A two-year engagement allowed Jill Sartorelli and Jeffrey Wilhelm to plan their wedding at a leisurely pace while juggling the demands of their work schedules and the challenge of building a new house together. “Nobody ever believes this, but I was actually quite involved in the whole process,” declares the groom, who was an equal partner in everything from selecting flowers to attending vendor meetings. After Jill communicated her vision of natural elements in an elegant setting, the couple’s main focus was consistency of theme. “Our basic color scheme was ivory, chocolate, and moss green, with some burgundy tones in the mix,” says Jill. “We also wanted to incorporate our love of vintage items into our wedding.” Commissioning a custom invitation suite was the couple’s first step in establishing their style. “Each invitation was a small brown box that contained a bed of moss and beautifully letter-pressed invitation pieces,” describes Jeff. A historic manor with gorgeous landscaping and noble architecture was selected as the wedding site, and a lush outdoor ceremony was planned.
Many Jewish wedding traditions were observed throughout the nuptials, but the signing of the marriage contract was given a new twist. “We wanted to include all of our guests in the moment, so we signed our ketubah as part of the ceremony [instead of prior to the service],” Jill explains. The officiating rabbi kept the mood light and spoke at length about the couple’s relationship. “Jeff and I held hands,” the bride recalls, “and when our rabbi started to reminisce about when and how our love began, I squeezed Jeff’s hand and then he squeezed mine. It was our little way of saying, ‘I love you. Can you believe we are finally here? I’m so happy.’”
Jeff and Jill’s wedding style was even more pronounced in the reception décor. “The seating-card table was a wonderful vignette with a bed of moss, votives hanging from branches, and seating cards engraved on wood,” says Jeff. A collection of family photos depicting cherished childhood memories was strung between trees, and family wedding portraits greeted guests in the foyer of the mansion. Once inside, loved ones were directed to write their best wishes for the couple on vintage postcards offered on an old-fashioned spinning rack, then deposit the cards in an antique mailbox that stood nearby. “It was these sorts of small details that really reflected our personalities the most,” asserts Jeff.
Alternating floral arrangements adorned the tables in the dining room, where whimsical wooden numbers assisted guests with assigned seating. An array of seasonal blooms composed low centerpieces on beds of moss, while bronze branches were draped with similar blossoms for the taller arrangements. Ranunculus, roses, anemones, dahlias, hydrangeas and chocolate cosmos were accented with fiddlehead ferns, berries, and lady apples for a natural, organic look. “Even the font on our paper items had a special touch of nature to it – a little leaf detail at the end of certain letters,” says Jill.
Custom signage throughout the room added polish to every area, including a color-coordinated candy bar that offered take-home treats. A bucket of flipflop sandals encouraged guests to stay on the dance floor, and a photo booth provided photographic fun. “As our guests were dancing the night away, Jill and I snuck out for a few minutes to walk around the property and observe the festivities from a distance,” says Jeff. “Something about the two of us being able to step back and see our family and friends enjoying our special day was a really memorable moment.” In fact, their loved ones were a main reason the pair worked so hard on the details of their wedding. “We wanted our family to have a chance to celebrate and let go of all of life’s worries for a night,” says Jill of their successful celebration, “and I knew we accomplished that when my dad said, ‘That was the best night ever.’”