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Amy Foster and Garrison Neill met their first night of college while out in New Orleans. They hit it off, became friends, and things just grew from there. Then, after six and a half years of dating, graduating, and then living in The Big Easy together, Garrison surprised Amy when they were walking one day in Audubon Park with their bulldog, Louie. "He pretended he forgot his wallet in the car, and told me to wait in this pergola while he ran back," she recalls, "he then came back with the biggest picnic basket I had ever seen, and with the most perfect ring!" Amy said yes, and they popped Champagne before heading home, where a second surprise was awaiting—both of their families had flown in to continue the celebrations.
The pair chose Amy's family estate in Phoenix, Maryland, outside of Baltimore, for their wedding day. Elizabeth Bailey Weddings helped turn the couple's garden party vision into a reality–complete with lots of meaningful details. Amy and Garrison wed over Labor Day weekend (September 6, 2015), and despite the forecasted hurricane, the couple and their 235 guests lucked out with clear skies.
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Amy hand-painted a watercolor crest for the save-the-dates, which Scriptura later converted into a monogram for the invitations. The stationery suite was calligraphed by Maria Helena, who used mushroom colored ink, keeping the overall look very soft and elegant. "I stamped the envelopes with vintage stamps I bought online—very labor intensive, but so gorgeous!" says the bride.
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"We got married at my parents' house where I grew up," says the bride, "I've lived there most of my life, and the property just begs for a wedding! It was incredible spending the day getting ready in my living room, walking down the aisle of trees overlooking the pond I have played in so much, and having all of our guests to our home." The picturesque property fit the couple's vision of an elegant garden party. "Being able to get married in the place where Amy grew up with all of our family and the friends we've made together surrounding us made our wedding very special," says Garrison. An iron gate sitting on the property—that had been passed through Amy's family for years—also served as the focal point for the ceremony.
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The Bride's Style
After an unsuccessful dress-shopping trip in New Orleans, Amy decided to continue her search during a visit back home. One of her childhood friends was working at a local bridal boutique and recommended she try on a Watters gown. "I was there with my mom and my grandmother, and we all loved the dress the minute I put it on," she says. "The dress was made of a shimmery silk scalloped lace, cut outs, and a light lining. It felt perfect for an outdoor wedding. My grandmother especially loved it, and sadly she passed before our wedding. It was special knowing she helped me pick out the dress, and while she couldn't be there on the day of the wedding, she had been there to see me in my gown."
Amy accessorized with crystal Christian Louboutin shoes that mirrored the sheer shimmer in her Watters gown. For jewelry, she wore her mother's diamond earrings, a tennis bracelet (a wedding gift from her parents), and her grandmother's vintage ring.
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The First Look
Amy and Garrison took photos around the property, and celebrated with bubbly and their bridal party pre-ceremony. Garrison donned a black Hugo Boss tuxedo with cufflinks that were a gift from his bride.
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"I gave my bridesmaids a photo with the colors I was using and asked them to pick one and buy the dress of their choice," explains Amy of the pastel range. "We used Pinterest to make sure they would match, and I think they really pulled it off!"
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The Flower Girls
Amy's three younger cousins served as flower girls, wearing simple white dresses from Nordstrom and blue patent leather shoes. "The icing on the cake was their adorable flower crowns!" Amy recalls.
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The Ceremony Location
Ferns and flowers outlined the ceremony space where wooden chairs were set on either side of the aisle, shaded by trees. At the end of the path was a gate decorated with pastel blooms, and idyllic views of the large pond.
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The bride's sister needlepointed a Magnolia ring pillow—which she previously used at her own wedding—and passed on to Amy. "We hope this pillow becomes a family tradition," Amy says.
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"I worked with a family jeweler to have Amy's engagement ring custom made," says Garrett, "We had several options, but I went with a brilliant cut on a thin gold band, because I knew Amy would love a really classic ring." The couple's wedding bands are from Jack Sutton—Amy's a u-set diamond eternity band, and Garrison's a custom knife-edge gold band.
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The Bride's Entrance
"Canon in D" played as Amy's father walked her down the aisle, with her dramatic veil covering her face.
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Amy and Garrison exchanged traditional Christian vows as Jesus Rivera officiated. The newlyweds' French bulldog, Louie, was also an important part of the ceremony. "He walked—or should I say pulled—the ring bearers down the aisle," the bride recalls.
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After their first kiss as husband and wife, Amy and Garrison recessed to "Wedding March" by Felix Mendelssohn as guests tossed lavender.
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The Cocktail Hour
Following the service, guests enjoyed exploring the property as cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were passed. A his-and-hers whiskey bar and an oyster bar made it even more fun. Another highlight was the cigar rolling station. "It was a great surprise that went along perfectly with the whiskey," says the groom, "I love that I got to keep some of them, to enjoy and remember the occasion."
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The Escort Cards
Maria Helena calligraphed the blue escort cards with gold ink, which were tied with ribbons to an iron gate.
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Elizabeth Bailey designed the reception space, which was inside a tent. Round and square tables were topped with gold and pink linens and gold-rimmed plates, and longer farm tables were adorned with vintage tableware. The dance floor was complete with lush greenery hanging overhead.
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"My florist nailed the romantic English garden vibe I was going for!" the bride says of the pastel centerpieces. "I wanted them spilling out all over the place and looking like they were just picked." Wicked Willow alternated between high and low arrangements.
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The Place Setting
Hemstitch napkins tied with sky blue ribbon adorned each plate. Dinner began with Caprese salad, followed by family style hanger steak with bone marrow bordelaise, truffle French fries, cod with lemon butter sauce, and veggies, all prepared by Rouge Catering.
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The newlyweds danced to "At Last" by Etta James. "Not only because we had been dating since we were nineteen," says the bride, "but also because we're big fans of soul music." The bride then joined her father for a spin on the dance floor, before another special dance occurred: one between the groom and his mother. "We danced to my late father's favorite song, and was our way of honoring him at the wedding," Garrison says of John Lennon's "Imagine".
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"I loved the cake Lady Rose had in her wedding on Downton Abbey, so that was my reference point," explains Amy. The cake was almond flavor with Chantilly cream and berry filling with a fondant exterior. The local baker made beautiful designs, including a rendition of the couple's crest, and topped the confection with greenery. "Unfortunately, I didn't get but one bite at the wedding, but we'll have it again this September," notes the bride.
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Photography, Amelia Johnson Photography
Event planning, Elizabeth Bailey Weddings
Catering, Rouge Catering
Flowers, Wicked Willow
Officiant, Jesus Rivera
Calligraphy, Calligraphy by Maria Helena
Cake, Mary Elliot
Rentals, Loane Brothers
Bride's gown and veil, Watters
Bride's shoes, Christian Louboutin
Hair and Makeup, Alison Harper & Company
Flower Girl dresses, Nordstrom
Groom's suit and accessories, Hugo Boss