Madeleine and Tora met by chance in the summer of 2008 while participating in a nonprofit event for the Loving Day Project -- an organization which aims to fight racial prejudice and build multicultural community. The couple, who share mixed Japanese heritages (she grew up in Japan and America; he grew up in Turkey and Singapore) and a love of travel knew instantly that they wanted to spend their lives together.
And so, two years after their initial meeting, they married at her family's farm in Kentucky.
With help from Amanda Diamondstein-Cieplinska of Stellina Events, the bride's mother, Mary, and stepfather, James (they run a catering company together), Madeleine and Tora planned their dream wedding in just under five months. Set in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky, they chose the bride's grandparents' farm as their wedding location.
As a child growing up in Japan, Madeleine would journey to the farm during the summertime; her fond memories of the time spent together with her grandparents played a big part in the decision to hold the wedding there. Years later, on a trip back to Kentucky for Thanksgiving, the couple viewed Madeleine's grandparents' wedding announcement describing their modest wartime nuptials. Detailing the simple cake and tea served after the ceremony and the minimal bridal party, the darling and intimate sensibility also influenced the couple's wedding.
The couple selected the "Enchanting Forest" invitation by DwellStudio for Wedding Paper Divas. The design incorporated birds, which Tora grew up loving in Singapore (where people take their feathered friends to cafes). Madeleine and Tora also loved the symbolism of the birds flying away from home, as they had both come from different cultures and made a new home together, starting with their little ceremony out in the woods.
Madeleine grew up spending time in Lexington, Kentucky, but the couple now live in New York City (with their cat, Cleo). Most of the guests flew in for the nuptials.
Guests stayed downtown in the historic Gratz Park Inn and were driven though horse country on the way to the rehearsal dinner at the Holly Hill Inn. To top it off, a tour of the Woodford Reserve bourbon distillery was also organized, while buckets from the local KFC were filled with Blue Monday candy bars from Ruth Hunt Candies, a bottle of Ale-8-One soda, Weisenberger Mill corn muffin mix, a postcard of My Old Kentucky Home, and a mini bottle of bourbon, and were given to guests as a warm welcome.
Madeleine gave her mother a handkerchief as a small token of her love and appreciation.
She also gave her maid of honor a pink handkerchief to coordinate with her ensemble. And as the "something blue," Tora purchased a blue handkerchief for his bride to have on their wedding day.
The Japanese handkerchiefs were found at Kiteya Soho in New York City.
With the guidance of Amanda Diamondstein-Cieplinska, Madeleine and Tora posed for photographer Jen Huang in a few picturesque spots around the property: on the front path of the farm, in the neighboring fields, in the forest, and down by the pond.
The bride wore a J.Crew gown and Aldo flats. Her pearl necklace was from Teishin Trading Company -- a store that has been a part of her family for three generations. The groom wore a morning suit from Baldwin Formals. Amanda suggested parasols as a fun and fitting prop.
Madeleine and Tora asked their friends to gather around, as they wanted them to be close during the ceremony. The guests naturally created an aislelike formation. "I feel that it was a beautiful arrangement because we were able to see all of our friends' faces down the path as we recited our vows," Madeleine says.
The couple chose the path as a symbol of their journey together and as a reminder of a special moonlit walk during their first trip to the cabin. They kept their ceremony short but sweet. The bride's friend Margo read e.e. cummings' "i carry your heart with me"; Madeleine and Tora wrote their own vows.
The couple exchanged rings from Gelber and Mundy Jewelry Company.
The vision for the reception -- aside from being elegant and intimate -- was that of an oasis in the woods. Bone china and silver sat atop pink linens, and the band, the Swells, played an assortment of New Orleans jazz, ragtime swing, and original songs.
Guests were free to roam through the woods and down to the pond built by Madeleine's grandfather.
The menu was designed to combine the couple's favorite Japanese and Turkish dishes. Vegetarian sushi and lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce were passed during cocktails, followed by butter lettuce with avocado slices, red onion, and grapefruit segments with a raspberry vinaigrette. The main course included chicken and beef skewers, blackened miso cod, bulgur wheat salad with walnuts and currants, and grilled seasonal vegetables. Harriet DuPree of DuPree Catering created and executed the menu.
Guests sipped form a selection of red and white wines, prosecco, cocktails, and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (a local favorite).
Created by Martine's Pastries, the three-tier cake was covered in Grand Marnier-flavored French buttercream. Inside were three different tiers: white butter cake with Chambord mousse filling, white butter cake with apricot filling, and chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut mousse filling.
The molded sugar flowers were light pink rosebuds, mini roses, and stephanotis.
"I love the imagery of two plump birds happily perched on a branch together," Madeleine says.
Photography: Jen Huang Photography
Wedding Styling and Consulting: Amanda Diamondstein-Cieplinska of Stellina Events
Wedding Planning: Mary Kanai and James Brashear of Peddler's Fork Village
Rentals: Bryant's Rental-All Inc.; Bash Event Coordinating
Ceremony Music: The Karp Family, 859-327-6507
Hair and Makeup: Leigh-Ann Mims of Voce salon, 859-252-8623
Bartending: Glitza Elite, 859-229-4964
Florist: Bonnie Dowler of Stems, 859-252-5601