James Fairclough II is something of a matchmaker – after spending time with Katrina Woods, he determined that she and his cousin, Brian Fairclough, would make a great couple and catalyzed a meeting between the two. “We were introduced in Palm Beach, Florida, where I was showing my show jumping horses and he was playing polo,” she remembers. Upon speaking with Katrina for the first time, Brian felt an instant connection. “She was thoughtful, kind, and intelligent; we had a lot of things in common,” he remembers. “I knew I wanted to marry her the moment I met her.”
Two years into their relationship, Brian felt no differently toward his beloved. In order to make his intentions clear to Katrina’s family, he decided to ask her father for his blessing prior to popping the question. “I had to let him know I was serious,” Brian reveals. “Katrina and I were buying a new house, and when her dad and I went to look at it together, I asked him in what is now our kitchen.” After selecting the perfect engagement ring with help from his grandmother and her longtime jeweler in Palm Beach, he felt ready to propose; however, Katrina was well aware of what was to come. “I knew he had the ring and I totally ruined the surprise,” she divulges. “I begged and pleaded with him to give it to me: before he had gotten down on one knee, I said yes and put the ring on my finger.”
As many brides and grooms come to discover, the planning process can often include a number of difficult decisions, but for Katrina and Brian, their choice of venue was not among those options. “Brian’s family farm was the perfect setting,” muses the bride. “We both grew up on farms surrounded by horses.” However, this simple selection presented the duo with a unique set of hurdles to clear. “Coordinating a wedding at a private home is different from putting together an event at a venue,” she warns. “There are many more details that have to be addressed, but I think that is what makes the process fun.” Luckily, both families were incredibly involved in organizing their early summer nuptials: Katrina’s parents even accompanied the pair to Napa Valley, California, in order to select wines for their celebration while Brian’s father redesigned his entire backyard to make room for the reception tent and built a stone patio for the cocktail hour.
In June, after a 10-month engagement, friends and family gathered on the horse farm to witness the marriage of the loving couple. Wanting to accent the natural beauty of the space, Katrina and Brian designed their ceremony with an understated motif, utilizing white chairs, arrangements filled with spilling florals and greenery, and an austere arch displaying clean snowy blooms, as well as scattered petals in lieu of an aisle runner. As a nod to their shared history of a love of everything equestrian, the bride made a particularly grand entrance. “I arrived in a 200-year-old horse-drawn carriage, selected and driven by Brian’s uncle, a world-renowned carriage driver,” Katrina explains. Following closely behind her bridesmaids in pale blue ensembles, Katrina wore a simple sheath gown with a V-neckline and wispy capped sleeves for her stroll toward her handsome beau.
Though there had been light rainfall throughout the day, the entire wedding party had a beautiful stroke of good fortune when it came to the vow exchange. “It stopped raining for exactly 30 minutes during the wedding ceremony: the clouds parted and the sun came out,” the bride notes. “As soon as Brian and I said ‘I do’ and walked up the aisle, it started raining again.” Katrina believes it was the work of her older brother, John, “sending us some sunshine from heaven.”
The festivities picked up under the cover of the tent, which housed the reception. Revelers retrieved their escort cards from a planter box with foliage that provided each name card within a nest of leafy sprigs. Long wooden tablescapes displayed simple runners in a pearl shade underneath a line of low arrangements featuring alabaster flowers and verdure, small votive candles in long glass vessels, and green goblets, while round tables featured creamy linens with a grander version of the shorter centerpieces. Chandeliers and large wreath fixtures suspended from the rafters of the tent decorated the space overhead. Forgoing a structured, formal wedding cake, the newlyweds presented guests with a simple four-tier blush confection that included cherry blossom detailing.
The entertainment of the evening was of the upmost importance to Brian. “I am a concert pianist who performed during my time in college,” says the groom. “I definitely wanted a classic live band.” In addition to a dynamic song selection, Brian organized a special treat for his bride and their attendees. “He told me before the wedding that he might get some fireworks, but I thought he meant little sparklers,” tells Katrina of the groom’s surprise. “The show lasted ten minutes and everyone was blown away!” The groom agrees: “The fireworks were a huge hit!” In reflection, the new Mrs. Fairclough wants to level with future engaged couples. “I promised myself that I would not stress out over one day of my life; however, that is easier said than done,” she affirms. “To be honest, planning a wedding is exhausting and stressful, but it is all worth it in the end!”