Cairnwood Estate wedding portraits of Rebecca & Ben | Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania

Who proposed to who and how?
Rebecca: I had just spent the summer in Colorado and we flew back to London together. We decided to take a day trip to Cambridge because I wanted to show Ben where I had gone to university. He had it all worked and I had no idea!

Ben: I feel like it’s impossible to plan a great proposal, but you have to be prepared. I had the ring…

Rebecca: I had no clue that he had taken a photo of our hands, mine on top of his, the last time we were together. He showed the photo of our hands to the jeweler, who measured him, then from the photo estimated my ring size. It was a perfect fit. He kept suggesting we get a dinner reservation and I couldn’t figure out why that was so important. Every place was really busy and we ended up eating late. By the time we finished, the restaurant was almost empty.

Ben: I took the ring out of the box and put it in my wallet because I didn’t want to carry a big box around all day. I thought she’d figure it out otherwise.

Rebecca: We paid, then confusingly I saw him take his wallet out again. In that moment I was incredibly surprised and just filled with joy. I remember Ben sitting really close to me and I remember thinking “I want to remember EVERYTHING about this moment,” but of course, being so in the moment, everything but his words and his expression was a blur.

Ben: The proposal wasn’t a complete surprise, but the timing was. Becca didn’t think I was going to ask her for at least another year.

Rebecca: What took me aback was that he proposed in England around my family. I was very grateful for that.

What’s next for the two of you?
Rebecca: We’re settling in. I’m looking forward to joining the musical community in Denver. We’ve been enjoying the mountains and going on some hikes. We are looking forward to our honeymoon back to Banff in June – maybe a road trip… with toothpicks.

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Venue: Cairnwood Estate – Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Dress: Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique – Beaconsfield, U.K.
Hair: Janelle on Location – Warminster, Pennsylvania
Flowers: Astrid’s Flowers – Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
Cake: The Master’s Baker – West Chester, Pennsylvania
Caterer: Sage Catering – Berwyn, PA
Officiant: Grant Odhner
Band/DJ: Slippery Band – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Transportation: Sterling Limousine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia wedding photographer – Leslie Barbaro

Cairnwood Estate wedding reception of Rebecca & Ben | Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania

Tell us about your decor and flowers.
Rebecca: We had a combination of burgundy, ivory, blush pink and blue-green foliage hues. The flowers were a real group effort. Astrid and I came up with the colors and she was great at choosing flowers that would complement each other. During our wedding rehearsal fifteen people were downstairs in the Cathedral busily arranging flowers for us. It was lovely to walk down the aisle and know that our friends and family had helped with it all.

We designed the invitations with my sister Francesca. She came up with the idea of two trees bending toward each other with violins at the base. Ben and I met in the mountains and I spent the summer in Aspen at the music festival just before Ben proposed, so Aspen trees seemed appropriate. Francesca painted the stunning artwork for the front and inside and I then designed the back using her work as inspiration. A friend kindly helped us with the layout and prepared the invites for printing. Designing the invite with my sister was incredibly special for me and it was thrilling to see our wedding take on such a personal touch.

Tell us about your cake.
Rebecca: We chose alternating layers of apple spice with cinnamon butter cream and vanilla with lemon zest butter cream. I was dancing so much that I completely forgot about dessert and I almost missed the delicious cake. Fortunately there were a few pieces left in the kitchen.

Ben: Back in January, Becca and her parents came over to Bryn Athyn from London. We did a bunch of wedding planning stuff and the cake tasting was one of the last things we did. At that point, to be presented with a choice of over 30 different flavors was a bit overwhelming. We were exhausted and ended up taking home some mislabeled cake samples. We ended up choosing a seasonal flavor and something lighter that we thought we’d enjoy. It turned out great.

Tell us about your dress.
Rebecca: I bought my dress in Oxford at a little boutique my sister suggested. It was the first place I went for an appointment. I think my mum and sister picked out five dresses between them and I picked out just one – and that was the one. I just felt like the best version of myself in that dress. I felt empowered and radiant.

We had to bring the dress to the States and it had to be transported as a carry-on. My carry-on was a violin so I entrusted the dress to my mother and she brought it over. It was strange not having my dress in the country until about ten days prior to the wedding! Ironically, I bought my dress in the U.K. and was married in the U.S., whilst my mum purchased her wedding dress in the States and was married in London.

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Venue: Cairnwood Estate – Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Dress: Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique – Beaconsfield, U.K.
Hair: Janelle on Location – Warminster, Pennsylvania
Flowers: Astrid’s Flowers – Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
Cake: The Master’s Baker – West Chester, Pennsylvania
Caterer: Sage Catering – Berwyn, PA
Officiant: Grant Odhner
Band/DJ: Slippery Band – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Transportation: Sterling Limousine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia wedding photographer – Leslie Barbaro

Cairnwood Estate wedding of Rebecca & Ben | Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania

What was your favorite part of the wedding day?
The day flowed and came so well together that it’s hard to pick a favorite part. Listening to the music performed by our close friends just before we walked up the aisle was particularly special. It was a great opportunity to calm down before the wedding and put ourselves in a relaxed frame of mind.

How did you choose to be married at Bryn Athyn cathedral with you ceremony at Cairnwood?
Ben: I moved to Bryn Athyn when I was 14, and the Cathedral was the church I went to on Sundays with my family. My parents were married in the Cathedral and two of my brothers were married there, so it has both a family and community connection for me.

Rebecca: The Cathedral is a personal place for Ben and I was immediately struck by its warm, reflective atmosphere, which was exactly the environment we envisaged for our ceremony.

My parents saw our reception venue before I did. They visited Cairnwood Estate with Ben’s parents when they were in the U.S. and were impressed. They brought photos back to London and I loved the colors, the details, and the natural lighting. I hadn’t actually seen the mansion in person before we decided on it, but I was pretty willing to be swayed! The idea of our guests walking from the ceremony to our reception appealed to us. The mansion is grand, but importantly, it feels equally like a home.

How does it feel different being married?
It’s a bit of an unusual question for us because we weren’t even in the same country before we were married! It’s fantastic to finally feel like we have the same base and can truly share the same life experiences together.

Now that you’re married, and you’ve been through planning a wedding together, what advice would you give to other couples who are just starting the process?
Rebecca: I’d say it’s good to double check things, but I learned to rely on people. If you do good research when you pick vendors, it allows you to trust them and really enjoy your day. At the beginning, I didn’t understand how much support people would offer us. By the end I really appreciated that.

Ben: Someone told me that at the end of the day you’re really just throwing a great party. And that helped put things in perspective. There are lots of different ways to get married but we wanted to be inclusive and bring a lot of people together. You’re allowing a community to witness it, it’s not just for you as the couple, it’s for your family and for the others who support you.

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Venue: Cairnwood Estate – Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Dress: Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique – Beaconsfield, U.K.
Hair: Janelle on Location – Warminster, Pennsylvania
Flowers: Astrid’s Flowers – Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
Cake: The Master’s Baker – West Chester, Pennsylvania
Caterer: Sage Catering – Berwyn, PA
Officiant: Grant Odhner
Band/DJ: Slippery Band – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Transportation: Sterling Limousine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia wedding photographer – Leslie Barbaro

Cairnwood Estate wedding preparations of Rebecca & Ben | Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania

About the couple:
Rebecca & Ben are both professional classical musicians – violinists. They met at a summer music festival in Banff, Canada  just over three years ago. They spent the summer studying and performing together, exploring the mountains and hiking with friends while getting to know each other. Then they each returned home – Rebecca to London and Ben to Colorado.  Three years of long-haul flights (and a year of long-distance wedding planning) are over and they are finally married and together in Colorado!

They envisioned personal and relaxed autumnal wedding in the beautiful surroundings of Cairnwood, with music playing a large part.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to marry your spouse?
Ben: I don’t know if there was one precise moment, but even when we were getting to know each other, during the seven weeks at the music festival where we met, we knew it was a special connection. When we left, we couldn’t imagine not being in each other’s lives. I could see a future with Becca that I couldn’t see with anyone else.

Rebecca: When we said goodbye in Banff at the end of the music festival I thought, this cannot be goodbye, I’m going to see this person again, I just have to. The way he thinks about music and the way we were able to talk about music together totally caught me by surprise.

Booking that first plane ticket to visit Ben at Christmas marked the start of a big emotional investment for both of us. That trip was very special – it confirmed everything we thought we knew about each other. We even took a nineteen-hour road trip from Houston to Bryn Athyn to see Ben’s parents and didn’t drive each other crazy. We forgot to pack any forks, ate all the food we packed for the journey with toothpicks and sang Beatles songs at the top of our lungs. I knew that I could spend the rest of my life with this person.

What was the one thing you were most stressed about before the wedding and how did it turn out?
Ben: I hadn’t planned out what I was going to say to our guests. During cocktail hour I was still upstairs jotting down notes for my speech. That was probably the most stressful part of the day for me. Part of the speech was structured and part of it was improvised – it felt like such a whirlwind that I can’t really remember what I even said in the end!

Rebecca: We had a lot of international guests arriving before the wedding, as well as many coming from all over the U.S. I wanted to spend time with everyone, but you have to realize you can’t be in ten places at once. Regardless, I think that everyone enjoyed themselves. People said the reception felt very welcoming and that they met new people who they want to stay in touch with.

Ben: The fact that our wedding was able to bring our families and friends together to build those connections means a lot to us.

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Venue: Cairnwood Estate – Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Dress: Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique – Beaconsfield, U.K.
Hair: Janelle on Location – Warminster, Pennsylvania
Flowers: Astrid’s Flowers – Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
Cake: The Master’s Baker – West Chester, Pennsylvania
Caterer: Sage Catering – Berwyn, PA
Officiant: Grant Odhner
Band/DJ: Slippery Band – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Transportation: Sterling Limousine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia wedding photographer – Leslie Barbaro

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