A Romantic Blue Wedding at an Outdoor Restaurant in New York
Stephanie and Ben
Stephanie Ellis Brown and Ben Brown were married on April 30, 2008, but had another three years later, on May 29, 2011. The New York City-based actress and writer/director/producer -- who met in acting school -- first tied the knot at City Hall after just nine months of dating. They decided to get married "again" and invited friends from all over the world, including the bride's native Australia, to the bigger celebration in a picturesque countryside setting.
Ice Cream Social designed the invitation after looking through bags of beads, photos, clippings, and papers that Stephanie and Ben had collected. It incorporated a monogram and an illustration based on a picture of the couple in India holding up peace signs. The floral border was inspired by the ceremony decor and the logo at the top of the invitation was reworked onto a tag that hung from twine wrapped around the suite.
The event took place at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a farm-to-table restaurant situated on an agricultural center in Pocantico Hills, New York. Located just 30 miles north of Manhattan, the working farm was the perfect spot for the couple's rustic, bohemian reception.
Stephanie wore a bright blue dress the first time around so she went in a more muted direction for round two. She paired a light-gray Lanvin gown from Kleinfeld with Lanvin shoes, Hannah Clark rose-gold hoop earrings with black pave diamonds and small fresh pearls, a silk-and-gold threaded bracelet from ABC Carpet and Home, a Hannah Clark feather-shaped bracelet, and a twisted gold ring by Carla Caruso with black diamonds from Lori McLean (the same store her engagement ring and the original set of wedding bands came from). She carried a bouquet of peonies, snowball garden roses, blue nigella, mini thistles, unripened blueberries, and flowering clematis vine, made by Poppies and Posies. Ben had his three-piece suit made at Freeman's Sporting Club. A Hamilton shirt, Alexander Olch tie, and John Varvatos shoes completed his ensemble.
Family member's boutonnieres and corsages were made with unripened blueberries, mini thistle, ornamental oregano, small peony blooms, and spirea.
Something For Everyone
Given their shared appreciation for yoga and meditation, Stephanie and Ben chose to add a spiritual element to their ceremony. Each guest wear a Mala garland, which represented the circle of being present. Stephanie and her mother made all the necklaces themselves with Buri seed beads and Griffin Silk Beading Cord.
Stephanie and Ben's spiritual vow-renewal ceremony focused on their commitment in front of the people they love most. The 64 people in attendance sat a U-shaped configuration, with the bride and groom and their families in the middle.
A Special Touch
Hannah Clark designed a necklace for Ben. An oxidized silver chain with rose-gold clasp held a pendant that had two Ouroboros (snakes swallowing their own tails, which represent eternity and continuous change) joined together. Each contained tiny black diamond eyes and the bride's and the groom's birthstones on the heads. Stephanie wore a white-gold ring in the same serpentine form. It incorporated stones from an old ring of her grandmother's.
The Ring Box
Stephanie presented the necklace to Ben to wear as a representation of their vow renewals. Ben gave Stephanie a vintage diamond ring from Doyle and Doyle. Both tokens were carried down the aisle on a rough piece of crystal quartz nestled in a rectangular ceramic container filled with moss.
Sammy Cagnina, a good friend of the couple's, presided over the ceremony. He spoke to how the pair define marriage and to the recommitment they were making to each other. Their readings echoed the importance of love and devotion. "We tried to match each one to the spirit of the person reading it," Stephanie says. "It felt really touching that people got up and spoke from their hearts -- in some cases barefoot on the grass. There was a certain earnestness to the proceedings."
Sealed With A Kiss
The couple embraces, after exchanging vows they wrote themselves.
After the ceremony, Stephanie and Ben wandered around the gorgeous grounds with their photographer, Robert Sukrachand. As dusk approached, they joined their guests for cocktail hour.
Stephanie and Ben, vegetarians, liked the idea of inviting their guests to join them for an amazing meat-free feast. "If there's a place to eat a vegetarian meal that would satisfy everyone, it's Blue Hill," Stephanie says.
The al fresco cocktail hour made the most of the day's glorious weather.
Outside, large arrangements of white peonies, snowball garden rose, white scabiosa, unripened blueberries, artichokes, oregano, spirea, mini thistle, seeded eucalyptus, and veronica enhanced the natural beauty of the landscape.
Each table was labeled with a significant element of the couple's relationship. Rubber stamps, made through Casey Rubber Stamps, were used on eco-friendly escort cards. Guests' names were added using a typewriter Stephanie bought from Brady and Kowalski, and the cards were displayed on a bed of moss with delicate florets of white scabiosa, veronica, and miniature thistles.
After cocktail hour, everyone moved to the private dining room for dinner.
The card with each table's icon was placed on a slice of wood next to a centerpiece of peonies, snowball garden roses, blue nigella, white scabiosa, unripened blueberries, oregano, and spirea. Small clipboards with menu cards were set at each place. Stephanie made place cards by typing guests' names on mini kraft-paper hang tags, which were tied to the clipboards with brown baker's twine. The menu included greenhouse greens and herbs with a fresh farm egg; handmade cavatelli with mushrooms and spinach; and cauliflower "steak" with carrots and grains. A Sacher cake (an Austrian dessert consisting of chocolate cake, apricot jam, and delicate chocolate icing) paired with salted caramel ice cream ended the meal alongside a selection of petits fours. Blue Hill at Stone Barns paired each course with an appropriate wine.
The Guest "Book"
A vintage desk, set up with the couple's Royal "Quiet de Luxe" model typewriter and old framed photos, served as a sign-in spot where guests could type notes or write their well wishes. Also on display? A book made by a friend featured quotes sent in by guests.
The bride incorporated her love of vintage cameras by passing around a collection of toy cameras and Polaroids throughout the evening.
Mr. and Mrs. Ellis danced to "Tema d'Amore' by Ennio Morricone from one of their favorite movies, Cinema Paradiso, as played by the Matt Munisteri Trio.
The band played gypsy jazz, ragtime, and Americana musicduring the reception.
The design from the invite tag was stamped onto small notebooks from Scout Books, which were set out in a rustic box from The Upper Rust, a favorite antique store of the bride's in lower Manhattan. Little boxes of handmade chocolates (passionfruit for her, dark chocolate for him) were arranged on a wire stand for guests to take.