Snow is gently falling as I put the finishing touches on this Pear Tree Estate Christmas wedding for the wonderful Leslie and Andy. I am thrilled to share the day with you! If you’ve ever been to the Brown Bag in Monticello, you surely recognize Leslie, the always-smiling owner, and several of the ladies that work alongside her. For years now, I have been a loyal patron, enjoying The Missi’s sandwich, The Honeyberry Rollup, or my most recent obsession, The Veggie 2 (no sprouts, sub cole slaw please). If I am feeling extra indulgent, I will get a piece of strawberry cake made by Cakes by Mrs. Pete and a sprite with strawberry compote. YUM! It’s become such a routine for me that when my husband went in a few months ago, Melissa knew it was for me without even asking! Needless to say, I love Brown Bag. Not just for the delicious food, but for the team that runs the deli as a family.
And when I say they are a family, I mean it. Many of them may not be related genetically, but they are truly some of the most loving and supportive folks I’ve ever met. And in my eyes, that’s the definition of family. The day of Leslie and Andy’s wedding was truly a glimpse into the bond these once strangers have for one another. When I arrived at the house at Pear Tree Estate, the girls were all hanging out in the bridal suite downstairs as they finished up their hair and makeup. I gave Leslie a quick hug before grabbing all of her details. This is my favorite way to start the day as it gets my creativity flowing right away. Leslie put so much thought into every detail of their wedding and it showed. I mean, look at those snow globe shoes from Kate Spade! The touches of cranberry and their fur shaws made for a warm addition to the whites and champagnes of the day.
Throughout the day, Leslie and Andy wrote notes back and forth to each other in a journal titled “Reasons I Want To Marry You” and can I just say, that is the sweetest way to stay connected when a first look isn’t on the schedule. I especially love that they will have that to look back on in the years to come.
Midday rolled around and it was time for Leslie and Andy to get into their wedding attire before we started portraits! Leslie’s gown from Michelle’s Bridal fit her like a glove! I don’t think there is another gown on the face of this earth that would have looked more perfect for her. She looked truly radiant. I photographed them as her girls helped her tie her custom rhinestone belt and put on her jewelry and pearl-adorned veil and watched as they laughed together.
For about 5 minutes, I took Andy and his side of the wedding party outside for portraits before we quickly decided it was way too cold and windy to be out there. Good thing, too, because I was originally going to start with the girls, but I wanted Leslie to have a minute to soak it all in (and breathe) before the day took off running! We ended up taking everyone back inside and I snuck the girls over to the venue to do portraits inside. Honestly, I am so glad we did! They were warm, and the venue was decked out in evergreen, classic golds, and champagnes for Christmas. We were able to do portraits right in front of the fireplace and not one had to shiver! Once we were done, the ladies got tucked away because the ceremony was right around the corner! I brought Andy and his side of the wedding party back in and we finished up individual portraits right as the guests started to arrive.
Their ceremony was unique in a way I have yet to experience. Leslie’s dad past away some time ago, she her brother walked her down the aisle. He was beaming next to her and I thought that was really sweet. What was a first for me though was Andy’s vowels! He mentioned to me a few days before that doesn’t care much for public speaking, but is a performer. You guys…HE WROTE HER A SONG! Yep, he literally serenaded her with the promises he was making to her. It. Was. Lovely! These two were all about having a wedding THEIR way and I love that so much. They had two officiants, Jim and Zack, marrying them, which was a first for me. Zack is one of Leslie’s best friends from when she lived in Chicago and he conducted the Jewish portions of the ceremony. He said prayers throughout the ceremony and then, right after Leslie and Andy fist-bumped and shared their first kiss, placed the glass to be stepped on. Mazel tov!
The evening started with family formals in front of the first place, portraits of the wedding party as a whole, and then we were off to the reception! Each pair from the wedding party came in enthusiastically followed by Leslie and Andy! Speeches were sprinkled throughout the courses of a family-style dinner before long-time friend Mike Hittmeir serenaded everyone with a song written just for Leslie and Andy. Mike mentioned before he began that he had written a song for his own daughter when she got married and Leslie told him several years ago she wanted him to write one for her when she got married.
I finished my time with them that evening with a bit of dancing and the signing of their marriage license. As I loaded my SUV, I couldn’t help but admire the view. The night was cold and windy, but through the large windows of Pear Tree, I could see friends and family celebrating in the warm glow of the venue. It was a very merry day, indeed.
Leslie and Andy, thank you so much for not only trusting me with such an important time in your lives but welcoming me in with open hearts and warm smiles. I love you both!
Ladies and gentlemen, MR. & MRS. SIMS!!!
Venue: Pear Tree Estate
Photographer: Lisa Shreffler Photography
Hair: Tammy Boyd from Mane on Charter
Bridal Gown: Michelle’s Bridal
Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade
Florals: Mandy Stephens Design
Menswear: Michelle’s Tuxedo
Catering: LA Gormet
Cake: Cakes by Mrs. Pete
Invitation Suite: Zazzle