Town ordinance laws required these brides to turn their dance floor into a silent disco for their 230 guests at their coastal Massachusetts celebration.
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New Yorkers Emma MacDonald, left, and Irene O'Brien met playing rugby at Boston University in 2011. A year later, the pair shared their first date in a bookstore—six years after that, Emma brought Irene to their favorite independent bookstore on Martha's Vineyard to recreate the day. She designed a book that recounted their love story and hid it in the bookshelves. Once Irene found it, the couple relived their relationship page by page. The last page, however (it read 'Will you marry me?') started a new chapter entirely.
Irene later planned Emma's proposal based on her future wife's love for Rube Goldberg machines. "She pulled a string and toy cars raced, marbles dropped, and balloons filled with glitter popped to ultimately let loose a spool of ribbon that had written on it, 'Emma, will you marry me?'" Irene shares. "It was much harder to make than I initially thought!"
The couple immediately joined the two-year waiting list for their venue, Allen Sheep Farm in Chilmark, Massachusetts, and invited 230 guests to join them for a weekend on Martha's Vineyard on June 16, 2018. They worked with event planner Patrie Grace of With Grace to pull together an ethereal outdoor wedding on the coast, complete with a silent disco, a vintage photo booth van, and tons of flowers.
As for the brides' best advice for couple's currently planning their weddings? "Choose the elements that speak most to you as a couple and hold true to them," says Emma. "Everyone is going to have opinions but at the end of the day, sometimes the weird, quirky things make it way more memorable. Despite all the stress and decisions, it's one of the few times (if not the only time) in your life that you're surrounded by all the people you love in the world—so it's going to be great regardless."
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"Happy Menocal was Irene's dream stationery designer from the get-go. We reached out to her as soon as we got engaged to see if she could fit us in," Emma says. "She took every element of our personality and wedding into account and crafted the most amazing wedding suite complete with an emblem that we used throughout the weekend." The RSVP cards featured a drawing of the couple's dog, Gus, who they made sure to include as "Best Pup" on their wedding day.
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Guests received a custom printed tote with a drawing of Gus upon arrival on Martha's Vineyard. Inside, they found a bunch of carefully selected items including personalized matchsticks, a book of New York Times crossword puzzles, custom pencils that said, "Crosswords First, Dancing Later," the pair's favorite Legally Addictive toffee cookies from Brooklyn, t-shirts from their favorite local fish market, and ibuprofen for the next day.
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Emma grew up spending a lot of time on Martha's Vineyard and seemingly passed by Allen Sheep Farm in Chilmark almost every day. "The rolling hills full of sheep and beautiful views of the ocean made it my dream wedding location," she says. "Irene lovingly obliged and we stuck out a two-year waiting list for a wedding date. In the end, she said it was totally worth the wait!" Guests took in the scenery while walking through a field on a pathway that led to the ceremony site.
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Emma and Irene shopped separately but made sure to show each other their dresses before the big day. "A common problem that can befall two brides is that their dresses either match too much or completely clash," Emma says. "We wanted to make sure our dress styles complemented each other while also feeling very individually us."
Emma, right, explored four or five New York City ateliers before deciding that the very first dress she tried on, a Rue De Seine number, was the perfect one for her. The dress had a structured bustier, lace skirt, full train, and intricate floral appliqués. "It was the right mix of bohemian and delicate that felt perfect for an outdoor farm wedding," she says.
Irene also went from boutique to boutique on the hunt for her ideal wedding dress. "I had saved a picture of my dress, the 'Olivia' by Odylyne the Ceremony, when I had first started looking, but I got caught up in letting the bridal stylist at the boutique pull styles for me and trying everything on," she says, "After maybe my twelfth dress appointment, I called Lovely in Tribeca and asked them if they had 'Olivia.' I tried it on the next day and knew it was the one!" The timeless gown was made entirely of silk dupioni and featured a form-fitting bodice, a scooped neckline, and rounded skirt.
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Emma reached out to a vendor on Etsy and asked if they could paint the couple's wedding emblem, created with Happy Menocal, on a leather jacket. "She was based in Santiago, Chile, so I'll be honest, I was nervous when I sent my brand new pink Mackage leather jacket to a different continent," Emma says. The jacket turned out even better than she could have imagined—it also featured a hummingbird detail on the inside in remembrance of family members who had passed away.
Irene wanted her Helmut Lang fringe jacket to be customized with their wedding emblem, too, so Emma reached out to a custom embroidery company that recreated the emblem on a patch. They even received extra patches that were sewn on the backs of the denim jackets the pair gifted their bridesmaids.
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The couple's bridesmaids donned separates rather than traditional floor-length gowns. They wore white silk tops with blue tulle skirts as a nod to the venue's ocean views.
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A Long Trip Down the Aisle
The brides each had their moment to walk down the aisle with their fathers to a string trio musical accompaniment. For Emma, the trio played "Murder in the City" by The Avett Brothers, while Irene processed in to "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's. "It was a long trek from the start of the hill to the ceremony site so we actually had plenty of time for three songs as a processional," Emma says. They selected Adele's rendition of "Make You Feel My Love" for their bridesmaids' walk to the altar.
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The couple's golden retriever, Gus, showed off his floral embellished collar and leash as he made his way down the aisle. "Contrary to all our fears, he did not topple the cheese spread during the cocktail hour," Emma says. "We consider it a wedding miracle!"
Irene fell in love with the Brock Collection's "Maisonette" dresses for their flower girls, but they sold out quickly, leaving Irene disappointed. Emma set up a few email alerts so that when returns came in a few weeks later, she was able to buy them. "Irene was shocked we were able to go with her first choice!" Emma says.
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Irene and Emma exchanged vows underneath a floral arch overlooking Lucy Vincent Beach. The nontraditional ceremony was officiated by Emma's cousin's husband, Jesse, who is like a brother to her. "My favorite reading was when my dad, a lawyer, read the last paragraph in Justice Anthony Kennedy's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, also known as the gay marriage decision," Emma says. "After the wedding, some judges who were guests at the wedding arranged for Justice Kennedy to sign our programs and an official print-out of the decision before he retired—we have them framed," she says.
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The string trio from the ceremony set the mood during the cocktail hour, which took place under a tent at the top of the hill. Irene and Emma offered charred lemon gin sparklers as their signature cocktail and a "Juicy Julip" mocktail.
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Oysters were served with specialty napkins featuring the couple's emblem, which appeared on other elements throughout the day.
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The Escort Cards
Irene and Emma both work in the music industry, so they asked Ticketmaster to create custom escort cards made to look like genuine concert tickets. The couple's florist, Krishana Collins from Tea Lane Farm, created an eight-foot rotating flower wall—one side revealed an ombré flower display, while the other, covered in moss, displayed the escort cards.
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The reception took place under a tent at the top of a hill, where a mix of long farmhouse tables and round tables were arranged for dinner underneath an elaborate hanging floral display. There were so many flowers—Tea Lane helped the couple achieve their unofficial "pastoral chic" theme by including tons of greenery and florals in pink and yellow—throughout the reception tent that some guests were passing around allergy medicine!
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The Tabletop Details
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Emma and Irene shared their first dance to "Unconditional" by Freya Ridings. "She's an amazing singer songwriter from the U.K.—I've worked on promoting her shows in the U.S.," Emma explains. "The lyrics and tone are exactly what we looked for in a wedding song."
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Allen Sheep Farm is located in a town with a noise ordinance, which prevented the couple from having amplified music after 10 p.m., so Irene came up with the brilliant idea to have a silent disco after the couple's band, Jukebox The Ghost, played their set. Toward the end of the evening, everyone left the tented dance floor and danced together under the stars close to the ceremony location. "I was holding Irene's hand as we ran towards the water and 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence & The Machine played over the headphones," Emma recalls. "Everyone was singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs as we ran barefoot through the grass. It seriously felt like a movie!"
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Nine Cakes drove this couple's four-tiered wedding cake all the way from Brooklyn to Martha's Vineyard. In the end, the pros delivered a flawless blue-and-white dessert with gold-flake detailing and pink and orange flower embellishments. The flavors included pistachio with rosewater buttercream and lemon with lemon curd, fresh raspberries, and vanilla buttercream.
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Photography, Elizabeth Cecil
Venue, Allen Sheep and Wool Farm
Event planning and design, With Grace
Flowers, Tea Lane Farm
Stationery, Happy Menocal Studio
Calligraphy, Maidenwood Designs
Brides' dresses, Odylyne The Ceremony, Rue De Seine
Custom leather jacket, Fabrics Tattoo
Hair and makeup, Making You Glow
Catering, V. Jaime Hamlin Catering
Cake, Nine Cakes
Reception music, Jukebox The Ghost
Ceremony string trio, Speechless Music
Rentals and lighting, Big Sky Tent and Party Rentals
Photobooth, Photobooth Planet