A Whimsical, Formal Wedding at Castle Hill at Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts

Inspired by the season and Crane Estate’s old-world grandeur, Robin Chalfin (43 and a psychotherapist and a teacher) and Krista Kranyak (42 and a rest

Inspired by the season and Crane Estate’s old-world grandeur, Robin Chalfin (43 and a psychotherapist and a teacher) and Krista Kranyak (42 and a restaurateur) pulled off an elegant, formal fete that perfectly expressed their passion for celebrating life’s little gifts. While the couple initially envisioned at a rustic affair in a woodland setting or a historic barn, they fell head over heels for Castle Hill at Crane Estate within minutes of stepping foot on the Ipswich, Massachusetts, property. “We loved the incredible natural beauty of the seaside land preserve and the breathtaking grandeur of the rolling lawn and castle on the estate,” Robin says. “We have an unconventional love story, with a long winding road toward marriage. And as a same-sex couple and a multiracial family, we loved the idea of writing our own fairy tale.” The day unfolded with an interfaith ceremony on the lawn, where Robin and Krista shared their connection to the natural world and Jewish tradition. Close friends officiated, and the couple asked close friends and family members to read poetry and an excerpt from the legal decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In addition to exchanging vows, the couple included Robin’s children, Ella and Aria, in the ceremony. Together, they performed a family rite, in which Krista placed pear gold necklaces on each of them, symbolizing her new commitment as a parent and their bond as a family. Cocktail hour followed in the ballroom, where guests warmed up with decadent demitasse cups of squash soup with poached lobster and a spread of seasonal eats. “We had planned to have our cocktail hour outdoors on the great lawn, but with the unseasonably cold temperatures brought on by hurricane Joaquin, we moved the cocktail hour to the ballroom,” Robin says. The reception took place in the gallery, the ideal backdrop for Krista and Robin’s vision for a grand-yet-intimate feast overlooking Crane Estate’s expansive grounds. Flickering candlelight, varied centerpieces bearing lush greenery, mercury-glass accents and sleek silver linens struck the perfect balance of country charm and old-world glamour. “The floating candles helped to elevate the presentation and give it a formal more elegant look. It was a great advantage to be able to use real candles that gave the entire room a warm glow,” Robin says. Krista’s passion for cooking played out during dinner, where a farm-to-table feast delighted even the most discerning palates. After indulging in a slice of cake (chocolate-hazelnut, carrot or lemon-raspberry), the newlyweds and their guests headed straight to the dance floor. Robin and her maid of honor surprised everyone with a flash mob to “Everybody Dance Now,” which set the tone for a fun, high-energy evening. A tip from Robin: “At crucial times, both of us had to let go of expectations and also embrace ideas the other had that we didn’t initially welcome. Through this process, we developed an even deeper appreciation for each other’s talents and strengths and had a wedding that we loved all the more. We could not have imagined it alone—it was a true collaboration.” —Libby MacCarthy

Playing off their opulent venue and the evening’s formal tone, the couple went for glitz and glamour when it came to their footwear. Robin paired her strapless Alvina Valenta gown with shimmery gold kitten heels, while Krista opted for a sleek pair of patent monk-strap dress shoes.
Krista and Robin created an elegant, layered look for their wedding party, dressing their bridesmaids, groomsmen and flower girls in shades of navy, gold and gray. Some of the bridesmaids donned floor-length dresses with navy beaded detailing, while others wore shimmery gray gowns. The junior bridesmaids and flower girls wore gold and candlelight silk and tulle dresses, bringing an element of warmth and drama to the wedding party’s look. “The feel of the wedding party was timeless elegance mixed with a twist of gender fluidity and playfulness,” Robin says.
A subtle bird motif was woven throughout the day, appearing in details such as the woodblock-printed stationery, the songs sung during the ceremony and even the ring pillow—a bird’s nest filled with vibrant green moss.
In the early stages of planning, Krista and Robin envisioned themselves saying “I do” in a rustic woodland setting or an inviting country barn, but after stepping foot on the grounds of Castle Hill at Crane Estate, all bets were off. “We hadn’t imagined something so grand, but my daughters, Ella and Aria, had,” Robin says. “When I first told them that Krista and I were getting engaged and would be married in the coming year, they asked if it meant that we were all going to live together in a castle.”
Robin and Krista incorporated Jewish traditions into the ceremony proceedings, including a birch chuppah and the breaking of the glass. “Our ceremony reflected our appreciation for ritual and revision in the context of being deeply spiritual, a same-sex couple, a blended family and an interfaith family,” Robin says. “We drew first and foremost from our spiritual connection to the natural world and from a timeless connection with ancient Jewish ritual.”
Floating candles and gold-tinted lily grass displayed in footed glass vessels tinted elevated the presentation of the lush green centerpieces, infusing the room with a hint of sophistication and glamour. “It was a great advantage to be able to use real candles that gave the entire room a warm glow,” Robin says.
The table names paid tribute to Krista’s love of cooking, each bearing the name of a different herb. The table names were written in gold calligraphy on midnight blue cards, tying into the refined color palette for the reception at at Castle Hill at Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
The couple worked closely with New Leaf Flores in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, to strike the ultimate balance of polish and rustic panache. “Jeb and Daniel created botanical tablescapes to run the length of each long table, which incorporated a variety of green elements, silvery gray accents, white blooms and foliage to create a swath of soft color and texture from end to end,” Robin says.
Robin’s mother made all the favors—beeswax candles adorned with bows of silk-satin ribbon. “We wanted something organically beautiful and symbolic and were so happy with what she made,” Robin says. The candles doubled as place cards, with each candle bearing the name of each guest and a message from the couple expressing their gratitude for each guest’s support and presence.
After dinner, the newlyweds kicked the celebration into high gear with a few lively Jewish traditions, such as the hora. As a surprise for their guests, Robin and her maid of honor initiated a flash mob to “Everybody Dance Now,” which got guests out of their seats and onto the dance floor.