It only took six months for Chanelle Bailey, 31, and John Darden, 44, to put together their dream wedding. "We knew we wanted a summer wedding," says Chanelle, "and I didn't want to wait 18 months after our Christmas engagement!" And a wedding full of sunshine was fitting for the couple, who met on a warm August day in Philadelphia in 2008. "I'd just moved into my first house and couldn't wait to cook dinner in my new kitchen, so I'd run out to the market," Chanelle says. "The universe had other plans! John followed me around the store, carried my bags to the car, and then called me as soon as he got home. We ended up talking until 4 a.m.!"
After John proposed at the break of dawn on Christmas Day in 2012, a short engagement meant choosing a venue with charm and character was key. "The Cairnwood was exactly what we were looking for," says the bride. She and her mother used gorgeous flowers and understated décor to prepare the estate for a timeless, elegant celebration that John and Chanelle will always remember.
"Thank goodness for mothers," gushes Chanelle. "I'd never have been able to pull it off without mine!" The couple chose the Cairnwood Estate, a late 19th century Beaux Arts home in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, for its immaculate grounds and age-old character.
Champagne peep-toe shoes from Nina matched the wedding's soft color scheme. For some extra shine, Chanelle wore a pair of earrings that John gifted her for the occasion. The final detail? A six-pence coin tucked into her shoe. "John's great-aunt was adamant that I carry it down the aisle," the bride says. "She mailed it from Florida to make sure I'd have good luck!"
Chanelle's strapless lace-and-satin gown was designed by Stefan Jolie. "I was overwhelmed by all the choices at the bridal shop, but when I put this one on, I just knew," she remembers. A simple veil and fresh, light makeup transformed her into a bride.
The bride carried an ivory-and-blush bouquet of cymbidium orchids, tulips, peonies, and roses, wrapped in champagne chiffon. The groom's boutonniere featured two white ranunculus blooms.
John, in a Calvin Klein tuxedo, splurged on black Ferragamo shoes. "He looked really sharp," says Chanelle.
The two ring bearers wore black tuxedos, and the flower girl wore an ivory dress with a champagne ribbon around the waist. The pint-sized attendants added an extra dose of adorable to the ceremony.
The Cairnwood Estate was a gorgeous backdrop for photos. Chanelle's bridesmaids wore champagne one-shoulder cocktail dresses, while John's groomsmen matched the groom in classic tuxedos.
Chanelle's father escorted her down the aisle to "After All is Said & Done" by Beyoné and Marc Nelson. The bride's cousin played Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky" on the piano while Chanelle and John lit a unity candle, then another musician performed "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" as the newlyweds made their way back up the aisle.
The couple snuck away for a few moments right after the ceremony. "We needed to let it all sink in for a minute!" laughs Chanelle.
Escort cards featured tiny icons showing whether the guests would be enjoying filet mignon with rosemary demi-glace, blackened salmon with a Thai chili glaze, roasted herb chicken, or butternut squash ravioli. Each table featured a lush centerpiece of hydrangeas, stock flowers, and hypericum berries. Table numbers were antique Flinch playing cards from the early 1900s.
"The theme of the day became 'The Perfect Pair,' so we gave guests pear salt and pepper shakers as favors," says Chanelle.
Continuing with the theme, the couple served a pear martini as their signature cocktail. "It was delicious," raves the bride.
The couple served pound cake topped with buttercream frosting and decorated with champagne scrollwork. For anyone with a serious sweet tooth, there was also an ice cream station with the couple's favorite toppings and a chocolate bar, where guests could dip cake, cookies, and fruits into melted milk and dark chocolate.
The guest book, featuring photos from John and Chanelle's engagement shoot, was displayed, of course, on a table arranged with bright green pears.
Chanelle's friend, a big-time DJ in Washington, D.C., kept guests dancing all night. "The whole thing was just a blast," she says. Since the wedding, the bride and groom have kept the fun going. "We have date night every week," says Chanelle. "We're hoping to keep it going for as long as we can!"
"The best thing we did was hire a day-of coordinator," says Chanelle. "My mother and I put together all the details, and then Mary of Sage Catered Events executed it all to a 'T.' If you opt out of hiring a planner but have room in the budget for a point person the day of, you won't regret it!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Cairnwood Estate || Day-of Coordinator: Mary of Sage Catered Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Stefan Jolie for Bijou Bridal || Shoes: Nina || Earrings & Veil: Bijou Bridal || Hair: Tricia Johnson || Makeup: Adrienne Bearden || Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal || Groom & Groomsmen's Tuxedos: Calvin Klein, from Men's Wearhouse || Groom's Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo || Florist: OffShoots! || Invitations: Pen & Paper, 610-525-6870 || Paper Goods: Argus Printing || Music: DJ Oz || Catering: Sage Catered Events || Cake: Bredenbeck's Bakery & Ice Cream Parlor || Favors: Bellissimo Favors || Guest Book: James Michael Photography || Videography: RascalFilms.net || Photography: James Michael Photography