These High School Sweethearts Returned to Philadelphia for a Flower-Filled Hometown Wedding

After ten years together, Kate and Leland made it official in a natural, elegant celebration at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

High school sweethearts Kate Bilsky and Leland Smith spent a decade together before they decided to take their relationship to the next level. "We first met in February of 2005, and I asked Leland to my formal dance," she says. "In October 2015, he proposed after we ran into our apartment after a fun night out."

Having both grown up in Philadelphia, the couple, who now lives in California, knew they wanted a wedding in the City of Brotherly Love. With dreams of a romantic evening with a lush and natural backdrop, Fairmount Park Horticulture Center was the obvious choice for Kate and Leland's May 7, 2016 wedding. "The venue is a natural but elegant space with a lot of greenery and a romantic air," the bride says. "From our venue and décor, to the food and music, everything was simple and grounded, yet sophisticated and distinct. There was personality and romance in every direction." Read on to see every detail from this spring celebration, documented by Lauren Fair Photography.

Lauren Fair Photography

Kate and Leland set the tone for their romantic wedding with a classic, elegant invitation suite from The Paperia.

Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

The bride loved her Chantilly lace Elizabeth Dye wedding dress from the very first moment she tried it on at Lovely Bride in Los Angeles, where she was shopping with a friend. "It was the first time I felt like I had to FaceTime with my mom in Philadelphia to show her," Kate says. As fate would have it, Lovely Bride has another location in the bride's native Philly, so she visit the salon once more with her mother and local friends over the holidays, where everyone quickly agreed it was her wedding dress.

The deep v-neckline, dramatic trumpet skirt, and scalloped hem were some of the bride's favorite details, but her very favorite part of her outfit might not have been the dress at all. "I loved my shoes!" the bride says of her fancy flats. "They're Swarovski rhinestone-encrusted lace ballerina flats that have all the romance you could hope for in a pair of heels but were still great for dancing."

bride and groom
Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

Kate and Leland shared a first look, where the bride finally saw her groom in his traditional black tuxedo from J.Crew. While he looked totally put together, Leland did have one wedding day wardrobe snafu: he forgot his cufflinks! In a stroke of genius, the mother-of-the-bride handed over a pair of pearl stud earrings, which he used to close his shirt cuffs.

wedding party
Lauren Fair Photography
bridal party
Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

Both the bride and groom had an entourage of eight important women and men standing at their sides on the day of the wedding. Kate's bridesmaids wore mismatched pale blush and nude gowns fro Joanna August, J.Crew, and Paper Crown, while Leland's groomsmen matched the groom in black tuxedos.

Kate carried a long-stemmed bouquet comprised of peonies, blush bride protea, garden roses, sweet peas, clematis, olive leaf, jasmine, grape ivy, and spirea. Her attendants each carried a slightly smaller, more wilder version of the same blooms. "Each one was a little different, with a 'foraged from the garden' look," she says.

ceremony venue
Lauren Fair Photography
bride walking down aisle
Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

Fairmount Park Horticultural Center is known for it's natural greenhouse ceremonies and receptions. Kate and Leland exchanged vows in the center of the space, where a birch chuppah was dressed up with textural greenery, flowering branches, and clusters of peonies and garden roses. Since the space is otherwise packed with flowers and greenery, the bride and groom didn't need to bring in much in the way of additional décor.

The bride and her parents walked down the aisle while three live musicians played a mix of contemporary favorites and wedding day classics. In addition to writing their own vows, Kate and Leland also helped their officiant, the bride's uncle, craft the entire ceremony. "We wanted a non-denominational wedding ceremony, and something that would capture the mood of the day and our unique store," Kate says.

Once the pair was pronounced husband and wife, they exited the ceremony to a live rendition of "This Will Be."

Server with Tray of Cocktails
Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

Cocktail hour kicked off the party, where guests got their fill of delicious appetizers, like portobello frites, red beet tartar, Korean pork belly sliders, and mini Philly cheesesteaks (of course!). Kate and Leland's signature cocktail, a pomegranate martini, was a huge hit.

Everyone knew where to "plant themselves" for the ceremony thanks to seating assignments tucked into mini terra cotta pots, which were filled with succulents, herbs, and ferns.

reception venue
Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

Guests were treated to a natural oasis at the couple's reception. The 24-foot-long head table featured a long greenery garland, and was arranged beneath a hanging installation of greenery, hanging candles, and teardrop bud vases filled with mini blooms. "There was candlelight throughout the reception, as well as uplighting and pinspotting," the bride says. "We strung white pixie lights above the dance floor to define and enhance it."

Lauren Fair Photography
Lauren Fair Photography

Round tables were decorated with high and low centerpieces, all filled with dark foliage, larkspur branches, and a mix of peonies, garden roses, lisianthus, and sweet peas. Simple black and white number cards marked each table.

Lauren Fair Photography

A four-tiered wedding cake, which featured layers of vanilla sponge cake filled with kirsch mousseline and fresh strawberries, was decked out with eucalyptus and olive branches.

reception guests
Lauren Fair Photography

After sharing their first dance to "Sh Boom, Life Could Be a Dream" by the Chords, the newlyweds invited their friends and family to join them on the dance floor. "Our beautiful and hilarious group guests that have been by our side from high school and college, and all the way out to Los Angeles, have formed a unique kind of love not only for us, but with one another," the bride says. "That has filled our hears with so much happiness."

Wedding Team

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Fairmount Park Horticulture Center

Wedding Coordinator: Lauren James Events

Bride's Wedding Dress: Elizabeth Dye, purchased at Lovely Bride Philadelphia

Veil: Nilah & Company

Shoes: BHLDN

Hair & Makeup: True Beauty Marks

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August; Paper Crown; J.Crew

Groom's Attire: J.Crew

Flowers: Robertson's Flowers

Invitations: The Paperia

Additional Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas from The Wedding Shop by Shutterfly

Music: Don Eaton Band

Catering: Starr Events

Cake: Aux Petits Delices

Photographer: Lauren Fair Photography

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