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Taylor Becker and Frankie Bennett met at a bat mitzvah in Minneapolis during the seventh grade. They eventually began dating, and a decade later, Frankie (a private equity consultant) and Taylor (who works in event planning) traded their jobs in Los Angeles for a year of traveling, and he proposed on the islands of Palawan in the Philippines. "Frankie's proposal was a scene out of The Bachelor! We took a sunset boat cruise to a small private island Frankie had rented for the evening, complete with an incredible chef. We wined and dined under the most stars we've ever seen and left the island engaged!" says Taylor, who was later shocked to learn that Frankie hid the ring in his backpack during their prior excursions to Africa, Australia, and Asia.
The pair eventually settled down in Chicago but chose to tie the knot in the mountainous landscape of Denver, Colorado, on September 16, 2017. One night before the nuptials, they hosted a cheerful rehearsal dinner at Blanc, an event space in the arts district of downtown Denver. "Since our Saturday festivities were taking place deep in the mountains of Larkspur at Crooked Willow Farms, we wanted something a bit more industrial and trendy in the city for Friday night," says Taylor. About 120 guests enjoyed farm-to-table cuisine, fall-inspired décor, and a bright color palette.
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Frankie wore a Ermenegildo Zegna ensemble, with jacket boasting a blue and black checkered pattern. He also donned a white shirt from the same designer and brown shoes from Barneys New York. "I went with no tie because I wanted to set a relaxed, warm, and open tone for the evening," says Frankie. "I wanted everyone to feel comfortable, and no tie was a subtle way of ratcheting down the formality of the evening."
Taylor decided on a retro-inspired look. "I love everything about the 60s and 70s, especially the fashion! I knew I wanted to emulate something timeless with a little bit of a Jackie Onassis twist," she says. Taylor's top from Lela Rose had a thick texture, metallic floral stitching, and an oversize bow in the back. She completed the ensemble with high-waisted and wide-legged cream pants, blush satin pumps by Manolo Blahnik, oversized pearl earrings borrowed from her mother-in-law, and a fitting hairdo. "I wanted the outfit to be feminine, flirty, and something other than a traditional white dress, while also playing with fall fabrics and setting a playful mood for the weekend. The oversized bow and mod feel made it one of my favorite outfits—I'm itching to wear it again!" she says.
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The bow on Taylor's white Lela Rose top created a bold design statement.
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After arriving by bus, guests entered the festivities to a cocktail hour on the back terrace of Blanc. Hanging bistro lights and a wooden buffet table complemented the natural décor of the event space. "With all of the work that went into this weekend, walking off of the bus and seeing the setup of the space for the first time and my vision coming to life was a real highlight of the day," says Taylor.
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The custom-designed round bar was stocked with liquor from Peak Beverage. Hops hanging on the edges added a whimsical touch. In the surrounding area, a DJ played oldies and feel-good songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
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Cheese and Charcuterie
The buffet table offered a charcuterie spread of cheeses, meats, crackers, vegetables, and homemade dipping sauces supplied by Catering by Design. "It perfectly set the tone for a fresh, delicious evening ahead," says Taylor.
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Guests loaded their appetizers onto white plates that also held wine glasses. "We had never seen this before—it was a total surprise to us the night of, and a genius idea by wedding planner Ashley Summers of Ashley Nicole Events and our catering company!" says Taylor.
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Taylor's two sisters, Morgan and Adison, served as the maids of honor the following day. They took a moment to pose with the bride-to-be during the rehearsal dinner.
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"Wedding planner Ashley Summers had done a market-inspired event at Blanc, and we were so excited to take on our own twist of it," says Taylor. They decided to set up a "market table" with overflowing, colorful vegetables and a wooden "T&F" sign.
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The Dinner Tables
According to Taylor, "We knew Friday night would set the tone for the wedding on Saturday, so we wanted to make sure it was well curated, unique, and special to us as a couple. Our rehearsal dinner was the perfect way to welcome our family and bridal party and incorporate a lot of color, creativity, and playfulness that differed from our aesthetic on Saturday." Inside the venue, white-washed wooden farmhouse tables and chairs coordinated with the rustic design of the space.
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The tables were adorned with vegetables like artichokes, carrots, and cabbage. Florist Newberry Brothers also added calla lilies, spray roses, tulips, and green trick dianthus for a pop of color. "The market-inspired decor was intended to make our guests feel like they were at home, just enjoying a family dinner with an elegant flair," says Taylor.
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A Farm-Fresh Meal
As avid foodies, Taylor and Frankie decided to serve farm-to-table cuisine. Dinner by Catering by Design included grilled peach with burrata to start and then savory hand pies with mushrooms and green apples, pumpkin pierogies, arugula salad, julienne herb-grilled chicken breast, and deconstructed French dip sandwiches.
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Each place setting also included a pumpkin-, apple-, or blueberry-flavored pie pop by Yours Truly Cupcake as a nod to the couple's Minnesota roots. The sweet treats also doubled as escort cards. "We used the pie pops as our seating indicators, and assigned guests based on their relationships to each other," says Taylor. "We wanted everyone to have fun and enjoy their seatmates!"
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Greenery and black-and-white photos decorated a white wall in the room. "We picked a few of our favorite photos from our 11 years together—from middle school to college at USC, our time living in Los Angeles, traveling the world, and our life now in Chicago," says Taylor. To add to the sentimentality, the couple's siblings, parents, relatives, and best friends gave toasts, which brought them to tears and laughter.
Looking out over the room and seeing loved ones all together and smiling was Frankie's favorite part. "That was magic," he says.
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A Peteybird cart served mini ice cream sandwiches in a variety of flavors: chocolate mint, peanut butter and chocolate, sugar and strawberry, key lime graham cracker, and s'mores. "After dinner we ended up ordering one of each!" says Taylor.
The couple then retired for the night, preparing for their next-day nuptials at Crooked Willow Farms. According to Taylor, "Our rehearsal dinner was the perfect way to kick off our festivities and really represent us as a couple. From our favorite foods to music, colorful and warm hues to incredibly personal, sentimental and moving speeches (including a video made by some of our college friends) the evening emulated us and our love for each other, family, and friends."
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Photography, Rachel Havel
Event planning, Ashley Nicole Events
Catering, Catering by Design
Flowers, Newberry Brothers
Videographer, Rising Moon Films
Menu illustration, Kathryn Selbert
Music, A Music Plus Entertainment
Bride's shirt, Lela Rose
Bride's shoes, Manolo Blahnik
Groom's suit and shirt, Ermenegildo Zegna
Groom's shoes, Barneys New York
Lighting, Amora Group
Transportation and lodging, Hilton Denver Inverness
Ice cream cart, peteybird Ice Cream
Pie pops, Yours Truly Cupcake