A Whimsical Garden Wedding at a Private Residence in Milton, Massachusetts

With their wedding's lush garden setting, twinkling lights and breathtaking decor, Simin Lee (27 and a student) and Nicholas Bodnar’s (26 and a studen

With their wedding's lush garden setting, twinkling lights and breathtaking decor, Simin Lee (27 and a student) and Nicholas Bodnar’s (26 and a student) early fall affair felt straight out of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." The pair gathered their friends and families on a warm September evening at Simin’s family's home in Milton, Massachusetts, a 20th-century manor in the Georgian style with English gardens, for an unforgettable al fresco fete filled with sentimental touches and tradition. With a whimsical soiree in mind, the couple's decor decisions came easily; they ultimately chose a palette of soft ivory, pink and green hues inspired by the setting and grand floral arrangements to bring their vision to life. “We felt so lucky to have such a venue, especially because of its family ties, and hoped the general experience of our wedding would reflect this elegance and magic,” Simin says. The festivities unfolded with a sweet and touching garden ceremony. “We designed our ceremony to reflect, honor and unite our rich cultural backgrounds,” Simin says. “Our ceremony was composed of three phases: a Jewish part officiated by Nicholas’s father, a Persian part officiated by my uncle and a Western/civil ceremony officiated by my Chinese uncle,” Simin says. Persian rugs lined the aisle leading the couple to the piece de resistance for the outdoor affair: a lavish vine chuppah draped in lush ivory roses, under which stood the sofreh aghd, a traditional Persian wedding spread. “It features many items that symbolize the couple’s new life together and are deeply rooted in Persian history,” Simin says. After saying “I do,” the newlyweds made their way up the aisle while upbeat Persian dance music played and guests showered them in ivory rose petals. The reception was held in a sailcloth Sperry tent. The pros at Winston Flowers, Rentals Unlimited and Simeral & Co. transformed the space into a romantic, whimsical scene, evoking the magic and mystery of summer nights through carefully curated decor. A network of lanterns hung overhead, designed to look as if they were floating in midair, and large branches were framed by tent’s poles, making guests feel as though they had been transported to an enchanted forest. Bouquets of blush and ivory roses and hydrangeas arranged into ornate high and low styles dotted the tables, bringing the beauty of the home’s surrounding gardens indoors. No soiree would be complete without a hint of glitz, and shimmery gold table linens and gold-rimmed china and stemware certainly filled the bill. Guests enjoyed a classic Persian wedding meal, then hit the dance floor when Sultans of Swing played late into the night. “They played a fantastic mix of classic jazz and swing, as well as covers of more contemporary songs,” Simin says. “We also had a Persian DJ, who intermittently played sets of fast tempo and Persian dance music while the band rested.” A tip from Simin and Nicholas: “Make sure to work hard to respect each other and your families. Include as many people as possible in the planning and the wedding itself. Make everyone else feel special to make the day even more special for you and your partner.” —Libby MacCarthy

Having grown up in a striking Georgian-inspired early-20th-century home, Simin could think of no place more appropriate to say her “I dos” than her family's home in Milton, Massachusetts. “It is grand and elegant but also maintains a sense of intimacy and enchantment through the surrounding beauty,” Simin says. “We felt so lucky to have such a venue, especially because of its family ties, and hoped the general experience of our wedding would reflect this elegance and magic.”
Wanting her bouquet to reflect the beauty of the gardens at her family’s home, Simin enlisted the help of Winston Flowers to create a bountiful bundle of pale blush and ivory roses and seeded eucalyptus for her walk down the aisle. The bouquet was finished with a simple white satin ribbon for an elegant, romantic look.
Simin’s Monique Lhuillier ball gown perfectly channeled the romance and elegance of the garden soiree with its airy tiers of organza and intricately embellished bodice. “The whole dress looked grand and full, yet was light," Simin says. "In the words of my grandmother, who chose the dress, it ‘danced as [I] danced.” She completed the look with silver Jimmy Choo pumps for a touch of sparkle and diamond stud earrings.
Each aspect of the ceremony, including the decor, spoke to the couple’s rich cultural heritage. As a nod to Simin’s Persian roots, Nicholas and Simin lined the lush, grassy aisle with Persian rugs in deep shades of red.
Simin and Nicholas thoughtfully paid tribute to their Persian and Jewish backgrounds throughout the ceremony by sharing customs and decor. For all three portions of the ceremony, the couple stood under a beautifully ornate vine chuppah draped in lush bundles of ivory and blush roses. “During the ceremony, Nicholas’s father read a Jewish blessing, and four friends and family members of his held the poles of the chuppah, symbolizing the importance of family and friendship in building, supporting and strengthening our home,” Simin says.
A traditional sofreh aghd was placed under Simin and Nicholas’s chuppah for the Persian portion of their ceremony. The spread featured items that symbolized the couple’s new life together, including mirrors and candles for light and purity, pastries for the sweetness of life, eggs and nuts for fertility, coins for wealth and prosperity, pomegranates for a joyous future and incense to guard against misfortune. “The Persian ceremony was joyous, playful and interactive,” Simin says. “Keeping with tradition, when my uncle asked me if I would accept Nicholas to be my husband, I did not answer right away, coyly pretending to be unsure. Guests called out excuses for my silence, also a typical custom at Persian weddings. At the same time, women from my family held a cloth over us, taking turns rubbing kalleh ghand [sugar cones] to sweeten the union.  Once asked three times, I accepted.”
Hosting their nuptials at her family's home, Simin and Nicholas's day was extra sentimental. They also incorporated special details throughout the day, including in the ceremony programs. The programs paid tribute to the locale, with Inviting Co. creating custom-illustrated booklets. The booklets featured a colorful drawing of the family’s home framed by floral flourishes that served as a nod to the English-style gardens.
Nicholas’s father officiated Simin and Nicholas’s Jewish ceremony, which concluded with the traditional breaking of the glass. “Traditionally, this act is meant to remind the couple that love and life are fragile and must be protected,” Simin says. “For us, two people from different cultural backgrounds, this moment also signified the breaking down of barriers to help create a world based on love, unity, peace and understanding.”
The elegant Sperry tent was awash with romantic shades of ivory, blush and pink hues taking on the form of ornate arrangements of garden roses, hydrangeas and lush greenery. Winston Flowers created three distinct arrangements to infuse the open-air space with drama and visual intrigue. Bouquets of the full florals cascaded from tall trumpet vases and crystal candelabras, as well as traditional low-footed vases that exuded timeless appeal.
To balance the whimsical decor and garden-inspired floral arrangements, the couple dressed the tables in an elegant, old-world fashion with gold-rimmed China and stemware. Shimmery gold jacquard linens heightened the effect, while adding a note of glamour to the evening’s aesthetic.
With a "Midsummer Night’s Dream"-inspired theme in mind, Simin and Nicholas knew whimsical touches were a must for their garden soiree. Advanced Lighting & Production Services more than delivered, illuminating the Sperry tent’s vast ceiling with a network of twinkling carriage lanterns that were suspended to look like they were floating in the air.