2007 during a cocktail event at the Asia Society in Manhattan. We had less than fifteen minutes together but there was an intrigue about Jessica that made me want to learn more. I gave her my number, and she called three days later. We both lived on 1st Avenue, she was uptown and I was downtown… We fell in love on the 1st Avenue bus.
choosing our wedding venue
Jennifer and Jessica, the Brides: The wedding ceremony was at The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts and the reception was at the John H. Pierce House in Lincoln, Massachusetts. We have a lot of family in the Concord area and Jessica grew up in this beautiful setting. Plus, at the time, our marriage wasn’t legal in our home state of NY but was legal in Massachusetts. Concord was a win-win location!
wedding style and ‘non-negotiables’
We love the colour purple and we used that colour throughout our wedding. We hired a day-of coordinator to stitch all of the details together at the event so we could release into the moment and have as much fun as possible.
WeI had three non-negotiables for our wedding:
A) a piece of neon for the reception—we had something made by Lite Brite Neon out of Brooklyn. It was the Henry David Thoreau quote, set in Helvetica, “
There is no remedy for love but to love more”.
B) a room full of cheese! For the reception I asked my friend Peter Lovis of the Concord Cheese Shop if he would help us with some cheese for our wedding. I asked, if possible, could the cheese have a breast theme? It was perfect.
C) I wanted the Thoreau quote engraved on these wooden pencils that we gave as favours. We had them made in China and they arrived by boat—we had hundreds made—it was a little ridiculous, but it was important to me.
creating the wedding stationery ourselves
We designed the invitation and silk screened them ourselves. We only realised later that we’d need coordinating pieces like the wedding program, welcome basket, etc. Since we both love details, it made the project exponentially bigger—but it was satisfying!
We also created the save-the-date cards from the design on Jennifer’s favourite mug from Fishs Eddy (NYC). It’s a sketch of two women with the words ‘We Do’ under the image.
two fabulous wedding dresses
Jessica: I wanted a short dress that I could wear again—I love a halter dress and one day, by chance, I found the perfect dress on the sale rack at Bloomingdales. It was a cream halter dress with a suggestion of a cummerbund — I added a vintage Missoni black silk slip—it was perfect for me.
Jennifer: Housing Works, a thrift shop that operates to end the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDS, used to have an annual bridal event. This was my first and last stop for wedding dress shopping. I tried on three dresses. The third was an ivory long straight gown with a decorated bodice and a huge train attached. Unfortunately, I didn’t think the dress had any true potential because the train would prohibit my entrance via canoe. It was only after I was in the dress that the woman helping me realise the train detached! I had found my ideal dress! I don’t know the designer because the gown had no tags but I know that it was vintage, cost only $60 and the proceeds went to charity! Andra Gabrielle immaculately tailored the gown to perfect the fit.
Jessica: I wanted feathers in my hair!
Jennifer: I longed for a wisp of a veil and found a beautiful NYC-based hat designer to build one for me. Ellen Christine Colon-Lugo created a beautiful, elegant piece.
vintage shoes and flats
Jessica: Prada spectator shoes, vintage (also known as correspondent shoes). I wanted flats for dancing.
Jennifer: I wanted shoes that would allow me to feel the earth under my feet during our outdoor ceremony at The Old Manse so I chose ivory silk ballet flats.
hair + make up
Jessica: I wanted to do my own makeup, especially since I never wear makeup. I took the opportunity to befriend a sales person at Bloomingdales Soho Chanel counter and it was really fun. I still have the makeup that I bought and it feels so nice to wear it – on the off occasion that I do!
Jennifer: To prepare, a rep from MAC helped me choose my eyeshadow shades and then I applied my own make-up on our wedding day. My dear friend helped with the subtle, finishing touch by applying individual falsies to the end corners of my eyes.
Arriving by canoe!
Jessica: we canoed into our wedding on my dearly departed dad’s canoe. My brothers festooned it with pine boughs and flowers—I’ll never forget those few moments together with Jen. The silence of the water. Whenever we have the chance, and we are paddling, we go back to that moment. It was beautiful. It was a big pause before the serene focus of the ceremony and the raucousness of the party!
Jessica’s dad passed away in 1999 and we attached one of his fishing rods – a really long surf casting rod – to the four birch poles that we bought in Manhattan’s flower district. The fabric on the top was Jennifer’s grandmother’s tablecloth. We asked four dear family members to hold the four posts of our birch chuppah during the ceremony.
There were several personal highlights during the ceremony:
A) The 10 minute canoe ride on the Concord River, just the two of us soaking in the silence of the surrounding nature, and then turning the corner to see and hear the swell of cheer from our friends and family.
B) Instead of the traditional gesture of one partner circling the other seven times, we each circled the other three times and then once we walked in a circle together.
C) Our unique, personally written vows.
D) Breaking the glass on the same rock where Henry David Thoreau and Nathanial Hawthorne had once sat.
music for the ceremony
Jessica: One of my best friends took us to the Metropolitan Opera, and Thais, Interlude played just before intermission. Jen and I were in tears—I think that we knew at that moment this song would stay with us!
flowers from Boston flower market
Jessica: My best friend did the flowers for our wedding. Along with her mum, she and I went to the Boston flower market after very few hours of sleep and I selected whatever looked beautiful, interesting and inspiring to me. I wanted thistles and odd things that draped. It was so much fun. I wanted the centrepieces to convey a platter-like sense of bounty. Jess and her mum turned one room of their house into a refrigerated room by blasting the air conditioning — it was wild! Each piece was unique – they were all so beautiful. I held a bouquet and Jen did not.
Our wonderful photographers
We agreed that a more journalistic approach to the imagery felt right. We interviewed several photographers; MaryJo & Chris Prinos were perfect. He was a former sports shooter and she was a psychologist – they seemed like an ideal team, and they are! We love our wedding photos – the shot on the canoe captures it all for us – it is so special to have that memory captured so beautifully!
a vegetarian menu and local desserts
A great big dance party!
Our friends and family love to dance (so do we!) so we wanted a live band with range. Moonglow was the best choice! Other entertainment included short speeches from family that were MC-ed by our dear friend, actor and comedian, Billy Eichner.
personalised pencil favours
Jessica: I really wanted these pencils made with the Henry David Thoreau quote, “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” This quote guided all of our decisions—we kept recalling it and coming back to it, especially when planning was challenging or stressful. The quote summarises our intentions, like our commander’s intent. I still think about those words and now that we have a two month old daughter, I think that the sentiment is even more key to a contented, inspiring life.
advice to other brides
Jessica: Always leave room for magic – every plan should leave a little space for something unexpected!
Jennifer: A) Have conversations about budget and expenses from the beginning. Include family from both partners, be honest and realistic. B) If you want to do most of the planning yourself, give your mum her own project that’s important and related (ie: gift bags). This way she feels essential to the process but distracted enough that she won’t interfere with all of the other components.
Jennifer + Jessica’s LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — Prinos Photography
Ceremony venue — The Old Manse
Reception venue — John H. Pierce House
Jennifer’s dress — Housing Works bridal event, with tailoring by Andra Gabrielle
Jennifer’s hat — Ellen Christine Colon-Lugo
Jessica’s dress — Bloomingdales
Jessica’s shoes — Vintage Prada
Live band — Moonglow
Desserts— Concord Tea Cakes and Bedford Farms
MC — Billy Eichner