You never know when being friends with an ex can come in handy. Take Sarah Van Kirk, for example. In 2009, it was none other than her ex-boyfriend who introduced her to Shawn M. Fay Jr., the man who would one day become her husband. "We both grew up outside of Pittsburgh," says Sarah, "but it took until this chance encounter in our 20's for us to meet." The couple made up for lost time, dating for less than a year before Shawn popped the question on a boat in the Bahamas at sunset.
The couple kept their wedding close to home, marrying in a local church and celebrating their reception at Sarah's family's home. "We'd dreamed of celebrating under the stars, but ended up renting a tent in case of rain," says Sarah. But that didn't stop them from bringing their fairy tale wedding indoors, transforming the tent into a jaw-dropping enchanted garden. Read on to see how!
Classic peep-toe Christian Louboutin pumps peeked out beneath Sarah's Oscar de la Renta gown, which she cinched with a crystal-and-pearl belt. "I loved the drama of the full, ruffled skirt," she says. Instead of paying top dollar for jewels, Sarah rented a diamond bracelet for the event from Adorn.com.
A simple veil accented her low chignon. She carried a lush bouquet of pink peonies. Blooms of different sizes gave the monotone bouquet added texture.
The couple's flower girls carried white baskets adorned with pink ribbons full of pink rose petals.
"We had seven flower girls, all in white dresses and rose crowns," says Sarah. "They performed marvelously!"
The two ring bearers wore shorts and skull bow ties, while Shawn wore a custom tuxedo.
The Sewickley Presbyterian Church was decked out in all-white arrangements of hydrangeas, roses, and Calla lilies. Vases of varying heights displayed flowers at the altar.
Shawn and Sarah's evening ceremony included traditional vows and scriptures that they selected with the help of family and friends.
"Shawn was adamant that we not see each other before the ceremony," says Sarah of her groom's superstition. "It made seeing him as I walked down the aisle all the more special." The duo took time during the cocktail hour to take portraits near her family's property.
Florist Jerry Sibal transformed the tent by creating an oversized chandelier of branches, flowers, and moss. "I wanted Jerry's amazing designs to be the focus," Sarah says.
Place cards were displayed on slabs of slate. A mix of square and rectangular tables featured three different centerpiece designs, some with tall branches covered in orchids, and others with low, lush arrangements in hot pink and green.
Before cutting the cake, Sarah took a spin around the dance floor with her father — then snuck away to change into a short Monique Lhuillier dress before getting back on the dance floor.
The couple's wedding cake featured chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, as well as vanilla bean cake with homemade raspberry jam and raspberry buttercream. A dramatic cascade of sugar orchids topped it off.
Once the cake was cut, the dance floor filled up for the rest of the night. When the band left, music switched over to an iPod for the after-party. And for those who still hadn't celebrated enough? "We invited everyone back to the hotel to a party suite!" Sarah reveals. Her best advice is to delegate, whether it's to your planner or to a designated family member or friend. "I decided that, once the Thursday before the wedding arrived, I was done making decisions! It was time to get in celebration mode."
Ceremony Venue: Sewickley Presbyterian Church || Reception Venue: Bride's family's home || Wedding Planner: Bonnie Walker Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Ceremony - Oscar de la Renta, Reception - Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Jewelry: ADORN || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Flower Girls' Dresses: Pegeen || Groom's Tuxedo: Sartoria Partenopea Napoli || Florist: Jerry Sibal || Invitations & Paper Goods: Alpine Creative Group, More Than Words Fine Papers || Music: Studio-E Band || Catering: The Duquesne Club || Cake: Vanilla Pastry Studio || Rentals: All Occasions Party Rental, Great Drape || Tent: All Occasions Party Rental || Videography: Nate Sherer Video || Photography: Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio