On their first date, Sara Rogers and Collin Dawson closed down a restaurant — seriously! They stuck around the New York eatery until the waitstaff had to lock the doors. But on the night he proposed, Collin kicked it up a notch: Taking a cue from their food-focused beginning, the groom-to-be whisked Sara to Tuscany, where he rented out a romantic cottage and kitchen for a private meal catered by a world-class chef. "She made an amazing dinner and at the end, we got up to dance and Collin got on one knee to ask the big question," Sara says. "We spent the next week on an amazing high, wine tasting at vineyards and exploring little Italian towns."
The couple carried that same idea of fairytale romance through to their October 25, 2014, wedding day at Alder Manor in Yonkers, New York. "The grounds are so romantic," the bride says. "They're also partly run down, but that adds to the mystery of the house." There, Charlie Juliet Photography captured every captivating, traditional detail of the Sara and Collin's jewel-toned celebration.
Sara and Collin's guests came from near and far for the wedding so the couple wanted to plan a party close to New York City, making travel easier for their loved ones. Their paper suite hinted at their jewel-toned color palette of sapphire, emerald, and ruby, all paired with metallic hues. "We tried to keep everything romantic to match the venue," says Sara.
While Colin stuck to a sleek, traditional tuxedo for his wedding day look, Sara wanted something extra-special when it came to her wedding dress. In fact, she advises other brides to think beyond their typical style for the big day. "Don't get discouraged too quickly and be willing to try on styles that are different from what you might naturally gravitate toward," she says. For her, that meant trying on a figure-flattering silk sheath with an embellished illusion neckline and cap sleeves — a style her friend pulled off the racks on a whim. "She said, 'You might hate it, but just go try it for me,'" Sara says. "I ended up loving it and it was the last dress and only dress I wanted."
Inside her Manolo Blahnik satin and feathered pumps, Sara stuck a penny dated from the year she was born (her something old) and wore custom diamond earrings that Collin gave her as wedding day gift (her something new). She carried a hand-tied bouquet of plum, pink, and cream colored peonies, garden roses, and ranunculus, with touches of seasonal foliage.
Sara's bridesmaids all wore floor-length sapphire Lazaro gowns in mismatched silhouettes and carried bouquets made from maroon and pink roses, dahlias, ranunculus, anemones, and berries. The groomsmen looked dapper in rented block tuxedos from Men's Wearhouse.
The couple held their ceremony on the grounds of Alder Mansion, in a courtyard featuring an iron archway that was done up with roses and wax flowers. Pink rose petals were scattered along the grassy aisle, which was lined with black chairs adorned with vibrant bouquets of romantic blooms. Sara and Collin's open-air altar was decorated with urns of fresh blooms.
Sara walked down the aisle with her father to the traditional Canon in D, played by a trio of two guitarists and a pianist.
The newlyweds joined their guests for an outdoor cocktail hour on the mansion's expansive terrace, where they served two signature drinks: Lemon Drop Martini and Bourbon Apple Cider. One of the couple's DIY projects was creating a seating chart for their guests. "We bought a large antique mirror, painted the frame silver, and wrote everyone's name and table number in white paint," Sara says.
Guests enjoyed wild mushroom risotto, grilled filet mignon, or grilled Atlantic halibut as they sat at banquet-style tables that were decorated with floating candles and mercury glass vases filled with bright blooms and berries. "We chose white linens so we could play up the place settings a little," says Sara, who explains she and Collin selected gold-rimmed glasses and gold silverware. They settled on antique pink plates that were accented with gold-dipped feathers. The mansion's fireplaces were decorated with hurricane vases and tall candles.
Having a formal sit-down dinner was one of the couple's biggest priorities. "One of our favorite details for the day was having a seated dinner," the bride says. "Not only did it give us a little time to slow down and take in everything, but it also ensured that we got to say 'hi' and thank everyone for coming to celebrate with us. Sitting down for a meal really allowed us to take a break, be together, eat dinner, and spend time to each table while everyone enjoyed their food."
The couple's wedding cake was made to mimic Sara's wedding dress, with beaded detailing on top and a solid finish on the bottom. Sugar flowers completed the three-tiered confection.
But what was inside the dessert was truly divine: Everyone dug into almond cake with chocolate ganache, pumpkin cake with Mascarpone cheese icing, and champagne cake with raspberry filling.
Sara and Collin shared their first dance to Lady Antebellum's rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."
When it comes to wedding advice, Sara has an unusual tip to share. Because they planned for their ceremony to take place outside, the couple tried anything they could think of to keep any rain at bay. "We had heard of this Southern tradition of burying a bourbon bottle at your venue exactly one month prior to your wedding day," Sara says. Legend has it that following the ritual will ensure a sunny wedding day. "Collin and two of his groomsmen went up to Alder Manor a month before the wedding and secretly buried the bottle in the backyard. Then, all the men went together and dug up the bottle on our wedding day under a perfectly clear and sunny sky! The only thing left to do was open the bottle and take a drink to celebrate!"
Venue: Alder Manor || Wedding Planner: Dulce Dreams Events || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Gabriella Bridal || Jewelry & Wedding Bands: Frank Pollak & Sons || Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Hair: Styles on B || Makeup: Nicole Sievers || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lazaro || Groom's Attire: J. Crew || Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Florist: Violet and Verde || Invitations: Suite Paperie || Music: Dream Team Band || Catering: Chefs at Work || Cake: Sugar Flower Cake Shop || Rentals: Patina Vintage Furniture Rentals and Broadway Party Rentals || Videographer: Yellow Hook Productions || Photographer: Charlie Juliet Photography