In 2003, Allison traveled from California to Middlebury College unsure of herself, her major, and the Vermont weather. Shortly after her arrival, she became fast friends with Jenny, a native of New York's Long Island, who had already weathered one winter semester. Jenny's brother Jacob had graduated from the same college that spring and was living in New York City. After some persuading from his sister, he made a visit home to Long Island, while the two girls were visiting on break. When Allison and Jacob finally met, sparks flew, but a relationship wasn't in the cards -- both were dating other people and would continue to do so for the next four years. But as time passed, Allison became a fixture in the family, and when they both were single at the same time, they decided to give the relationship a shot. Seven years later, on a gorgeous day in May, they wed.
Cheree Berry designed all of the paper elements for the wedding. First up, a letterpressed card introducing the couple's May Day theme, complete with a maypole icon and a calligraphed envelope. Atop the maypole is a tiny flag with the couple's initials. This icon was also used as a design motif for the actual wedding.
The couple found inspiration in Allison's late mother's collection of prized antique Spode "Blue Gloucester" china. From an early age, Allison knew of her mother's love for the iconic British dinnerware -- which her parents had registered for when they wed in 1969 -- and opting to incorporate its likeness in the aesthetics of the wedding (and at the actual reception) was just one way Allison could honor her mother's memory.
Occupying a little triangular sliver of grass in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, the Old State House stands on the site of a meeting house built in 1638. The current Colonial building that replaced it was constructed in 1789 to serve the General Assembly as the state capitol. Since then, the capitol has moved, and the building has been preserved as a museum. The history of the building was fitting, as Jacob moved to the area to study law and now works as a lawyer in a building overlooking the State House Square.
During the World Wars, when letters to their overseas sweethearts were scrutinized by military censors, lovers developed a secret code: They placed the postage stamp upside down. Then, if the letter inside was confiscated and the empty envelope forwarded on, as often happened, the stamp would still carry a message of devotion. The 19 months that Allison and Jacob had spent living on opposite coasts and writing countless love letters made this code more poignant, and they shared the secret with their guests.
Allison's bridal party wore strapless Vera Wang dresses and carried bouquets of ivory and blue blooms. Elisabeth Zemetis of Blush Floral Design used ivory 'Patience' garden roses, white ranunculus, sweetpeas, dark-blue delphinium, and green viburnum.
The bridal party posed in one of the courtrooms for a group portrait by Amanda Herzberger of Orchard Cove Photography.
Allison wrapped a handkerchief originally belonging to her maternal great-grandmother around her bouquet of white peonies, ivory 'Patience' garden roses, green and white parrot tulips, white lilacs, sweetpeas, stock, and blue cornflower. The heirloom featured an embroidered "F" for the first owner's last name, as well as Allison's maiden name. To make the handkerchief even more special, Allison had her late mother's and sister's initials embroidered in blue beside the main monogram.
The story behind Allison's wedding gown is a moving one. The Vera Wang Luxe gown was also her "something borrowed," as her godmother's daughter, also named Allison, had worn it at her wedding in 2002. The Allisons -- who share a first name thanks to a pact made by their mothers in 1968 -- were the second generation to participate in such a tradition, as their mothers had also worn the same wedding dress decades prior.
When Allison's mother fell sick a few years before the wedding, the tradition of the dresses became increasingly charged. Luckily, Allison was able to try on her godsister's gown to show her mother how she would look on her wedding day -- a moment she remembered with peace and joy on the morning of the wedding.
One of the traditions associated with May Day is "La Fete du Muguet," which translates to "the festival of lilies of the valley." According to French tradition, lovers, friends, and family exchange bouquets on the first of May as a symbol of happiness and good luck in celebration of the arrival of spring. It is believed that King Charles IX of France decreed the national holiday upon receipt of such a bouquet; delighted with the gift, he gave each of the ladies in his court a similar token of the new season.
"Jacob and I chose to enact the exchange during the ceremony for luck and good wishes, but also to teach the 150 guests in attendance about the practice in hope that they will continue the tradition and celebrate spring with their loved ones," Allison said.
To mimic the room's tall white columns, the chuppah was constructed of white dowels that rose from clusters of white hydrangea, moss, rocks, and small ferns, evoking a gardenlike feeling. Atop the poles, a sheer fabric created a cover, and blue satin ribbon of varying lengths cascaded down -- a nod to the ribbons of a maypole.
The couple wanted to marry their love of dressing up with the tradition of exchanging corsages and boutonnieres by creating a playful and lasting take on an actual flower. Using custom-printed silk from Spoonflower, Etsy vendor BackYardPrims made fabric corsages for the women and boutonnieres for the men. When guests arrived at the ceremony, they selected their accessory from apothecary jars next to a calligraphed sign inviting guests to don a bit of whimsy.
As members of the Hartford Club, the oldest private social club in the area, Allison and Jacob knew it would be the perfect spot for their reception. Built in the 1800s, the building had dark wooden paneling, grand fireplaces, original chandeliers, and a gilded ceiling -- a beautiful backdrop for their historic-tinged wedding day.
Another May Day detail? Guests paraded off, mid-sunset, to the reception, which was just one block from the ceremony.
As guests arrived, they were greeted by a large flower arrangement in the foyer, a maypole of flowing ribbons in different blues, and textures cascading down the table.
Playful paper flags showcase table numbers alongside low centerpieces constructed of Spode vessels (collected over months by the antique-loving couple); they were propped up on mercury-glass vases and surrounded by lush arrangements of garden roses, parrot tulips, green viburnum, dark-blue delphinium, lilacs, sweetpeas, green amaranthus, and hydrangea.
Guests dined in the grand ballroom, where they danced into the evening. Later on in the evening, the crowd enjoyed cigars and Scotch in the smoking lounge, dotted with card and billiards tables. The old-world luxury environment felt like quintessential New England, the perfect setting for the black-tie affair.
As foodies and avid cooks, the couple focused a lot of energy on their menu. They created an amuse bouche of spring pea puree and morel mushroom duxelle that was presented to guests upon their arrival into the ballroom. The seasonal and local menu was printed and placed on the napkin at each place setting.
With nearly three-quarters of the wedding guests travelling from afar to join the celebration, Allison and Jacob wanted their favors to be both personal to them and still relate to Connecticut. Allison's love of gardening and Jacob's love of cooking merged into the perfect gift when they offered borage seeds -- a lesser-known flowering herb that produces edible blue flowers -- placed in hand-thrown pots by local-artisan Ben Wolff.
When Allison first proposed the idea of a blue signature cocktail, she meant it as a joke. But after her father and Jacob set to work blending the ideal cocktail (Stoli Razberi, blue Curacao, club soda, Sprite, orange juice, and a squeeze of lemon), there was no turning back, and the Blue Ribbon was born.
A card under each charger plate encouraged guests to visit the bar for a taste of the special libation.
Jacob, a musician, always joked that when he proposed, Allison would know by the song he would sing. In 2008, when Jacob got down on one knee in Newport, Rhode Island, and began to sing "The Nearness of You," Allison instantly knew that this was the moment she had been waiting for.
At the wedding, they entered the reception to "their song" but then danced to Michael Buble's "Everything," which reminded them of their first summer in love.
David Clark and the Renegades played throughout the night as guests hit the dance floor.
Photography: Amanda Herzberger of Orchard Cove Photography
Wedding Planner: Candice Coppola of Jubilee Events
Hair and Makeup: Jennie Fresa Beauty
Officiant: Rabbi Laurence Aryeh Alpern of Temple Shabbat Shalom
Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.
Videography: Tom Morloch of Vantagepoint Films
Lighting: Shoreline AV
Floral Design: Blush Floral Design