Annie and Clark's love story is one that will give you all the feels. As kids, their paths crossed multiple times on the pumpkin farm that Clark's family owns and where Annie and her family would spend lots of time. But in an ironic twist of fate, these two didn't officially meet until their college days. A few years and a Disney engagement later, Annie and Clark began planning their wedding day! Pulling inspiration from the very place they first “met”, the bride and groom chose Armstrong Farms for their ceremony and reception and they wove a subtle pumpkin theme into the entire affair. A fall color palette of blush, plum, merlot, and champagne looked romantic yet dramatic against wooden decor, loads of fresh greenery, and fresh pumpkins that were grown especially for the occasion and picked by Annie and Clark together a week before the wedding. My very favorite details included:
- Stationery designed by bride. Annie is a graphic designer and created everything from the invitations that featured their beloved pets to the ceremony programs that showcased fun facts about their bridal party. DIYing doesn't get much better than this!
- Speaking of Annie…wait until you see her dress! The blush pink Sottero and Midgley number from Bridal Beginning features a sweetheart neck, rouched bodice, and ruffled skirt. Annie accessorized with a beaded belt and simple floral crown for a look that was both feminine and modern.
- Nods to their proposal night. In honor of the night Clark popped the question (full story below), piano versions of popular Disney songs were played during the cocktail hour and guests feasted on BBQ and drank from mason jars, just like Annie and Clark did that very night.
- One heck of an after party! Post reception, the newlyweds and their crew enjoyed a bon fire, s'mores roast, and a good ol' fashioned camp out, complete with tents and all. SO FUN!
Annie and Clark wanted their wedding to be simple, laid back, and they wanted it to tell their story. I'd say mission totally accomplished. Enjoy all of the beautifully captured memories from Dawn Derbyshire Photography! THIS is how you do a fall wedding!
From the bride…
When and how did you two meet?
This is my favorite story ever. Sometime in the 1960's, my grandfather built a summer cottage in a small town called Ligonier. Over the years, generations of our big Italian family would visit the cottage together in the summer and fall months. After I was born, my parents continued the tradition of traveling to Ligonier to spend time at the cottage. For years, I bugged my dad, asking if there were any other kids to play with in Ligonier, but he kept telling us only farmers lived out there. (Disclaimer: Later, it was discovered he claimed there were no kids because he didn't want me talking to boys.) So, we grew up thinking there were no kids around. On the way home from the cottage every year, our family would stop at a farm to pick pumpkins. I loved this farm. It was always one of my favorite things about visiting Ligonier.
Fast forward: The time had come for me to go to college. I spent three years studying at Penn State and found out going into my senior year there was an error in my course scheduling that would set my graduation back about three more years (seriously!). So I decided to transfer to Robert Morris to graduate on time. As fate would have it, on my very first day this kid rolls into class and sits down directly across from me wearing a “Ligonier Basketball” shirt. I was intrigued by this. I, of course, knew of Ligonier, but I was convinced there was no high school there. How could there possibly be a basketball team? After class, I approached this kid wearing a shirt (from an obviously fake school) and questioned where he got it. It was then I learned his name was Clark, and after a lot of convincing, he proved that he did in fact go to Ligonier High School. Little did I know that while I was pondering in class about this kid's shirt, he was busy trying to learn my name so that he could ask me out. He made up an excuse to borrow the book from class so he could talk to me. When we met up outside the gym so I could give him the book, we ended up sitting on the steps and talking for hours. During this conversation, we both learned that Clark not only lived in Ligonier, but lived on the pumpkin farm that I picked pumpkins at every year since I was a little girl.
For an added bonus, I was recently digging through old pictures of me on the farm and found Clark's family in the background! So despite probably being within 10 feet of Clark since we were in kindergarten, we eventually (finally) found each other. Some things are just meant to be.
Juicy details on the proposal, please! Where, when, how?
Last spring, we vacationed at Disney World and stayed at the Fort Wilderness Campground. The resorts are awesome but this one in particular we love because we get to camp in our tent, rent a golf cart to drive around, and just act like kids all week. So needless to say, it's pretty awesome. One night we went to a musical dinner show on the resort called the Hoop-Dee-Doo-Revue, which has all you can eat BBQ, all you can drink mason jars full of wine (yes, please), and a hilarious musical theater show. After the show, I asked Clark if we could go sit on the beach to watch the sunset. He seemed a little too excited, which at the time should have raised a flag but I didn't think anything of it. I blame the wine. Anyways, he brought a blanket, some music, and apparently a little something extra in his pocket 🙂 We found a spot under this Pocahontas-style weeping willow tree that had a perfect view of the sunset with Cinderella's castle in the background. Before I had the chance to sit down, he gave me a hug, then pulled this little box out of his pocket and got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I almost died. We had been together for about six years at that point so after a while you have no idea when it's ACTUALLY going to happen, so it was 100% the best surprise ever. The first “people” we saw after it happened were Chip and Dale, so I just remember hugging the crap out of them because I was so happy.
Describe the wedding. The look, theme, style, colors, etc.
When Clark and I first talked about what kind of wedding we wanted, we both agreed that something simple, laid back, and not over-the-top was the way to go. So when the idea of a farm wedding where everyone could eat BBQ, hang out with the resident burrow, and roast s'mores over a bon fire presented itself, we were sold. The wedding itself was beautiful. Between the flowers, the pumpkin-filled barn, and being surrounded by our closest family and friends, it was the most AMAZING day.
What inspired your vision?
Everything about our wedding was inspired by the story of how we met and what brought us together, which was Clark's family's pumpkin farm. The fall is a special time for Clark and me since we go and help out on the farm to sell pumpkins every year, and we've created so many memories there. So, it was a no brainer to have the wedding themed around pumpkins and held at a farm.
As far as the other details go, the color palette reflected my blush dress. I wanted to make sure that even though my dress was blush, I was able to tie in the fall atmosphere with white pumpkins, gold accents, and blush, champagne, and merlot/plum bridesmaids dresses. Clark's family farm provided the pumpkins, so our centerpieces included white pumpkins, lanterns wrapped in greenery, and gold scripted table numbers. To stick with the theme, we served apple cider sangria and a variety of fall pumpkin beers. In lieu of serving a cake, we provided fall inspired cupcakes: s'mores, pumpkin, and salted caramel bourbon. And they were delish.
What made your wedding unique?
We wanted the wedding to be all about our story. We took advantage of the fact that I'm a graphic designer, so I was able to customize all of our print pieces – from our wedding invitations that featured our fur-animals (because why not feature your cat and bunny on your wedding invitations?) to our ceremony programs that told our story of how we met along with fun facts about our wedding party. We also wanted to add subtle hints of Disney (from our engagement) without it overtaking the overall pumpkin/fall theme. So I ended up finding classy piano music of Disney songs that played for the guests during cocktail hour. As a small gift for Clark the morning of the wedding, I gave him a “Grape Soda” pin from the Disney movie UP so he could wear it on his boutonniere. Our dinner was inspired by the night we got engaged in Disney, when we had BBQ and enjoyed wine from mason jars. So we opted to serve BBQ at the wedding and give everyone mason jar glasses for favors. For an added bonus, Armstrong Farms allowed us to camp out in the lawn in tents if we wanted to. (The groomsmen took full advantage of that, which was awesome!) The night ended with a bon fire and an after party on the farm, with A LOT of dancing and air guitar in the farmhouse until about 3 a.m. We didn't care about any of the traditional wedding things, and our guests LOVED that. They could not stop telling us how unique everything was – from our dinosaur cake topper, to a non-white wedding dress, and me having two of my best guy friends as bridesmaids. Not to mention we also had two resident geese join us during the ceremony; they literally stood beside us through the whole thing, just hanging out. It was hilarious.
Bride to Bride
What advice would you give to other Burgh Brides planning their big day?
Don't worry about breaking tradition! We were so happy we weren't caught up in all of the traditional wedding “must dos” and instead we did what reflected us as a couple. Our guests loved all of the unique details we had on the wedding day because it told our story.
Also, soak in the day. Find some time to privately have a conversation with your new husband. They aren't kidding when they say the day is over in a blink of an eye.
Know what you can DIY and know when to hire a professional.
Any must haves, must dos, or can't live withouts? Anything you would do differently?
A big must have for me was a good photographer.
We wrote our own vows and it was awesome. Looking back, I could not have imagined not doing that because it was super meaningful.
One thing I would have done differently was given myself more of a time buffer between when I got ready and when the ceremony started. I felt rushed towards the end of getting ready and getting into my dress. I would have liked to just have had a few more minutes to soak everything in.
Bride's Dress: Sottero and Midgley from Bridal Beginning | Bride's Accessories: Versona | Bride's Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August from Bella Bridesmaids | Cake & Desserts: Mainstreet Bake Shop | Caterer: Pittsburgh Barbeque Company | Ceremony Location: Armstrong Farms | DJ: XELAsound | Flowers: The Farmer's Daughter | Hair: Brooke Nelson | Menswear: Men's Wearhouse | Photographer: Dawn Derbyshire Photography | Reception Venue: Armstrong Farms | Rentals: Vintage Alley Rentals | Stationery: Designed by the bride!Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids | Rentals: Vintage Alley Rentals