Stone walls, rolling fields and a pretty pond provided the perfect pastoral backdrop for an outdoor wedding—not to mention a major challenge. The bride, Sarah, and her groom, Robert, wanted their July nuptials on her parents' horse farm to be not only simple and beautiful, but also "upscale casual." With a little help from local vendors and the bride's mom, Mary Rinaldi, the couple planned a country chic wedding that commenced with a ceremony under an arbor of plumosa, asparagus ferns and white hydrangeas. The 140 guests sat on simple white wooden picnic benches set on the front lawn of the 200-year-old farmhouse. As the guests later nibbled hors d'oeuvres presented on chilled, polished granite slabs, they could smell the tantalizing aromas of salmon, filet mignon and chicken breast on a nearby outdoor grill.
To make the reception tent in the middle of a horse paddock seem like an integral part of the outdoors, the caterer tied a dozen giant cedar trees to the poles; the floral designer used ferns to create a forest floor around them. Moss-hued gingham-print china and escort cards embellished with delicate dragonflies artfully complemented the pink-and-green plaid linens. In every aspect of the wedding planning, the bride wanted to draw upon nature—and to be resourceful. "We believe in waste not, want not," she says. "My mom and I spent months looking for vessels for centerpieces in antique shops and flea markets. We'll use them again." They also put in a huge garden of wildflowers that will "always be there" and made sure many of the blooms selected for the bouquets and centerpieces could be planted in the garden each year. That way, they have a special reminder of a perfect summer wedding that was not only gracious and elegant but also as comfortable and inviting as the setting itself.