On a very cold night in January 2017, Samantha Carnall and Joe Sicilian had their first date in downtown Boston: dinner and a nightcap at the bar next door. “Even though it was a Monday, we didn’t want the night to end,” Samantha remembers. “After the date, Joe excitedly woke his neighbor and friend to boldly foreshadow that I would be joining their summer share house that August.” His prediction proved accurate; a relationship was forged.
“On another cold night, in November 2020 on a walk to dinner, Joe stopped me along the Boston Harbor Hotel waterfront and got down on one knee,” Samantha says. “My sister, brother-in-law, and parents were waiting at our dinner destination with Champagne, oysters, and flowers. It couldn’t have been a happier celebration!”
Engaged mid-pandemic, their wedding planning journey was full of unknowns from the get-go, but “we were committed to making a 2021 wedding date happen, regardless of being able to celebrate with 25 or 250 guests,” Samantha says. “That realization helped us be more flexible and roll with the punches throughout the planning process as regulations shifted.” In the end, the couple hosted 170 guests.
“The Berkshires stood out as a dream destination that was basically in our backyard,” Samantha says of their venue search. “Beautiful, old-world properties in the area are endless, and their gardens are extensive.” The couple fell in love with Chesterwood Studio, which offered multiple spaces to flow their evening throughout. “We moved from the ceremony in front of Daniel Chester French’s historic home, to cocktail hour in the studio garden, to dinner and dancing under a tent on the expansive lawn,” Samantha says. “Joe’s parents have recently relocated to Washington D.C., and we’ve visited the Lincoln Memorial together several times, so it was serendipitous that Daniel Chester French was the sculptor of the memorial. There are replicas located around his property-turned-museum.”
The couple said “I do” as originally planned on September 18, 2021. Keep scrolling to see all the lovely details, planned by Sophia Morton at Willow Hill and photographed by Amanda K. Photography.
As both an event stylist and interior designer, Sophia Morton brought great creativity to the planning process. “We worked closely with Sophia to create a vision that was centered around a formal and modern take on a garden wedding, inspired by the area and venue,” Samantha says. “We chose to incorporate deep green velvet details and all-white delicate yet sculptural florals to achieve the perfect aesthetic.”
“Natural and airy” was Samantha’s beauty vision. “My goal was to look like myself. I decided to keep my hair up in a simple low bun so as to not distract from the gown.”
It didn’t take much searching to find the dress of her dreams. “I always knew I wanted a long-sleeved wedding dress, but also loved the idea of having two looks in one,” Samantha says. “I went straight to Monique Lhuillier and found my dream dress with a removable lace jacket on the first try.”
“I kept it simple accessories-wise,” she adds. “I opted for simple white satin Manolos, pearl and diamond studs by Mizuki, and a signet ring on my right hand that was a gift from my great-grandmother and grandmother when I was in grade school.”
Joe looked classic in a custom black tuxedo by Cad & The Dandy. “We exchanged wedding gifts early and I gifted Joe silver cufflinks for the big day,” Samantha says. “He also wore a vintage silver watch with a black face that went perfectly with the tux.”
“As a couple, we don’t love to be the center of attention. So, it was really important for us to have a few moments prior to the ceremony to see each other and take it all in,” Samantha says. “The first look allowed us extra time to connect as a couple and just process how amazing it was and lucky we were.”
“I’ve always loved Brock Collection’s signature muted pastel palettes and microfloral prints, and used that as inspiration for the mix-and-match style of my bridesmaids,” Samantha says. “Each woman chose their own gown within the framework, and it ended up working better than I ever could have imagined! My maid of honor and sister anchored the group with a structured blue Markarian dress.” Petite baby’s breath bouquets looked chic without distracting from the pattern.
The couple rode together in a vintage Bentley for the short drive to the ceremony location, the front lawn of sculptor Daniel Chester French’s historic home. “We kept decor simple with a sculptural baby’s breath arch and white wildflowers sprinkled along the aisle,” Samantha describes.
They chose their favorite songs—“Here Comes the Sun” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”—and had a string trio perform them for the ceremony processionals. Samantha’s mother and father accompanied her down the aisle.
One of Samantha’s bridesmaids, Courtney Herrera, officiated the sweet ceremony. “We customized the script and our vows to incorporate special tidbits to us as a couple,” Samantha says. “Joe’s mother, Shirley, recited a poem called ‘Love is an Adventure’ by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which we hoped would represent our marriage.”
Miniature versions of some of the couple’s favorite dishes—steak frites, scallops, and fresh ceviche tacos—were served during cocktail hour, alongside a pair of signature cocktails. “The first was a ‘CRUcumber,’ a cucumber martini replica of one of our favorite cocktails from CRU in Nantucket,” Samantha says. “Sophia had the idea to clip a baby’s breath sprig to the coup glasses we served this in and it was the perfect accent!” The second offering was a spicy margarita with jalapeno-infused tequila.
Chic seed packets by Emily Rose Ink were arranged in a bed of baby’s breath and served as both escort cards and take-home favors, a nod to the growth and blooming love a marriage symbolizes.
The reception came to life underneath a sailcloth tent on the lawn. An extra-long head table that seated 48 guests served as a focal point, adorned with dahlias, cosmos, Queen Anne’s lace, clematis, and butterfly ranunculus in shades of white. “Erin from Forêt Flowers + Styling created a large baby’s breath ‘cloud’ over Joe and my place setting,” Samantha says. “Each place setting featured delicate geometric glassware, lace-patterned white plates, and a linen napkin loosely tied with the same green velvet ribbon used throughout the weekend.” Finally, rattan lighting and greenery-wrapped tent poles cemented the garden theme.
“We wanted to mirror the season and some of Joe and my favorite dishes. It was also important to us to use as many local ingredients as possible, seeing as New England has such wonderful local farms,” Samantha says. Forklift Catering served up a seasonal apple and goat cheese salad, salmon, and short rib.
Fun fact: We decided our first dance song on our fifth date.
Samantha removed her gown’s lace jacket for the first dance. “Fun fact: We decided our first dance song on our fifth date,” Samantha recalls. “Back then we were joking around, playing each other songs on Spotify while we cooked dinner, and Joe played ‘Unchained Melody’ and said how he’s always thought it would be a special first dance song. It was settled then!” Dancing on the white dance floor below their wedding tent “was a full circle moment and very special to us,” she says.
Later in the night, Samantha changed into an Alex Perry minidress to take on the dance floor.
“My grandmother started a family tradition to pop jumbo Champagne bottles at big life events, which are all prominently displayed in our family’s summer home, starting with my parent’s wedding more than 30 years ago,” Samantha says. During his speech, the bride’s dad introduced a Balthazar-sized bottle of Veuve Clicquot and, late-night, the newlyweds hoisted it over a tower of coup glasses to the tune of Frankie Valli’s “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).” The newlyweds share, “It was a highlight to keep the tradition alive!”