A Romantic Garden Wedding at a Maryland Manor
Though Christina and Matt had crossed paths a few times thanks to mutual friends, their official first meeting took place at a local Maryland college bar—and they never looked back. After dating for several years, Christina and Matt were overjoyed to learn that they were pregnant, given that Matt is a testicular cancer survivor. They planned to tell their family and friends the surprise news during a Fourth of July weekend beach getaway, but Matt had an additional surprise planned for Christina. During the trip, he got down on one knee; after his future bride accepted, their friends and family rushed out onto the beach walkway to celebrate with the newly-engaged couple.
Christina and Matt knew that planning a wedding with a baby on the way, while also juggling their careers, would be difficult, so they enlisted Adriana Gorman of Adriana Marie Events to pull their nuptials together; to this day, the bride says hiring Adriana was "the best decision [they] ever made." On October 20, 2018, the couple married at the Brittland Manor in Chestertown, Maryland—the venue's rolling hills and pastoral atmosphere recalled their hometown of Davidsonville, Maryland; the natural setting served as the perfect backdrop to the organic, effortless ceremony—in front of 296 guests, who flew and drove in from all over the country to witness their special day.
Personal details, including an original first dance song, a dreamy color palette, and a softly-lit reception space all contributed to the simple and romantic vibe of Christina and Matt's perfect wedding day.
Setting the Tone
The couple worked closely with Kelsey Malie Calligraphy, who helped realize their vision of a minimalist, romantic stationery suite. The invitations' French blue lettering was echoed throughout the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Additional calligraphy was provided by Grove Lettering Company.
Forever With Me
Both the engagement ring and wedding bands were designed by Anna Sheffield; the center stone in Christina's engagement ring was the diamond her late father had once given her mother. "I love having a piece of that history on my hand and with me always," says Christina.
As the co-owner of Wren Bridal in Annapolis, Christina found it an enjoyably "surreal experience" to be the customer at a bridal shop—especially since she had never actually tried on a wedding dress. A day trip to New York City with her mother led her to Spina Bride, where she found a Lee Petra Grebenau gown she loved.
One absolute essential for Christina's bridal look was a cape. While the Lee Petra Grebenau wedding dress came with a shorter version, she collaborated with Spina Bride to create a custom, full-length iteration. "Its beauty blew me away," the bride says. "I wish I could live in that cape."
Beyond her eye-catching cape, Christina kept it simple with her other accessories. A Twigs and Honey hair vine was artfully cut by her hair stylist and worked into Christina's low, messy chignon; diamond studs were her only jewelry. She polished off her look with comfortable heels from Steve Madden.
Flower girl Charlotte wore a BHLDN dress that perfectly matched Christina's gown. "The floral appliqués and mini cape made her so very happy," the bride says.
An Accommodating Venue
When searching for a venue, the couple was drawn to the fact that Brittland Manor could accommodate her large bridal party—featuring 32 members!—for the weekend. Split between the Manor House and River Lodge, a giant sleepover with loved ones made the weekend that much more special for the couple. Their group, comprised of friends, family, and close neighbors, included four best men and four maids of honor.
Cohesive, Not Identical
The bridesmaids' dresses were Jenny Yoo creations from Wren Bridal; they aligned perfectly with the romantic, dreamy vibe of the celebration. The 'maids all selected different chiffon dresses in shades of pale blue, creamy neutrals, and rosy pink, and were all able to find a dress style in a color they loved.
A True Classic
Back to Nature
The ceremony took place in a lush, tree-lined area in front of the Manor House, large enough to accommodate the 296 guests in attendance. The aisle was sprinkled with white rose petals and the trees formed a canopy above the guests. While the day began with misting rain and gray clouds, the bad weather had given way to bright sunshine by the start of the ceremony.
A Unique Ceremony
Matt and Christina both describe the ceremony as their favorite part of the day. Christina was walked down the aisle by her younger brother, which was incredibly special to the bride, since their late father couldn't be there. The couple's first look happened on the aisle. "[When] I saw Christina, [I] instantly felt like the luckiest man in the world," says Matt. "The love and energy from everyone there was infectious." R&B singer Kenny Sharp, one of the groom's high school friends, performed an acoustic cover of Trevor Hall's "Lime Tree" for the processional.
The officiant, the couple's mutual friend, Chris, made their ceremony one to remember. He was both hilarious and touching, and even delighted guests with a Seth Rogen impression. The couple exchanged their own vows, after which Kenny sang Andrew Bell's "The Ladder" for the recessional.
After the ceremony, guests were happily surprised by bartenders waiting for them on the top of the hill with beers, lemonades, and the couple's signature cocktail: bourbon punch.
Portraits, taken on the venue's rolling grounds, were kept short so the couple wouldn't miss out on the cocktail hour, which was held in the rose garden. Guests enjoyed Ken's Creative Kitchen hors d'oeuvres, as well as both a buffalo chicken dip and crab dip station. A circular bar set the communal tone for the evening, and guests had their choice of lounge chairs or high top tables. As the sun set, the string lights hung throughout the trees illuminated the garden.
Chic and Inviting
The theme of community was also conveyed through a custom escort card display. Two acrylic and wooden walls displayed the light blue cards, which were adorned with white calligraphy. At top of the display, the phrase "Dine with Us" served as an invitation for attendees.
Low Light, High Energy
The reception was held in a white sailcloth tent on the red brick patio next to the rose garden. The tables were a mixture of square and rectangular shapes to evoke an open floor plan; a few large wooden chandeliers added to the magical atmosphere of the already-candlelit dining space. Guests danced the night away on an all-white dance floor while listening to DJ Dan Huynh of Premier DJ Services.
Christina and Matt used a minimalist approach when it came to the table settings. Guests preselected their entrées, so no menu was needed. Pops of color came from the artfully arranged light blue napkins and gold flatware. Loosely-formed floral arrangements of rosy peach and soft mauve, interspersed with the different sized candles, also added to the simple and romantic layout.
A spice cake, crafted by Catherine George Cakes, was covered with molasses cream cheese icing and accented by drum roses and greenery. For a non-cake option, guests also enjoyed cannolis—Matt's favorite dessert.
"A Transformative Experience"
Matt and Christina's big-day goal was to create a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere for their guests. "We are blessed to know and love so many incredible souls, so we wanted our day to include and honor them as well," says Christina. One attendee described the day as "a transformative experience," and, while the couple laughed off that characterization at the time, the bride says they were continuously told by loved ones that their "love [was] felt throughout the evening."
Photography, Jen Huang
Location, Brittland Manor
Event planning, Adriana Marie Events
Catering, Ken's Creative Kitchen
Flowers, Sophie Felts
Videography, Cana Family
Officiant, Christopher Walsh
Stationery, Kelsey Malie Calligraphy
Calligraphy, Grove Lettering Co.
Cake, Catherine George Cakes
Music, Dan Huynh of Premier DJ Services
Rentals, White Glove Rentals
Makeup, Kelley Unthank
Flower girl dresses, BHLDN
Groom's tuxedo and Menswear, Men's Wearhouse
Lighting and Tent, Eastern Shore Tents and Events
Transportation, Extraordinair Limousine
Rings, Anna Sheffield