Ben and Joshua met in Atlanta GA while Ben was in school and Joshua was working as a pastry cook. After Ben finished grad school they decided to move up to New England to be closer to family. Their strong home values and desire to start a family of their own have been a pillar of their relationship from the start, and both knew that one day they would be married.
A question they often get asked is who proposed to whom, and they had decided early on in their relationship that they would each get a chance to propose when ready. They individually decided to take a knee and ask the other when on vacation in Paris. When deciding on a wedding venue, Joshua knew the perfect spot–his family’s property in Rhode Island which they jokingly referred to as the “private family estate.” The property has been in the family for almost 80 years and had hosted his aunt and uncle’s wedding 30 years prior.
Joshua viewed the project as a blank canvas and curated the wedding to his…or rather “their” dreams. From picking the tent, growing flowers for the bouquets and centerpieces, to making the cake; a lot of the planning took place while Joshua was filming for Food Network’s Best Baker in America, and being a Pastry Chef he knew the food and dessert had to impress. He hired his coworkers of Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge MA to cater a customized menu for the event. The weather cooperated and presented one of the most beautiful days in September as they tied the knot surrounded by friends and family.
Q: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?
A: Choosing to have the wedding at my family’s house meant I was in charge of sourcing everything from the tent and dance floor down to the forks and wine glasses. Luckily, the property is already beautiful, my father spent the summer maintaining the landscape with a meticulous eye. I designed and painted signage myself for the parking, the bar, and the restrooms. The food offerings were a surprise to our guests so I designed and printed menus to be placed at each setting so our guests knew what they’d be enjoying. I found an old barn door in the basement one day while cleaning and used it to string up the seating chart. The entire set-up was DIY, we spent the morning getting everything in place. I think I woke up at 5am and by 6am we were laying down linens, setting tables, hanging drapery from the tree, and arranging chairs for the ceremony. We were fortunate enough to have friends and family pitch in.
Q: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces, or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?
A: One of the first things I chose for the wedding were the flowers. I’ve been obsessed with Cafe au Lait dahlias for quite some time and since they are a late summer flower, I decided they were a must for the wedding. I love to garden, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, so I learned how to grow my own dahlias. Starting in the spring I took soil samples at the “private family estate”, adjusted the soil as needed, ordered my dahlia tubers, planted them, and tended to them all summer (with a lot of help from my mother who lives on the property in the summer). They did not disappoint! They were stunningly gorgeous and I was able to get enough blooms to make bouquets for all the groom’s maids and extra for centerpieces. I sourced additional flowers and arranged the centerpieces myself the day before the wedding. We also used a local nursery, Blue Moon Farm Perennials, to make larger arrangements for the yard and entrance to the driveway.
Q: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
A: The best part about planning every detail is the ability to personalize everything. We were inspired by our friends’ wedding that had table names (based on their favorite books) instead of numbers. We ran with the idea and named each table after a place we’ve lived, vacations we’ve gone on, significant locations, our dog- we included a little blurb as to why the names were so significant. People had fun going from table to table to learn more about us. Our love for margaritas inspired our signature drink, but we didn’t want an ordinary margarita so we added homemade popsicles to each drink to create the margarita cocksicle (I was making popsicles for days leading up to the wedding and I think I was mixing margaritas at 5:30am the day of the wedding). Being a Pastry Chef I knew all eyes would be on the wedding cake and dessert display and there was no way I was going to burden someone else with that task. I made the cake and worked with my pastry team to create the accompanying desserts. Earlier in the summer, I picked blueberries from the same blueberry bushes on the property that I grudgingly picked from as a child, and I incorporated them into the jam filling for the vanilla chiffon cake. I’ve dedicated my life to the culinary world and food is a top priority in my life, subsequently; it played a large role in the wedding. I hired the Executive Chef and Sous Chefs I work with at Harvest Restaurant to cater the event. The chef and I sat down to customize a delicious seasonal menu that fit the needs of my mother’s extensive list of allergies. I also hired coworkers to serve food and tend bar, I didn’t want to do a buffet but I also knew a plated meal wasn’t feasible, so we decided to serve everything family style. This touch encouraged everyone to interact with the guests at their table.
Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.
A: Ditching tuxedoes for a more casual suit is a trend that I’m glad has stuck around. We got married under a tree in the backyard and celebrated under a tent, tuxedos would not have fit that aesthetic. We opted for custom-made suits with our wedding date stitched into the breast pocket, a subtle reminder of our special day when we wear them in the future. Ben donned a navy blue suit and brown shoes and I chose a light gray suit and similar shoes. We brought the outfits together with matching floral print ties (one of my favorite little touches, and it didn’t go unnoticed). Weddings are all about celebrating the union of two people with friends, family, and loved ones. It’s always difficult when ones you love can’t be there to join the festivities, as a way to have my late grandfather with me I kept his pocket watch, that was passed down from his grandfather, in my suit jacket.
Q: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.
A: Ben and I met in Atlanta Georgia while Ben was attending medical school at Emory and I was working at the Four Seasons Hotel. Things moved fairly quickly and within a year we were living together with a puppy. We then decided to slow things down a bit and just enjoy each other’s company. Upon Ben’s completion of school, we decided to move to Boston to be closer to our families, Ben’s extended family lives in MA while most of my family lives in RI. Marriage had been a discussion early on in our relationship, but we didn’t want to rush anything and our major life changes had kept us occupied. A question we often get asked is who proposed to whom and we had decided early on in the relationship that we would both propose when ready, subsequently; we individually decided to take a knee and ask the other when on vacation in Paris. Ben asked first while we strolled through the Gardens of Versailles, knowing gardens are my happy place. I decided to pop the question after we passed the finish line of a 5k race in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont during the Gay Olympics (yes it’s a thing lol and one of the main reasons Ben wanted to visit Paris).
Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
A: For Ben, it was the reception. Ben doesn’t love the spotlight and once the formalities were over, he was able to enjoy the day with friends and family. For me, there were two great moments that I’ll remember. The first was walking down the aisle with my mom past rows of love of support walking towards my future husband waiting under the tree for me and thinking back to my teenage years when I never thought that any of this would ever be possible. The second was towards the end of the reception Ben and I snuck off to the beach to take some photos at sunset, the day was over and all the stress of planning, organizing, wondering if everything would fall into place was over and I was able to take a few quiet moments with my husband.
Q: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
A: Do your research and hire professionals who love their job. Our photographer supplied us with 1000 priceless memories preserved in beautiful photographs. Our DJ didn’t just play music, he MCed the entire day, kept everyone on schedule, and set the tone. We had some issues getting electricity to the tent from our house and the owner of the company personally drove out a generator to make sure everything went seamlessly. Knowing you have reliable vendors gives you peace of mind and the ability to enjoy your day. Ben got some advice just before the wedding and I’m so glad we followed it the day of the wedding- never be more than an arms-length away from your spouse on your wedding day. You want to make sure you experience the same day and be able to reflect on the same memories in the future.