A Vintage Fall Wedding at Emerson Creek Pottery and Tea Room in Oswego, Illinois

Stephanie (31 and a freelance photographer) and Ryan (35 and a designer) planned an elegant vintage-inspired affair with a subtle rustic twist for their fall wedding at Emerson Creek Pottery and Tea Room in Oswego, Ill. “We wanted to get married outside in October and have the ceremony and reception at the same place,” says Stephanie. “We searched high and low, then Emerson was recommended to me by another photographer friend of mine. We grabbed the last available date, a Friday. It was absolutely perfect!”

The day was truly a labor of love, with the couple’s closest family members and friends pitching in their unique talents and skills to bring the couple’s vision to life. The day started with an outdoor ceremony overlooking Emerson’s quaint pond, officiated by one of Stephanie’s close friends. “Ryan and I each picked a person close to us to choose a reading to read. We didn’t hear them beforehand,” says Stephanie. The pair exchanged vows under an elegant wooden arch decorated with a garland of olive leaves, garden roses and small pink blooms. 

The evening’s festivities unfolded inside the barn, where details like ivory chandeliers, bright yellow and peach centerpieces displayed atop tree trunks and ladylike lace linens fused old world and organic styles to stunning effect. “I really let my florist go to town here and she did an incredible job,” says Stephanie. “We had Ryan’s uncle cut the tree trunks, since he works at a landscaping company and had access to the right tools. My florist also knew that I liked artichokes, so she wove some of those throughout.”

James Beard award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal gifted the couple a decadent chocolate wedding cake for guests to enjoy after dinner, and the pair treated their friends and families to a special whiskey drink, “Cherry Bounce,” that Stephanie made herself. “I pitted seven pounds of Michigan cherries and then marinated them in a special whiskey mixture from Ryan’s friend’s grandfather for six months,” says Stephanie.

Toast & Jam kept the dance floor packed with a playlist of the couple’s favorite songs, and at the end of the night, Stephanie and Ryan sent everyone home with potted succulents that from Stephanie’s aunt’s garden.

A tip for the taking from Stephanie: “Try to find a good compromise between what you want and what your parents want. The fighting isn’t worth it, but definitely stand your ground. I was firm about not getting married in a church and it was really hard for my parents. In the end, we got married the way we wanted, and then two days later got married again in a church and we were both happy. Also, take at least 10 minutes after the ceremony to just sit with your new spouse alone — with appetizers. It’s an intense, long and hectic day, and to be able to set aside time with your partner and say ‘Hey! We’re married,” without 100 people trying to talk to you is really special.”