There is nothing quite like summer at SMITH FARM GARDENS; this charming New England property boasts gardens of all sorts, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Centred amongst these gardens is the 1700’s, fully-restored, farmhouse. It would be an understatement to say that the majority of Shelby & Justin's inspiration came from the property itself. With such a stunning backdrop, they wanted the style of the wedding to replicate and enhance the gorgeous, summery, garden-party aesthetics that already existed. "We wanted everything to feel really light and airy, with neutrals and florals that played wonderfully together" and these images by Connecticut wedding photographer CORA JANE PHOTOGRAPHY showcase it perfectly.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS LOCATION? Being from the border of CT and NY, we wanted to explore both Hudson Valley and Connecticut options. Early on, we stumbled across Cora Jane Photography and fell head over heels with her photography style. It was at this time that we had seen a blog post she had done from a wedding at Smith Farm Gardens. Without even seeing the property in person, we knew Smith Farm was special. We had set up an intro call with Cora and expressed to her a few of the venues we were interested in, and Cora gave Smith Farm a glowing review. Unfortunately, we were only able to tour the venue in the dead of winter, however, we trusted Cora, and our gut and decided to book one of the two Saturdays they had left for 2023 and it did not disappoint.

HOW DID YOU MEET? It all started at Montes Taco & Tequila night. Tequila had given Shelby the liquid courage she needed to finally make her first move on Justin. She had kindly asked the bartender to put in a good word for her (all while Justin was only 2 seats away). The bartender says to Justin "You know Shelby, right?" to which he painfully responds, "Nope." A few margaritas later it was like they had known each other their whole life. 6.5  years later they are still loving tacos and tequila and each other more than ever.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL: Long Beach Island, NJ, holds a special place in Shelby’s heart. Her family had vacationed there nearly her whole life, and Justin just knew that he was going to propose on their family vacation in August. Justin had initially planned to propose on the beach, but the weather had other plans. Between him and Shelby’s family, they had all sorts of signage made to signify the date of the proposal, so there was no turning back. The day went on, and the weather was still not cooperating. As the afternoon came,, Justin and her siblings decided to go to a local eatery on the bay for a drink. As they finished up, the sun was setting on quite literally the dreariest day, and it was at that point that Justin got down on one knee and proposed. Shelby (completely unaware) with her messy bun and t-shirt dress was completely surprised. Once they returned to their rental house, she realised that her family had set up an entire party full of gifts and champagne. Although NOTHING went according to plan, it was the perfect day. 

TELL US ABOUT FINDING YOUR WEDDING DRESS/ATTIRE: I had fallen completely in love with a Made With Love gown I had seen on Tik Tok during my early planning days. However, there were very few dress shops near me that carried the brand, and even if they had carried the brand, they didn’t have that exact style of dress. I scheduled multiple appointments at other establishments and brought my family along, but found myself still thinking about that one particular gown. I was finally able to track down the gown at Everthine Bridal in Madison, Connecticut (over two hours from where I lived). I ended up traveling there alone, trying on the dress, and buying it that same day. 

DID YOU HAVE ANY DIY ELEMENTS? We decided to hand-pour candles “Made With Love” as a favour for our wedding guests. We wanted something practical that they could use and reuse as a special something from our day.

DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING FLOWERS: Dusty roses, cappuccino-inspired blushes, and neutrals with lots of greenery were our inspiration. We trusted our florist, who also happens to be our good friend, and she put together the most beautiful arrangements complete with roses, ranunculus, eucalyptus, and more.

FAVOURITE DETAIL OF THE DAY: The heirloom piece that was incorporated into my bouquet from my Popa who had passed. My Popa was like a second father to me. He was my best friend and fell ill quite quickly just days before my 17th birthday. We had no idea that he would be gone within a week of being sick. It was one of the hardest moments of my life. My brother Cobi had been gifted all of his gold, including that cufflink. He had brought it to the florist behind my back and had it incorporated into my bouquet. I loved knowing that I had a part of my Popa with me all day, physically and in spirit.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OUT TO A COUPLE PLANNING THEIR WEDDING? Relish in even the smallest planning details and moments. It is so easy to get overwhelmed, but we tried to find joy in even the simplest of items and tasks, and in the end, we had small, wonderful memories for nearly everything that went into planning our day.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT? Our private last dance. We had everyone clear out of the tent (even the DJ) and got to share 3 minutes of completely uninterrupted time together before our night ended. It was intimate and emotional and was the best conclusion to the best day.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE WEDDING WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU BOTH? The biggest piece of advice we received was to take the time throughout the day to step away and take everything in together. Whether it was two minutes or 15 minutes, we made sure to connect frequently and spend tiny but incredibly meaningful moments together that we will cherish forever. It seems like something so small, but meant so much to us.

ANY OTHER DETAILS THAT HELP TELL THE STORY OF YOUR DAY? We wanted to incorporate quirky details that our friends and our families would love and understand. I.e. golf tees incorporated into the men’s boutonnieres, signature drinks featuring our two fur babies.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR HONEYMOON: We spent two incredible weeks island hopping in the beautiful country of Greece. Shelby had studied abroad in Athens a few years back and she wanted to show Justin her old stomping grounds, but also explore a bunch of new Greek islands together. We are lovers of sunshine, beaches, and phenomenal food and Greece was exactly the place to be.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE OR DO DIFFERENTLY? We were so sad to realise the night had concluded. If anything, we wish the night could’ve lasted longer!

A huge thank you to Connecticut wedding photographer CORA JANE PHOTOGRAPHY for sharing this beautiful wedding with us. Cora tells us, "People and relationships are everything to me. I’m the kind of person who values the deep conversations you have on road trips and loves the process of getting to know new people. Coming from an academic background, and being married to an engineer, I know two things: foundations are important, and your support system is everything. Building relationships with the people who will capture the most precious beginnings of your life should reflect that. You should feel valued and important. The best stories are told by people who know them and one of my favourite elements of being a wedding photographer is getting to know people’s stories." You can see more of her portfolio here.