This Christmas-Themed Vermont Wedding Was 20 Years in the Making
Lauren Koprowski and Christian Bodner first met when they were nine years old and their parents owned ski homes in Vermont. Despite the fact that they had crushes on each other throughout childhood—and even though Christian's mom wished on a Thanksgiving wishbone that the two would couple up—the pair didn't start officially dating until about 20 years later.
Once Christian popped the question with a gold solitaire during a weekend away in Newport, Rhode Island, the New York City-dwelling pair didn't waste any time planning their winter wonderland celebration near the Vermont slopes where they first met. On December 9, 2017, just eight months after the proposal, the bride and groom exchanged non-religious vows in front of 161 of their nearest and dearest in a red barn at The Inn at Manchester, where a family friend who's also a judge officiated.
After the ceremony and cocktails at the barn, the newlyweds took off on a sleigh ride to their reception at the Equinox Golf Resort and Spa. And what a ride it was. "We shut down traffic, and the horse took us from the barn to the entrance of the reception," says Lauren. "It felt like we were inside a perfect Vermont slow globe and it was the most romantic moment of our lives." Once there, everyone gathered for dinner filled with local touches, like Vermont cheddar sprinkled on top of kale salad, and a few seasonal elements, including letters to Santa and plenty of plaid décor.
A Gold Solitaire
Christian proposed to Lauren with a round gold solitaire diamond on a trip to Rhode Island, where the pair had visited the year before and both wimped out on saying those three words. "We sat on a bench on the cliff walk and looked at each other both wanting to say 'I love you,' but feared it was too soon," Lauren explains. "Of course, weeks after we couldn't hold it in and both laughed about how badly we wanted to tell each other. So, one year later on the rainiest, coldest spring day Christian found a moment where the rain stopped, took me to that same bench and asked me to spend the rest of his life with him."
Lauren, a former design director, designed the couple's seasonal invitations, which were gold-foil stamped on hunter green paper, then enclosed in a sheer white vellum jacket with an embossed velvet seal that had the couple's monogram on it. "I wanted the invitations to feel wintery, upscale, and quintessentially Vermont," Lauren says. The bride and groom stayed up late for a full week assembling the suites. "He was already an amazing husband before he was officially mine," Lauren adds.
Wintry Welcome Bags
Getting Ready in Style
Lauren got ready with her bridesmaids, who were decked out in matching plaid pajamas. "The whole day was fun, it was so nice to be with all the girls before the big event to laugh, joke, and reminisce about our single days," Lauren says. "And hotel guests loved seeing a group of nine girls frolicking around the grounds in plaid pajamas!"
Christian spent the morning with his groomsmen, listening to country music, drinking local beers, and giving his guys custom green coolers with their names on them.
Atypical Bride and Groom Gifts
Instead of jewelry, the ski-loving pair gifted each other lift tickets on their big day. "It was so much better than earrings or a watch. We have always chosen experiences over gifts," Lauren says. "I'm so glad we got a season on the slopes together."
Her Red Shoes
Lauren had a serious shoe vision and must have tried on thousands of different velvet shoes as she searched for a pair that matched her other velvet touches. She eventually found her sole-mate: a pair from SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker in garnet red velvet, which she wore all night long, and continues to wear with jeans today.
"After being a bridesmaid many, many times I loved the idea of asking the girls to wear a color and pick whichever dress they wanted," Lauren says. "Red was flattering on everyone and helped bring Christmas spirit." The nine 'maids chose from several designers, include Asos, Bhldn, C/Meo Collective, Halston, and Ralph Lauren.
Berry Nice Boutonnières
Chris's best buds wore springs of red berries on their lapels.
A Seasonally-Inspired Bouquet
Lauren's bouquet, created by Tara Pollio Event Design, contained a mix of white roses, ranunculus, anemones, and greenery, but got a pop of color thanks to a few red roses. The arrangement was tied together with a beautiful red velvet ribbon.
Their First Look
Even though the week was unseasonably warm, it started to snow as soon as the couple stepped outside for their first look, she in her Carolina Herrera wedding dress, and he in a black shawl-collar tux and plaid bow tie. "Right as I walked down, everyone was screaming 'It's snowing, Laur!'" says the bride. "As I approached Christian I was so excited to see him and the photographer asked me to tap on his shoulder, but he didn't turn around. He finally did, and we kissed and laughed. His face was priceless!"
Portraits in the Snow
Lauren and Christian took advantage of the fresh snowfall and posed for pictures outside the Equinox Golf Club & Spa until they couldn't feel their fingers.
The Indoor Ceremony
A Plaid Pillow
Lauren's wedding band made its way down the aisle on a custom tartan ring pillow. A second pillow carried Christian's ring, which Lauren had engraved with their hybrid nickname and a loving sentiment: "Bodski Forever."
The Flower Girls
The bride's three nieces wore David's Bridal dresses with tartan sashes (made by Lauren's mom) and walked down the aisle with holly balls attached to red ribbon.
The Bride's Parents
Lauren's parents, married for 40 years, both walked her down the aisle that day. "I never questioned this as both of my parents have had equal parts in growing and loving me," Lauren says. "Looking back, I am so glad I made this decision because sadly my dad passed away eight months after our wedding. I am so grateful to have had that moment with my two best friends."
The Dog Walker
The couple's pup, Dylan, was dressed up for the occasion and walked down the aisle with Lauren's nephew, Riley, who wore a complementary ensemble. Riley has always been obsessed with Dylan and loves playing with him. "He was probably the first person we asked to be in our wedding party," Lauren admits.
Sealed with a Kiss
A family friend (who is a judge) officiated the slightly spiritual and highly personalized ceremony. Too afraid that they would cry if they wrote their own vows, the couple chose to read traditional ones before sealing them with a kiss.
A Sweet Recessional
The newlyweds walked back up the aisle to a string version of "All You Need Is Love," a nod to Lauren's favorite movie, Love Actually, which also takes place around Christmas.
Cocktail Hour Sips and Bites
Immediately after the ceremony, everyone mingled near the barn for cocoa and apple cider—with an option for rum—and other cold-weather treats: bacon-wrapped dates, beef sliders, pigs in a blanket, and a selection of Vermont cheeses.
Ring My Bell
Lauren's mom tied each of the 200 bells that guests rang to send off Lauren and Christian as they hopped into a horse-drawn sleigh to the reception.
A Sleigh Ride
The pair rode in the snow all the way to the reception. "It was out of this world, like something you would only see on TV, but it was really happening," Christian says.
A Guestbook Alternative
In lieu of a traditional guestbook, guests signed an antique sled with permanent marker. "We loved the idea of something our kids could use one day and we could display it on our front porch around Christmas or under the tree," Lauren says.
Red Escort Cards
Julia Grace of Papersoul used gold ink to calligraph names on each card, then finished the look with a wax seal that displayed table numbers.
A Ballroom Reception
Everyone took their places among tables set with greenery, pine cones, red berries, white roses, ranunculus, and magnolia leaves. Taper candles gave off a soft glow. The room itself was also dressed with local foliage and lots of candlelight.
A Holiday-Inspired Element
Guests dropped cards in a cheeky "Letters to Santa" box that Lauren found at Target.
A French Touch
"We aren't big cake people and when we saw a croquembouche we loved that it looked like a tree," Lauren says of the French dessert, which was served alongside cake and pies.
The First Dance
The pair swayed on the dance floor to "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel because they both love the way the song represents their relationship. "It was the first thing I noticed about us being together, it was wonderful, yet easy," Lauren says.
At the reception, Christian surprised his bride with the band singing her all-time favorite Christmas song, Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." It not only kicked the celebrating into gear, but got the holiday season underway.
Each guest went home with a tiny bottle of Vermont maple syrup from Sugar Bob's. "It's not Vermont without it," says Lauren.
A Post-Wedding Ski
The next day, the couple took to the slopes for an epic photo shoot—in a tuxedo and wedding dress—at the mountain where it all began. Instead of the typical hotel brunch, they hosted guests at the ski lodge at Bromley Mountain, where they could bring their mimosas outside and cheer the newlyweds on as they skied down the mountain.
Photography, Rodeo & Co. Photography
Ceremony Location, Inn At Manchester
Reception, Catering, and Cake, The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa
Flowers and lighting, Tara Pollio Event Design
Music, The Sultans of Swing
Rentals, BBJ Linen
Bride's gown, Carolina Herrera
Hair, Patty Bassett
Makeup, Flawless Cosmetic Design
Flower Girl dresses, David's Bridal
Menswear, The Black Tux
Transportation, Lively's Livery
Brunch and Day-after ski location, Bromley Mountain