I really admire this wedding couple – not only for their impeccable taste (such original details everywhere you look!) but for staying true to themselves as they planned their big day.
Your wedding was so beautiful and looked so intimate! Where is Camp Windsor and how did you choose the camp as the venue for your wedding day?
Neela: “Thank you! I was a camper growing up, actually it was my mother’s idea that I try to get married at my picturesque New England Style camp in New Hampshire, Fleur De Lis. Unfortunately, they were unavailable. We were devastated, Chris and I fell in love with the camp idea and wouldn’t leave it alone… we did a search in both in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and found Windsor Mountain Summer Camp. We fell in love during our visit last October, the cabins, the lake, the mess hall… they even had a real teepee.
The camp was different than my childhood camp, but it was perfect for us. We started picturing our friends and family bunking in the cabins, the late night campfires and the camp has a beautiful natural amphitheater which is wear we had our ceremony.
Oh, and they had a water trampoline! It ended up being a no brainer, the most relaxing thing we did was settle on this as a venue.”
(Keep scrolling for more photography and Q &A!)
The images have such a unique, vintage-inspired vibe. How did you find your talented photographer?
Neela: “Our photographer hunt was actually more difficult than the venue search! Chris and I are not the type of people that like or wanted traditional wedding pictures. We searched for candid-shot photographers, looked at so many albums, had several Skype interviews (yes we were the ones being interviews to ensure a good fit!). We even had another photographer almost booked up before discovering the super talented team at Chellise Michael Photography right in our backyard in Brooklyn (NY)!
Their style truly was both the feel and style we were looking for, and they have an emphasis on candidly capturing the day. They host a photographers workshop every summer, at a summer camp, so we knew we made the right choice!
Selecting a photographer is an extremely important decision, there will be only a handful of these you frame and look back over the years, your grandchildren will likely look at them, you want them to represent you. We knew this, and we took that extra time to find just the right team. Daniel and Qwyn ended up helping us with a lot of forgotten scheduling things, too!”
What was the inspiration behind “wedding in the woods?” Did you have a clear vision for your big day from the start?
Neela + Chris: “We totally had a vision once Neela’s mom put the camp wedding into our heads. When we found Windsor Camp, we knew we wanted our friends to be with us all weekend, not just one night. We needed them to experience this awesome place for as long as possible!
We had been to a few weddings where we saw the bride and groom just for a few minutes, and we didn’t love that. Especially after traveling, renting hotel rooms, buying new clothes…etc. We were about to spend some serious money on a party for us, we wanted to talk, hug, and laugh with our guests…and what better way to do that than have it last all weekend?!
We got our guests ready for the “weekend” idea by introducing it on the save the date and our wedding website, and to our excitement, everyone was in! People brought sleeping bags, head lamps, cozy socks, it really ended up being this entire weekend celebration that we wanted. Most of our guests stayed in the cabins with us, and it was this friends, family, camp vibe that we wanted and loved.
Before I got ready on Saturday, I hung out at the lake with girlfriends. Chris was all around flying his drone.”
Neela, your dress is so simple, yet stunning. Who is it by?
Neela: “Aw, thank you! The designer is Sarah Janks. I found it at a sample sale at Lovely Bride in New York (the sweetest shop!), I had gone in for an appointment, and they told me to try on Sarah Janks… I was nervous, all of her dresses have a super sleek fit is not so food/beer friendly. I fell in love with a dress by her that day, but Chris and I (and both our families) were pouring extra money into this wedding that went from one night to 3 days, and I couldn’t part with the money. Then Lovely Bride mentioned they were having a sample sale where all dresses were $99, I was shocked and had to go!
I pictured finding my dress with my mom or friends, but I went to this sale alone, I saw this stunning dress on a hanger (it was Sarah Janks!), and without trying it on I took it home on the subway.
I went home and put it on, it was unlike anything else I had tried on, it was perfect. Because of the low price, I did swap the back off at a local taylor for what you see in the pictures. My mom and sisters loved it, and Chris’ grandmother (a total thrifter), loved the story.”
Tell us about your sisters and how they coordinated their non-traditional bridesmaids dresses.
Neela: “Not so easily! That was also part of my vision from day 1, but coordinating 3 dresses, on 3 bodies, with 3 different tastes (4, if you add in mine), was a challenge. My youngest sister immediately found a nude dress she loved, for a bridesmaid, they are readily available, and hers is from The Reformation. I thought we would find all of the dresses there, but my other sisters are a little more simple (or are they…?).
My oldest sister got her dress just days before the wedding after rejecting several suggestions! Dark green was harder to find, and even more difficult to avoid those tacky bridesmaid dresses you see everywhere. We found her Jill by Jill Stuart conveniently at Lord & Taylor.
As for my other sister, she made the dress! We wanted a floral print to tie the dresses together, something with a black base, that had a dark green leaf and a nude flower…but besides Dolce and Gabanna (not in the budget!) we couldn’t find one dress on the market. Months went by, and I finally worked with my office in China and had the material made (backstory: I worked for a footwear line based in New York for 3 years, and for special materials we had a team in China that could create magic! They did a huge wedding favor for me).
My sister who is in nursing school and not a professional seamstress kept delaying making the dress. When I arrived at her house a few days before the wedding, she was still making alterations.
After so many dresses and returns, we finally found the ones and it was perfect! My vision was complete, and everyone seemed to be totally impressed. The green actually ended up being a major color for us and everywhere at the camp, so it was great to have that included.”
We also noticed that one of the groomsmen is a little older than the rest of the crew! Chris, is that your dad? He’s handsome!
Chris: “That’s Doc, my dad, he is one of my best friends and I couldn’t imagine having my wedding without him in it.”
I know you both incorporated a lot of DIY projects in preparation for your wedding day- which were your favorites?
Neela: “Yes, we had so many… although I loved our seating chart… I think my favorite was that we did all of the flowers ourselves! My sister Danielle really took over, brought all of the vessels and did tons of arranging. Chris’ sisters helped string heads of flowers on fishing line which we attached to the garlands that hung on the rafters. The flowers ended up being subtle but absolutely gorgeous.”
Chris: “My favorite thing was Neela’s table numbers. She hand glued match sticks to card stock, they were set into wood rounds, which we got from a farm in Martha’s Vineyard.”
Photos were taken in so many unique locations. Did you scout out different spots before the photoshoot?
Neela+Chris: “Wow, that would have been a great idea! We did not, and that is a great suggestion to couples to save time. We did know a couple spots, and our dream team photographers had some spots with beautiful lighting they wanted to try out. We really were just walking around (everywhere was beautiful!) and enjoying being married. Being at a camp and having access to the outdoors in the Fall, plus good weather was a perfect combination though, so we were lucky there!”
Your photos are incredible – all of them. Do each of you have a personal favorite photo?
Neela: “Oops, we have so many favorites… two of my favorites are: One, my sisters I excitedly walking to the ceremony, we were so happy we got lost! Two, Chris following me. This photo, in black and white, is so perfect, the sunlight was keeping us warm, it brings me right back to how happy we were just after the ceremony”
Chris: One: “I love this photo of Neela and I on the lake, the water was reflecting and seeing the fall leaves was so special.” Two: “Our nuptial tee-pee! We stayed in there on our wedding night, so this photo captures a special place for us.”
Chris + Neela: “We have one more favorite, we fell asleep (passed out) in our wedding clothes after partying with friends at the campfire. So really, #wewokeuplikethis and our lovely photographers came back around for breakfast with us and snapped some hilarious photos. We may have been hungover here.”
Thank you to Neela & Chris for allowing me to share photos & details of their Wedding in the Woods.
To see more vintage-inspired photography, I highly recommend checking out their photographer’s website – http://chellisemichaelphotography.com and following the talented Brooklyn-based artist on Instagram @chellisemichael.