More than a decade after meeting as teenagers, this couple tied the knot surrounded by friends and family from all over the world.
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For Melissa Eggert and Duncan James, the first time was the charm: They met in London when she was a 16-year-old high school student and he was an 18-year-old pro rugby player, and though they broke up after less than a year when she moved back to America, they never forgot each other.
More than a decade later they reconnected—Duncan was living in Vancouver at the time, while Melissa was based in Nashville—and "the rest is history!" says Melissa. She joined him in Canada and two years later he surprised her with a proposal followed by dinner with their closest friends and family. As a professional event planner, Melissa was up to the challenge of styling and coordinating their wedding herself, choosing The Manor House in Littleton, Colorado, as the setting of their big day because of its blend of "classic elegance and mountain chic." Though the spot was local to the couple, who live in Denver, the majority of their 110 guests flew in from around the country and the world for the July 14, 2018, wedding—including from New Zealand (where Duncan was born and raised), Qatar, Finland, England, and Canada.
"What was most special about our wedding was bringing together our friends and family from all across the world to celebrate with us," Melissa says. "As we looked out over the long communal farm tables with candles glowing on the faces of all those we loved, we couldn't help but feel that was the most memorable few seconds of the evening. It was surreal and beautiful."
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Melissa and Duncan chose a black-and-white invitation suite from Minted that fit their sophisticated style, thanks to its elegant script and a high-contrast color scheme. The bride's mother, a graphic designer, created a custom rugby-inspired logo that included the couple's initials, which was then printed on the back flap of envelopes by Envelopes.com. Calligrapher Stefanie Hofmeister addressed the front of the cards with a combination of script and block text.
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The couple invested in Colorado-centric welcome bags with everything their guests would have needed for their weekend stay in Denver—first aid supplies, essential oil wipes, local chips and chocolate, alkaline water, beer, canned wine, and branded party cups. "I had everything designed and printed through ForYourParty.com—a great resource!" notes the bride. "We wanted everyone to feel taken care of while they were with us."
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The bride didn't love the look of classic getting-ready robes for her bridesmaids, so she sourced long button-down shirts from Cloth & Stone and added the girls' last names in felt letters on the back instead. "I had the girls wear whatever they wanted to get ready in, and we threw these shirts on when we got to the suite to get our makeup done," she says. "They were a huge hit!"
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Her Dream Dress
Melissa started her wedding dress search with a specific look in mind: "The classic boho bride with a flower crown," she says. But as she narrowed down her style preferences, she realized that her gown should be an extension of her everyday look, which she describes as "simple, classic, and elegant with a touch of modern." When she tried on a silk Alexandra Grecco slip dress, she was sold. "I loved the dress because it was timeless, effortlessly chic, and most importantly I felt like myself—and I knew Duncan would absolutely love it too. I was right!" Her veil, from Emma and Grace, had a scalloped lace edge that added a vintage touch to the rest of her look; custom moonstone-and-gold jewelry, also from Emma and Grace, had scalloped edges that mimicked the veil.
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As for her bridesmaids' dresses, Melissa didn't just choose the style: She went one step further and purchased them, too. "One of my dreams with my wedding was to take care of everyone as much as possible," she says. "I built into the budget an entire wardrobe section, not just for me, but for my bridesmaids, as well. We took care of their dresses, a facial, hair, and makeup for the big day. The girls celebrated Duncan and I so well, it was the least I could do!" The winning look: A high-necked, white lace cocktail dress with a nude underlay that Melissa found at Lulus for less than $100. "It flattered all body types and the girls looked gorgeous," she says.
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Duncan and his groomsmen kept it classic with black tuxedos rented from The Black Tux. "They were tailored enough to look modern. The men looked so handsome," Melissa says. To complete their outfits, Duncan gave each of his friends customized initial cufflinks from Etsy and a cigar box that included a pair of sunglasses, a pocket square, suspenders, and tequila: "Basically a party in a box," says the bride.
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As an ironic twist, Duncan also gave each of his groomsmen a pair of American flag socks: "Duncan's groomsmen were from Canada, New Zealand, and England," says Melissa. "None of his groomsmen were American!"
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Father and Daughter
Melissa's father walked her down the aisle to "Songbird" by Eva Cassidy. The bride carried a loose green-and-white bouquet from Flora by Nora. "We went with neutral tones and Nora picked these exquisite flowers I had never seen before to complete all the bouquets," says Melissa. "I loved how they felt a little unexpectedly wild, yet so elegant in the space."
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The ceremony took place behind the Manor House—a building that reminded Melissa of her time living in Nashville—in an outdoor spot that offered endless views of the Rocky Mountain foothills. The surrounding vistas had a major influence on the couple's vision for the ceremony and reception décor: "We are so blessed with incredible scenery and I wanted that to take center stage," she says, "so I went with what I'll call mountain modern—it was minimalistic and elegant with a hint of rustic."
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Love in the Air
The couple designed a ceremony that incorporated traditional and unexpected liturgy as "a reflection of our mutual faith in God and a celebration of love," says Melissa. They asked friend Jack Woolnough to perform the service, which incorporated both of their backgrounds. "It was important that we honored the commitment we were making before God, and also communicated a grander message of love to our friends and family," Melissa says.
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Husband and Wife
After the ceremony, the couple shimmied their way down the aisle to the song "Slice of Heaven" by New Zealand musician Dave Dobbyn. "The best part was, no one had really heard of it, so it was more of a fun inside joke for Duncan and I to dance out to together," says Melissa.
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While the couple posed for post-ceremony portraits, guests sipped cocktails and played lawn games on the front patio of the Manor House. Moscow Mules (the bride's drink of choice) were dressed up with custom printed flags, coasters, and napkins from ForYourParty.com.
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Before dinner was served, guests nibbled on two kinds of canapés, each inspired by the bride and groom. The "Ode to Colorado" was Palisade peaches with prosciutto and balsamic drizzle in honor of Melissa's Denver hometown, while Jamie Oliver's sausage rolls—a favorite of Duncan's—were an "Ode to England" and a shoutout to the couple's meeting place.
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Personalized Escort Cards
Calligraphed escort cards, mounted with gold pushpins on a black board that Duncan built, offered guests a sentimental surprise when they found their name: Instead of just a table number, each card included a message from the couple. "We wanted to thank everyone for being part of our lives, so instead of place cards, we wrote everyone a hand-written note," says Melissa. "It was a beautiful moment to see everyone read their cards as they went to their tables."
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Farm Tables and Family Style
Though the Manor House offered their own round tables and chairs, Melissa was set on renting farm tables and cross-back chairs she found at Colorado Party Rentals. "I wanted it to feel like one big family, so we set the room in long tables and had the food passed family style," she says. "Everyone got to serve the person next to them and it was a great way for everyone to meet."
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Classic white dinnerware and silver utensils stood out against the dark wood of the rustic farm tables. Knot-tied gray napkins—a more modern version of traditional folds—were set on each plate, above menus printed from Minted. "We went with crowd-pleasers to fill our guests' bellies," says Melissa, including grilled salmon with pineapple chow chow and flank steak with chimichurri. Low centerpieces from Flora by Nora allowed guests to easily chat across the table while adding a variety of colors and textures. "She has all these little pieces she used on the tables to bring them to life," says Melissa. "Small ceramic pots, antlers, votives, all adorned with her flowers."
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To open the dance floor, the newlyweds chose "First Try" by Johnnyswim—a song that had made an immediate impression on the couple when they first heard it at a concert years before. "It's about getting it right on the first try," says Melissa. "Duncan and I were each other's first loves and the lyrics resonate with us. It's also got fun beat and by the end of the song, we had the whole room clapping along with us!"
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The cake was a labor of love from Stefanie Russell, a friend of the couple, who's in the process of starting her own cake-making business. "She baked it from scratch in her Airbnb a few days before the wedding and it was absolutely perfect—peach melba and Champagne!" says Melissa. Fresh flowers, leaves, and macarons completed the confection.
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Cone and Get It
While Melissa and Duncan cut the cake to honor tradition, they treated their guests to after-dinner treats with a Happy Cones ice cream truck. The "New Zealand-style soft serve" ice cream truck offered two flavors—seasonal berry and Hokey Pokey, a combination of a New Zealand candy bar crushed with vanilla. "It was delicious and I really wished I had eaten more ice cream if my dress would have allowed it!" says Melissa.
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A Shimmering Send-Off
The streamers that Melissa ordered from Amazon the week before the wedding provided the photographic impact she was looking for—but weren't as essential as she'd expected. "Honestly, this send-off was more cosmetic, because we rode the bus with everyone to the after-party!" says Melissa. "We loved that we shut down the dance floor with all of our friends and snuck onto the bus with them all to downtown afterwards. It was casual and so fun."
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Photography, Mike Cassimatis
Location and Catering, The Manor House
Event planning, Melissa Eggert of Miller Tanner Associates
Flowers, Flora by Nora
Videography, Caleb Clayton Films
Calligraphy, Stefanie Hofmeister
Music, Masterpiece DJ
Rentals, Colorado Party Rentals
Bride's gown, Alexandra Grecco
Bride's accessories, Emma and Grace veil and jewelry; Betsey Johnson shoes
Hair, Leah Remacle of Matthew Morris Salon
Makeup, Alchemy Face Bar
Bridesmaids' dresses, Lulu's
Flower Girl dresses, Monsoon
Groom's and groomsmen's suits, The Black Tux
Groom's cufflinks, Etsy
Ice Cream Truck, Happy Cones