A Whimsical Garden Wedding at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio

Nicole Savoy (37 and a fashion photographer) and Derek Schultz (30 and an IT specialist) met through an online gaming community and bonded through vid

Nicole Savoy (37 and a fashion photographer) and Derek Schultz (30 and an IT specialist) met through an online gaming community and bonded through video games. They were friends before going through a rough year, finding solace in each other and falling in love. Derek proposed with a 5-karat Swiss blue topaz and diamond-studded white gold band, quoting a romantic line from "Pride and Prejudice" (“I had always referred to him as my Mr. Darcy,” Nicole says) under the stars next to a bay in Texas, where Nicole enjoyed countless fishing trips with her dad and uncle. “It was perfect,” Nicole says. When they started talking about their wedding (it was Nicole’s second wedding and Derek’s first—and the courthouse was out of the question), Derek challenged Nicole with the question: “If you could have any wedding you wanted, what would it be?” He had two requests—that it be hosted at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio, and that the attire be formal. The challenge kept Nicole up at night, who finally decided she wanted a fantasy wedding built around her favorite childhood book, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," with romantic influences from "Pride and Prejudice." The couple knew it would be tough to pull this off on their own, so they brought in the professionals, who were happy to work with such a creative theme. Nicole and Derek’s vision came to life, from the garden-inspired pastels to the whimsical hanging floral parasols to the black-and-white-checkered dance floor to the decadent dessert display and mazelike boxwood hedges, taking guests down the rabbit hole in the most amazing way possible. —Chrissy Sorenson 

Nicole created the pale pink invitations, inspired by her love of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio, is the nation’s sixth largest historic home open to the public. The estate includes five buildings and eight gardens spread across 70 acres.
"I'm a plus-size bride with curves. With the vision of this soft romantic, whimsical and elegant 'Alice in Wonderland'-themed wedding, I needed a gown that would complement and duplicate the equivalent traits," Nicole says. She also wanted a gown that would match the style of the historic venue, and she found the perfect fit in a lace and ivory Oleg Casanni gown. "I felt graceful and delicate," she says. "It was serendipity."
"I loved the pale pink peonies, hydrangeas and ranunculus," Nicole says of her bouquet. "I loved it all, including the moss and ferns."
The bridesmaids wore soft pastel dresses, reminiscent of spring, with lace-heeled shoes, lace gloves, and ruby heart-shaped necklaces with matching earrings. They carried
A set of vintage doors adorned in floral arrangements welcomed guests to the outdoor ceremony.
The altar was decorated in greenery and flowers; the aisle featured moss rabbits, rabbit lanterns and potted ferns. A trail of white rose petals created an outdoor aisle.
"Even though we chose a more natural setting for the ceremony, it was still magical and enchanting with the added flowers," Nicole says. A giant oversize paper flower, carried by the flower girl, really gave the ceremony an "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" feel.
Nicole's advice to future brides came in handy on her own wedding day, when it rained for 10 minutes during the ceremony: "Don't stress. This is a hard concept, but really—if it rains, just learn to dance in the rain."
Escort cards were delicate scalloped hearts, with skeleton keys attached, hanging from a moss wall.
The couple shared their first dance on a black-and-white-checkered dance floor to "You Are Mine" by Spencer Combs and Holley Maher.
The groom made whimsical moss umbrellas hanging above the dance floor, greenery was draped from the chandelier, and there were garden-inspired elements throughout the space. Seeing her vision come to life was emotional, Nicole says. "I think a couple of tears welled up in my eyes."
The floral arrangements were reminiscent of a spring garden, with moss adding to the garden feel at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio.
Nicole told her wedding planner and florist that she wanted a muted theme of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." "It was exciting to see the joy in their eyes of actually being a part of my vision and the competition it inspired in them of creating this chimerical and original wedding," she says. "They knew it had to be Wonderland yet hold on to the elegance and grace of a nuptial." During the reception, Nicole and Derek sat on vintage chairs in front of a floral wall, flanked by elaborate moss topiaries.
Moss table numbers helped create a gardenlike ambiance on the table settings.
Guests received adorable Alice in Wonderland-inspired cookies as favors.
Nicole's multi-tiered buttercream cake, adorned in bows, was a butter yellow cake with strawberry filling; Derek's fondant cake—in the shape of a top hat—was a red velvet cake with white chocolate filling. He had a fondant cake in the shape of a top hat and I had a tier buttercream cake with some fondant bows adorned to it. Their cake topper said "You're My Greatest Adventure." rn