kirsten + peter | ASHFORD ESTATE WEDDING

Kirsten and Peter were married on June 29, 2019 at the Ashford Estate in Allentown, New Jersey. The day was planned and designed by Cristina Calvert, who took the details of the bride and groom’s overseas love story and treasured family roots, and brought all of those elements together at an elegant venue in the bride’s own hometown. Our creative team pulled heavy inspiration from the lush, natural gardens of traditional English country manors, and in the span of just 14 hours, completely transformed multiple spaces at the Ashford Estate, creating a deeply personalized, floral-forward, and unforgettable wedding experience for all of Kirsten and Peter’s guests.

The day started at the salon inside Ashford Estate, where Kirsten and her bridesmaids got ready in their matching Adidas tracksuits, an ode to the bride’s huge love of both watching and playing sports. Afterwards, the bridesmaids changed into their all-white, sleeveless crepe gowns upstairs in one of the bedrooms. Even the private getting ready space held its own share of surprises, as the team at Sweet Root Village had created a surprise floral arrangement around an antique floor-length mirror, complete with creeping vines, garden roses, and hydrangea clusters.

Kirsten’s two wedding dresses were beautifully displayed on separate mannequins. Her first dress was a modern Essence of Australia dress from Jaime Bridal, worn for the ceremony and first half of the reception. A piece of Kirsten’s grandfather’s clothing was sewn into this dress as her “something blue”. Her second dress was a vintage Oscar De La Renta gown. The bride also wore stylish bow flats from Gucci and two separate wedding crowns to complete her look. Around her cascading bouquet, Kirsten wrapped two framed memorial photographs of her grandparents. After the bride was dressed, she had two very sweet “first looks” with her father and her step-father, who both play significant roles in her life.

The groom, in an homage to his English roots, wore a classic formal tailcoat from Dobell, paired with Louboutin shoes (a gift earlier that week from Kirsten!) and accented with a custom pocketwatch from Akribos XXIV, which each groomsmen also received as a gift.

For guests, the fun began before the wedding day even started, with beautiful welcome bags specially flown in from the Ashford Castle in Ireland, containing all sorts of comforting treats and gifts. Two stone lions, dressed in greenery, immediately greeted guests entering onto the grounds of the Ashford Estate. From there, the guests followed a long, tree-lined driveway to the steps of the ceremony site in the white barn across from the estate house. Outside, the team at Sweet Root Village created a beautiful welcome installation around the fountain, with clusters of delphinium, stock flowers, and majolica completing the cottage garden scene.

For the ceremony, the inside of the barn was completely transformed with winding grapewood and bittersweet vines wrapped with Japanese smilax in the rafters, a flower aisle, and a cascading floral installation over the fireplace mantle. Custom trellises were fitted over the exterior barn doors, adding to the natural foliage already outside the barn. Kirsten chose to pay homage to the three most influential men in her life by walking down the first half of the aisle on the arm of her father, before completing an exchange midway with her stepfather and finally greeting Peter at the end. Just as our ceremony began, a huge thunderstorm started outside, but not even the sudden thunder could drown out the guest cheers and Kirsten and Peter exchanged their first kiss as husband and wife!

The rain cleared almost immediately following the ceremony and guests were invited indoors to the cocktail hour space, where florals continued to intermingle with the interior of the estate home. Trailing greenery and spray roses encircled the iron spindles of the grand staircase, while another arrangement hung down from the fireplace mantle. A gathering of highly decorated Christmas trees, another tribute to their close family love, surrounded memorial photographs of Kirsten and Peter’s extended family. Additional lounge vignettes were setup outdoors on the lawn. Guests were treated to champagne tastings, both in honor of the bride’s Italian background and as a call to her current work in the wine industry in California! Once the rain stopped, we ducked outside for some quick portraits and even managed to catch a full rainbow stretching across the estate grounds. Following the cocktail hour, guests were led down a walkway flanked by gold lanterns and two topiary dogs – representing the bride and groom’s family dogs, Shasta and Lassen – and invited into the reception.

Perhaps the most impressive space transformation happened inside the ballroom of the Ashford Estate. During the early morning, a team from BD3 Design recarpeted the entire reception area, covering the black and gold original floor carpet with a white overlay that drastically brightened the space. To complete our English garden environment, we also built a 25-foot high custom pergola over the dance floor, which was covered by Sweet Root Village in swirling greenery and climbing roses, starting from each column base. The custom builds continued with an espalier band backdrop and a bar façade in the same room. The dining tables were accented with staggered candles and lush, oversized floral arrangements, along with floor florals repurposed from the ceremony space lining the head table. The floral panels from the ceremony fireplace display turned into entryway décor for the reception while boxwood trees bordered every wall of the ballroom.

Several of the reception details featured direct references to Kirsten and Peter’s invitational stationery suite, which was artfully created by Cheree Berry Paper. The invite itself mimicked the neutral tones of the wedding day florals and included tiny foliage accents and an illustration of one of Kirsten and Peter’s family dogs. Portions of Kirsten and Peter’s custom wedding crest, designed by Emily McCarthy, also appeared on details throughout the day, from the invitation suite header to the menu booklets and head table chair coverings. Every place setting at the reception featured a velvet menu booklet bound with a silk ribbon, hand sewn lace napkins, and a personalized velvet gift box. Inside every box was a vintage brooch, hand-sourced by the bride’s mother for each wedding guest. The wedding crest was also projected onto the wall over the grand 7-tier cake from Carlo’s Bakery, so that guests could see all of the personalized crest elements on a greater-than-life scale.

The crest incorporated leaves and grapes to represent the groom Peter’s Viking and farming ancestors. The grapes also served a dual role as a symbol of the bride’s family’s Italian culture. The two dogs on the crest represent the couples’ deep love for animals and their own two dogs. The dogs are powerful yet still majestic and welcoming, and they both wear collars that are actually Viking rope wrapped in Viking knots. The compass in the center represents the months on end that Peter, as a marine engineer, used to be at sea, and how Kirsten and Peter would both use a compass and the stars to feel “closer” together while he was away. The entire monogram is tied together by an asymmetrical vine, which depicts how symmetry rarely occurs in nature, but can still bring different elements close together through the ties of a family.

As huge sports fans, Kirsten and Peter requested that their entrance into the reception be done in the style of a sports arena announcement. All of the guests jumped out of their seats to welcome in the couple as they came into the ballroom amidst sounding sirens and dimmed lights and immediately had their first dance to “My Best Friend” by The Once. Afterwards, members from both sides of the family gave heartfelt speeches, followed by an emotional blessing by the bride’s grandmother. After changing into her second dress of the evening, Kirsten and Peter made yet another grand entrance into the space and danced with both Peter’s mother and Kirsten’s eldest brother.

Dessert was a huge highlight of the night, with a Viennese dessert table and bananas foster set out for all of the guests to enjoy. Towards the end of the night, strawberries and cream, a traditional English dessert and yet another nod to the groom’s English family background, was wheeled out on elegant dessert carts wrapped in elaeagnus vines and spray roses.

Photography: Cassie Valente Photography | Planning: Cristina Calvert Signature | Floral Design: Sweetroot Village | Hair + Makeup: Status Salon | Production: BD3 Design | Rentals: DC Rental | Accent Vases: Accent Decor | Lighting, DJ, Emcee: This Is It Entertainment | Cake: Carlo’s Bakery | Band: Franklin & Alison Music | Paper Goods: Cherree Berry Paper | Catering: Merri-Makers Caterers | Venue: Ashford Estate | Film Lab: Photovision | Ring Box: Esselle SF | Bride’s 1st Gown: Essense of Australia from J’aime Bridal | Bride’s 2nd Gown: Oscar de la Renta | Bride’s Shoes: Gucci | Accessories with 1st Gown: GivaMyJewerly | Accessories with 2nd Gown: Mermaid Haberdashery | Groom’s Suit: Dobell | Groom’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Groom’s Cufflinks: J. Ciro | Groom’s Pocketwatch: Akribos XXIV | Bridesmaid’s Getting Ready Outfits: Adidas | Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Theia Couture from Bella Bridesmaids | Bridal Concierge: Diane & Company | Rings: A. H. Fisher Diamonds | Videography: Lucid Lens Films

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