Photo: Beth Erisman Photography
When Tracey and Jake first met, their friends thought they were "as ideally matched as a pit bull and a kitten," says Tracey. She was a city girl from New York and Jake was a recent Kentucky transplant, but after a few months of friendship, Jake finally kissed Tracey at his birthday party, and they were inseparable from then on.
Horses played a significant role in the couple's relationship—they met on a horse-breeding farm, and share a mutual love of horses and racing. When, after seven years of dating and the birth of their daughter Isabella Grace, Jake decided it was time to propose, he dreamed up an incredible plan that involved sponsoring a polo match and proposing as they gave the trophy to the winning team. Tracey, however, was getting impatient. So, with her favorite song playing as they sat on the deck under the stars, Jake got down on one knee.
After such a long courtship, none of their 115 guests were surprised when it took three years for the couple to walk down the aisle. But their patience was rewarded on September 14, 2013, at a comfortable wedding with a day-at-the-races vibe that focused on, in the bride's words, "dancing, drinking, and noshing."
A single horseshoe, as well as a venue that is part of the Steeplechase Circuit, were a nod to the thing that brought the couple together.
Tracey always thought she wanted a romantic lace dress--so much so that she tried on, and fell in love with, one during her dress-shopping trip. Her mother talked her out of pulling out her credit card in order to attend their final appointment at another shop. There, she found a timeless Romona Keveza gown that put the lace dress quickly out of her mind.
The bride faced another bout of indecision with her shoes. She ended up buying four pairs! The shoes she wore down the aisle, a pair of Christian Louboutin wedges swathed in silver glitter, were a gift from her mother.
Jake and Tracey's daughter wore a dress with similar details to her mother's gown. The simple shape featured a delicate overlay and an oversized bow at the back.
All of the bouquets featured roses and hydrangeas. Tracey's bouquet, all-white with a few tiny hints of purple, was finished with a tiny photo locket featuring a picture of her late aunt, who'd been a second mother to her during her childhood in Long Island.
The bridesmaids and flower girls wore knee-length chiffon dresses in a warm gray hue. "Our wedding was so close to fall but it still very much felt like summer, so fall colors were out. The gray was lovely against the flowers!" says Tracey.
Jake and his groomsmen wore linen, with Jake in a suit, his best man in a vest and the rest in linen pants and a white shirt. Instead of flowers, Jake's boutonniere was made of wheat and rosemary, tied with twine to a horseshoeing nail.
The simple ceremony took place beneath the branches of a 200-year-old tree. Guests sat on fabric-covered bales of hay, with mismatched chairs reserved for the guests of honor.
A chalkboard took the place of ceremony programs, listing everything from the officiant to wedding party.
On both sides of the aisle, special seats were reserved for family members who had passed, including Tracey's aunt and Jake's brother.
Food and drink were incredibly important to the couple, who wanted to make sure their guests were taken care of. Sweet tea and strawberry basil lemonade were offered as non-alcoholic choices during the ceremony, then spiked with vodka during the reception.
Tracey was escorted down the aisle by her daughter and Dane, a dear family friend. Jake lost his brother when he was 14, and Dane has taken on that role. At the beginning of Tracey and Jake's relationship, they joked that Dane would walk her down the aisle. Says Tracey, "when the day finally came, I asked Dane and he was there for me."
As a symbol of Tracey, Jake and Isabella Grace officially joining as a family, the bride and groom gifted their daughter with a small diamond solitaire necklace. Tracey won the necklace at a silent auction a few months before the wedding. Just as the auction was closing, Tracey intercepted a woman who was about to place a bid. She told the woman why she and Jake wanted the necklace so badly, and the woman let them win! Tracey hopes that Isabella Grace will pass the necklace on to her own child one day.
Though the bride's gown came with a modern, crystal-embellished belt, she was hoping for something a little more romantic so she purchased a belt made of satin ribbon embellished with a lace flower and feathers. The belt matched her delicate hair comb.
A chiffon layer added a soft, romantic feel to Tracey's simply elegant wedding dress.
Fabric-covered letters decorated a tree leading from the ceremony to the reception. The fall-inspired floral patterns tied beautifully into the location.
Tracey's florist, Ali Smith of Burlap and Blooms, also served as the couple's event planner. They gave her free reign, allowing her to transform the venue into an elegant country celebration.
Little vignettes were set up around the property, encouraging guests to wander and explore. Here, hay bales covered with blankets and pillows provided a place for guests to gather and take in the view.
Old ladders were covered with loose arrangements of flowers and vintage books. Tracey and Jake displayed photographs from their childhood, as well as moments from throughout their relationship.
A country wedding wouldn't be complete without s'mores! Chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows were available for guests to enjoy later in the evening.
Instead of dancing with her own father, Tracey chose to have the father-daughter dance be between Jake and the couple's daughter, Isabella Grace.
Like many brides, Tracey saw her dream wedding cake on Pinterest. "It looked like it was covered in burlap and overlayed with lace and small white flowers," says Tracey. Her baker was able to recreate the cake, filling it with layers of sweet potato cake and raspberry pound cake.
With five flower girls, it was no surprise that the s'mores bar was a huge success! And the weeks and months since the wedding have been, in Tracey's words, "a dream." Jake and Tracey's daughter recently began kindergarten, so the couple has yet to take their honeymoon. In fact, they're looking for suggestions! They've narrowed it down to either Greece and Croatia or Bora Bora and Tahiti.
Tracey's advice for brides is to find vendors that are also your friends. "If you can find people you trust," she says, "you won't have a single worry." Isn't that the wedding-planning dream?
Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Yellow House of Willowdale || Planner & Floral Designer: Ali Smith of Burlap & Blooms || Bride's Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza Couture, via The Wedding Shoppe || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Makeup & Hair: Sherif Zaki, Courtney Turner, Julie Cochran, Clayton Stacey and Sheri Stafford of Sherif Zaki Haute Coiffure || Bridesmaids' and Flower Girls' Dresses: Watters, via Van Cleve Collection || Jewelry: Family Heirlooms/Vintage || Invitations: Apropos || Catering: Sovana Bistro || Cake: Sweet Jazmine's || Music: Silver Sounds Disc Jockeys || Favors: A Donation to LaMancha Animal Rescue || Photography: Beth Erisman Photography