Nell and Josh–CT Farm Wedding–Part II–The Big Day

Last week I gushed about the setting for Nell and Josh’s gorgeous Connecticut farm wedding, and today I’m happy to share Part II- all about the wedding day. Next week I’ll share even more about their amazing details–from flowers to color palette and decor. So, onto the big day…

I adore a bride and groom who kick off their wedding day with an early morning group hike near their wedding venue. Young and old traversed beautiful wooden paths through spring flower-filled fields and hiked up to an exhilarating overlook in Washington, CT before everyone dispersed to get ready for the wedding. That afternoon, I photographed the bridal preparations in a gorgeous red barn with double height windows and amazing natural light. And what’s not to love about a bride who pairs her stunning Monique Lhullier dress with a favorite pair of Old Gringo cowboy boots? Nell and Josh did a quick “first look” in the barn (I loved witnessing their smiles and first hug) before heading out for group photos prior to the ceremony. They had planned for a casual outdoor ceremony, complete with a carefully crafted aisle that had been painstakingly mowed into a field by the bride’s father. But as we know, you can’t always plan for everything…and a torrential rainstorm forced the vows under the reception tent. The bride and groom took it all in stride, and you’d never know from the beaming bride that weather had hampered their original plan.

Their ceremony–officiated by the bride’s sister–was beautifully personalized with a group reading from their closest friends (each read a line), an adorable entrance from their dapperly dressed nephew/ring bearer, and an engaging song performed by three close friends. Friends and family huddled close together under the gorgeous Sperry tent as Mother Nature’s symphony provided background music to the vows, which created an intimate, memorable atmosphere. Following the ceremony, guests were treated to drinks and camera-worthy passed appetizers, before sitting for dinner at elegant burlap-covered tables decorated with candles, coral and turquoise napkins, and potted spring flowers. Following dinner, the evening heated up with some major dancing to Joe D’Elia and the All Star Band, complete with a wild trombone player who cavorted and played among the guests!

Two unique twists rounded out the perfect evening–a homemade dessert table, and a paper lantern launch. The bride shared that “we have lots of talented bakers in our lives, so we asked my Uncle to bake our beautiful wedding cake and a group of friends to create their favorite dessert treats. We found that having people help was a great way to celebrate them and to make people feel involved in the day.” The result was a drool-worthy spread of carrot cake, profiteroles, and brownies, each displayed with a handmade label of which friend had created it. In addition to this sweet finish to the night, the rain finally cleared, which allowed the party to spill out of the tent and light beautiful paper lanterns. As each guest set them off into the sky, the visual display of many colorful lanterns floating up above the dark fields was truly striking. What a unique way to send up well wishes to the newly minted couple! Congrats to Nell and Josh on pulling off the most beautiful rainy wedding day ever, and thanks for letting me record part of it.

For those of you that were a part of this special day, what is your favorite memory? Let us know in the comments! 

Stay tuned for more about the creative and stunning details next week!


Nell and Josh–CT Farm Wedding–Part I:The Setting

I think we can all use a dose of spring color right now, and Nell and Josh’s spring wedding on a gorgeous Connecticut farm is the perfect antidote to this never-ending winter! I could gush on and on about this wedding, but I’ll pare it down into three blog posts: the setting, the big day, and the details.

Part I: The Setting
The bride grew up on a hay farm, Holliecroft, in Northwest Connecticut. It’s everything you imagine when you close your eyes and picture a beautiful New England farm: a winding country road surrounded by verdant fields, undulating stone walls, vibrant red barns, a gorgeous 19th century octagonal farmhouse, and various outbuildings surrounded by antique farm equipment. In short, the perfect place to draw inspiration from for a meaningful and gorgeous wedding design. The wedding was held in early May and took advantage of the beauty of spring in New England. As a girl can dream, the bride always imagined marrying on the farm…right down to mowing an aisle into one of the fields for an outdoor ceremony, and incorporating seasonal farm blooms (in this case, lilac and andromeda) into the decor.

The bride, Nell, shared that she “wanted to celebrate all the natural beauty that the farm offered-found objects that we dusted off from our barns like the old crates, barn doors, wagons, and even the cover to an old gas pump. Each one offered my dad the opportunity to fill us in on farm history and added interest to our wedding tent.” (More on these amazing, to-die-for details in Part III, coming soon!)

The weekend kicked off with a Friday night welcome dinner of casual perfection, complete with a visit from a green wood-fired pizza truck, which served amazing vegetarian delights with intricate combinations of local ingredients including heirloom tomatoes, fresh rosemary and basil, wild mushrooms, gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella, arugula, garlic, pesto, zucchini, feta, and more. There were also kegs of craft beer, the sweet tunes of Brooklyn-based band Roosevelt Dime, hilarious toasts, and a roaring bonfire with s’mores. It was all a fabulous preview to the wedding day, which will be featured next week on the blog. Stay tuned! In the meantime, here are some photographs of the spectacular farm setting.


Three–New York, NY

For the last few months, my daughter has woken up and asked “Do I’m three?” a.k.a “Am I three?” Each morning, I respond with the latest countdown to her birthday and she looks disappointed. Finally, yesterday was the day. When she opened her eyes, I said “Happy Birthday!” and she smiled and said “I’m SO glad I’m three!”  As with last year’s birthday, I feel a mix of excitement and sadness–proud as I watch her become more and more independent, yet sad that three years have zipped past at lightning speed. I feel guilty that another year passed by in which I meant to write down her funny phrases, to keep better track of her milestones, and yet I never did–it’s all a blur never to be separated out into details. Though I’ve certainly taken lots of photos that can help piece together the quilt of these milestones and moments, I’ll try to do a better job this year; but here are a a few notes and memories of the year…


Your third year of life was a big one. It was a whirlwind of growth in all aspects–physically (you are the tallest of tall), emotionally, and socially. It was the year of passport stamps and a zillion airports. You were challenged with moving abroad and spending hours on planes to destinations unknown to you. You may have missed New York and your cousins–and told us this quite often–but between new planes, rental cars, hotels, and apartments, you proved yourself to be adaptable and adventurous. “Where we goin’ today?” became a daily phrase of yours. I vividly remember one late evening when we raced through the Denpasar airport in Indonesia on our way to catch a redeye back to Sydney. As I held your hand and your little feet tried to keep up with our pace, you (wearing your purple whale pajamas in preparation for sleeping on the plane) looked up at me, giggled, and said “this is fun!” My heart swelled with the possibility that you have inherited my love of travel and adventure, that you didn’t care that it was way past your bedtime, or that you were being dragged around yet another strange place. On every flight, you regaled each passenger with the Little Einsteins theme song and countdown as we raced down the runway, including the eventual shout of “BLASTOFF” every time we took off (sorry fellow travelers), and you rocked 15-hour flights like a champion. You spent more time on a beach and in the ocean than ever before–thanks to having spring, summer, and spring #2 in 2014. In many ways, you grew up so much during our travels that I felt like we left for Australia with a young toddler and returned to NYC with a teenager. I exaggerate, but the change in five months was huge.

It was a year of more firsts–first day of school, first haircut, first night in a big girl bed, first movie in the theater, first chipped tooth, and your first actual birthday party. You learned to ride a scooter at breakneck speed, to dribble a soccer ball with both feet, to speak in complete sentences with a wordy vocabulary, and to scamper up the stairs of our fourth floor walk-up by yourself (thank god). You discovered a love of croissants and muffins, a hatred of milk,  and an obsession with vanilla ice cream with Oreo topping. You devoured peas and French fries with equally wild abandon, and made a New Zealand hotel run out of peas during your four day stay. Your love of hopping at ballet and dancing at music class is only surpassed by your intense enjoyment of tea parties and cooking in your play kitchen. Mickey, Little Einsteins, Peppa, Sofia, and Doc McStuffins are on the top of your favorite list these days. You give endless checkups with your doctor’s kit and then run around the house shouting, “I have a diagnosis!” You are as gregarious as can be, loving to chat with strangers and friends alike (we will have to discourage the stranger chatter soon, I know!). You love the riding the bus, the subway (C train is your fave) and hailing taxis. You love to laugh. You remember absolutely everything. You say funny things–”Mommy, I’ll listen to you next year” and “I’m not ready for potty training. Maybe when I’m four, or twenty.” You remain fearless, independent, wild, opinionated, stubborn, loving, loyal, and sweet.

As you turn three, you love to do things by yourself yet still reach for my hand on the stairs and the street. I know you won’t need my hand as much this year, but still hope you reach for it. Thanks for another great year filled with pride, for both me and your dad. You make us laugh, smile, and sometimes frown as you keep us on our toes. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings. Happy 3rd birthday. XO

Da - March 25, 2014 - 7:56 am


Priceless photos and commentary. You captured the joys of parenthood perfectly.


JORJ - March 25, 2014 - 10:56 am

I love what you wrote and that banner photo is amazing.

Linda - March 25, 2014 - 1:21 pm


This totally brought tears to my eyes. I caught myself completely identifying with everything you said. Happy birthday to the little adventurer and good job mama!

Margaret O'Keefe - March 25, 2014 - 2:48 pm

I love the way you write about parenting Callahan. Your photos are beautiful.

Erin Go Bragh–New York, NY

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from NYC. The sweet sound of bagpipers are drifting through our neighborhood as helicopters fly overhead for the parade. Here’s my own little photographic version of the Irish flag…

Green–Palm Leaf–Bali, Indonesia
White–Art deco ceiling detail–Napier, New Zealand
Orange–Farmer’s market carrots–Tasmania, Australia

My family is very Irish American; in fact, that is my entire heritage. We did a huge Haymaker’s Jig at my wedding, sing at the piano with the O’Keefe Irish Song book at every possible family gathering (the in-laws hide in the kitchen), and try to incorporate important lessons that my Irish grandfather–who lived to be 101–imparted (“a shot a day keeps the doctor away.”) My two year old daughter’s favorite song of late is Whiskey in the Jar. That’s normal, right? However you celebrate, Happy March 17th!

Travel Tuesday–Hunter Valley, Australia

I’m heading to the West (best) coast this weekend for a little girl time in Calistoga, CA. I can’t wait to shed my hat and gloves for 36 hours. My last visit to wine country was in Australia, when we journeyed to the gorgeous Hunter Valley for a long weekend. In honor of this weekend’s trip, I’m finally posting my vineyard images from that (now very distant) weekend. I’m so behind in blogging about the amazing places we’ve been during our recent time abroad, so over the next few months, I’ll be featuring a “Travel Tuesday” segment. Welcome to the first edition!

The drive from Sydney to Hunter Valley takes about 2.5 hours, if you go the normal way. But of course I made my husband take the “scenic road” (which adds about 35 minutes), or so it was deemed in my travel book. Due to very high winds the day before, the narrow, winding road was littered with huge tree branches that threatened our rental car. We did see some cows and sheep, but the scenery was not worth the stress of my husband gripping the steering wheel and swerving around found objects in the road. Oops. Once we arrived though, Hunter Valley was visual heaven–rolling green hills, hopping kangaroos in the driveway of our hotel, colorful old barns, and sleek metal and glass facades on contemporary wineries. And did I mention the food? What goes best with great wines? Cheese. Lots of cheese from the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop. Mmmmm.

We didn’t have much of an agenda, aside from my hubby playing golf at the Greg Norman designed course at our resort, where signs on the course read “Do Not Approach the Kangaroos.” One late afternoon we set out to taste some vino and grab an early dinner. On a whim, we pulled into the gravel parking lot at Cockfighter’s Ghost (named after a horse with quite a story) and headed into the tasting room just as it was about to close. The room is a work of art, with soaring ceilings, poured concrete floors, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open up to the most picturesque view of verdant vines and the mountains beyond. They graciously poured us a flight of wine, but I could hardly focus on the beverages as the light outside was incredible. I quickly disappeared out the back door with my camera…my poor husband is used to that! By running outside, I was able to capture that perfect golden light (photo above) before it quickly slipped behind the mountains. All in all, what a great and unexpected treat for just pulling over on a whim and visiting a winery we hadn’t researched at all. And the wine was really wonderful. I highly recommend checking it out if you are in the area.

Non-parents everywhere, don’t kill me for mentioning this, but vineyards and breweries in Australia are surprisingly kid friendly–lots of places have toys and books to entertain little ones while you taste, and some even have playgrounds in view of the tasting area (win-win!). So don’t shy away from exploring even if you have a little taster with you. They will love their sparkling apple juice while you taste your own version of juice! Happy travels.

Hunter Valley Travel Tips:

The Vintage
Cockfighter’s Ghost (see above)
Audrey Wilkinson (amazing history and view)
Olive Tree Restaurant at Wyndham Estate (gorgeous, rustic, delicious)
Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop (amazing fixings for a real or carpet picnic)
1843 Harvest Cafe at Lindeman’s Vineyard (casual lunch, tasty and creative wood-fired pizzas)