Wedding Planning

Amelia and Matt’s Rainy Essex, MA Wedding by Juan Maclean Photography

Get ready for gorgeous! Amelia and Matt’s rainy day wedding is simply beautiful, filled with vintage touches and lots of smiles. They rented out this Massachusetts retreat center for their entire wedding weekend so that they could have plenty of time with their friends and family.

Get ready for gorgeous! Amelia and Matt’s rainy day wedding is simply beautiful, filled with vintage touches and lots of smiles. They rented out this Massachusetts retreat center for their entire wedding weekend so that they could have plenty of time with their friends and family. Many, many thanks to Juan Maclean for sharing this pretty day with us.

Did your wedding location hold a specific significance to you?

We knew we wanted something different- not a hotel or run of the mill wedding venue. We love the North Shore in Massachusetts and looked at a few barns for that ‘rustic’ feel but some were too commercial and some were just a little too rustic! We saw the Essex Conference Center and Retreat in Essex, MA online and thought it looked nice, but were blown away when we first saw it! We drove down a dirt road with trees lining the edges and it opened up into this beautiful property with a pond/fountain with fish, interesting sculptures and really cool rustic architecture. We were sold! We loved the idea of having everyone stay for the whole weekend and make it a mini-destination wedding (the ECCR has 20 rooms onsite for people to stay overnight). The accommodations are not fancy whatsoever, but it’s so much fun to have everyone that we loved on site for the whole weekend was fantastic.

What was the most meaningful part of your day?

Our favorite part was probably the ceremony. Since neither of us is particularly religious we had a very good friend marry us who went to divinity school and is a wonderful public speaker, which made it much more personal than hiring a justice of the peace. We knew we wanted to write our own vows, but we had so much to do we ended up putting it off until the last minute! We put on some inspirational music and just wrote from our hearts and it turned out beautifully. We included two readings read by our respective sisters: one from the Velveteen Rabbit and an excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, which was read at my parents’ wedding almost 40 years ago to the day! I think the most meaningful moment was right after we walked down the aisle after we were married, went off together and cried and hugged because we were so happy! Another amazing part of our wedding was our band, Business Time- everyone agreed they were the best cover band anyone had ever heard!

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?

THE RAIN! The one thing we had hoped for was a sunny day or at least overcast with no rain. When we saw the 10-day forecast said rain I cried because our entire wedding was planned to be outside! As the day drew closer it became apparent that it was likely going to rain so we got an extra tent for the ceremony and hoped for the best. Not only did it rain, but it absolutely poured. No one had ever seen rain like that in Massachusetts before! I was upset at first, but it ended up being the most beautiful, cozy wedding- the entire tent was lit with candles and we listened to the rain against the tent during the ceremony. There was about a half an hour right after the ceremony where the rain stopped and we were able to get some great pictures!

Tell us details of the events surrounding the wedding.

We had a wonderful lobster bake for everyone who was visiting in town for the rehearsal dinner put on by the ECCR. We then did a slide show of pictures of us when we were little, which everyone really enjoyed. On Saturday everyone pitched in to set up the decorations which I had made/collected for months. We couldn’t have done it without them!! On Sunday we had a wonderful brunch- again it was raining, but it was very cozy and delicious food!

How did you know your partner was ‘the one’?

I knew very early on that we would get married. We were a little older when we met, and at that point knew what we wanted in a partner. I knew he was ‘the one’ for so many reasons- he is so kind and smart and capable among a million other wonderful qualities. When we decided to get married, he went shopping with me for hours at antique fairs (Brimfield in Western Massachusetts) and helped me pick out every little detail. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else and feel so lucky that we found each other!

Any advice you’d give new brides who are just getting started?

The wedding blogs can be very overwhelming- I looked at them for hours and felt discouraged because I couldn’t imagine our wedding being that gorgeous. It’s best to take one detail/project at a time and to be realistic about what you can accomplish. When the day drew closer I abandoned some projects that I just knew weren’t going to happen. My husband is incredibly practical and kept me on task as far as timeline, budget, etc. We kept a very detailed list on Google docs for just about everything. We decided early on what we were willing to splurge on (decorations, photographer) and things that were lower priority where we could save (groom’s suit, my dress, providing our own alcohol- we saved a ton on that one and were able to have open full bar!). Again, taking one thing at a time and making tons of lists was how I got through it!

Photographer: Juan Maclean
Venue and catering: The Essex Conference Center and Retreat, Essex, MA:
Dress: St. Pucci, Sposa from Bridal Reflections in NYC
Shoes: Sofft sandals
Accessories: borrowed/vintage
Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic
Groomsmen’s Attire: Various- their own choosing
Bridesmaids: J. Crew
Flowers: Centerpieces: DIY with flowers from Fiftyflowers, bouquets and boutonnieres: The Singing Flower
Band: Business Time