A Wisteria-Filled Wedding at Chesterwood Estate in the Berkshires
"What’s there to say about our wedding other than that it was, well, perfect. Just kidding, I have a million things to say about our wedding," jokes Stephen of his wedding to Alex at Chesterwood Estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. "First and foremost, what we wanted our wedding to be was really a celebration of love as a whole. Alex and I had been together seven years by the time we got married—we’d moved across the country twice, been long-distance twice, been there for each other through so much along the way: we just wanted a weekend to really celebrate everywhere we’ve been and everywhere we want to go together. Also, as members of the LGBTQ+ community, we wholeheartedly believe in the power of 'chosen family,' and we wanted to make sure our wedding really spotlighted the amazing people who make our lives so rich and full," says Stephen.
"The wedding was a two-day affair in the Berkshires, starting with a rehearsal dinner at Gedney Farm in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. After the actual rehearsal with our respective wedding parties, we transitioned into an outdoor cocktail hour on Gedney’s back porch with hors d’oeuvres and fresh grilled meat from the farm’s wood-fired grill. We then had a full dinner with all our guests, including speeches, dessert, and ending in an impromptu dance party. Honestly, the rehearsal dinner was so amazing it felt like it could have been the wedding," says Stephen. "Until, that is, the wedding day came."
"The wedding day started with each of us getting ready with our respective friends and family. While we were getting ready, there was talk of a chance of rain which made us all nervous because we were having an outdoor wedding, but aside from a single crack of lightning and 3 minutes of drizzle, we were in the clear with gorgeous weather. This is good because the ceremony and reception were set outdoors at Chesterwood Estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The former home of Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, Chesterwood’s grounds are simply stunning with gardens and a gorgeous wide-open lawn where we had our tent. The ceremony took place in Chesterwood’s gardens and it’s simply impossible to put into words how magical the whole thing was," recalls Stephen of the couple's wedding venue in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
"Our close friend Gina wrote and officiated the ceremony and made the whole thing incredibly personal—no exaggeration, literally everyone was in tears the entire time. Gina also incorporated the tradition of wedding stefana, or crowns, that’s part of a traditional Greek wedding ceremony. These crowns are meant to signify that the couple is now the monarchs of their own family, they’re tied together by a ribbon to signify that two are now one, and my brother dean and Alex’s sibling Kamryn placed them on our heads to signify the support of our families. As Alex and I are both Greek, this was a really important addition to the ceremony, and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about that moment." In addition to a beautifully written ceremony, the couple's vow exchange was also filled with stunning decor and meaningful details. "We gave each guest a palm fan to fend off the heat, and a small cone of lavender to toss instead of rice. We also wanted our florals to complement the space—natural and beautiful, not overly manicured. That said, we were not shy with floral elements. We added florals to the arch we were married under to create the look of purple wisteria hanging from the metal elements and large bouquets of purple ombre flowers at the columns of the arch. Something we also did that we thought was really special was that we had every member of our wedding party carry a white bouquet while they walked down the aisle—regardless of gender," says Stephen.
"After the ceremony, we had cocktail hour with the guests in the gardens (with passed hors d’oeuvres, a ridiculous charcuterie board, and a signature Rosemary Gin Gimlet) followed by a tented reception on Chesterwood’s lawn." To escort attendees from the cocktail hour space to the reception, guests were guided through a path of glowing luminaries. "Leading up to the tent from the cocktail hour in the garden, we set out a path of luminaria to light the way—at night, they played a beautiful counterpoint to the sky full of stars above," recalls Stephen of the detail.
Tasty food, great decor and festive dancing made Stephen and Alex's reception one for the books. "The food was amazing—guests had a choice between a Heritage Pork Chop with Grilled peaches and Halibut with Beurre Blanc and a Mango Salsa—and the cake was simple and perfect: a vanilla cake with lemon curd and raspberry coulis with white buttercream. Our parents, siblings, and friends made a couple of toasts, and then we were ready to start dancing. And dance we did, HARD. Until that is, the power went out to our speakers. But not to worry; while our planners figured out the issue behind the scenes, our friends took it upon themselves to scream sing and keep the dancing going. After 10 minutes and three-ish a cappella bangers, the power came back on and we danced our faces off until it was time to call it a night," recalls Stephen of the reception hiccup that became a memorable part of the evening's festivities. "Florals were also a major part of our reception tent. At the center of the tent, we had two young trees marking the entryway. Each table—we had both long rectangular and round tables—also had bouquets of purple and white florals, as well as mini glass bud vases along the center acting as kind of freeform centerpieces. Finally, each plate also had a sprig of lavender on it, tying everything together." Also, in keeping with honoring their shared Greek heritage, Stephen and Alex sprinkled a few other "touches of Greekness throughout the wedding–our wedding would not have been complete without spanakopita and a little bit of Greek dancing!"
"Literally every second the wedding weekend was truly magical, I could keep going all day. In terms of style, we wanted to have things look natural and beautiful. We chose our location in the Berkshires due to the beautiful greenery and nature that fill the area, and we wanted our wedding to visually complement that scenery and location. We also specifically didn’t want to ascribe to any gender stereotypes. As people, we’re a mixture of masculine and feminine elements—tough and delicate, strong and soft—and we wanted to make sure that shined through in every aspect of our wedding. We chose a color palette that featured rich greens, purples, and blues with hints of copper to marry those two goals," recalls Stephen of the couple's joyful wedding at Chesterwood Estate in the Berkshires. "Weddings are such a unique opportunity to bring together people to truly celebrate your love, and we wanted to surround ourselves with people who matter most to us. Especially as gay men who until recently didn’t think a wedding like this would have been possible, it was hugely important to surround ourselves with people who make us feel loved and supported not in spite of, but because of who we are. This meant prioritizing the people we knew would be truly ecstatic the moment we said 'I do' and had our first kiss as husbands—the sort of people who would come to our rescue if the power went out! Lastly, because several wedding traditions are specific to brides and grooms, we felt very free to 'break the rules' when we didn’t think a tradition made sense for us. For instance, we both were walked down the aisle by our parents, which was very special for us. Rather than stay apart the night before the wedding, we stayed together in a (gorgeous historic) house with fifteen of our closest friends and chosen family. Our wedding parties featured people of all genders, and everyone carried a bouquet regardless of gender identity. Our officiant was one of our best friends who knew us and our history firsthand. It was a lot of these small touches that made it feel like it was our wedding."