The holidays. A Victorian-era farm. Cherished family members. Dear friends. The perfect ingredients for a wedding!
Candace Abel is a regular client of Floral Designs of Mount Joy. In November 2013, owner Jill Hoffines-Erb assumed the reason Candace was calling was to go over the holiday-decorating schedule. That would be true. But, Candace also had some exciting news to share. She and her fiancé, Paul Rouse, were planning a wedding … for December 28! And, she needed Jill’s help.
Jill headed for Candace’s farm in order to get the planning underway. Candace knew the direction she wanted to take from a decorating perspective. Now, it would fall to Jill to execute the ideas and fill in the details. Once Jill heard Candace’s ideas, she knew the next six weeks would be all-encompassing. “This would prove to be one of our most ambitious wedding projects,” Jill notes. “And, it came at a really busy time of the year: Christmas. Thank goodness, I have a staff that could take over for me at the shop so that I could devote all my time to the wedding.”
Candace’s plan was to invite 125 friends and family to a “holiday party” and let them learn a wedding was going to take place once they were gathered together on the farm. Unfortunately, the secret was leaked and in the end, only a few attendees remained in the dark. Those on the invitation list were asked to bring canned goods that would be donated to a local food bank.
The farm would serve as the site of both the wedding and the reception. From a décor perspective, Candace wanted to incorporate her favorite things: antiques, vintage, nature and family. Repurposing and sharing were also on her mind.
The decorating process would be two-fold: Floral Designs would proceed with the holiday decorations for the house and exterior areas and go full-tilt for the wedding in the week leading up to it.
When Candace purchased the property, she was aware the house would not be large enough to accommodate family gatherings. So, she transformed the lower level of the barn into a multi-purpose room that would provide ample space for family events, parties and other activities.
Thus, the barn would be central to the wedding. Candace envisioned its upper level as the site for the ceremony. It would be divided into thirds, with one portion serving as a guest entry, the second dedicated to the ceremony and the final third transformed into a lounge.
The entry held vintage signage, an old suitcase in which guests could drop “love notes” and an antique sleigh that was filled with throws that invited guests to “wrap themselves in the warmth” of the occasion. (The upper level is not heated.) “They served as gifts for the guests,” Jill notes of the throws.
The ceremony site was lined with wooden benches. Floral Designs placed towering branches of white birch, creating a canopy effect for the space (uplighting further enhanced it). Live evergreens filled the front of the ceremony site. (They would be planted on the property after the wedding.) The trees twinkled with white lights and were decorated with various kinds of birds, which were handcrafted by Jim Showers at Floral Designs. Jill also recruited Randy and Diane Brubaker to make Moravian stars that would illuminate the soaring space. “The largest was 64 inches, the smallest 18 inches,” says Jill of the dozen stars that served to create an intimate space in which the vows were exchanged.
The highlight of the lounge area was the “sectional sofa” Jill crafted from hay bales, which were covered in fabric and made more comfortable with throw pillows. The lounge was used for cocktails and dancing.
The decorative elements used upstairs continued below. Elegant chandeliers contrasted with the wood and stone that denote the space. Tables, the fireplace and windowsills were all topped with greenery that was embellished with magnolia leaves, pinecones, birch branches, snow-white hydrangea, moss and woodland creatures. Mercury-glass containers held floral designs that included ranunculus and roses. Flower-filled cloches topped the tables, as well. Candlelight twinkled from within mercury-glass votives. Two dozen terrariums – dainty-sized woodland “creatures” peered from within them – also topped the tables. “They were intended as keepsakes for family members,” Jill explains. “We kept them simple so they would be easy to care for.”
Dinner was accompanied by music provided by The Silverwood Trio. Dessert consisted of a woodland-themed cake and an array of cupcake flavors. Outside, s’more-making stations were situated around firepits that dotted what once had been the barnyard. The trees surrounding the barn twinkled with white lights. The final touch: illuminated lanterns were launched into the night sky. “Every detail was addressed and met,” says Jill. “It was just magical.”
Floral Design/Decorating: Floral Designs of Mount Joy
Live Trees/Exterior Lighting: J. Hubler Landscaping, Elizabethtown
Interior Lighting: Schumaker PDT, Lancaster
Custom Moravian Stars: Randy and Diane Brubaker, Elizabethtown
Linens: Special Occasions, Lancaster
Catering: Hershey Pantry, Hershey
Wedding Cake/Cupcakes: Hershey Pantry
Photography: Epic Photography, Elizabethtown