We like to pride ourselves on our encyclopedic knowledge of certain wedding dress collections, but there are few designers we could spot in a line up quite as fast as Katie May.

Her backless gowns have such a beautiful, signature style to them and when we clapped eyes on today’s bride Kate’s gorgeous gown, we had an inkling that we’d love the rest of her and Michael’s wedding just as much. And we sure did.

Their elegant New Jersey celebration was captured, so beautifully, by Bri Johnson Weddings.

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While Kate & Michael rocked their own style on their day (you know we’re partial to a beardy groom!), they kept the rest of their wedding classic and elegant, with a preppy navy and white colour palette, and an abundance of beautiful blooms.

A DIY arbour was the centrepiece of their ceremony (I love wedding decor you can keep in your home forever) and the 200-year-old estate at Ryland Inn made for a stately backdrop, that required little decoration.

Scroll town for timeless style, inspired ideas and a dream sunset portrait session you’re going to want to emulate for your own big day.

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Our Love Story

Mike and I met on a blind date (we went bowling!) arranged between mutual friends who were also dating at the time.

We grew up a few miles apart, but went to different high schools, and never crossed paths when we were kids. Michael had just graduated from college in Philadelphia, and I’d just finished my first year of school there.

We were both home for the summer when we met. From that day on, we were pretty inseparable. He moved back to Philly around the same time that I started back up with school and we found a new home in Philadelphia.

Mike proposed just shy of seven years later on the same beach where my parents met (also on a blind date!).

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The Inspiration

We didn’t want anything that felt forced into a theme or a color palette.  We went with mostly whites and neutral tones, with navy and gold accents where it felt right.

The venue was so beautiful itself, we didn’t feel the need to overdo it with too much décor.

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The Attire

We wanted to go with timeless and classic.

Navy J. Crew dresses for the ladies (they were able to choose the dress style they wanted), and dark grey for the gentlemen (The Black Tux – which I would totally recommend!).

The groom wore a navy three-piece suit from J. Crew.

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The Venue

The Ryland Inn is very close to where we both grew up.

We’ve since relocated to Philly, but we loved the idea of having our guests be able to experience the beauty of Hunterdon County.

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The Decor & Details

The Ryland Inn is a venue that doesn’t need much decor. Its beauty really speaks for itself.

But I am most proud of the arbor that we got married under. Michael and his best man Tom built and finished it out of cedar boards. And our florist, Tony, did an amazing job decorating it with flowers.

We’ve since repurposed it in our backyard, and we can’t wait to cover it with ivy and flowers next summer!

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The Flowers

We went with white flowers with different greens as accents.

We trusted our florist whole heartedly, and gave him a few ideas, and told him to just run with it. Everything turned out so much more beautiful that we could have imagined.

He used mostly garden roses in the bridal bouquet, and hydrangeas, roses, orchids, and other greens for the rest of the décor.

He was such a key part in bringing our vision to life!

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The Ceremony

Dr. Sheila Gay Gross performed our wedding ceremony, and she made it so memorable.

Rather than having readings or quotations from other works, she contacted close friends of ours and asked them to say a few words about us during the ceremony.

As simple as it sounds, this made the ceremony extremely personal, and really special. 

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Favourite Moments

It’s truly impossible to pick out “the best part”. Can I pick everything? I always used to roll my eyes a bit when people would say that their wedding day was the best day of their lives.

But it really was the best day of my life, from beginning to end. Everything was perfection.

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The Photography

Michael and I looked at quite a few photographers, but something about Bri Johnson’s photos really stood out to us. Every single one of her photos looks like it could be on the cover of a magazine.

That, on top of her professionalism and responsiveness made the choice a no brainer. And I also have to mention she’s a total blast to work with, and made the day so easy for us.

Bri had worked with Majestic Creative Films (our videographers) in the past, and we loved their work, so that decision was easy as well.

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The Refreshments

Our signature cocktail was a bourbon mule, a modern take on the traditional Moscow mule.

The Ryland Inn is known for its fresh farm-to-table ingredients and amazing food, which were a highlight of the evening.

We had a complete cocktail hour followed by a traditional sit-down dinner. The food was definitely a highlight that many of our guests raved about!

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Advice for Other Couples

Take the time to research and get to know your vendors before you book them. Having solid and reliable vendors will make your day a total breeze.

You want to be able to sit back and enjoy it, which is exactly what we did, because everyone else had everything under control!

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The Music

Processional: Bridal party/family: Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles

Bride Processional: Pachelbel’s Canon in D

Recessional: All You Need is Love by The Beatles

First Dance: God Only Knows, by The Beach Boys

The music was performed by City Rhythm, based out of Philadelphia, PA. They were a key part in making our day so wonderful.

Our major splurge was on the band. They totally rocked it, and our dance floor was full all night long. It was definitely worth it!

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The Honeymoon

Michael and I spent two weeks in Africa.

We visited Cape Town, Kruger National Park, and Mauritius. I cannot recommend this trip more highly for honeymooners looking for a little bit of adventure, and unbeatable romance.

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A timeless wedding that’s still filled with cool ideas, I just love the arbour, and did you spot Kate’s engagement ring? So pretty!

Thanks so much to Bri Johnson Weddings and of course, Kate & Michael for sharing their beautiful wedding day with us.

Be Inspired by more Real Weddings

Photographer: Bri Johnson Weddings / Bride’s Dress: Katie May Collection, Barcelona Gown / Bridal Salon: Lovely Bride Philadelphia / Bride’s Veil/Hair Accessories: Erica Koesler / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew / Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew / Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux / Videography: Majestic Creative Films / Venue: The Ryland Inn / Flowers: Moon Forrest Floral Décor / Cake Baker: Palermo’s Bakery / Invitations & Stationery: Jessie Jay Mademann / Band: City Rhythm / Makeup Artist: Skin Deep Makeup Design / Hairstylist: Nicole Makeup and Hair / Ceremony Officiant: Dr. Sheila Gay Gross