One Couple's Après Ski-Themed Wedding in Philadelphia
Connor Insee's original plan to propose to Claire Duffy—whom he met at a work conference about a year-and-a-half prior—involved dropping to one knee on the slopes during a ski trip to Alaska. The perfect moment, he thought, would present itself directly after the duo's final run, but he waited too long. "After a long day, Claire was done skiing and I couldn't get her out for one last run, so the ring spent a long, unnecessary day in my pocket," he recalls, of his first failed plan.
It was time to improvise. That same night, on a snowy walk to dinner, Connor, the COO of a nonprofit, led Claire, an event planner, onto a frozen pond, where he popped the question with a diamond that once belonged to his grandmother. Claire quickly accepted her new fianceé's proposal and the vintage diamond, which had been reimagined in a modern setting.
The couple carried the cozy, warm essence of their engagement directly into their December 2, 2017, wedding day. Their cold weather-themed celebration took place at Philadelphia's Fairmount Park Horticulture Center and was filled with a plethora of ski motifs, from a ski-pole monogram (the symbol appeared on the pair's paper goods!) to buffalo-plaid details. In front of an archway adorned with white flowers and branches, the two exchanged self-penned vows while 180 of their closest friends and family bore witness, then spent the remainder of the evening dancing the night away under hanging faux snowflakes. "It was a winter wonderland, filled with family, friends, and love," Claire says, of the couple's big day. Her groom agrees: "We brought the outdoors in for the most special night."
The couple's Papertree Studio invitations were designed to feel "clean and simple," says their event planner Shannon Wellington, who helped them execute their wedding while they lived on the opposite side of the country. The suite's ski-pole monogram set the tone for the chalet-inspired affair. A plaid envelope liner was the finishing touch.
Welcome to Philly
Guests received a thoughtful gift upon their arrival. Welcome bags included bottles of Perrier, chocolate-covered pretzels (a nod to Philly's famous pretzels), and a "Just in Case" bag that included hangover remedies. A note from the couple introduced a personal element.
Sue Davis of Fresh Design Florists transformed the tropical greenhouse of the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center into a wintry scene with lots of white flowers and branches. The idea of bringing the outdoors in, says Claire, was a mutual agreement between the bride and groom. "When we first got engaged, Connor said he couldn't imagine getting married anywhere indoors," she adds. "But as an event planner, I couldn't imagine getting married anywhere that didn't have a solid rain contingency! We weren't wild about the backup indoor spaces of any of the outdoor venues we looked at, so a giant greenhouse seemed like a great compromise."
A First Look in the Park
To take advantage of winter's limited daylight, the pair did a first look in Logan Square Park, which is where the bride debuted her Allure Bridals shift wedding dress. Connor, who wore a Ring Jacket suit, says his favorite part of the entire day was seeing Claire, smiling, walking toward the fountain in her bridal gown.
Claire asked two sisters, three friends from college, a childhood pal, and now-sister-in-law to stand by her side as bridesmaids. They all wore white lace tops and dark green skirts from Jenny Yoo. Buffalo-plaid scarves from Gap kept them warm (and fit the celebration's ski-chalet motif!) on the blustery December day.
A Cozy Crew
With These Rings
The couple exchanged simple, matching platinum bands during their ceremony. Papertree Studios also designed their tiny vow books, which the couple used to jot down their hand-written promises.
A pair of antique skis nestled into the ceremony arch was a nod to the couple's Alaska engagement.
Guests were presented with square-shaped booklets adorned with an evergreen motif at the ceremony. The programs listed the bridal party and the celebration's order of events.
As guests entered the ceremony space, each grabbed a bag of water-soluble "snow" to toss after the vows. A custom sticker on each bag helped fit the theme.
A Customized Ceremony
The pair personally crafted the non-religious, candle-lit ceremony that their mutual friend, Rob, officiated. Their two readings included "Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog," by Taylor Mali and "A Blessing for a Marriage" by James Dillet Freeman. "It felt so intimate and personal," says the bride.
The pair leaned in for a kiss after they were officially named husband and wife.
Let It Snow
Attendees tossed their faux snow into the air as the newlyweds recessed up the aisle to The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love."
On-Theme Escort Cards
Connor and Claire reimagined traditional escort cards, replacing them with "lift tickets," instead. Papertree Studio designed the notes' simple mountain-view graphic. The cards were hung on a large wood-plank wall with a laser-cut quote that read, "The mountains are calling and I must go."
A Wintry Reception
"We draped off the reception space from the cocktail hour space in the Horticulture Center," Claire says. "I loved that it provided another 'reveal' for guests when it was time for dinner." As for the tabletop décor? The duo's rectangular-shaped tables were covered with suede runners and green-and-white centerpieces.
In the Round
The round tables, on the other hand, were draped in taupe linen from La Tavola Fine Linen Rental and set with wood lanterns and small accent florals. Overhead, handmade antler chandeliers dripped with greens and white buds.
Checkered Place Settings
Each table setting featured acacia wood chargers and buffalo check napkins. Vellum menu cards, accented with sprigs of rosemary, displayed the night's family-style meal: braised short ribs, seared scallops, and lots of seasonal veggies.
One Amazing Cake
"I'm not usually a cake person, but Connor loves it," Claire says. "When we went to our tasting, I realized how wrong I had been all these years!" The four-tier Nutmeg Cake Design confection featured three flavors: carrot cake with cream cheese pecan filling, vanilla chocolate chunk cake with mocha filling, and lemon cake with raspberry filling. All of the layers were sheathed in vanilla buttercream and white fondant that was piped to look like a cable-knit sweater.
Dance Floor Details
Wooden snowflakes and fairy lights dangled over the dance floor to transform the space into a winter wonderland.
Claire and her dad (who walked her down the aisle during the ceremony) took a spin of their own after the bride and groom shared a dance to "Leather and Lace" by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley.
Photography, Hudson Nichols Photography
Location, Fairmount Park Horticulture Center
Event planning, Shannon Wellington
Flowers, Fresh Designs Florist
Stationery, Papertree Studio
Cake, Nutmeg Cake Design
Music, The Nines
Hair and Makeup, ONLO Beauty
Bridesmaids' attire, Jenny Yoo
tops and skirts Gap wraps
Groom's suit, Ring Jacket
Lighting and Draping, Eventions Productions
Transportation, Krapf's Coaches
Photo booth, Poser Photobooth
Signage, Ever Laser