Actors Lesley-Ann Brandt (whose new show, Lucifer, premieres tonight on Fox!) and Chris Payne Gilbert (of 10 Items or Less fame) first met as most in the industry do: at work! "We met at the Nancy Banks Acting Studio in 2012 after being assigned a scene together," Lesley-Ann remembers. "It was an incredibly hot day in Los Angeles and I was laying down on the living room floor nursing a beer. Chris walked in and looked at me and say he thought, 'Who is this crazy chick drinking before our rehearsal?' We talked for the next two hours and laughed a lot, and then at our next rehearsal we kissed." Although she admits it was scripted, she says it took her by surprise and the two have been together ever since. Two years later, on June 26, 2014, Chris surprised Lesley-Ann with a beach proposal and impromptu engagement party.
The two struggled to find the perfect place to host their wedding. Since the bride grew up in Cape Town and spent 12 years in New Zealand, she has always imagined exchanging vows on the beach, but Chris, who hails from Massachusetts and lived in Vermont, preferred a more country setting. "No matter where we chose to have our wedding we knew that some of our guests would have to travel," the bride says. "We both wanted at least one of us to experience a wedding back home." Since the groom's family lives in Bennington, Vermont, directly across from the Hubbell Homestead at Colgate Park, a venue the couple fell in love with, Lesley-Ann and Chris decided on a late summer wedding in New England. With a simple and sweet vision for their day in mind, the couple planned a celebration packed with local and in-season flowers, vintage glassware, and great food. Keep reading to see Christina Florada Photography's beautiful photos of their day.
With a busy work schedule, Lesley-Ann and Chris admit the early stages of planning were the most difficult. "We were in Los Angeles planning a wedding in Vermont and I was shooting the Lucifer pilot," the bride says. "When the pilot got picked up as a series, I had to go to Canada to shoot, so it was a lot to juggle." With the help and support of her future in-laws, the busy bride made long-distance planning work. But there was one difficult part of planning that fell entirely on Chris and Lesley-Ann's shoulders: the guest list. "That was hard!"
The stunning bride donned a two-piece silk gown from Monique Lhuillier. "I wear a lot of two-piece looks and I wanted something that was comfortable and me," she says. "The dress was simple, modern, and chic. I'm not really a sparkly, poofy kind of girl. This felt right." Lesley-Ann wasn't the only one who fell hard for her wedding dress. The bride's young niece (and flower girl!) couldn't stop gushing about how beautiful her aunt looked in the gown. "She was at my final fitting and looked up at me with her huge brown eyes and said, 'You look like a princess! Where is my wedding dress?' I ended up getting her a white flower girl dress for the ceremony."
She accessorized with a blush veil from Monique Lhullier, blue Charlotte Olympia pumps, and nature-inspired jewelry created by Bridget Shuster Fine Jewelry.
One special accessory Lesley-Ann wore was a gift from Chris. "Right before the ceremony started a package arrived from him with a note and a gift," she says. "He had melted down two rings that his mother gave him and used the gold to make a pendant with the word 'appeltjie' engraved on it. It means 'little apple' and was my late grandfather's nickname for me. I was incredibly close to him and was thinking of him all day, wishing he was still with us."
Since Lesley-Ann's six bridesmaids live all over the world, she knew it would be difficult to coordinate matching gowns. Instead, she bought a swatch of fabric in a color she loved and sent it to each of her attendants, asking that they choose any dress they like in that color family. "I never wanted to be the bride who forced her friends into wearing something they weren't comfortable in and wouldn't wear again," she adds. "They did an amazing job of finding dresses that were individual to them but also worked so well together."
Chris chose a midnight blue Paul Smith suit, which he paired with a sharp bowtie.
The couple wanted to use local and in-season flowers throughout their day, and Mt. Williams Flowers brought their vision to life. A rustic ceremony altar was draped with greenery and bright blooms. Chris and Lesley-Ann's flower girl and ring bearers kicked off the ceremony before their two dogs made their way down the aisle. "We wrote our own vows and when we said them, it was like a conversation in our kitchen," Lesley-Ann says of the ceremony. "It was from the heart."
We wrote our own vows and when we said them, it was like a conversation in our kitchen. It was from the heart.
The reception was held in a nearby tent where rustic wooden tables were decorated with mixed arrangements of white and pink flowers. While the couple went with local flowers on most tables, it was important to include South African protea on the main table. "It was a way to reflect my heritage," Lesley-Ann says.
Each place setting included a mini hangover kit as a favor for guests to take home.
The couple shared their first dance to Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You." Instead of having separate father-daughter and mother-son dances, the bride and groom's parents joined Lesley-Ann and Chris on the dance floor towards the end of the song.
Lesley-Ann and Chris chose not to have a traditional wedding cake for dessert. "My grandmother was an extraordinary baker and has made all of my friends and family's wedding cakes. I had just always assumed she would make mine but she passed away a few years ago," Lesley-Ann says. "I couldn't imagine having a cake not made by her so we opted for a dessert station instead."
The pair delayed their honeymoon due to the bride's busy filming schedule, but plan to take a romantic trip this year. Lesley-Ann advises future brides to laugh at the craziness of the wedding day and remember what is most important. "Flowers, food, and table settings does not a marriage make, so if you can't get the exact things you want, who cares? It goes by so quickly, so really take your time, be present, and soak it all up."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Hubbell Homestead at Colgate Park
Wedding Planner & Catering: Dawn Van Ness of Mezze Catering
Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Monique Lhuillier
Jewelry: Bridget Shuster Fine Jewelry
Shoes: Charlotte Olympia
Hair: Travisean Haynes
Makeup: Julianne Kaye
Groom's Attire: Paul Smith
Engagement Ring: Lizzie Mandler
Wedding Bands: Cartier
Florist: Mt. Williams Greenhouse
Photographer: Christina Florada Photography