Three years of post-grad, long-distance dating didn’t diminish Ryan Adams’ affection for his college sweetheart, Hilary Holland. In fact, an unassuming television reference to the highest mountain on earth brought his sentiments sharply into focus. "I remember getting this feeling that if we really, really wanted to, we could climb Mount Everest; that if we both decided together at that moment that this was a goal for us, we could without a doubt do it," he says. "It was a feeling that we could handle any challenge that life threw at us… and I knew then that I wanted to marry her." Fittingly, he proposed at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and an ecstatic Hilary accepted 19,000 feet above the clouds.
The bride had a specific vision for the wedding of her dreams: an alfresco ceremony followed by a beautiful tented reception. “I also wanted the venue to have a natural beauty that needed very few enhancements,” she describes. The country bed and breakfast that the couple decided upon fit the bill flawlessly, and the pair arranged to exchange vows amid a lovely garden. The only decorative embellishments they added to the idyllic scene were a flower-filled antique wagon that offered iced tea and lemonade to guests, and a wood-framed chalkboard that displayed the names of the wedding party in lieu of printed programs.
The excitement began before the ceremony commenced, as the bride and groom chose to be photographed together first. “My heart was pounding out of my chest as I walked towards Ryan for our 'first look,'” Hilary shares. “His expression as he turned around to see me is something I will always treasure.” Escorted down the aisle by her father, she carried a romantic bouquet of Vivianne and Porcelana roses, peonies, hydrangeas, lisianthus, Queen Anne’s lace, sweet peas, and other seasonal white flowers that accentuated the delicate lace of her gown. Her backswept auburn hair exposed glittering emerald earrings surrounded by diamonds.
“Watching my bride walk down the aisle towards me,” recalls Ryan, “was breathtaking.” The timeless wedding ceremony included a beautiful blessing by the couple’s pastor and an extraordinary first kiss between husband and wife. Then, the reception began within the light-lined walls of a magnificent silk tent in perfect keeping with the bride’s original vision.
“Our mantra was simple elegance,” she says of the décor, which utilized a second chalkboard devoted to the dinner menu, and oval tables sheathed in crisp ivory linens with dove-grey runners. Deconstructed florals set in crystal vases featured white and light-colored flowers with dashes of blue blooms accented with greenery.
“I didn’t want huge centerpieces blocking people’s views or conversations,” explains Hilary, “but given the dramatic effect of the tent, we still needed some height.” To that end, one third of the tables showcased trios of tall silver vessels overflowing with flowers flanked by two miniature arrangements. The remaining tables each displayed five low-standing floral designs. “Every table had about six mercury-glass votives, and table numbers were white place cards with dove-grey calligraphy held by all-white wooden blocks,” the bride adds.
Quality entertainment was a huge priority for the groom, who handpicked the DJ and influenced every set. “The music selection was spot-on and kept the dance floor moving all night,” he says. So fabulous was the energy, he took matters into his own hands – literally – when a particular song brought on the uncontrollable urge to dance. “Ryan ran over to me as I was talking with some guests, picked me up, and carried me over his shoulder to the dance floor so we could dance to ‘Shout,’” Hilary laughs.
The venue was perfect and the details seamless, but the best aspect of the event was the guest list. “I feel that what made our wedding unique was that we were able to invite all of our friends,” says Ryan. “Our [celebration] had just about everyone together, which led to a very good time as people rekindled some of our college traditions.” Case in point: At the end of the reception, the couple’s loved ones created an impromptu group circle and sang Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” a cappella, while the pair danced in the center. “It was very nostalgic and a really cool moment,” the groom affirms.