Real Wedding: Colorful DIY Cornell University Wedding

From Ali: Rachel and David’s wedding on June 1st, 2013 at Cornell University was SO fun and intimate.  The venue was an absolute fairytale – arched stone walkways and soaring gothic architecture created the perfect backdrop to an expanse of lush lawns and beautiful gardens.  Rachel chose a gorgeous coral and purple color palette and created her own unique style out of thoughtfully mismatched, simple details.  Their day was a true celebration and I absolutely fell in LOVE with the sweet romance and breathtaking location of their incredible wedding!


From Rachel….

David and I were married on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca. Cornell holds such a special place in our hearts for so many reasons – I grew up there, we both went to school there, David played baseball there – but most importantly, it’s where we met. I think we knew we wanted to get married there before we were even engaged. Our main focus when we began planning was to share this special place and day with all our family and friends and to have an awesome time doing it!  David and I both have small families that are spread out across the country so we knew this day would be one of the only times we could have everyone we love all in the same place.  We just wanted everyone to come together and have fun, so in terms of a typical planning process ours was pretty laid back.  We were definitely less worried about how things looked and more worried if there would be enough drinking and dancing!

We are incredibly blessed to be surrounded by talented and artistic friends and family, so there were a lot of things we did ourselves for the wedding.  Throughout our engagement David and I would get together with our family and friends to work on projects which made them even more special. It got everyone together and excited for the wedding and we all had a hand in making it come together.  Probably my favorite DIY was our desserts!  I’ve never had a wedding cake I’ve liked and desserts are my thing, so I really wanted them to be amazing.  My family is from the south and baking is in our blood, so my mom (with help of course) handmade all of our desserts from old family recipes (some generations old) and it was great getting to share that with everyone.  I also loved my something old, new, borrowed, and blue.  My mother’s pearl headband from her own wedding was wrapped around my bouquet, I borrowed a beautiful gold heart bracelet from my mother-in-law, and I wore an LA Dodgers garter as my something blue (David’s favorite baseball team!). 








One of the best parts of the day was our first look – I’m SO happy we did that.  After our ‘official’ first look and wedding party portraits, David and I snuck off with Ali to take pictures at some of our favorite places.  That part of our day really stands out in my mind.  We were able to just be together – taking everything in and revisiting these places that were the foundations of our history together.  It was incredibly comforting to have that time together – all those intimate moments between the two of us before things got crazy!

Our ceremony was in the Cornell University chapel and it was absolutely beautiful. We gave our officiant pretty much free rein when it came to what he would say and that created another incredibly special moment.  His speech was so meaningful and it was such a beautiful message.  It was incredible that it not only touched us, but so many of our guests as well.  We definitely wanted the one traditional part of our day to be our ceremony. Our faith is very important to us and marriage is not something that we entered into lightly, so we wanted to keep the tradition and sanctity of the ceremony very present.

 We had our reception in the student union which has a large outdoor terrace that overlooks Ithaca and the rest of campus.  It was nice because it kept everyone up and out there mingling and enjoying each other rather than stuck inside at a table.  David and I made sure that we could be present for the whole thing, even the cocktail hour.  It was so important to us to have a lot of time to spend with our family and friends rather than having to rush around trying to get to everyone.  The time we got to spend with them was priceless!







 I wouldn’t change a single thing about our day.  I woke up that morning and thought to myself, ‘OK.  Holy crap!  This is my wedding day.  This is only going to happen once!’  Every time things started to get a little wild I sort of took a deep breath and just grounded myself.   I kept reminding myself that this really was a singular occurrence and I wanted to keep soaking it in.  Just being able to stop and pay attention, really internalize every moment, was the best thing I did. I also loved how much time we were able to spend with our friends and family.  We knew that having all these people together like this, in the same place at the same time, would probably never happen again, so we made the choice to spend as much time as we could with everyone, even outside of the reception.  We went out Friday night after the rehearsal dinner and went to two after-parties on Saturday,  so we definitely sacrificed a few hours of sleep here and there but it was totally worth the amazing memories we made. 

 The best advice David and I can give is to have fun!  There is a saying, ‘A wedding is a party – not a performance,’ and that is so true.  No matter what your style – whether you’re just having a casual picnic or having an ornate ballroom celebration – don’t lose sight of what the importance of this day really is.  The whole point is to celebrate and share this momentous part of your life with everyone. Enjoy every second and don’t get caught up worrying over little details that no one will remember anyway.  Our wedding was the most wonderful day of our lives and there is nothing that could have changed that!  And of course we owe a great debt to everyone who helped make sure our day ran smoothly and made it even more wonderful for everyone!


I have to thank all of the vendors who helped put everything together!

Ceremony & Reception: Cornell University    Photography: Tammy Swales Studio    Cutting Cake: Wegmans    Desserts:  Bride’s family    Flowers: Plenty of Posies    Makeup&Hair: Miel Beauty    Invitations: Bride’s brother/Standard Art Supply    Music Cocktail Hour: Bobby Walpole and Dee Specker    Music Reception: Bride’s brother    Catering: Premier Catering/Cornell Catering    Wedding Planner: Terra Rosa (Tara Reimer)   Dress: New York Bride

Posted byTammy Swales