November 3rd 2017 will forever be a special date in our family. It is the day my brother Ben married his wife Julie; the day I gained a sister; the day my big group of cousins gained a brand new member; the day my parents gained a new daughter and Julie’s parents a new son; the day two families became one. And as far as special days go, this was one of the most special and magical I have ever experienced. I was honored to stand beside my brother as his best “wo-man” while he and Julie exchanged their wedding vows – officiated by my uncle Rob in what has become a new family tradition. The party that followed was full of love and laughter and tons of dancing; a fitting way to welcome this new couple into a lifetime of happiness.
In the months and weeks leading up to their wedding, I saw first hand the amount of planning and work Ben and Julie – mostly Julie – put into making this day completely perfect in every way. When it finally came, the day was nothing short of magical. While it was hard to envision how everything would come together when stuff was filling boxes throughout our house, all along Julie had a vision for how this day would look. And I have to say, I think this wedding came just about as close to that vision as possible. Those seemingly endless bags of blankets arriving at our doorstep became became the perfect cover-up for chilly guests during the ceremony; those boxes upon boxes of lanterns and candles littering our living room floor became romantic glowing orbs upon each table; that moss that took a trip through the washing machine to get off of our dining room tablecloth became an adorable addition to rustic wood log place cards. Everything was as beautiful and as perfect as it could have been.
The entire weekend, starting Wednesday in fact, was full of laughter and love and that heartwarming feeling you get when two families are becoming one. Wednesday was all about getting the wedding favors ready – adorable little jars filled with a cocktail to go of homemade apple cinnamon spiced whiskey and apple cider. Thursday, the day before the wedding, was spent moving logs, rolling blankets and loading lanterns with candles at the venue – Red Maple Vineyard in West Park, New York. All that work was followed by a night of delicious Italian food and a wedding rehearsal organized by Rob at the beautiful HeartsEase Mansion, where Julie and her family were staying. Friday morning, the day of the wedding, the girls got ready at the mansion while Ben finished up a heartfelt letter to Julie for them to open on their anniversary.
The rest of that Friday day was spent in a whirlwind of wedding bliss; Ben and Julie’s first look took place on the gorgeous deck of the mansion, with a short rain shower over the Hudson River making for a romantic a dreamy backdrop. Family portraits and more photos of the bride and groom were taken around the property of Red Maple Vineyard, and the ceremony was conducted atop a hill overlooking seemingly endless miles of gorgeous fall foliage. At the cocktail hour and reception, drinks flowed in the form of bride and groom specialty cocktails: whiskey and apple cider for Ben and tequila sunrise for Julie. Lots and lots of dancing ensued, serving as the perfect way to celebrate this incredible couple and the adventure of marriage that they are about to embark upon.
As Ben’s best man, I had the honor of giving a speech at the reception. And while it had my biting my fingernails all morning before I gave it – I’m not the most comfortable public speaker around – I think (hopefully) I did a good job of conveying not only how much Ben means to me as my big brother, but also how excited I am to welcome Julie into our family as my sister. As I said in my speech, I know first hand that Ben hasn’t always been what I would call the most sensitive guy. You can ask any of our cousins what it was like growing up with Ben – lots of teasing and a bit of pushing around – but those close to him have always know that it comes from a place of love. But the beauty of Ben with Julie by his side is that she brings out that loving part of him that usually hides under all that teasing. The part of him that isn’t afraid to show his affection without having to poke people’s buttons, the part of him that can be honest with his emotions, the part of him that Julie fell in love with.
I could go on and on about what makes Ben and Julie so perfect for each other, but instead I’ll let everyone take a look at some photos from this special day. Ben and Julie had an incredible photographer following them around all day capturing all those important moments, so I was off the hook from main photography duty and for that I was grateful. But as someone who carries her camera almost anywhere she goes, there was no way that I could resist grabbing a few pictures of the beautiful moments unfolding in front of me. I think that one look at these photos will tell you all you need to know about Ben and Julie: they share an undeniable bond, they pretty much always have fun together, and they are more than prepared to embark upon the shared journey that is the rest of their lives. I wish them all the love, happiness, and fun that life has to offer.