An Intimate, Monet-Inspired Wedding at a Connecticut Manor
Michelle Leonard and Rob Weiss met in 2013 through work connections and built a solid friendship. Two years later, when Michelle decided to participate in a triathlon, she enlisted Rob's bicyclist expertise to help her learn how to ride with clip-in cycling shoes. The pair bonded over bicycling and their friendship soon turned romantic. After three years of dating, the pair planned a trip to La Jolla, California, where they bought engagement rings for each other. "When I posted the picture on Facebook, everyone thought we eloped!" Michelle says.
But they hadn't yet made anything official. Michelle and Rob own a medical practice, so they knew they wanted to get married not far from their home in Westport, Connecticut. When their planner, Jenna Brooke from Ebb & Flow Events, showed them photos taken at Eolia Mansion at Harkness State Park in Waterford, Connecticut, the bride and groom were eager to secure a wedding date. "We knew it was the place for us," Michelle says. Located only about 90 minutes away, everyone stayed over for the weekend to maximize their time together.
Inspired by Monet's Water Lilies painting and a garden party aesthetic, they decided on a palette of gray, green, and blue hues. They invited just under 100 guests (and their therapy dog-in-training, Sonny) to join them on May 12, 2018, for their wedding along the Long Island Sound.
Michelle and Rob enlisted The Wells Makery to help them personalize their invitation suite, which featured custom sketches of a horse and a bicycle to reflect their favorite hobbies. The envelope liner featured an intricate sketch of the venue to give guests a glimpse of the big day, and their names were foil-stamped in gold for a metallic touch.
Welcome to the Wedding
Michelle and Rob wanted to offer special welcome gifts to all of their guests, featuring a hand-written thank you note for each. The men received a box with a candle and whiskey-infused caramels and chocolates, and the women were given linen bags that held bath salts, elderflower liquor, a deck of playing cards, and a book on the stars.
Do Not Disturb
Plenty of guests traveled to attend the wedding, so every welcome gift included a "Do Not Disturb" sign to use the next morning. The gift ensured everyone had the chance to rest after a night of dancing.
The Wedding Dress
Michelle fell in love with a bell-sleeved wedding dress by French designer Rime Arodaky. The off-the-shoulder gown featured polka dot details on the sleeves, and the look reminded her of something her mother would have worn.
Michelle paired her gown with black velvet Rene Caovilla heels with black crystal embellishments and a blue Stuart Weitzman clutch. Her sapphire earrings from Lux Bond and Green were chosen for a very special reason: They matched a ring her father had given her after her mother passed away. The meaningful pair also served as her something blue.
The Groom's Look
The First Look
Michelle and Rob agree that the first look (under a pergola on the grounds) was the most memorable moment of the entire day. "We felt like angels surrounded us as we shared the first look on our sacred day," the bride shares, "It became real at that moment."
Bridesmaids in Blue
Michelle's bridesmaids included her son's girlfriend, her two sisters, and her close friend, who happens to be their wedding planner's sister. Each woman wore a BHLDN dress in their favorite shade of blue and held bouquets that complemented each unique gown.
The couple's five-month-old Sheltie pup joined the couple for a few photos outside before the ceremony.
The groomsmen included Michelle's two sons, who wore gray suits, and a few of Rob's friends, who wore black, from The Black Tux. Each groomsman wore a bowtie, and Michelle's sons wore special bow ties made from peacock feathers.
A Circular Ceremony
In an effort to make their ceremony feel intimate, the couple opted to seat their 100 guests in a unique way. Underneath the draped tent, the pair stood front and center and had flower-covered chairs set up on either side of them for their bridal party. The rest of the attendees surrounded the couple in a circle, giving each a fantastic view of the bride and groom.
The Ceremony Details
Brooklyn Duo performed "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran as Michelle, accompanied by her two sons, walked down the aisle. The spiritual ceremony was officiated by a close family friend, the couple recited personal vows, and a verse from "Song of Solomon" was read. Then the newlyweds recessed to U2's "Beautiful Day."
A Photo Op
The rain finally cleared after the ceremony, giving photographer Rebecca Yale the opportunity to whisk the couple away for some seaside portraits. The only problem was that the newlyweds had to walk through the wet, muddy grass in order to get to the water. Luckily, Michelle had a shorter dress that she planned to change into for the reception.
Cocktails in the Mansion
Back at the mansion, guests moved inside for cocktail hour and a seated dinner before retreating to the tent for dancing. The mansion's staircase and fireplace mantle were adorned with beautiful installations of greenery accented with blue flowers.
Since Rob is an avid bicyclist (he's competed in the Tour de France a number of times!), bicycling has become an important aspect of the couple's relationship. Their signature drink was a mojito—a nod to the sip they shared on their first date—but was renamed the "Tour de Weiss Blueberry Mojito" based on the groom's last name. For a fun twist, bicycle-shaped cocktail stirrers went in each glass.
A Bucket List
In place of a traditional guest book, loved ones were prompted to write suggestions for the newlyweds' bucket list and general advice for their marriage.
Marble Escort Cards
Please Be Seated
Guests moved to the dining room for a seated dinner inside the manor. There, long banquet tables were topped with gray tablecloths.
The Place Settings
Marble-like chargers, blue and gold flatware, and blue wine goblets were set at each seat. Mimicking the look of the escort card tiles, table numbers were written on circular pieces of marble with gold lettering.
A Choreographed First Dance
A Sweet Ending
Even though neither Michelle nor Rob love cake, the pair decided to have a traditional cake cutting. Their caterers, Coastal Gourmet, created a single-tier white cake adorned with flowers. The evening came to a perfect ending with a large dessert bar that included gelato, chocolate-dipped fruit, and a flambé bar where guests grabbed bananas foster.
Photography, Rebecca Yale
Location, Eolia Mansion
Event planning and design, Ebb and Flow Events
Catering, Cake, and Desserts, Coastal Gourmet
Flowers, Sarah Saunders Studio
Invitation Suite, The Wells Makery
Escort Cards, Hanwriting
Calligraphy, Jordan Cotton
Bride's Gown, Rime Arodaky
Hair and Makeup: Cohl Katz
Bridesmaids' dresses, Bhldn
Groomsmen's suits: The Black Tux
Groom's Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo
Groomsmen's Bowties, Brackish
Bar Sign, Bespoke Designs
Bouquet Ribbon, Frou Frou Chic
Tent Draping, Ryan Designs