Jessica and Luda first locked eyes at a party at the University of Delaware in 2016. “He made me so nervous and I didn’t work up the courage to introduce myself,” Jessica remembers. A few months later, the two ran into each other again and, this time, Jessica made her move. The two hit it off and have been together ever since. In October of 2021, the couple purchased their dream home, a colonial 1800s estate in Upstate New York on four acres of land which they refer to as The Love Estate. When Jessica and Luda got engaged, the idea of hosting guests at their beloved home immediately came to mind. “We were able to fill our space with love, setting the tone for the beginning of our new chapter of marriage and create memories that will last a lifetime in a place we hope to cherish forever,” Jessica says.
The couple invited 160 guests to their elevated backyard wedding on September 24, 2022. They transformed their home for an outdoor ceremony at the end of a dramatic pathway and tented reception in front of a barn. “The natural landscape of our property provided the perfect flow to keep guests on their toes as each area was revealed,” the bride says. She operates a booth at a local antique shop, so the couple incorporated their own collection of vintage items into the wedding day’s décor.
To bring their vision of an enchanted garden black-tie affair to life, the bride and groom worked with Alicia Fox of Fancy Fox Events to plan and coordinate the day and source intentional vendors. Read on to see all the whimsical details of Jessica and Luda’s upstate New York wedding, as photographed by Collins Nai.
To invite guests to their at-home celebration, the duo chose a Minted invitation suite in shades of white and gray with a delicate leaf motif.
On the big day, the bride-to-be knew she wanted a full coverage glow for her makeup look. “It was important to me to still look like me,” Hessica says. “We opted for brown and gold tones for a light smokey eye and dewy skin.” She wore her hair in a styled full low bun to show off her Kate & Mari drop earrings. She chose to wear Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac & Marigold Cologne fragrance as well. “It’s floral and warm, perfectly encapsulating the vibrance of our wedding day,” she says.
When Jessica and Luda were asked to pose for a bridal photo shoot with their close friend, photographer Collins Nai, Jessica didn’t think anything of it. She threw on a stunning Karen Sabag gown and found herself in shock when Luda was down on one knee asking her to marry him. It turned out the bridal shoot was really a proposal setup. So, it was only natural that Jessica chose to wear a Karen Sabag gown on her wedding day. This time, she worked directly with Karen to design a custom gown. “I visited her atelier in Manhasset with a few ideas, including a voluminous skirt and lantern sleeves,” Jessica says, “She worked her magic on the rest—from lace that resembled the shape of my custom engagement ring to an ombré of ruffles every element was unique and extraordinary.” The result was a gown with a corseted bodice, detachable sleeves, and a billowing skirt. She also wore a custom veil featuring lace from the corset along the edges.
For her nails, the bride-to-be was inspired by the ever popular “glazed donut” manicure trend made popular by Hailey Bieber—she chose a neutral hue with a pearlescent finish that popped against her wedding dress.
A few days before the wedding, Luda got a fresh taper fade haircut. On the wedding day, he styled his hair with DevaCurl hair mousse and used Joey Healy brow product on his eyebrows. He wore an ivory blazer with a shawl collar and classic black tux pants from Todd Snyder. Jessica picked out his oversized Tom Ford bow tie for a timeless look. Luda partnered with Florsheim to finish his look with black chukka boots.
As a wedding gift, Jessica surprised her groom with a bottle of Le Labo fragrance Tonic 25. “She created a custom label on the bottle with my new last name ‘Mr. Love’ and our wedding date 9.24.23,” he says.
Instead of sharing a first look with Luda, Jessica decided to have a first look with her father and brother before the ceremony. “Luda had seen me wear countless wedding gowns leading up to the big day as part of our wedding partnerships, so I wanted my actual dress to be a surprise,” she says. After revealing her custom gown to her wedding party, she invited her dad and her brother into the room. “It was a heartfelt moment I’ll never forget,” she says.
The ceremony arch was made of overflowing flowers in shades of orange and blush to pop in contrast against the natural green surroundings. “It was the perfect summer to fall transitional color palette!” Jessica says. The aisle was lined with lush flower arrangements in the same color palette, which were later brought into the reception space and repurposed as centerpiece arrangements. The mixes included goldenrod stems that were harvested from the couple’s pasture. “It was extra special to incorporate the natural landscape into our décor,” the bride says.
As the ceremony began, a medley of acoustic versions of Harry Styles’s “Cherry & Golden” by Guitar Tribute Players set the tone. Jessica processed down the aisle with both of her parents to Vitamin String Quartet’s cover of Coldplay’s “Sky Full of Stars.”
The couple’s ceremony was officiated by their friend, Maria. Jessica and Luda exchanged personal vows, and Jessica admits she was really nervous leading up that moment. “As soon as I locked eyes with Luda all of the stress melted away and turned to pure joy,” she says. In fact, reciting their vows ended up being Jessica and Luda’s favorite part of the whole wedding day. “Luda is known to be a man of many expressions but few words except on our wedding day,” the bride says. “His vows blew me (and everyone!) away.”
Once the ceremony concluded, Jessica and Luda took portraits with their photographer around their property. They also took photos with their wedding party. Jessica’s bridesmaids wore matching David’s Bridal dresses in the Martini Olive shade, but her maid of honor wore a style with cap sleeves to stand out. Jessica also had a bridesman who wore a green tuxedo from The Black Tux. Luda’s groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos, also from The Black Tux. “It was a timeless, sharp look on each of the guys,” Luda says.
Jessica made sure to show off her custom veil; it featured the word “Love,” the couple’s new last name, sewn next to the shield and spear of the Kenyan flag. Luda’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Kenya, so Jessica wanted to pay homage to their home and the family members who still live there. “It was kept a secret until the big day and a welcomed surprise,” she says.
As cocktail hour began, guests strolled down a path decorated with lanterns to the rear of the barn where hors d’oeuvres and signature sips were served pasture-side. The couple found an 1800s general store counter to use for the cocktail bar, which will later serve as their kitchen island. Along with beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages, Patron sponsored three signature cocktails. The couple served “The Walter,” a sweet, fruity drink named after their chihuahua, “The Winston,” a spicy margarita named after their other dog, and “The Love Estate” a Patron reposado on the rocks with cinnamon and an orange slice.
Lastly, guests were welcomed with a wall of Chandon Garden Spritz cocktails that read “Sealed with a Spritz.”
The couple’s reception took place at the front of the barn, where a grand glass top tent was lit with fairy lights and chandeliers. The floral arch from the ceremony was brought to the tent’s entrance and the aisle arrangements were used as the centerpieces alongside brass candlesticks and pillar candles. Guests wandered between the tent and the inside of the barn where lounge furniture was set up.
A special sweetheart table surrounded by lush floral arrangements was set up for the bride and groom. The place settings included velvet olive colored napkins, gold-rimmed glass chargers, and gold flatware. The couple created custom black acrylic name cards for each place setting that doubled as favors for guests to take home. “Luda and I refrained from peeking at the reception tent until after the ceremony,” Jessica says, “The grand reveal was breathtaking and intimate. We were overwhelmed with how beautifully everything came together.”
The newlyweds shared their first dance to a DJ mix by the groom which was a combination of Drake’s “Yebba’s Heartbreak” and Anthony Russo’s “Caught Up.” Luda surprised Jessica with the mix on the wedding day. After Luda danced with his mom to “Solo” by Omah Lay and Jessica danced with her dad to “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, the couple’s loved ones shared heartfelt speeches. “Luda’s family welcomed my father into their tribe, gifting him with a bow and arrow with a touching speech,” Jessica says. “This meant the world to us to see our families truly blending into one.”
At the end of the evening, Jessica changed into a second bridal look: a one shoulder beaded cocktail dress with fringe details on the skirt by Lara, which she paired with white knee high boots. The couple cut into a two tiered lemon blueberry wedding cake with buttercream frosting for dessert, but also served a variety of different cupcakes, including chocolate, lemon, and raspberry flavors. The evening closed out with a surprise firework display gifted by one of Jessica and Luda’s neighbors.
To couples planning a wedding, the duo recommend taking time to plan. “We started planning 10-12 months out. Enjoy every moment of the planning process,” Jessica says. “It’s all part of the experience, but give yourself enough time to enjoy it without feeling rushed!”