While ring shopping together will help a bride give her groom-to-be an idea of what she likes, it also makes it harder to plan a surprise proposal, something Justin Bell learned when trying to propose to his now-wife Bethany. "It was no surprise that we'd get engaged soon," says Bethany. "The question was how he'd do it!" In order to catch her off-guard, Justin enlisted the help of her bosses to schedule a "business meeting" on a Friday afternoon—the same day he and Bethany had a dinner date where she was convinced he would propose. "Justin figured that if I was focused on preparing for a business meeting that I wouldn't suspect anything. He was right," Bethany says. On October 5, 2012, Justin's plan went seamlessly. As Bethany walked into Boston's Petit Robert Bistro for her meeting, Justin appeared with a platter of roses — and a ring box.
For their August 24, 2013 wedding, Bethany and Justin, both 33, selected Home Hill Inn in Plainfield, New Hampshire, for the weekend's wedding events, and worked with Krystal Beauregard, the Inn's wedding planner, to pull together all the details. They booked all 12 rooms and spent the entire weekend celebrating with family and friends. Lace curtains, dusty miller, and vintage accents added to the Inn's already antique feel.
See A Brit & A Blonde's photos of their personal and intimate celebration below.
Bethany loves purple, so they incorporated her favorite color throughout the day, from the invitations to the flowers to the signature lavender bellinis. The purple invitations, decorated with the couple's monogram, set the tone for the intimate event.
The bride fell in love with her Casablanca gown while shopping at Trace of Lace in Rutland, Vermont. With soft fabric, a sweetheart neckline, and an elegant lace train, Bethany says "The dress was everything I wanted for my wedding: it was casual enough for the outdoor festivities, while also classy to match the historic venue."
In lieu of a veil, Bethany opted to pull her hair off to the side with an embellished comb. For jewelry, she borrowed the pearl-and-rhinestone earrings and pearl necklace that her sister wore for her wedding less than two months prior.
Bethany carried a bouquet of blush and ivory garden roses, dusty miller, and purple limonium. She wrapped the handle with a silver, rhinestone, and pearl necklace that had belonged to her late grandmother.
Bethany's sister was her matron of honor. She topped her lilac lace dress with an ivory satin and rhinestone belt, which Bethany had worn as her sister's maid of honor two months earlier. Her sister carried a smaller version of the bride's bouquet, with fewer purple accents.
Justin and his best man wore grey suits by Perry Ellis. The groom donned a plaid purple tie, while his best man's was solid eggplant. The rose boutonnieres were accented with dusty miller and purple limonium sprigs.
For the 3 p.m. ceremony, 60 guests sat in a semi-circle formation on the Inn's front lawn, facing a beautiful wooden arbor that the bride and groom built together. The final product was draped with ivory lace curtains and tied back with clusters of white roses. Escorted by her father and stepfather, Bethany walked down the aisle to "A Thousand Years" played by a live pianist and cellist. "I'd heard a version by The Piano Guys, and knew that's what I wanted for my processional," says the bride. Bethany is glad she and Justin skipped the first look. "Walking down the aisle and having him see me in my wedding dress for the first time was amazing," she says.
"Justin and I did a lot of research online, then put the ceremony together ourselves," says Bethany. "We wrote our own vows, but didn't share them with each other until the ceremony. It was such a great surprise to hear what he had to say."
The bride's 85-year-old grandfather was ordained to officiate the ceremony. The newlyweds chose "All You Need is Love" by The Beatles as their recessional.
"The ceremony was our favorite part of the day," the bride says. "It was short and sweet and full of romance." Following the ceremony, the couple enjoyed a quiet hour together on the Inn's wooded grounds as photographers snapped photos of their first moments together as newlyweds.
Bottle openers in the shape of antique skeleton keys served as both escort cards and party favors for guests.
Guests toasted the newly-minted Mr. and Mrs. Bell with one of the couple's many signature cocktails, choosing between Kentucky Iced Tea, a Lavender Bellini, Dark n' Stormy, Raspberry Gin Ricky, and Strawberry-Kiwi-Margarita.
The Inn's chef prepared a buffet-style dinner of prime rib, sweet potato and ricotta gnudi, and mixed greens.
For a sweet, simple look on the dinner tables, lace ribbon was tied around a single mason jar filled with white and blush garden roses. "We didn't do a whole lot of decorating for the reception since the Inn had its own character," Bethany says. "We tented the patio so that we could dance in the summer air."
They draped the tent with strands of lights and paper lanterns, and a DJ spun into the evening. As a nod to Bethany's processional song, she and Justin shared their first dance to "A Thousand Years Part II" by Christina Perri.
Table numbers were written on miniature chalkboards and placed in mason jars full of blush and white roses.
While wedding cake is well and good, Bethany and Justin one-upped the traditional dessert with a buffet of their favorite sweet treats. They served pies, chocolate truffles, lavender cream puffs, shortbread cookies and biscotti. Not to mention a chocolate fountain with homemade marshmallows! If that wasn't enough, guests were treated to a nacho bar before calling it a night.
The couple made their exit with heart-shaped sparklers in hand, then honeymooned in Bar Harbor, Maine.
"If you have a vision for your wedding, find a way to make it work," Bethany says. "Not to say that you should break the bank to make your wildest dreams come true, but rather get creative! Ask venues and vendors if there is anything they can do to help you reach your goals while staying within your budget."