Samantha Rothenberger was led by the calling of her heart when selecting the setting for her wedding with Sean Kowalski. And for her, there was no place more idyllic than the house where she grew up in the Pennsylvania countryside. The nearby historic, 199-year-old Salem Belleman’s Church also held a special significance. “My mom had once said it would be a very cool place to get married. So I did,” says Samantha with a smile. Her father was also buried behind the brick structure, so his presence would be felt and, in a way, he could be part of his daughter’s big day.
After the processional of groomsmen in seersucker suits and turquoise topsiders accompanying bridesmaids in sleeveless sapphire dresses, Samantha was escorted down the aisle by her two brothers. Expressing her love for fashion, the bride’s gown featured delicate pearl straps, a lace bodice, and a frothy skirt. She had a slit designed in the front to showcase her shoes, “which were blue and fabulous,” she attests. A dainty birdcage veil topped her coiffure.
At the altar, Sean donned a navy tuxedo and tie and a calla lily boutonniere. His tie was a special signed gift from Ralph Lauren, who was one of the guests in attendance. Samantha surprised her groom – and loved ones – by serenading him with “The One You Say Good Night To” by Kina Grannis, accompanied by their band, in the middle of the ceremony. “It was a last-minute decision I thought of when I heard the song,” she shares.
The newlyweds arrived at the reception – held beneath an open-sided tent on a lush field at her family home – on an ivory carriage drawn by two Clydesdales. The celebration’s rustic-chic aesthetic was the result of the vision Samantha indicated to her mother and wedding planner: “orchids, white flowers, and lily pads in the pool. The rest I said, ‘think outside the outside box.’” Reflecting the lush landscape, leafy branches decorated tent posts and foliage chandeliers with candles were suspended over the dance floor. Tables were adorned with petite vanilla and light green floral arrangements and candles illuminating from cut-crystal hurricanes, lanterns, and mercury-glass stands. Linens varied between runners with a brown damask print on bare country tables, taupe tablecloths topped with pearl swaths, and pale blue tablecloths with tan accents. Place settings were composed of rattan chargers and napkin rings, as well as flatware featuring bamboo handles.
At the end of the night, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches were on hand for the revelers. In honor of Samantha’s father, who had been in the dairy business, old-fashioned bottles of milk and boxes of chocolate chip cookies were given to guests as they departed. Having both lost their fathers, the bride and groom were grateful to share their special day with so many loved ones.