We all know that 2020 was a whirlwind season for weddings. The Covid-19 pandemic hit us hard mid-March and nothing was the same after that. The next several months were really difficult for all of us in the wedding industry. The gathering capacity was set at 10 people (I mean, I’m all for small weddings, but 10! Not happening.) and we had no end date in sight. It was agonizing to watch my devastated summer couples make the decision to postpone and equally as difficult to watch a business I worked so hard to build slowly come undone. To say things were not looking good would be an understatement. However, in mid-June, guidelines started to loosen a bit and it looked like outdoor weddings (with restrictions) would be able to happen!
Once that plan was put into place, I started to see an influx of couples reaching out wanting to move forward with their fall weddings but in desperate need of a professional on their side to guide them through, dare I say, “these unprecedented times”. Clarissa and Max were one of those couples (Want to know something funny? When I saw them in-person, I knew I recognized the two of them. It turns out, they both used to take fitness classes with me at Amped Fitness back when I was a part-time trainer there! I was so excited to be helping them on this next stage of life!)
These two had so much on their plate – planning a wedding, navigating jobs through the pandemic, and also building a new house. Talk about stressful! Right after they decided to work with me, we set up a day to meet at the Hill-Stead museum, walk the grounds to go over where everything would take place and start talking about the details of their day. They had most of their vendors already in place (and it was a team of vendors I loved to work with!) but really needed help with things like the timeline, finalizing the table settings, setting up transportation, etc. Over the next two months, we worked together to ensure every little thing was perfectly planned.
The Wedding Day:
Early September weddings in Connecticut are pure perfection. The temperature is still warm, the sun stays up long enough to allow for extended, outdoor cocktail hours, and even the leaves may have started to turn. And while I love the Hill-Stead museum at all times of year, fall weddings there truly have my heart. I mean, look at this!
The day began with Clarissa getting ready in the comfort of their home and Max at his parents’. Hair was styled, makeup applied, boutonnieres pinned and plenty of excitement all around. The couple decided to do a First Look earlier in the day so they could enjoy cocktail hour with their guests and also soak in a few precious moments, just the two of them, before being surrounded by guests.
They both were huge dog lovers and including their adorable pup, Willow, into the day was a non-negotiable. Willow was on-site during photos and made an appearance during the ceremony (we literally practiced her entrance the night before during the rehearsal!)
The Hill-Stead is such a versatile venue and I’ve yet to have any couple use the grounds in the same way. Clarissa and Max opted to use both the West Lawn and the Grass Court. The ceremony and cocktail hour was set on the West Lawn with the ceremony under a gorgeous tree and cocktail hour on the other side. We did an extended cocktail hour complete with set hi-tops, food stations, a satellite bar, and plenty of lawn games so guests could take their time enjoying the beauty of the property. Plus, in my opinion, you just can’t beat the passed appetizers during cocktail hour! Who’s with me?!
Guests then transitioned to the sailcloth tent set on the Grass Court for dinner and dancing. Before we could really kick off the reception, we had to introduce a few important people, including the bride’s grandmother who was the life of the party (besides the couple, of course!). She strut her way into the reception dancing to Bob Seger’s, “Old Time Rock N’ Roll”.
Even with all the Covid regulations, this intimate wedding of 42 guests felt so special. The smaller guest counts really force you to look at who is important and who you really want to surround yourself with on your wedding day. Every couple I worked with this season all said the same thing – they loved the smaller wedding, they had just as much fun and every person there was someone they had close relationships with (not your second cousin’s wife that you maybe met one time at a holiday party 12 years ago but couldn’t pick out of a crowd if you tried).
Clarissa, Max and Willow – thank you for choosing Alyssa Jean Signature Events for your big day! It was such an honor to be a part of this special weekend and I wish you two the best in all that you do!
Planning: Alyssa Jean Signature Events
Venue: Hill-Stead Museum
Photography: Evergreen Weddings
Videography: JF3 Productions
Catering: Emily’s Catering Group
Beauty: Transcendent Beauty
Flowers: Blooms by the Box & Riverside Nursery
Tent & Rentals: CT Rental Center
Transportation: Premier Limo