When describing her wedding day, Ainsley said this:
“All these handmade touches reflected our personalities and how we wanted to approach our marriage—with as much joyful abandon as running through wildflowers.”
Love, romance, free-spirited, lots of laughter (Elan’s best man is a comedian! Literally.)…Ainsley and Elan’s wedding was all the things—the Ainsley and Elan things!
When searching for a wedding dress, Ainsley’s path was something of a winding road. But in the end, it led her to Provence, a gown whose whimsical, Midsummer Night’s Dream vibe spoke to her the moment she spied it on display at Something Bleu Bridal.
How did Elan propose?
“He totally caught me off guard! He conspired with my friends to create a fake event near this adorable cafe where we had our first date. He suggested that we go there for fun, grab a bite, since it had been one of our favorite spots before we moved to a neighborhood much farther away. Little did I know that he’d rented the entire thing out! It was deserted when we walked in & I even tried to leave because I thought they were closing! He immediately got down on one knee while we were both still bundled in our coats, and let me ugly-cry through a beautiful proposal, littered with inside jokes. I literally collapsed with joy and he gave me a custom design vintage-inspired ring that I’d been dreaming of from my favorite eco-friendly designer, Ken and Dana Designs in Manhattan. Our family and friends from ALL OVER then flooded the space with champagne and well wishes. I’ve never been so overwhelmed as I was that day. It was absolutely perfect.”
How did you choose your gown?
“My mom and I went shopping all over Manhattan. I purchased one gown out of desperation, and was so disappointed I had to return it. Then, we went to another shop near Lake George, NY, where my parents live. I put a deposit on a gown that I thought made me feel sexy—I’m 33 years old, there was a part of me that felt like the fuller dresses, the satins and chiffons had passed me by, that I would look ridiculous trying to chase youth.
My mom wasn’t convinced, however, that this was my dress. I was happy with it, but I didn’t have a huge attachment to it either, and I thought I just wasn’t going to be one of those women who had a visceral response to her dress. I thought, well, I fell in love with my future husband on our FIRST date, I lucked out in the right arena, maybe I’m not fated to fall in love with my dress. But my mom couldn’t get it out of her head that my dress was still out there. We saw that there was a trunk sale at Something Bleu Bridal in Saratoga, which is in a beautiful old building, and it seemed worth the drive to ease her mind. Well, I walked in looked around at some beautiful gowns, but I still didn’t get the “feeling”. I turned around and my heart stopped: it was exactly NOTHING that I had said I wanted. I wanted WHITE, sleek, sophisticated, and anything but strapless. But I knew it—this pink, ethereal, corset-topped, full-skirt was perfectly mine. I tried on a few dresses and made this one last. I’m literally crying remembering the moment when the bridal assistant, Emily, zipped it and said, “My dear, this fits perfectly!” and I turned around and said something that I’d never imagined saying or even wanting to say: “Oh my goodness, I feel like a princess.” The tears came almost immediately. All the fears of feeling “too old” or “silly” washed away. My Midsummer Night’s Dream ideal and my inner flower child came truly alive. This was my dress. I just saw it hanging at my parents and was so sad I only got to wear it once!”
Tell us about your day! Did you have a theme or style in mind?
“My mother-in-law said it best when I couldn’t narrow down a proper theme: “Your theme is ‘wedding’!” And it was true. I wanted the centerpiece of our wedding to be our love, our journey, & our future—we didn’t connect with bolder themes like “Hollywood Glamour” or “Great Gatsby,” which I’ve had friends do to perfection.
We knew we wanted it to be beautiful and fun and just as reflective of who we were as a couple as possible. So I went with a Midsummer Night’s Dream/whimsical English garden feel—we love the outdoors (our names mean “Tree” and “Field”, so it’s built into our identities!), we love the freedom of fresh air. My dress was the piece that brought it all together. The dainty flowers scattered along the bodice and skirt, the soft layers of blush and cream—I kept it at the forefront of every decision because it was the one thing I was absolutely sure about and if I held onto that certainty it would all come together. It also helped that our vendors understood my ramblings and could interpret them in a way that was so far beyond my expectations. My bridesmaids were dressed in differing shades of soft tulle, our junior bridesmaids were dressed in navy and white tulle embroidered with flowers and my mom made floral clips for their hair. Our little flower girls were perfection in eggshell dresses with pink satin bows and handmade floral crowns. It was important to me that we be in harmony with our amazing venue in the Hudson Valley overlooking the water. I wanted to grasp at the sunset of summer, the full and lush petals of garden roses and simple greenery. I imagined, like overgrown flowers, that the fabrics would move elegantly in the inevitable breeze.
My mom added a gazillion personal touches, creating elements of shabby chic representing our informal style and my upstate upbringing. The escort cards, which were seed packets with a sign that read “Please Be Seeded”—because I CANNOT resist a pun!—were displayed on upcycled hand-painted and distressed window frames designed by my mother. My mom also created a wire floral crown for me by twisting the wire into flower petals and hand painting each one, adding Swarovski crystals for bridal elegance and visual interest. We had scoured for a hair vine for me, but it was a dead end. I got so frustrated, knowing that my vision was something that crossed the flower child esthetic with bridal chic and it seemed impossible to find that perfectly struck balance. Well, a week later my mom had sent me a photo of something out of my dreams, and it was one of my favorite pieces for the wedding. It was so incredibly special. One of my best friends designed all our stationary—wedding invite and envelopes, signage, programs. It was such a magical touch because she knows us and she got to design something that truly represented both of us and cohesively displayed all the parts of our different backgrounds, weaving Celtic knots and peonies for my Irish and Chinese heritage with Hebrew text marking my husband’s Jewish and Israeli background. I just felt like all these handmade touches reflected our personalities and how we wanted to approach our marriage—with as much joyful abandon as running through wildflowers.”
What’s your funniest wedding day memory?
“All of our photos are of me laughing—I think I laughed the ENTIRE day! Elan is the funniest person I know, and I’m always laughing with him. My sister had me in stitches, my mom was ripping jokes left and right, my bridesmaids are all sarcastic and Elan’s best man is LITERALLY a comedian. It was the most I’ve ever laughed in my whole life! But if I were to pick the absolute funniest moment for me, it was during our ceremony. Our rabbi asked that we write each other love letters, and Elan and I cannot be too sappy without tempering it with a good amount of sarcasm or jokes. So in the middle of Elan’s letter to me, where he’s praising me and telling the whole world how much he loves me and appreciates all the things I do for him, including how I clean out my “gross fruit shake drink because [I] know [he] hate[s] it.” I drink a protein shake every morning and a different one after every work out, each of which he hates in equal, loudly-noted measure. Who puts that in their wedding love letter?! I couldn’t stop laughing. It was perfect.”
What was your favorite wedding day moment?
“Gosh, narrowing it down to one moment is too hard! I loved the butterflies as I practically ran to see Elan for our first look. I loved hugging all of my favorite people that day. I loved all the moments I could steal with my mom, her placing the veil she also handmade on my head. I loved her pretending that my dress wouldn’t zip (I told you, hilarious!). I loved when I got overwhelmed with people in the bridal suite as we’re getting ready that one of our photographers, Brian, came up to me and with a wink said, “If you want me to kick all these people out, I’ll do it right now.” I loved when Elan stomped the glass and we had our first kiss as husband and wife that it was just like the our very first kiss and it took my breath away. I loved that we used my great-grandmother’s wedding band for our Chuppah ring and I was so nervous I couldn’t remember her name (which was Faithful—which our Rabbi said was just so perfect for the occasion). I loved watching my big sister get up in front of 170 guests, which she was terrified to do but did it anyway, and tell the story of how when she first saw me as a newborn in the hospital that she reached her hand in and I squeezed her finger right away. I’d never heard that story and she cried telling it, something she rarely does. It was so special.”
What was your first dance song?
“”Say You Won’t Let Go” By James Arthur. We love him, his story and the song tells our story almost exactly.”
Describe your wedding day in 5 words or less:
“Magical, ethereal, blessed, chaotic, wonderful.”
What was your something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?
“My grandmother passed away two weeks before our wedding and my father let me wear her wedding ring along with my great grandmother’s wedding band, which we used during our ceremony—Jewish tradition dictates a solid gold band be placed on the index finger of the bride. I also wore a set of pearl bracelets a friend had given me in college (my birthstone is pearl), a necklace my dad had given me (a Celtic knot holding a pearl), my bridesmaid let me borrow the pearl earrings she wore for her wedding that were made from a set of pearls that belonged to her grandmother—she then gifted me an identical pair that her mother had made for me as a wedding gift, my mom put a blue flower in my hair vine.”
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
“All over Croatia—it was amazing!”
Any advice for future brides/grooms?
“It’s so cliche—RELAX! If there is one thing I’d change about the whole process is I would LISTEN to everyone around me who said, “It will all be okay.” Because the fact is, it’s going to happen and something will go wrong and it will not matter one iota because you’ll be blissfully married. You will have someone who makes demands on your time or your event, it’s inevitable. And you also will not keep everyone happy. That’s also inevitable. Don’t let that ruin this time for you. Pick your battles, & hold hands through it. Elan and I learned very early on in both our relationship and more so as we planned: it is the two of us against any obstacle. Once we could realize that we all have the same goal—get married and have a good time doing it!—it was easier to make decisions, say yes to the right things and no to the wrong ones. My sister-in-law gave us great advice too. Hold hands or make a pact to stay together throughout the night. It goes by so quickly and you’ll realize halfway through the party that you’ve been so busy greeting friends and family that you’re not focusing on the whole reason everyone’s gotten gussied up and traveled so far. Have your vision at the forefront. Know your budget and stick to it. Hire a planner or a day-of coordinator you trust. Pick vendors who work well together, who you’d want to be friends with (we’re literally obsessed with our photographers & our day-of coordinator) & be clear about what you want out of each of them. Our venue provided the most amazing day-of coordinator, who was a dream and a life-raft & helped us shape our event from the moment we decided we’d get married there.”
wedding dress: Astrid & Mercedes Provence via Something Bleu Bridal | photographer: The Ramsdens | venue, day-of-coordinator: The Garrison, Annie Rozycki | florals: Floral Fantasies by Sara | hair: Jennifer Victoria of Bridal by Alexandria | make up: Francisco Catedral | jewelers: Ken & Dana Designs (bride), Brilliant Earth (groom) | groom’s attire: Suit Supply, ties by The Tie Bar, shoes Johnston & Murphy