Stephanie Davila and Paul Gillis first met in passing at her going-away party in 2007: she was headed to New York for a job opportunity and he had just found himself in her soon-to-be former hometown of Minneapolis when the pair hit it off. After a great conversation, the two vowed to stay in touch, and ended up spending every evening together on the phone and flying back-and-forth between Manhattan and the Midwest to spend time together.
Once it was clear their relationship was the real deal, Stephanie and Paul moved cross-country to live together and on August 4, 2013, Paul popped the question while on the beach in Fire Island, New York. "I was reading a book and looked up to see him bending on one knee with a ring we had seen together in L.A.," Stephanie says. With family in Minnesota and friends in New York, the couple set-off to break the wedding mold and hosted three unique celebrations that captured their personality and allowed them to celebrate with everyone that mattered most. After a private beach ceremony with just two people in attendance, the couple enlisted the help of Thea Volk of Rivets and Roses and Charlie B. Ward to capture their two special celebrations.
After exchanging vows on the beach in Shelter Island, New York on August 16, 2014, Stephanie and Paul headed to Minneapolis to celebrate with 13 of their closest family members at the Bachelor Farmer. The couple chose wood-inspired invitations from Paperless Post to set the tone for their first post-wedding event.
Stephanie wore a tea-length wedding dress from Lanvin and kept her look simple with relaxed waves, and a bouquet of white orchids, freesia, and greenery.
Paul wore a J.Crew Ludlow suit and simple white boutonniere. Although they first recited their vows in private on the beach, Stephanie and Paul ended up sharing them again for their family in Minneapolis. "Without even knowing it, both Paul and I wrote very similar vows," Stephanie says. "We talked about how we met at my going away party, dated long distance for three years, and finally make the leap of faith. We both called each other our partners in crime."
They kept their reception simple, and even DIYed their own centerpieces! Stephanie and Paul chose a black-and-white color palette with pops of red, so crisp white vases from West Elm were packed with dozens of crimson roses that the bride sourced from a local flower shop. "I once worked as a florist, so it came easy," she said of tackling the project.
Guests sat down for a meal handpicked by the couple. It included a local cheese plate, duck confit, and chocolate mouse.
One month later, the couple invited 50 friends to a weekend-long celebration in Phoenicia, New York. Guests traveled to the Catskills and stayed at The Graham & Co. where they were treated to a welcome bonfire, a day spent by the pool, and an evening reception that perfectly met the couple's non-traditional expectations.
Stephanie chose a two-piece lace wedding dress from Reformation for their second celebration. This time, she carried a bouquet with a modern mix of wildflowers, zinnias, and berries to fit the vibe of their mountain wedding.
Instead of a typical ceremony and reception, Stephanie and Paul invited friends to join them at nearby Phoenicia Diner where the menu featured upgrades on classic diner fare — guests were treated to Portobello mushroom crostini, house made meatloaf with marinara and mashed potatoes, roasted chicken, and acorn squash stuffed with sage risotto. For dessert, apple pie a la mode was the perfect choice.
At the end of the evening, the newlyweds left through a tunnel of sparklers that were lit using matches from their Midwest wedding celebration. "It was important to us to incorporate our friends and subtly tie in each event so our guests felt like a part of all of it," the bride says.
Stephanie and Paul, who enjoyed a honeymoon in South Africa, suggest that couples stay true to their vision and don't feel compelled to stick to "wedding rules." "It's your special day," the bride says. "The only rule is to have fun and enjoy event moment."
Reception Venues: The Bachelor Farmer; Phoenicia Diner || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lanvin; Reformation || Bride's Shoes: Christian Louboutin; Gucci || Bride's Hair: Cutler Salon || Groom's Attire: J.Crew || Bride's Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Single Stone || Groom's Wedding Band: Anna Sheffield || Florist: Spruce Flowers & Home; Petalos || Invitations: Paperless Post || Transportation: First Student Charter Bus || Accommodations: Le Meridien Chambers; The Graham & Co. || Photographer: Thea Volk of Rivets and Roses; Charlie B. Ward
Did you love this couple's laid-back wedding reception? Then watch another couple tie the knot in upstate New York in the video below!