It is essential that an individual's vision of a perfect bridal experience and celebration of love comes first when preparing a wedding. This story of Eliza and Jamie organizing a wedding in the backyard of the family home, where more than one generation had celebrated it before, is very inspiring and encourages one to always listen to heart and soul. The gorgeous band music, cozy food, laughter and joy is what made the couple's wedding unique and unforgettable. Our amazing member, a wedding photographer Parkers Pictures, was the one to capture this beauty on film.
Tell us a little about yourselves. How did you meet? What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies?
We were both working as counselors at a summer camp up in Maine and had a cabin of campers together. For our own sanity, we became pretty close — just friends at that point, but really adored each other — and it stayed that way for four years before we "ran into each other" (maybe it was planned!) at a friend's birthday party and decided to give things a go. The first few years of our relationship were a blur of buses and trains between Boston and New York before we settled into our first apartment together in the West Village. We just moved into a new spot in Brooklyn and are slowly but surely making it feel like home amidst Jamie traveling for his consulting job and my new gig heading up editorial for an amazing startup called I Have This Friend. Our life together still features constant motion... but fewer buses and trains, more walks together along the water, more flights to new places, and more road trips to visit our people.
Can you share your engagement story?
We grabbed a lovely little dinner at Emmett's on Grove, went for a walk along the water on the west side, and — after I asked him why he was being so weird — Jamie got down on his knee on an empty pier right as I was stuffing my face with banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery. Afterward, we enjoyed some post-engagement bubbles at our favorite neighborhood bar, Entwine. We only have one blurry photo from that night, but we walk by the pier all the time so we get to revisit the memory whenever we want.
Where was your wedding? Why did you choose this venue?
We got married in the backyard of my grandparents' home in Duxbury, Massachusetts — the same spot where many great marriages in my family have kicked off and many, many amazing parties have been thrown. I never had a clear wedding vision pre-Jamie, but I always knew that if I got married, it would be there.
What was the concept behind your wedding and how did you find your inspiration?
High level, we knew we wanted our wedding to feel like one big al fresco dinner party with our favorite people, not at all unlike the parties that have been thrown in that same backyard — just with a few more guests. So, I guess you could say our inspiration was the history of the place and all of the weddings and parties that preceded ours. We also had a phase where we'd obsessively scroll through the same six images from Carolyn Bessette & JFK Jr.'s wedding, but who hasn't done that?
How long did it take to plan your wedding? Did you encounter any challenges during the planning process?
We got engaged in May 2022 and married in August 2023, but the planning came in waves. We did a lot the first few months after getting engaged because we'd heard about vendor booking backlogs being a disaster post-pandemic. We ended up changing our minds on a few different things and had to figure out how to navigate that, but ultimately we're so happy that we trusted our instincts. We also experienced a five-month lull where we didn't do any real planning, just chatting, musing, etc. When we started planning again in late winter, we dove head-first into the details and didn't stop talking about them until our wedding day.
How many guests did you have? And what was the seating arrangement at the wedding like?
We had 120 guests! We wanted to do long banquet tables so everyone — including us — felt like they were seated together. We really liked the idea of assigning tables but not seats so guests could mingle and make new connections. In general, we love getting our friends together and seeing different worlds collide, so it was really brilliant to watch that happen in real time, right in front of us. We've heard seating charts can be tricky, but it truly felt like there were no weird social politics present, no unfair expectations being put on people, and no limitations on the fun being had.
Tell us about your outfits. How many different styles have you tried?
Jamie struck gold at Todd Snyder in Williamsburg. We sat down with their team for maybe an hour tops and they ended up designing the most perfect dark green suit with super cool, subtle accents that made the suit feel elevated and different, like high-waisted pants, an opera ticket pocket, a beautiful custom lining — all very Bond.
On the other hand, shopping for a wedding dress felt like an out-of-body experience for me (in a bad way). I don't wear a ton of dresses, but I still like to feel feminine and tend to gravitate toward classic, simple, and cool styles. I started saying that I didn't want a wedding dress, just a dress that was white. I didn't feel like anything was very "me" until I went to the Markarian showroom in Manhattan and the Kamparett studio in San Francisco. Both experiences were amazing, the stylists & designers were so understanding, and the options were so gorgeous, interesting, and well-made but not over the top — like real art. I ended up choosing a Markarian silhouette from a few seasons back and put my own custom touches on it.
What was your first dance song? Did you choreograph or improvise?
We had our band, Take It To The Bridge, learn 'You've Got Me Running in Circles' by Sonny Cleveland. We didn't really want a big moment for the first dance, but the MC ended up announcing it and people naturally formed a circle around us so we had to think on our feet and do a little improv. Luckily, we had some practice dancing together.
Did you have any special performances or entertainment?
Somewhat last-minute, I was regretting not asking the band to learn 'Katchi' by Nick Waterhouse & Leon Bridges. Jamie worked something out with them privately and they ended up learning it and playing it as a surprise for me. Very fun!
What was the most memorable moment from your wedding day?
We really loved looking out at the crowd during dinner and seeing all of the conversation flowing across the tables, friends from different spheres of our lives chatting to cousins, aunts, uncles, and people of all ages enjoying the night. I don't usually say things like this, but you could actually feel the good energy in the air.
There was also a moment at the end of the night during the band's last song when Jamie and I were completely in our own world, hugging and swaying to the music, eyes closed. We didn't realize it until we looked up, but everyone had formed a circle around us to watch. It was mildly embarrassing but also really, really special. You can't choreograph that kind of thing.
Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?
We had amazing vendors helping us, but this wedding was also a massive labor of love by both of our families. My mom was essentially the unofficial day-of coordinator and baker, another family member designed the table arrangements using wholesale flowers, and my sister did all of the stationery.
We're also obsessed with our photographer, Parker, and her work. She truly jumped right into the family mayhem, no questions asked, and managed to look like she was having a great time doing it. We always wanted our wedding captured on film and I was told over and over again that it wasn't a good idea. When we found Parker using I Have This Friend, she made us feel seen, sane, and hopeful.
What advice would you give to couples who are currently planning their wedding?
Trust your gut, accept help (when it's offered unconditionally), know when to delegate, and don't worry about seeming too picky or caring too much about the details — it just means you know what you want.
Also, one more plug...There were times when the wedding industry felt really black and white to us: You could either have a turnkey wedding that feels like a carbon copy or you have to take on the chaos of DIY which, let's be real, isn't for everyone. If you fall somewhere in the in-between gray area, I highly recommend checking out I Have This Friend for access to a super curated directory of really amazing emerging creative talent offering chef services, event planning, florals, stationery, styling, photography, and more.
Did you have any pre-wedding events, like a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower?
We had an amazing family dinner with 45 guests the night before. It took place in the backyard of my aunt's house and featured homemade enchiladas, carnitas tacos, batch margaritas, crisp pilsners, and thoughtful toasts that made us beam, blush, and tear up.
What helped you cope with the anxiety before the wedding?
Therapy, swimming in the ocean whenever we got the chance, and having open, honest conversations with each other.
Food & Drink: @thechefstable
Bride Bouquet & Posie: @considerthelilies
Suit & Shoes: @toddsnyderny & @ghbass
Dress & Shoes: @markarian_bride & @staud.clothing