It may not be customary for the bride and groom to see each other on the morning of their wedding, but I don’t know if a fox hunt is customary before the wedding either! However, seeing as Bart is the huntsman of the Essex Fox Hounds, how could they not?!
I don’t think Kate and Bart technically saw each other. Kate was riding with one of her bridesmaids, Michelle and Bart was responsible for about 60 hounds at once, so I’m pretty sure Kate wasn’t on his radar during the fox hunt. Barb and I followed (not on horseback) through the dirt roads of Peapack and Far Hills as we listened for the hounds and attempted to follow their direction.
I’ve lived in this area of the world (almost) all of my life (there was a brief period in my life where I was a city girl…) and I never witnessed a fox hunt. I even lived on one of those dirt roads after college. One early Saturday morning I was abruptly woken one with the rush of hooves and hounds racing past my bedroom window. I partially dreamed that I was on the set of Mary Poppins. Watching and listening as the horses and hounds trace the hills and cornfields of Far Hills is both soothing and exciting. I’m not really morning person, but it’s a beautiful scene and one that makes mornings way more tolerable. At one point, while following with one of Bart’s groomsmen as my guide, the fox ran right out in front of us. And while he did get away, that was a perfect ending to my first fox hunt. I say first, because there will be more.
I quickly ran home to shower, change and head back out to meet Kate and her bridesmaids down the road where they were getting ready. How Kate could look so beautiful after waking up at 4am, riding a horse, and then getting ready for the wedding day ahead? I have no idea.
Her details were all lined up, along with tons of loose flowers for me to style her details with, thanks to Leirion Sorensen, who had flowers and greens cascading all over the place! To compliment the lush florals in her details, her wedding dress was carefully ushered into the garden, because how could I not? Kate, being the trusting bride that she is, was totally fine with my carrying her pristine white wedding dress into the garden.
There are so many elements that come together on a wedding day, everything takes time to plan and coordinate. Otherwise, most people would just plan their wedding in the same time it takes to plan a dinner party. No, a wedding day takes months of planning, organizing details, and different coordinators. Each planned detail and moment is important, but one thing in particular will stand out as the most important. For Kate and Bart, getting married at the top of the hill, overlooking their home and their hounds would be the most important element of the day.
So, when the rain started, and Barb looked up the weather forecast to see that rain would be with us for the next 120 minutes, Bart walked by with nothing but confidence in his tone as he said “It will be fine.” I just want to take a moment to dwell on his words and perspective here. It will be fine. Rain would not deter any plans of getting married on the top of that hill.
Bart headed out for the ceremony with his two dogs, Annie and Rosie, following behind him as he greeted each one of his guests. Looking out over the view of rolling hills beneath mist and fog, were a sea of expectant guests, family and friends all covered by a coat of high end and vintage umbrellas (note the Reagan/Bush umbrella from 1984! This umbrella is older than me!)
There were so many moments in this wedding that surprised me, from the romantically rainy outdoor wedding ceremony, to Annie, their dog’s obedience and faithful guardianship over Kate and Bart’s wedding bands. No, Annie was not on a leash, but she never left their side as they exchanged their vows, and was ever ready when Bart untied the ribbon around her neck to free their wedding bands.
As soon as Kate and Bart were pronounced husband and wife, they were showered with a chorus of cheers from their family, friends, AND hounds down below.
The rain never did stop. No massive downpours, but a gentle, consistent rain that softened the light – in many ways, a photographer’s dream. I don’t think Kate and Bart even noticed. Looking back at their wedding photos someday, I think the feelings and memories their pictures will bring back will not be of rain on their wedding day, but of the love they felt for each other – memories of how Bart loved kissing Kate’s hands as they were intertwined with his own, the sight of their faithful dogs standing in attendance, and the warm smiles of their best friends and family gathered together on the best day of their lives.
Kate and Bart, we will never forget your wedding day, or Bart’s laugh. Thank you for including us in your special memories! Thank you Barbara Wentzel for getting up at the crack of dawn to chase the hounds with me and all of your amazing assistance. Thanks also to Kelly Joyce for being an impromptu assistant!
Couldn’t have done it without my girls! Kelly was supposed to be a guest…but she was at attention every moment of the day, and even took the reins of the same day slideshow! Barb started her day with me before the sun, and worked her butt off until the very end of the day! She even lent me her beloved 50mm lens after I dropped and smashed mine. Now that’s a friend!
Photographers: Lauren Kearns and Barbara Wentzel
Impromptu Assistant: Kelly Joyce
Venue: Essex Hunt Club, Peapack, NJ
Hair/Makeup: Lisa Stair and Nicole from Kalidescope Salon, Basking Ridge, NJ
Florist: Leirion Sorensen
Wedding Dress: Sottery and Midgley, I Do I Do, Morristown, NJ
Catering: Black River Catering, Pottersville, NJ
Rentals: Adams Rental
DJ: Chuck Russo