During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vogue’s goal in our coverage is to celebrate responsible wedding planning, showcase a love story, and shed light on the questions that engaged couples are asking themselves now.
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Taylor Simmons and Jameson McFadden actually met at Acme—the famed cocktail bar in downtown New York that has served as the location for so many romances and rendezvous that it spawned an Instagram account and subsequent podcast focused on millennial dating. It was late September of 2017 and Taylor was with an old friend from Antigua, where she grew up. She now runs Coco Shop, a clothing brand that was founded in 1949 and had a 60-year run on the island, making and selling printed cotton clothing. Taylor relaunched the company in 2019, and it’s quickly taken off.
Coincidentally, Jameson was at Acme with someone Taylor and her friend had grown up with on the island. “This makes Antigua sound big,” Taylor jokes. “But our community is tiny!” While their friends were catching up, Jameson, who works in finance, introduced himself, and after a few minutes, asked if Taylor would have dinner with him. “He asked one or two more times, and eventually, I agreed, and we went out to dinner a few days later,” she remembers.
The two started dating and then eventually Jameson proposed on a quiet street in Rome on the last night of a long weekend road trip through Puglia. “We had spent five days exploring Puglia from Polignano a Mare to Gagliano del Capo and then gone back to Rome, so I was caught completely by surprise when he got down on one knee after dinner on the last night,” Taylor admits. “He had had the ring with him the whole trip, and I had had no idea.”
Their wedding was scheduled to take place on Antigua in November of 2020. “I have felt particularly at home there since relaunching Coco Shop,” Taylor says, “and it felt right to get married there given we had met through Antigua friends.” But the beginning of July, it became very clear that given the circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19, Antigua was off the table. “Companies had just extended work from home into 2021, and although the Antiguan airport had reopened in June, we didn’t want to ask anyone to fly, much less fly abroad, much less gather with strangers,” Taylor remembers. “It was a no brainer.”
They started to plan a smaller, more local ceremony instead. Like for most, the replanning process was challenging because restrictions kept shifting. Ultimately, Taylor explains, “we chose the safe bet of [having a wedding at] home.”
The bride’s parents live in Marion, Massachusetts, a small town close to Cape Cod. The couple didn’t initially consider it because there isn’t anywhere for guests to stay. “My other great, great grandfather’s home is just a mile from my parents’ with a grass terrace, a long rhododendron-lined walk, and a backyard that borders the ocean,” Taylor says. “We decided on a late morning ceremony there followed by an hour of cocktails and a three-course lunch. I loved that this plan allowed most guests to drive from and return back to their homes that day—it felt safer and like a smaller ask.”
The couple worked with Elizabeth Allen of Elizabeth Allen Events to plan it all. “She’s amazing!” Taylor says. “She helped us navigate the virus and replanning with incredible grace.”
Taylor didn’t have any preconceived notion as to what kind of silhouette or design she wanted for her wedding dress. “I went to all of the traditional appointments when we thought the wedding was going to be in Antigua, but didn’t find anything quite right,” she remembers. “I love vintage and the idea of taking something old and making it new again, so was planning on wearing my grandmother’s champagne-colored, satin gown when I came across this Oscar de la Renta gown online in July. It was perfect—ultra-conservative and traditional in silhouette, but unexpected in an upbeat black.” She paired the dress with her mother’s diamond and ruby earrings and a pair of nude Jimmy Choo heels. Jameson had a navy, mohair suit made by New & Lingwood for the day and complemented it with a white dress shirt and blue Hermes tie.
Taylor never wanted a wedding party—even for their Antigua wedding that never was. “I just wanted my younger brother next to me,” she says. “We’re just fifteen months apart and that relationship means so much to me.” Jameson has one brother too, so it worked out well. Both brothers wore navy suits, white shirts, and coordinating Hermes ties like Jameson.
The ceremony started at 11:30 a.m. and was short and sweet—a traditional, Episcopalian service held outside. There were rows of spaced out wooden chairs that were simply framed by topiary orbs.
“My parents, brother, and I entered from the back and waited out of sight in a nook of the property’s rhododendron vista as guests were seated to a string quartet,” Taylor says. “My brother then escorted my mother down the rhododendron vista and, minutes later, my father and I held hands as he walked me down the aisle. I carried lilies because my mother carried lilies when she married my father.”
The officiant was one of the bride’s father’s oldest, closest friends and the beloved headmaster of the boarding school she attended. “He was the first wedding decision we made and the one part of the ever-changing planning process that didn’t change for which I am grateful,” Taylor notes. “He gave the ceremony even more gravity and grandeur.”
After the service, the newlyweds walked to a series of cocktail tables by the water and then back towards the house for photographs. Taylor quickly realized that one benefit of having under 50 guests is that photos go quickly, and it’s easy to include every guest.
Cocktails included champagne, white wine, and a late summer spritz. The cocktail napkins were white, linen and had the bride’s mother’s initials, “STMS,” embroidered on them in white. “It was a sophisticated detail that made it feel even more like we were inviting everyone into our home,” Taylor says. Jameson’s father, who was unable to fly to the wedding from California, grows grapes and makes wine in Mendocino County, CA. He provided wine with personalized labels commemorating the original November date. “I love that Jameson had a little bit of home with him in Massachusetts that day through the wine,” Taylor says.
At 1:30 p.m., guests were invited to sit for lunch, which took place steps away under a tent on the home’s grass terrace. The terrace perfectly fit two tables and allowed for seating at a distance. “I made the table cloths and napkins out of Coco Shop fabric, and Laura, the florist, created unbelievable arrangements out of seasonal flowers—many cut from her own garden,” Taylor says. “I loved our progression of flowers from topiary orbs at the ceremony to small arrangements on the cocktail tables to an abundance of flowers at lunch.”
The property has a dairy farm that makes Great Hill Blue Cheese, so lunch started with an amuse-bouche that included it. The meal ended with chocolate wedding cake, made by the mother of the bride. “My family has a favorite, but secret, chocolate cake recipe that we love for all birthdays and celebrations,” Taylor says. “She baked fourteen loaves of it for the wedding.”
The couple had their first dance to a string quartet’s version of the bride’s parents’ wedding song—Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Father and daughter then danced to Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” which was followed by toasts. “It was surreal in many ways to be getting married, but also surreal to be with everyone after the virus had kept us apart for so long,” Taylor says. “It added even more excitement and giddiness to the day if that’s possible. I am so satisfied with how our wedding ultimately turned out. It was a plan C that felt like it could have been our plan A the whole time.”