A Whimsical Autumn Wedding at Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, Connecticut

With a palette of slate blue, burgundy and peach and a carefully curated selection of vintage items, Stefanie Gargano (29 and a physician) and Christo

With a palette of slate blue, burgundy and peach and a carefully curated selection of vintage items, Stefanie Gargano (29 and a physician) and Christopher Parks (30 and a physician) pulled off an elegant fall fete with English garden flair. “I love all things vintage and am obsessed with shows like 'Downton Abbey,' and I wanted my wedding to have a timeless, romantic feel,” Stefanie says. “I wanted it to feel like you were transported to a grand estate in the English countryside in the 1920s.” Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, Connecticut, provided the ultimate backdrop for the day with its expansive gardens, refined early-20th-century architecture and intimate settings. Since the venue was all-inclusive, the planning process was stress-free. “I knew I was going to be busy working 80 hours a week as a resident, and I wanted the wedding planning to be as hassle-free as possible and require minimal coordination between vendors,” Stefanie says. “I loved that all the food, decor, flowers, linens and place settings were all done by one person.” While the couple originally intended to host their “I dos” outdoors, the weather had other ideas. To prevent a downpour from interrupting the celebration, the ceremony was moved indoors to the atrium, which the Lord Thompson staff transformed into an intimate, romantic backdrop for the couple’s vows. Warm candlelight filled the room with a warm glow, while bundles of brilliant peach, burgundy and blush blooms brought a pop of brilliant color to the refined space. As a nod to Stefanie’s Polish heritage, her parents performed a traditional Polish wedding custom during the ceremony, in which they presented Stefanie and Christopher with bread in hope that they never go hungry, salt to overcome the difficult times in life together and wine to enjoy the sweetness in life. After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests enjoyed cocktail hour outdoors on the patio, where they sipped on signature drinks—manhattans, sidecars and vodka lemonades with mint—while acoustic guitar played softly in the background. Passed hors d’oeuvres, a spread of Italian charcuterie, fish tacos and lobster mac and cheese went over big with guests and gave them a preview of the culinary delights to come. Top-notch food was a top priority for Stefanie and Christopher, both of whom are self-proclaimed foodies. Lord Thompson Manor’s Chef Mike (a James Beard Award winner) hit it out of the park with a standout meal that paid tribute to the season. “Everyone said it was the best meal they had ever had at a wedding, and I agree—the food was unbelievable and not like traditional wedding food in any way. It tasted like something you would get at a five-star restaurant,” Stefanie says. After dinner the newlyweds and their guests made a beeline to the dance floor where local band Those Guys kept the tunes coming all night. “My brother, Chris and I heard about them from a friend, and we went to check them out during a snowstorm. They all showed up to play despite the weather, and even though there weren’t a ton of people in the crowd, they played like they were playing for a ton of people,” Stefanie says. “We had so much fun and danced all night, so we knew we had to have them for our wedding.” A tip from Stefanie: “Enjoy the planning process, and don’t get bogged down in the stress of little details—planning should be fun. You and your partner will inevitably fight over dumb things, especially when making the seating arrangements, but don’t let the stress of the wedding planning distract from the ultimate goal, which is the marriage.” —Libby MacCarthy

Custom Blue Letterpress Wedding Invitations
To complete her whimsical bridal look, Stefanie stepped into a pair of champagne Badgley Mischka heels, dressed to the nines with shimmery beadwork in a scalloped design and dainty ankle straps.
As a self-proclaimed black thumb, Stefanie gave planner Jackie free rein over the florals. “I didn’t have any special requests, but I sent her pictures from Pinterest of centerpieces and bouquets I liked and trusted her to take care of it—which she did more than I could have expected,” Stefanie says. For her walk down the aisle, Stefanie carried a dramatic yet dainty bouquet of roses, dahlias, dusty miller, astilbes and seeded eucalyptus wrapped in ethereal chiffon ribbon.
“I was into the mismatched bridesmaid look, but I still wanted cohesion,” Stefanie says. “I had also been in a wedding where the bride just picked a color and said choose whatever dress you want, and I found it even more stressful trying to find a dress in the color she wanted.” Knowing she wanted the dresses to be a specific shade of blue, Stefanie had the women don a convertible dress by Jenny Yoo that offered the best of both worlds. Her maids of honor wore floor-length Adrianna Papell gowns with beaded embroidery that tied in perfectly with the evening’s vintage theme.
When it came to the flowers, Stefanie let planner Jackie take the lead. She didn’t disappoint, creating romantic, loosely tied bouquets of dusty miller, roses and astilbes in shades of slate blue and pink that popped against the gray-blue bridesmaid gowns.
The couple’s planner paid tribute to Christopher’s love of pheasant hunting by incorporating pheasant feathers into the boutonnieres. For a touch of seasonal flair, she teamed them with burgundy hypericum berries that popped against the wedding party’s gray suits.
Stefanie went to Kleinfeld Bridal  and fell head over heels for Watters’ Erin wedding gown, a Chantilly lace fit-and-flare design with a Queen Anne neckline and delicate sleeves. “After I bought the dress I had a minor crisis and wanted to wear a princess gown, so I ended up buying a skirt from BHLDN that I wore over the dress and then took off for the reception,” Stefanie says. “It was great. I had two dresses in one: my princess gown for the ceremony and my beautiful lace gown for the reception, which was much easier to move around and dance in.”
Stefanie and Christopher planned to host their “I dos” outdoors, but the weather had something else in mind. The ceremony was moved indoors to avoid an inevitable downpour, but the Lord Thompson staff quickly turned the estate’s atrium into the perfect intimate setting for the couple’s vows, complete with flickering candlelight and soft, bright blooms.
Bringing their English garden theme to life, the couple’s three signature cocktails—manhattans, sidecars, and mint vodka lemonades—were served at a boxwood-trimmed bar framed by elegant cast-iron urns bearing sculptural boxwood plants.
To bring their vintage theme to life, Stefanie and Christopher added details throughout Lord Thompson Manor, including vintage glass bottles, old books, spectacles and clocks. “On our first visit to Thompson Manor, Jackie—the owner and wedding planner—showed us an entire room of decor she uses; it was like being in a beautiful antique store. I love antiquing, so I was in heaven,” Stefanie says.
Having different centerpieces for each table was a must for Stefanie, and the couple’s planner, Jackie, didn’t disappoint. Bright pink, peach and burgundy blooms were styled alongside fresh fruit, vintage brass candlesticks and various vintage bits and pieces to create a dramatic look that exuded old-world elegance.
To emphasize the evening’s old-world theme, Stefanie and Christopher decorated the reception tables with vintage details such as books, brass accents and old spectacles.
“I used to work at a wedding venue as a banquet server in high school, and I can remember couples having this huge fancy cake that we would cut and serve, but most of it got thrown out,”  Stefanie says. “I vowed then that I would never spend money on an expensive, extravagant cake for my wedding.” Instead, the couple opted for a small one-tier cutting cake trimmed with fresh fruit, flowers and a “Love” cake topper. After dinner, the couple treated guests to a slice of white sheet cake with fresh berry filling and whipped cream—Chris’s favorite treat. “The sheet cake was delicious, and we saved a ton of money but still had a small pretty cake to display.”
Stefanie and Christopher’s favors were a true labor of love. They gave each guest a homemade cinnamon candle, labeling each mini mason jar with a sticker that read “Let love glow.” “It was a lot of work to make over 100 candles, but we had fun doing it together,” Stefanie says.